Fight the New Drug

Fight the New Drug Video: My porn recovery story

***To see my featured talk "How Love Defeats Porn" given at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. click here. ***

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Journey Free from Porn

[Edit: This was written the day before we posted Mimi’s story last December. It gives context to my personal journey in fighting pornography before dating Mimi, while we were engaged, and even after we got married.  This is more than just about the struggle of purity.]

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Life was bigger than this obstacle.  I had to overcome it.



“My boyfriend/husband looks at porn.”

Since I’ve started writing about porn a little more than two years ago, I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve gotten from women with those lines written.  
I can’t tell you how many times that in those same e-mails there are expressions of hurt, confusion, loneliness, and mistrust.  
I can’t tell you how many times there have been requests for sources or advice from a woman’s point of view on how one deals with her boyfriend’s or fiancé’s or husbands porn addiction.  
And the truth is, there really isn’t much out there from a woman’s point of view on dealing with a boyfriends or husbands’ porn addiction.  So I talked to my wife, Mimi, and asked if she could provide some insight from her point of view on how she dealt with me as I broke away to freedom through it all.  

When she read her first draft to me this past Sunday, I was blown away.  Although I already knew her side of the story, it really humbled me to hear how courageous she was going to be sharing her story publicly, which are at some parts, very vulnerable.  For the past couple of days, we’ve been working on minor edits and prayed more about it, and we decided it’s good to go.

Me
Photo taken in Costa Rica, 2011
To give context to her story, after being friends for two years, I told her one night in 2009 that I struggle
with watching porn.  We didn’t talk about it much after that for the next year as we began to date, although I continued to struggle on and off.  When we broke up in 2010, I took some time to really soul search while I was in Costa Rica doing mission work.  That year I learned that watching enough pornography can later lead to sexual incompetency.  It was enough to motivate me. Combined that with my only technology being my school laptop, I dropped pornography from my life for a straight six months.  When we ran into each other that next summer of 2011, she noticed a different me.  We started talking again, and we decided to date again December of 2011.  During that year, I refrained from porn with maybe a handful of weak moments, however I was in denial that masturbation separate from porn was a still a problem or that it potentially could be hurtful.

The following December of 2012, I proposed to her.  By this time, I was in the upswing of ridding even masturbation from my life, but truly doubted it would ever go away.  I really thought this would just continue to be part of my life until we started going to Pre-Cana with our new priest Fr. Dan at our new church St. Andrew the Apostle in Silver Spring. In our first meeting with him, he took our struggles head on and said something to us that night we both couldn’t believe.  He told us that the crosses that we thought we were going to carry for the rest of our lives can actually be healed.  Really?  Then he told us something more unbelievable---that our wounds can be healed  before we get married.  Then it was really hard to believe him. 

It took two steps.  He focused on Mimi and encouraged her to courageously take on the wounds of her past, facing them through prayer and counseling at the Catholic Alpha Omega Center in Bethesda.  This time though, she wasn’t alone, as Fr. Dan told me that I needed to “get in the trenches with her.”  For the first time in our relationship, I began to pray for her intentions in a deep way, holding her hand as she dealt with her healing.  We would go to the monthly healing Masses at St. Andrew’s, and I would pray hard for her, sometimes next to her as Fr. Dan prayed over her.  It was during these times I felt most like her protector, forcing me to be the best version of myself.  My body armor couldn’t protect both of us if there were chinks in it.  I started going to daily Mass as often as I could, confession a couple times a month, and began falling in love with Jesus again.  If I knew I was going to see her the next day, it motivated me to stay clear of the sin of masturbation because I wanted to be untainted, clean, and strong during this time that she needed me to be strong.  And by intentionally fighting for her, masturbation and pornography naturally left my life as I went weeks then months free from both leading through the day of our marriage.  I always dreamed of being the best and strongest version of myself when I got married, and on August 10, 2013 I truly felt like that man when we said our vows.
Party like we're married

Fast forward into three weeks into marriage, it was like hitting a reset button. Pornography strangely came back into my life again on rare occasions.  It was my unfortunate realization that marriage itself doesn’t fix it.  After reaching out to a spiritual director, I realized the reason I was falling on random occasions was not due to lust anymore but to the chaotic stress of getting the apartment ready, adjusting to marriage, and adjusting to my new schedule of working from home.  The lack of structure gave me a lack of discipline.  When Mimi wrote about the last time I fell a couple months ago, I decided I didn’t want this to affect our marriage, especially our intimate life, and I knew I was ready to move forward again.  The next day, I asked her to fast with me, as simple as both of us avoiding chocolate, as we had it nightly to cap our dinners.  I had read before that fasting helps but never understood it until now.  By showing discipline in one way with my flesh, it lead to discipline with the other part of my flesh.  When I hurt my back, my friend had me to do butt exercises to release the tension that was in my lower back.  Focusing on another part of me indirectly helped another part.  The same was with fasting and masturbation.  And it was more than one thing that helped. I was motivated by my falling in love with Jesus again through daily Eucharist and weekly confession.  Then there was my undying commitment to not hurt Mimi again.  Finally, I knew if I wanted to guide men I work with in one-on-ones and purity groups I facilitate, I knew I had to walk my talk.  It all has lead me to live and see more clearly and freely.

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One in four marriages will sink due to a spouse's addiction to pornography.

Why do I put myself out there and why is Mimi about to share her story?  Our motivation is not about us, it’s not even about porn.  It’s about restoring relationships, marriages, and lives.  One in four marriages divorce due to a spouse’s porn addiction.  I’ve talked to too many men who are unhappy with porn in their lives, and now e-mails from women who are unhappy that porn is in their lovers’ lives.  This is about the one of the biggest obstacles that prevent men and women from living the most joyful, peaceful, strong, and happy lives that they want.  Mimi talks about treating it as an addiction, and talk to any recovering alcohol addict, drug addict, previous cigarette smoker, or food addict ----life is so much better on the other side, isn’t it?  The same is with porn.

This is not about porn anymore.  When I’m strongest it’s not about fearing the fall, but about living life to the fullest.  Treat it like an obstacle to living to our fullest potential, and we all can overcome it.

As for the women who want to know how one can deal with her boyfriend or husband’s porn addiction I will be putting her story up tomorrow, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Because perhaps the wisest thing I’ve done in my life is look to the wisdom of women, and ultimately to Our Mother.  The Mary of my life will share tomorrow, and I hope her words can touch you as it has touched me, too.

Let the married overcome the obstacles



Amén.

For more practical steps I took to overcome pornography, check out Why we struggle with porn and steps to overcome it.


4 comments:

  1. Ang galing. Nakaka inspire. Totoong totoo to. Yung dinidate kopa yung nobya ko inde ako nanood nang porn kasi I want to be as clean as I could Coz she is worth it and deserve our purity. Ang galing mo matt

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