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Overcoming My Dark Addiction

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

It was about 10 years ago when a student told me how her dad had promised to pay her $100 dollars if she went an entire year without eating candy. She said it was easy. At the time I called “Bullshit.” Giving up something you enjoy for a year is never easy. It turns out elimination has become my easiest way of keeping a goal. In 2021, I was able to forgo candy and soda. In 2022, I tacked on desserts of all kind and managed to do that until October. I was a vegetarian from 2018 - 2022, nearly five years Even after putting a few year-long eliminations under my belt, I still can’t say it’s easy, but I knew it was very possible, that is, with the exception of one habit I didn't ever think I'd be rid of.

No matter how upset I felt, or how how desperate my promises of "that was the last time" became, there’s been one habit whose dark tar gripped me permanently. Yeah. You probably guessed it: Pornography. To sit here and write this about the poisonous rattlesnake that I've interacted with all of my adult life in various severities and most of my youth and adolescence serves up a bitter feeling of shame and resentment.

While there’s plenty of documentation on pornography's corrosive nature in romantic and plutonic relationships, the contribution to the objectification of women, the unrealistic portrait it paints to men both young and old on the intimacies and expectations of sex; this isn't a diatribe to add to the existing research. I’m also not here to judge anyone else’s experience. There are hundreds of things in life that are detrimental to one's health, from cigarettes to meth. Phone addiction can lead to neglect just as easily as the well intended pursuit of making a lot of money to support one's family as a workaholic. It's when an action begins to negatively affect others, and most importantly one's relationship with self that it deserves to be looked at, questioned, and rectified. Pornography never broke anything in my life, yet it pervasively corroded everything. It wasn't a car accident that totaled the car, it was the salt on the road that rusted the entire underbelly of the car and compromised the car's frame and foundation.

If pornography (or any other addiction) is gripping you the same way it was gripping me. I offer this as my journey through the muck. Maybe some of this will ring true and my journey can offer a new tool or two for yours.


Exposed Early

How I discovered pornography isn't super important to the story, and those responsible for my early introduction don’t need to be named. The fact that I was young is fairly relevant to illustrate its place in my life. I was introduced to pornography before my body was able to ejaculate, which means in masturbation, I was shooting blanks. What started off as something quite challenging to access became easier as I grew older. Magazines and video tapes matured into online images as the internet was born. As technology improved, my access to it did, too. By the time I was in my 20s, filesharing programs like Limewire and Napster were available. Once pornographic websites were established on the internet, it was almost as accessible as air.

I used pornography to varying degrees in all of my marriages and relationships. It often didn't relate the frequency of sex either. If anything, it increased my desire to unhealthy levels, and turned sex into an insatiable expectation, rather than a relationship-enhancing connection and communing on a soul-to-soul level. In retrospect, I realize pornography was often a coping mechanism. Early on, and at varying stages, it excited me in ways nothing else in life could. The problem was the hollow emptiness and self loathing I was usually left with after the experience. This is a clear sign of a toxic relationship, whether its with another human or object. It was never something I was proud of, and I almost always felt powerless with it. I wanted so many times to stop. I devoted pages and pages of journal entries to trying to get my hands and head around the activity. Honestly, not much helped. Being that it was an extremely private endeavor that I was mostly silent about, it never destroyed a relationship outright, that is, except for the all important relationship with my self. Slowly. Subtly. I became less sensitive, more reactive, less willing to look for compassion and solutions, and became hardened with expectations, numbing, and avoiding things in subtle ways. A low-level headache doesn't change who a human being fundamentally is, but it places a rough edge on how they show up everywhere. This was similar to my experience. Most of the time I wanted to kill this habit, but shame kept me from wanting to share what I was experiencing and seek any help. Even in my best relationship, when I managed to go months without watching, it still found its way back into my life and cast the dark cloud that slowly crippled my overall functionality and ability to connect with me.


The Shift: Practicing the Gap of Discernment

At the beginning of 2022, something profound happened. I was able to apply a concept called The Gap of Discernment. Basically, the gap of discernment is the child of Awareness and Pausing. Take a simple habit like biting one's nails. You can't stop that habit until you recognize that you're involved in the habit in the moment. Slowly, awareness is built until you can recognize you're about to enter into the habit loop. The moment you can recognize you're about to fall into habit, you've created a gap. In that gap lies the key. Once the gap is created, passive, reactive, and emotional action gets to mix with intention and purpose. If intention and purpose can make their argument, involuntary and habitual behavior bewgins to be replaced with intentional choice. If repeated, the habit loop can be broken.


My Gap of Discernment was strengthened by the aftermath of the dissolving of my relationship to a woman I had asked to marry me nearly a year earlier. When we uncoupled, I entered into intentional periods of non-speaking with my then ex-partner, rekindled love, Kristy. We decided to dissolve our romantic container with 100 days of no-contact. No social media, no texts, no following one another on Spotify. The first 30 days felt like death. In my imagination, that’s what solitary confinement felt like. Pain, tears, loneliness, and worthlessness wove through my daily life, and despite it being winter, the days felt longer. Excruciatingly at times. Being single and alone seemed like a perfect excuse to watch massive amounts of pornography.

Altar Space

This was also about the same time I began to get very curious with voids. Why were voids so uncomfortable? Silences in groups. Time alone at home. Life without a partner. I began to get very curious about how I filled voids and what I was avoiding.


Pornography was a way for me to bypass discomfort through numbing and distraction. Even the following self-loathing became a distraction for discomfort and loneliness. It was all about my unwillingness to be with me. Until this very moment, I haven’t quite understood the importance of wondering why pornography was in my life. I just knew I didn’t want it. But to get my nails under it, I had to understand where the roots grew.


Second Step: Hear both voices.


Creating a gap of discernment helped me understand my habit better and recognize the usual triggers. It didn't fully heal the wound, however. The second part to my gaining the upper hand on pornography was understanding the self loathing. I refer to a Maya Angelou quote: “Do your best until you know better. When you know better, do better.” I was always judging myself after partaking in pornography. What a slanted frame of mind to judge from! Before indulging there were always two voices. One voice was extremely loud and persuasive. It could make my mouth water and cause my palms to sweat. My mind would dive into the archives of my memory for those little nuggets of lustful relief. The second voice was always the one that didn’t want to indulge. That knew what it would feel like after. That voice was always quiet, and a wet paper towel trying to hold a vat of coconut oil.


Altar Space

Once the pornography was watched, and the business was done, the first voice always went away. He was fed. He no longer had anything to say. He was the guy that passed out after sex. Unresponsive. The only voice left was the weaker one. But even pin can be heard dropping in a silent room. That’s the voice that no longer had any competition and ironically occupied the longer stage time in my mind.


I had to learn how to strengthen that guy’s voice. I had to learn how to keep the eager part of me awake after indulging in pornography. The two voices needed to have a balanced discussion. So here’s what I did:


Intentional Indulgence


One night in March 2022 while sitting at my meditation altar, an idea came to me. I felt the urge to indulge in pornography, and I was also in a meditative state. It came to my mind, "What if I tried some intentional masturbation and pornography indulgence?"


I decided this could be an experiment fueled by curiosity. Here was my experiment. Fuse pornography watching with meditation. I chose a favorite video clip, pulled out my journal, and documented my feelings. I wrote down what I was feeling before anything happened. I wrote about my anticipation. I paused the video throughout and wrote down my feelings, my excitement, my emotions. I was deliberate in my touching, and deliberate with taking a moment to check in. The whole process took about 30 minutes. Though the video was a "go-to" I couldn't tell you what it was to this day. The pornography wasn't my focus. My body and spirit's experience was. Once I finished, I sat with myself for a long time in mediation. I was stark naked, sitting on my meditation cushion with coconut oil in my hand.

Altar Space

I sat there. And I felt into my body. I felt my shame. I felt my pleasure. I felt anything that wanted to speak. The part of me that usually passed out sat there, too. I was immediately reminded of eating McDonalds. I know, weird.

McDonald's Phenomenon


McDonald's food tastes good. Especially when you're hungry. There's no denying the science they've invested into that. But how long does it last? Maybe 5-10 minutes. Then when it it drops into my stomach it hits like a load of bricks and makes me feel like I need to shit out the same. The food makes me feel so gross afterward, and my body vibrates so lowly, I immediately question why I’d ever voluntarily chosen that.

Sitting with myself after watching porn intentionally was the exact same phenomenon. The lingering question: Was this really worth feeling like this for five minutes of pleasure and lust? The pass-out version of me had to admit that the answer was a clear and distinct “FUCK NO!” That single moment of clarity and awareness dismantled everything. I literally haven’t looked at pornography since.

Altar Space

Sometimes I laugh and minimize the situation and think, “Was it really that simple?” The answer is yes, and no. Yes the solution is simple. So was making a light bulb once Thomas Edison failed a bunch of times before figuring it out. I had to fail at stopping enough times for that quiet voice in my head to gain strength and figure out a way to be heard. I had to have a wave of tiny water droplets of defeat built up against the dam of addiction. I had to have stillness in my mind that was so hard to embrace. It became a tool to my internal victory. I had no idea that my time alone and my intentional practice of leaning in would be critical for unbinding me. The victory is huge, but the celebration has been uneventful. In honesty, when stepping back, it was like sleeping with a tarantula in my sleeping bag. Almost impossible to ignore, and equally challenging to sleep. Yet once the spider is let out, I was able to move on without much trouble. In fact, I found that it left a void that was soon filled with unexpected gifts.

What has replaced the void


Here are some things I’ve noticed internally that has filled the void that pornography once occupied.

  • Time: I’m no longer searching for, watching, or thinking about that stuff. My mind is free to do other things.

  • Lighter: I’m not walking with shame, and I have the confidence that I can do hard things. The best value of that is that I have the peace of mind of knowing I can respond when necessary because of the tools I possess, rather than constantly being on guard with what might come. For me, that's empowerment.

  • Clarity: A lake is a huge body of water. Even a great lake can’t dilute a toxic stream flowing into it. Over time, the lake becomes contaminated. My mind and pornography shared the same relationship. Without the stream, my mind is cleaner and clearer.

  • Peace: Constantly injecting adulterated sexual conceptualizations affected the way I showed up with the opposite sex, even when all I was desiring was friendships and plutonic connections, there was an over-sexualization in my thoughts, my banter, and my energy. Now what flows through me is more, well, me!

  • Sex as a tool: My last note on this energy comes from a podcast shared with my by the amazing Kristy Johnson. Aubrey Marcus interviewed Emily Fletcher on a concept called Sex Magic . The practice involves both solitary and partnered sexual pleasure to connect with source. The idea is working your manifestations from your root and sexual organs to the top of your head, much the same way an orgasm travels up your body upon reaching climax. This has changed my relationship with masturbation, shame, and sex. It has allowed self-pleasure to remain part of my life while leaving the indulgence of pornography behind like an old pair of shoes I used to walk in but no longer use to go where I’m headed.

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