Our Stories – Submitted anonymously by members of the Saint Augustine Men’s Purity Groups
The stories below were submitted by Saint Augustine men’s Purity Group members. As you may learn from the stories below, you are not alone in your struggle with pornography and sexual impurity.
Pornography became important to me when I was eleven. My friend Steve had every Playboy issue dating back to 1958. When I was at his house, looking at the magazines it was all I wanted to do. I couldn’t think of anything else. It really annoyed him sometimes when I would ask to see them. It was really all anyone who had been in Steve’s house would talk about.
Once Steve and I stopped being good friends, my porn source was cut off. It didn’t take long for me to get the courage to walk into the neighborhood convenience store and ask the man for the new issue of Playboy. He looked at me and asked if I really needed it, and I muttered, “ uh huh.”. I had the exact change, including tax of $2.10.
When I got my driver’s license, I quickly fell into the habit of buying every new Penthouse. I knew the day it should be out, and always got a little anxious if it was a day or two late. I stored all of the issues under my mattress. After accumulating probably fifteen issues, my mom discovered the stash while changing my sheets. She cried hysterically and warned me that the magazine would rot my mind. I kept buying the magazines, but changed my hiding place.
In college, the campus theater started playing porn flicks, the Aggie term being grode flicks, spring semester of my freshman year. I never missed one in the next six years I spent at TAMU. Sometimes I had to beg a friend to go see the grode flick, in that I was a little uncomfortable going by myself. I think I did go alone once.
I brought porn into my marriage immediately. It was something my wife and I were able to enjoy together. Once the internet became available, it opened a whole new world. I viewed at home as often as I could be alone, at work, any free moment.
Through alcoholics anonymous, I came to believe that there is a God who cares about what we do. I immediately knew porn viewing was not God’s will , and resolved to remove it from my life. I had occasional success, as long as six months at a time without using pornography, but would eventually find myself back in front of the images.
Finally my son confronted me with evidence of having viewed porn from Windows media player. He did come out and accuse me, but I believed this had to be the last straw. I was done with porn forever. It lasted maybe a month and a half. Three months after he had shown me the evidence on windows media player, I found myself locked out of Cyber Sitter. When I mentioned the trouble to my son, he explained that I would not be able to open it, and placed an article about pornography addiction in front of me.
That has been one year. I have had one slip since then, but it has now been seven months since I have viewed pornography. I owe it to this group and the grace of God.
I am a middle-aged father of two and have been married for over twenty years. Both of my kids attend Catholic school. I go to mass regularly with my family and am active in my parish. I have also volunteered in various organizations outside of my church. For all intensive purposes, I have always appeared to be living the life of a good Christian husband and father. However, I used to live a secret life which few of my friends or relatives were aware.
For sixteen years I struggled with pornography addiction. My addiction started when I discovered adult movies at the hotels I stayed at while away from home. Eventually I started buying them from adult video stores close to home. As soon as we got the Internet at home, I was surfing for pornography on a regular basis, usually when my family was gone or at night when they were asleep. During this time I made repeated attempts to stop viewing pornography, only to fall again and again. I was caught up in a true addictive cycle of acting out followed by periods of sobriety and then; eventually, succumbing again to temptation. I would tell myself, each time that this would be the last time, fooling myself into thinking I could control my desire for pornography. I did not think I was addicted at first; moreover, I rationalized that it could be worse since I wasn’t having an affair.
From the start, I told my wife what was going on. I knew what I was doing was wrong and felt that telling her would help me control the impulse to act out. On the contrary, using my wife as an accountability partner did not stop me. I found myself keeping my addictive activities secret, only confessing if I was questioned directly. My addiction also affected my son who became aware of what I was doing. I had tried to be careful not to let either of my kids know what I was up to, but it was inevitable that they would stumble upon an undeleted file or hear my wife and I discussing the subject.
Once it became obvious that my actions were having a negative impact on my family, I decided to seek help for my problem. I first looked for help on the Internet, eventually finding a site dedicated to dealing with pornography addiction. I took a course provided by a Christian organization running the Website which gave me several tools to help deal with the addiction. I learned that I was powerless to control my addiction and had to rely on God to help me. I also realized that I needed face-to-face accountability from other addicts. After a lot of procrastination, I finally mustered the courage to attend support group meetings. For almost two years, I have been attending meetings with Sex Addicts Anonymous and St. Augustine Men’s Purity Group. During this time, my desire to look at pornography has diminished a great deal. I no longer struggle with feelings of guilt that accompany a life of acting out.
It’s obvious to me that I was trying to fill the spiritual hole in my life with pornography. Like so many stories in the bible, my sexual sin was separating me from God and keeping me from experiencing his grace. Fortunately, I had sense enough to realize that I needed to stop going through the motions with my faith and start developing a stronger spiritual life.
I know there are many other men and even women who struggle with sexual addiction. Like myself, many are living respectable lives on the outside; while inwardly; they are trying to fight a battle that they cannot win alone. There is help if you are willing stop going through the motions of being a Christian and turn control of your life over to God.
For me, today, I realize that I am a true egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I never felt as good as, smart as, or as attractive as other people. I remember the message that I heard as a little kid from TV and other kids, you stay tough because the strong survive and you don’t show emotion because that would be considered a weakness. So I stayed in loneliness and silence, never revealing the true me, because you wouldn’t like him. I turned to sex, women, fantasy…anything to make me feel okay about who I was. My worth in life was about what I did and who I was in the business community. To all outward appearances I was a good father, husband and provider but my secret life was killing me and destroying all of the relationships that meant anything to me. I always knew inside that I was living in sin, having my running affairs with pornography and masturbation. In the beginning it started with adult book stores and prostitution. I always justified my actions as my right, always feeling totally defeated again and again after making a resolution to NOT act out or cross the boundaries that I set. I was a true addict with obsessive-compulsive behavior…truly powerless over sex. I was doomed to live my life like this until I found this group and other 12-step programs which have allowed me to practice my faith along with the principles of recovery. I came to believe that I was not alone. Other men were having similar problems just the same as me. I realized that there is a solution….God and working with others in an open and honest faith based forum. This has allowed me to express my true feelings and challenges knowing that I can expect frank and candid feedback in return. The hole that I had been trying to fill with sex is now being filled with God’s love and forgiveness.
I was introduced to pornography at the age of 13 by a group of my friends. Unlike most of these friends, I found I wanted more and more of it – in those days, soft-core pornographic magazines. I masturbated as much as I could, often more than once a day, and since I was a “latch-key kid” and alone much of the time, I had plenty of opportunity. This made me feel not as alone, but only for a short while, followed by deep guilt each time I acted out. It was my shameful secret. No one knew about it.
In high school I was introduced to hard core magazines and pornographic films, and in college I would spend up to $20 a week on my porn and masturbation addiction. When I married, I assumed this behavior would stop. Unfortunately, my sexual sobriety only lasted about 6 months. Before I knew it, I was back in my old routines, only with the added fear of discovery by my spouse.
I continued to lead a double life until September, 2010. Many times during these years I resolved to stop. I fell into a cycle of acting out, experiencing deep shame, confessing my sins, praying and reading spiritual literature, and then succumbing to the temptation and acting out once more. I felt helpless in Satan’s grasp. My relationships suffered, my work suffered, and I withdrew more and more from those I loved and who loved me. I thought this was what my life would be like until I died.
In September of 2010 I went to confess my sins “as normal,” still in the grip of my addiction. The priest who heard my confession introduced something new – a vision of an all-loving God who saw me and loved me even when I was acting out in my sin. As I wept in the confessional, this good priest told me about the Saint Augustine’s Men’s Purity Group. I finally felt that I had “come clean” with God, and went to my first meeting the next week.
I know now that I had hit my bottom in the confessional, and the priest had thrown me a lifeline. Through God’s Divine Grace I have found a group of spiritual brothers in the SAMPG, confessed my behaviors to my wife (who continues to support me in my struggle every day), started my journey of self-discovery and sexual sobriety, and found an accountability partner who understands my temptations and wisely counsels me every day.
I had tried “going it alone” for years, but only when I gave it up to God was I able to start healing. I still suffer temptations, and I still may stumble, but with the power of the Holy Spirit and the help of good people like my SAMPG brothers, my accountability partner, my loving wife, and a holy confessor, I’m moving forward in my struggle. I’m coming to terms with what it means to be no longer a lonely slave to sin.
I am ashamed of my sins. My sexual history includes going to sleazy massage parlors, which is a form of prostitution. I spent about $750 on this vice. It was a safety concern, too. I also went to strip clubs several times in several cities over the years. I spent at least $200 at those places. I had affairs or ‘one-night stands’ with women I was not married to or in relationships with. I watched pornography, as well. I found porn through various channels: pirated over the internet or Ethernets, video rentals, cable TV channels, and magazines. I watched porn in one form or another for about twenty years, starting when I was in junior high school.
I tried to stop several times in high school and college. I think stress from school was a factor. I thought that I needed porn. I went about six weeks without touching myself sexually as an undergraduate once. Failed attempts at dating lead me to question the use of porn several times. In my mid twenties I began confessing these sins to a priest. I went about seven months without touching myself at age 26. I still looked at porn, though. I was not willing to follow my faith closely when it came to my sexuality.
I told my parents several times about the porn over the years. Once or twice it was because they just found out when I was in high school. They wanted me to stop, but, as time passed, I would fall back into the habit. My friendships with women and with people I knew through church were often jeopardized because of ‘making-out’ at parties and lust. Friends and priests advised me on changing my behavior. I was not willing to prioritize recovery high enough. I did not think I had a serious problem. I was relying on my own judgment.
There were consequences for my actions. I lost my virginity before marriage to a woman who was engaged to be married. I put our souls in jeopardy. I broke laws against prostitution by going to massage parlors. I broke copyright laws by pirating porn. Each mortal sin caused me to loose sight of my true self more. I desperately wanted a girlfriend but had little connection with anyone special. I feel like there were trust issues between myself and family members. I probably wasted over $1000. I risked my safety and kept people at a distance.
I kept sinking deeper. I moved from porn to making out with women I met at parties. When I got older, I moved on to strip clubs. When I moved out of state for work, I started going to massage parlors, which I spent lot of money on. I felt like I was digging myself deeper into a hole. I lost sight of God’s love. I feel like I was wasting my life.
When I was laid off at age 31, I moved back to my hometown. I had been going to confession once every few months. During a group penance service at my church, my priest recommended attending Saint Augustine’s Men’s Purity Group. This is a Catholic support group for men trying to overcome sexual addiction. Two weeks later, I started attending the meetings. I hope to continue recovery.
In retrospect I think that each time I went to confession was a step toward Christ. Prayer helped. Moving home after I was laid off made a big difference. It removed a lot of temptation. I am with my loving family. God revealed himself in many ways over the years. I see him in my immediate and extended family.
Listening to other men in the group who have had similar difficulties with lust has been helping. Each day that I follow the recovery guides is an opportunity to grow in faith. I am thankful for each parish I have been a part of over the years. The various organizations I have participated in within those parishes have helped, too. I enjoyed reading a book about the meaning of love and relationships under God.
Now my life is more focused on Christ. I felt kind of hopeless before. I was hiding my problem more. I did not feel like I was taking my faith seriously. Now I have tools for recovery: a support group, a plan, and goal to deepen my connection with Jesus. I am motivated by the love and support of my family.
Some improvements include: more prayer, more involvement at church, sexual sobriety, less fear and anxiety, less secrecy, more consistent behavior, and a better relationship with God. Catholicism is very important to me. I am learning an improved way of looking at people and relationships. God is there for me. Persistent prayer and participation in the sacraments are important.
Christ continues to be my ticket to freedom. A Christian community is one manifestation of Christ’s love for me. I believe that God wants what is best for me. My family loves me. I love them, too. My support group is a big help.
God’s grace gives me a chance to live the kind of life I have dreamed about. It lifts me up. God’s love through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is changing my life. I feel like I’m on the road to recovery. I think my life has more substance. God is pulling me to safety.
I feel a deeper love for my family and friends. I want love, not lust. Lust is a dead-end street. Love is not selfish. I feel like I am getting on track for the first time in twenty years. My priorities are changing.