Tuesday, April 28, 2009

90-Day Fast Broken & Heterosexual Pornography

On Day 23 (April 28) of my 90-day fast, I succumbed to pornography and masturbation. It happened twice, once during the day, and once during the night.

Here's the post-mortem:

I had not had desire to look at porn since meeting Brother A seven weeks ago. I wanted the real-life intimacy Brother A gave me more than the sexual fantasy I conjured through looking at porn of men. And so, there was no desire to look at gay porn.

I allowed myself to have sex with my wife during this 90-day fast. But traveling away from her over these weeks has been tough (I feel for single men). It had been almost 20 days with no sexual release. Brother A suggested over-the-phone sexual intimacy with my wife. It worked out really well. It even made me call her more often, and it improved our relational intimacy.

But yesterday, while doing some analysis on my project, something happened on the internet that led me to wonder about sex. I kept surfing, looking at images. Before long, I was looking at video clips online. My accountability software has been disabled since it was giving me trouble. The fence was down, and after allowing myself to be sexualized through google images, I was numbed to the boundary and walked over it.

The sites I used to frequent no longer excited me. I found gay porn pretty repulsive. Thoughts that came included, "why would men do this to themselves?" I turned to other sites, and began to look at heterosexual porn. Before long, I found myself hooked.

The images, sounds, feelings were just like me being intimate with my wife. A man and a woman having sex together. I thought of me and my wife. I imagined the sexual energy and excitement the couple felt. I longed for it.

And now, I am afraid.

For the past 7 weeks, I did not look at porn because what I used to look at no longer interested me. Now, I have something that does, and I am afraid that I will become hooked to images of men and women having sex.

I was tempted to look at just women alone, but could not bring myself to do it because it felt like it would violate my loyalty to my wife (I know, it's messed-up reasoning, but that's the way it felt). The last thing I want is to allow myself to fully sexualize my feelings for other women -- already, I had a sexual dream about a woman a few nights ago (I've only had one other such dream in my entire life).

I confessed my sins to my wife and my new-found brothers. I confessed and asked for forgiveness from the Lord for my actions. I am seriously concerned now that I have a "heterosexual problem."

I have always used the argument that my SSsA problem is "no different" than a heterosexual man's problem. I need to work on my SS lust as they need to work on their OS lust. But I argued it based on head-knowledge. Now I know it experientially.

Any difference?

I don't know yet. But I feel like I can go to other Christian men and get support more easily. At least it helps me to feel like I can more easily bond with straight guys because we have the same temptations. There is still a sense of shame, but it feels different, a little more... normal?

Oh, I know what it is. The shame doesn't have that "double-whammy" component to it, i.e. the added shame of it being homosexual porn. (I know sin is sin, but it feels harder to confess to other men that the porn I struggle to overcome is homosexual.)

Anyway, this is all so raw, I am still feeling pretty down-in-the-dumps about it all. [And if someone leaves a discouraging comment, I will delete it.]

I will get back into my fast. No better time to repent (in heart and in action) than right away. And I'll decide by the end of the day what to do about internet accountability software.

Today, April 29, begins again Day 1 of my 90-day fast.

11 comments:

  1. You're in my prayers, dear brother. I love you so much and your walk with God is important, even for me. Stay strong in him. Love Brother K.

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  2. Thanks Brother K. I love you a lot. Your encouragement and prayers mean much to me.

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  3. 'The shame doesn't have that "double-whammy" component to it, i.e. the added shame of it being homosexual porn.'
    I think most, if not all, SSA brothers have felt this as well. And I think it has kept us from feeling like we're apart of the church. We have to find "special" support groups for our terrible...almost unspeakable sin. I hope that will change...and I hope we will be leaders of that change...did I really say that? OK, may be someone else can start...and I'll follow? I guess that's the problem.
    My last thought...remember that the guilt and shame are a great tool for humility...before God and others. But especially before God. Why does God (who is bigger than east to west) like me...and even love me? I don't get it.

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  4. Daniel:

    Even I myself am guilty to giving unspoken double-whammys to others. Homophobia. We need more Theophobia and Anthrofilia to counter our other less noble phobias.

    As for why God might love you, that's pretty evident to me. Cause you're a downright wonderful brother. Be careful, I might start blogging about YOU one day. ;-)

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  5. Do you feel like this is a departure from your previous porn/masturbation pattern? Weren't you mostly interested in heterosexual pornography before? Do you feel like something different is going on internally in the way you're responding to the images?

    I'm not trying to be discouraging at all, and I really do care about your well-being, but I wonder about why you're putting yourself on such a fast track with regard to adjusting your sexual orientation. You met Brother A seven weeks ago, right? And it sounds like you're expecting some really radical changes to take place in that short period of time. I think most guys who've stuck with reparative therapy for the long term would tell you that change (however you define it) happens over a much longer period than that.

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  6. Kurt,

    Early in Feb 2009, I started noticing lessening interest in homosexual pornography. I had blogged about that when I started to notice it. (I'm too lazy to look for the post now.) This was after about a month of interacting with Brother A long-distance. It was lessening, but not completely gone.

    After meeting Brother A in person (7 weeks or so ago), my desire for pornography left completely, except for one time when I went to search it out. Even then, I had to work a while to find a gay image that I would be turned on by. But after I did, it felt like I was returning to my vomit (I don't mean to insult your orientation, I'm just writing from my own experience).

    And of course, you've read what I experienced on April 28.

    Here's the thing that I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over: I am not "putting myself on a track," fast or slow. The changed happened and continues to happen *to* me, and I am blogging about it.

    If I went on the porn site on April 28 and found men sexually exciting, I would have written that. The change is happening to me, and it is change that I am welcoming, but not "forcing" to happen. I wouldn't lie to myself. There is no benefit to doing that.

    I've wanted this change for *decades* and have never experienced it until I started relating seriously with Brother A. If I could force the change to happen much earlier, I would have done it.

    I am not pushing myself, and I am not sure if I'd call this "reparative therapy." This is healing that is taking place through genuine, intimate, non-sexual, male loving with a man who has a calling for this kind of ministry. In fact, it's no longer a "ministry" between him and I because he's really accepted me as his own brother, and fully loves me as one. It's doing life with Brother A the way that my father and brothers should have done with me.

    I am *so* blessed to have Brother A in my life. This is everything I've prayed for over the years, and it's finally happening to me.

    Do you get it now, Kurt? I'm not *trying* to change my orientation. I was just trying to live an authentic Christian-yet-sinner life, and the change *happened* to me.

    Now, as for change being fast or slow, you happen to be talking to someone who does a lot of work with people going through change. With the right approach, even emotional and internal change can be incredibly fast, and lasting. I won't say much more because I don't want to give away my identity or my profession.

    Thanks for your concern Kurt. Don't worry, okay? I have a lot of good friends (esp. now) and I'm getting a LOT more man-loving--and giving a lot more man-loving--than I have ever done in my entire life. And it feels AWESOME! (except I'm still a little down about my own folly on Aug 28)

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  7. Hi Giraffe Pen. Nice to see you again. Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. All right. Fair enough. I didn't mean to make any false assumptions. I think maybe from my perspective it just looks like you're putting forth a lot of effort into The Big Change, but to you you're just living your life consistent with the way you've always lived, but now circumstances have changed (rather dramatically), and you feel like you're experiencing some changes in your sexual response and maybe your gender identity.

    Am I getting there? I feel like maybe I'm not all the way there yet, but I'm maybe getting closer.

    Now I want to make an observation, and this is in no way a judgment of any kind. This is just more of my own perspective. Everything I've read here from the past seven weeks-- everything about Brother A, brother K, "deep male relating," your experiences with pornography, your feelings about touch and physical closeness, your anxieties about your male relationships-- all of it sounds like a man with a homosexual orientation. None of it sounds like a heterosexual man.

    But I agree with you that there do seem to be some changes taking place. The most obvious example is the pornography. It doesn't seem to have the same place in your life that it did previously. Also, it sounds like maybe you're having an easier time being intimate with your wife.

    So here's the question I'm pondering. Could it be that the changes your experiencing are not a change in your sexual orientation but a different kind of change? Could it be a change in the way you're focusing your sexual energy? And if that's the nature of the change, does that work for you?

    So in other words, if you remain primarily sexually attracted to men for the rest of your life, does your marriage still work? Does your life still work? Does being a parent still work? Or does everything fall apart if you can't turn off the SSA?

    Those are real questions. Honest. I'm not trying stir up controversy, and I don't pretend to have any answers for you.

    (Hello, GP. I need to check your blog. Been very busy at the office.)

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  9. Kurt,

    Thanks for clarifying your intentions (i.e. real questions). I welcome process-experiential dialogue that is "open to learning," respectful in tone, even if there may be differences in perspectives. So here's my response.

    To your para #1: The summary is correct. Except I think my gender identity has for the most part been male, but struggled with whether I am "good enough" as a male person since a pretty young age. I did dress up as a girl for a short period, and played with make-up, and wondered if I would look better without a penis. But that was not for very long... say maybe less than a year.

    To your para #3: Yes, I am (or perhaps was) very much homosexual in orientation, just not "gay" as in embracing the lifestyle as a gay-identified person.

    To your para #4: I wouldn't think of my experience as something for someone to agree or disagree with. It is simply what it is. My posts are descriptive and personal, not doctrinal, although I do for the most part hold an Evangelical Christian worldview, and that does shape my writing.

    Yes, pornography is one example and greater intimacy with my wife is another. But for me, the greatest shift as been my feelings towards men, especially the shift away from sexual feelings towards men.

    To your para #5: "Not sexual orientation but a different kind of change?" Well, I don't know if anyone has really defined and empirically constructed what is "sexual orientation change." There is a politicalness to the whole idea of whether or not one can change one's orientation. With my background (and I mean profession), I have to ask the question, "who defines sexual orientation change, what is their process for that definition, and for whom does it apply?"

    So does an unforced refocusing of sexual desire from same-sex to other-sex mean a "change in sexual orientation"? Would you be more comfortable to call that something else?

    Personally, I'm less concerned about what it is called than I am with my actual experience of it. So, call it what you want, but simply put, I want to no longer desire men sexually, and I want to desire women sexually. And that is precisely what is happening to me... unforced, willed in part, yes, but unforced.

    If I may use an analogy, it would be like someone moving a small plant (me, before) into good nutrient soil, and suddenly I find myself flourishing, growing bigger, and sprouting flowers in the way that I did not before (me, after). The change feels very different, doesn't feel like the old me, but I have willed and allowed myself to be "re-potted" so to speak. Once I was re-potted, the change process just happened *to* me without my forcing it other than to do what I had been doing (i.e. try to stay pure sexually).

    To your para #6: I think that is the point that people like Jay (and others I have come across) have made -- even if they don't get rid of their same-sex *sexual* attraction, and don't potentiate their other-sex *sexual* attraction, they can live a life that is completely glorifying to God.

    Does everything fall apart if they can't turn off their SSA? I don't know, that is for them to say. As for me, I was and have been extremely successful living the life of a "straight man" outwardly, with only my wife and trusted friends knowing my SSsA struggles. What I want is for the SSsA struggles to cease. But no matter what, the Kingdom of God continues to advance, and just because I change in my orientation, doesn't mean I don't have other things to struggle with e.g. straight porn! :-(

    To your para #7: I appreciate your transparency, honesty, and if I may add, humility. And for that, I feel like I can connect with you in a warm and affable way.

    To your para #2: What does "there" refer to? Does it refer to the idea of changing orientation for you, or to your understanding what I am talking about?

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  10. By "Am I getting there?" I mean "Am I getting closer to understanding what you mean?" It's an expression I use all the time at work. (I'm an application developer.)

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