By Laura Davis
The door clicks shut as he exits the room. My mind is still racing with arguments half-formed, and unspoken. This is unfair. This isn’t all my fault. You can’t just leave as soon as things get complicated.
And, quieter: I can’t deal with this on my own.
Still angry, I turn to Facebook and flip through posts. I’m bored, I’m frustrated, I’m annoyed.
And suddenly, I’m craving porn.
A friend has shared a video celebrating body positivity. At least, that’s what the words at the bottom explain. My eyes are glued to a half-dressed woman twirling around a pole. I tell myself to keep scrolling, but my my fingers don’t move. The video finishes, freezes on the last frame.
Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s been months since I last watched porn, and videos on Facebook rarely make me want to go back.
This time is different. I’m upset. I feel unheard, blamed, like my opinion has been disregarded. I feel uncomfortable, and these feelings are all too familiar. It’s too close to humiliation, too reminiscent of the degradation acted out in stories and videos I used to consume. My body still makes the jump from discomfort and humiliation to arousal.
My brain finally warns me I’m on shaky ground. The house is empty, and, almost unconsciously, I calculate steps to the bathroom. The months I’ve spent sober aren’t long enough to make me forget exactly how to find the toxic, addictive hit I crave.
This is wrong. These women aren’t being treated with dignity.
I hover over the unfollow button. This friend has shared some troubling stuff before. I don’t click unfollow. My eyes are locked to partially clothed women, my mind is remembering stories where disrobing was forced. I revisit the discomfort of the girls I watched, who were forced to undress. Images flash to mind unbidden of girls being mistreated.
Their expressions mirror my feelings: anguish, discomfort, fear of rejection. I want to revel in their pain. I want to escape my discomfort through their own.
Everyone has different triggers which awaken cravings. Mine are humiliation and loss of control. Confrontation reminds me of other arguments, and of escaping them by consuming porn or acting it out.
I am aware of the familiar pathways my brain has built. Eventually, the scenes in porn became normalized enough that I acted them out in real life, with partners who were also educated by porn.
I remind myself that abuse is abuse. That the actions that I watched, that were done to me, were cruel, were inhumane, were a complete rejection of human dignity.
And then, with shaky breaths, I remind myself love is love.
Everyone has their triggers, the shame or humiliation or boredom or rejection that drives us to porn, that makes us crave our own abuse, and the abuse of others. Triggers vary for each person, and what allows me to ignore my problems and numb my pain may not even be arousing for you.
The triggers vary, but the solution is always the same, always love. I know that I am loved, not for who I pretend to be to feel accepted, but for who I really am. I know there are people who will be hurt if I act out, not because they are disappointed I haven’t met their standards, but because porn hurts me, and they care about me. I know there are people who are confident that I can overcome addiction, that I can learn to love myself and others freely and fully, and I know their love for me won’t change even if I do relapse.
And slowly the need to take another hit fades. I close the Facebook tab, and message a friend to check in on me. I build barriers ten feet back from the edge to avoid falling back into addiction. It’s not worth the risk. I need space to heal.
I don’t need porn. I don’t need to escape. My body still responds with habits formed in brokenness, but my heart is learning to recognize that I am loved. That love gives me the strength to fight.
Love means being able to see people in the worst of situations, and still see their worth, undeniable beauty, and innate dignity. Knowing I am loved gives me the confidence to mirror the love instead of the pain, and to confront my own brokenness. Sometimes, love means stepping back, because you’re not able to view something in a way that’s healthy for you, or that respects the person you’re viewing. Someday, discomfort won’t be a trigger because my memories of love will outweigh the memories of pain. For now, I build barriers, I choose accountability over isolation, and sometimes, I unfollow people on Facebook.
Porn twists love, but only love can unravel what porn has broken.
Love trumps porn.
My name is Laura Davis. I’m a university student in the Great White North, and I’m a former porn addict. A year ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself “addicted” to anything, much less porn. I hadn’t realised yet, how much porn had hurt me and damaged my concept of relationships. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have been confident enough to consider my addiction ‘former”. I’ve stopped using porn, and I’ve begun to heal. I’ve been writing during my healing process, and I hope my words will encourage you in your healing journey, too. Keep Fighting,
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