Who am I to talk?

July 20, 2006

Hi, my name is John and I am a sex addict, food addict, and a codependant.  I also have other cumpulsive tendencies.

My fascination with sex began in middle school probably.  I was interested in it and so were all of my friends.  Although I was LDS, I was desperate to fit in and fitting in meant a lot of talk regarding the opposite gender and what they looked like naked.  One night a friend and I spent a night looking at pn that he had stolen from his next-door neighbor.  A year or so later, I stole it all from him.

When I would meet with my bishop over this time, I would minimize my problem.  It was just pictures, right?  Nothing I saw on cable was rated X, right?  Try as hard as I might, I never actually saw anything “hard-core”.  In talking with my bishop, he came to the conclusion that I was just a teen, with curiosity, not with a compelling need to look at pn.

I eventually went on a mission, stayed clean on my mission, and found the internet when I got home.  It was around this point that the habit went from curiosity to compulsion.  The internet brought unfettered access to things I had never seen, but had thought quite a lot about.  I was hooked from day one.

This continued until I got married, paused for a while during the beginning of my marriage, and then came back in earnest when I went away to graduate school.  In my reading, I have found that childhood sexual abuse is a big factor in addicts.  A second one, and the one more pertinent to me, is suddenly finding yourself in a heavy responsibility, low accountability position.  This is also known as grad school.  I was pretty much allowed to teach myself and, in the fairly liberal college I attended, there were no filters on the computers.  As my stress mounted and my abilities to cope weakened, I turned more and more to pn to bring me calm, peace, and happiness.

That, of course, is ridiculous.  Pn destroys homes, drives families apart, hurts those who watch it and those who produce it.  However, in my warped state, it became my one sure source of solace.  My wife couldn’t be it, because she expected things of me.  My children couldn’t for the same reason.  Pn didn’t expect anything (since so much of it was free for the taking on the internet) and it provided escape from my worries and responsibilities.  Pn was a drug for me.

I talked with a series of bishops about the problem.  We all agreed that it was a bad idea and that I really ought to stop.  They all said that my wife would some day catch me and that that would be bad.  The fact that she never did didn’t really seem to matter.  I dutifully reported weekly to my bishops, who were all kindly men doing the best they could with an apparently repentant serial sinner.  While I wish they had known what they were doing (enabling me), I wish I had known to.

One day, I had a bishop who suggested that I start going to a 12 step group.  I balked.  That was for people with addiction.  I had a bad habit, true, but I would be able to shake it if I really applied myself.  I really would this time, too.  When I returned 3 weeks later, having failed again, I agreed to go.  I didn’t have an addiction, but I would seek help wherever I could find it.

I went to the meeting (it was a local version of AA/NA) and I was floored.  Here were people talking about their problems with alcohol and drugs and the verbs and adjectives were just the ones I would have chosen (only the nouns differed).  All the nouns except one, that is.  I know began to understand that I was an addict.

For a long time at that point I had been using addict to describe myself to bishops.  I would begin the inevitable meeting with, “I’ve been addicted to pn since I was 15”.  What I meant was: I have been looking at pn since I was 15 (earlier even) and I have never really quit except over the course of my mission.  But that isn’t what an addict is.

Have you ever seen the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy is trying to save his Nazi girlfriend and she is trying to grab the Holy Grail?  He tells her to grab his hand and he’ll save her.  He is well within reach; she could easily get out, but she really wants that grail.  She keeps reaching and reaching for it, in spite of the danger, in spite of reason, in spite of all self-interest.  That is an addict.

I had thought that an addict was someone who would quit if given the right motivation.  If I just had the right set of circumstances (punishments, embarassing moments, and bad luck) I would quit in a heartbeat.  An addict is someone who recognizes all that, sees it coming, watches it happen, and then just keeps on plowing ahead in addiction.  In AA, they talk about reaching rock bottom.  What this means is that the addict has reached a point were they don’t feel like they can sink any lower.  They’ve looked at themselves in their squalor and decided that this simply cannot go on.  With that in mind, some addict seek out their rock bottom in the hopes that hitting it will straighten them out.  What they fail to understand is that there is no bottom.  You just reach a point where you are tired of falling down.

Anyway, I’ve hit it.  Several times.  I am an addict, not because I look at pn, eat too much, or try to much to control my situation.  I am an addict because those things could easily become all I do and I wouldn’t even notice and I wouldn’t even care.  That is what makes me an addict.

Is being an addict depressing?  Not at all if you do it right.  That will be our topic tomorrow.

Take Care

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9 Responses to “Who am I to talk?”

  1. Geoff J Says:

    Wow. Intersting stuff.

    So I assume now you have gnarly blockers on all your computers now (with the passwords in the hands of someone else) right?

  2. John Anon Says:

    Actually, I don’t have a computer in my apartment and the home computer I use is in someone else’s bedroom, so I am relatively safe on that front. I do most of my computing at a library with good blocking software.

    That said, never trust software. All the clever boys and girls (which doesn’t necessarily include me) can figure out ways around it (which does include me). If I am in a bad enough mood, there is no safe place. Period.

  3. Geoff J Says:

    Perhaps. But a really good software blocker is better than having none. It seems to me that one is playing with fire in your situation without one.

    And (forgive me if this is too direct) why even live in a place that has a Web-connected computer at all? That seems like an alcoholic keeping some booze around the house to me. A good blocker is (with the password not available) is at least the equivalent of locking the stuff up in a safe of some kind…


  4. Bless your heart.

    Wish you well in your recovery.

  5. John Anon Says:

    Geoff,
    It isn’t too direct and I no longer have any feelings ;). I live where I live primarily because of financial concerns and I don’t have much say regarding the computer. There is blocker/web-tracking programming on it (at my request), so it isn’t that great a temptation (especially as people sleep in that bedroom). In any case, I try not to use it that much. As I said, I do most of my computing in a filtered setting.

    However, you are right. The internet is a bit like a booze cabinet to me. I know how to get around most programming in any case. Even without the internet, I have looked at sufficient amounts that I am a regular walking dirty book store. I don’t need the internet to get my fix anymore. Something has to change in me; I cannot craft an environment that would be without temptation.


  6. John, I wish you well. I’m sorry to read from the context that you are no longer with your wife and children. May God be with you.

  7. John Anon Says:

    I’m sorry to give you the wrong impression, but I’m still married and I live with the family. Thank you, even though.


  8. I am glad you are still married.

  9. Robby Says:

    I am 13 and have the same addiction, i am a faithful lds and president of my deacons quorum (though i am about to be 14) i know how you fell and is there any way to get the images out of your head?

    and Stephen M, sorry for going off topic, but do you happen to know of a game entitled Airline Mogul?


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