Being Catholic and Struggling with Porn

It all started with curiosity – simple as that. I remember those times when my father would fast-forward certain scenes in some movies, and there was always this curiosity in me. I wanted to know. I wanted to see. I was curious, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask. Us children were told not to look, so obviously it couldn’t have been anything good.

I should have let it go, but I didn’t.

One day, curiosity finally got the better of me, and I found out for myself what took place in those forbidden scenes. Immediately, I felt this thrill and pleasure coursing through my body. My sexual desire had been awakened.

Curiosity turned into hunger.

I tried to suppress my desire for more, because I knew that it was wrong to feed the hunger. It was wrong. It was bad, but why was it bad? How was it wrong? Why did I even have these desires and hunger? I tried seeking answers – as subtly as possible, of course, because I didn’t want anyone to know what I’d gotten myself into. It was too shameful, and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I feared of being judged, being rejected, being a disappointment.

Well, I was a very proud kid.

Anyway, with those questions haunting me, I posed them to my parents, my parish priest, some catechists, and they all had something to say about it. I was told that “pornography is bad, for it harms the soul and pollutes the mind”; that “watching porn is a sin”; and that “it’s addictive, so young people must stay away from it”. Their responses were mostly well-intentioned, but they did little to help my case – everything just seemed so superficial.

Eventually, I gave in to the hunger, despite my protesting conscience. I came to think that perhaps porn wasn’t so bad or wrong after all. At this point, my consumption of porn became more and more frequent. I went from nudity to graphic sex scenes, and from that to violent, aggressive videos. Sexual fantasies crowded my mind, and I couldn’t shut them out at all.

Hunger turned into addiction.

A part of me was still trying to stop, but the truth was, consuming porn was a vicious cycle. Every time the hunger came, I fooled myself into thinking “it’s just this once” and “it’s not like I’m hurting anyone”, just to comfort myself that my actions weren’t that bad. Then after the hunger was fed, guilt and disgust took its place, and I told myself, “No more of this rubbish.” The sad thing was that later on, I came to realise how this hunger could never be permanently satisfied, but I still went on telling myself, every time, that it would be the last time.

I felt so weak – pathetic, and I just didn’t know how to fight it anymore.

Things came to a point where I would no longer think twice about going to porn. This was the scariest part – it was as if my conscience was slowly fading away. I found the feelings of guilt and self-disgust growing weaker day by day, replaced by a large sense of numbness. The thirst for porn became insatiable, pushing me for more and more and more. I stopped rationalising my sin, accepting that this was how it was meant to be. I saw no point in fighting the temptation anymore. So I let myself indulge in lust while keeping up my façade – going to church every Sunday, being the strict head prefect in school, and setting a good example to my younger siblings at home.

My life felt like a big fat joke. What if this was all there was to me – that my future days could go no further than my life right now? Sinful and pretentious.

I felt like a lie.

And I felt so trapped, because almost everyone believed that I was doing okay. They didn’t suspect a thing. Yes, I was that good at masking myself. I wished I wasn’t.

Pride was my biggest downfall.

One day, something just snapped inside me, and I came clean about my porn usage. I guess I was tired of being stuck in desolation, and I wanted to show myself that I was capable of more. I told my mother, I told the whole of my Catechism class, and I confessed to a priest. Most of them didn’t even know how to react, but at least I got the sense of release I wanted.

For a while after that, I was able to stay away from porn, so I thought my prayers have been answered. This was it. I was free.

But it all seemed too easy – way too easy.

Pride brought about my relapse. Once I fell into a false sense of security, the temptations returned. I fell into sin again. As I was reminded of that period of desolation, I forced myself to stay calm, determined not to let myself fall back into that trap. However, the Devil – yes, I’m calling him out now – he expected this too, and changed his tactics.

He couldn’t prey on my insecurities, so this time he took my self-assurance and used it to his full advantage. Since he couldn’t magnify the seriousness of the sin as he did before, he reduced it to nearly nothing, convincing me that watching porn wasn’t that big of an issue anyway and that I could easily deal with it later. The cycle started again, and I slipped back into despair and hiding, continuing the struggle from where I left off. This time, I felt more ashamed than before.

I thought I’d won the battle. How could I fall again?

It took some time for me to see through all the lies, and realise why I got stuck with porn again. Pride held me back from confession, and I was focusing too much on myself, especially on my porn addiction. Unknowingly, I’d let it define my whole identity. On top of that, I was trying to fight the Devil – on my own. I relied so much on myself that I was burning out.

It was time to turn back to God, so I did just that.

Then came a moment of grace.

Once I looked at Jesus on the cross, I saw how blinded I’d been by shame. All this while I was wondering if God has forsaken me, not realising that the answer was right before me. God loves me so much that He has died on the cross for me – what more can I ask of Him to prove His love for me? Then it hit me – every time I sinned, I was denying His love and mercy. I was nailing Him to the cross. But I didn’t want to hurt Him – not anymore.

I want to love Him.

So with newfound courage, I confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness again, telling myself that I was doing this for myself, but mostly for Jesus. I’d rediscovered my will to stop sinning.

But the story does not end here, for the battle goes on.

For a very long time, I’ve been hiding in the shadows alongside my secrets, but that’s where the Devil dwells too, working his schemes. I see, now, that I’ve been seeking refuge in the wrong place. I understand that my struggle with porn may be a lifelong battle, but if I want to win this fight, I have to humbly cling to God for help.

So now, I’m bringing my struggle out of the darkness – into the light.

“I have told you all this, so that in me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Photo by Brad Greenlee (CC BY 2.0)
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Faith & Spirituality

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