This week’s blog post is a little different from what you’d normally read on this site since it’s not written by Carl, but instead me, Mia. I’m 17, and I’m about to be a senior in high school. I also just happen to be Carl’s daughter.
Now, I’m assuming you’re either going “Hmmm this is interesting, let me read more” OR “What the heck does a teenage girl know about sexual shame?”
A lot, actually.
My dad has always been very transparent with the work that he does and what led him here (aka his past struggles). And because of that I’ve noticed that not everyone is transparent when it comes to their own lives.
Recently, I went to a “trafficking awareness” event with my dad and family for a handful of ministries. Events like this aren’t really my dad’s thing, but he was doing a favor for a friend (and a ministry partner), so he showed up to talk about his book and ministry.
There were about 6 booths set up to talk about how to help victims of sex trafficking…and then there was my dad talking about porn addiction. I watched as people walked up to each table, even taking the freebies and engaging with each of the leaders.
Only 3-4 people talked to my dad.
Everyone else either walked by the table and gave an awkward smile or just didn’t look at the table at all as if it didn’t exist.
Because it was uncomfortable.
Because no one really wanted to talk to some random guy about porn and masturbation.
I mean, who really does?
The whole point of the book my dad wrote, When Shame Gets Real, is about breaking down the barrier of uncomfortable talks and shame. It’s all about transparency.
After the event, I said to my dad “How are people even going to get past the discomfort of an uncomfortable conversation if they aren’t even willing to try to approach one?” I consider myself quite pragmatic, so I was confused as to why these adults couldn’t even understand what I, a 17-year-old kid, could.
Kinda stupid. Or so I thought…
Then I got humbled.
You see, I wouldn’t even tell my dad about a boy I liked because I didn’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation. Even though my parents also told me to be transparent. Heck, I never even told my dad I had my period because I felt awkward about it.
And because I wasn’t willing to just tell my parents from the beginning, it was like a bomb I dropped on them and exploded when I eventually did bring it up (3 months too late). Which only happened because I felt awkward over literally the most normal human emotions and biology.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m stupid. We all kinda are.
During the conversation my dad had with me about being open and honest about stuff, he mentioned that it’s most important to be transparent about everything. And he’s proven that with me and my brother.
About 2 or 3 years ago, I asked my dad if he watched porn when he was younger. He said yes and I proceeded to cry. (I don’t know why but I was a kid so why not.) But he told me that he had a harder time telling me that he used to do that than he did telling my mom because he didn’t want it to change the way I viewed him.
And you know what?
I’m glad he did tell me. Because now I know there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
If my dad can tell me, his daughter, that he once was addicted to porn for 20 years, then I can tell my dad about boys and growing up.
Because that’s life.
Point is, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Because once you bring up the uncomfortable talk, the rest is easy.
It’s about healing, growth, and finding recovery.
A lot of shame comes from porn and sex and all that, but it’s an addiction. And there’s so many people out there who have that addiction. What I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing wrong with having an awkward talk, especially when that talk can lead to healing and a better life.
So don’t be stupid.
Don’t avoid the difficult conversation because it’s “weird” or “uncomfortable.” Have the conversation because it won’t be uncomfortable forever. And there’s so many people out there who share the same feelings and addictions as you do.
No one here is going to judge you.
And if a 17-year-old girl can talk about this stuff, I think you can too.
Btw. whether you are a man, woman, teen, or church leader and struggle with talking about these topics, this September we invite you to join us for a candid and fresh conversation on matters many avoid out of discomfort. Shameless is an interactive online experience that will challenge and inspire you, leaving you better prepared to handle these sensitive discussions with your friends, churches, spouses, and kids.
For more information about this event or to register yourself and/or your group visit www.shamelessevent.com.