I began masturbating in my second year of high school.
The last time I did it was two months ago. So the habit
lasted — I believe it will not recur again —
for 6 years. I wish here to share my experience, since
I am convinced that I have found a way of curing this
and other addictions: GOD AND ONLY GOD.
Forget about will power. Forget about marriage being
the answer; the only thing you are going to change is your
manner of sinning, this time using your spouse.
I understand your grief. So many attempts at breaking
your addiction, and all to no purpose! I’ve been through
it. You have to believe there is a way out. It is not as
hard as it seems. Only you must believe not in yourself,
but in God alone.
I tried to kick the habit a dozen times or so. Finally,
it hit me that I had lost control, that it was not I who
was deciding whether or when to do it. However, realizing
that I was dealing with an addiction, did not provide the
breakthrough or turning point. My earlier, failed attempts
at bucking the habit went more or less like this: first,
confessing my sin (albeit very superficially) to a priest
in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; then going to Holy Communion.
That was it. After that, I would succumb again — because
of television, internet, erotic pictures, and so on. I would
fall into a kind of “trance”.
It is painful thinking of those times. All those wasted
days and nights! Such was my “gratitude” to
God for the graces He had lavished on me. This situation
continued for 6 years. Always I was conscious of my impotence
and weakness. A lingering sadness and a mild depression
accompanied each fall.
How did I put an end to it? Once again, it started with
the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but this time things were
different. This was a real, heartfelt confession, in which
I not only admitted my sin, but also told God that I had
a real problem, that I was unable to solve it, that I feared
for my future, that I had given up hope. My tears flowed
I believe it was during this confession that the breakthrough
took place. I am convinced that it was precisely then that
God spoke to me through His mouthpiece, the priest. He looked
at me, leaned over, and consoled me. He restored my hope.
He drew me to His bosom as one does a small child. But the
priest was important as well. In fact, it was this very
priest whom I chose to be my spiritual director.
After that landmark confession, it seemed to me that
my problems were over. But a few days later, sitting in
front of the television, I gave in to temptation once again.
The viewer’s discretion notice appeared at the start
of a movie, and before long I was watching erotic scenes.
God was with me. Turn off the TV and leave the room —
I heard Him say. But I tuned Him out, and would not listen
to His voice. The lure of sinful pleasure was stronger.
I fell. In a single second, I put our recent reconciliation
out of my mind.
I know that if today, even after two months of successfully
persevering in chastity, I were to sit down at night in
front of the television, I would succumb again. Once again,
I would be lost to the world and estranged from God. That
is why I no longer watch television at night. In fact, I
seldom watch it at all. I have no time for it. However,
I do have time for prayer. I start my day with God. I carry
a rosary with me, and recite it frequently. I pray it when
traveling on the bus, or when waiting at the bus stop. At
3:00 p.m. I recite the chaplet of divine mercy. Always I
try to end the day by reciting the whole rosary. And even
though I am not always able to focus on the mysteries, I
at least try, and pray on. Why? Because I feel the power
of this prayer! Because thanks to this prayer, I know, for
instance, when to turn off the TV, and when to leave the
room. Thanks to this prayer, the temptations are growing
weaker, and I am starting to walk in the ways of God. I
pay visits to the college chapel, something I was always
afraid of doing
It is beautiful to be free. Of course, I have other problems
as well, even worse than before, but that is because I am
better able to notice them. I must continue to be alert
and careful in avoiding the occasions of sin. I have to
practice custody of the eyes, and know when to look away.
I have to exercise prudence in what I read and the company
I associate with. I know that if I avail myself of the Sacraments,
pray daily, and attend weekday Mass, then with God’s
help, I will withstand the temptation. I wish this for everyone.
Perhaps someone will find my witness helpful. To him
or her, I would say by way of summary, pray, take advantage
of the Holy Sacraments, and if you do not already belong
to some prayer group or other, then join one. It helps.
Here, then, is the antidote to your addictions and daily
problems. Remember: God is always at your side. All you
have to do is invite Him into your heart!