Could I Really Be Emotionally Attached to Porn?

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“Letting go of porn is like letting go of an old friend.”

I heard this quote recently in a small group meeting with other men overcoming porn addiction. It struck me as really true. This has been the biggest hardship in my journey. It’s difficult and heartbreaking to admit that some part of me really does miss using porn sometimes.

I’ve come to realize that in my using porn, I had developed a relationship with it. It’s a twisted sort of relationship, but one that is apparently not uncommon. The “affinity” I had developed for porn began to take root in me long before I realized and all of the sudden I was using it on a regular basis. Over the course of years, some consistent themes came to light that helped me see that my porn use became for me what “stress-eating” can be for others.

I was separated from my girlfriend during the summer when we were in college. We would see each other only once, maybe twice a month, and during that time, I noticed that my porn use during that time severely increased. I filled in my heartache in not seeing my girlfriend with hours spent watching porn to dull and distract me from the pain.

I didn’t do porn because I was trying to “get back at” my girlfriend for being not only physically but emotionally unavailable during the summer. Instead, I was trying to self-medicate a very real wound I felt when I would try to reach out to her and experience rejection instead. Pornography, therefore, became my friend I could ‘confide’ in to seek comfort. I didn’t realize at the time that my porn use was slowly replacing my true desires for intimacy and love for another person.

But this lack of realization finally caught up to me. Prior to my men’s group, I didn’t think I had an emotional attachment to porn. I thought it was just something I did when I felt some form of stress. I had looked at it like a math equation: input x and y variable, and you get some result. While this is true, it’s also much deeper.

When I started seriously considering a life without porn, something in me literally panicked. The thoughts that ran through my mind were something like: “Wait. No more porn? For like…ever!?”, and “Hang on, slow down a second here, I don’t really feel like I’m ready for this”. These thoughts told me that a significant part of me didn’t want porn to go away, and it wasn’t until I had gone a significant amount of time without porn that the full meaning of those thoughts came through.

I realized that I actually started missing porn. This disturbed me. How could I miss, or have nostalgic feelings for something that has worked to ruin my life? But the feelings were there, they were real. So I knew I needed to search within me for why I had those feelings.

I found that it came back to the way I used porn to manage stress. Porn was my outlet. It served as my relief when my girlfriend, my best friend, or when meditation or prayer should have. But now, I see how it was always there for me whenever I needed it, and this fact made it like a friend, dependable, and easy to get along with.

I think it is very normal to develop an emotional attachment to things that help us cope. Some things are healthy, like music or meditation. Children hug their stuffed animals when they are afraid, and people play with their cats and dogs when they are stressed. These things are harmless and perhaps even truly life-giving, thus they are good practices. Porn, however, is harmful.

Realizing and admitting how porn influenced my mind has empowered me to reject it all the more forcefully. I know that my own mind—to this day –is still touched by its toxicity. Porn was, and is never a friend. I discovered that it turned myself inward and made me selfish. I hurt others because my mind was so affected. But, realizing and feeling all this pain and unhappiness has caused me to lean on others to help me; sometimes by asking them to hold me accountable or even talking me through a hard time.

My goal today and each passing day that comes is to keep these realizations close to my heart so that I can continue to learn how to serve and love others better. In time, I know that I will be able to see again. I will be able to see people as more than objects, but as people worthy of true love. Only then will I know that I have been healed.

 

Photography: Flickr/ enviied

Anonymous

All stories published at I Believe in Love are real stories, by real people, about real love.Sometimes, our writers may choose to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of friends or family that may be referenced in their stories.
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