This is going to be a tad disjointed, as the boys are not giving me much time to sit and think today — let alone write anything — but I’ve got a lot on my mind and I need to reach out to you all. So, please bear with me.
I’ve been way more fatigued by the stuff with my family than I expected. Somewhere along the line I got the idea in my head that normal human things don’t apply to me, so I am always caught off guard when hard things happen to me and I am sad or angry or anything other than serenely unaffected. I’m not good at sitting still and feeling all the bad stuff, because I am relatively inexperienced at it. It’s not much fun.
I’m a conflict avoider. Apparently this is true for internal conflict, as well. I can see in retrospect that my way of coping with difficult things has been to run away from it (literally and metaphorically), and — when this has not been possible — to dive into false comforts, primarily porn and junk food.
I’m also fairly isolated. I’m home all day with the boys and have to stay close to home six nights out of seven for work. You wouldn’t be lying if you said I don’t get out much. This is mostly okay, since I am a homebody. The downside is that I don’t have a lot of adult interaction. Even though I am engaged with the boys in their schooling, I still end up spending a lot of time in my mind as a way to escape the more difficult parts of being the primary caregiver.
This all adds up to make the lure of porn very strong during tough times. This is where I have been recently, and I have realized that I am slipping and sliding a bit along the path of recovery. Since my relapse in August 2016, this is the first significant challenge to sobriety that I have faced. Specifically, there are three areas I need to shore up:
- Bouncing my eyes. I have trained myself to bounce my gaze away from anything that might lead to lustful thoughts. I have been very consistent in this practice for the past year. Lately, though, this has been so much harder to do. I am hurting, and there seems to be so much ocular salve to soak in. It is hard to look away, knowing that a cure for pain — no matter how fleeting and false — is so readily available, and I have not done so consistently.
- Hunting for stimulating imagery. I have set a rule that I will not go looking for something enticing to look at. This includes on computers, on television, or anywhere else. Starting down that path is a sure way to end up steeped in porn again. All of my electronic safeguards are in place to help keep me on the narrow path, but lately I have been brushing up against the guardrail, so to speak. To use the metaphor of alcoholism that I used with a friend recently, I am not taking a drink, but I am sitting in the parking lot in front of the bar.
- Rationalizing these behaviors. I haven’t looked at porn. I’m at such a better place than I was even a year ago. So I tell myself that everything is okay, that I have nothing to worry about. This is a lie. It is with such that the road to hell is paved. In the past, I have permitted these “small” lies to lull me into complacency, and — like the proverbial frog — found myself in hot water before I was fully aware of what was happening. I will not, must not repeat that mistake.
I know that lowering my standards will only hurt me. I am committed to purging my heart and mind of any and all lies when it comes to purity. I know that much of the ground I’ve gained this past year goes away if I stumble and fall.
And yet there is still something in me that — whenever times are tough — begins to hunger for the cheap, easy thrill of porn.
So, I move forward one moment at a time, one decision at a time. Jesus has the strength I so abundantly lack. Even in this act of confession, I sense anew a connection to my Good Friend. Please pray that I will continue to seek the truth and reject the lie.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.