I am a pawn addict: Getting burned, but not learning (Part 5 of 9)

Published with permission. Written by an addict in South Africa

Getting burnt but not learning

I can see the extent of my addiction in the fact that it’s not just that my attempts to stop have failed so miserably, but that even things which should have brought me to my senses, have not. Things which have shocked me, shamed me, and hurt me, have not been able to make me stop. I have already mentioned the shock I experienced when I saw my dad’s real photos of women he had taken at his work, and how I at first had determined not to go back, but then eventually did, just being (hypocritically) careful to avoid those photos.

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I have also been caught out several times. Once, my sister caught me while masturbating. I felt so ashamed, but instead of facing the truth, I pleaded with her not to tell anyone. And it was not long before I was masturbating again. Many years ago, at a previous job, a student walked into my office, and saw pornography on my PC, which he pointed out to me. Despite the consequences I could have faced, I still continued. About a year ago, another student walked into my office and I quickly tried to minimise the window. I could not tell whether he had seen anything, and he never said anything. The big difference now was that, according to the university’s Internet policy, viewing pornography is a dismissible offence. For weeks, I lived in fear that he would turn me over, and the uncertainty of whether he had actually seen anything or not just made it worse—I couldn’t very well ask him, as that would give me away. But at the same time, if he had seen something, I was, proverbially, living on borrowed time. For a few weeks, I behaved myself, and didn’t view any pornography. But then I returned.

My wandering eyes have also caused me much embarrassment, and yet I still struggle continually to control where I look. Several instances stand out clearly. Once, I was talking to a far-off family member who was a student on our campus. She was very pretty, and had a top on that showed some cleavage. I looked at her in a way that was not appropriate, even less so considering that, even if far-off, we were family. What made it worse is that I realised that she had noticed where I was looking, and that she was feeling very uncomfortable about it. I felt ashamed, and every time I think back to that event, I feel like an idiot again. I wish that I did not have these wandering eyes and these lustful thoughts. Another time, we were doing a hike, and after a river crossing, I noticed that one of the women (who was not much to look at anyway), was not wearing a bra, and that she was bending down in front of me. Despite my not actually finding her very attractive, I still could not keep myself from looking down her t-shirt. However, my wife then saw me do that. I felt, again, like such an idiot. And I wished I could control where I looked. But at the same time, I did not truly repent, but tried to explain it away. One last display of my foolishness will always haunt me. I taught a class to about 40 post-graduate students many years ago. One day, one of the students, who was in the habit of dressing provocatively, had on a see-through top. Her bra was clearly visible. I could not keep my eyes off her, and I tried to manoeuvre so as to get the best view. Every time I think back, I know the whole class must have seen me looking, and must have thought me such a perverted fool. I feel ashamed every time I think of it. Again, I wish I could conduct myself properly in those situations, but I just seem powerless when that kind of thing comes across my path. And the feeling of shame I get when I think back on those situations is not enough to keep me from doing the same stupid things over and over again.

In my very early days of masturbation, when I was at school, and my early years at university (more than two decades ago, by now, and I am still struggling with pornography and masturbation!), I sometimes tried things to increase the stimulation, like using cylindrical objects. On one occasion, I hurt myself quite badly, and after that, I prayed, and pleaded with God, that if only he would heal me, I would stop masturbating. It did not take long for me to break that promise, although the experimentation largely stopped (I think mostly out of fear that I would hurt myself again).

I am a pawn addict: A losing battle (Part 4 of 9)

A losing battle

Publish with permission. Written by an anonymous addict in South Africa

Throughout all the years, my struggle against porn did not cease either, although neither did it bear any fruit. I have tried several Internet filters. But my knowledge of computers was too good, and I was too adept at finding ways around filters. I just could not find a filter that would do for me what I was meant to be doing for myself—keeping me from watching pornography. Many years ago, at a previous job, I even scraped my courage together and went to our university’s System Administrator and asked him if he could cut off my Internet access (he couldn’t).

losing battle

Through the years, I have tried so many things to break my porn addiction. I have tried numerous Internet filters, with varying degrees of success. I tried the Way of Purity course from Setting Captives Free (http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com)—I could never get far past half way through their 60 day course. I read countless books on the subject, including (but not limited to, and not in chronological order):

Breaking the idols of your heart: How to navigate the temptations of life (Dan Allendar & Tremper Longman)

Build you walls! Guard your gates! What Nehemiah can teach us about sexual purity (Michael Kientz)

Every man’s battle (Fred Stoeker & Stephen Arterburn)

Feeding your appetites: Take control of what’s controlling you (Stephen Arterburn & Debra Cherry)

Finally Free: Fighting for purity with the power of Grace (Heath Lambert)

Not even a hint: Guarding your heart against lust (Joshua Harris)

Sex, Lust & XXX: Fighting for your kids’ purity in a sex-saturated world (Chris Spradlin)

Sexual detox: A guide for the married guy (Tim Challies)

The war within: Gaining victory in the battle for sexual purity (Robert Daniels)

I also read numerous other books on battling sin in general, on marriage, on devoting myself to God, etc. I downloaded and listened to sermons on lust and purity. I did Bible study on passages dealing with lust. I memorised Bible verses about purity. Nothing, though, could get me to the point where I would forsake pornography once and for all. Probably the most extreme measure I tried in my efforts to kill lust was a commitment I made to spend a day fasting every time I look at pornography or masturbated. Needless to say, I fasted many days, and eventually gave up. Even that did not work.

I have also tried reaching out to others to see if they could help me overcome my porn addiction. Several times, I have confessed to my pastors and told them about my struggle. The first time I did this, the pastor, who, it turned out, was quite worldly-minded himself, told me that it was normal and a sign that I was a red-blooded young man. Other pastors have been more sensible, albeit not much more effective. Their advice, while well-meaning, was ineffective. I think what I needed most was someone who could commit to really walk the road with me, and who could do more than take notice that I had a problem, but rather check in with me on a regular basis, and confront me. Although as I say this, I am aware of two problems: Firstly, it’s as if I am blaming them for my failure, as if I am not willing to take responsibility for what I am doing. But secondly, I say that they did not know what I needed, when, in truth, I couldn’t tell them either, because I also didn’t know what I needed, and still feel that I do not.

I also tried talking to friends, but with much the same effect (or should I say, lack of effect). One friend, who I am still in discussion with, studied theology with me. He has given me advice and encouragement, but he has also not been able to help me effect any big change. Another friend is from my early circle of friends. He is doing mission work, and is also still struggling with porn. We have spoken, we have tried to encourage each other, we have prayed together, we tried messaging each other daily over WhatsApp, we read books together and discussed them, but in the end, it all came to naught. Porn was too strong. Or am I making an excuse now? Maybe I was too strong.

One last resort was confessing my problem to a colleague, and asking his help. I now give him a daily report of what I have done on my computer (generated by time logging software I have installed). Unfortunately, at first, I would skip days when things went bad, and he would not ask for them. Now, I send him the report, even if it has not gone well and I have acted out. Knowing that he will see it, however, is still not a sufficient discouragement for me to keep me from doing it.

Theo B. Kriek
Huis van Seen: ‘n Plek van Aanvaarding en Waarheid
House of Blessing: A Place of Acceptance and Truth
Pastorale Terapeut/Pastoral Therapist
Pornografie en Seksuele Verslawingsterapeut
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
Sel/Cell. 076 165 1587
Kantore/Offices in: Pretoria en/and Krugersdorp, South Africa
Blog: http://theokriek.wordpress.com
Twitter: @theokriek