I am a pawn addict: Consequences (part 9 of 9)

Consequences

Published with permission. Written by a anonymous addict in South Africa.

In one sense, however, even though I am reaping what I have sown, in another, I have not nearly suffered the consequences I deserve for what I have done.

consequences-of-infidelity

There is, nonetheless, another aspect of this for which I need to accept responsibility—the extent to which others have suffered consequences as a result of my addiction to porn. I have betrayed God, and made little of my salvation and the witness entrusted to me. I have equally betrayed and belittled and degraded my wife, and withheld years of my best from her, and subjected her to years and years of mental and emotional torment. My sons, too, are not what they might have been, had I been a faithful husband to their mother, and a true leader of the family with integrity. The women whom I took sexual advantage of in the past also carry those consequences with them. My employers have been robbed of many hours of my service, and my lost productivity. And then there are the people who were robbed of my support and input—my friends who also struggle with porn who I was unable to help, other people in other situations who needed support and guidance from me which I was unable to give because I was so paralysed by my own porn addiction. I cannot truly estimate the cost, in relational and spiritual terms, that porn has wrought in my life.

I also find it hard to estimate the financial cost of porn in my life, although I do need to confess that it is significant. For me, it has been mostly opportunity cost. I have not spent huge amounts on purchasing pornography—perhaps less than five magazines and less than 30 movies purchased in my life for the purposes of porn. The only other expense has been the cost of data, which has been relatively little. However, much of the work that I have done over the past two decades has been work billed per hour, and if I had replaced all the time spent looking at pornography with billable work, the total may well have run in excess of R 500 000 over the last two decades. That would amount to a small flat paid in cash which I could rent out for an income! All flushed (quite literally) down the toilet. Despite this, I have deluded myself in terms of the cost of my porn use, for the simple reason that I have ignored the opportunity cost, and focused solely on the negligible direct cost.

In terms of my own life, the consequences have been many and varied. Physically, I have not suffered any permanent consequences, although I have sometimes slept too little and become exhausted. I have, though, suffered many consequences in my family life. I have put my marriage at risk, and have severely stunted my relationship with my wife. I so desire intimacy, and yet, ironically, I cannot get intimacy in my marriage because of the way I have destroyed the possibility of relationship through my porn addiction. I have put my family’s well-being on the line, and I am convinced that, had my life not been as crazy, and my mind not so distracted, and my spiritual life not so dead, my relationship with my sons would have been vastly different (and so much better). So many times I am short-tempered with them, because of my own frustration or tiredness wrought by porn.

Spiritually, there have been immense consequences. As a student, I was a respected spiritual leader. Later, I even took over the preaching duties at a church when the church had no minister, for a period of almost a year. During this time, one person told me that I had preached the best sermon he had ever heard in his life. However, now, I have not preached for almost a decade, chiefly because I withdrew myself from preaching because I could not stand the hypocrisy of preaching and looking as if I have it all together, spiritually, when my life is a mess of sin. I am always stumped by the fact that, given the choice of leaving porn or leaving ministry opportunities, I chose the latter, and not the former. If I had wanted to get rid of the hypocrisy, surely the better way would be to just quit porn? But somehow, foolishly, I just let porn grow and grow, and quit ministry. My life is, quite literally, spiritually dead. I cannot pray as I used to. I hardly do Bible study any more. Church has become a ritual to me. I am not the spiritual leader of my home. My life feels spiritually barren, and I have almost no hope of spiritual recovery. One of the worst things that happened was that several years ago, I was in a church that started falling apart (the minister’s wife had an affair), and some people wanted me to take over, but I refused, because I knew that in my weak spiritual state and my indwelling sin, I would be a sitting duck. The church eventually disbanded, and I feel partly responsible for what happened—a great sense of loss and regret.

In all honesty, I also don’t think I fully realise the emotional impact that porn has had on my life, most likely because my porn addiction has deadened me so much emotionally. I have sometimes wondered whether it would not be best to end my life, so that the addiction would be over, although I would never say that I was ever really suicidal. I do experience feelings of hopelessness and despair on a regular basis, especially when struggling with a porn binge, or having to deal with the fallout caused by my addiction. I have almost no self-esteem, and have lost hope of achieving any major life goals. I struggle with guilt and shame, and the fact that I continually act against everything that I believe in, and want to stand for, has left me continually dealing with the inner conflict of my two lives. And so, like Robert-Louis Stevenson’s Jekyl and Hyde, I have two lives, two personalities, one wanting to be good and the other utterly evil, doing battle within me. This has left me emotionally exhausted, and because I cannot speak to anyone about it, for fear of what they would think of me, or of the consequences I might suffer, I feel emotionally isolated and deserted.

Although I think I will still only feel the full impact of this in years to come, I have also suffered definite work consequences because of my porn addiction. I have already mentioned the lost income because of all the time spent on porn. But even the possibility of career advancement has been sacrificed because of my porn addiction. Firstly, I write as part of my work. I have written two books, and have had dreams of (and have been working on) several more. I could have had many more books published by now, had it not been for all the time wasted on porn. I also, however, have to write and publish scholarly articles for my work. My chances of promotion and future work are directly linked to my publication record. Again, I could easily have had double the number of publications that I currently have, had I not wasted so much time on porn. Added to this the fact that I am gaining a reputation of being unreliable, and of having “too much on the go,” which is actually just because of the craziness in my life as a result of my porn addiction. Everyone just thinks I am trying to do too many things, when in reality they don’t know that the biggest time waster in my life is pornography.

Conclusion

Reflecting on all of this, I find that there is indeed very little that I can say. I am filled with sadness at the state of affairs, frustration at the huge mess my life has become and my total and utter inability to extricate myself from it, sorrow at the mess I have made, and the harm I have caused to so many people, and a sense of loss at all the opportunities I have missed, and what porn has cost me. I also feel, at this stage, very hopeless. Looking back, I see very little light, and no hope. Just an unstoppable trail of destruction that looms its dark shadow over not only my life, but that of my family, my sons. I am more broken than I realise, and my situation is more desperate than I think. Can there be any salvation for me?

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

I am a pawn addict: My beliefs laid bare (Part 8 of 9)

My beliefs laid bare

Published with permission. Written by an addict in South Africa

Why? How many times have I not asked myself that? Why can I not get free from this? Why am I so drawn to porn? Perhaps the best question is, rather: What? What triggers a porn binge? What is it that I believe about my addition that keeps me within its grasp?

beliefs-wordle

Recounting the above has led me to ascertain one thing for certain, which is that, to a large extent, I find myself very unwilling to accept responsibility for my actions and my addiction. I tend to think: If only I had not been exposed by others. If only my father had not left me his porn addiction as an inheritance. If only I had received more help, better counsel, from the pastors and friends that I turned to for help, and even from my wife, then I might already have been set free from this.

Of course, I rationalise my behaviour in a whole number of ways. I argue that, because my wife is not physically intimate with me, I need another outlet for my sexual urges. I battle, however, to keep in mind that the converse is actually true—my inability to live a sexually mature, controlled, and appropriate lifestyle is what has caused my wife to retreat from me in terms of both physical and emotional intimacy.

Pornography has also become an outlet for me when I am tired or frustrated or even just bored. Why such states of mind should justify something as inappropriate and destructive as pornography, however, is something I rarely stop to contemplate.

And, perhaps the most pernicious rationalisation, in part because it is an acknowledgement of the truth, but partly also because it uses that truth as an excuse, is that I just cannot stop myself, so what sense is there in trying? I think, in my clearer moments, that although at one level I still appear to be fighting porn, on another, I have resigned myself to it.

In summary, I think that, in a sense, my life has been marked by a strong search and yearning for acceptance. I just feel the need to be loved, and I have been searching for that in physical intimacy. Add to that, however, the fact that I have been shy and withdrawn, and I have been something of my own worst enemy—unwilling or unable to relate in a mature manner, incapable of really giving intimacy, and yet so desperately craving for it myself. I think, then, that internet porn was (is?) a way for me to escape that. Here, the women (could at least create the impression that they) wanted to be alluring. Here, I could desire them, and they let me. It’s all a lie, though, because they don’t really care about me, and because all it does is build desire, but never really satisfies it. That, of course, is why it is so addictive. It makes me desire more, and more, and more. But while it may give me highs and thrills, it never gives me intimacy. And so, over time, the desire builds and builds. It always promises, but never delivers. And so I just keep following the promise, but never get what I am actually looking for. How sad. And how foolish of me.

Porn as a problem

Pornography has become a major problem in my life. It is no longer just something that I do from time to time. This year alone, I have had about four major porn binges. I tend, at present, to work in a cycle. Things can go well for a week or two, but then the desire mounts. Then I start looking for pornography, and when I find it, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at it, and masturbating. So I could easily spend two thirds of a working day looking for and looking at pornography, and masturbating even three or four times in a day. Further to that, the amount of productivity I have lost to porn over the last two decades is almost incomprehensible to calculate. I can only estimate what my present situation, both in terms of career advancement, financial welfare, familial and relational intimacy, and even my spiritual walk and witness, might have been had it not been for porn. I cannot truly estimate how much it has cost me in each of these areas of my life.

I experience a huge amount of psychological distress because of my porn addiction. My desire to stop is juxtaposed against my total and utter inability to stop.

My relationship with my wife has been decimated through my continual deception, my betrayal of our intimacy through my use of porn, and my inability to open myself to her because of my addiction.

I am worried also about my sons. My life as an addict has definitely impacted on how I relate to them, and although I have (hypocritically) been careful to keep them from pornography, I may well bequeath them the addict’s mind-set, which will enable them to find and be ensnared by porn all on their own.

My spiritual life is dead. I struggle to pray, to study the Bible. I have no impact any more in other people’s lives, and the thought of ministering in some way to people now seems so remote.

My life is one big secret. No-one (or very few) knows that I struggle with porn. Everyone thinks I am a huge success, but few know how much I detest my own lifestyle, and my own addiction. I look at pornography in secret, and not even my wife knows the full extent of my addiction.