‘EVAN’ has agreed to collaborate from time to time with Porn Recovery UK about his process of working with a 30-year porn habit. Here is a much longer-than-usual blog from him about his psychotherapy process.
Therapy sessions are helping me to order things in my mind a little more now. I’ve started to get a grasp of the idea that porn is a very big and diverse subject for me, that I’m not responsible for it – just my own use of it. I’m also really beginning to get to understand that masturbation isn’t bad! It never has been, but the way I’ve been engaging with it could have been. The Internet drove my compulsivity.
I’m starting to see the shape of my time with porn, that when I began to use [erotic materials], it was exciting; the women in the pictures were gorgeous, sexy and beautiful. They were not, to my mind, degrading themselves in sexual acts I’d rather not write down.
When I compare what I started with and where I am now it makes me sad. Those magazines I used to look at as a young man seemed exciting. I didn’t look at them 10 times a day; I didn’t even look at them every day. The women in the pictures I was masturbating to looked ‘happy’ and sexy. They were glossy, artful images of women who looked interested in being naked in front of a camera. If my girlfriends of the time had been in those pictures, then I’d still have taken them home to meet my mother! Well, perhaps not my mother. Then there was the much more artistic/fetish stuff. I remember feeling I was a bit of a connoisseur when I looked at those black and white magazines or bought the coffee top, hardback books. When I think about them now, I see them as being part of my sexual identity, my way of being.
And then there was the Internet …
I started with the Internet in a very different place to the magazines. The endless source of new, free pictures, then the streaming videos. I couldn’t control my looking and I didn’t view or go looking for the same ‘sexy and beautiful’ images I’d used in magazines. I went beyond the artistry of fetish and into the darkest places I could find.
Therapy is making me find words for what I sought out: degradation, exploitation, violence. Those words don’t sit pretty on the screen. I sought out the degradation of women; I supported the exploitation of women; I looked to watch violence acted out on women.
It surprises me that I cried in the last session. I sat with another man in a closed room and let my feelings out about the place I’d taken myself to. I cried as a father of two beautiful girls. I cried as a man seeing the loss of his own sexual life. The Internet is totally the PornNet for me.
It’s only just occurring to me in my last couple of sessions that I have a life away from porn on the Internet and I’m realising as I talk in therapy about so much more than porn – it makes me feel a little bit hopeful.