My Story

I was a good girl, raised in a good home. My parents loved eachother and loved me. I was never abused by a relative. I was protected, sheltered. I was given every possible advantage.

My problems began with a relationship that went wrong. I had met my boyfriend at a church event when I was a teenager in a youth group. He was older than I was, and he was a leader in his church. We hit it off right away. I looked up to him as a spiritual leader & good friend.

He started to act a little weird when any guys would show an interest in me. At first I thought he was just being protective in a fatherly way, but he was actually a little jealous. When he finally expressed his feelings for me, I was flattered. We began dating.

As the relationship progressed, he wanted to do more things that I wasn’t comfortable with. He started to push for more and not stop when I said “No”. But by then, the relationship was very serious… I couldn’t imagine life without him, so I excused a lot of his behavior. Besides, I had a lot of guilt, because even though I knew what we were doing was not right, I was enjoying it. How could I condemn someone for having feelings that I obviously had as well?

He was a church leader, folks respected him, and I didn’t want to lose the relationship. It was a weird internal battle between wanting to make him happy (and make myself happy), but at the same time, NOT wanting to cross certain lines. The problem was, I kept re-drawing those lines! Every time I crossed a line that I had previously drawn, the conflict within me grew. I was compromising to try to preserve the relationship, but instead of getting better, things just got worse.

After we broke up, I was a mess. During the relationship, I had been introduced to porn… and even though I was repulsed at first, I was also very curious, fascinated. On some level that I couldn’t even understand, I even liked it.

My problem with pornography became a horrible downward spiral. The sexual appetite that had been created didn’t just go away when the relationship ended. It was overwhelming. I used porn to satisfy that desire. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I tried to pull myself away, but I was addicted. I would summon up all the willpower I could find, and maybe I’d be able to stay away from it for a couple of days or even a week… but it seemed like the harder I fought to stay away from porn, the worse it would be when I got back into it.

I felt guilty and ashamed. It was such a horrible thing that I couldn’t imagine sharing my struggle with anyone else.

So I didn’t.

I was still very much involved in church. I was a worship leader during the time when I struggled the most with my addiction. I was living in two different worlds, and I did everything I could to to keep the one hidden from the other.

I tried to justify my behavior to myself: after all, if I wasn’t getting a “virtual” fix, wouldn’t I just be in another bad relationship, doing who knows what with heaven knows who? Some people believe that porn really isn’t so bad, because it’s really a private thing. You’re not hurting anyone directly. While I agree that it’s probably better to fantasize than to act it out with someone, I also know that I hurt myself, and I know I hurt others because it messed with my ability to relate to them in a healthy way. And if it was really “OK”, then why did I feel so dirty?

I was convinced that I was a horrible person. I felt like I had no self-control. My only hope was making it so no one would see me as cute or attractive anymore. My desire to punish myself and make myself unattractive combined with a natural tendency to eat under stress, and I packed on the weight.

Porn is so common and so easy to access in this information age that you don’t need to sneak around back alleys or risk being seen at an adult bookstore. It’s easy for anyone to find porn on the ‘net even if they’re NOT looking for it. But my job and my gender made it especially easy to feed my addiction.

I was a support tech for an Internet company. I knew that contrary to popular belief there was no such thing as “anonymous” on the ‘net… so I very careful about browsing for porn on my own computer. My computer skills often made me the “go-to” person when my friends needed computer help. Sometimes their PC problems were actually caused by spyware or trojans that had infected their computers while visiting porn sites. I’d surf from their computers and I grab images and cached files while I was “cleaning up” their PCs.

I also had access to a lot of different computers at my job, and would take advantage of terminals that hadn’t been logged off knowing that if I accidentally left any evidence of my activities, the night cleaning crew would be blamed… or one of the guys would get the blame. No one seemed to suspect that I had any problem at all. There weren’t a lot of women techs back then.

As a support tech, I also had “back door” access to the content on many different servers. Some of our biggest customers were porn sites. We had email lists and discussion boards where the techs would help eachother out with technical questions… and share access codes and links to other stuff that they considered “interesting”.

For almost seven years I was hooked on porn. I tried many times to stop, but I felt helpless against my own body. If I stopped myself from looking at something on a computer, I’d still have to deal with an endless mental slideshow of images that I had seen in the past — and I couldn’t turn it off. It dominated my thoughts. It invaded my dreams.

I felt helpless, and worst of all, I didn’t think I could share my dirty little secret with anyone. This is certainly not the sort of thing you talk to your mom about, so that was out. I saw how those who admitted to sexual sins were treated in my church, so that wasn’t an option either.

The only thing I thought I could do was guard my secret and fight my battles alone.

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