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Day 964 • From a Pile of What??

It is remarkable how every Step 1 presentation that I've heard from a sex addict is so similar to the one before. But what's most intriguing to me is how every one I've listened to also casts a new light on a new part of my addiction.

For example, a few minutes ago, a man I'll call Paul P. poured out his soul along with the lessons he's learned and The Promises of the program that he still hopes (expects) to claim. It was moving to hear and painful to watch, just like nearly every one I've heard before.

The thing that stood out this time relative to my own addiction was the way this guy described his struggle with pornography. I have not listed porn in my inner circle because, in the context of my other misdeeds, it just wasn't that big a deal. That is part true and mostly rationalizing, but from a 'time spent' standpoint, it never was that dominating in my life. Of course, that's only true if you don't count the hours I spent trying to outsmart the satellite scramblers back in the day of big dishes with direct access to multiple sources on multiple birds. Then there are the hours spent surfing premium cable channels for a glimpse of the late-night rewards for going to bed late. Oh, and how about the hours I spent exploring side-street bookstore shelves and convenience store magazine racks back when those books and rags were the primary sources for the required shots of visual escapism. And then the Internet came along. Damn.

Based solely on the time I spent feeding the fire, how do I not have porn on my primary list of addictive behaviors? Maybe because I never spent that much money on pornography. Counting everything, I doubt that I've spent thirty bucks in thirty years on books, magazines, and videos; I was always clever enough to steal my fixes. Then there's that additional violation of my supposed morals, but at least I wasn't supporting that vile industry with my dollars. Yeah, I really justified my thieving that way.

But the moment this morning that got my attention was when Paul described taking a stolen magazine into his grandfather's outhouse to masturbate and was then immediately convicted by his actions. Swearing to never do 'that' again, he tossed the porn into the center hole of the three-seater outdoor latrine. A few hours later, maybe the next day, he was back in the toilet with two long poles trying to retrieve that magazine from the raw sewage in the pit eight feet beneath the outhouse. He was successful in salvaging his porn from a literal pile of shit; after tearing off some of the outer pages, he was able to again feast his addicted eyes on the contents, against the impulses of everything decent in himself.

That story was a gut punch to my efforts to keep porn in my middle circle among the other teasers and pleasers that threaten my sobriety. I try to keep my inner circle free of such titillations, focusing on the big stuff like affairs and unfaithfulness of various kinds. But now memories are flooding in of that uncontrollable urge to use porn as a key trigger in my acting out. The extremes I would go to steal salacious materials or even use products right out of the shit pile are painful to recall.

I always thought I was telling the truth when I swore to myself and God above that I would never look at porn again, much less use it to self-stimulate. And I swore it again almost every time I did it. I say 'almost' because in the death spiral before my recovery, I was in a 'to hell with it all' attitude, meaning I was done making promises to anyone about not embracing my sexual pursuits. My God, how did I survive that?

My Higher Power, is probably the answer.

The only promise on this score that I make today is for today. I will not fail today. I will not lose my sobriety. Not today.




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