Part Two: Into Darkness – The Addiction Strikes Back
What do you do when nothing works? When a problem you’ve applied yourself to for years, refuses to be solved? When you can’t fix yourself?
My struggle with porn, and the many negative effects it has had on my life, has lasted for almost a decade.
I’ve tried quitting to be a better college athlete, because it made me feel tired and sluggish.
I’ve tried quitting because I was living with my girlfriend and it felt dishonest.
I’ve tried quitting because I was studying for a difficult finance exam and I couldn’t stand the “brain fog”.
I’ve tried quitting because I was depressed from a bad breakup, and porn only made the depression worse.
Now I was trying to quit because I’d found a relationship with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. [After years of being an agnostic and skeptical of organised religion, a series of experiences and insights led me follow Christ in late 2014 (thank God). I then got into RCIA in January 2016.]
My baptism was scheduled for November 20th, 2016.
After my relapse in Brazil in February, my revised porn prevention system was firing on all cylinders. I kept adhering to my “no internet at home” rule. I’d started turning down invitations to go out and party. I went to church early in the morning and was too tired to stay up late. My social life changed so much that my closest friends began referring to me as “Grandpa”.
I still struggled with fantasies & lust (and recalling vivid memories of particular scenes), but I wasn’t even coming close to PMO.
I was so confident in my sobriety that I stopped my daily PMO tracking on Beeminder (which I’d done since 2014). Brazil was a blip on the radar. Surely the war was won.
And on August 6th — just over three months before baptism — I relapsed.
I’d been surfing Reddit on my phone alone somewhere around town. I’d get curious about something — a pretty celebrity I’d seen being interviewed by a famous talk show host on Youtube — maybe I should check her Wikipedia page? — Then since I was thinking about models, I thought “what’s all the fuss about [social media site] models anyways”.
So I spent an hour browsing “SFW” subreddits.
Red flag warning. I could have dropped the phone. Could have run far, far away from any technology. Could have gone back to the systems.
But I didn’t I said to myself — I broke chastity. I entertained lust. I “reset my mental reboot”.
I might as well go for it.
I entered that all too familiar Jekyll & Hyde trance state — “I so don’t want to do this, but I so do”. I took the phone home, 3G enabled. To heck with my systems. I’d put my Bible and crucifix away in the closet. And I got the tissues out.
Full blown relapse.
After the storm of that first relapse, I renewed my commitment to sobriety again.
One week later, I relapsed again.
Another two times I renewed my commitment. Another two times I relapsed.
Somehow the guy who had managed a ~180 day porn-free streak, now couldn’t stay porn free for more than a week.
Three months before my baptism.