A couple of days ago, a friend who has written books about her addiction approached me about a project. I won’t share details about her here because it could make her identifiable and I don’t want to do that. This isn’t about her. She is involved in creating a book that would feature addicts of different variations telling their stories of collapse and redemption. I thought it sounded wonderful because it was a chance to put pornography addiction in the same conversation with alcohol, drugs and other mainstream addictions.
It was a chance for other addicts to see me in the same light as them, and a chance for porn addicts to see their disease represented among the other, more “socially acceptable” addictions. But once again, a porn addict is shunned because someone is not comfortable enough with their story.
At Least I Didn’t Start Writing About My Addiction Yet
I was told by my friend that I’d be asked to write under 3,000 words, which is simple for me. I could have banged that out on the plane ride from Honolulu back to the mainland. The wifi on the plane sucks and you can play just so many games of Bejeweled. The first draft of my first book, which doesn’t even get into recovery, was almost 200K words. The final draft was about 85K. Obviously, this was going to be a Cliffs Notes version, but that’s OK. It was going to help normalize this addiction.
Except today I got an email that “after much consideration I’m not comfortable adding your story to the book.” I found this woman’s book on Amazon (not selling well, BTW) and her bio certainly doesn’t make her out to be a saint. Why? Because those of us who were addicts weren’t saints. We chose our substances and behaviors over our health. Over our family. Over everything that should matter.
You’ve probably heard me say this 1,000 times and it’s the one phrase I’ve coined I need to trademark. Addiction is addiction is addiction. Almost the exact same chemical process happens in our brain. It just plays out in different ways, often influenced by childhood trauma that we have no control over. I wish I wasn’t sexually and emotionally abused as a young child. Maybe if that babysitter hadn’t done that to me I’d get to be part of the book.
The Problems People Have With Me
First, I know I can be an ego-driven asshole. I’m much, much better than I was 10 years ago. Even my mommy says so. But, it’s also part of my personality and probably always will be. I believe many of the people who remember me from 10 years ago and won’t give me the time of day remember that guy. I assume they think he can’t change. That’s short-sighted on their part, but what can I do? That’s on them. They don’t further my current mission so I’m not kissing their feet. This can’t be the reason I was shunned from this book. This woman doesn’t know me.
The elephant in the room may be the fact I ended up in trouble with the law, but that’s fairly common for addicts. I’m not trying to minimize or rationalize what I did, but with only 3,000 words and having to provide my entire hero’s journey story arc, it probably would have earned about three sentences. I’ve written about and given so many interviews on that angle of my story that it’s just played out. It wasn’t anything driven by evil. It was driven by my disease and it’s part of my story, for good or bad.
I Think I’ve Figured Out the Addiction Part
I’m going to guess it’s the typical hang-ups that people have. The ones that have people book me on podcasts or radio shows and then back out at the last second. So many people still can’t handle talk of sexuality. In and of itself, that shows unhealthy sexuality, which is what I try to battle in society. My fight isn’t specifically pornography. It’s about healthy sexuality. When you can’t talk about it because of your hangups, you’re exactly the person who needs to hear my story. Sexuality is part of all of our lives, healthy or otherwise.
People, even those who have been radically sexually abused, need to try and find healthy sexuality. It’s like people who have food-related addictions. You can’t just stop eating, whether you’re consuming too much or too little. We’re striving for health first, not moral high ground. That’s a different battle. Passing judgment on me is a bad look for the person doing it. The old me would want to be vindictive and name her. But that’s not me anymore.
It’s The Fellow Addict Part That Gets Me
This isn’t the first time a fellow addict shut the door in my face. It reminds me a bit of when I was in my first rehab for alcoholism and a heroin user blurted out that a few of us were lucky we were “only” alcoholics. That’s just ignorant. It’s like when I see podcast hosts asking for former addicts for guests, then find out part of my story involves porn and they decide they don’t want THAT KIND of addict. They want people to understand addiction, but only the ones they’re comfortable with.
Yeah, I watched a lot of really messed up stuff. I never put a needle in my arm. Yes, I contributed to the objectification of other humans and their bodies. I never ate myself or starved myself to near death. Yes, my actions helped human trafficking, even in the most minor way. I didn’t lose my kids’ college funds at a casino. But you know what? I’m totally cool with the drug, food or gambling addict. We were all sick with the disease of addiction. None of us has any moral high ground over the other. They are my brothers and sisters.
This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. I shouldn’t have to fight a stigma with my fellow addicts. I’m trying to get mainstream society to talk about this addiction that, pre-pandemic, was hitting over 25% of men under 30 and 18% of men overall. Females are one of the fastest growing demographics. We need education. For some, that’s not going to be with stats. It’s going to be with stories. But I have been denied.