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.
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).