Without a doubt, this is the hardest blog post I have ever written. I say that for a couple reasons. 1) Just thinking back to the events that transpired brings so many different emotions raging to the surface. And 2) It’s difficult to become completely transparent and allow people, especially strangers, an intimate glance into something so personal. I can count on one hand the number of people I have talked to about this. They are either family or very close friends whom I am comfortable with and already know me well. I felt God telling me it was time to share this part of my story. Not sure why, but I believe He has a purpose for everything.
It started when I was very young. I can’t remember my exact age, but I recall being in a gas station and there it was, right out in the open. It’s not like today where most places have the filthy magazines behind the counter, with black over the covers. This was at least thirty years ago, and I unknowingly walked headlong into an addiction that nearly destroyed my life. It sickens me the way TV and movies portray pornography as harmless and something all teen-age boys must look at in order not to be made fun of by their peers. It’s one of the most widely used tools of satan to destroy as many people as possible to keep them from God’s purpose for their lives.
It grew from one encounter in a gas station, to me rooting through a relative’s closet once I discovered he had dirty magazines stashed away. After that, I can’t recall much until I got into my late teens, early twenties, and it became a natural part of who I was. During that time, I didn’t own a computer or smartphone, but it wasn’t as prevalent online as it is today. Books, magazines, and videos consumed my time. I remember sneaking into the back of the library where the romance novels were located, and flipping through them to read the sex scenes. I was a slave to the addiction, and satan was enjoying every single minute of it.
Once I got married, I figured I was in the clear. No longer would I be spending lonely nights at home watching DVD’s or thumbing through magazines. I had a wife, we would eventually start a family, and I wouldn’t have a need to fall back into old habits. I was dead wrong. The addiction that I tried to leave in my past merely followed me into our marriage. Only now, it was something I had to keep hidden. Instead of it affecting one life, it was now a part of two lives, even though at first, my wife had no idea. After the birth of our first child, we moved to Oregon, and that’s where it became a huge issue.
The downward spiral started the moment we bought our first computer. It was just too easy, and at that point in my life, I had no control over the addiction. It owned me. I was a puppet, and satan controlled the strings. My wife would take the baby and go grocery shopping. I would jump on the computer and surf porn. My wife would take the baby for a walk. I would jump on the computer and watch videos. Any alone time in the apartment was spent on the computer looking at trash. One lie turned into many lies I needed to tell in order to cover my tracks.
And the problems were not only limited to stuff I was surfing to on the computer. I was always looking at other women whenever we went out, especially during the summer months. I would carry on conversations, not necessarily inappropriate, but acting more friendly than a married man should. My wife said it hurt her deeply during those times because that’s how I should have been looking at her and talking to her. That is evidence that satan not only uses this addiction to tear people down by looking at and watching material on the internet, but it can also spill over into the physical world, and cause people to stumble.
Our time in Oregon was some of the darkest moments in our marriage. I tried to get help by attending Sex Addicts Anonymous, and it worked for awhile, but it would take more than a 12 step program to break the chains. However, after we left Oregon and moved to Tennessee, things got even worse.
I’ve come to the absolute hardest part of this story that I feel led to share. Even now, as I write this post, the tears are flowing freely. I began chatting online with a woman, and after some time, it evolved into more than just causal conversation. The topics turned to how neglected she felt from her husband, she was always alone, etc. They opened another avenue for my addiction to thrive. Our chats became more and more inappropriate, and I will leave it at that. I wrote her a long letter that my wife later found, and that’s when I knew I had lost the very things in my life that I loved the most.
By that time, we had two children, both girls. I remember sitting in their room that night, running my fingers through their hair as they slept, wondering if it was the last time I would ever see them again. I wept silently as I repeated over and over “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I wanted to be a father they could be proud of. I wanted to be the husband my wife deserved, not the one she wanted to leave. I had failed miserably. I had allowed an addiction to rule my life instead of Christ. I could feel my family slipping through my fingers, and I was completely helpless to stop it. Although I hadn’t physically been involved with any other woman, sin is sin. God says if we even lust after another woman, we’ve committed adultery in our hearts. That night on the couch, I prayed like I had never prayed before. I knew I didn’t deserve another chance at being the man I should have been in the first place.
I don’t know exactly what happened, but God, in His unrelenting grace, descended into our hopeless situation, and opened the door to a process of healing. I completely destroyed what little trust I had re-gained with my wife after the events in Oregon. Now, it was down to nothing. I honestly don’t know what I would have done had she taken the girls and left. Somehow, through the chaos and maze of millions of voices asking God for things, He heard our plea for help, and the Creator of the universe responded.
It took time, a lot of time, but one event stands out in my memory more than any other. We were attending a small church in TN where we met in an elementary school for services. To be honest, I can’t even remember what the pastor was saying. All I remember is my wife turning to me, tears streaming down her face, and telling me that she had finally forgiven me. We sat there, both sobbing and clinging to each other, while God began the rebuilding process of the most fragile piece of any marriage. Trust.
People will say to us time and time again how awesome our marriage appears. I would be lying if I said it was perfect, but yes, we are experiencing the best years of our marriage so far. We went through Hell, but with God’s unfailing love, we have clawed our way out of the darkest moments and are now walking together, deeply rooted and held securely in the arms of Christ.
God has mercifully broken the chains of the addiction that once held me captive. Does that mean I am in the clear? Not at all. Pornography is everywhere, and it’s no longer subtle. It’s in our face every day. I am intentional about the way I avoid the things that could drag me back into that world. A couple things are:
When watching TV (which isn’t very often these days), anytime a commercial or preview for a show comes on with scantily dressed women, I either turn my head, or if I have the remote in hand, I change the channel until it’s over. Same goes while watching football. They are constantly showing the cheerleaders. Turn my head or change the channel.
I don’t watch rated R movies. Haven’t watched one in years. The only exception being Passion of the Christ. Absorbing the profanity and sexual content in those movies opens the door for satan to walk right in and have his way.
These may sound silly to some, but to me, it’s a matter of life or death. I will not trade away a lifetime with my wife and children for momentary pleasure. This post hasn’t been easy for me. I have been putting it off for some time now. When I think about those dark days, I can now smile because I have experienced the powerful love and forgiveness of my Heavenly Father.
I also know for a fact that when my wife promised for better or for worse and said the words “I will” on our wedding day, she meant it.
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Have a blessed day