Are you or a loved one addicted to pornography?
When I was 24 years old, I discovered a long history of gay pornography use from my husband at the time. I’ll never forget the feelings that came over me.
First, it was as if I had literally been punched in the gut. I couldn’t breathe. I was in shock, then moved into feelings of denial and then fear of the unknown and what it meant for my marriage.
I knew my life in that moment would never be the same again.
I didn’t confront him at first, but we got into an argument three days later and I blurted it out, “What am I supposed to do when my husband is addicted to gay porn?”
I had thought for sure he would deny it, but he didn’t. That seemed to make it hurt worse.
Everything was so surreal.
I felt like I had just been slammed into a brick wall. I felt like my husband had died and someone else was in his body.
He was a stranger.
I was angry and hurt and deeply saddened. From that time forward our lives changed forever.
Several years later, little did I know that I would be having conversations about pornography use with my son at just 11 years of age. When I discovered he had looked at it on my I-pad, I was so sad. As I talked with him, it was clear to see that he felt so much guilt and shame. I tried to counsel him the best I could as a mom with what I knew, but at this point, I had no idea how to deal with the use of porn with a child.
Did you know that one of the most popular pornographic websites brags about their numbers? Over 4.3 billion hours were consumed last year on their site, which equals to over 500K years worth of porn consumed in just one website!! They boast of 125 million site visits every single day!
Today, the average age for those who have seen pornography is eleven years old. It’s happening all around us and no one is excluded! Almost everyone has access to porn. By just typing a few words into Google search, hundreds of inappropriate sites and images can be viewed. It can be done at home or anywhere on the go with easy access on computers, phones or other electronic devices.
This is why awareness and education are key. We need to have effective communication with our children and loved ones to prepare, protect or to get help if needed. We don’t want our children to see themselves in a shameful way or see others in society in a way that would create irresponsible behavior that leads to terrible consequences.
Did you know that porn harms your brain? Addiction causes shrinkage of certain nerve cells and the area of the brain containing these cells actually SHRINK! This is measured in drug addictions and in natural addictions like obesity and pornography.
Here is how porn affects the brain:
- When we experience highly arousing stimuli such as porn, the dopamine level in our brains spike. We are wired to feel drawn to this new and exciting experience. Pleasure neurochemicals in the brain respond as we continue to engage the stimulus, and then we eventually over stimulate ourselves. This is when we go beyond normal pleasure activation and the neurochemicals can start damaging patterns.
- Once this overstimulation is maintained our brain adapts to find a level of tolerance.What was once an overstimulation becomes the new normal. The brain starts to produce less of the pleasurable neurochemicals in response to the same stimulus, so more of a stimulus is needed to recreate the old pleasure sensation. When we don’t receive the stimulus we want, cravings ensue, and then porn use will escalate to compensate.
- De-Sensitization.Once the brain’s normal reward system is bombarded with high levels of dopamine, it starts to shut down. The dopamine receiving neurons shut down their receptors to protect against overstimulation, but the sending neurons keep sending. The result is a depletion of dopamine and a non-response to dopamine.
When this occurs, you feel lousy and it is hard to feel any pleasure. So, to release the needed dopamine to feel okay again, you escalated the use of porn.
The brain now has an inbuilt trap.
- Sensitization occurs where the brain becomes familiar with what it expects to see.When porn is what your brain expects, you begin to see through a sexualized filter where people’s bodies start to become sexualized objects. You no longer want relationships that connect, you just want more and more porn to feed the appetite.
When hours and hours are spent viewing porn, the addiction starts taking away life’s joys. Pleasure, motivation and relational interest are low, so isolation becomes a common experience. Isolation in turn, creates additional feelings of shame and loneliness that leads to further disconnection and despair. It erodes your sense of self-worth and self-confidence, which can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
When I was 24 years old, I didn’t know much about pornography or the potent impact it can have on a person or a marriage. It explains the arguments my husband and I started having out of the blue. His lack of showing up to family gatherings and how he made me feel dirty while we were intimate. The connection we once had was lost. He betrayed me for pornography.
Pornography addiction is REAL. It ruins relationships and it damages the brain!
But, the beautiful thing about our brain is that it can heal. It can be rewired and connect in a way that we can heal ourselves and our relationships. Once someone realizes they have a problem, then healing can start to take place. There are tools to overcome the affects of what is happening in our families and society.
With the different experiences I have had, I have spent countless hours studying and learning different tools that provide help.
Here are my TOP 4 TOOLS you can use to start on the path for healing.
#1: Connection– The opposite of addiction and depression is connection. Connection is exactly what people with porn addiction need.
When an individual views pornography 3-5 times per week they are significantly lonelier than the average population. This loneliness creates feelings of anxiety, depression, increased stress and a decrease of overall happiness. When someone feels lonely, they turn to one of two things: healthy or unhealthy soothing and co-soothing mechanisms.
Examples of unhealthy soothing mechanisms includes pornography, substance abuse and co-addictions, such as video games and gambling. Examples of unhealthy co-soothing mechanisms includes connecting with others in an unhealthy way, like talking to others inappropriately, spending time with the wrong people and sexual activity.
Examples of healthy soothing mechanisms include prayer, meditation, journaling, working out, hobbies, projects, creative outlets, personal development, yard work, developing a skill, garage work or woodwork. Examples of healthy co-soothing mechanisms include talking with the right people, therapy and spending time connecting and doing activities with loved ones.
Finding activities that you or your loved one enjoys will begin to start creating the connection that is needed to help heal the brain and move into a place of recovery.
The 31 days of Connection is a great place to start the healing process.
#2. Utilizing aromatherapy– One of the quickest ways to affect emotions is by using aromatherapy. There’s an area in the brain called the amygdala that you can only access through the sense of smell. When we breathe in essential oils, we immediately access that part of the brain, which tells the body to feel calm, relaxed, comforted and uplifted.
Give some of these diffuser blends a try:
3 Drops Blue Tansy
3 Drops Lavender
4 Drops Copaiba
2 Drops Frankincense
5 Drops Copaiba
4 Drops Rosemary
2 Drops Peppermint
2 Drops Clary Sage
3 Drops Console Blend
3 Drops Tangerine
1 Drop Douglas Fir
#3. Router limits– A device that connects to the Internet in your home that allows you to see and manage all the devices in your home. It helps with time management, filtering, monitoring and troubleshooting. www.routerlimits.com
#4. Coaching/Therapy/Education– Coaching and therapy are two of the best tools I have used to heal. Getting the right therapist is key. Here are some suggestions:
Addo Recovery. Find empathy, safety and healing through specialized therapists. They help individuals and families overcome sexual addiction, betrayal trauma and infidelity.
Website: addorecovery.com, pathformen.com, pathformen.com, bloomforwomen.com, bloomprograms.com
Fight the New Drug– A non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts. They recently released a docuseries called “Brain Heart World,” a three-part documentary series breaking down the science and detailing personal accounts of how porn impacts the brain, the heart, and the world. Website: Fightthenewdrug.org, brainheartworld.com
Ashlynn and Coby Mitchell– An amazing couple who have gone from betrayal trauma and pornography addiction to self-love, growth and recovery. They help couples and individuals find healing and hope.
I have personally LOVED their podcast “The once Betrayed, The once Addicted, and the Expert” as it gives a perspective from three different angles creating understanding for those in relationships who are affected by pornography or sex addiction.
In addition to their podcast, they offer mentoring and courses of high value. You can check out more of their personal story and mentoring at www.ashlynnandcoby.com and their courses and podcast at www.beyond-enough.com
As you hear my story and you gain a better understanding of pornography and the affects it has on an individual, their family and society, I’m here to tell you DON’T GIVE UP!
Don’t give up on yourself! Don’t give up on your loved ones!
There are SOLUTIONS! Recovery does happen!
I invite you to pick at least ONE of the tools I have shared with you to implement in your life! Create deeper connection with healthy coping mechanisms, use aromatherapy, implement internet controls (router limits or others), get the right therapy or mentoring and continue to educate yourself.
Take care of YOU. Choose healthy coping mechanisms to self soothe and co-soothe for YOURSELF! I promise as you do this, you will receive healing that you need and you will be more inspired to help other loved ones to do the same.
Remember, whatever it is you are facing or feeling, YOU are enough. YOU are more than enough. YOU are BEYOND enough!
If you would like to purchase any of the oils talked about in this blog, you can choose from this cart.