My story is more than just a story. It’s a testimony of deliverance from pain, heartache, the bondage of sexual addiction, and Satan's chains of slavery. Thank God for 423 Men and the hope I have found in this recovery program.
As you will soon learn, I grew up in a super-dysfunctional family. My sister ran away from home when I was twelve, and I attended church regularly with Mom. (Dad only came with us about once a year.) In 1989, my father was diagnosed with a rare and incurable brain tumor which, according to the doctors, resulted from exposure to Agent Orange when Dad served in Vietnam. Because of his tumor, Dad experienced several grand mal seizures and became verbally abusive to my mother. He was both verbally and physically abusive toward me.
I discovered pornography in the early 90's, when I was young teenager. My friend introduced me to his dad's stash of dirty magazines. This is how my sexual fantasies began. I couldn't get enough. I craved porn more and more and more.
Once, as a kid, I was watching a movie on our VHS machine in our home. At some point in the film, porn had been taped over the movie. (To this day, I am unsure who made this recording, but I did not dare tell my parents. I don’t think my parents knew that I knew about the pornographic video cassette. They probably forgot all about it.) Whenever Mom and Dad were not home, this was my 'go-to' activity. I remember thinking, "How awesome is this? I am watching an X-rated movie in my own house."
After about six months, I stopped watching this video because Mom and I were becoming more involved in church and, at some level of conscience, I must have felt as though God did not approve. We attended church Sunday mornings, Monday evening youth group bible study, Thursday night church, and Friday night youth group. If I wasn’t in school or doing homework, I was busy taking care of my sick father or in church. I had no time for porn!
In 1995, Dad's tumor was getting worse, and he was forced to retire early. This was hard on both my mother and me because dad was becoming increasingly more angry and violent. Mom worked longer hours to stay away from home and burden of caring for my father was left up to me. I was only fifteen years old, but the entire weight of his uncontrollable anger fell on me. I was (literally) Dad's personal punching bag. I became emotionally detached from reality.
There was this girl at church. She was the main reason I went to Friday night youth group. We started sneaking off during church to make-out. My sexual appetite was peaked, and church evolved into nothing more than a place to meet girls.
Around 1997, my parents finally signed up for the Internet. This was the coolest thing ever! Access to the expanding world of information was amazing. No more going to the library for school research projects. I found new friends on AOL (America Online). Everything was fun and innocent... or so I thought.
I discovered my dad was using the Internet for an online affair. I didn’t know if I should say something to him, or to my mother. Maybe I would ignore it, but because I did not respect my father, I decided to tell Mom. They talked and apparently worked it out, but I began to devalue women after this incident. Instead of seeing females as people, I viewed them as objects and sexual toys. My moral compass was completely out of whack, and I was traveling on the wrong path.
In 1998, I met a girl in study hall at my high school. One day the teacher was gone, and I started kissing and touching her sexually. Because she never told me to stop, I assumed (wrongly) she was okay with it. The next morning, I was called into the principal’s office. The girl and her parents filed a report against me. Because I was eighteen, and she was still a minor, the parents pressed charges and tried to have me arrested. I was lucky nothing came of the incident, other than a three day suspension from school.
In November of that same year, I enlisted in the Army and was scheduled for basic training following graduation in 1999. The Army would be my ticket away from Dad. It was now time for me to look out for myself. I found no support from Mom but, perhaps not surprisingly, my dad, who was a decorated sailor having served with the Navy Seals, approved of my decision to join the military. Frankly, I did not care about Dad's approval. All I really wanted was to get as far away from him as possible.
Around April 1999, Dad took a turn for the worse. When he fell out of bed, mom would wake me to help get him back on the his bed. This happened more times than I can remember. What a burden!
Dad finally entered an in-patient Veterans Affairs facility. This made life easier for me and I started partying and sleeping with as many girls as possible before leaving for the Army. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my sexual addiction had just shifted into high gear. I was in for a rough ride.
I started basic training and, in November 1999, my drill sergeant called me to meet with my command. They gave me a message from the Red Cross saying my father had passed away. Did I cry? Yes... tears of joy. I looked at my command, thanked them for delivering the message, and requested to go right back out to train.
January 2000, I was assigned to my duty station in Fort Hood, Texas. I was young and motivated to live my dream of being a soldier. Friday and Saturday nights were filled with lust in the barracks. All of us went to the bars to find a woman to sleep with. I did that at least five times a month.
In August 2003, we received our deployment orders for Iraq. I now had to get myself physically and mentally ready for combat. At Christmas, I went on leave to see my mom and her new husband. My mission at home was to sleep with as many women as possible. My mother knew what I was doing and was not happy with my lifestyle, but understood this to be my choice.
After returning to Fort Hood in January 2004, we prepared for our next fourteen month deployment in Iraq. I was scared and unsure if I'd ever again return home.
Throughout my deployment, I went to the Green Zone to eat, relax, and get DVD pornography, cheap!
In October of that same year, I went home on leave. I sneaked into my mother's hair salon and happily surprised her and my grandmother. Now, while on leave, I thought, "Why not go back to sleeping around again?" During this time, I met my wife (who was NOT one of the girls I slept with), and we became good friends.
My two weeks were up and it was time for me to go back to the "Sandbox." (That's what we called Iraq.) I had computer access and was able to correspond with this new girlfriend.
By March 2005, I was home for good, and it felt so good to be back on American soil. After our debriefing everyone was given thirty days of leave. Once again, sex was on my mind and I fell into my old ways, using my leave from war as an excuse for my promiscuity and pursuit sexual sin. While my new girlfriend were getting serious, I was cheating on her with numerous women.
i was discharged from the army in February 2006, due to injuries sustained while on active duty, as well as my PSTD. I was also married that same month. I was messed up emotionally and this was a very hard time for me. My eight year military career was over and I could not seem to find my path or any good direction. My wife worked and I had not yet found a job. So, I used the days to meet up with girls I found online.
This was my pattern every six months for the next nine and a half years... have an affair, get caught, fight with my wife, stop my extramarital pursuits, and move on with a quasi-commitment to the marriage. My sexual addiction cycle was devastating to my wife, and my marriage took a real beating.
In 2015. I had met a new girl online and she convinced me I didn’t need to be with my wife. By the end of summer, I told my bride I didn’t want to be married anymore and sought a divorce. While pursuing this new girl, I was messing around with three other women. I was truly lost.
In November 2015, I tried again to repent of my terrible behavior. I wrote a lengthy email to my wife and apologized to her for all the wrong I had done. I told her I wanted to try to work things out. This time, my wife presented me with some non-negotiable conditions:
- We were to see a couple’s counselor.
- I had to see my own counselor.
- She required porn filters on all my electronic devices.
- I had to attend a men’s support group for sex addiction.
In December 2015, I had met with Dave Scriven , and was immediately placed in a 423 Men group. Since being involved with 423, my marriage got better. I have grown deeply and have learned again to truly love my wife. As much as I loved the Army, the military, for me, was an environment that aided my addiction and helped me devalue women. 423 Men has given me a new community of guys I can trust. All of us are on the same path of purity. Not only did I find support in 423 Men, but I accepted Jesus in my life. I’m truly thankful that Christ forgave me of all my fornication and bad sexual choices. I am a new man with a reason to live.
I’m not magically healed. I know I have a long road ahead of me. However, my wife and I are no longer separated. She gave me back a key to our home after she saw change in my life. I have not even thought of pursuing other women since joining 423 Men, and I have been given the tools to help me fight the spirit of porneia. Online sex is a thing of the past. I never want to hurt my wife again. The camaraderie I now have with real brothers who share similar stories of sexual brokenness has brought me comfort, healing, and redemption.
There is hope... finally!
Photo: Brian in Iraq