Thursday, December 5, 2013

For The Young Women Who Are Dating: Pornography Addiction is SERIOUS!


As I was cramming every single item I'd ever owned in the back of my cherry red Honda Civic hatchback in 2002, not only did scrunchies, photo albums and Lifehouse c.d.'s spill out of the cardboard boxes, but so did every ounce excitement that existed within me. For the first time in my life, I was about to embark on an adventure as an adult. I was, after all, heading for college as a young, naive, immature, 18 year old who knew exactly what she wanted. My hopes and dreams and plans for life could not have been any brighter.

Looking back to that monumental day full of innocence, nothing- no one- could have ever convinced me that 8 years later I would be a single mom, divorced, basically education-less at the ripe age of 26 years old. Nothing- no one- could have ever forecasted what I was about to experience.

If you've been following this blog for quite some time, you know that I've already written much about all of that. I find that when I am trying to help others who are in my same boat, I continue to heal. That's why I write. But somewhere along the way, I've missed writing one very important post. I have yet to write to me: the 18 year old Jacy, whose dreams were unbreakable. But this post isn't for me because I've already lived it. Instead these words are for the young women who are getting their college degree's, who are building their professional resumes and who are looking for that very special person with whom they'll share their life with, grow their family with, and build their home with.

This is for you if you are dating now, are currently dating someone seriously, are engaged, or if you are a newly wed.

***

Dear Younger Version of Me,

Isn't this part of your life just amazing? The vast opportunity that your future holds? It's very exciting, I know. I've been there. Finding your true love and the thoughts of beginning a life with someone is so wonderful! It's a time like no other before. But in between all of the butterflies of being on cloud 9, in between all of the cutesy wutesy text messages, in between the fun dates that you never want to end, there is a very troubling actuality that MUST be discussed. There is something BIG that is threatening marriages and families everywhere. There is something that you and the man you are dating are up against.

Oh, how I wish I was writing you because I had some out of this world fashion advice that would enhance your confidence. Sometimes I wish I was the one behind the successful beauty, crafty, or cooking blog as they offer so much excitement and energy around the newest craze. People are drawn to them like magnets because it's fun. I understand why- because those blogs are lighthearted and usually avoid the things that are "difficult to talk about"- but someone has to talk about the crappy stuff. Someone has to talk about what often happens behind the smiling "picture perfect' family photographs.

Welcome to My Name is Jacy: the blog about a woman whose life unexpectedly fell apart. The blog about how a woman lost her hope, her love, her faith, her home, and her traditional family all in one blow. The blog about a woman who is trying to rebuild all of those things with a broken, confused, traumatized heart. The blog about how two words that most people cringe when they see or hear changed her life: sexual addiction.

Believe me... I don't like the words either. And the hundreds of beautiful women I've come to know because of those two words also despise them. Sadly, these two words have become a difficult reality we are forced to face. The words aren't just uncomfortable words anymore, these words have created significant challenges in our marriages, these words have squashed our self esteem, and for many of us, these words have created the dissolution of our marriages. These words have changed our lives.

Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20. I cannot tell you how many people have asked if I would go through it all again, knowing what I know now. I have answered this question many times and the answer has always remained the same: YES! The answer is actually a million times YES! Because if I said no, I wouldn't have my son, I wouldn't have this new found compassion, understanding and perspective, I wouldn't have the amazing friends I've met on this journey, and I wouldn't have the beautiful marriage I have with Seth. So, no, I would never change it.

BUT!

Please know.... that it is not easy. No part of it. In fact, it sucks sometimes... (and I hate the word sucks as I think it's quite classless and immature).... but there is no other way to describe it. I cannot stress enough how brutal it has been. I cannot stress enough how real it is. So even though I would never go back and change it, I can use my experience to help others. That's the point of this whole journey I'm on. To share my story so that maybe, just maybe, one person out there won't have to experience what I have. Or at least that person might be more prepared than I was.

So, I've created a guide for you. This is what I would adhere to if I were in my young single adult hood again. This guide is not perfect, it won't solve your problems, it won't keep pornography away forever, it's not doctrine but I think it's a powerful place to start.

A Guide For The Young Women Who Are Dating: Pornography Addiction is SERIOUS!

(Pornography addiction is sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is pornography addiction. Don't let the words scare you off or make you think it doesn't apply to you. It's all the same and as such, I refer to both in this guide.)

1) DO NOT TURN A BLIND EYE

Sometimes ignorance can be momentarily blissful. Sometimes ignorance seems like the easier route. If I pretend like it's not an issue, it'll just go away. Well, that only works until it all comes crashing down and the problem surfaces and rears its ugly head. Do not avoid the problem. Don't avoid this issue. It is real. It is prevalent. It is bad. Recognize the seriousness of it and get the conversations rolling, even if it's really really really weird and awkward to do so.


2) DO YOUR RESEARCH

Be brave and be smart by getting educated. There are websites, blogs, books, recovery programs of all kinds that offer education and support. Even if you don't think sexual addiction would be in your stack of cards, learn about the real threat it is and can be to not only your marriage, but your family, and even possibly your own health.

New research is saying that first exposure to pornography is happening between 8-11 years old. Hard core porn. So yes, the man you are dating, engaged to, or are married to has seen it. How much? How often? I can't tell you.... but he has most likely seen it. Which is why NOW is the time to figure out how often, if it has become something he can no longer control, and how it will affect your relationship moving forward.


3) ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I never liked asking the questions when I was back in the dating world as a single mom, but I made myself do it. On a date, over pizza and root beer, I asked one fellow this question:

"When was the last time you looked at pornography? And when was the last time you looked before that?"

He about choked and he looked at me like I was crazy. But I don't think it's a matter of IF anymore, it's WHEN.

I know it's very blunt and I know it can be scary, but if you find yourself getting into a pretty serious relationship (or are possibly thinking about marraige) ask the hard questions!

4) LEARN TO DISCERN

Once you've asked the questions, instead of only listening to the words in his answer, listen to your gut.
I know this can prove to be really difficult because you're so in-love (and understandably so! This is the best time of your life- I get it!), but try your very hardest to listen to what your gut is telling you.

Now, if you're anything like I was 10 years ago, my gut felt great because I didn't know the first thing about pornography addiction. I had not the slightest clue as to what I should be looking for. And if someone would have showed me this guide then, I'm not sure I would've paid a lick of attention to it. I didn't give this sexual addiction mumbo jumbo two seconds of thought. As far as I was concerned, it was never going to infiltrate my life.

Please listen to me.... don't be ignorant and naive like I was! Learn from those who have traveled before you and have learned the hard way.

So, back to discerning.... how do you do this when you're madly in love and not really sure what you're looking for?

Trust what you feel in his presence.

Do his words feel too good to be true? Like to the point that it feels almost impossible for it to be this great? Does he answer every question about sex, masturbation, pornography with a "never"? Does he tell you everything you want to hear? Has it never ever ever been a temptation for him?

I would view these types of responses as red flags. My gut screams that this is not accurate. Is it possible that he's never viewed porn or masturbated in his life? Seth and every other man I know would say absolutely not and he is lying. While it's not really fair to make general blanket statements, is it possible there are some who never have? I suppose so. Is it probable in this day and age? I'd go ahead and say no. It's possible, not probable. That's the way I see it.

On the flip side, does he get defensive and weird when you ask the difficult questions about pornography and masturbation? Does he shy away from talking about it? How does he respond to your genuine concerns about the issue? Does he react defensively and say "I cannot believe that you don't trust me!" Does he blame you? Does he call you crazy, controlling, or prudish for asking these types of questions?

When it's not all butterflies in your belly and make-out sessions on the couch, how does he respond to the not so pleasant parts of life? Discern how you feel. Watch closely to see his reaction. I've found that you can learn a lot about someone by how they react. In my very humble opinion, if a man is being honest and open and is non-defensive when being asked these challenging questions, it usually means that he is somewhat sexually healthy. To what level? I could not tell you. But non-defensiveness and a willingness to actually engage in the hard conversations is a great starting point and a positive sign.

5) PROCESS HIS ANSWERS BUT DON'T FREAK OUT!

However he responds to your questions, be calm. Even if you are burning inside, try listen to what he says before you just blow up, react and accuse. Let him answer the questions as honestly as he can, as they are hard for him too.

If he responds with:
a) "I've never done it!" 
This concerns me. "Never" is typically a very unrealistic response in this day and age. Perfection does not exist. 
If he responds with:
b) "I look at it a few times a month maybe, but don't worry... I've got it under control. It's not a problem." 
This concerns me because every one's definition of "frequent" and "problem" is different.
If he responds with:
c) "I've struggled with it before or I'm struggling with it now"
This concerns me for obvious reasons: addictions have the potential to cause harm.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Every response is concerning to me. Call me paranoid, call me Debbie Downer but from my perspective, it is all concerning at this point. Now, this by no means means that I think every man, no matter what his answer is, is an addict. But I do think that it's worth exploring the conversation more beyond a simple "never", "I've got it under control" or "it's been a struggle before".

So, what do you do? Don't freak out quite yet. Don't break up an engagement. Don't try to play therapist.

6) DON'T TRY TO FIX IT YOURSELF- SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!

I would schedule at least one appointment with a sexual addiction specialist and I would go, together. YES! I am being 100% dead serious. When you've seen the thousands of tears I have seen, when you've heard the hundreds of seriously sad stories from women just like me and just like you, and when you've witnessed dozens of family's falling apart because of sexual addiction, it is SERIOUS. This is not a game. This is not a joke. This is your life.

By booking an appointment with an in-tuned therapist, they will be able to offer support to you both. And depending on how severe the usage is, the therapist will help you navigate moving forward. And perhaps you'll discover that pornography is not a serious issue, there is no harm whatsoever in addressing the very threatening problem. This, alone, will be worth the 60 minutes of your time and the $100 it will cost you.

7) THOUGHTFULLY (AND WITH HUMILITY) STUDY THE REALISTIC SITUATION

Acknowledge what exactly it is you are dealing with.

Is this a problem now?

Given the past, could this be a problem in the future?

If addiction is admitted, ask yourself if this something you want to take on?

"Do I understand what marrying an addict really means?"

Now I want to tread on this very carefully because this is by no means an attempt to attack people who struggle with addiction. I know such people and many of them are really smart, wonderful, caring, loving, and successful people. In fact, a few of my most cherished friends have struggled or currently struggle with addiction (both men and women). To me, it's not the person with the addiction that's the threat. It's the addictive behaviors that accompany addiction because addiction, no matter what type, is HARD. And the crappiest part of addiction is that it hurts so many more people than just the addict.

So, again, ask yourself: "Is this something I want to knowingly marry in to?"

If after you've very thoughtfully considered all of the above and your answer is YES, promise me that you'll go back to the therapist. Seek help, seek recovery and gather as many of the tools as you can and get started on it now. Therapy can help you cope with the feelings you're already experiencing about the frequency of his pornography use, and they will also help you to understand and navigate through what a marriage with this type of addiction will entail. The other crucial part of this is ensuring that your partner continues to go back too, as a therapist will guide what recovery/sobriety will look like for him.

Don't assume that it won't or can't get worse. I promise you, it can. It does. It happened to me. It happened to hundreds of women that I know personally. Some addictions only go as far as occasional online usage. Some addictions get into more interactive stuff: cyber sex, chatting, dating, etc. And some addictions turn into physical infidelity: affairs, sexual encounters, prostitutes, strip clubs, STD's. Yes, it happens; to the best of women and men. It happens all the time. It is happening right now. And it usually always always always starts with pornography addiction. It is not an easy path, no matter how severe or not the addiction is... it ALL hurts the same, that I know to be true.

It doesn't mean that it can't work, or that there isn't healing, recovery, and happiness. Many of my friends have stayed in their marriages. They are making it work. Their husbands are in working recovery. There is such profound love and honor in that. But if you were to ask any one of them on any given day if it's easy, I am most certain they would all tell you that it is one of the hardest things they've ever had to do.

On the other end of the spectrum, if after you've very thoughtfully considered all of the above and your answer is NO, you do not want to knowingly marry in to addiction, please know that it is okay. You are not a failure, nor does this mean that you are unforgiving or unwilling to love. Too often we think that we can save people. Or heal people. Or change people. This is erred-thinking. People have to want to change themselves and we are only responsible for our own choices.

Being sexier won't make a sexual addiction go away.

Having sex every single day for the rest of your life won't make a sexual addiction go away.

Avoiding the problem won't make a sexual addiction go away.

As weird as it sounds, sexual addiction isn't about sex. It's about so much more and it takes a lot of time, energy and therapy to get to the root of the problem and work real recovery. You are not responsible to fix him, you CAN'T fix him and you are not a loser for walking away.

So, if you decide not to marry someone because of addiction, promise me that you will also go back to individual therapy. I cannot tell you how many women I know who have been traumatized just in the dating world. It's a big deal, don't ever minimize it. Get the proper help you will need to heal yourself.

8) REMEMBER YOUR WORTH

In this process, along with the many negative emotions that comes with sexual addiction, one that seems to almost always happen to the woman is a loss of self love and confidence. I think that just might be the most painful part of it all- how worthless we feel. But after 4 years of the most painfully beautiful experience, I've realized that it has nothing to do with me; it never did and it never will. I cannot control the choices anyone else will make but what I CAN CONTROL are my OWN choices- one of those being how I see myself, how I love myself, and how I care for my own wellbeing.

No matter what happens in your life, there is hope and you can rise above. Don't lose hope if you're not married right away; take your time and be selective.  Don't lose hope if your fiancĂ© admits to addiction; feel blessed that he was willing to admit it to you beforehand so that you can reassess the situation and go in EYES WIDE OPEN. Don't lose hope if you're a newly wed and you've just discovered secrets; yes, it stinks, but there is help for you both and there is so much hope.

I've seen women successfully fight for their relationships/marriages and it's amazing, I've seen women who have fought so hard there is no other choice but to leave, I've seen women who wanted to fight but have been left. No matter who they are, or what the outcome is, each of these women are all so resilient, courageous and absolutely beautiful. They are the most beautiful women on earth, I think.

If I can sum it all up, I'd ask that you press forward in this sexually charged world we live in with awareness, wisdom, and confidence. By following these simple tips, you'll be far ahead of where I was when I was your age. It's so important to understand how real and destructive sexual addiction is and hopefully this will give you some basic tools that will help you journey down this foreign path. Listen to the women who have blazed the trail before you- because we were young like you once and for most of us, we never thought this would be our reality.

We are here to help you... and hopefully make it a little bit easier...

You can do hard things. Never forget that.

All my love,

Jacy

*For the sake of clarifying, I've gone in and edited/added a few things that I did not express as clearly as I would have hoped to. I know some will not agree with every word in this post and that is okay. Again, this is a guide coming from my personal experience, which was life changing for me. That's the beauty about writing and sharing our stories; we can pick and choose the parts we like and disregard the points we may not agree with.



27 comments:

  1. THANK YOU! This is so so perfect for me, Jacy. I'm so glad I have you in my life. Truly. Your experiences, your thoughts. I really do feel so bonded to you because of how closely I relate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love you, Jacy!!!! So glad to have your wisdom to help me on my journey! Miss you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is incredible. I don't even remember how I stumbled across your blog, but this needed to be said! Thank you. I so wish I had found it many years ago - it would have really helped with some of the hardest things I've ever been through, although I don't know if I would have been willing to really hear it in the moments I needed it most.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was AWESOME! I forwarded this to several of my friends. You're awesome Jacy. Saying things so perfectly and elegantly. Your insights are so appreciated. I am an addict, but one day when I am dating seriously, and before that actually... especially since I'm very open about my addictions... I will be asking these questions. I am striving to be more healthy every day and I expect the same from my future spouse whatever the challenge may be.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you realize that you leave every single guy you date with no options?

    You are labeling him a porn addict regardless of his answer.

    Also you are not defining what you think a porn addiction is. Just that any pornography at all is an addiction.

    You admit that you wouldn't believe him if he had said that he had never looked at porn. Have you perhaps stopped to consider why you wouldn't believe him?

    Have you considered that perhaps it is natural for a male to desire the naked female body? That every single straight male in the world will always want to see a naked female body? So if a man looks once at pornography, he is addicted, because he will always want to again. If he never looks at pornography he will always be addicted, because he will still always have the desire. If he desires to change and never look at naked women again, he will still be addicted to pornography, because as a man, he will always want to.

    Also, you are unwittingly feeding the very fire you are trying to put out. The forbidden is the desired in human sexuality. If you want the men in your life to have porn addictions then make a big deal out of it. Tell them it is wicked, bad, and disgusting. It will be like throwing oil onto a fire.

    If you really want porn to not overcome the men in your life, make it no big deal. Let them do it. Their desire for it will drop immensely, and you are less likely to have someone get so involved in it that it disrupts your life together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I can't help but to feel a little annoyed by your comment. First, there is a difference between desiring a naked female body and pornography. I have no problem with the nude female body and don't find it offensive in art form. Of course, men desire the naked body of a woman. As a woman, I want my man to desire me as a person including my body, and soul. Having that desire is what makes a relationship exciting. Second, pornography is vile. It's trash. Perhaps, you should take some art courses or learn what beauty really means. Porn is not art, romantic or sexy to any degree. Sadly, porn corrupts the mind to which the men or women expect what is seen in porn. It is entirely unrealistic and devoid of romance or love. Mind you, I was the kind of person that just thought if they look at it once in a while, then okay as long as it's not a problem. Unfortunately, I am not so sure someone can just casually view it since porn is much worse today. While porn is prevalent, there is a difference if a man/woman CHOOSES to be smart and try their best to avoid indulging in this stuff. But, hey, if your making it out to be no big deal makes you happy, connected, and in tune with self and others, well good for you!! Perhaps, you can educate others how that works :)





      Delete
    2. Anon #1 - This is Jacy's journey. Her convictions through the context of her life experiences and disappointments. Her understanding is as valid and true to her, as your understanding is to you. So you are certainly welcome to your dissension.... just elsewhere. :)

      Delete
    3. Anonymous, Jacy has given men another option, even her own husband who is not an addict but did admit to having seen porn in the past when asked the questions that she asked another date over pizza. Pretty much all men and teenage boys have seen porn, even if only on a billboard. If a man answers honestly, and there has not been long or lasting engagements with porn, lust, masturbation, or multiple sex partners, and the woman's gut confirms his honesty. Then what reason would a woman have for not going forward in the relationship? Jacy has addressed this before, perhaps you didn't see it or perhaps you didn't understand completely what she was saying above, but she has absolutely made allowances for men who have viewed porn in their past.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous (5:09 PM),

      Before I respond to your comment in more depth, I would invite you to please remember whose blog you are reading. While I appreciate you taking the time to share your opinions, I do think it would behoove us both if you realized that you are reading a blog of a woman whose life was totally obliterated by sexual addiction. I understand that this is a public blog, and as such, I will receive comments both positive and negative. As long as there is respect, I welcome such thoughts and ideas.

      To address your comment:

      1) I actually am not leaving single guys with no options. If that were the case, I would not be remarried to a man who is just like me and just like you.... imperfect.

      2) No where in my entire article did I label anyone an "addict". I am simply stating that if I were to be dating someone seriously in this sexually charged world, I think it would be wise to see a sexual addiction therapist as addiction (any addiction) DOES harm. We can agree to disagree on this, but seeking outside help, a third party who specializes in this field, can do no harm. In fact, I would also suggest any couple getting ready to wed to seek marriage counseling as well. Counseling doesn't always mean there are "problems". Counseling isn't just for crazy people or failing marriages. Counseling is an amazing tool for even the healthiest of people. So even if there isn't an issue with pornography, would it be a bad thing to learn what you're up against and how to ensure that everyone is healthy in that regard? How to best communicate about it? How to safeguard our homes?

      3) No where in my entire article did I state that any *use* of pornography is an "addiction". I specifically did not define addiction because, quite honestly, no two addictions are alike. The severity or frequency of usage, it's effects, and the extent it goes will differ between every individual.

      4) I'm not really sure what you are trying say here? Yes, I have spent many nights laying in my bed, sobbing, trying to figure out why I have a hard time believing men who say they never looked at pornography before. After a lot of therapy, I am most certain that it has everything to do with what I have been through. It's called PTSD or betrayal trauma.

      5) Again, Im not really sure what you are trying to say here? I choose to believe that it's more natural and healthy to love, respect and desire your woman for everything she IS as a human being, mother, wife, woman, friend, neighbor, etc, rather than just her naked body.

      6) No where in this entire article did I say that porn is wicked, bad, and disgusting. However, what I did say are obvious truths: that addiction can cause harm, that being married to a sexual addict is hard, that addiction is serious, and that if it is brushed under the rug and/or not addressed, it can escalate to things that hurt marriages, destroy families, and cause much heartache. Wouldn't you agree? To me, these are the things we should be making a big deal out of- but again, that's just me because I have lived it firsthand.

      7) If you know people who it's not a big deal for and they grew out of it, I commend that, wish them well and think that that is truly wonderful. Many women I know would love to say the same thing about their spouse/boyfriend.

      This post is not an anti-porn post-- there are other organizations who offer more statistics and knowledge on the topic than I. Instead, this post is about creating awareness, asking the questions, and grabbing the bull by the horns and actually dealing with the problem, instead of just pretending like it'll go away on its own. But again, this is coming from someone who has most definitely had a different experience than you.

      Delete
    5. Please think carefully about my following story. I know it is a unique viewpoint, but it is sincere, and I think may provide unexpected insight.

      I was born into a religious family of ten children. I have 6 older brothers (three sisters).

      Of the six, three were caught with pornography in their teen years by my mother. They were told that it was a sin, and to see their religious leaders to pursue repentance.

      We are now older, and often compare experiences. The three that were told it was a sin all repented (and very sincerely, they are great guys). However, they all "screwed up" at some point in their teen years, looked at porn again, and hated themselves for it. Although they kept repenting and trying to change, they each developed an inner hate towards themselves. They thought they were more wicked than most, that they were fake and frauds on the outside, and although they are great guys, considered themselves to have an awful secret and hated themselves.

      Those oldest two got married, tried hard to avoid porn, told their wives they had problems, went to counseling, and "fought" their addictions. To this day, they still feel that they are "bad" on the inside, have major self esteem issues, and have wives who are constantly considering divorce and trying desperately to "save their husbands" at the same time. Their "addictions" have only gotten worse.

      In contrast, the younger brother married a girl who was not bothered that he occasionally viewed porn.
      When there was no longer guilt or shame attached to pornography, much of its appeal was lost. He was no longer viewed as “addicted” or “broken” and he was allowed to heal within a healthy relationship.

      The three of us brothers who were never caught (although like all teenagers we were exposed to or looked at porn on our own) and never had guilt or shame associated with it. All three are in relationships, are very open sexually with our partners, and porn plays little to no roles in our lives. You see, as it never had guilt, shame, or sin attached to it, it never drew us in as strongly as it did our brothers.

      I share this because this is a very counter-intuitive thing we are dealing with. Your immediate reaction as a spouse, girlfriend, or mother would be to try and protect your loved ones from it. Often that leads to very unexpected consequences.

      Human sexuality is a powerful and natural drive, and it is easily twisted if it is repressed and not allowed to develop on its own.

      The treatment of pornography as an addiction, a disease, and a sin, throws oil on the fire, because it makes it incredibly appealing to men. In sex, the forbidden is the desired. If you want to attract them to porn... forbid it.

      Think about that for a minute.

      Delete
    6. Continued...

      That said, if your partner is so absorbed in porn that you can’t have a relationship by all means get out of that relationship. You are under no obligation to stay with a man who can't function or have a healthy relationship.

      But be careful that you aren’t making the problem worse by adding shame and guilt. If you do, it might make the addiction much worse and harder for your loved ones to deal with in a healthy manner.

      Also, if you are raising kids, make sure that you aren’t creating the problem by labeling sexual curiosity and interest as sexual deviancy.

      Porn exists, help your kids deal with it healthily, because from here on out, it will always be available, and the more it is forbidden, the harder it will be for them to not get addicted to it. I know you will want to teach them complete avoidance, but that will ironically and sadly only backfire. The human sex drive is too powerful.

      http://men.webmd.com/features/is-pornography-addictive

      There are a thousand companies out there who make a TON of money off of “Curing” and “Counseling” those with this “addiction”.

      Be very careful because the majority are in it because it is lucrative. It is a business to them, so they make the problem worse by trying to make it more forbidden socially. It is a great business model.

      If you really love the men in your life, don’t throw oil on the fire.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous (2:27 am)

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your sincere viewpoint and I agree with you on many points. I think we are heading in the same direction-- more-so than you think. Maybe I didn't express it as clearly as I would have liked? Thus, I'll try to clarify a few things. Sorry it's taken me so long to do so.

      Like you, I don't believe in shaming or guilting. No where in the article did I elude to anything of the like. I understand what shame and guilt can do. I have seen it with my own eyes. I know. And yes, I have thought about the backlash that comes with "forbidding something". I have thought about it a lot. Quite frankly, I have spent hundreds of hours in therapy dissecting why I ended up in the situation I did and what all of those elements (guilt, shame, forbidding) may have had to do with it. I understand it more than you probably think I do.

      While I respect your opinions and thoughts on the matter, I would like to clarify that this post is not about teaching children about human sexuality or sexual curiosity. You're going in an entirely different direction. Also, this post is not about how I, personally, approach pornography by throwing oil on the fire with the "men I love". That is also a different direction.

      This post is about giving suggestions to young female adults so they can more carefully consider the issue, ask the difficult questions to the men they're possibly hoping to build a life with, and seek help if they so desire. I am not a therapist, nor am I an expert and I don't pretend to be. My words and ideas come from personal experience alone (and also the words of hundreds of other women whose lives are being either challenged by (or destroyed by) sexual addiction/compulsion (whatever you'd like to term it)). I suppose we could both post different websites and argue until we're blue in the face whether you think porn is addictive or not, but whether or not it's labeled "addiction" or not, I simply cannot ignore the emotional pain that many women are feeling- even with "occasionally viewing porn" as you say. Is there some specific number of times used that it's okay to be hurt by it? I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm genuinely asking? Because the women I know all vary- there is no one answer. When is it time to seek help? How far do you let it go before seeking help? Before it's too late? How long do you hope it'll just "go away" or "resolve on it's own" or that he'll "mature out of it"? I understand what you are saying... believe me. I'm not sure there is a secure answer in this... which is why I am suggesting to go in with MORE knowledge about the issue than LESS.

      I will disagree with you about therapists making it "forbidden socially" for big business purposes. Could that be the case for some therapists? I suppose it could. But the people who I am involved with and the many therapists I have worked with in the last 4 years are actually doing the exact opposite- they are trying to bring help, hope and awareness. People are coming out of the would work because it IS a problem. That being said, I genuinely invite you to reconsider and think to yourself why I am even writing about the topic on my blog? Do you think by writing I hope to shame? My goal is in the contrary- to shed light on a very secretive and uncomfortable topic. I know many therapists who are trying to do the same. And for someone whose life was turned upside and feels like therapy is what saved her life, you cannot argue that point with me. Therapy was a godsend for me- so even if it *was* about "big business" (which I don't think it was), it helped me to overcome and rebuild my confidence and life. It was worth EVERY dollar I paid- in the thousands i'm sure- I know many addicts and spouses of addicts who would say the same.

      Delete
    8. Continued...

      I *really do love the men in my life*. The men in my life are open and honest and I do not expect perfection- I never have. Like I said to an earlier commenter: I am remarried to a man who does not struggle with addiction of any kind- however, he is not perfect. He does not pretend to be. There is no shame or guilt. There is no unrealistic expectation.

      I have carefully thought about everything you have said before... and I respect and agree with you on many points. Of course we will come from different places, because I am a woman, you are a man. My life was changed because of it, yours wasn't. You see it from a different, possibly less hurtful place than I do.

      Like I said earlier, this is why I think it's so important to share our stories.

      I like to consider myself as the woman who was on the smoking campaign all those years ago (on a much smaller scale ;) You know, Terrie Hall, the one with the voice box and lung cancer. She said in her campaign "I wish I never would have taken that first smoke" (or something like that). She was creating awareness. Does it mean that every single person who smokes will get lung cancer? No. My grandma has been smoking for 60 years and has had no medical issues related to smoking at all. Does it mean that everyone who smokes will die of cancer and at the young age of 53 like Terrie? No. But she was creating awareness because it CAN happen- it happened to her and her advice was "Don't smoke. Be careful." She died from it.

      Well, the same goes for me. Whether or not everyone agrees with me is beside the point, I want to create awareness. Are my opinions more extreme than most? Maybe they are. Does it mean that every single woman will endure the extreme like I did because of someone else's choices? No. Does it mean that everyone who has ever looked at pornography will become so trapped that they can no longer control it? No. But I am creating awareness because it CAN happen- it happened to me and my advice to the young women is "Get educated, start talking, take it seriously, seek help, and remember your worth. Be careful."

      All this said, I will never be "defender" of pornography. No way, no how. But I am completely on your side and I will never aide for it to wallow in secrecy and/or shame either. I prefer honesty and openness. That's actually the whole point of my blog, and more specifically the whole point of this post; to get the conversations started without embarrassment or shame, digging in and seeing it for what it really is, and getting the proper help if needed.

      Again, I appreciate you taking the time to comment here. I know this is a very sensitive subject-- one that is commonly debated and often time gets heated. Thank you for being respectful ;)

      Delete
    9. Hi Jacy.

      Again sorry for your pain.

      It seems like you're drawing an equivalence between smoking (nicotine addiction) and pornography use. Is that true? Maybe you'd take the time to break down the difference between sexual desire and the drive smokers have to nicotine? Are they the same?
      One more question to answer if you don't mind. Do you have a religious affiliation? No, more importantly, if you have a religious point of view, how might it be playing into your pain?

      regards...

      Delete
    10. Hi Idontknow-

      Thank you for the "username"-- it's always nice to keep consistency with who is commenting what.

      That being said... No I am not drawing an equivalence between nicotine addiction and sexual addiction. I am not defining addiction anywhere in the article or in my comments. I am saying that I like to think of myself as the people who are spreading awareness about things that hurt them. I could have used ANY example (alcoholism, or eating disorders, or drugs, or even something NOT addiction related like the people whose lives change because they've lost their money to a ponzi scheme)-- it doesn't matter WHAT caused the hurt, life-change or devastation, there are people who will share their messages of healing, hope, and awareness. I am one of them.

      Again, this is not a debate about what I think addiction is. This is why I very simply said in the article to seek professional help. Because some people may think their "occasional use of porn" isn't a big deal and maybe to them, it's not. But once you have a partner/spouse it's not just about one person anymore... the other person may experience real trauma from that "occassional use", from the escalation if it happens, and from the addiction if becomes such. Professionals can help distinguish addictions per individual as they will all vary (I don't know one addiction that is exactly alike and for what reasons). And as I've said numbers times, I am not a professional, nor am I trying to be.

      I specifically left out my religious affiliation and I feel like you are continually pushing me to delve into this aspect. Do I have to be a certain religion to allow for my pain and heartbreak to be validated and acknowledged? Infidelity and sexual betrayal HURT. Pain is pain whether you are involved in ANY religion or not. But to answer your question, no, I don't think my religious views play into how I perceive sexual addiction. Sadly, my personal experience trumps all of that and because of what I've been through, my faith was shaken. Thus, I have been involved in non-denominational therapy for 4 years and have been slowly redefining what my faith means in my life.

      If you're looking for a debate on what constitutes addiction or whether or not it is addictive, how my specific religion plays into that, and biological reasoning, I cannot offer you that here. This is personal experience. This is the hell first hand. This is (as I said in the article) what I would suggest the younger version of me to do if I had to go through it all again. It's okay if we disagree.... if you haven't lived it first hand, like myself and the many women I know, you will have a different stance and approach. I'm not sure there are "right" answers to any of this. All I know is that I cannot NOT be honest about the reality of sexual addiction and what it CAN be. Even if I am the contrarian.

      Thank you for recognizing my pain in both of your comments. I really do appreciate that.

      This probably isn't the response you were hoping for.... but I didn't want to leave you hanging.

      Merry Christmas!

      Jacy

      Delete
    11. Hi Jacy,

      In the article you write
      >>Pornography addiction is sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is pornography addiction.

      In your reply to me, you write
      >> I am not defining addiction anywhere in the article or in my comments.

      I have to apologize. I think I'm butting in on your special place to pontificate and ventilate your feelings. Totally cool. I need a safe space too, although mine's not a blog for the public to see. I applaud your courage.

      I sincerely apologize and officially butt out.

      Here are a couple of podcasts on the topic. The second is specifically about mormons and pornography, but I thought they had some advice that's helpful to a general audience. I hope they help.

      http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-12-16/addiction-online-pornography

      http://mormonexpositor.com/58-the-epic-sex-series-part-4-a-conversation-about-pornography/

      Delete
    12. Idontknow-

      Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Yes, I did write that pornography is sexual addiction. I am not defining addiction. I am simply stating that an addiction to pornography is considered a sexual "addiction". Most people I know, myself included, had a very HARD time admitting that the problem is a sex addiction. The words are so harsh sounding-- and when I used to hear them (pre-experience)-- I thought of a sex addict as some sex-crazed rapist whose eyes were just dark and black.... and that is just not the case (maybe sometimes it is but almost all of the men I know who struggle with pornography/sex addiction are regular/average/nice guys. So that's what I meant by that. I just didn't want the word "Sexual Addiction" to scare people away.

      You do not need to "butt out"... but you're right... this is a special place for me and this is where I write about my thought and feelings. I'm open to comments that challenge the topic or disagree, I'm just being honest with you in that I'm not interested in getting into a scientific vs religious debate about whether or not porn harms, or is an addiction, or is natural, etc. There are other people/blogs who would be so happy to take that on, though :)

      Thank you for the podcasts.

      Wishing you a wonderful new year.

      ~Jacy

      Delete
  6. I think another thing maybe not touched on is the intent. I am a man and have friends who I truly believe have never seen any porn. That having said I do not believe any guy has survived without feeling the draw of sexuality in media, or the allure of a naked woman....but that doesn't make a man inherently evil, on the contrary that is part of being a man. Maybe some more real questions that I would think would cultivate a healthy discussion is when have you encountered porn? How did you react? Was it a problem? Is it hard for you now? What do you do to avoid pornography? Do you think pornagraphy is healthy. I am a heterosexual man who has seen pornography but truly, almost never, by simply seeking it out. Many times being in the wong place at the wrong time or stumbling across something in error can be an innocent mistake. The character comes out in the response to it. Do you run from it like the plague or sit and indulge? That would be a better question I think. If I were dating a gal and she dropped the semi accusatory questions on me I would be gone...and I love wholesome, monogomous, married sex and despise porn. I have seen it and try to safeguard against it. And defining porn helps. It could be from underwear ads to hardcore depending on the desire of the viewer. I think its more about bridling passions and desires than managing an "unavoidable" habit. Any man can be a sex addict if he allows it. Doesnt mean he necessarily is. I am sad when I see what that has done to families and friends. But it isn't always the case. Hope to not offend just cultivate a more conducive atmosphere to be open. I have a daughter and hope she talks about this with her future suitors. But the same questions should also be asked of a son by a father. Good to be honest about an ugly truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really appreciate this comment, Eli. And I also appreciate the additional questions you've thrown in there. You are right, there is so much more to it- which is why I think it's a wonderful idea to seek outside help from a professional. Often times, so many of us try to play therapist, like we can fix the problem. Therapists can help us navigate through those conversations, can help us study the realistic situation we're in and they can help us as we move forward if needed.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts :)

      Delete
  7. So beautifully said Jacy. You are such a light and inspiration to so many. Thank you for leading the way into the darkest places, and then coming back to tell the rest of us that it is possible to be cautious, yet confident, and that in the end we really are going to be okay.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was so well put, and from the voice of experience as well! I want to print this out for my own daughters, and for my nieces and all the other young women I know and love! Thank You, Jacy! Such timely advice in this day and age!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I commented yesterday, but my internet crashed and it didn't go through. Just wanted to say that I love this, and I showed it to my 17-year old sister. You're amazing! Thank you for sharing this :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for sharing Jacy. Sorry for your pain.

    Maybe some questions to consider.
    Do you believe that the human species has a biological demand to reproduce?
    Do sexual thoughts and desires come from a biological demand or something else?
    How does the desire for sex compare with say, the desire to use meth amphetamine?
    Have you studied much about sympathetic and parasympathetic responses?
    How do they factor in?
    Does gender factor into neurological responses?
    Might masturbation with the use of porn be a reasonable way to deal with a biological demand?
    Do you have a religious affiliation? How might religious beliefs factor into your notions about addiction?

    Good luck to you in your sojourn.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jacy. This post is such a kind act of service. Bless you. I rejoice in your goodness to share with others. I can see your intention is coming from a heart of peace, heart of gold, a heart that loves. Boy I regret the airline debunkle (is that a real word?) as I so was looking forward to meeting you and sharing what I know about the Science of Happiness with others. Best of thoughts, Kandee

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have just read through your entire blog. It's 12:30 am here in AZ and I can't stop reading it. I am currently in the transition from going to being married to a porn addict to being divorced from one. I have a very long story if you are ever in the need for another "my name is..." post. I'd be more than happy to share. In fact, I believe it would help my healing process to let everything out. I also have a young son and am going to be transitioning into the single mom life (again). I find comfort in knowing you've found someone amongst the sea of men with sex addictions. This is my second failed relationship due to the addiction and I am thinking I'll just be a single cat (or dog) lady (but with a son). Sounds promising, right?!

    I'd love to hear from you.
    shay.mort14@gmail.com
    or
    brightstripesblog@gmail.com
    www.bright-stripes.com

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...