When is enough enough?
Many people tell me that I am not an addict.
After all, has my addictive behaviors caused terrible harm and consequences? Have I lost my whole family? Have I contracted AIDS? Have I given someone else a sexually transmitted disease? Did I lose money to my addiction? Did I end up in jail?
No. No. No. And no.
None of the above.
But addiction is defined as “repeated involvement despite substantial harm.”
What's my “substantial harm?”
My behaviors may not have wrecked my life in any of the above ways.
My behaviors may not have caused crazy VISIBLE consequences.
But trust me.
My behaviors surely have caused harm and negative consequences.
Is losing sleep night after night not a consequence?
Is crying all night into my pillow until it was soaked not a consequence?
Is hating myself with a deep passion not a consequence?
Is feeling so dirty and disgusting not a consequence?
Is feeling like "I would be okay if I just didn't wake up tomorrow morning" not a consequence?
Is not recognizing the person I've become not a consequence?
Is feeling disconnected from God not a consequence?
Is feeling disconnected from all my holy dreams, values, and aspirations not a consequence?
Is living in a dark hidden shame-filled world not a consequence?
I may not have a sexually transmitted disease.
But my acting out behaviors made me HATE MYSELF!
IS THAT NOT HARM?!?
For me, my consequences were all emotional/spiritual.
I was doing things over and over again that were not in line with who I REALLY was.
And that is painful.
I knew I was Godly... I knew I was holy... I knew I was pure... I knew it!
Yet these behaviors, they made me feel SO far from it.
Like I wasn't any of that.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to masturbate.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to fantasize.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to watch porn.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to watch inappropriate videos.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to read sexual material.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to sexualize and romanticize the men I came in contact with.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to think and hope that the men I was walking past thought I was beautiful.
It didn't feel true to who I really am to always pine for and desire guys to make me feel special.
None of these behaviors felt true to who I knew I really was - to my values as me!
And so I felt the shame, the pain, the discord, the dirtiness.
And yet I did it AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.
It requires no more thinking, no more investigating, no more doubt.
I believe experiencing this all is called "SUBSTANTIAL HARM."
God, please remove from me the behaviors I hate, which are so not true to myself and make me feel so bad. May I be left with a life connected to my true self and my Higher Power.
And to everyone out there who don't yet know whether they are an addict or not. Only YOU can decide for yourself. It is different for everyone. For me, masturbation and fantasy made me hate myself and my life. For someone else, it may not. But I hope you realize that if you do hate yourself or your life now because of what you do, or what you do gives you pain, then that is not okay.
That IS enough harm - it doesn't need to get worse than that.
May God lead us all to a place of serenity and from shame to grace.