My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey


Forest's Path

When I recently wrote about my promotion to Clinical Director and the career journey that led me to this work I love to do, I omitted a significant piece of my history. We all have a back-story. It is ours to hold or to share. I would like to show you a snapshot of mine. I reserve the intimate details for the handful of trusted individuals in my “inner circle.” But I believe that what follows will enrich the lives of others, so I am honored to give this gift to those who can benefit.

The reality is that I have studied sexual addiction much longer than the 9 years of my graduate and post-graduate work. My education in the “field” of porn addiction began when I was 12 years old, when I was first introduced to pornography at a friend’s house. I was a prime candidate for addiction, burdened with multiple memories of pain that no child deserves to bear.

In the interview above, I recently shared my first “public” declaration that my career path started with my personal recovery. I have shared in smaller venues and many who know me are aware of this part of my journey. But I felt as though now was the time to share this story with a broader audience. I know there are numerous people suffering and struggling in silence who are trapped by the belief that freedom is impossible. If that is you (or someone you love), my desire is that reading this message will infuse you with hope. If you find encouragement here, I urge you to share this story with others.

Sexual Stigma

I realize that by sharing my story, I risk falling prey to the extreme stigma reserved for anyone who has struggled sexually. It seems that “those people” are labeled as lower down the ladder than other types of addicts. I fear that this judgment of the “brokenness” of sexual addicts and the way they’ve learned to cope with pain only shames them into deeper silence and isolation. Shame is a merciless task-master.

The truth is, countless individuals from an assortment of backgrounds and belief systems struggle sexually and freedom evades them. With increasing accessibility to the internet, increasing numbers are ensnared by the drug of pornography, including the most vulnerable among us, our children. For this generation to stand a chance, we must start talking about this uncomfortable topic. I pray that someday the stigma is silenced and that hooked and hurting individuals from all walks of life will feel safe enough to come forward and give their wounds the attention that’s warranted. It is my hope that my story helps those who feel unworthy of belonging to see that they too have a valuable contribution to our shared human experience and their hurts are worth healing.

So, I willingly, publicly, step into the stigma. Because I believe this story was meant for more than just myself. When I was finally ready to seek help and decisively divorce pornography, I longed to know that others had lived in this dark valley had ascended into freedom. Was healing from pornography addiction even possible? Seeing that others had gone before me boosted my belief.

From Darkness to Light

I too have felt helpless in the face of temptation. My limbs were once shackled by secrecy and shame. I have sworn myself to change only to return again to self-destructive behaviors. I have felt the misery and loneliness of being caught by something massively stronger than myself. I have experienced feelings of deep spiritual disconnection and I have mastered the arts of self-neglect, self-sabotage, self-hate, and self-abandonment. The self-defeating game of the double-life was once my sole focus. And in many ways, it crippled me from experiencing the authentic, purpose-driven life I was made to live.

Today, I raise unshackled hands in victory. Through recovery, I have experienced strength when temptation beckons. I look back on years of struggles and triumphs and lessons learned that have enriched me to the core. The deep friendships formed from brutally honest accountability, midnight calls, and loyal listening ears are unbreakable bonds. My connection with God is unprecedented and I continue forward in amazement at the next steps of faith on this purposeful path. I am learning the arts of self-compassion, self-connection, self-love, and self-care. I love my family and will continue fighting for their protection and honor. The long line of generational addiction in my family of origin can end with me. I have experienced connection and joy. The adventures on this journey are too numerous to count.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And I have weaknesses and unfinished business just like everyone else. I am a work in progress.

I was once addicted to pornography. It does not define me but it does remind me. It has been over 11 years since I’ve indulged in pornography, which almost equals the number of years I was bound by it. When I look at my life, my family, my friends, and my work, I’m amazed at where this path of healing has led me. The gifts are worth the grief. This has been the most difficult yet most rewarding path of my life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Reaching For You

With the help of others, I have climbed up the steep path and out of the valley. I will continue extending my hand down to anyone who will take it. I will also continue using the lessons I’ve learned, the science I’ve studied, and my experiences in the field to guide anyone who is ready to be led.

Will you have the courage to believe in the hope of recovery?

Will you reach out and take hold of this wounded warrior’s hand?

When you do, your life will never be the same. Nobody can predict what adventures lie ahead for you. I can only imagine the depth of meaning and connection waiting on your personal horizon.

Such is the path out of porn addiction. Frightening. Exhilarating. Possible.

I can attest with certainty that the view from the top is astounding, satisfying beyond words, and worth every grueling step.

View From The Top

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Advertisements

About fbenedict

Forest Benedict is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider (SATP). Forest loves the work he does as the Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and the Program Manager/Teacher in the SATP program at Mid-America Nazarene University. He writes numerous articles on the LifeSTAR of the Central Valley blog (https://lifestarcentralvalley.wordpress.com/) and also on his personal blog (http://forestbenedict.com/). He created the Life After Lust VLOG on Youtube, sharing insights about recovery from sexual addiction. Forest also writes and speaks publicly about protecting children from pornography.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Anti-Porn Movement, Change, Parents, Recovery, Self-Compassion, Sexual Addiction, Shame and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey

  1. fbenedict says:

    Reblogged this on Write Forest Write and commented:

    My personal story of healing and Divine faithfulness. Please enjoy and share with others. Thanks!

  2. Reblogged this on Something to Stu (stew) Over and commented:
    A small glimpse into an addict who has turned not only his life around but others as well. Forest & I have similar backgrounds in the fact that we both started our “education in the field” at the age of 12. There are plenty of links within this post to some wonderful information. Go check it out!

    Help us help others by sharing any post you feel will help someone.

    God Bless,
    Stu

  3. Pingback: My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey | etherapyblog

  4. It his hard for me to put into words what this post does to my heart, Forest. Astounding and courageous. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and with the world.

  5. Pingback: Let’s Talk about Porn and Food Addictions – A Month Of Interviews (Free) | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  6. Pingback: Forest’s Story in the Fresno Bee – A Guide for Parents | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  7. Pingback: Replacing Addiction with Human Closeness: Radio Interview with “Carol the Coach” & Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  8. Pingback: Dear Mr Duggar: When Sexual Secrets Surface | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  9. ELIDA says:

    Wonderful story of healing and success.

  10. Pingback: 12 Porn Free Years: The Secrets of My Success | Write Forest Write

  11. Pingback: “Vote for Love” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  12. Pingback: “What One Person Can Do to Stand Against Hustler Hollywood Fresno” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

  13. Pingback: “What My Wife is Worth” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C | Write Forest Write

  14. Pingback: Celebrating 13 Years Free From Porn Addiction (With 2 gifts for you) – Write Forest Write

  15. Pingback: 13 Porn-Free Years: A Therapist’s Path from Pain to Purpose | LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s