Life and Peace (Romans 8:6)

Introduction: I'm a 40 year old husband and father who has struggled with porn addiction most of my life. I was sexually abused by an older male cousin on several occasions before the age of 13 and first exposed to pornography at the age of 10. Because of the abuse, I was curious about sexuality at a young age, and it brought unbearable shame. I indulged in the use of porn throughout high school, and continued to struggle with its use in college where I discovered the internet.

I'm a Christian minister with a sincere faith in Jesus as my gracious Savior who sympathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15) and who saves me by HIS righteousness and not my own. THIS is what has sustained me over the years! Honestly, I didn't even begin trying to quit porn until about 10 years ago. Until then, I had made myself believe that it was simply "my cross to bear" or that it wasn't that bad, and I wasn't harming anyone.

Through conversations with good friends and counselors, I began to realize that my struggle with depression and insecurity were directly connected to my porn use. Williams Struthers' book Wired for Intimacy changed my life. I began to understand what porn was doing to my brain and that this struggle was as much chemical as it was spiritual. When I felt it was only a spiritual battle, it seemed inevitable that I would fail without divine intervention. However, understanding the chemical dependency that I was experiencing made me feel for the first time that I could beat this. This was only 1 year ago, and so my battle to stop completely really only began in January 2019.

Since then, I've had stretches of success. On my first attempt, I lasted 56 days. I was amazed that with a little effort, I could go without for so long. I've had other stretches of abstinence that have lasted as long as a month, and I've begun to realize what triggers are causing me to give in.

I'm on this forum to help keep myself accountable. I know the journaling will be helpful and hearing others define their struggles and successes will be an encouragement in knowing I'm not alone. All are welcome to interact with my journal.

Triggers:

Over the past year I've learned what causes me to give in. Currently, I'm in one of the most stressful times of my life. Of course, the Covid19 pandemic has affected us all. Professionally, it has created lots of instability. Like many, I'm unsure of what the next few months look like. We are seeing a change in leadership in our ministry that will greatly affect me, and I'm unsure if I'm up for the challenge. My wife and I have also had several personal issues in our family that create anxiety. While my faith in Jesus is strong ("So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. -2 Corinthians 4:16), I've learned that these stresses are triggers and that my brain has been trained since I was 10 years old to seek pornography in order to cope.

Though I've just experienced a short stint without using pornography, I failed today. I'm hoping for a 90 day reboot. Of course, I long for freedom beyond 90 days. Tomorrow will be day 1.
 
Hi berrylewis29,

Like you, I am a Christian and wholeheartedly believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I also suffer from depression and anxiety.

I will pray for you and keep you in my thoughts each day. I will also monitor your status on here.

One thing that has really helped me is knowing that God is right there by my side all the time. Listen to the song by the Kenoly brothers, Who's There, God's There. These young men are the sons of Ron Kenoly - singer, entertainer, and worship leader.

I personally have found it best to try taking things in my life one moment at a time. Preparing for the next moment is easier than trying to figure out everything for the whole day.

I'm sure you know all these things I am saying but know that I care and look forward to reading your journal.

God's blessings and much brotherly love,

Mark



 

dom67

New Member
Hi Berrylewis 29

Thanks for sharing this. We have similar stories. I am in my 50's however I was abused as a young teenager after after my friends music mentor. It was part of my spiral into straight and gay porn. It also led to many years of anonymous gay sexual encounters in sex shops, gyms and anywhere else I could find a hook up. I am grateful to say that God has pulled me out of that misery existence. While I still struggle I know my weakness. I am also learning my kryptonite and how to avoid it.

You are also so correct that our behavior of acting out is destructive to our ability to connect and interact with others. My prayer for both of us and all of the others on this forum is that we realize this truth and embrace real healthy relationships rather than cheap substitutes like porn. 
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Nice to meet you, berrylewis!

I'm a fellow minister who's been struggling (and overcoming) this thing for far too many years.

You nailed a major driver of this addiction, shame... Especially as Christians, especially (if like myself) if one has been in legalistic or spiritually abusive churches...

Discovering the grace of God (in 2013) has been for me a major shift in seeing the beginning of the end of this thing.

I like the sound of that book you mentioned, Wired for Intimacy. Sounds like you're exposed to the science of porn, which is important to grasp.

For us, there's spirituality, science, and recovery approaches out there. All these things help me, but there's also pitfalls within each of these spheres to avoid:

Spirituality: this should involve the grace of God, as radical as Paul preached it, not to give license to sin, but to overcome it (Tit 2:11-12). In this regard, I like what you've said so far about His righteousness and grace! This means, as you know, being merciful to yourself, and knowing that, no matter what, you're forgiven by God, and saved by Christ's righteousness.

Science: this is such a helpful area to learn, but of course we need meaning to infuse it. We're not here just to make sure our 'junk' works. But, 'why' are we rebooting/recovering? You already know intimacy as a poweful reason.

Recovery: this is, after legalism, perhaps the most dangerous area because it portends to help us. But there is the pitfall called recoverism, this is where folk are perpetually recovering with no end in sight. They've come to identify themselves as addicts, hoplessly flawed and diseased, who can never be trusted. "Once an addict always an addict" and other Satanic lies.

Many find help in Twelve Step Groups, so I'm not painting with a broad brush, but our recovery needs to have healing as it's end result, and to see that this is possible for any and all of us. And while sorting out our past is important, it's not necessary to first untangle everything before we can effectively end this habit. Much of this is a matter of the science of habit change.

Welcome to the Nation, brother! Excited for our journeys toward, as you said, life and peace.
 
Thanks for the encouraging replies. Phineas 808, I appreciated your comment about Recovery and the "once an addict, always an addict" mentality. As a Christian, I fully believe that if we focus on our sin, we'll never leave it. This is the reason for the title of my Journal and the Scripture reference of Romans 8:6. We are to set our minds on the Spirit and not the flesh. I think that recovery from porn use is more about moving toward something and less about moving away from something.

I think on this as I journal today. I'm currently on day 4, and am slowing come out of the funk that porn use puts me in. As a Christian, I believe fighting this means not only running from porn, but running to Christ and deepening my affection for Him. John Owens, who wrote prolifically on sin and temptation speaks to this:

"?Do not seek to empty your cup as a way to avoid sin, but rather seek to fill it up with the Spirit of life, so there is no longer room for sin.?

?Sin also carries on its war by entangling the affections and drawing them into an alliance against the mind. Grace may be enthroned in the mind, but if sin controls the affections, it has seized a fort from which it will continually assault the soul. Hence, as we shall see, mortification is chiefly directed to take place upon the affections.?

Owens essentially says that sin un-replaced is sin un-repented. If I'm not replacing my affections, then I'm only fighting this battle by denying myself, and that can only last so long. Christ wants to change my affections, to give me a joy that overcomes the desire for porn. I can't win this unless I desire porn less and desire Christ more.

I have very little to report in my journal today other than to log that I'm on day 4 of abstinence. I'm thankful for the accountability of this simple journal and grateful for the replies I've gotten so far. I've also benefited from reading many of the other journals, and I'm thankful for the transparency and honesty.

Moving forward, I know that going 4 days is pretty easy. I've been distracted by work or deer hunting, so it doesn't feel like much of a victory. But I'll take it.


4 Days
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Congratulations on 4 days, berry!

Exactly right! We don't wish to be what I call sin-conscious. We are what we focus on, and even focusing over much on fighting sin or an addiction actually gives energy to it, and falsely identifies ourselves.

The mind is never itself under grace, but rather the whole being is in Christ Jesus. The mind is either carnal or spiritual (as the name of your journal is after the latter).

I appreciate what you say concerning the affections, as this is a very important truth for me. What I'm truly craving isn't so much porn or lust, it's the Lord. We are at our core spiritual beings, and we have an unsatiable hunger and thirst that only God can fill. We mistakenly thought that the pleasures of the flesh could meet that need (...and the well is deep), but only the Lord Jesus can quench that thirst.

Yes, there needs to be both. A moving away from, a fleeing from sexual lust and pornography, and a moving toward, a believing into that new creation we are in holiness and purity.

Wishing you strength for the journey.
 
Triggers

I've done well to stay away from triggers the past 5 days. However, I have been very stressed lately over some issues at work, and this has my generally down. Over the years, as I've identified things that trigger me, I have been surprised at how little it takes. Of course, certain images are triggers and so I know not to watch certain tv shows and generally need to stay away from social media and have software to filter my internet access.

But two things I've identified as my most common triggers are much harder to stay away from: stress and being alone. When I'm stressed or feeling low, it's much easier to give in. Maybe this is due to a feeling that I deserve the release porn offers. I'm sure it's also due to years of training my brain to go to porn like a drug. But when I realized that I'm more tempted when I'm all by myself, I was very discouraged. It might be possible to stay away from an enticing image, but I will HAVE to be alone with myself at times...for the rest of my life.

When I have the house to myself the temptation is strong. I'm an introvert and so being alone is how I am reenergized. I love alone time and have greatly benefited over the years from personal spiritual disciplines that require solitude and quiet reflection. I hate that porn has high-jacked this. It has taken something that I should enjoy for my spiritual and emotional health and turned it into a battle field.

So today, I'm thinking on how to combat my triggers. If I can have time alone without PMO and can spend that time doing the things that energize me (reading, praying, journaling, exercising, wood working, etc...) then it feels like a BIG win. I need a win. My wife may be taking the kids a day early to visit her parents for Christmas. I'll have to stay behind due to my work. I can already anticipate the battle ahead of me. I want to look forward to this time alone. I want to use it as a time of reflection and growth. I want it to be a win.

5 Days
 

J01

Active Member
Hope you are able to properly channel the work stress; that is a big one for me as well so I can relate to it.  Keep the private devotions going, and remember that He is merciful.  That is a wise idea to anticipate the upcoming situations and mentally prepare ahead of time for how you will deal with it.  Looking forward to following your journey and congratulations on the good start! 
 
Starting day 7. I'm still generally "down", but I'm realizing that I may need help in other areas. I've spoken with a professional counselor and now have an appointment with a psychiatrist who may prescribe meds for depression/anxiety. I've never taken meds like this before and have never really wanted to. I've always felt that I should be able to pray my way out of any funk I'm in, but I'm realizing now that isn't always true. I love Charles Spurgeon and have learned a lot from his journey through depression. Even in the 1800's, he realized that the fight of depression was often chemical. He talks about depression often being a battle with the "body" and not the "soul". So I have to come to terms with the fact that I may need some meds to help me over the edge.

I'm realizing that my battle with PMO may be exacerbated by my depression and anxiety, and I'm hopeful that along with my regular prayer and time in the Word, meds might help me in this fight. I haven't even met with the psychiatrist yet, but I'm already feeling better just knowing I'll talk with someone who might be able to help makes sense of whats going on in my mind. I just often feel out of control, and taking this step feels like a sense of control that gives me some hope. I'm also trying to tell myself that I won't have to take meds for the rest of my life...just long enough to get over this hump. I have no idea, but I realize some of this is my pride in wanting to "white-knuckle" this fight with PMO in my own strength.

I'm doing well today. My wife and girls were away last night, but thankfully my son stayed behind with me. We watched some tv and went to bed late, and I had very little desire to use porn. It feels like a win.

I've enjoyed reading lots of journals here and feel like I've learned a lot. I've been very interested in how you guys are fighting urges and even rethinking how to handle them in a way that isn't "white-knuckling". I know to make it for the long haul, I'll have to move past my pride and a white-knuckling approach.

7 Days
 
Day 10.

Doing pretty well. Still have some urges, but I've realized over the years that I often give in when I "can". Meaning, when I'm bored or find myself alone with an opportunity. I often feel the urge when I'm really stressed about something, and I use it as an opportunity to escape for a few minutes. I've had both of these scenarios over the past few days (lots of opportunity and lots of moments of stress and desire to escape). But I've not turned to PMO.

Still having sex with my wife, and that has been helpful (once in the past 10 days), but I'm also aware that I often am more tempted the day after sex. I think it's just that my brain got some of what it wanted, but its trained to get more of it from porn. Its like I woke it up, and its asking for more. Typically, its only a strong urge during the morning after. I was aware of this before sex and so it was not unexpected.

I'm trying to stay away from triggers, but thats very hard to do. Sometimes I feel like the only person who is triggered by such innocent things (for example, there are certain female news anchors I just don't need to watch...ha). I think that surely I shouldn't be turned on by some of the things that trigger me, but here I am. Years of brain training I guess. Praying my brain can adjust and recover from that.

Anyway, I'm on Day 10 and feeling pretty good.
 

J01

Active Member
I can relate to what you say about giving in when alone and being triggered by seemingly innocent things; being aware of these facets should help us!

I sometimes read or listen to a passage from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotions-real good stuff.  Keep moving forward !
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
I'm trying to stay away from triggers, but thats very hard to do. Sometimes I feel like the only person who is triggered by such innocent things (for example, there are certain female news anchors I just don't need to watch...ha). I think that surely I shouldn't be turned on by some of the things that trigger me, but here I am. Years of brain training I guess. Praying my brain can adjust and recover from that.

I would challenge you to rethink the whole 'triggers' concept, as it tends to disempower us.

It makes events, persons, places, situations, sights, sounds, smells, etc, as more powerful than they are. I am not denying that the concept exists, what I prefer to call cues, and there will always be cues until that the cues themselves change by your non-response.

As an example, interacting with prostitutes was once an obsession of mine (as part of my own p/s addiction), though I never did anything sexual with them. This was way back in the early 2000's. So, there was a time when in trying to quit, break an addiction, I would avoid Central ave in our city, as it would be the red-light district and also because it has porno bookstores, which I also had frequented (6x).

When I began to understand these things about properly understanding our cues, I started to no longer avoid these areas of town, and even to this day if it's on my way to a destination, I'll purposely drive through those areas. These 'former triggers' no longer trigger me. I no longer circle the block, even if I saw a knock-out prostitute (probably an undercover, lol...). I no longer care. But, I also don't wish to give any place or area power over me, as if simply seeing a porno bookstore could 'trigger' me, and then I had to act out on those urges.

Your triggers will change through non-response, and what used to trigger you no longer will. But, as long as you give your 'triggers' power over you, you will continue to disempower yourself and eventually you'll give in. T.V. shows, movies, are another example. If it's something I see, I won't necessarily avoid it but reframe it. I'm not saying, put yourself in danger, but you can look away, or reframe it (non-nudity) like, that's someone's daughter, wife, sister, etc...

God bless you in your journey.
 
jixu said:
I can relate to what you say about giving in when alone and being triggered by seemingly innocent things; being aware of these facets should help us!

I sometimes read or listen to a passage from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotions-real good stuff.  Keep moving forward !

I?m reading through a book called ?Spurgeon?s Sorrows? right now. It?s been a great daily morning read and part of my routine...which is crucial for me. Spurgeon?s own struggle with depression has been eye opening.
 
Phineas 808 said:
I'm trying to stay away from triggers, but thats very hard to do. Sometimes I feel like the only person who is triggered by such innocent things (for example, there are certain female news anchors I just don't need to watch...ha). I think that surely I shouldn't be turned on by some of the things that trigger me, but here I am. Years of brain training I guess. Praying my brain can adjust and recover from that.

I would challenge you to rethink the whole 'triggers' concept, as it tends to disempower us.

It makes events, persons, places, situations, sights, sounds, smells, etc, as more powerful than they are. I am not denying that the concept exists, what I prefer to call cues, and there will always be cues until that the cues themselves change by your non-response.

As an example, interacting with prostitutes was once an obsession of mine (as part of my own p/s addiction), though I never did anything sexual with them. This was way back in the early 2000's. So, there was a time when in trying to quit, break an addiction, I would avoid Central ave in our city, as it would be the red-light district and also because it has porno bookstores, which I also had frequented (6x).

When I began to understand these things about properly understanding our cues, I started to no longer avoid these areas of town, and even to this day if it's on my way to a destination, I'll purposely drive through those areas. These 'former triggers' no longer trigger me. I no longer circle the block, even if I saw a knock-out prostitute (probably an undercover, lol...). I no longer care. But, I also don't wish to give any place or area power over me, as if simply seeing a porno bookstore could 'trigger' me, and then I had to act out on those urges.

Your triggers will change through non-response, and what used to trigger you no longer will. But, as long as you give your 'triggers' power over you, you will continue to disempower yourself and eventually you'll give in. T.V. shows, movies, are another example. If it's something I see, I won't necessarily avoid it but reframe it. I'm not saying, put yourself in danger, but you can look away, or reframe it (non-nudity) like, that's someone's daughter, wife, sister, etc...

God bless you in your journey.

I totally get this and understand what you?re saying. I don?t want to give triggers more power than I should. I also realize that as I fail to respond to them, they will lose their power. I?ve experienced this over the years. I do think that very early on in an attempt to give up porn (like in the first few days and weeks) those triggers should be avoided as they are so difficult to turn off once the chemicals start flowing. I?m mainly talking about hard triggers for me like scrolling Instagram and web searches that pull up anything that will start the ball rolling. Once those triggers are activated, it is hard to stop early in the fight. I agree that as we resist them, it can be healthy to be able to interact with them without giving them power (I.e. I?d love to be able to have Instagram on my phone again one day! And I believe I can at some point).

I think it?s very cool that you can drive down that street and feel a sense of victory in it. That?s empowering.
 
Day 17

Been great over Christmas. I know the holidays can be a hard time for many in the effort to be P free, but for me I?ve welcomed the distraction. Lots of travel with my family and it breaks up the routine. The daily grind of normal life tends to create more temptation for me.

I know that some stay away from sex altogether during a reboot but my wife and I are still active and it?s been helpful honestly. The farther away I get from porn, the more she turns me on and other women aren?t as appealing. Porn really does cause us to compare women, and no matter how attractive our wives are they can?t win that comparison. They?ll never live up to the women in porn and they shouldn?t have to. I?ve hated over the years how porn has caused me to devalue my wife (and other real women in my life). I?m thankful for how I can feel my brain healing in this way even after only 17 days.

17 Days
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Congrats on 17 days, berrylewis!

Yeah, I walk a balance between how I view 'triggers' and also the concept of plucking out the eye, cutting off the hand, if you know what I mean...

For me, I decided to totally delete my Pinterest, as I never visited the pinned pictures that were innocent or even inspirational. But I learned how to navigate to where even porn sites could be accessed! So, as part of my new approach to social media, that one had to go for sure...

I agree with you on our approach toward our wives. Sex with them, in my opinion, should continue even as we reboot. Because we should be hardwired toward our wives anyway.
 
Yeah. I definitely feel the tension over this, and I agree that we shouldn?t give triggers too much power. I think those innocent triggers can be redeemed so that we can enjoy them as they are meant to be (i.e. female news anchors or driving down a particular street). There may be some things in life I always have to stay away from, but I really do believe that freedom is possible and that our brains can rewire in such a way that we can stop lusting after women and stop using porn as an outlet when we are ?triggered?.
 

workinprogressUK

Well-Known Member
berrylewis29 said:
Day 17

I?m thankful for how I can feel my brain healing in this way even after only 17 days.

17 Days

Really positive post, mate. Thanks for sharing. Hope you continue to see the rewiring benefits into the new year.
 
Day 24

Doing ok but I am feeling more tempted today. I?m very stressed right now with work. When I get overly stressed, I get muscle tightness in my neck and shoulders and I?m almost immobile today. I haven?t been this tempted to use porn since the beginning of my reboot.

Praying that I can redirect my thoughts for the next few days until this passes. I still feel like my thinking is clearer and my mental health has drastically improved. So I?m motivated not to take a step backward by slipping up now

24 Days porn free
 

workinprogressUK

Well-Known Member
"When you feel like quitting, remember why you started".
Hoping that your motivation not to relapse today is stronger than your desire to go back to your old habits.
 
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