Testimonials of Men and Women’s stories of struggles to recovery.
Thirty-eight years, that’s how long I had been locked in a pattern of sexually acting out and shame. In the beginning it was what got me through some of the nights when my parents were fighting, sometimes to the point of my mother having to be hospitalized. The drinking, then the anger, then the violence, they were in their own cycle of abuse…
When I was 13 years old I found the magazines in my brothers room, it wasn’t long before I had found out about masturbation and the so called release it provided. At the start of it there was no shame, just the pleasure of the release. Then as I found out that people in the school made fun of those that they found out had been masturbating the shame began, along with the isolation. There was the neighborhood show and tell to each other, then my older brother by 5 years doing some exploration with me that I did not understand but did not object to. Later, at about 15, I got into a same sex relationship with a neighborhood boy for over a year – more shame.
I am the son of a man whose father was an Episcopal Priest, where was God in this? He was no where in our family. We went to church at the most two times per year Christmas and Easter. My father had said to us later in life that if he could have chosen he would not have had kids. That played out in the lack of relationships that were built with him He wanted to please my mother who in retrospect was a woman suffering with a number of physical and mental maladies. The physical were addressed as best as they could be for an alcoholic two pack a day smoker.
The mental maladies of depression and possible bi-polar issues were not dealt with. Why? Because what happened in our family was no one else’s business. I was told not to ever talk to anyone about what goes on in our house, more shame, more isolation. The one time I did talk about it to someone I thought was a friend at summer camp, he quickly spread the story I told him about one fierce night of violence in our house throughout the camp. Everybody found it very amusing, more shame, more isolation.
Started smoking at 14, started stealing my parent’s alcohol, got real good at watering it down just enough that they would not notice. Starting doing drugs at 15 with no knowledge of my parents till I left my stash out one day and they found it. I had no respect for either of my parents I was just waiting to get out.
We moved to a different sate in 1970 and I dated a girl in High School who I was sexually active with until I came to NH to go to college.
Got out of control in NH and arrested for selling drugs on campus and spent 20 days in jail. Had many sexual encounters with women and many different kinds of drugs over the next few years. Porn and masturbation was always there as the release even with numerous sexual encounters with women. I always went back to what got me through the days of fear and isolation at home.
Met a girl one day and again was sexually active with her but this was different. We got married in 1979 and I thought to myself, now I won’t need porn and masturbation anymore. Wrong! It was still there. Now there was some shame, hadn’t I made a commitment to her? We had our first child and I held this boy in my arms and said I need to change my life. I started cleaning up my act but it did not last long, as the stress of being a father and provider started to bear down, I always went back to the medication of porn and masturbation.
It was after our daughter was born that we had a friend who started talking to us about God and Jesus. Got saved in a small church in Worcester and thought, finally, I won’t have to deal with this porn and masturbation anymore, God has taken it away. I had at least heard that from some people who I had talked to before turning my life over to Him.
It didn’t take long for me to fall again, go forward for prayer, just fall again. I was locked in a new cycle, but now I was saved, I knew I was now acting outside of the law of God. This time the shame took on new dimensions of failure. I was failing my wife, I was failing my children, and I was failing my God! Anger and bitterness started to take a firm root, combined with over zealous strictness toward my kids, and dissatisfaction with my wife. They were the unwitting sufferers of my anger and frustration. The Internet had blasted open my addiction to a place where I was immersed in it for hours at a time. I worked a second shift job so I could spend many hours locked on the computer and acting out on the images that had gotten a hold of my fantasy life.
My son had a life changing car accident in 2002. While he was in a coma God and I had many conversations, but after two and a half months in a coma we had him home. I was renewed thinking that with all that happened and this new relationship with God things were going to be better. They were not; it was on one night of being lost in the many hours of online porn and masturbation that I had an experience I still cannot explain. It was as if God had lifted me from my body and showed me what He saw as I looked down at myself in the chair in front of the computer abusing myself while pulling up new images to view. It made me sick to my stomach.
Several years before while serving as the Men’s Ministry leader in our church (a post I should have never been in considering my state of mind and heart). I had brought Rick Kardos of the Nathan Project to speak at a Men’s breakfast we had. He spoke of three deadly weapons. One was a gun (which some Marines sitting at the breakfast kept a close eye on while he spoke) which represented some danger, and then there was the TV remote representing more danger and then a computer mouse the largest danger. His commentary on the three: We protect our kids with great energy from the gun. We are careful about the TV they watch. But we have no real clue of the danger of the internet and are failing to deal with it ourselves.
He talked about For Men Only groups that were safe places for men to come together to battle this addictive issue and through God’s word, heavy accountability and reading a book by an old Marine pilot named Ted Roberts, God could help me get free of this. It was that discussion that now made me realize that I needed to be in one of these groups. I knew nothing about it other than I needed to join. I made the first big mistake in my recovery which was to sit my wife down and tell her that I need to get involved in a FMO group because I am addicted to porn. I probably would have done less damage if I had just hit her over the head with a frying pan. She was devastated thinking that years ago when I had gone to a Christian Psychiatrist that these issues had been dealt with. It was only later that I learned how important it is to be kind and gentle and seek wise counsel before your disclosure.
Once in the group I realized I needed to draw a line in the sand that I was not willing to cross. Doing that little by little I started to draw myself toward God in a real way and away from that which had held me so long.
It wasn’t easy letting people into an area of my life that I for 38 years had not allowed anyone access to. God was faithful and though I still have many issues, and I need to be very careful about my computer use and TV watching I have put up the walls of protection with Covenant Eyes and no longer isolate myself with the TV.
Because of His grace I can now serve Him freely without the shame I once had. This freedom has led to a ministry being started in our church to widows and single mom’s and disabled, where boundaries are very important, and God has shown me so much there. I am able to serve other men who are looking for this same freedom thanks to the trust Rick has put in me. I have new relationships with my children that took in some cases sitting with a counselor and one of my children to ask for her forgiveness for what she lost because of my anger and addiction. I am walking her down the aisle of marriage next week. My son and I have a great relationship that I am working hard to improve and today we are celebrating 32 years of my wife’s patience in sticking with me for better or for worse.
To God be the glory, great things He hath done!! Amen.