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How My Consecration to Divine Mercy Has Made Me Porn and Masturbation Free

Jay Stringer, author of Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing, suggests that before we will ever find our way clear of unwanted sexual behavior, we must first look at what our behaviors reveal about us. While I continue to struggle with the idea that we must unpack our entire history before we can chart a course to healthier thoughts and behaviors in our sex lives, it has been worthwhile to review my sexual history.

My first exposure to pornography was in sixth or seventh grade. My oldest brother (I am the second youngest of five boys) had a huge collection of magazines in his bedroom closet. When he was a senior in high school he became extremely sick and almost died. While he was in the hospital, my mom gave me the task of cleaning out his room, including getting rid of three or four large garbage bags of porn. I remember looking briefly through the magazines, but can’t remember being obsessively drawn to them. Early on in high school, I was quite naïve with regard to sexual activity. In fact, I remember some guys making a joke about masturbation and knowing that I should laugh but that I didn’t actually know what they were talking about.

When I was a sophomore, I began working in a local liquor store that sold pornographic magazines. Other stock boys and I would sneak magazines into the staff bathroom to steal looks, and it was then that I discovered masturbation. In my family, I remember the basic message was that looking at Playboy and masturbating were normal for teenage boys, but also “wrong” and should be kept private.

I began dating my wife during my second year of college. On our second date she confessed that she had had sex with her former boyfriend, and on our third date we had sex for the first time. During our two-year courtship we strived for chastity, fell, felt shame, and then dreamed of guilt-free sex after marriage. My exposure to porn was limited to occasional guilt-ridden trips to a local adult bookstore.

Our early married life was pretty normal and masturbation wasn’t a huge issue until after our first child was born. I was busy with finishing my master’s degree in social work and my wife was working full time, which meant that her energy level and interest in sex was not as high as I would have liked.

Over the next seven years my pornography use exploded. My wife would discover a stash of porn, we would fight, and I would vacillate between blaming her for not being more interested in sex and feeling total shame. Eventually, I was fired from my job for viewing porn at work and my social work license was suspended. One might think that the devastation of losing not only a job, but also the career that I had worked so hard to build would be “rock bottom” and motivate me to do things differently. It didn’t change my habits, though I did try…

My wife and I went to counseling. I completed online courses and read books to try and extricate myself from the scourge of masturbation and porn addiction. I’d have periods of abstinence but then would crash and burn. Finally, about seven years ago at the recommendation of one of the programs, I began reading the Liturgy of the Word in the morning. I discovered the Laudate app, a free Catholic phone app that has a ton of resources. With this single app I grew my morning time to include reading the “Saint of the Day,” The a Liturgy of the Word, and three scriptural reflections and listening to another reflection while I showered. At night I fell asleep to the podcast of a scriptural rosary, also available on the app.

However, my sales job required that I spend many hours out and about and I discovered that porn was available at the public libraries. While mornings and evenings were covered, down time in the middle of the day was out of control. The discouragement I felt from this often led me to abandon my morning and evening disciplines. I saw myself as hopelessly flawed.

But three years ago I completed a self-directed retreat put together by Fr. Michael Gaitley called “33 Days to Merciful Love…A Do It Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy” (based on his book of the same name). I can’t explain why but I felt called to complete this. I did not have any hope that it would be the ultimate answer to my decades-old prayer to be free from my porn addiction. But after that retreat and then after a year of being free from my porn addiction (though still fighting masturbation), I began to entertain the belief that porn might no longer have a hold on me.

After two years of being free from my porn addiction, due in large part to following my Consecration to Divine Mercy, I began the process of entering the diaconate formation (though didn’t complete it). Based on my story, the assistant director of the program asked if I had ever thought about developing a program to help others who struggle with similar issues. It wasn’t until then, as I started to reflect on the previous two years of being free from my porn addiction, that I started to own my freedom.

A year ago I also shared in detail my challenges at a parish-based retreat called Christ Renews His Parish. Participants were affirming and many thanked me for breaking the silence that often surrounds the issue of pornography. I also found a Facebook group named Integrity Restored and quickly became connected with several other resources to help keep me clean.

For the past four months I have been learning about the countless tentacles that habitual sexual sin has on each of us and those we love. Through God’s grace, with the exception of three slips, I am beyond grateful to be able to report that I have been masturbation free for almost 10 months. I am beginning to believe that it is actually possible to be a man and both masturbation and porn free! And the more freedom I have experienced the more my communication with my wife has improved as well. For me, the keys to victory have been growing to trust in God’s love, mercy, and sufficiency; regular immersion in God’s Word; fellowship in community; the wonderful Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation; and, lastly, God’s amazing grace!

 

Jim Gorski is a 57-year-old father of four children who has been married to the same woman for 34 years. He completed his master’s degree in social work in 1984 and has directed church music groups for the past 39 years. He remains a grateful child of the most high God and strives to trust in God’s loving mercy and His ability to provide for his every need.

1 Comment

  1. ConcordPastor on July 3, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for this witness, Jim- a great help to those who may think there’s no way out of addiction to porn.

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