Becoming free from the never-ending cycle of an activity that is harmful for you is one of the most difficult things that anyone can ever do. Addiction is a horrible thing to live with and the hopelessness that it causes is soul destroying.
I write a lot about addiction because I am an addict. I used to look at porn. I’ve written that sentence in various forms a lot over the years. At first it terrified me, afraid what people would think. After a while being clean I didn’t want to write it anymore because it wasn’t who I was anymore. Then I realized that actually it’s always who I will be. In much the same way an alcoholic can be sober for 30 years but still identify themselves as an alcoholic.
The reason we do this is simple. No matter how long you have been sober, you are only one pint, or one click away from falling back into old habits. So everyday I remind myself that I am an addict and I can’t go back to my old ways.
Some days are easy. Some are unbearably difficult.
But by reminding myself that I need help everyday, that I need to continue to reach out to the people who support me, to keep going over and over and over the tools that I use; I remember the beauty of where I am and will hopefully keep heading. Every addict who wants to give up will say that this was the last time. That tomorrow will be different. That I don’t want to feel like that again.
The moment you finally do give in again is one of the most depressing and hopeless moments in your life. All the hard work seems like it is lost. All the many victories pale in comparison to this one defeat.
And there is no warning. Your mood can sometimes play a part in staying sober but not always. Everything in your life working out can be just as much of a trigger as everything falling apart. That’s why addiction is so tricky. That’s why you take every day as it comes. Otherwise it will smack you in the face when you’re not looking.
When that moment came for me I had been sober for a few months. Everything had been great and then one day, one single event led to a spiral back into porn. I didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t ready.
That triggered months of indulging in porn.
I tried everything in the book to stop. Accountability, filters, reading the Bible more, praying fervently, journaling, you name it I did it. And yeah some things worked for a while. But not for long.
It felt helpless and I felt trapped in the cycle of shame, some fight and positivity in me, eventual failure and back to shame.
Deep down there was a part of me that believed that success was attainable. I had experienced it for several months before so I knew it was possible. Not in a theoretical sense but in a personal way. This was not someone else telling me I could do it; I had actually done it.
Then one day it hit me. I realized the mistake I had been making the whole time. It seemed so obvious but yet I had missed it completely.
I had been trying to stay sober for all the wrong reasons. I had been using the tools given to me for the wrong objective.
My goal had been to stop looking at porn and I realized that that was a mistake. I had to ask myself why I wanted to stop looking at porn. Yeah it made me feel like crap and yeah it stopped me from being part of things but those were the wrong reasons. As long as I continued to make not looking at porn my goal I was doomed to failure.
And it was so simple why it was doomed. Maybe too obvious.
But once I realized what my true reason for staying sober should have been there was no turning back.