The experience of writing my the first stages of my addiction has been a cathartic one. Though I had told people about my experiences, I had always been conscious of the framing and tone in which I told people of my problem as I was worried how they would then perceive me and the possible impact it would have on our relationship . Yet writing allows me to freely document my experiences without worry. Furthermore it allows me to keep track of the progress I am making and galvanises my desire to take further steps in recovering.
I cannot speak of the nature of alcohol or drug addiction and would never pretend to do so. Indeed I am no authority or expert on pornography addiction. All that I can do is share with you an insight into my addictive behaviour and the way it operated.
To an outside behaviour my behaviour must have seen totally irrational and maddening. ‘Why continue to do something that causes so much mental distress, that compounds existing feelings of depression, that sequesters you away from your friends and family and which has the potential to destroy your life’.
The answer is simple: you don’t think.
Its a compulsion not a want. Its not enjoyable or pleasurable, but in that moment it feels like a necessity. When you are in the grip of it everything else in your life becomes muted and dull. It seems inconceivable that you can exist without it. My partner once told me it was like self-harm. It may feel good in that instance but afterwards the emotions and effects are long lasting and damaging.
There were two identifying triggers for using. The first was boredom and the second was as a reward.
If I was alone in my room on a Friday night and was feeling isolated and ashamed about having little social life to speak off, camming was there as an option. On sites such as Cam4/Chaturbate you had a ‘community’ you could come to. All of whom who would listen and indeed encourage your sexual fantasies. It also removed my sense of social anxiety as i was then able to the one in control of social situations. In my room I could choose who I listened to or not, kick people who were abusive and above all be the one who was listened to and payed attention to. Coupled with the endorphins released from the sexual release I was hooked.
As a reward. This was a less common trigger but still just as effective. After having gone through something either physically or emotionally taxing it seemed to be the perfect way to decompress. Whether it was finishing a nightmare 18 hour shift in the kitchen, a hard sparring session or a difficult exam the result was the same. I then thought that I had ‘earned’ a right to cam. ‘Everyone else has a vice whether its getting smashed on a night out or drugged up out of their mind why is what I’m doing so bad. I’m not hurting anyone, its my right to enjoy my body, it doesn’t affect me’.
The painful reality is that your actions have effects beyond you. Whether its the emotional burden that is then placed on your friends or your partner when crippled with remorse/guilt/shame. The financial cost to fund therapy. The wasting of opportunities that have been provided to you.
Pornography addiction has a horrible self perpetuating cycle. You feel ashamed/guilty/ which then in turns drives you to use again as a means of escape from the shame and the guilt. The porn acts as a anaesthetic as the reality of what your doing is too hard to bear. Camming became my way of coping with the fact that I exposed my body to hundreds of viewers and degraded and humiliated myself on a daily basis. The poison and the cure become the same thing.
To someone reading this who is struggling with something similar or who identifies similar patterns of behaviour. You can free yourself from it. You can live without it. It doesn’t define who you are. These may have all been things that you have heard before. The phrase that friends/counsellors/therapists/partners have all said to you time and time again. But I’m telling you as someone who as been to that same place you can change and live content without it. The memories that may be preventing you go to sleep can be replaced. No matter how far you’ve gone you can come back from it.