Too often, when we cross paths with someone we know who is dealing with an addiction or who self describes as an “addict”, we almost always associate the person with the substance in question, whether that be alcohol, drugs, sex, or in this case, pornography.
In other words, we think the source of the problem is the drug or the substance in question.
We couldn’t be more wrong.
Would it blow your mind if I told you the average man’s addiction to pornography has little to do with an obsession for more sex or because he just enjoys seeing naked women? (Granted, most men are wired pretty visually)
Would it perplex you even more to know that below every single addiction is a deep well of pain with a constant need to be fed?
That’s the way addiction works.
A person discovers or is exposed to something that is potentially addictive almost like someone who is ushered inside a fancy restaurant. It looks alluring on the outside, but inside it’s a much different picture. The cost of the food is usually very steep and of course, you can’t leave without dessert.
I remember discovering porn for the first time. There was this strange mixture of knowing what I was watching was wrong, but also being unable to turn away. I was being ushered in the door.
Throughout the next 13 years, I lived two lives: The one people saw and the one I hid from people. One life was a boy who was kind, did well in school, but generally kept to himself. The other life was one that was lived online for hours at a time searching for as much “comfort” as he could.
Looking back now, I realize my search wasn’t just for pornography as much as it was for acceptance. Affirmation. Someone who WANTED me. Protection. Significance. Purpose. None of those which I think I really felt at the time.
Ultimately, my search was for unconditional, unending Love: The Love of a Heavenly Father.
Do you see how addiction really isn’t solely about the thing which the person is addicted to? Something may usher you through the door, but what keeps you inside can be an entirely different story. Recovery from pornography & sex addiction is learning what your soul is really crying out for.
It doesn’t matter how much porn a person consumes or how much sex they have with another individual. Until the deepest needs of their soul are discovered, until the pain is acknowledged and healed, until they can find healthy outlets to process what is uncomfortable and what hurts, the pattern will repeat itself.
This is the journey that I’ve been on for 12 years now. Not just healing and recovering from a compulsive sexual addiction, but discovering all of the areas I was trying to medicate during that time.
Understanding what your triggers are is fundamental. Far too many men struggle with understanding what actually drives them to medicate. They just don’t take time to think through it or prepare for it.
I wrote more about this in a recent blog, but I’ve always found the BLAST acronym to be of incredible help. Does this describe you?
B — Bored
L — Lonely
A — Angry
S — Stressed
T — Tired
Most of what keeps a person addicted to something falls into one of those categories. If you can learn the technique of monitoring your heart and keeping track of your feelings BEFORE a slip you’ll go a long way in learning what can potentially keep you in an unhealthy place.
Identifying and understanding your triggers is really about protecting your heart. I love what Proverbs 4:23 says: “So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.”
What our hearts hunger for will shape our lives. So the question then becomes this:
- What are you feeding your heart?
- What are you feeding your mind?
- What lies could you be believing about yourself?
Much of the source of our pain comes from HOW we talk to ourselves. We make agreements with lies and other beliefs that aren’t based on any truth whatsoever.
What should you walk away with after reading this?
Remember that addiction is not solely about the substance in question, but about the pain that is yet to be resolved. Pornography, sex, alcohol, and drugs are simply medications for the deeper pain going on inside.
Understanding where that pain comes from and what it’s trying to say is the very beginning place of change. It’s not just a matter of abstaining from a certain behavior, it’s about becoming the person God created you to be. That’s not a person who is broken, hurting, and constantly walking in pain.
It’s someone who is powerful and confident. Someone who is free and whole. God made YOU to be that someone.
We can live this kind of life if we commit to it. Not just in word or good intentions. But through hard work; blood, sweat, and yes, many, many tears. Over the last 13 years, learning what makes my heart tick has been the most fulfilling journey I’ve ever been on. I’ve actually learned to love it.
I want to leave with you what might seem like some strange encouragement:
Reflect on the uncomfortable.
Surf through the struggle.
This is actually the way to freedom and healing from porn addiction. It isn’t through simply abstaining behavior. Anyone can do that. It’s through leaning into the darkest places of our hearts so that we can actually live a beautiful life.