Age: 32
How long have you been working recovery? 5 years
Sobriety Date: August 2012
Relationship Status: Married, Heterosexual


Bottom line behaviors:

Pornography, Masturbation, Relational manipulation and Rage, Eating Disorder behaviors


Loneliness, isolation, illness, fear of abandonment, feeling unworthy of love, body shame

How and when addiction started:

My earliest memories of being caught in addiction are from early adolescence. I was molested by a female when I was 6 years old and this seemed to engender hypersexuality and interest in questionable movie and literature content. This grew into addictive behaviors around the age of 12 when my menstrual cycle began. I was consumed with curiosity about my body and the feelings that I experienced related to sexual arousal that I had not experienced beyond an isolated incident of molestation that I had blocked from my memory.

Why I stayed stuck for so long?

I was in hiding about my addiction for a very long time. I was raised in a religious home, one that was quite open about sexuality and not shaming regarding the fact that humans have an inherent sexuality and purpose in this life. Still there was an overarching message of “sex and masturbation are bad” that resulted in high levels of self-shaming as I hit puberty and experienced arousal and sexual desire. I attribute this message mostly to the fact that parents are not educated about how to discuss harmful or addictive sexual behaviors with their children and accidentally send shaming messages out of fear and confusion.

I was so deep in my shame for the entirety of my teenage years that I didn’t dare ask for help. It seemed like there was no help. “Girls don’t watch porn!” was the only thing that kept surfacing in my mind every time I felt desperate and out of control. Masturbation was “bad” with no real explanation other than to be ashamed if you participated in this behavior. There are many churches that have a hard time explaining the REASONS that masturbation is problematic. Here are some ways that I hope to educate my children regarding pornography and masturbation: It complicates future relationships and the physical bonding that you will want to experience with your future spouse, it can become compulsive to the point of impairing your daily functioning, it can cause arousal dysfunction when you become sexually intimate with another person, self-stimulation is inherently disconnected from vulnerability and bonding with others and can negatively impact your feelings of self-worth due to isolating and creating feelings of being unloved by others.

What I tried that DIDN’T WORK?

White knuckling. Telling myself “this is the last time!” every time I relapsed. Not telling anyone at all about my struggle. Hiding my behavior and feelings from those who cared about me and could help me. Thinking I could fix it or “stop” on my own. Getting married and thinking sex would make everything all better, when in all actuality it just highlighted my own and my addict husbands dysfunction.

What IS WORKING now? 

Being honest. Admitting I have a problem and that I cannot change alone. Admitting that I am powerless over my addiction and lust. Addressing my food and body related shame as part of my healing. 12 step group. Reaching out. Working through my shame about being molested. Talking to my husband and working recovery together.