I know the power words have. Since 17 years old, I’ve written hundreds (if not over 1,000) news articles that have appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites. I’ve also ghost-written a couple of dozen books and put my name on a few, as well. My professional life has been all about words.
In my private life, I used words differently. They were used to tear down, manipulate, control and were the greatest weapon I yielded. There were a few times in my life where it looked like my mouth was going to get me in a fist-fight. It was my mouth that also got me out of it. Not by begging for mercy, but for threatening legal action after my ass was kicked. Or, I’d verbally attack my opponent before they could physically attack me. I was able to use words to hide the fact I was dealing with two addictions and a case of imposter syndrome as I got older.
Now, I finally use words for good. Since shedding the addictions and getting my mental health under control and evolving my perspective on so many things, I use words differently. I try to use them for good.
Not Everybody’s Perspective is Evolving
It doesn’t take a long, hard look at the last year of my addictive life to see a messed-up guy. I was in survival mode, and I’m not speaking hypothetically. That guy would not be alive today if I had three or four of those kinds of years in a row. I was in survival mode when I was a kid, attempting to dodge abuse at the babysitter’s and I was in survival mode that last year of active addiction.
Saying I was in survival mode isn’t meant to illicit sympathy. The person I was in 2013 was a liar, a thief, a drunk and had no regard for people. Survival mode was just that: Do what you must to make it to tomorrow. I was watching my businesses go down the drain and was more estranged from my family than ever. As my addictions became my normal waking hours, my hygiene reached all-time lows and I stopped taking my bipolar medication.
My world didn’t end with a whimper. It ended with a bang: fired, in handcuffs and publicly humiliated. I deserved all of it, regardless of my motivations or intentions. I unknowingly, but still wrongly, engaged a teenage female online in November 2013. You’re not allowed to do that under any circumstances. While it was a couple of years until the legal situation resolved itself, this was the point where a certain amount of people froze me in time. They found my worst day, when I was at my lowest, and decided that was who I would always be.
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…
…but words cause permanent damage. I don’t like that cliché. I know it was created to try and convince kids that words don’t hurt. Aside from a terminal illness or a sudden death, words hurt more than anything else and maybe it’s time we stop brushing them aside and look at what they’re actually doing to people.
When I was a kid, memories of World War I and World War II were still fresh with many. I’ll be honest in that I still don’t know very much about either war. Good, bad, or indifferent, I’ve never been a big follower of world history, especially military conflict. But as a child, when you hear “World War” it translates to: Everybody in the world is going to fight everywhere at the same time. That’s fucking scary to a six-year-old able to hear the news but without the capacity to truly understand. I have a feeling that’s happening across the world right now and those of us in older generations don’t think about the younger ones and their interpretation of what’s happening around us.
The Energy of the 2020s Sucks So Far
We’re in a self-protective place in society. You hear “self care” in my profession every 15 minutes, but I think what happens around us matters. I think it’s important to figure out whether our words are traumatizing others. You think forcing kids under their desks in school at threat of nuclear war didn’t leave some lasting imprints in the 1950s?
I know most people haven’t dealt with the kind of abuse, fallout, mental health issues, addiction and paying the consequences for their sins that I have. Most people have also not pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and tried to use the worst experiences of their lives to better the world. The best way to prevent people from turning into me is to get to them early and tell my story. In 2012, I had a “fuck the world” attitude and was just trying to hold on. In 2022, I spend most of my waking hours educating or coaching through various mediums about porn addiction.
Yeah it was a porn addiction. That doesn’t make me a degenerate pervert. Just like a gambling addiction wouldn’t have made me a greedy person, nor would a video game addiction made me an anti-social nerd. It’s fine if people want to label me based on what they think they knew about me, but for crying out loud, later this month I hit 8 years sober from pornography. If you think anybody who has been clean for 8 years — remembering I quit porn and alcohol at the same time — hasn’t changed in that time, you’ve never been around someone who is successful at change. The only people who aren’t successful at change are the ones who don’t want to be. I know that’s a 50,000-foot view of things and we’re all different, but change only does come from within.
It Is What It Is
Some of the strongest people I’ve met have been aides and counselors at the rehabs I attended. They had addictions far more severe than mine, but they beat them. Serving as proof it was possible to get better, they had both the personal experience and scientific knowledge of what was going on and were the best resources I found. They were heroes to me and were the ones who helped get my recovery off on the right foot. I never met them during their roughest days, but like me, many lost their jobs, got in trouble with the law, alienated family and friends, lied, stole and cheated to get by to the next day while they were in their addiction.
I don’t view those people who helped me in rehab as broken. They are better. There are some people who are stuck in life. At some point, they throw their hands up and stop evolving. They learn nothing new, don’t consider different arguments and simply pass judgment. The strangest thing is that they seem proud to reach this place. I’d hang my head in shame. If I ever start arguing against science or feel good about being narrow-minded, please let me know.
Just Try and Stop My Evolving
Since I’ve gained some notoriety on TikTok, I’ve been faced with a barrage of people who either don’t like my message, or don’t like me. Those against my message are just ill-informed. Most say they are worried that their 15-year-old is going to see something I put on the platform. By 15, I’d been a porn addict 3 years, an alcoholic one year and started having sex. Me warning those kids about pornography and a parent believing they’ll be tainted is almost a quaint idea. I’m sure it’s not the girls dancing in their sports bra on TikTok that your 15-year-old son is far more interested in.
And then there are the others who don’t care what I say. They don’t care how many hundreds or thousands of people have thanked me for helping them and say that the videos are motivation and inspiration to continue their porn-free journey. These people don’t care that I’m now able to coach more people, even if a single free session is it, than ever before. They care that they have power over me. And for a control freak like me, that’s not a corner you want to paint me into.
All I ask is as you move forward in life, don’t be like these people. These people suck… and they’ll never stop me, anyway.