Quitting a Coping Strategy

If you listened to the last podcast then you heard me mention my efforts to remove pornography from my life.  I am trying to look at this extended time as a single man as an opportunity to to adjust some patterns in my thinking and behavior that don’t lend themselves to long term romantic commitment… At least, not in my mind.  When I was a kid I had several coping mechanisms to deal with the verbal abuse I experienced at school due to being overweight:  exercise, sugar, and pornography.

Pornography was something I discovered as a young boy at a friend’s apartment when we still lived in Houston, TX.  I would stay the night there sometimes and we would stay up late watching TV after his parents had gone to bed.  They had Cable TV.  Late at night on Cinemax there were often softcore porn movies playing.  As a 7-8 year old boy, the first time I saw these images of naked women, there was a feeling of intoxication that made me desperately want to see more.   Later on when my family got internet access for our home, it was game on.  I often found myself at home alone finding sexual gratification through masturbating to hardcore pornography.  I often did this after coming home from school before my parents were home.  We don’t have enough time to talk about all the downsides of a young boy learning about sex through the lens of pornography… but it’s not optimal at all.

Today, and for many years now, when I’m stressed out, my mind tends to want one of two things:  sugar or masturbation to pornography.  If I’m fighting one, I often end up succumbing to the other.  But, I don’t accept that as a permanent reality.

I’m trying to accumulate a 30 day stretch of no masturbation and ultimately no pornography ever again.  For me, it’s a beast of a challenge.  I’ve wrestled with this behavior since I was 7 years old.  That’s a 30 year habit that I cemented under stressful conditions.  Recently, 8 days in, I fell off with the masturbation/porn fast.  What happened?  Loneliness.  It was disappointing.  I reset the count and started again.  I’m 2 days in at the posting of this blog.  I’ve gone months without looking at porn before but to get 8 days without masturbating was HUGE for me.  I’ll keep fighting and I will Overcome.

The point of today’s post is to hopefully give you the courage to face your vices and at least be honest with, yourself.  Pornography and Masturbation are taboo topics that don’t get talked about often and I hope to change that.  Is it embarrassing to talk about?  Yes.  But there is no courage without fear.

I confided in a friend recently about my struggles in this area and she told me something incredibly helpful, “Little Travis was doing the best he could with what he had in order to get through the day.  Honor him for that and continue to do the work to let go of an old strategy that helped you at one point.”  That makes my eyes water when I think about it because I really was trying hard just to get through the day as a kid.  Blacking out on sweets or porn made life a little more bearable.

There was a time when I would have told you that pornography is ‘wrong’ and I’ve certainly felt massive amounts of shame for looking at it.  For a time, that thought process helped me get some long stretches without it.  Today, I don’t judge it.  I can’t speak to the confluence of experiences that makes another person participate in pornography.  What I do know is that it is not a neutral choice to consume.  It has had it’s affect on the way I see sex, the expectations I have of a woman’s body, and perhaps my own body.  I can’t see it as a helpful component of fostering a long term monogamous relationship, which is something I greatly desire.  Therefore, the goal compels the change.  I’ll fail my way forward.  It’ll be one of the toughest mountains I’ve ever climbed and I think I’ll be a better partner one day because of it.  Just the transparency to talk about it has already made me a better man ( Pain… A good Thing. ).

I go deeper on this topic in this latest Episode of the podcast.  I hope this gives someone courage to face themselves.

I Love you all!


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