I am a lust addict of 24 years. There are a lot of people who would say that masturbating as a teenager is normal, that masturbating to pornographic images in marriage is okay if your wife isn’t meeting your sexual needs, that s*x addiction is only a result of sexual repression and is a myth perpetuated by religious fanatics, and that free love and free s*x are the cure to the myth. I am here to tell you that these philosophies are false. Sexual addiction is real and I am an addict.
I come from a very lucky upbringing. I had both parents in my home and they loved each other. My father worked full time; my mother worked from home and was almost always available to help her children. I have older siblings who set good examples in both church and school. I have had none of the incredibly difficult experiences that others have had to live with, including abuse, neglect, divorce or mental illness of parents, or other similar trials. Despite this, I still struggled to cope with the challenges that I did and do face, and that’s where my addiction comes in.
I was first shown pornography around the age of seven in my friend’s garage. I instantly knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help wanting to see more. I didn’t get to see much more in my childhood, but at age 12 I discovered masturbation. It was the most amazing feeling. I could escape from reality for a few minutes whenever I wanted. As a teenager, I masturbated daily, sometimes twice daily. It wasn’t long until I found pornography again. My friend could get magazines and if he didn’t have any, I could use my mom’s lingerie catalogs. I could store away lustful thoughts and photos until I had a few minutes to get away during the day. I was using this drug to escape my feelings of inadequacy, failure, and loneliness. In church one Sunday, I heard a talk on masturbation and became convinced that I needed to stop. On the car ride home, I mustered up the courage to tell my dad. He was kind and loving and helped me make an appointment to see our bishop. I went in to see the bishop a few days later and came out with a plan to read the scriptures and pray more. I did these things, and within a few months was mast**bating again—only now I had more shame because prayer and scriptures study didn’t cure my problem.
This continued on for a couple more years with daily masturbation and regular pornography. I also began to view the girls in my classes with lustful eyes and then fantasize about them later. I kept these girls at a distance. I wouldn’t dare talk to them. I could only be friends with the good girls from church. I even promised myself that I would never fantasize about the good girls. Well, I broke that promise. I crossed that boundary. I eventually ended up with a girlfriend. I was raised to respect girls, but my addiction wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to serve itself. I groped this girlfriend and would have had s*x with her if she hadn’t been smart enough to put a stop to it. Well, after she shut me down, I broke up with her. My lust had moved on.
The summer before my senior year in high school, I met a girl who was younger than I was. I used my “older guy” influence to have her strip in front of me and my friend. I went to the bishop to confess the encounter with the previous girlfriend and he had me working through more prayer, scripture study, and reading church literature. I lasted a couple of months, maybe three, before I was back to masturbation—however, I got rid of all the explicit pornography and told myself I was done with it. The lust was patient though. I was also very good at justifying my past behavior.
I continued to masturbate right on through the LDS mission that I served.
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