Jack's Story- Part I
I grew up in a military family like many others. I really had not thought much about the impact of how the military life affected me as a young child, but I can see when I put it all together that it was a starting point for how I would relate to people for a long time. Moving every three or four years was tough, but you learn to adapt and make friends quickly. Unfortunately, however, these friendships were often very shallow. If you weren't moving soon, many of your friends would be. We spent the first two years of my life in Japan, four in Texas, 3 in Hawaii, and then we moved to California when my Dad went to Vietnam. This was when I first came to God and sought his help to understand why things were happening, and why my Dad was going off to war. I was scared!
Religion in our household was a confusing subject. My father's mother was a Christian Scientist, and my father held on to many of those beliefs, but we were brought up knowing there was a God and Heaven. I can remember going to Christian Science Church when visited my Grandmother, but we usually went to regular Sunday School wherever we were living at the time. It was when my Father went to Vietnam that I found a youth group I could really relate with. It was during this time I came to the Lord for guidance and support. I was reborn and gave my life tho Christ at the age of 12. However it was only a short time later my problems really began and I began my life on the run from the Lord. He had no part in my life for the next 30 years.
When I look back at my family life as a young child I can now see how dysfunctional it was. My parents never talked about sex, it was an embarrassing subject anytime something came up in a movie, etc. My parents would never fight in front of us as kids, and they would never allow us to fight. The phrase "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all" was often used in our household. I remember once at about the age of 5 or 6 I called my brother "stupid" at the dinner table, and because of it found myself out the front door with a packed bag. I know my parents were not serious, but as a 5 year old I sure didn't know it then. This is when I first remember being so stubborn, I sat out there a long time. I think my parents expected me to come crying back to the door, but they had to come and get me. We also were frequently spanked, sometimes with with a belt, other times with a "switch" from a tree. I remember a specific tree when we lived in Hawaii where my Mom made us go get our own switch. Boy I hated that tree.
I really began having a tough time when my Dad went to Vietnam. I understood how much my Dad loved flying, it was what he did, and going to Vietnam was the only way the Air Force would let him keep flying. I guess I was old enough to understand it did not make sense that if they did not let him fly under regular conditions, then why would they let him go fly in a war? This was when I realized there was more going on with my parents. There must have been more to my Dad going to Vietnam, but of course it was not discussed with us kids. When my Dad's tour in Vietnam ended he accepted another tour in Hawaii and my Mom refused to move us back there, so my Dad flew home once or twice a month for the next two years. During this time my Mom started dating one of our neighbors a few doors down, and I remember how wrong I thought this was. I felt embarrassed and could not ask my Mom about it. I thought of calling or writing my Dad to tell him, but I couldn't do it. When my Dad's second tour in Hawaii ended he came to California and my parents divorced. I was 14. Neither my Dad nor Mom took the time to explain the situation, or ask how I felt about it. The only thing I was told was "We're splitting up, and your brother is going to live with your Dad, and you and your sister will be staying here." It was around this time I also realized my Dad had a real drinking problem. On one hand I'd like to blame it on his Vietnam experience, but I can remember him drinking as far back as I remember. He still has a serious drinking problem today.
Jack's Story - Part 2
It was only a short time later when I found how sex, drinking, and drugs could numb my feelings. I began masturbating a lot. I discovered pot and began hanging around with the "stoners" at school. I used to get drunk almost every weekend with friends at the high school football games and parties. By my senior year it was all pretty much an every day thing. Getting high just helped me enter my fantasy world, made it all easier. My grades surely suffered because of all this, in fact I almost did not graduate with my class. I was in all the most advanced classes, I had the brains, I just did not care. My childhood dream of going to the Naval Academy was gone. Nothing mattered anymore other than keeping myself numb and away from reality. This all began in high school and went on for many years thereafter. I gradually moved to stronger drugs and had a pretty serious bout with cocaine. I eventually woke up from this when I realized one day how deep I was in it, and when I almost got someone seriously hurt hurt over a drug deal. This person was someone who had been my best friend (or so I thought) all through high school, and I have not talked to him since this episode 19 years ago. I sought some counseling and kicked my drug addiction but I never really quit until I got married and had kids. I never stopped masturbating. I always thought it was normal. I figured everyone did it, maybe I just did it more than others. I never really talked to anybody about it, and I felt embarrassed if the subject came up, or when people told jokes referring to it. It never occurred to me that this could be an addiction and could be at the core of my addictive habits.
How My Sexual Addiction Developed
I do not really remember my first ever sexual thought. I suppose it was a Sears catalog or something equivalent with girls in bras and underwear. Once as a kid in Hawaii (6 or 7) I remember playing out near or in a sugar cane field and a man or older person exposing himself. I don't remember anything happening, and I only have a vague recollection of the incident, but it certainly caused curiosity. I remember when I started mowing a neighbors lawn (12 -13) I was allowed in the house and I discovered quite a large stash of Playboy magazines, several years worth. This was the beginning of my addiction to pornography. I took a few of the magazines home and hide them. After I looked them over I traded them out with with others from his stash. The problem was that my neighbor was always a very neat person and eventually noticed some missing. My Mom confronted me about it, but all I could do was cry for feeling guilty and shameful for what I had done. This was a common reaction when I have trouble with my Mom, and afterwards I would always find another way to suppress my feelings. Masturbate, get high, whatever was most convenient at the time. This became the way I dealt with the problems and stresses of life at the time. And it became a learned response that I used for the next 20 years.
My Addiction Progresses
I did not date a lot through school, in fact I was probably just perceived as shy, but I distinctly remember when I first began lusting for the beautiful girls around school. I still remember the name of the first girl I thought I was in love with, but it was not love, it was lust. I used to fantasize about what it would be like to kiss her, and fantasized about sex in my mind. The few girlfriends I did have as I grew up I never really could get close to. The relationships would not last long because of my fear of getting hurt along with my preoccupation with fantasy. It didnot take long with pornography (and getting high) before I became a master at fantasizing. I did not lose my virginity until I was 18. It was pretty much a one night stand thing where I kind of went with the flow of things. Of course it wouldn't, couldn't, turn into a relationship. I did have what I'd call my first real love a couple years out of high school. I let go, or at least tried, and got close with someone. We had talked about getting married and things were good for a couple years, but then the trouble started, maybe I got bored. We continued to try for another couple years, but this is where I can distinctly remember beginning my double life. This was around the time when I started doing cocaine pretty frequently and she did not know about it.
As things got worse in our relationship I turned to masturbation as my sexual release, and to numb myself to what was going on. When we broke up I was seriously hurt and considered suicide. I knew I seriously needed help and I sought it at a counseling center recommended by my school. There were two very unfortunate things about this experience: one, it was not Christian based, and two, I do not think anyone really knew about sexual addiction, or the extent of it, at the time. Another couple of years went by with me still masturbating a lot, with only a couple of somewhat serious relationships that did not last long. Eventually I finally made a decision to change some things and try to get out of the rut I was in. I got a new job with a great new company offering a lot of promise, and I resolved to stop doing any cocaine (which I still did occasionally after the earlier incident I mentioned). I met my wife shortly thereafter in the restaurant I was working in. I realize now it was my lusting for her that got us together. She caught me staring at her all the time and started staring back. It got to a point where I felt I had to ask her out even though I had always told myself I would not date anybody that I worked with. It was a whirlwind romance. We got engaged, she got pregnant and we were married all within a year. Everything was good for a while, in that I did not masturbate much, until the time came she was uncomfortable because of her pregnancy.
Jack's Story - Part 3
My Addiction Exacts Its Toll
I returned to masturbating frequently. One day my wife found out. She knew I had a collection of magazines and she had her suspicions and confronted me about it. I couldn't express myself and again just felt the guilt and shame for hurting her. But I still didn't think there was anything wrong with it, I told her it didn't have anything to do with my feelings for her. I tried to stop with the old "white-knuckle" technique, but I couldn't stop. My wife found out again, confronted me again, I felt the guilt and shame, tried to stop. I started trying to be sneakier and sneakier and just avoid getting caught.
The Addictive Cycle Worsens
This scene has been played out over and over and over again now for 15 years. It was the only thing my wife and I would ever fight about. Each time we'd get into this issue it would get worse and worse. We could go days and even weeks at a time without saying much to each other. There was NO intimacy. The worse this got the more she'd begin to lash out at me, calling me names and saying things that hurt me deeply, and it would be especially bad if she'd been drinking, or if we were at a party, or even just out for dinner with friends. Over the past 2 years things had gotten really bad. The more this happened, the more I'd withdraw, the more I'd withdraw, the more I'd masturbate to kill my pain (the learned response from when I was a kid). The more this went on the more she'd be hurt.
My wife began to see the patterns, and this became a vicious cycle that nothing was going to break. I was now spending hours at a time surfing the porn sites on the web. I'd stay up way late at night after my wife and kids had gone to bed. I started planning ahead checking when my wife would be working so I could stay home alone. My wife visits her family back east every year, and I began to look forward to her trips away. I'd rent video's while she was gone and make my own tapes by hooking up our two VCR's together. I remember how scared and embarrassed I'd be if someone we knew would see me in the x-rated area of the video store. I always tried to go during off hours, or to another store where I wouldn't chance running into anyone I knew. I also began frequenting adult bookstores. Because I was spending so much time looking at naked pictures, it really impacted my day to day life. I began looking all around, wherever I was, and pick out the most beautiful women around, and I'd fantasize, even undress them in my mind. I would fantasize about people I worked with and knew, as well as complete strangers. I couldn't help myself. No matter how many times I tried to stop, no matter what it was costing me in my relationship with my family, friends, or anybody for that matter, I'd still do it. I was absolutely powerless! I was at my bottom, broken and bleeding at the side of the road, and it still didn't matter, I'd still act out!
Jack's Story - Part 4
I finally admitted to my wife that I thought I might have a problem and I promised her I would work on it. I tried to white-knuckle it again and guess what, I failed and fell back in just as deep as ever. Finally my wife had had enough. She left me her wedding ring. This had significant meaning to me as we had gone through this so many times before where she wouldd be mad at me and not wear it, but she had never given it back, and things were especially bad this time. Since I admitted to her that I thought I might have a problem, it was like confirming her worst fears, and she decided she could not take it anymore. I needed help and I Prayed to God to please help me. I did not want to live like this any more, but I just didn't have the power to stop.
On February 9th, 1999, God was patiently waiting for my call. When I prayed and asked for his help a sudden feeling of peace and calm came over me. I was at my computer searching for SA help when this all happened. I heard God tell me "Everything will be alright my Son, come to my house." Within 4 mouse clicks I was brought from an SA site to a website with a Christ-centered SA program called "Renewal From Sexual Addiction." Coincidence?...NOT! I remember the first time I came to RSA, how hard it was to come across the parking lot, not knowing what to expect. What I found was Love, Acceptance, and Understanding. But most of all, I found many friends...that cared about ME? I had been so wrapped up in my addictions that I never cared about anyone but myself, and I did not think anyone, other than my close family, cared about me. I find myself looking forward to Friday nights, and my time with the guys. Every week I am inspired by God's work in everyone's life. God has done amazing work in my life for the past year including many things I had previously thought impossible. I'm not positive where He is leading me, but one thing has been clear, there are many others in need of help, and I feel God has asked me to reach out to others and tell them there is hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is truly the one with all the power to change even someone like me, who was previously hopeless.
I want to thank all those who have shared before me as they gave me the hope and courage to do this myself. I also want to thank the Pastors and staff at Saddleback Church and Celebrate Recovery and those that stepped across the line first and admitted it was possible to be addicted to sex. Most of all I want to thank God for the work He has done in my life, and continues to do on a daily basis.
Counting The Cost
What has this addiction has cost me? OUCH! Monetarily over the years, thousands of dollars for the materials over time, magazines, videos, internet access and sites. More importantly it has cost me a relationship with God for almost 30 years. If I were to put a value to the time I have lost in my relationship with God, I would not be able to tell myself the cost. I am still in my infancy in my relationship with Him, but I am determined to make up for lost time. Many times over the years I can look back and see where God was trying to get my attention, but I was not paying attention. I alienated myself because I knew deep down I was living in sin. This addiction has also cost me many lost ? what should have been ? happy times with my wife and family. There has been so many occassions over the 15 years we have been together that we have not been getting along, and it should have been happy times for us. In the end it still may cost me my marriage. My wife has been seriously hurt for a long time, and I just pray to our Father that he leads me in the right direction to make amends for the pain and suffering I have caused. More importantly, I ask for your prayers that she herself finds the salvation and promise that Jesus died for us all for.
Thanks for letting me share.
Sincerely In Him,