AGE: 36
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING RECOVERY? 3 YEARS
SOBRIETY DATE: DECEMBER 2015
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: MARRIED, HETEROSEXUAL

 

Bottom line behaviors:

Pornography, masturbation, sexual fantasy, sexual literature

Triggers:

Shame, life stress, not feeling loved, desire for romance

How and when addiction started:

I got into internet pornography when I was in college. It was accidental at first, but curiosity got the best of me. At first, I would watch women in pornography because I thought that it wasn’t as big of a deal since I’m attracted to men. Then I started comparing myself to what I was seeing. I felt shame about my own body and was drawn to pornography because it created a false reality I could slip into when I was stressed, overwhelmed, or lonely. Slowly, I got deeper into the trap. I was nervous about real relationships and didn’t really date much. Pornography gave me a view into what I thought relationships were like (I was wrong!) and I could watch from what I thought was a safe distance. I became obsessed with romance and stated reading sexual literature to feed my desire for stories of passion and romance.

Why I stayed stuck for so long?

Of course, I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing. I was raised in a religious home and I considered my involved in pornography and masturbation to be wrong–or damaging to myself and my connection with God. I tried to hard to make others believe that I had things figured out–that I was a good girl. The more I hid from others, the more shame I felt, and the deeper I got into my addiction.

I also thought I could stop on my own. I promised myself so many times that I was done. I was turning over a new leaf. All of that. Then I would slip back into it and tell myself that it wasn’t too bad. I hadn’t really gone too far down the path. Instead of asking for help, I just made another promise to stop.

Another thing I believed was that God would just take it away from me if I prayed hard enough, or did enough good things to “earn” God’s help. None of that worked either. Sometimes I would just give up altogether and decide that I wasn’t worth saving so there was no point in even trying anymore. Then I would indulge again, feel bad, and start over.

What I tried that DIDN’T WORK?

I tried everything I could think of and none of it worked. I tried punishing myself. I shamed myself. I made promises to myself and God (that I never kept). I tried to be really good and the “fake it ’til you make it”

What IS WORKING now? 

It’s hard to find 12-step recovery meetings for women in person. I’ve done some phone meetings but there is still shame because the meetings are mixed gender so it’s still hard for me to talk. But I have found some good friends and family members that I’ve told about my struggles, and they are very supportive. I try to stay in touch with them, but I still struggle to be honest. I don’t like people worrying about me. So that’s something I’m working on–letting people help me. Being accountable is really helpful. If I know someone is going to ask me how I’m doing and I’m expected to be honest, I’m more likely to keep myself in a good space. I’m still not “there” yet, but that’s OK. I’m working one day at a time; one victory at a time. I’m doing better than I ever have before in my entire life, so that’s enough for me right now. If I get down on myself too much, that leads to relapse, so I’m trying to be kind to myself and give myself permission to be human and to make mistakes.