My history with pornography
Hello TMB forums,
This is not going to be a question so much as a lot of context.
Porn started at 11 years old for me. My dad brought home a sports illustrated magazine from his work that was about Nascar racing. It was a Saturday and unlike most kids I was sitting on the couch bored and trying to pretend I was doing something. So, I picked up the magazine and pretended to be interested in it, in reality I was flipping through the pages looking at the cars which was only making me slightly less bored than I already was. I flipped one of the pages towards the end of the magazine and sitting on that page was an advertisement for a swimsuit sports illustrated magazine. I was not prepared for what I saw. It was a woman in a bikini that had a heavy amount of photoshop and makeup to send all of the right triggers to the male brain. I closed the magazine quickly, wondering if anyone had seen what I was looking at. Then I remember feeling guilty for seeing it, but I reasoned that I should not feel guilty, I did nothing wrong after all. What I had seen was an accident and I did not want to see it, it even frightened me. I remember feeling happy that I had logically argued with myself why I was not in the wrong. I really wasn’t in the wrong, till I started to think about it.
Over the weeks I would lie in bed and my mind would drift to that image. I was frustrated I couldn’t perfectly recall that image. Eventually I convinced myself that I wanted to see the cars in the magazine. I found an opportunity when no one was around and pretended that I was looking at the cars for what felt like an hour but in reality, was probably five to ten minutes. I found my way to that page with the swimsuit model. Looking at it I felt nauseated, my heart racing like it never had before. After about ten seconds I felt so sick I had to put it down. I began pacing and trying to calm myself, I said to myself then that I was not going to look at that image again. The same process happened with my mind drifting back to it, this time I wasn’t pretending. I planned to look at it with the full intention of looking at that woman and memorizing every detail. I did just that. The third time I looked at it I was sick, but not as much as the last time, and so on and so forth.
Eventually it stopped being that exciting, plus at this point I didn’t know what masturbating was, it had never occurred to me that something else was supposed to accompany these explicit images (at the time this is what I considered to be explicit). I remembered as a child searching “cool cars” on Google images with my older brother which was entirely innocent, but there were a few images in there that I suddenly was able to recall that had women along with the so called “cool cars.” I searched that, again pretending I was just looking at the cars, but this time it was for the sake of anyone that would come in the room while I was doing this. I scrolled past the ones with women in them still pretending not to look at them, and when I did my heart rate would spike and my brain would feel fuzzy, like it was hard to focus on any of my other senses except my eyesight. After weeks of this I decided to click on one of the images, enlarging it. This extra detail gave me the accompanying side effects that I had experienced in the past; fuzzy head, heart racing, and general panic.
In a short time I realized I could find similar images based off of the one I was viewing. I did this and used it to appease my growing curiosity in regard to the female anatomy. At this point, I had yet to see a woman naked. This frustrated me greatly. Why would women wear these provocative clothes? Why not just show me the whole thing already? I was starting to wonder just what was underneath these clothes, and that growing curiosity eventually grew into a maddening frustration.
One day while I was on the computer, I clicked on the search bar and a very explicit search came up (I do not know who searched it, but there are a lot of people in my house and I thought about it, but have lost interest since then). It was not till later that I decided to actually follow through with searching it and even then I didn’t click on any of the links, I just appeased myself with reading the descriptions. I finally worked up the courage to click one of the links, I almost puked at what I saw. It felt like knives of panic and visceral unfiltered lust being stabbing into my eyes and brain. I exited the tab almost as soon as I opened it, never even seeing what the link was bringing me too, just the advertisements around the video. Eventually I worked up the courage to watch a little bit of the video, then I worked up the courage to watch the whole thing later on.
After I was able to process what I saw I had a lot of questions, and unfortunately, I got all of them from porn. I didn’t even figure out what masturbating was till I was about twelve at a boy scout summer camp. The other boys there mentioned it in a nonchalant way and I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about. They explained it to me and I pretended to be disgusted. I had done some experiments already, even bringing myself to orgasm once, but my brain couldn’t process what I was experiencing. I did not even associate the hand movements with the final result. I remember thinking it was painful, but weird pain that might feel good? It is hard to explain exactly how my immature brain was processing it, I just know my brain was not ready for it. Eventually after the camp I figured it out, and at this point I was watching the same porn video over and over again for material.
Masturbating, porn, and puberty all mixed together into a horrible mixture that sent me on a spiral of self-hatred and frustrating lust. Around the age of fourteen to sixteen I had an intense hatred for all women (unfortunately I have not really gotten over that as a lot of the selfies and other images that girls my age post online reminds me of pornstars, of who I have come to the conclusion are doing it purely for money and are thus heartless and oblivious to the massive destruction they have caused me and the rest of society). I have come to terms with this obviously, because it is insanely petty. I am blaming the porn instead of myself which makes zero sense. Also, I have come to blame the industry more than the women in it, as the women truly are just doing it for money, but I still think this is insanely heartless and downright evil, but than again, so is watching the stuff and thus supporting it. This hatred for women however led me down a much darker path. I wanted to see women suffer, not be pleased (I realize now that porn is entirely fake so there was never any pleasure happening). That is when I turned to much more hardcore porn. I took this turn around the age of sixteen or seventeen, and I was not truly satisfied (or so I thought I was satisfied) till around seventeen when I found out about a website that shall remain nameless so as not to lead others down my path. Mix in hentai with all of this (drawn and animated porn) and you have my spiral into absolute degeneracy.
Over the years I have tried to stop many times, I am twenty years old now, so I am still battling it, but I would only have stretches of a few weeks or so. I would then bounce back in a complete rage and blame it on some girl that was scantily clad in public or some nonsense. The longest time I have ever been without porn was when I took a girl to prom. As soon as I heard she wanted to go with me it was like a switch. I was off for about two months (even after I told her we should be friends because I felt like things were progressing faster than I was willing to handle), and in those two months I have had the clearest thinking of my entire life (except, weirdly enough when I was a kid, I had some pretty clear thinking but that was because I was an extremely analytical child, I still am analytical). Recently I have been off of porn for I think, a couple of weeks, I lose track, but I have also been trying to stop masturbating. It hasn’t been going as well since I masturbated the 30th of April and the 1st of may (sorry if that is a TMI).
So that is it then, I started generalizing things towards the end because this is way too long already but hopefully it communicates my admittedly generic story. Also, you should probably be aware that my thinking in regard to how my addiction started is pretty bad. I have thought about telling my eventual significant other and even in this post I explained it pretty much how I do not want to explain it to her, which is painting myself in this innocent light. As a kid I definitely was not innocent, just clueless when it came to that arena. I apologize for the essay, but I feel that it is impossible to properly help and diagnose me if I do not share the details in detail. Something else that should be noted is that I have told my parents of my addiction (I never told my father directly, but we have talked about it, although only in vague terms but he knows). I regret telling them as it has only ever brought me frustration and built a gap between us. Sorry if this is too much, and sorry if I posted this in the wrong board. I will move it if I made a mistake.
The State of Things, thank you for sharing. I have been in the dark place you describe, but perhaps not to the same depth. Nevertheless I was in bondage and needed deliverance. I was I despair and felt so separated from God and helpless. My marriage relationship was miserable. One day I had a very intense fear that I was lost, apart from God and bound for hell. Porn and lust is a very destructive sin, and as you describe, it will change how you view women. I felt like at any moment my life could end and I would be apart from God forever. We don’t know the length of our life. I immediately fell to my knees and wept and begged God to forgive me through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. He atoned for my sin, and I felt His comfort. I inhaled Scripture, always in the Word, but before this I was like you, my spiritual life was dead. I knew I couldn’t go back to porn. God gave me the strength to stand against it. My conscience has strengthened, and at times I have come across inappropriate images online, but it’s different now. It used to be bondage and I couldn’t stop. Now I feel a freedom to just leave and not return. I never stopped masturbating but certainly did work on where my mind was, avoiding ungodly, inappropriate thoughts.
This is my story. God can do the same for you, but think carefully. Are you repenting in the strength of Christ by the Holy Spirit, or is it your own fleshly, weak effort? Have you felt the weight of your sin, and the eternal judgement that you (all of us) deserve because of our sin? Have you put your faith in the only One who can deliver you from death to life? Have you received the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ as atonement for your sin? If so, you are an adopted child of God. Children strive to look like their Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit will guide you in truth and righteousness. While salvation does not mean we stop sinning entirely, we live a repentant life. It is so important to deal with this now before marriage. I’ll be praying for you. May God be merciful and gracious toward you, this is His work not ours when we are victorious over sin. So pray, beg, plead. Pray that you see that God is more glorious, and life without Him is worthless. He can deliver and change your view of women.
I can’t say it any better than ShadowSpirit…thank you for sharing. We all are sinners who need a Savior. I know others will be able to relate to you. I could see some of my husband’s own story in yours, and I think of my three sons…. two of which I know have had their own struggle with porn.
You shared about how this stirred a “hatred for all women”, and that you continue to struggle with it some. How are you working through that? Are there certain steps you are taking?
How brave you are to be so honest! It shows that you are truly heartbroken to be trapped in this sin and want to be free. Jesus has already won the victory for you and WILL set you free!
Without meaning to suggest you should abdicate any of your own true responsibility for your actions, remember that at eleven (and even older) curiosity is normal and natural. I remember being utterly desperate to discover what a grown man’s penis looked like and so disappointed to find that the cowboy in the centerfold of the Playgirl an older friend got ahold of had a hat over the pertinent area! Had anyone sat you down and given you straightforward, sensible information about the differences between boys and girls, men and women and what the parts were called, what they looked like, and what they were meant for? By 11, 12, 13, children of both genders are theoretically capable of procreation, so it would be odd if the brain at that age ignored the biology and went on in blissful ignorance. So accept responsibility for the choices you made when your conscience advised you against it, but for natural curiosity, give yourself grace.
Also, I’m wondering if you have been convicted by God about the masturbating? In the discussions on this board, it is certainly deemed acceptable within marriage, and I admit I am confused as to why it would be different for someone who is single and has no other sinless opportunity to meet this physical need. (I call it a “need” based on the fact that the body will spontaneously ejaculate when the buildup of semen becomes too much and goes un-relieved for too long, resulting in a wet dream.) I DON’T KNOW the answer to this question; I suggest a question/poll and discussion on the matter.
You have my sincere prayers for your success in this struggle! It can’t be easy, but remember that Jesus has already won!
Allow me to clarify on this hatred that I mentioned. Currently, I am more annoyed than hateful towards women. I mentioned this when I said, “I have come to terms with this.” It is a little hard to see because I put a giant note in parentheses in between where I said I hate women and that I have come to terms with it. Within the note I say that I have not really gotten over this. This is because I see that women, as a general rule, want Male attention. I find the method they use to get that attention to be lazy and self destructive. However, I do not hate women anymore. Though I am probably hyper judgmental when it comes to women, but I definitely do not hate them. Obviously it is still a problem, but it is a problem that has shrunk over the years, and I think if I interact with real women more it will probably continue to shrink. I hope this clarifies the issue a little bit.
In regard to the growing pains of curiousity the fact that men and women develop very differently needs to be addressed. The most sexual thing I thought as a kid was kissing, and it was not sexual to me at all seen as how i was only five or six years old at the time. I just thought of kissing as a way to tell a girl that you love them. I did not think of it as sexual, it was only later when I was about eight or nine that I decided I should probably not kiss any girls (not that I have ever found myself in the situation to do such a thing anyways). I was not that curious to know much about girl’s bodies, or my own for that matter, right up until I saw that magazine. I realized right then that I could explore a whole new world without anyone finding out. I should not have followed that instinct, but I did. I need to be transparent. It feels like I’ve been doing this so long, and apologizing to God so much, I don’t have much guilt to spare anymore unfortunately. I have been growing more and more spiritually distant. Now I have mainly been getting convinced to stop for the sake of my career and school. My spiritual life is in shambles. I haven’t read the Bible in my own time in a long time. I haven’t prayed in a long time. I only just went to church on Easter Sunday and I have so many frustrations with the church (mainly the fact that they do not talk about real issues such as mine, and I mean talk about them in groups not the preacher on a Sunday morning, I dont expect something that unreasonable, just something).
I never got a “talk.” I think my parents told me once they meant to tell me about that stuff after I confessed to them about the porn, but I never got that kind of information. I don’t think that information would have helped me much to be honest. Because the knowledge of sex has only ever made me ask more about why women and men behave the way they do (I ask this about women more than men).
I like to think I have had a practical conviction when it comes to masturbating. I had conviction before, but I began to associate that conviction with lust rather than masturbation. I read the article on the main website way back when about teens and masturbation. This lead me to try to masturbate without lusting. I succeeded in this endeavor and felt really good about it. Now, there are communities of people (non-christian) who speak about quitting porn and masturbation. They say that it clears their heads and allows them to focus easier and accomplish a lot. This is the first forum I have gotten involved with in regard to confessing my porn addiction and seeking a change (no pun intended), but I am questioning whether masturbating was ever right as the article would suggest. I have never had a wet dream. Sure I have had dreams about girls as early as nine I think, but none of them have ever resulted in ejaculation and I am pretty sure I have gone at least three weeks without masturbating before. I have noticed that the amount of dreams I have about women increase in those times (tmi warning), but my erections in the morning seem to decrease. It is a strange combination. Mainly my thinking now is to stop porn, which so far I have been successful in (if you consider a few weeks porn free to be successful).
I hope that clarified some of the confusion.
My struggle with porn was my biggest contribution to the demise of my first marriage. It was a struggle that lasted 20 years. From a practical perspective, breaking a bad habit is much easier if you 1) replace it with a good habit, 2) set yourself up to succeed, and 3) start small.
First, choose what you will do instead of porn when you are tempted. I would recommend something like reading the Bible (physical book) rather than praying. The book will occupy your hands and your mind and help you focus on something other than the temptation.
Next, set up your surroundings so that the Bible (or whatever your replacement habit is) is within easy reach. Delete any porn bookmarks, clear your cache/history, and install a router-level dns filter (like OpenDNS). Do everything you can to make it difficult or time consuming to get porn but quick and easy to open your Bible.
Finally, don’t try to quit porn forever. Just decide that the very next time you are tempted, you will read your Bible instead.
Bigger picture… For me, I needed a reason to stop. Guilt wasn’t a good enough reason. Will power wasn’t a strong enough. My reason came after the divorce. I wanted to ask a woman out, a woman with whom I thought I might have a future. And after the years of heartache my struggle with porn caused in my first marriage, I didn’t want to bring that into a new relationship. Shortly after we started dating I told her about my struggle. I wanted to tell her early in case it wasn’t something she was able to look past. So now we have been very happily married for 3 years. I am 1672 days porn free (I have an app that tracks it). And in large part because my wife understands the importance of a healthy sex life, I am hardly ever even tempted to look at porn.
I don’t know if any of that will help you, but I understand the guilt and frustration associated with pornography. Not only can I empathize, but I’m living proof that it can be overcome. I highly recommend sooner rather than later though.
Thank you for sharing your story. I know that isn’t easy and most men don’t have the courage to acknowledge the grip that porn has on their heart let alone take steps to actively combat it. Like others here I want to encourage you that you can defeat the temptation that Satan so opportunistically places in our minds. 1st Corinthians 10:13 tells us we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to bear and I pray you are able to take hold of God’s truth in your life. I’ve walked this road too; porn found me at 9 years old and 22 years later I finally found freedom and restoration with God. My parents also conveniently left out “the talk” and it left me to learn about human sexuality through porn. I thank God I have since found Christian resources to learn the truth. I likewise get frustrated at how the Church handles issues with men’s hearts. They either ignore them, or beat us up for our failings and “pep talk” us into doing better, praying harder, and sinning less. God didn’t save us so we could try harder! It is for freedom we have been set free! (Galatians 5:1) Satan will use every opportunity to drag you back and take you out of the fight. He is afraid of what we men can become when we partner with God for his kingdom!
On to the practical stuff: I have another post here that lists out some resources that were helpful to me. https://qna.themarriagebed.com/question/figuring-out-why/ Hopefully some of them can be helpful to you as well. Do you have a community of brothers you can go to and share your heart like you’ve done here? This is more than just an accountability partner, more like a band of brothers you can rely on and commune with often. We aren’t meant to go through this journey of life alone! Have you heard of Celebrate Recovery? It’s an organization that partners with churches to offer addiction support groups. You could see if there are any churches in your area with a group that meets regularly. I also pray a God will bring a special woman into your life to provide a healthy outlet for your sexual desires. It’s better for us to marry than burn with passion. (1st Corinthians 7:8)
Try the Samson Society. It has been a great help to me with my own compulsive behavior. It is not your typical 12 step program.
You can join and participate in virtual meetings. I suggest you give it a try for at least 5 times. It has been life changing for me (I do in person meetings weekly)
Nate Larkin’s Book “Samson and the Pirate Monks” is also quite helpful. Getting out of isolation and into authentic brotherhood is key.
Sign up for a newcomers meeting and go from there. No cost.