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Recovering from the Private Killer of Porn Addiction

It was a catastrophic personal event that plunged me into three years of intense habitual and addictive behavior that needed to be addressed. It was then that I finally recognized my addiction needed to be stopped. 

Downloading porn videos and images as well as participating in sex chats—all are obvious markers of addiction. And I did them all. Yet, at first I remained detached from the serious harm I had created for myself and my family with porn. This was due to my own arrogance, pride, and delusion regarding sobriety and the nature of the horrible addiction. 

There were months when I would be sober. I would relapse for a day and then turn back to a long stretch of sobriety. This re-enforced the lie that it was not an addiction and that I could control my behavior. It was private. It did not hurt anyone. 

I did not share this with anyone else because I did not think I had a problem. I was in reality only a coward. I was deluding myself and believing the lie. But throughout my separation and divorce it got worse and I began to recognize my addiction for what it was. Porn was a factor in the eventual destruction of my marriage. 

It was very bad and very dark for three years. Satan is a killer. Given the chance, he will happily kill your marriage, your family, your relationships, your joy, and your faith. “He’s the enemy…avoid him at all costs” (James 4:7).

Pornography is a moral issue for me and I think for a majority of men. However, porn is also a health issue. From 2014 until July 2017 I was using pornography as self-medication for anxiety, depression, and loneliness following betrayal and heartbreak. Porn temporarily relieved my psychological pain but it only exacerbated problems in the long run. 

I, like so many others, received an unrelenting neurochemical rush known as the Coolidge Effect, which has to do with renewed sexual interest that occurs when a novel sexual experience presents itself. It was impossible to get bored from sexual variety since pornography creates the illusion of endless choices. It’s a lie. Sadly, I believed it. Throughout those years, I hid my addiction from others. How dark it is before dawn! 

In July I met a woman whom God decided to put in my life. She was real—not a set pixels. As our friendship grew and I discerned intentions for a relationship, I knew with certainty that I could not have porn in my life or in a relationship. I had to choose. 

I began my recovery. 

Each journey is individual. It may take weeks or months before a person begins to see an improvement in porn-related problems. The goal for everyone’s the same: to rediscover life before porn—to find freedom.

I joined Men Living for Greatness, a Facebook group helping Catholic men grow in virtue and strive for holiness. I discovered Laudate, a free Catholic app that has a ton of resources. Breaking the silence that often surrounds the issue of pornography, I also found a Facebook group called Integrity Restored and quickly became connected with several other resources to help in my sobriety. Additionally, I read Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do It Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy. My progress was steady, incremental, and successful.

I’ve previously written about my practice of going to Eucharistic adoration. Upon one visit, further into my recovery journey, I recognized that I needed to surrender my pride and control. Surrender is scary because I want to be in control. But am I really in control when I’m in the throes of addiction? No. Addiction was controlling me. And if I did not want addiction to control me then why was I afraid of surrendering?

This simple revelation shattered my final mental block. The biggest contributor to my recovery success has been Our Lady. Praying the rosary has been instrumental to a solid prayer life. However, I also prayed to Mary Undoer of Knots. Through this special novena—nine days of prayer for divine intervention—I began to visualize the chains of my addiction being broken. 

The seemingly insurmountable obstacle of my addiction no longer existed. The painting by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner is worth describing for its representation of Mary’s power over evil and sin. It shows Mary in heaven surrounded by angels. She stands on the crescent moon crushing the head of the serpent, Satan. She holds a long ribbon and is untying one of several large knots on the ribbon. This novena saved me.

Through God’s grace, I have been masturbation and porn free for three years. I share my story in much the same spirit that St. Augustine relates his early life in his Confessions. Namely, that it might give testimony to the work of God in our lives as Christians and offer clues, perhaps, to the anatomy of Christian conversion and of living in the world.

 

Aaron Walter is a lifelong Catholic and former porn addict whose ministry, NewMenRising, is dedicated to pornography addiction recovery. He is a coach, mentor, and accountability partner. He is passionate about helping husbands kick their addiction and transform their lives and relationships. You can connect with him at aaronwaltercoaching.com and on Instagram.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Gorski on June 17, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    It’s nice to see that Consecration to Divine Mercy was part of your formula as well=)

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