So I’ve been asked to give an update on where I am in recovery (a little over-dramatic, but it works for now) and restoration. It’s bittersweet, you know? The sweet part being that people care. The bitter part being that people are watching. Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the nitty gritty: https://monniiee.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/go-big-or-go-home/ and https://monniiee.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/love-awoken/
The short version is (deep breath) for a long time, honestly I can’t even remember how long, I struggled with porn. As you can probably guess, it had a tremendous influence on my life in ways that I initially couldn’t see, and then when I could recognize them, I was too far in to get out on my own.
That sin became a cancer that I was too afraid to give to God so I built fortified walls around myself and basically rotted from the inside out. I spent a good bit of the last few years as a highly functioning shell of a person. On April 17th, I was in the very beginning stages of restarting my walk with Christ and he gave me a way out of these chains of that sin and it was tailor made for who I am: post an honest blog entry about my struggle with porn; don’t sugarcoat it and don’t be vague. I did so, but only after an epic round of refusals and attempts to compromise. Neither worked obviously.
It’s been 4 months since that post and a lot has happened. I never intended for this to be an ongoing thing, but it seems that’s where I’m being lead so why not? I wanted to share how this has all affected me and how it’s affected others. Keep in mind this isn’t any fairy tale so not everything is tied up in a neat and pretty bow at the end, but it is a miracle so there is a happy ‘ending’. Here goes:
- Porn isolated me. Since all of this, I’ve been muuuuuch more of myself (joyous, generous, social, loving, improving, encouraging, engaged, etc) and in return I’ve created some rich new relationships and renewed a lot of my old ones. There’s no longer anything nagging me saying “They see it. If I hang around any longer I’m going to let it slip”. I will say that it wasn’t until recently I realized how paranoid my sin made me. I still catch myself flinching a little every time there’s a “we need to talk” on the horizon because I’m still in that mode of being worried about someone confronting me about it. I still have to emphasize to myself that I have nothing to hide anymore. You have NO idea how good that feels unless you’ve been there.
- I objectified MYSELF. Definitely still a big thing for me. I catch myself looking in the mirror a little too long. Caring a little too much about who’s paying attention as I walk by. It’s somewhat funny because when I catch myself doing it I’ll mentally cringe. To always feel hyper aware of what others are thinking about how I look? Not fun, not worth anything. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with liking the way I look, but when I’m that concerned with how everyone else feels about it, I’ve gone the wrong way.
- I started seeking out things that used to disgust me. There’s been the most progress here. I cannot say that I haven’t been tempted to go back to porn every now and again (though not as often as I expected) but I can say that I haven’t gone back once and because of that, there’s not a pull like there used to be in this area.
- Porn became a way to numb myself rather than satisfy. Well since, there’s been a lot of therapy sessions with God. (It’d be amazing to have a professional one soon just to air some things out but anyway…) Yea, it’s been difficult and really uncomfortable at times, but I know so much more about myself now that I’m not running from facing these things. There’s a multitude of things that God had been trying to address and bring to light so we could deal with them and porn became my chosen distraction. Then it became the issue. Now, there’s still much to be desired in my progress, but we’re facing them head on; sometimes eagerly, sometimes hesitantly, but facing them nonetheless.
- My pride swelled as my self-worth diminished. I think this is one of those areas that’s hard to purposefully work on. Rather, as I begin to work on improving other areas of my life, this seems to be falling in line. Though pride still has a big pull, it’s not so much of an issue in this area.
- I met/connected with some great people. So while my views after posting were sky high, the actual feedback I received from this was minimal. Of course that induced a pretty potent panic but God constantly reminded me that the post was to release me from this secrecy, not to gain popularity or criticism. However, as time has gone on, there have been a few people who’ve confided and/or encouraged me in my decision to air it all out. These relationships have totally surpassed the (in my opinion) boring stages of slowly getting to know each other and have gone straight to the heart of who we are. Let me tell you, I am FAR from the only person that struggles/has struggled with this… specifically speaking of women. It doesn’t all manifest the same way, but we struggle with understanding how to handle our sexuality in a way that’s glorifying to God. There have also been very many men who’ve confessed how much they underestimated the similarities men and women have in our struggles.
- I met/connected with some… um people who really need God to some into their life like he did mine. I was surprised that I didn’t receive any criticism, but unfortunately I did come into contact with people who desperately need the victory I have. Not everyone who read the post saw pain, shame and self-abuse eating my alive. Some saw an opportunity to (try to) prey on weakness. First and foremost, let me be very clear: having a weakness does NOT make a person weak. I’ve learned much about testing the waters and understanding that not everyone has your best at heart. I was upset and hurt initially, but honestly, I do feel sympathetic for those who think I’m living in some 50 Shades of Gray world where I’m just waiting for someone to ‘set me free’. NO, when I was struggling with sexual impurity, I was not empowered. I was not ’embracing who I really am’. I was not ‘freeing myself’. This, where I am now, is free. If you’re attracted to weakness, not transparency and vulnerability, but the weakness that damages confidence, relationships, and intimacy, then there is something in you that you are not free from…
So I’ll leave it at this, victory is not a one time deal. There’s still conflict here, but now I’m on the winning side. I don’t ever regret my decision, not even once. However, the effect that my sin has had on my mind and my perspective will take a lot of work, a lot of grace, a lot of discipline, and a lot of faith, a lot of God.
It never gets easier to share this part of my life, but the conviction gets stronger every time and it eclipses the fear of rejection, shame, and ridicule that may come my way.