I have tried so many things to get rid of a porn addiction. I’ve read countless books, listened to sermons, used online programs, and read hundreds of stories from others that have struggled with the same issues. Every time I try something new, I expect a culminating moment where all desires and memories will be gone for good.

It hasn’t happened. Instead, I have learned that a sexual addiction is like an onion. When you peel off a layer of an onion, there is going to be another layer underneath it that you’re going to have to peel off as well. Studying all of the methods for overcoming this addiction has brought many issues about my self to the surface that I have had to deal with in order to be free. Once I began to work on an issue, I learned something new about my self and my addiction – each time getting one step closer to freedom. This is important to know because I have learned that an addiction to porn really has nothing to do with pornography.

I’ll say it again. An addiction to porn has nothing to do with pornography.

Where there is a fruit, there is a root. Pornography is just the fruit, which means that somewhere there is a root, and often times it has nothing to do with naked bodies or sex. I’ll use my story to try to explain.

My parents weren’t around much when I was growing up. My mother worked a lot, and my father was always working or off pursuing his own demons. Because of that, I developed issues with rejection, feeling like I wasn’t important enough for my parents to spend time with me. Soon I was introduced to pornography, and all of that pain of rejection left. It didn’t matter that my parents didn’t want to pay attention to me or show interest in my life because I had naked women to look at.

Pornography became my way of dealing with rejection. When kids didn’t want to be friends with me at school, porn would make me feel better. When good friends decided to ditch me, porn never left. When girls wouldn’t go out with me, porn was always willing. Because of porn, I was able to ignore the painful feeling of being rejected by everyone.

I’ve taken all the necessary steps to avoid porn. I’ve got filters and accountability. But when something happens to me and I feel rejected, there is still a big piece of me that is desperate for porn to make me feel better. Just like Pavlov’s dog, seeking porn is my conditioned response to pain. I have to allow myself to feel the pain, and to deal with it in a healthy way. When I try to hide my pain, I often create more problems for myself than when I started. The original problem is still there, and now there is additional stuff to deal with because of the unhealthy ways I tried to cover it up.

As I continue to deal with the rejection issues, more and more stuff comes up for me to deal with. I’ve learned that rejection isn’t the only issue that causes me to run to porn. Nobody is perfect, nobody had a perfect childhood and I know that many have had significantly more traumatic experiences than I have. No matter the circumstances, we search for a way to make everything feel okay. Satan looks for the opportunity to sneak in and offer us a counterfeit version of security. For me, and many others, he offered a false sense of freedom through pornography. When I was young I wasn’t aware of this process, only when I took time to dig deep into my addiction and issues did it start to make sense.

The good thing is we have the ability to trace the fruit back to the root and make changes but we can’t do it alone. We have to ask God to replace the feelings of loneliness, rejection, pain, depression, etc… with His truth for our lives. For me, I have believed a lie that I am not really worth liking. Porn temporarily hid the pain of that lie. Today I have to learn God’s truth that says I am loved, that I am chosen, that He knit me in my mothers’ womb, and His thoughts towards me outnumber the many grains of sand or stars in the sky.

You can have Internet filters and the best accountability in the world, but unless you begin to deal with the root issues of why you turned to pornography in the first place, there is always going to be a void in your life – and you will always try to fill it with something else until you fill it with truth.

When was your first experience with pornography? What was going on in your life at the time? Try to remember the how your circumstances, how you felt and where those feelings came from. Look at patterns in your life related to the use of pornography. Is there something familiar about the times when you run towards it? When you slip, what are the common thoughts and feelings you have?

Sometimes the onion is really big and figuring out and dealing with the real heart issues is like pulling off layer after layer and layer. Don’t be surprised by or concerned about how many layers there are – be thankful each time that you are one layer closer to being completely free!