"The body never lies." --Martha Grahm.
This blog is intended to be an exploration of what it is to have a body and navigate that relationship with said possession through mortality, society, and spirituality. It will include research, articles, pictures, quotes, personal stories, videos, insights, poems, monologues, letters, jokes, recipes, confessions, ETC. Hopefully in reading this you find connection, sincerity, and heart. Healing is possible. Living is the reward. Contribute!
I've been home from my mission for a few years now. Recently I've been doing better (and not just saying that this time) by setting goals to gradually ease myself out of addiction--I can't tell you how many times in my life I have promised myself and God that I would never look at pornography again; it never worked (for long). But this slow progress has been measured and successful for the last six months. I hope that it will continue to be so, but even if there are setbacks (and being a pretty pragmatic person, I'm sure there will be), I know that I can overcome it. My last singles ward had an addiction recovery program group that met every Sunday night, it was great to be with other guys (most of whom were struggling with the same problems) and get support and unconditional love and understanding.
But beyond how I'm doing now, I wanted to share a few other thoughts that I've had over the (too many) years I've been addicted to pornography.
I've at times hated God for not cursing me. I've been pretty successful in school and church and life: I did well in undergrad, I'm in a great grad school where I'm doing well; I had a great mission where I was fortunate enough to baptize people and serve in leadership positions; I have an awesome family and friends. I think I wish God would compel me to be humble, in the words of Alma 32. I know nobody "deserves" to be blessed, unprofitable servants and all that, but it's been hard for me to see why of all people God didn't punish me (in a more overt way--there's certainly been plenty of inner anguish). My experience with pornography has made me hate the "prosperity gospel" doctrine (the idea that if you're righteous you'll be blessed with riches and other material things) because in my life the converse has not been true at all.
I don't know how to determine "worthy" in regard to this sin. I've felt the spirit strongly while giving blessings or passing the sacrament even if I had recently slipped up in this regard. That could have been in spite of my unworthiness or it could be that I had been forgiven more quickly than I thought/feared. Sometimes I took the sacrament when I shouldn't have (social pressure is terrifying) but when I'm doing really badly and feel like I'm not even trying to be better, I generally don't. Like I said, the last few months have been the best in recent memory in this regard, so that has been much less of a problem.
If you've attended Priesthood Sessions of General Conference, or read the talks later, you probably know that general authorities speak out very strongly against pornography as a serious and destructive sin. And they're absolutely right. However, I sometimes wonder whether treating this more like an eating disorder, as a disease, might help--at least sometimes or in certain contexts. Trust me, I hate myself for being addicted to pornography. I know it's evil. I don't like it. Telling me how abominable it is, at least without pairing those remarks with softer rhetoric, makes me sink deeper into despair. It's when I accepted that yes, it's bad, but it's not the end of the world that I've made progress in battling it.
I mentioned being in a singles ward. I'm very afraid of how a pornography addiction of over ten years is going to affect my future marriage. Or of even whether a woman would want to marry me when I tell her about this (I don't think it would make much sense or be fair at all to keep her in the dark). That feels like something that will be following me around even after I kick the addiction. Which I know is unavoidable and of my own making, but it's a fear that makes it that much harder to make progress.
Another thing that has helped me to want to get over my pornography addiction is remembering that pornography is not just something that's harming me or the other men addicted to it. It is hurting women, whether because they are addicted to it (an even less-discussed problem), whether they are victimized by the vicious industry, or whethery they are harmed indirectly by their partner becoming more distant, isolated, and/or depressed (not to mention the inevitable questioning of "Am I not physically attractive enough?" -- a thought process that certainly does not deserve any further feeding). I don't want to contribute to the harm pornography inflicts on women. (Of course, the flipside is that when I fail to get better, it's easy to hate myself more.)
So that's my experience in a nutshell. I know that I can be forgiven of my sins. I know that I can be free of this addiction. I know that God loves me. But it's been a very long and difficult road, and I have no reason to think it will get much easier. Most days, though, I have hope.
If people have questions, thoughts, or reactions, I'm willing to respond anonymously in the comments section.