I began to fantasize sexually at a young age. My acting out behaviors began with masturbation as a teenager as pornography was not readily available for me until later. In high school I lost my virginity and was consistently sexually active after that. I remember being given alcohol, for the first time, by my high school music teacher. I also remember being in his home and watching a gay porn film. During a weekend concert trip, I shared a hotel room with the music teacher and remember him chasing me around the hotel room in a clearly sexual manner.

In college, I was able to buy pornographic magazines at convenience stores but felt that actually going to an adult bookstore would be too risky for me in terms of discovery. I started a pattern of purchasing porn and hiding it to use later, but I would often resolve to quit and throw it away, only to buy more. I also found the opportunity to view soft core porn movies with my college friends at some local adult theaters. All this occurred despite being brought up in a Christian home and spending time in ministry.

Finally, I got married and remember thinking this would finally fix me. I would finally stop. In fact, at every stage in the progression of my addiction, I remember thinking that the next one would satisfy me and make me stop. But changing relationships simply led to more fantasy and masturbation. It was during my first marriage that I began fantasizing about an extra-marital affair. What would that be like? I wanted what I thought was the best of both worlds. This fantasy continued for about a decade.

My fantasies took on new dimensions and obsessions. The internet was ramping up and I proceeded to engage in anonymous conversations with people online. Watching porn online became a daily compulsion. Then I engaged in the fantasy of anonymous sex with someone for the first time. I remember the overwhelming feeling of guilt and shame, but it didn’t make me stop. From there I moved to using escorts because I wanted to control the fantasy by picking who the person was and what they did. I researched massage parlors and found I could purchase any type of sex I wanted. But after these encounters, I felt a lot of guilt and shame. My thought from high school that I would “grow out of it” was proving the biggest fantasy of all. My marriage failed and I got divorced.

Soon marriage number two was in trouble in the same way. I got caught again but my second wife suggested that I get help. This is how I found my way into recovery. It was either recovery or I knew the pattern would repeat itself. I came into the rooms thinking I had a problem with porn, masturbation and unfaithfulness but what I discovered was I have an addiction to lust prompted by other character defects of fear, anxiety, insecurity, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. These are the things that drive me toward lust as a coping mechanism. I discovered I had never really dealt with life on life’s terms.

Recovery brought me the tools to deal with life’s challenges in a healthy way. Now lust is still present but it does not control me as before. I can be open, honest and real with my wife. I am closer to God with the mask off and the coping mechanisms acknowledged and worked on. My spiritual experience has taught me that it took my addiction to lust to bring me to my knees and rely upon Him, instead of my own resources.

How will my future life be? It will be one day at a time. When addiction shows up, I don’t need to fight it but rather rely on God’s presence and a community of fellowship that struggles as I do. I find my strength and hope here, one that gives me the power to surrender my lustful desires and walk in freedom.