In my role working on addressing the harms of pornography, I encounter many kids and parents working through the devastating impact of pornography.  Over the next month, during our Evolution month, I will be sharing a number of stories from the individuals that I have encountered along the way about the evolution of their addictions and exposures to pornography. 

The following story is from a husband that shared his story and personal disappointment regarding his relapse into pornography.  He has allowed me to share his tale anonymously with you all today.

For over three years, I have lived a porn-free life.  Sure, I’ve struggled here and there with lust, but I have a strong accountability network, a beautiful wife and two sons who all help keep me accountable.  My accountability partners and I meet on a weekly basis and go through a number of very specific questions regarding what we looked at, where our mind was dwelling, whether we were struggling with lust, how we are interacting with and appreciating our wives and how we are modeling godliness to our children.  Whenever one of us has sensed a spike in temptation, we try to grab the phone and call one another to ask for prayer and support.

This seeming safety net had perhaps become too much of a source of pride for me, and, at some point, I realized again in a devastating way that I was a fallen man, susceptible to temptation and weakness.  My moment of relapse came when my wife was out of town on a mom getaway weekend, and my two boys were spending the night with their grandparents.  My accountability group and I have a pretty strict rule that we don’t watch TV alone in the evenings, ever.  We have all just found that the ads and the content become more sexual, but there I was, entranced by a hockey game at 10pm at night, home alone.  It shouldn’t have been such a bad thing; my wife and I had enjoyed a satisfying sexual encounter just the night before; I should have been content.  But as I watched the game, an ad came on that involved quick shots of the inevitable bikini-clad young women prancing on a beach advertising beer.  Rather than look away, I watched, and I could feel a pulse of desire growing inside of me. 

I should have turned off the TV at that point and called one of my buddies, but I didn’t.  A few minutes later, I got a call from my wife.  She asked me if I was OK, and asked what I was up to, and I lied.  I told her I was reading.  I felt the tug towards honesty—that pull to call one of my friends and ask for help and prayer.  But once again, I didn’t make the call. 

Instead, after the game was over, I started to scan the channels.  First, I landed on the end of Jersey Shore.  I had never watched it, but there I was, feeling curious and excited about the party scenes, grinding and blurred shots of thongs and debauchery.  At this point, I was aroused.  I kept feeling pricks in my conscious to turn off the TV—I knew that I still had time to turn the ship around and salvage the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, I kept pushing against that desire for purity, choosing little lies instead of God’s truth.  During one of the show’s commercials, I was flipping again—by this point it was almost midnight—and I found the true “honey pot” of poison—a soft-core show that included plenty of drunk college-aged girls stripping for the camera.  Suddenly, there I was masturbating and fantasizing and having mental sex with a whole slew of women that weren’t my wife.  About thirty minutes in, I forced myself to turn off the TV, and I shook in a strange mix of sexual tension, relief and total disappointment and shame. 

That night, I felt darkness and shame overwhelm me.  I started to battle the shame cycle and knew that in just a few hours, I had backtracked and fallen back, destroying many years of discipline.  I knew it hadn’t been worth it.  I was heartbroken.  In the morning, I called one of my accountability partners, and I spent the next day with he and his family.  Talking to my wife felt like a lie, and that evening, when I picked up my sons, I looked at them, knowing in my heart that I had failed them as a dad.  That wasn’t the man that I wanted to be.  Later, when through a story longer than I wish to tell, my wife learned of my fall, she wept.  She knew how hard I had worked, and she was heartbroken to learn that I had another 30 women stored in my brain that she felt she had to “compete with”.  That’s not the reality I want her to live in.

What I was reminded about is that even one small moment of compromise can have a painfully larger impact not only on you, but also on your family.  If you are struggling in any way, please make this the moment that you seek help and the resources available to protect you.  Make sure you are using accountability software on all of your Internet-enabled devices.  Use parental controls that you don’t control (that your wife or someone else has programmed for you) on your TV.  Have solid accountability partners that you can call or reach out to whenever you are on the brink; people who can remind you that it’s just not worth it to go over the edge.