Some of you might remember my confession, earlier this year. I posted it on my blog because I felt it needed to be out in the open. You can find it here.
I'm back to talk about the same subject - porn - using personal examples. But this time, I'm not going to be confessing things. In this article, I want to talk to all of you about some negative effects porn has had on me and my life, personally.
I'm going to attempt to keep this article organised, but I may ramble - I hope the message gets across regardless.
Now, I will most likely not be using Bible verses to prove my points in this particular article. My focus for this is to show you how porn has negatively affected me and the people around me - some of the things may sound selfish, and certain people might feel the urge to say 'well, if such-and-such was negatively affected, it was the person's fault and they need to man up'.
Please ignore the urge to say that. I am listing all the things that suffer when one is addicted to the things I am, in an attempt to show people that it really does change things. This takes a lot of effort to write, and I do hope that people will respect that.
That said, we'll get on with it.
One thing that is negatively affected by questionable online activity is trust. Trust is impacted, big-time, believe me on that.
My mother doesn't trust me on the internet. Heck, I've proven to myself that I don't trust me on the internet. But that's just one aspect. She doesn't trust me alone with males much anymore either - she thinks that my online activity might leak into my real-life interaction. I don't think it would... but her trust in me is severely limited because of my addiction.
Because of what I've done, my mother doesn't trust me with technology or with guys as easily as she used to. And she has every reason not to trust me - I acted in a way differently than who she thought I was, and I wasn't honest with her from the beginning about what I was doing. Four years, I kept silent and hid it.
Four years. Letting it fester. I would think I had stopped, but then I would start back up again. I stayed away from it for about a year - though my mind often strayed - but then a friend died from a heart attack and the sudden plummet of grief and anger sent me back to what I had thought I had gotten rid of.
Four years of hiding the truth and letting people think I was a perfectly innocent teenage girl.
I finally confessed. And I lost trust. That is one consequence of lying, in general - not just about this, but about anything. If you lie, you inevitably lose the trust of others. You don't always lose their love and respect - but you do lose their trust. And it often takes a long time to rebuild that.
It doesn't even lose you solely the trust of non-strugglers... it can lose you the trust of other strugglers as well.
Someone I love struggles with it. I only recently found out. They hadn't been honest with me about it. And yes, I stopped trusting them with certain things. One day I was highly emotional about it and, since they're older and stronger than I am, I went into breakdown mode - when they tried to hug me, I pulled a knife on them.
I didn't hurt them. It was just to scare them off.
But what I'm saying is that, even though I'm a struggler, I can't trust as easily either. Do I still love them? Yes... oh, yes. God knows I do. And I do trust them not to hurt me, most of the time.
I can't trust them as I did before though. And that not only hurts me, it hurts them too.
Losing someone's trust usually hurts everyone involved, depending on whether they feel remorseful or care about you at all; which is nearly always the case in my personal experience so far.
Another negative effect that such an addiction has had on me is guilt. The guilt is always present - sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, but always present.
When someone shows they don't trust me as much as they used to, the guilt is there - because I failed. I failed everyone, including myself.
The guilt about what I've done is always there, usually when I get urges to go there again, or when I'm reminded of the past by others. There are triggers for memories and the guilt is usually worse then as well.
Guilt really messes up your life too, in an emotional way.
The most prominent thing guilt has done to my emotions is convince me that I should never get married. I still think that. I'm too much of a mess, and who knows whether or when I'll backslide. And anyway, I've made so many mistakes, any man that I could trust deserves far better.
Do I believe that? Yes, I do. The guilt solidified those thoughts and I cannot believe any different.
Guilt will almost certainly change your perceptions of yourself; you'll beat yourself up about things that have happened and passed. You'll most likely consider yourself a less important person than others, and you'll have a hard time believing people when they tell you differently.
Everything about porn will make it hard for you to enter a relationship most likely, but guilt will possibly be one of the hardest things of all. If you ever even allow yourself to enter a relationship in the first place, you will constantly think - subconsciously or not - that you do not deserve this man or woman, even if they do accept you've made mistakes and love you anyway. You won't believe them when they say they forgive you and love you no matter what.
Guilt makes it nigh impossible to be in a decent relationship because you will never believe it's real, or that you deserve it. Guilt makes it impossible to love yourself again, if you ever did before - I had a hard time of it even before the guilt factored in.
A third thing porn negatively affects is your friendships.
Look, your friends most likely love you. They did before, and most of them will probably still love you afterwards.
But the sad fact is, they will no longer trust you as much as they did. Sometimes they may lose their respect for you.
This did happen to me. The majority of my friends still loved me unconditionally - they did not at all condone what I had done, nor did they like it. But they continued to love me.
There were a few who lost all respect for me - and rightfully so, I have to admit - and decided they no longer wanted to be friends with me. Yes, I was called quite a manner of things by a few people; disgusting, a liar, impure, a whore, etc.
Were they right on some counts? Almost certainly. Did it hurt any less? No, it didn't.
All that to say - your friendships very well may be impacted by this, negatively or not. You won't lose all your friends; there will always be a few who will forgive and love. But even your relationship with them will change somewhat.
Perhaps where you once mentored them with a problem, they now have to mentor you with yours. Perhaps they still love you but can't trust you as much now. Perhaps they need to stop talking to you quite as much until they finish mulling everything over.
Your friendships will be affected. Oftentimes negatively in someway or another. But this does not mean you'll lose all of them. Some, maybe. All, no. Just know that there will be negative effects on your relationships with friends and family alike.
Another thing that will be negatively affected is your faith. Now, as I am a Christian, this will be focused on that - though there's no saying it can't be applied to the religion of whoever is specifically reading this.
I'm not saying you'll just all of a sudden give up on your faith - you might, but you might not. I'm saying that your relationship with God and the Bible will be strained.
You'll stop praying, you'll stop going to church, you'll stop reading your Bible...
Part of this is the guilt factor - and in my case, most of it was the guilt factor. I felt that I was unworthy of love and forgiveness. And, since the Bible's foundation is love and forgiveness, I found it highly difficult to believe or accept. As a result, I stopped praying, because I got the impression somewhere that because I had messed up so badly, God would not listen.
I've managed to break myself of that guilt-induced haze, but I still have a long way to go. If I hadn't fallen into the addiction I did, it would almost certainly be easier for me.
Being addicted to these things messes with your faith, because it's so hard for you - guilt-ridden, depressed, feeling like you're undeserving of anything - to accept what the Bible's very foundation was built upon; love, forgiveness, and salvation.
I'm sure there are other negative effects that I've forgotten, or that I didn't experience - these are just a few.
But it's very clear that... believe me... porn does have a bad effect on your life. If not your life personally, on the lives of those you care about.
If you struggle with it, please, try to stop. It's not worth it. Trust me on that. If you need someone to talk to, to hold you accountable, or just to listen, I'm always available. You can find my contact information here. I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.
If you have struggled with this addiction in the past, and have advice to share, I ask you to consider shooting me an email about it; you could even write a guest post, if you so desired. I would be ever so grateful.
To everyone, just remember - there is a way out. There is always another chance. There is hope.