I was ten years old when I came across my first pornographic image. At the time I had no idea how it would affect or change my life. I didn’t know that it would become an addiction. I didn’t know that it would slowly progress and worsen as the years passed by or that I would keep it a secret from anyone and everyone. I didn’t know I would pretend to be one person while I really was another or that it would cause me to be depressed and sad with myself. And I most certainly had no idea that I would wait almost ten years until I decided to get help.
As a ten year old little girl, I didn’t know any of that would happen.
I guess you could say I was curious. I peeped my head around the corner to ensure that nobody was near the office. I slowly shut the door and clicked the lock before tiptoeing to the desk chair. I still remember what I typed into the google search bar. I still remember the countless websites, news articles, pictures, and videos that were suddenly all at my fingertips.
I remember it all like it was yesterday.
I felt bad after. I clicked the little red ‘x’ at the top of the internet browser and sat, staring at the screen. I told myself that I would never do it again. However, a year later I found myself in the same position; acting on my curiosity by turning to the one place I knew I could find my answer: the internet.
This time it was different. Rather than exiting the websites and vowing never to look again, I went back. Again and again. Sometimes I went weeks without looking at pornography. Other times it was daily. I liked finding and knowing the answers to my questions. I liked the way that viewing pornography made me feel. I found that I wanted more and more of it after every time I looked at an image or video.
I was addicted to pornography.
I began lying to everyone. I learned how to cover up my tracks so that I couldn’t be easily caught. I lied to my parents and friends. I lied to church leaders. And worst of all, I lied to myself.
There were times where I had myself convinced that pornography wasn’t bad; that what I was doing wasn’t wrong. That it wasn’t destructive. I would justify my actions and tell myself it was a natural desire, because after all, that’s what the world says.
People always viewed me as a very happy, bubbly girl. I was always polite, kind, and happy. You would hardly ever see me without a smile on my face. However, after years of letting the habit deepen and become worse than ever, I noticed my personality and attitude begin to change; I was no longer happy. I would wake up in the morning with absolutely no desire to do anything. My grades began to drop and I stopped attending classes. I wasn’t talking to friends. I would stay up until 6:00 in the morning and sleep until 2:00 the next day. I began spending my hard-earned savings on clothes and material possessions in an attempt to create my own happiness. I began to view myself very negatively, telling myself I was of no worth.
Because of this change in attitude, I turned to pornography even more. I hated feeling inadequate. I hated being depressed and sad and lonely. And I hated feeling worthless. By now I was a full time student attending college in another state and became easily stressed, irritable, frustrated, anxious, and sometimes bored; which all caused me to view, too. I was at my all time low; my “rock bottom”.
I felt hopeless.
It was in those moments of darkness coupled with the feelings of complete sadness that I realized I had gone in a direction that I wished I hadn’t. I realized that I had a habit that was not healthy and that I so desperately needed help.
However, despite this new found knowledge, I felt I had gone too long and too far to seek help. I had no desire to be viewed as gross or disgusting. I didn’t want to be a disappointment or for people to look at me and think the same thing I was: that I was a hopeless case. I was now over nineteen years old and was watching my life crumble and fall around me. I had lost any and all motivation to become a successful woman in the world. I had lost all desire to work hard and to accomplish goals I had once set for myself. I would look in the mirror and be disgusted with the face I saw staring back at me.
I was trapped; entangled in the sticky web that pornography is.
I was determined to drop the addiction by myself. I promised that I wouldn’t view an image again. And I didn’t! For about ten hours. The temptation was so enticing. It caused me to hunger and feel the need to view again. The intensity of the temptation was so strong that I allowed myself to falter just “one more time”.
“One more time.”
I said this phrase about one hundred more times after that. I hoped that I would be able to go back to being happy once the semester ended. The happiness was very short lived. I was back to being depressed, lonely, and bored. I was back to being stressed and anxious with long commutes to two full – time jobs. I turned to the one thing I knew that could make me forget, even if it was just temporary: pornography.
After a while the sadness became unbearable. I couldn’t live in the state of misery any longer. One day I mustered up what little courage I had and told somebody for the first time. Almost immediately, a weight that I had been carrying for so long, began to disappear. It wasn’t gone, but it was a little lighter.
The friend encouraged me to seek help. It took me a few weeks before I finally decided I wanted to rid myself of this addiction. I made an appointment to speak with a church leader. I walked into his office a few days later, completely embarrassed. I looked at the ground as I told him my life story. Once it was all out, I looked up at him. He smiled. His sweet smile made me feel warm and loved. All of the sudden, feelings of inadequacy and regret softened. Feelings of despair were replaced with light and hope.
Once I told him it all became easier. The burden I was lifting was becoming lighter and my smile was growing wider. Along with meeting him regularly, I began attending an addiction recovery program meeting once a week. I found that I wasn’t alone. All growing up I had been told that pornography was a man’s problem, that only men viewed pornography, and that a woman who viewed pornography was sick and disgusting. Being surrounded by women that had the same addiction as me was relieving. I found that I looked forward to the Thursday nights that I would get to spend with these beautiful, strong women.
Each week I listened as we shared our stories and experiences. There were laughs and tears. There were feelings of sadness as we listened to another member share her worries and concerns. Feelings of joy and happiness filled the room whenever we celebrated someone hitting their longest streak. I have never felt more love in my life than being in a room full of women that struggle with addiction.
I joined the “Fortify” program by Fight the New Drug; an online program designed to help people find long lasting relief from pornography. I began finding new ways and strategies to control my urges and temptations. I started keeping track of my victories and setbacks and was full of joy every time I made it another day. I began writing down my thoughts and feelings and noticing how my view on life and myself was beginning to change. I noticed I was slowly but surely becoming happier.
I still have set backs and days where life gets really hard. I’ve slipped up time and time again but have found that the only thing that truly matters is that I get up and continue fighting. I now have hope. Hope in a brighter future. Hope that I can accomplish my goals. Hope that I can become someone I’m proud of.
I know there are a lot of people that struggle with pornography, including women. Pornography is affecting our lives more and more every single day. It’s becoming the “norm” and even “acceptable”. I have personally witnessed pornography destroy lives of those around me. I have seen it ruin relationships and rip families apart. I have known it to cause people to attempt to take their own life away. However, I know there is relief from the one thing I thought was holding me hostage. There is freedom. There is hope.
I know that pornography can cause you to feel like you are worthless. You are not. There is a way out. There is help readily available to you. If you slip and fall down, get up. If you have a rough day, I promise you there is a better one ahead.
My best advice is to leave the past behind, because that’s exactly where it belongs. You have the ability to change who you are today and become someone you are proud of. You can become strong. You can become amazing.
Create the person that you want to be; you have that power within you.
Written by: Anonymous
This story appeared first on Real Imprints.