I have the most thorough training in sex addiction in the country but what gives me that intuitive edge in my office is my own experience.
I was 14 when I first discovered my brothers porn stash in the garage. I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement that I now know was a dopamine surge. Stress receded into the background and my mind became intensely focused. I had never felt anything like that in my short life. I put the magazines back exactly where I found them but made repeated secret trips out to the garage for my remaining years at home.
The roots of addiction: isolation, secrecy and deception, were firmly planted in my heart before I graduated from high school.
Throughout my adult life I was hopelessly addicted to porn but you wouldn’t know it. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University as well as a Master’s degree from Princeton Seminary. I was ordained as a minister and served successfully as a pastor of a church.
And yet something was very wrong. I would binge on porn and then cry out to God. I would beg Him to heal me, and yet was unwilling to do whatever it took to be free. I prayed for an easy way out. I wanted God to lift the obsession. God answered my prayer for deliverance by allowing My Way to cause me so much misery that I was finally willing to try the Way of Another. The weight of my addiction finally brought me to my knees. Addiction is about self will and self focus and recovery is all about the willingness to hear and obey someone else. I spent over $20,000 during a period of 15 years on every type of therapy I could find. None of it worked. The therapists were compassionate and insightful but they did not know how to treat porn addiction. It was not until I found a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist that I was able to stay sober and begin the process of true recovery.
Porn destroys love. The effects of porn permeate every relationship and yet while you are in its grip, you are able to convince yourself that you aren’t hurting anyone.
Porn is easy to hide. You can view porn on your phone in the bathroom while your wife and kids are in the next room and, unlike alcohol or drugs, those close to you won’t be able to see it in your eyes or smell it on your breath.
What your family will notice is that you are more distant and critical. You avoid spending time with them and find fault over the smallest thing. The message they get is that you don’t really want to be with them, that they somehow don’t measure up. This is what porn does. It creates such a high expectation for pleasure by flooding the brain with dopamine that real life, real people don’t measure up.
You tell yourself the lie that you’re not hurting anyone. To those outside of your family you may appear to be a good husband and father, full of humor and warmth but those closest to you suffer from the fact that your heart is not with them but instead with the endless images that take first place in your heart.
Because of my own experience of working so hard at methods that did not work, I felt compelled to learn about what worked for me which is why I entered into training with Dr. Patrick Carnes.
This process works. I have a long list of clients who use to be addicted to porn and who are now walking free; marriages that were in trouble that are now thriving in the light and truth of real intimacy.
More than anything else I want you to hear that no matter how long you have been immersed in porn, no matter how far down the dark tunnel of sex addiction you may have fallen, there is hope. Every man and woman can recover. Every marriage can be restored, but recovery and restoration is not an easy process. It is easier in the short term to continue in denial, to believe that you can defeat this addiction on your own or for your wife to believe that ‘this time you really mean it when you promises to stop’, but if you remain in isolation, I can promise you that the cycle will continue. I can also assure you that commitment to this process will produce real and lasting fruit.
You can recover. Your marriage can heal. Your home can be porn free.
You can live a better life. The choice is yours.