Love One Another! 8/2007 → Family Life
Like Eva, I became addicted to pornography when I was very young — at the age of twelve. At that time I did not realize what I was doing and how wrong and harmful it was; I treated it as a form of recreation. Usually, I watched erotic films on TV at night and viewed pictures and films that I could find on the internet. I would not watch “hardcore” pornography, as I found it disgusting. However, so-called “soft” pornography, especially linked with masturbation, is just as addictive. This should serve as a warning to those who think that “soft porn” is less addictive and harmful than “hard porn.” In fact, this is untrue.
I have always believed in God and attended church regularly. Gradually I came to realize that what I was doing was wrong. I started to struggle with what was quickly becoming an addiction. When I was sixteen, I tried to break free from it. The longest I managed to steer clear of the “stuff” was half a year. I was always falling back into the addiction. I told no one about my problem because I was too ashamed. I always managed to view the films and pictures on the internet in such a way that nobody knew about it. But in so doing, I was preventing others from helping me — for example, by controlling my access to the internet. Many times I prayed to God that He might free me from my addiction, but to no avail. I lived without Holy Communion, in darkness. Some nights were a nightmare. I used to seek pleasure on the internet until four in the morning or longer; I could not get off it, even though I wanted to. I felt ashamed of myself, as I was wasting so much time and had no control over my actions. I thought that finding a girlfriend would help, but nothing changed when I found one.
But my prayers did not fall on deaf ears. Christ answered them when I moved to Chicago to study. I decided to organize my life in such a way that it would impossible for me to access pornographic sites. I decided I would not buy or borrow a personal computer; instead, I used public computers in the library. In addition, I refused to have a TV set at home. I went to confession and received Holy Communion.
It turned out that my addiction was not so strong as to entice me into buying pornographic materials at the store; however, I still did not feel healed. I knew that if I had access to the internet at home, I would fall right back into my addiction, because the temptation was too strong. I continued to masturbate compulsively. My sexuality was out of control.
Then, during a fall retreat held at a church in Chicago, I heard a witness talk by a man called Leszek. Issue Five of Love One Another published his testimony under the title, “The Source of Techno Music.” Everyone who heard it found it a moving experience, and I know that many people’s lives changed as a result of it. The Holy Spirit used Leszek’s testimony to tell us about the power, presence, and mercy of God, and about the real existence of evil spirits. My community said a prayer of healing over me, and it was then that I felt the full healing power of our merciful God. In fact, I was totally healed. The unbearable temptations have never returned and now my sexuality is under control. Later God told me in a prayer that I could now buy a computer and have it connected to the internet. I was safe.
A couple of nights later, I had an awful dream of having sex with my sister. I also heard curses while I was praying. Only while praying did I hear them. I know now that the evil spirits were venting their fury, because I was no longer in their power. Other disgusting dreams haunted me; but I soon found a solution to the problem. I asked for Our Blessed Mother’s protection. Since then she has been my best protector, and I have never experienced these kinds of dreams since.
I think that the first lesson to be learned from my experience is that if we do not first help ourselves, God cannot help us. It was naive to think that I could overcome my addiction, if all I had to do was turn on the computer. And since God’s grace often works through people, I was, by keeping my problem to myself, preventing His graces from reaching me. Without them, the temptations were simply too strong. Only when I abandoned myself to God’s grace, could He begin to act and work a change in me.
This is also a warning to parents. Parents need to keep a closer eye on their children, whether or not they have problems with pornography. They need to know what their kids are viewing on the internet and on TV. Even channels that show “soft pornography” should be blocked, and access to the internet, carefully supervised. In this way, parents reduce the chances of their children stumbling on pornographic sites, and, if need be, help rid them of a habit that might become an addiction.
We also need to remember that healing is a gift that can be forfeited. God finds it difficult to help us, if we are not in a personal relationship with Him, if we do not talk with Him, if He is not our Friend. So, stay close to God, and you will not forfeit the gift. God’s blessings to all!