Don't Get Caught Off Guard By Their Grieving

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS

Charlie came into the counseling office looking very despondent. “I don’t understand what happened this week,” he said. “Carrie had been doing so well and I have not seen her angry in more than a month. Then she just exploded. Crying, throwing things, cursing at me. I thought we were good. What happened?”  

Charlie is a recovering pornography addict who has been in therapy for nearly one year and his wife, Carrie, is working on her own betrayal recovery. What Charlie encountered is not unusual for a couple doing the intense work to get their marriage back on track.

What Carrie experienced was another bout of grieve over the betrayal she experienced from Charlie’s use of pornography during their marriage. What happened with Carrie is simply part of the recovery process. Men tend to forget the average recovery time for a woman dealing with betrayal is 12-24 months. But it could take 3-5 years for healing to be complete.

Over the past month, Carrie had been practicing self-soothing when she was feeling angry or sad as she thought about Charlie’s actions. She was trying to reduce the amount of negativity she was experiencing when spending time with her husband.

There is nothing wrong with Carrie trying to stay more positive around Charlie, her only mistake was she should have told him what she was attempting to do. This would have helped set Charlie’s expectations about her recovery.

But he also made mistakes.

Enjoying the stability of a peaceful home, Charlie didn’t take opportunity to ask Carrie how she was dealing with her recovery. If he had, she most likely would have shared any emotions that were troubling her, instead of holding them in.    

His second error was mistaking Carrie’s calm demeanor to indicate she was no longer emotionally or mentally troubled by his pornography addiction. As I tell my male clients, while your wife may be presenting a calm and peaceful appearance do not underestimate the amount of emotional and mental distress that still lies under the surface.

A woman’s grieving is like ocean waves. There are periods in which their negative emotions are large and powerful, and these can feel overwhelming. There are other times when they are smaller and seem calm. This can give off mix messages and lead men to have a false impression everything is back to normal.

Wrong.

First, things are never going back to normal. She doesn’t want to return to the marriage you had. For her, the marriage is tainted and dirty. She wants to take the relationship in a new direction that brings a renewed sense of hope and healing. And you need to go there with her.

Second, she is looking for the “new guy”. Recently, a wife who was struggling to re-engage with her husband after nearly a year of recovery work, put it this way, “on one hand there is my husband who cheated on me with multiple women. On the other hand, is my husband who no longer cheats on me. So, tell me, what’s the difference between them?”

It is critical a partner understands the changes being made by the man in recovery. She needs to know there is something different about him that will enable him to guard her heart and make healthy decisions. And if you don’t explain to her how the “old guy” has changed, you are leaving her in the dark.

In order not to be blindsided like Charlie, take the following three steps in working with your partner:

1. At least once a week, ask your spouse how she is doing with her recovery. If she simply says “ok”, follow up by asking what has happened that she is now feeling “ok”.

2. Make it a point to check in with your partner on a regular basis and share with her what you are learning in your recovery. More importantly, communicate how the insights you are learning are helping to change you to become the “new” guy.

3. Be fully aware of the time a woman needs to heal from betrayal and understand although at times she may seem calm and peaceful under the surface could still be a great deal of fear and emotional pain.   

 

I Fight Too. An Open and Anonymous Letter from a Wife of One Who Fights Porn

This is an open and anonymous letter that we’ve received at MenAgainstPorn.  We believe this is a message that must be heard by everyone.  Please, share this with your friends and family and encourage others to join this worthy cause!

#enoughisenough

I Fight Too

To the man who stole my husband’s innocence,

I know.

You didn’t physically harm him.

You didn’t physically introduce him to the world of sexuality.

You didn’t touch him inappropriately.

You didn’t intentionally steal from his mind. I know.

But the truth is, you did.

For many years I have had nothing but compassion for you. I know your story didn’t just happen. I know that somewhere along the way you were a victim.  I also know that only now, as a mature adult, have you recognised the need and found the willingness to face your greatest battle – your addiction to pornography. You have much to be proud of because you have fought and you continue to fight.

Still, I need to tell you that you are not the only victim in this struggle that you fight daily.

I have stood beside your wife as she cried the tears of a lifetime’s worth of hurt. Standing in my kitchen she explained that she knew she could have walked away but she didn’t because she never felt God calling her to. Her strength to stay with you despite her emotional pain is honestly honourable.

She refuses to give up on you; you are blessed to be loved by her.

Unfortunately, I know how she feels. You stole my husband’s innocence.

He was a child.

A CHILD!

He was exposed to pornography within your home despite your ‘efforts’ to cover your tracks. As I write this, I process the enormity of your failure to protect his mind.

Suddenly, I understand why I have never seen the look of complete passion and desire for me in my husband’s eyes.

He has seen it all before.

Suddenly, I understand why I need to initiate most intimate moments with him Because what I have to offer is nothing compared to what you made available to him.

The difference, though, is that what I offer is real.

What you offered, while exciting, was fake.

He is a man who chose to fight this battle before you did.

He didn’t want to be you.

He isn’t you.

He wanted to hold his wife close to his heart and love her without confusion or blemish. He does a great job, but he can’t do this completely. He loves me more than I had ever anticipated someone could, yes.

But there is a small part of him that I can’t undo.

This is the part that you are responsible for.

Yes.

I!

Blame!

You!

I blame you for not being the father he needed. I blame you for stealing something from him that I too have to live with. I blame you because I can’t experience the freedom of a normal, happy and healthy sex life without thoughts of not being enough.  Many times, I even question if I am a repulsive human being.

Why else would he squirm when I touch him?

Why else would he shy away from compliments or comments of desire?

You’ve confused him and I blame you.

I!

Blame!

You!

Marriage is supposed to be a place of exploration – of one’s self, of spirituality, and of sexuality. I’ve had some truly beautiful moments with your son but intimacy has always been and may always be a struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled ‘husband not interested in sex’.  This has become my secret. Generally, it is the woman who is less interested in sex. But I struggle with not understanding why the opposite is true in our relationship.  I feel rejected.  For years now, I have wondered, ‘What is it about me?’ I see things more clearly now and I have decided to free myself of this burden. I now embrace whatever sexual activity I’m invited to explore and I understand that my husband’s innocence was taken.

I’m no saint. I had partners before your son. Perhaps the remembrance of those relationships is the only way I’ve kept myself sane some days. To know that I was once wanted in a sexual way is somewhat reassuring. But in those relationships, I wasn’t wanted for the person I am. I was wanted more for the fun that was shared. When your son doesn’t want me, I now know, it’s not me.

Sadly, it’s what you did to him as a child.

I.

Blame.

You.

But, I forgive you.

My relationship with your son hasn’t been without hurt.

On two occasions, I’ve found evidence that inappropriate websites had been viewed. Additionally, your son has confided in me that he was tempted to go elsewhere for a bit of ‘stress relief’ too. God knows how much I hate those ‘massage parlours’. He broke me completely when he told me about that. Why was it okay for a stranger to touch him when I have to defend myself when I simply rub his back? A great comfort for me at that point in our marriage was that I had begun feeling sexy and confident. I still don’t know what brought about the change in my self-confidence, but I look back at photos of myself at around that time and I see someone who felt good. I had confidence in myself regardless of his ability to see me that way.

My point is this: our marriage hasn’t been perfect but it’s been good. Really good.

Much of our expression of love has been tainted though. For the first time in our marriage I am freeing myself of the sadness and the self-imposed responsibility I have carried. I can see that this is bigger than me.

I can see that I have a man who was broken as a little boy because you didn’t protect him.

I forgive you. But I need you to know, you are not the only one who fights this battle.

I Fight Too!          

Men Against Porn's Mid-Week Minute: A Three-Pronged Approach Toward Renewal and Hope!

A Three-Pronged Approach Toward Renewal and Hope!

Resisting porn and recovering from one's addiction is never, ever easy.

Yet, one can live free and people often find freedom.

This week's Mid-Week Minute offers a three-pronged approach to help you in your movement away from addiction toward a new-found freedom.

RESIST. REST. REKINDLE.

  1. RESIST THE PORN-PULL.  When you are first tempted, it's important to resist that temptation and replace it with positive input.  DON'T ENTERTAIN THE THOUGHT THAT ONE CLICK IS OKAY!  Rather than give in, resist the temptation and REPLACE it, quickly! How can you replace it?  That leads us to step two. . . 

  2. REST WITH GOOD FRIENDS.  An effective way to battle porn's pull is to lean into meaningful community! Call a friend.  Visit a family member.  Run to an accountability partner!  Visit a local house of worship or community center.  Talk to your coach, teacher, parent, pastor, etc.  Just don't try to fight alone!
  3. REKINDLE REAL LOVE.  Porn is fake love, false love, NO LOVE, period!  It's the absolute opposite of love!!  As you find rest, you'll then find strength to run to real love: the love of a spouse, a brother, sister, child, parent, etc.  Light the flame of lasting love and rekindle the life that you've always longed to live.

We at Men Against Porn are here to help.  

We hope and work for nothing less than the eradication of pornography in our life time.  

We invite you to join us!  If we can be of any assistance, please reach out!

Biz, Men Against Porn

I DIDN'T KNOW . . .

  • He was my only brother.

  • Yet, I didn’t know ...

 

  • He taught me to play basketball.

  • Yet, I didn’t know …

 

  • He taught me how to become more like Jesus by going through lessons for new Christians.

  • Yet, I didn’t know …

 

  • I was the best man at his wedding.

  • Yet, I didn’t know …

 

  • He was the best man at my wedding.

  • Yet, I didn’t know …

 

  • He led the dedication at our church for our oldest child.

  • Yet I didn’t know …

 

  • He was my only brother, so I should have known, right?

Yet I didn’t know he was addicted to pornography. 

How is it possible to have a person so close to me, but I didn’t know that he has a secret?  He had a side he didn’t want anyone to know even though it was tearing him a part. How is it that your only brother can be living in such shame and yet the people who loved him the most and therefore could have helped him the most, didn’t know?

Looking, back, there were signs but I didn’t see at the time.  It is similar to watching a movie based on a mysterious murder and you don’t know who the killer is until the very end.  Yet, you watch the same movie again, you see all kinds of signs. 

But, I didn’t get to see the murder mystery a second time because my brother died.  Even in death, he hid it from me.  Up until the very end, I would have done absolutely anything to help him overcome this addiction, but his shame took his secret to the grave.

  • Please know if you are addicted to pornography, others are affected… 

  • Even if they don’t know. 

 

  • You have people who love you and want to help you…

In case YOU didn’t know

~Anonymous

SOME WAYS PARENTS CAN BEGIN TO PUSH BACK AGAINST PORN

By Biz Gainey

“How can I prevent my children from seeing porn?”

The above question is one I often hear.  It is on the heart of every well-meaning and concerned parent these days.  My answer to them is this: “You can’t prevent your children from seeing porn.  Eventually, they will see it.”

I follow that up by encouraging them that there are ways to prepare their children for this eventuality and preparing them in their desire to push back against porn when it encroaches!!

Simple And Effective Ways Parents, Families, and Individuals Can Push Back Against Porn

Understand that Porn is targeting our children

This is crucial.  Most parents don’t realize how aggressive the porn industry is and how invasive it has become.  The tactics and strategies the industry uses to suck pre-teens in are as pervasive as they are effective.  Over two-thirds of a child’s initial exposure to porn is unsolicited and unwelcomed.[i]

Preempt Porn’s Perversion with Positive, encouraging, and life-giving parenting

Spend time with your children – both formally and informally – discussing the realities of porn in our world.  Let them know that if, and when, they look at porn, that it is okay for them to tell you.  In fact, they should know – without a doubt – that you want them to tell you!  After the initial thrill that porn provides begins to wane, fear and shame quickly settle in.  Fear and shame are the soil in which isolation and silence are birthed.  A child who stays choked by the roots of this silence and shame will – undoubtedly – run to porn again.  This return to porn begins the slow but steady descent into addiction.  Be preemptive!

Model Sexual Integrity

There is an old axiom that drips with truth: More is caught than taught.  In the area of sexual wholeness, this is certainly true.  If you’re married, then love your spouse above all other loves.  Cherish your spouse and be sure your children know that.  Porn is fake love, and when you place it next to genuine marital love, it will always crumble.  If you’re single, then practice the type of sexual integrity you hope your children would model.  I find that many men continue to secretly struggle with porn.  If this is the case, then admit it.  You don’t have to tell your child, but you do need to share your addiction with a trusted friend and – sooner than later – your spouse.

Develop an On-Going Action Plan

Make some decisions regarding technology and how and when it will be used in your home.  If your son or daughter has a smartphone, then you will need to establish a baseline of acceptable behavior that will protect them from the industry’s reach.  Some things you might consider:

a.    Using a filter on all devices.[ii]

b.   Check ALL history daily.  When history is deleted, there will need to be consequences.

c.    No screens behind closed doors.  For example, no televisions, smartphones, tablets, or computers, etc. should be allowed behind closed doors such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

These are just a few suggestions that we’ve used in our home.  You will need to establish some ground rules that work well within the pre-existing flow of your family.  No ground rules, however, is sure to lead to porn consumption, if not all-out addiction.  Smartphones are pocket-sized perversion centers, and the porn industry both knows and exploits this reality thousands of times a minute.  Silence and a failure to develop a technology-use plan are akin to aiding and abetting the porn industry

Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out For Help

When I began my journey out of porn, there were precious few resources.  These days help can be found in nearly every community.  There are many places on the web where you can find help as well.  This site, MAP, is one such place.[iii]

I hope for, pray for, and work toward the day in which our children do not have to grow up with the reality of pornography.  This, however, is not that day.  Until that day arrives, I will do all I can to help prevent porn’s spread and prepare others how to face it!

All of us at MenAgainstPorn.org want to be an encouragement to you and a resource for you!  Reach out to us if you’d like to know more about how to join the movement or if you simply need help in your own battle!

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!

[i] http://3m37tq2euojp3d9gpf4dbqph.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Impact-of-Exposure-to-Sexually-Explicit-and-Exploitative-Materials.pdf

[ii] http://www.covenanteyes.com/services/internet-accountability/

[iii] http://www.menagainstporn.org/memes-partners/

 

This Father’s Day Become a Man of Integrity: Give Up Pornography

 By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

Father’s Day is quickly approaching.   Father’s Day is a time where our wives and children honor us for our commitment to family. In that role, we have elected to protect them, while serving as the spiritual leaders of our home. We are respected and admired for the time and effort and give to our loved ones. It is a day to recognize we are blessed by the family God has given us.

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” Psalm 128:3-4 ESV

Yes, Father’s Day is meant to recognize us as patriarch of our families.

But the truth is many of us are frauds.

We are failing as fathers not because we don’t play catch in the yard; wipe away tears; or teach during teachable moments. We are failing because beneath the exterior - what presents as a model dad - is a shameful figure who takes great care to protect his dirty little secret.

He has a pornography problem.

Imagine if our children were to discover what takes place when everyone goes to bed and we retreat into the office. Could you picture the look on their faces if they were to accidently catch us leering at the sordid imagines?

In fact, many fathers have been caught by their children. Ask any man who experienced that moment what it was like to know they had shattered their children’s image of them forever. Not only are they tainted in their children’s eyes, more importantly, they have exposed their kids to the ugliness of pornography. Who knows what type of impact that will have on a child as he/she continues their development.

 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42 ESV

Are you prepared to be the one responsible for polluting the minds of your children should they accidently run across your pornography collection, or stumble upon a website you neglected to delete from your history?

Probably not.

But if that indeed is how you feel why not take the steps you need to rid yourself of this problem?

Start by taking these two initial steps:

1. Bring it into the light

Your journey to sobriety starts with confessing your sins by telling someone you can trust about your struggles. It may be a good friend; your own father or brother; or your pastor. But once that is done you need to confess to your wife. Although it most likely will be very painful for her, she deserves to know what you have been battling and allowing her the opportunity to walk beside you as you begin your quest to conquer the problem.

2. Get a community

There is one fact about defeating a pornography program that can’t be disputed: you can’t do it alone. It is an addiction and the temptations will be strong. You need help and that includes: a counselor who specializes in treating pornography addictions; a support group and a sponsor. These individuals serve to help you in moments when you feel weak but, more importantly, they will help you better understand why you turned to pornography in the first place.

This Father’s Day become the dad your children think you are and take the steps necessary to start a new legacy that will carry on for generations. Generations that believes…”But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 ESV

What Will You Tell Your Son About Your Porn Habit?

By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

 

Okay, you’re 42, married with a 13-year-old son. And you struggle with porn. You’ve always struggled with porn. It started at age 12 with girly magazines your best friend would steal from his dad. As you got older, you discovered pornography was everywhere to be found on the Internet. You would spend hours searching for images and masturbating. And here you are today, 30 years later and still struggling with the same shameful behavior.

But what have you done to try to stop other than the useless white knuckle attempts made when your wife had a meltdown after catching you once again? Nothing.  No counseling. No support group. No sponsor. No educational efforts. No 12-Step Program. You've done nothing but promise you will try harder next time.

Your wife has already caught you several times. How long will it be before your son stumbles across what you have been putting into your eyes? You know it’s just a matter of time. You can’t keep it hidden forever. It will come out into the light.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3:19-21

What will you tell him about your addiction? How would you explain it away?

“Son, it’s not really a big deal. All men do this.” Is that the message you will deliver to him?

Or maybe you’ll say this:  “Son, pornography is not a good thing but it is a disease that affects all men. We don’t want to watch it but we simply don’t have any control. Just try to keep it out of sight and not let women know you’re watching.”

Those types of replies may help you feel less guilty, but they will serve to simply pass along your dreaded addiction to another generation. You son needs to understand the truth about pornography and the negative impact it has on those who view it; family members; and the individuals who participate in it. But he can’t learn about the evils of porn until you stop abusing sex and start rebuilding your legacy as a father, husband, and man of God?

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

Perhaps, today is the day you start creating your new legacy.  Schedule a counseling appointment; arrange to attend a support group; find a sponsor; educate yourself about the disorder; and expose your sin to the light.

As you work on overcoming your addiction, you can one day say to you son. “Son, we need to talk about a very serious subject that can cause great harm to men, women, and families. That is pornography. If you allow it to enter your eyes, it will slowly destroy your mind and integrity. I should know. At one time I was addicted to pornography. Today, I want to take steps to ensure you will never have to deal with the shame and guilt that I did. I want you to be a Godly man, who respects women and knows how to properly give and receive love. And I do this because I love you.”

Should Women Ignore Husbands’ Pornography Use?

By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

During a recent marriage counseling session, a young wife said this to me after I discovered the husband enjoyed viewing pornography.

“I don’t see the big deal,” said Candy. “I think it’s something all men do. Besides, that’s not the reason we’re here. As we said earlier, we are having troubling connecting and I feel he is being very distant.”

Candy, like many other women, buy into the myth that there is nothing they can do to stop their husbands from watching pornography. They have been conditioned to believe that watching porn is as natural to men as leaving the toilet seat up.

Yet, the complaint Candy had about her relationship – lack of emotional intimacy – is one seen in all marriages where men spend time watching pornography. Candy, like many other women, don’t understand pornography destroys emotional intimacy and connection. A man who views pornography develops a distorted view of relationships. He often mistakes emotionally intimacy for physical intimacy. He demonstrates and feels loved through physical touch. While sexual intimacy in a relationship is important, it should not be the predominant means for showing affection.

Then there is the point about “honoring.” How is watching pornography and becoming sexually aroused and stimulated by watching other people engage in sexual acts demonstrating respect for your wife or marriage?

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together.”  1 Peter 3:7 NLT

“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Hebrews 13:4 NLT

Whether you agree or not, a large majority of women see pornography use by their husbands as a form of betrayal. They are offended and shamed that the men who say they love them enjoy viewing other women engaging in sexual activities.

Another reason to not ignore your husband’s pornography usage is that there is more going on than just lust. In nearly all cases, men utilize pornography as an escape from a more deeply-rooted emotional pain. Instead of confronting their emotional needs they instead learned that pornography serves an excellent distraction.

By ignoring his porn watching, you are enabling his efforts to not confront his emotional distress(es). And in turn you are playing a role in creating a divide in your relationship.

If you have turning a blinded-eye toward your husband’s use of pornography, I would encourage you to do research and see what pornography usage over time does to a man’s brain and the way he views women in general.

I would also ask you to spend some time seriously reflecting on the state of your marriage and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my marriage everything I dreamed it would be?
  • Does he seek me out more to emotionally connect or to engage in sex?
  • Do I feel as close to him today as I did the day we got married?
  • Does he make me feel special and desired for more than my body?
  • Has our sex life changed?

After answering these questions, perhaps you will find that you have been “settling” in your marriage and that you really want more from him. If so, the first place to start is evaluating what his pornography use is really doing to your marriage.

HOW TO REBUILD A MARRIAGE RAVAGED BY PORN! PT. 3

By Biz Gainey

Self – Preservation is Not the Place to Stay

From the moment we come out screaming from the womb, to the moment we begin sliding toward the tomb, we are taught the virtue of self-preservation.

While self-preservation is instinctual and, at times, necessary for survival, I am concerned with the underbelly of this instinct.

Decades ago, when I was a child, I did something with a friend that I knew I’d be punished for if my parents ever found out.

My friend’s father found out and spoke to us about our behavior.  When I told him how scared I was of telling my parents, he said, with a smile, “Son, you need to tell the truth, but you don’t always have to tell the whole truth.”

Boy did the lesson sink in that day – tell the truth right up to the point where it can get you into trouble.

That is what I call self-preservation!  Getting right up to the line, but not crossing it and, when you do, intentionally developing a plan to tell a portion of the truth so that you can avoid the fullest responsibility of your actions.

Self-preservation is both a part of nature as well as nurture! As such, self-preservation tends to become the default orientation of many adults – especially those who remain trapped in pornography.

Yes, self-preservation is a natural response that has been habitually nurtured.  It is not, however, the place to stay if you hope to rebuild your life from the brokenness porn has caused.

Wondering if You are a Self-preservationist?

If you normally experience one or more of the following reactions to viewing or being caught viewing porn, you might be a self-preservationist:

1.       Do you hide all the evidence?  Are you deleting your browsing history, covering up your phone history, erasing viewing history, etc.?

2.       Do you pretend that someone else did it?  When practicing self-preservation it’s easy to try and lay the blame somewhere or on someone else.  For instance, on a colleague, teenager, spouse, etc.

3.       Do you try to minimize what you saw or why you clicked, viewed, or acted out?  Any rationalization, at this point, is usually birthed from a desire to protect oneself from the full consequences of one’s actions.

4.       Do you use the ‘Well, at least my acting out wasn’t as bad as it was the last time’ line when caught?  While this acknowledgement is important, it’s not the place to start.  Starting here reveals a normal desire to avoid the pain of confrontation but fails to allow for the freedom of redemption that accompanies genuine acceptance of the behavior.

If you can say ‘yes’ to one or more of these, then you may be struggling with the natural tendency toward self-preservation and blame-shifting.

The problem with practicing self-preservation is that it leads into patterns of isolation, deception, and mistrust. Once trapped in this world, we find it is very, very hard to break free.

In fact, this is what I call the compounding shame phase of the addiction. Already shamed by the addiction, we compound our shame by entering a self-preservation pattern.  

This pattern is designed to continually hide the addiction.

Shame, invariably, moves one back into the first response of self-preservation and blame-shifting.

From Self-preservation to the Life-giving Rhythms of Honesty, Openness, Perseverance, and Engagement

Honesty.  Self-preservation prevents honesty!  If you have acted out, or continue to struggle, it’s best to be honest with those whom this impacts the most! Be honest with yourself, the Lord, and your loved ones.  This is a difficult place to begin, but if you practice honesty, then you will find that – over time – the deceptive power of porn does decrease.

Openness.  Developing a rhythm that is open to scrutiny will help you as you move forward in this walk out of porn.  Be sure others have access to your devices.  Ask others to hold you accountable, particularly in those areas of known triggers.

PerseveranceDon’t give up!  I have spoken with countless men who feel like giving in and giving up.  Don’t swim in that shame.  Once you practice honesty and experience openness, then you can assess where you are and reaffirm your desire to be free from porn’s pull! 

EngagementRelapse into addiction can lead us into an isolated island of guilt and shame.  Don’t let that happen.  Have an action plan in place that includes re-engaging in meaningful ways with the people you love and those who love you.  Engage in a craft, hobby, the community, your church, a special skill or talent.  Engaging into the meaningful people and places God has granted will lead you into a life of honesty, openness, perseverance, and engagement. 

These rhythms will birth HOPE that porn can never steal and from which you can begin to rebuild your life from the ravages of porn!

Remember, as ones who have been there and done that, we are here to walk with you and assist you on your long journey home.

If you find our resources helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share them with your friends, neighbors, and communities!

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!

 

How to Rebuild a Life Ravaged by Porn! Part 2

By Biz Gainey

Playing the victim Will Never Lead to Victory

The choice to play the victim is an easy one for an addict to choose!  An addict, or someone struggling with an attraction to pornography, often feels like a victim--as if there is no other choice but to consume porn and feed the sexual perversion. 

Indeed, an addict, in real ways, becomes a victim of his/her behavior.

Playing the victim usually means, however, that one is refusing to own up to one’s behavior. This response is a dead end and could ultimately lead to the death of all one loves and holds dear. 

If you are going to rebuild from the brokenness of a life ravaged by porn, then this default response must stop.

Nearly twenty years ago, I was forced to own up.  My wife discovered my addiction during the moment of my consumption.  This moment changed everything for me and began to usher in my long and, at times, excruciating, walk into freedom.

Looking back on that time, I can recall three building blocks that have remained firm down to this very day.  If you are hoping to rebuild your life and relationships that porn is ravaging, these building blocks might be the place where your journey begins.

Building Block #1: Confess your addiction. 

This is the first step.  I began by confessing to a trusted friend who was willing to walk with me and encourage me to confess to my wife.  The pain of confession was as excruciating as the freedom from confession was liberating!  Full confession, freed from the tug of victimization, self-preservation, or blame-shifting is the most fundamental step I ever took on this journey into freedom.

Confession began (at least for me) with God. I recall vividly sensing the depth of my sin against God. After all, each image was a picture of someone's daughter, sister, mother and friend. Like David, my heart wept before the King. God's grace allowed me to see that my sin against others - through my porn addiction - was ultimately a sin against Him.  

As David cries out in Psalm 51:1 - 4, so my heart cried out before the Lord:

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
    Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
    purify me from my sin!
Because I know my wrongdoings,
    my sin is always right in front of me.
I’ve sinned against you—you alone.
    I’ve committed evil in your sight.
That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict,
    completely correct when you issue your judgment.

Building Block #2: Accept the pain you have caused and the consequences it brings. 

Pornography addiction divides your soul as well as the relationships in your life.  Your confession will likely throw your loved ones into a tail-spin.  

Be prepared for this.  

Seek counsel ahead of time.  

Have a friend join you.  Take any measures you can take to help your spouse, child, or loved one receive your confession.  At the same time, be prepared for immense pain and anger to burst forth from the hurt they will feel.

I cannot overemphasize this point.  The revelation or your struggle with pornography is going to hit your loved one like a hammer.  They will reel and react in ways that you must absorb.

Their pain does ease – with time, counsel, and the steady rebuilding of trust - but the consequences may endure for some time.  You will need to begin to establish rhythms of trust and surrender that will help rebuild hope and confidence.

Building Block #3: Make a commitment to take concrete action that will move you toward freedom. 

Commit to making a host of intentional and steady decisions that remove the vehicles of 'easy input' and establish rhythms of accountability.   I committed to a life of accountability with Melissa and others whom she trusted to help me walk this path. 

Here are a few choices I made that helped move me toward freedom:

  • Intentional involvement with a counselor or support group that helped me process why I felt the need to escape into the world of porn.
  • Consistent rhythms and patterns that rebuilt trust and confidence.  For example, my wife had access to my calendar and could call me at any moment and get a report on exactly what I was doing.
  • I found a friend that would hold me accountable and encourage me toward freedom.
  • I avoided places that might trigger the addiction.
  • I installed – and still keep installed – accountability software on every device.  My wife keeps the password.

These building blocks require surrender.  There is no other way.  Life in your own hands has become a mess.  You must surrender control and trust others to help you achieve that which you are unable to achieve for yourself.

As you surrender, you then build trust and begin to trust.

As you build trust and begin to trust, you become a person who lives in and longs for the rhythm of surrender.

Before you know it, you are beginning to live with intention, and you are no longer fleeing - as frequently - to the perils of your blood-sucking habit/pattern/addiction.

The cycle is beautiful and life-giving!

Remember, as ones who have been there and done that, we are here to walk with you and assist you on your long journey home.

If you find our resources helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share them with your friends, neighbors, and communities!

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!

 

How to Rebuild a Marriage Ravaged by Porn! Part 1

By Biz Gainey

I am not a counselor, nor am I a psychiatrist.

I am not a therapist who works with those addicted to porn or other life-draining addictions.

I am a man who has walked and continues to walk his way out of porn addiction into the joy of and struggle for a porn-free life.

As such, though I have read and studied dozens of books and resources related to porn addiction, nearly everything I write is birthed from my personal journey out of porn and into freedom.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to build a series of posts related to the steps that I, along with my family, have taken that have led me out of porn addiction and into my truest self.

It is, I hope, a message that provides both encouragement and equipment for those who deeply desire to have intimacy restored in their home and to flourish together in their marriage and relationships.

I began my marriage rebuilding process nearly two decades ago.  I have learned much through a multitude of failures and a host of victories.  Each failure stemmed from an unwillingness or inability to live by established convictions related to freedom and hope.  Each victory has been birthed in the vibrant soil of these core convictions and produced an ever growing and always maturing plant deeply rooted in the goodness of life and graciousness of God. 

While I do not assume my personal convictions to be normative, I suspect they may be helpful for others who hope to rebuild their marriage from the brokenness of porn.  As such, this post will lay the framework for some core convictions that are central to one’s journey into a porn-free life.

Core Convictions as We Rebuild From the Brokenness                                          

1.       Porn is bad.  This sounds simple, but it is, unfortunately, a conviction not shared by all.  Many are convinced that porn consumption and addiction poses no real threat to themselves or those around them.  If you are going to rebuild from the brokenness, then you need to affirm this core conviction: Porn steals life and, as such, brings death!

2.       Playing the victim Will Never Lead to Victory.  The choice to play the victim is an easy one for an addict to choose! And, honestly, it's partly correct. Indeed, an addict becomes a victim of his/her behavior. An addict often feels like a victim: as if there is no other choice but to consume porn and feed the sexual perversion. Playing the victim usually means, however, that one is refusing to own up to one’s behavior. This response is a dead end and could ultimately lead to the death of all one loves and holds dear.  If you are going to rebuild from the brokenness, then this default response must stop.

3.       Self–Preservation is Not the Place to Stay. This choice is but one step removed from the previous one. When I would enter a self-preservation pattern, I usually did so before I got caught. I would hide all the evidence, delete the history, pretend I was somewhere I wasn't, etc. Self-preservation tends to become the default orientation of those trapped in pornography. There is a subtle danger to this response. The practice of self-preservation leads us into patterns of isolation, deception, and mistrust. Once trapped in this world, we find it is very hard to break free. In fact, this is what I call the compounding shame phase of the addiction. Already shamed by the addiction, we compound our shame by entering a self-preservation pattern.  This pattern is designed to continually hide the addiction. Shame, invariably, moves one back into the first response of playing the victim.  If one is to rebuild from the brokenness of porn, then openness, accountability, and confession will need to replace this common practice.

4.       Don’t Swim in the Cesspool of Guilt and Shame.  Guilt and shame are not friends of the addict seeking recovery.  You will, however, experience guilt when you act out.  It’s easy for the addict to feed this beast because he or she feels so overwhelmed by the outcomes.  I find it helpful to bring my guilt to a trusted friend and ask him to help me process where I am on this journey.  Often, after a time of meaningful sharing and reflection, I am able to see how far I have come even as I realize a long journey lies yet ahead.

5.       Authenticity and Accountability Must Become the New Normal.  I am always going to be a recovering porn addict, or a porn addict in recovery.  By that I mean, I must always be on my guard against a relapse or falling back into the pull of porn’s power.  I learned early on that ongoing and deeply authentic accountability is now the new normal.  There is never a time when I will be outside of accountability.  I have installed software protection on every device and screen I own.  I allow my wife access to my calendar, schedule, and daily routine.  She also has all the passwords related to my accountability software.  I routinely meet with men who struggle and engage in authentic relationships designed to nurture wholeness and health! 

6.       Though Porn Ends in Death, it Will Not End in MY Death.  For those who are rebuilding a marriage and family from the brokenness of porn, hope is an indispensable gift of a loving God!  As long as one has breath in the lungs, there can be redemption in the heart!  The more I experienced freedom from porn, the more I discovered hidden talents and gifts I did not know I had.  As you discover your own talents and gifts - hope will prevail!  When feeling trapped by or pulled into the lure of porn, go out and utilize your talents and gifts in a productive and life-affirming way!

If you are a hoping to rebuild your marriage, home, and life from the brokenness of your addiction, these responses or default behaviors will never take you where you most truly long to go or allow you to be the person you most truly long to be!  These responses are, more importantly, not the only options from which the recovering porn addict has to choose!

There is another response that will lead to other options and more redemptive outcomes.  We will begin there in our next post.

Until then, why not take this blog to your spouse and work together on building from the brokenness in the hope that wholeness is on the way.

Remember, as ones who have been there and done that, we are here to walk with you and assist you on your long journey home.

If you find our resources to helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share them with your friends, neighbors, and communities.

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!

 

Letting Her Grieve

By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

When a married man gets caught abusing sex, he is immediately faced with two serious challenges. The first is learning to overcome his sexual addiction and work to become a man of sexual integrity. The second challenge is starting to re-building trust with his wife. And for many men, that process can be more difficult than dealing with their own sexual indiscretion.

“I’m trying to get answers because I am feeling alone and unwanted,” said Mary, whose husband Jeff had been engaging in online video chat exchanging sexually explicit pictures and photos with several women. “But instead of giving me answers he gets angry and storms off.”

Jeff’s reaction to his wife’s demands for information is not uncommon.  However, he is stalling the healing process by not allowing her to grieve properly. No woman will be able to heal from her husband’s sexual infidelity if she is not given the opportunity to process her emotional pain. Grief experts estimate the time required to grieve a spouse’s unfaithfulness is approximately 12 to 24 months. There can be no true forgiveness if the grieving process is interrupted or stopped.

I recall a couple I saw for one counseling session in which the husband had mandated his wife ask all of her questions over a 3-day period, and after that time, he would forbid her from ever speaking about his affairs. When I told him that grieving doesn’t work that way and she would need more time and he would need to be patient and understanding, he stood up and said he heard enough and left the room leaving his wife behind in tears.

While very few men are that hard-headed in dealing with their hurting spouse, many do lack the patience to allow the wife to do the work she needs to accomplish to heal.    

It is critical for husbands to develop empathy for their wives and put themselves in her place so they can feel her pain. In order to do that men must first get out of their own heads and stop focusing on the shame and guilt they feel, which is the reason for wanting to shut down her grieving. Instead they must adopt the Fruit of the Spirit when dealing with a hurting spouse.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23

As men who have abused sex, we have caused a great deal of sorrow and upheaval in the lives of our wives. As we move forward in working to gain sexual integrity, we must understand we will lose the war if we do not accept the second challenge of helping our wives heal by allowing them to grieve properly.

Porn: The Ultimate Joy Stealer

By Chad Gilbert

Porn is a joy stealer. It removes joy from the inside out. It takes that which was meant for good, even good desires, and focuses them on sin, self, and destruction. It can, to the extreme ends destroy relationships and lives. It leaves the user feeling alone, ashamed, and worthless. Much like a user or drinker after a binder, not much is left of the person but to pick the pieces up and wait until the next fix. For the used it is a new form of slavery. The sinister part of porn is that it's so ubiquitous. Everyone is cool with it in their own way.

This was my experience as someone who used porn regularly for most of his teenage and adult life. 18 years if we are keeping score. I was involved in churches, worship teams, even in seminary and I was blind to how bad it really was. That’s because we, like Lot (check Genesis 13) are much more eager to please our eyes and bellies than trust Lord in His goodness.

The lie of the serpent from the garden tells us it’s not that bad. When it happens, he whispers aha! He does not really love you! Why would he allow you, his precious child to do that!? I hated myself, wanted it to be done with and never to look back. But I always went back. Moreover, my view of women was degrading to say the least. Satisfaction was always just beyond reach. Even what felt like satisfaction was a pale comparison to the treasure I found. I had professed belief in Christ at an early age. However, like many young believers in the 90s had thrust upon me the dos and don'ts of youth group and the world...more often than not the world swayed me. God always remained faithful, even when I was not.

My name is Chad Gilbert and I am a pornography addict. My aim is to help you see that you struggle with it too, and that hope is closer than you think. You may not (and I pray don’t) struggle as deeply as some of us do, but even casual flirting with the mouse and screen is sure to pull you away from things that matter. This is not a holier than thou group (hey, I’m new here) but this group could point you to the one who makes you holier than you were.

I work with addicts of all kinds of stripes from drugs to alcohol, gambling and just straight up narcissists. And all of them, including you and us, need to hear the ultimate freeing grace of Christ. When you think you’re at bottom and have nowhere else to go, well...that’s exactly where God has placed you. Fed up with your false desires? Bored with your usual drinks? Come to the fountain brothers and drink from the streams of grace abounding!

Recognizing Triggers and Traps, Part 4: The Trap Day

By Biz Gainey

 

I know the term Trap Day is an unfamiliar one.  It is, in fact, not one I have heard of anywhere else.  That’s because it’s one that is birthed from my personal journey out of porn addiction and into a porn-free life.  In my experience the Trap Day is a day of ongoing struggle with porn’s pull.  It’s a day when one is particularly susceptible to porn and its destructive power of persuasion.

The Trap Day is as unexpected as it is unavoidable. 

The Trap Day is debilitating because it is durative. 

While the term may be new to you, the experience I am describing is likely all too familiar.  It’s the experience of being stuck in your addiction and – seemingly – unable to break free.  You can break free, though.  Before I discuss how it’s possible to live porn-free in the troughs of the Trap Day, I am going to identify a couple of Trap Day characteristics.  Identifying some characteristics may help you recognize, prepare for, and resist this day in your life.

Characteristics of the Trap Day

1.       Day of Adrenaline Depletion/Depression.  The trap day typically appears immediately following a day in which one has expended a vast amount of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual energy.  In other words, the Trap Day assails when one is worn-out and too weak to put up a strong resistance. 

Because of my personal weekly rhythms, the Trap Day always falls on a Monday.  It can, however, occur at any time and always shows up when I am deeply drained and in need of rest!  The Trap Day for you may not be weekly.  Paying attention to your daily and weekly schedule will help you begin to recognize the Trap Day and prepare for ways to endure it.

2.       Day that Seizes Relapse or Accentuates Failure.  The Trap Day is a master at making one feel like a failure.  It’s a day in which the memory of the prolific nature of a past with porn and the pain it causes is all too real.  The Trap Day may exploit the ways in which triggers have, recently, been entertained, rather than resisted. 

I have found that, in the midst of the Trap Day, old memories – many years old – grab a hold of my heart and mind in a painful way.  Of course, it’s all a lie.  But, in the moment, when enduring is difficult, it seems true and serves as a reminder of how difficult this journey is.  Even though porn addiction is no longer true of me, the power of memory combined with the moment of weakness is difficult – but not impossible – to fight against!

Though the Trap Day cannot be avoided, it can be endured.  It can also become a day in which one can experience great victory and freedom.  The key to victory over the Trap Day is found in whom or what we behold, rather than how we hope to behave.

I call this key the Practice or Rhythm of Beholding True Beauty!

To behold is to “reflect upon, look upon, gaze upon or consider often and regularly.”

In my journey out of porn and into a porn-free life, the true beauty I choose to behold – on a regular and consistent basis, shapes the inner realities of my heart.  These inner, or core, realities, shape me in such a way that – in moments of undeniable weakness and unavoidable temptation – I am able to stand strong and live from this place of beauty.

Beholding True Beauty

As I practice the rhythm of Beholding True Beauty, I find that true beauty beholds me.  In other words, beauty – true beauty – is life giving.  Life giving is the antithesis of what porn offers.  Porn is the distortion of beauty.

Reflect on the following options of True Beauty to Behold:

1.       Behold the beauty of God.  Psalm 27:4-5 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture in this regard. The Psalmist exclaims, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”

Later in the Psalm we read, “I remain confident of this: I will gaze on the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  This wonderful phrase is one that I memorize and hide in my heart so that its hope will hold me in the midst of the Trap Day which is sure to come!

2.       Behold the beauty of your spouse.  I have found that the Trap Day tries to trick me into believe that I am not loved and/or cared for in the ways that I find meaningful and life giving.  If I buy this line, then the offering is a quick trip to porn and a speedy descent to destruction.  I have learned to think and speak truth about my spouse and reflect on the moments when I have sensed her love.  I find that the more I behold the beauty of my spouse the less I give in to the power of porn’s pull.  Even better, the less I give in to the power of porn’s pull, the more I am able to behold the beauty of my spouse.  This rhythm leads to a literal flywheel of freedom.

3.       Behold the beauty of your children.  I became serious about trying to deal with my porn addiction after the birth of our first son.  Yes, I had attempted to shake it before his birth, but the reality that I would pass this sin onto him was weighty.  Beholding the beauty of my children has always held me fast in the midst of the Trap Day!

4.       Behold the beauty of community and creation.  One of my favorite themes in The Odyssey is the theme of brothers who fight wars – of all kinds - together.  Enduring the Trap Day requires dependence on and commitment to a larger community of trusted friends who will speak truth into your life in a moment’s notice. 

The evil one, whom I believe is the father of porn, will twist you like a pretzel if he catches you alone and lonely!  Don’t give him the opportunity.  Find – at the very least – one or two people who will walk with you and be there for you in your day of need! 

I live close to a coast line, as the Atlantic Ocean is within ten minutes of my home.  If, during the rigors of the Trap Day, I get out and experience the majesty of God’s good creation, I find that the pressures of temptation decrease and the joy of freedom becomes attainable.

5.       Behold the beauty of you!  This is as difficult as it is important.  When self-doubt creeps into my mind and heart, insecurity begins to take root in my soul.  As soon as insecurity takes root, porn’s pull becomes nearly impossible to resist.  I, therefore, have learned to practice the rhythm of being thankful to God for the innate gifts, desires and experience He has given me.  This is closely related to, yet distinct from, beholding the beauty of vocation. 

 One of my favorite Bible verses to chew is found in Psalm 139:13-14, where the Psalmist proclaims, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” 

What a great reminder to me – especially when in enduring the Trap Day – of the worth and value I hold in the eyes of our creator!

My hope is that this will encourage you and inspire you to create your own list and begin beholding, on a daily basis, so that you will experience freedom when the Trap Day shows up!

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!

Recognizing Triggers and Traps in Overcoming Porn Addiction, Part 2

By Biz Gainey

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of identifying the Trying Season. 

The Trying Season is that time and or stage of life where stressors grow, and relief is needed.  Porn exploits those times of our life and extracts our dignity in the process.  If you are in that season now, click here.   I hope you find the blog post helpful.

Today, I am going to consider another trigger we need to be aware of in our fight against porn.  It is:

  • The Teasing Sensation.

Life is full of teasers.  A teaser is, according to Merriam-Webster, “something that is done, offered, or shown to make people want something or want to see something that will be offered or shown at a later time.”

Teasers, or teasing sensations, pose significant challenges for at least two reasons:

  • We don’t expect them.  They can show up out of nowhere and grab a hold of the addict’s heart with ferocious power.
  • We cannot control or anticipate our initial response to them.  Usually, the response is full of energy and excitement that seems almost uncontrollable.  Fortunately, it’s not uncontrollable!

Yes, teasers present a host of problems.  Teasers, or teasing sensations, are often leveraged by the Trying Season, Tempting Situations and The Trap Day – all triggers and traps this series is designed to help us fight!! 

Invariably, they become the fertile soil in which porn addiction and consumption seek to take root and grow!

Consider the following teasers you and I might encounter during an average day:

1.       A ‘pop up’ add on your computer.

2.       A commercial during your favorite program.

3.       A movie trailer at the local theater.

4.       A flirty glance or accidental – but charged -- touch from a colleague.

5.       A magazine cover at the ten-item aisle in your local grocery store.

6.       A girl at your local gym.

You get the point.  From Starbucks to the grocery store, teasers, or the teasing sensation, occur randomly and unexpectedly and we can NEVER control our initial emotional response.

Let me free you from that trap.  You know the trap that takes your initial excitement or rush of energy and makes you feel like dirt.  Men and women are creatures of desire.  We – all of us – want.  We want deeply so.   If longing and desire were not central to what it means to be human, then teasers would gain no ground!

So, if you see someone dressed in a way that stimulates you, or if you are caught off guard by an advertisement that excites you, relax - that’s okay – don’t let your initial reaction lead you to a place of destruction and pain.

It’s just a reaction, a reflex.  Do you remember when your doctor used to whack your knee with a rubber hammer?  Try as you might, as a kid, you couldn’t stop your knee from responding.  Our emotions work in similar ways.  They respond to stimulus and stimulating moments.

The enemy of our soul and society seeks to distort godly desire and tease us into a tempting situation.  The forces that rule the porn empire know that once one is teased into a tempting situation, it becomes all too easy to click that website and feed the addiction!

The question is, for those of us who want to be porn-free, what actions or steps can we take AFTER that initial reflex and response?  What can we do to ensure that the emotional response doesn’t digress into a normative way of life and living?

Here are a few suggestions from my life.  I share them not in triumph, but from tragedy.  These ideas were birthed in the midst of despair and pain.  They are, however, tried and true ways I become aware of and awake to the realities of living in a world bent on Trying, Teasing, and Tempting.

Preparing For and Responding to the Teasing Sensation

1.       Anticipate teasing sensations and situations and make a plan for how you will respond in that moment.   I simply sat down one day and wrote out all the possible times the teasing sensation might occur.  After jotting down eight to ten of them, I developed some ways I would respond in those moments.   I sought to develop life-giving, hope-birthing rhythms of response rather than shame-filled, guilt-ridden mechanisms of despair.

2.       Share the moments with a loved one or accountability partner.  Share them quickly.  I find that verbally expressed the sensation reduces its power and pull in my mind and heart.  Speaking it to another person proves to be wonderfully healing!

3.       Get out of the situation and away from the sensation!  Getting away from the teasing sensation may mean avoiding my computer, leaving the coffee shop, closing or ‘bouncing’ my eyes, etc.  If I remain in the moment and entertain the sensation, I give it the power to move me toward temptation.

4.       Negative reinforcement can bring me back to reality.  During my initial season or stages of recovery, these moments posed powerful and anxiety producing situations.  I found it helpful to wrap a rubber band around my left hand.   When such moment occurred, I would snap the band, producing an immediate and equal negative response to the sensation.  I would then think of my wife and the joy I have in her, which reinforced a positive affirmation of my identity and sense of personhood.

As I said earlier, those are just a few of mine.  Perhaps you have some of your own that you’d like to share with us.  If so, please reach out.  Men Against Porn is here to help you live a porn-free life as we bring the fight right to the porn industry’s doorstep.  For those to happen, we need people like you to join us, share our message with your friends and loved ones and live into the hope that freedom brings!

In my next post, I will look at the third and fourth triggers.  I call them, The Tempting Situation and The Trap Day.  These are those days and situations that pose particular problems for us.  I will let you in on how I handle them and their pivotal role in my desire to live a porn-free life!

Stay with us and stay healthy!

Recognizing Triggers and Traps in Overcoming Porn Addiction, Part 1

By Biz Gainey

I struggled with porn addiction for years before I realized that certain moments, thoughts, people, or places were triggers that ignited my desire and drove my decision-making process.  I know them now, and I have to be ready for them. 

A couple of trigger and traps are:

1.       Seasons of life that are particularly demanding and/or taxing.

2.       Transitions in life such as a new place of work or a new move.

3.       Moments or days after I have expended a large amount of emotional energy on a task or project.

Any of the moments described above are potential triggers and traps that can trick me into believing porn is a necessary escape.

I am not sure what your triggers and traps are, but I know you have them.  So, I am going present four areas of potential triggers and traps in the hope that reading them will awaken you to and keep you aware of your own.  In my own journey, awareness of these triggers and traps has provided firm footing on which to stand and has enabled me to live a robust and wonderfully healthy post-porn addiction life!

Triggers and Traps

1.       The Trying Season.  The American Psychological Association reports that nearly 70% of us believe stress has an impact on our physical well-being.[i]  I wonder if we realize the impact of stress on our mental and emotional health?  While stress is the norm for many, highly stressful seasons of life are the experience of every one of us. 

Consider two dominant areas of life experience:

a.       Relational.  This is life with friends or family, pending life stage and development.

b.      Work/Education.  This is the area of life that likely occupies most of your time.  For those in a career, it means a job.  For those who are students it means school work, life and all the activities that come with being a student in your typical academic setting.

In both areas, relationships and work, formation and deformation are happening all the time.  For example: when you work hard and receive a promotion or pay raise, you experience formation.  Your energies are rewarded and recognized by your colleagues, which gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment.  The experience of pride and accomplishment help form our sense of personhood, plac’dness, and purpose in our world.    In moments like these, ones of value, esteem and recognition, something sacred is at work.  It’s as if places in us – often places we aren’t even aware exist – are being shaped and formed. 

In such moments, we experience joy and fulfillment.  While this is a beautiful moment that brings hope, it is also accompanied by subtle but certain stressors.  Intuitively, we begin to entertain thoughts like these:

Wow, what is this going to do for my career in the long run?  More success, more money, more stuff, more hours at work?

What’s my spouse going to think about this?  Does this mean I have to put in that pool he has been nagging me to put in these past two years?

How will this impact my relationship with my colleagues?

Yes.  Even in moments of joy and celebration, stress begins to build.  Most of the stress is, of course, self-inflicted, but that’s not the point.  The point is that stress begins to build during moments we would not expect it to build.  If we don’t awaken to this reality, it will grow over time and become the dominate narrative from which we live.  Soon, we are in the midst of a Trying Season and we aren’t quite sure how we even got there.

As stress builds anxiety increases.

As anxiety increases, frustration takes hold.

As frustration takes hold, conflict – both internal and external – grows.

As conflict grows, stress becomes the norm.

When stress becomes the norm, we sense a growing need to escape reality and relieve all the tension.  The Trying Season then falls prey to porn’s opportunistic pull and we act out.

We click that web page that offers total satisfaction with very little investment.

We hunt Backpage in the hopes of finding that caring companion who will, for just a small amount of our hard-earned money, ease away the pain, if only for a while.

We stroll into that massage parlor that everyone knows offers more than back rubs and seek to receive a solace our stressed out lives fail to provide.

You get the picture.  Porn’s power is weaponized in the midst of Trying Seasons and stressful realities.

For any who have struggled with porn, we know that such behavior actually leads us to shame and guilt, only adding to the stress we were trying to relieve.  In the space of such self-created tension, we begin to lash out at those we love and they who love us.  First we lash out ourselves, then take it out on our spouse, then we randomly and carelessly yell and scream at the kids.  Finally, we retreat into an isolated island of Self-loath and despair, wondering if we will ever be free.  Hoping, really, that we would one day be able to at least put up a fight.  Indeed, if we are not careful the Trying Season will lead to moments of self-induced, relationship-crushing pain.

Take hope.  This need not be the case.  There are health-creating steps we can take before running to porn and compounding our stress:

1.       Awaken to and become aware of internal stressors.  The way I do this is by pausing a few times a day and then at least once or twice a week and reflecting on how I feel.  It’s helpful for me to identify the emotions stirring within my soul.  Am I angry?  Am I sad? Am I nervous?  Am I concerned, etc.?

2.       Accept responsibility for my emotions.  It’s easy for me to blame others for my feelings.  This rarely helps.  If I can accept responsibility for my emotions, then I can take positive steps to empower myself and direct my emotions back toward health.

3.       Ask a friend for help and/or counsel.  The journey out of addiction is not a journey you can take alone.  Reach out to a trusted friend, spouse, brother, sister, counselor, pastor, mentor, coach.

4.       Alter the trajectory of your thought life.  This is crucial.  You simply have to ‘get out of your head.’  That ongoing conversation of how everyone is against you is as unhelpful as it is untrue.  Once you nurture and cultivate a toxic thought-life, you are setting yourself up for addictive behavior.  Begin to speak truth and spend time with those who will speak truth to and with you!

We experience life-giving and life-taking moments throughout all of our lives. That’s why being aware of and awake to the trying and stressful seasons is critical if you are going to break free from porn’s pull.

 If you are a porn addict or significantly struggle to stay away from porn’s pull, then this season is one of which you need to be aware.

The steps I have offered may or may not work for you.  In fact, you may have some of your own.  If so, please let us know what they are so we can provide them for others who are on this journey as well.  If you need help, check out our resources and partner link on this web site.  You can also contact us via email.

I will, in following posts, reflect on three other realities porn seeks to exploit and ways I have learned to live porn-free in their midst.  They are:

1.       The Teasing Sensation.

2.       The Tempting Situations.

3.       The Trap Day.

Stay with us!

Biz Gainey

Men Against Porn

 

[i] http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2012/impact.aspx

No one’s porn addiction is beyond forgiveness…

By Biz Gainey

When one thinks of Easter, they think of furry, white bunnies, Peeps, and baskets so full of candy that we know that a dentist’s visit is right around the corner. But it’s not candy or a furry white character that is the reason that we celebrate Easter. Rather, Easter has a deeper meaning, a more profound meaning that changes our lives forever. It literally transforms us.

For those of us who have overcome/are overcoming a porn addiction, Easter is so much more. It is the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made upon dying on the Cross and His Resurrection – which paved the way for our forgiveness – that enables us to stand boldly knowing that nothing we’ve done is beyond forgiveness. Nothing we’ve done is beyond redemption.  Every day, I am grateful for this ultimate sacrifice, but more so during this joyous Easter season. It’s not pornography that defines us. Are you with me?

We don’t have to erase our browser history anymore because our history – our past – has been erased with the blood of Christ. He makes all things new. This is what Easter is all about. This is why we can shout with impassioned joy that we are new!

We aren’t porn addicts.

We’re men who have been forgiven.

And it is because of that forgiveness that we boldly proclaim: “I am a man against porn!”

Yes!  I am a Man Against Porn.  I love the sound of that!  It’s a great reminder to and encouragement for me to know that I am now – and always – more than mere addiction!  I do not have to stay bound by my addiction any longer.  It’s not a statement of perfection.  Nor is it a way for me to say that I am beyond the pull of porn.  Rather, it’s a bold proclamation – similar to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday – that the tomb of porn addiction, no matter how powerful its pull may be, cannot hold the soul set free by the love of Christ!

To say that I am a Man Against Porn is to testify that Christ has, is, and will always do for me that which I am unable to do for myself.  That is, Christ offers me forgiveness and grants me security in the freedom his forgiveness provides!  To say that I am a Man Against Porn is to say that my identity is found in my relationship to Christ as His child.  As such, though the power and pull of porn are strong, I am no longer bound by my addiction!   To say I am a Man Against Porn is to say that because He lives, all is well!  Because He lives, I am free!

I hope that you, like me, have had a personal encounter that gives meaning to your everyday life. If not, I encourage you to contact me with any questions you may have. We’re in this together, so I’d be crazy not to tell you about this liberating Joy that I have found. Contact me!

Easter is the perfect time to receive God’s grace and mercies… You are forgiven and loved!  To be forgiven and loved is to be set free!  So, let’s live into the freedom Easter proclaims and Christ provides this Resurrection weekend!

Because He lives,

Biz Gainey

PS: If you haven’t already, it is imperative to find a support group, where you can be paired with another man or woman, who has overcome addictions to pornography.  You can find more about resources to help you make this step in our Memes and Partners section.

Was Michael Barrett (Erin Andrews’ Stalker) a Porn Addict before He Became a Stalker?

By Biz Gainey

Last week, Erin Andrews was awarded 55 million dollars in her lawsuit against a stalker and hotel chain.  She filed the suit after she was secretly videotaped naked several times in the privacy of her hotel room.

She asked for 75 million[i].

In his deposition, stalker Michael Barrett explains how he got the footage of Andrews naked.[ii]  To convey the amount of stealth and subterfuge to which this guy sank, I will provide the timeline of his attack:

1.       Attacker, Michael Barrett, while on a business trip in Nashville (though I couldn’t trace down the type of trip he was on or the company for which he worked), discovered that Erin Andrews, ESPN sports personality, was in town at the same time covering a sporting event.

2.       Attacker, Michael Barrett attempted to book a room in Andrews’ hotel but was told that no rooms were available.  The details are a bit fuzzy at this point, but he was refused a room in the hotel due to overbooking, or he was denied the room he specifically requested because it was occupied.

3.       Attacker, Michael Barrett found a table at the hotel restaurant and ate dinner.  After which (or during which) he called the hotel operator and asked to be patched through to Erin Andrews room.  The house phone, from which he called, identified Andrews’ room number.

4.       Attacker, Michael Barrett went to the room number indicated on the house phone and saw a maid cleaning the room next to Andrews’.

5.       Attacker, Michael Barrett slunk down the elevator and attempted to book the room adjacent Andrews’.  Guess what?  The adjacent room was open, and he was able to book it.

6.       Attacker, Michael Barrett settled into his room.  Per his testimony he could hear her as she talked on the phone.  He patiently waited until he heard her leave the room.

7.       Attacker, Michael Barrett took a hacksaw and cut through the peephole.  He then rigged it so that he could peep into her room.  Yeah, you read that right!  Who the hell brings a hacksaw on a business trip?  I travel fairly often.  I have never, not one time, said to my wife as she helped me pack, “Honey, could you grab the hacksaw for me?  And, while you’re at it, why not toss in my ball pen hammer?”

8.       Attacker, Michael Barrett waited for Andrews’ to return.  He assumed, after hearing the sound of running water, Andrews was in the shower.  He then went to the previously hacksawed peephole and recorded over four minutes of footage of Andrews, while naked.

For the remainder of the post I am going to attempt to answer a question I have which reveals an assumption I am making:

Does Barrett’s behavior indicate that he may have been a porn addict before he was a stalker?

In the interest of fairness, I have found no empirical evidence that indicates Michael Barrett had a problem with porn.  When asked why he attacked (recorded) Andrews, his response revolved around his personal debt and his need to generate some cash.  When asked why he decided – after realizing he couldn’t sell the video – to post the clips on the Internet, he replied:

“That is a great question, and I really have thought about it over the years, and I don’t have a good answer for it. I don’t know.”[iii]

I, however, as a man who has struggled with porn for most of my life and found freedom from porn during the last 15 years, would bet my life that Michael Barrett may have a porn problem.   Before you run off screaming at the screen, take a minute and read the following reasons why I believe he may have had a porn problem that contributed to his stalking.  Though this may or may not be the case, I am convinced that America has a porn problem that's contributing to stalking, raping and the sweeping destruction of our women, children, and society as a whole.

10 Reasons I Believe Stalking is A Natural Outcome of Pornography

1.       Erin Andrews’ experience is not an anomaly.  Barrett himself confessed to attempting to secretly record other women again and again.  Women everywhere are experiencing this.  They fight it in public restrooms, at work, at church, in their neighborhoods, etc.  If this were an anomaly, perhaps we could write it off to one nut case who just snapped under stress.  The truth is, however, that porn is engendering and cultivating a peepshow mentality.

2.       Porn often depicts the very thing Barrett attempted to do.  The porn catalogue is littered with hotel scenes and the like that feature deception, stealth, intrigue, and invasion.  In other words, the porn industry thrives on the very thing Barrett did!

3.       Most porn clips are less than the time frame of Barrett’s video.  Anyone who has ever visited porn sites knows that you can access thousands of videos that are similar to the video Barrett captured.  Many sites even have an amateur and or voyeur tags featuring and encouraging such footage.

4.       Porn addiction can control the addict and cause irrational and personally destructive behavior. Barrett confessed that he didn’t know why he did what he did.  He even mentioned regret, shame, embarrassment, etc.  Any porn addict understands and can relate to his words.

5.       Porn consumption and viewing rewires the brain.  This point flows from the previous one, but it’s important to note the neurological research supporting the fact that pornography changes the biochemical structure of the brain.   When changes like this occur and disrupt the normative way our brains assimilate and process input, destructive behavior follows suit.

6.       Porn is violent and the most popular scenes display terrorizing violence.  Research indicates that over 80% of the porn catalogue contains scenes that depict abuse against women.[iv] Viewing porn contributes to aggressive behavior.  Many who view porn testify that they have trouble seeing women as people.  Rather, they see women as objects.  When this takes hold, then valuing things like privacy and decency are no longer options the addict has from which he can choose. 

7.       Porn consumption leads to relational detachment, distortion, and destruction.  Anyone who has every struggled with porn knows that its outcomes are relationally toxic.  The porn addict detaches himself from relationships and, as such, reality.  As this ‘way of life’ grows, the more preoccupied the user becomes.  He gets lost in the world of fantasy: the realm of that which is not real.  Simply put: why wouldn’t a porn addict hacksaw an eye hole in a hotel room door?   Porn reframes reality and makes us believe that what’s false is real and that what’s real is false.    

8.       Porn consumption leads to ‘leery-eyed leeches’ lurking around every corner.  As I a read through the articles related to the Andrews case, I noticed a recurring theme: women in the sportscasting field are learning to avoid the guy who glares and stares as they pass by or linger just on the fringe.  Guys who glare and stare are prevalent beyond the sporting industry.  I see the glare and stare all the time.   I have a mobile office, so I often work from local coffee shops and cafes.  Many times, as women enter the café, men glare and stare, and women know it.  Such leery-eyed leeching is rampant in our world.  Just pay attention the next time you go out and grab a burger. 

9.       Porn profits from sexual exploitation.  Porn cannot exist apart from the exploitation of personhood!  The naked body is beautiful.  Porn takes the beauty of the naked body and exploits it in a way that exposes the world to its destructive outcomes.  Michael Barrett fell victim to this exploitation and then became an accomplice in its crime.  The minute he filmed Andrews, he said yes to exploitation and confessed his imprisonment.

10.   Porn marches on.  Sadly - in all of the news coverage related to this despicable act of exploitation, invasion, and sexual deviancy - the porn industry remains unscathed.  I am appalled by our lack of attention to the monster behind the madness.  Indeed, the porn industry has become the proverbial elephant in the room.  Yes, Michael Barrett is a criminal and – in my mind – he should have served more than two years in prison.  Yes, the hotel chain should be held accountable, and they should be made to pay.  Allow me, however, to emphasize this overlooked reality: if porn addiction weren’t a multi-billion dollar economic engine, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  The porn industry's prolific reach is causing an epidemic that is quickly reaching pandemic levels.  As we carve our culture to pieces, the industry marches on: stealing our souls in exchange for our citizens.  We all lose when porn gains!

Let me say something to the correlation-doesn’t-equal-causation crowd.  I hear you.  I understand what you are saying and the sentiment you’re expressing.  I urge, you, however, to do the research for yourself.  In many (though admittedly not all) instances of conflict, strife, rape, murder and suicide, we can draw a straight line to the porn industry.  As porn proliferates, perversity grows.  As perversity grows, exploitation, suffering, and shame, become norms rather than anomalies.

Yes, I believe that Michael Barrett may have had a porn problem before he ever had a stalking problem.  Even if he didn’t, I am confident that the natural outcome of a pornographic culture is the type of irrational behavior we see in people like Michael Barrett.

I am pleased with the result of Erin Andrews’ case.   Though I know she will not get all the money promised, she deserves every bit and more.  But don’t be fooled, this is not the end.  This episode will haunt her for the rest of her life. 

Don’t be fooled; she is not alone! 

For every Andrews, dozens more women and girls are being exploited and abused in a similar fashion.  We remain – amazingly and shamefully – silent.  Where are the voices calling for a class action lawsuit against the porn industry?  Porn is, after all, a multi-billion dollar industry.  Perhaps if we hit them with a billion dollar suit, they will take notice.

I know that such or similar actions can only happen if we, the men in our world, step up and stand together.

The first step is to reach out for help.  I understand your struggle!!  My story is one of constant struggle with the porn industry and freedom from porn addiction.  Your addiction has you scared.  You wish you didn't have this problem.  I get it! 

Just know this: you are not alone, and you don't need to remain where you are!  There is hope!  I don’t condemn you. 

Men Against Porn welcomes you!  We hope with you!  We hope for better days ahead!   Freedom, even amidst struggle, is possible!  We can help!

The second step is to stand with us as we develop an army of millions willing to battle the people responsible for moments like the one Andrews’ publicly suffered and many other women privately suffer every day!  As we come together, we may just cultivate a world in which such an experience never has to be endured by anyone ever again.

Will you join us?

[i] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/business/media/erin-andrews-awarded-55-million-in-lawsuit-over-nude-video-at-hotel.html?mabReward=A3&moduleDetail=recommendations-1&action=click&contentCollection=Sports&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article

[ii] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3471462/How-filmed-Erin-Andrews-naked-Stalker-explains-got-room-ESPN-presenter-hacking-peephole-door.html

[iii] http://pagesix.com/2016/03/01/stalker-tells-all-how-i-peeped-on-erin-andrews/?_ga=1.127383949.1218857452.1455806853

[iv] http://fightthenewdrug.org/porn-leads-to-violence/

 

 

Porn Addictions Thrive in the Dark

By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

Do you have a secret? If so, you have come to understand the best way to keep it a secret is to guard it. You must keep it out of sight from others so that no one ever discovers it. And what better place to keep it hidden than in the dark.

The dark is a wonder place for secrets because it’s difficult for people to see through darkness. Jesus knew this.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20 

Pornography addicts hate the light because it’s impossible to act out when being exposed. They need the dark in order for their secret to remain hidden. It is in the dark that a pornography addiction can manifest itself and become deeper and more intense. It is in the dark that a pornography addiction can thrive and work to destroy the addict’s mind as well as relationships.

One of the first steps necessary to recovery is admitting we have a problem. And that requires taking our addiction out of the dark and exposing it to the light. You hate reading that don’t you? Come on admit it.

But if you want to be free of this 10-ton weight you are carrying you must expose it. We do that by finding a trusting friend or accountability partner. We join a support group in which we are surrounded by like-minded men who understand the struggles. We admit our sins to our wife or partner and ask for their support as we tackle what could be the biggest challenge we have ever faced.

Let’s go back to Jesus as he continues discussing the need to bring sin into the light. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:21 NLT

Doing what God wants. How different is that then simply indulging in our own selfish pleasures? Doing what God wants. Come out of the dark with your pornography addiction and start on the road of recovery today.

Is Recovery Ever Permanent?

By Eddie Capparucci, MA, LPC

I am asked quite often by one of my sexual addiction clients, “How long will it take for me to be cured?” They are a little taken aback when I respond “never.”  Their wives also are disappointed and worried when they hear this news.

However, it is not all bad news. Like any other addiction, the desire to abuse sex doesn’t evaporate into thin air after a man has done his work and followed a recovery program to gain sexual integrity. I do not need to tell you that temptation loudly surrounds us. In fact, there is really little escape from the endless images and triggers that engross us on a daily basis. That is why the focus of recovery needs to be not simply on changing our behavior but instead changing our hearts, and a critical component of that change is realizing we could become vulnerable if we let down our guard. Read what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:12.

“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

When we develop the mindset that we have defeated our addiction and are immune to temptation, we put ourselves at the greatest risk for relapse. Having the tools we need to battle temptations could be useless during those times when we allow ourselves to become emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually drained. It is during those times the threat of a potential lapse of judgment could be at its highest point. Understanding that we are vulnerable allows us to stay in tune and evaluate our thoughts and emotions to ensure we have the energy and determination needed to turn away from lurking dangers.   

I recall one client who left counseling prematurely because he believed he had all the tools necessary to combat his addiction. I knew at the time he had made some significant behavioral changes but did little to change the condition of his heart. I was not surprised when he called three months later admitting he had acted out and had been arrested.

Unfortunately, recovery is never a guarantee against abusing sex in the future. But if our approach to recovery is based on changing our character and being men of sexual integrity, we strengthen our chances of success. For those recovering from sexual addiction, remaining humble and seeking assistance from others in time of need will keep you on the right path of purity.