My first encounter of pornographic pictures was in a magazine at a friend’s house, when I was around 10 years old. The pictures I experienced were intriguing, but I did not quite understand what I was viewing. I was feeling both disgusted and shameful yet at the same time drawn to see more. I was unable to communicate and share this with my parents as it felt wrong, but also the felt wrong that I wanted to know more.
This pattern continued and over time the need to see more became stronger the more I saw. It led me into a path of being addicted to viewing pornography and acting out to it from early teenage years. No matter how hard I tried, I could not rid this feeling of attraction and addiction to the cycle of wanting more, seeking it, and acting out. The same feeling of disgust and shame overwhelmed me and grew into a pattern of lies and coverups.
I married my wife without telling her about my addiction, it felt so disgusting, and I promised myself that that was the end of it – ‘I will marry and no longer need pornography.’ But that was unfortunately not the case. After about 6 months the acting out with pornography cycle started again with even stronger feelings of shame. I learnt coping mechanisms to hide both the use of pornography and the effects of it, compartmentalising my addiction into one box and my family life in another box.
I would wake up sometimes at night with the urge to view pornography and act out, stay up late to view pornography and eating away at my sleep and energy. Both the frequency and the degree of pornography increased and became worse, impacting my family more and more over time.
I became abusive*, covering up my low self-esteem by blaming others and avoiding responsibility and quality time with the ones closes to me. My communication became merely superficial and “logical”, and my feelings numbed the longer it continued. After nine years of marriage, with God’s intervention and my wife’s endless pleads over what is wrong, I finally exposed my double life.
It shook my wife’s world like an earthquake. The one who had done no wrong in our marriage, who was blameless, now had to carry a burden she was not meant to carry. The one she thought most trustworthy to her was a liar, an addict and abuser. With three young kids, should she stay? Or should she go? Are her kids safe? What else had I been lying about? Finances, the future, all suddenly became very scary. She would wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks and nightmares- It was literally a traumatic experience for her. Now after four years since initial disclosure the effects are still manifesting daily, there are no quick fixes.
I am counting myself fortunate that I have been able to overcome my addiction with the support and help from educated, trained and caring therapists, coaches and friends walking the same journey. My wife chose to walk this journey alongside me, which was not guaranteed- it takes a very brave person to do that. I would not want to see any of my kids (or anyone else for that matter) fall into the same addictive patterns that I have, so for that reason I will stand up and protect them.
*Abuse being defined as lying and manipulating (psychological / verbal) in order to feed and protect my addiction at the cost of others.