Time to Admit It: Women Like Porn Too

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By Sydney Clark

I was a perfect kid. And like all perfect kids, I had a secret. This is my story.

ALONE

As a child, I didn’t have the healthiest relationship with my mom. She was a young mother. I was her oldest child and a girl, which made me the prime candidate to be her best friend. This translated into a role that included giving advice on how to discipline my siblings and listening to Mom tell me all of the reasons she was angry at my father on any given day. Consequently, my relationship with my father suffered. I shut myself down, deciding I did not want a relationship with a man like that.

After they thought we kids were asleep, my mom and dad would argue, and sometimes it ended with my mom leaving the house. I prayed that she would come back for me. I’m sure this didn’t happen as often as I remember, but it had a huge impact on me emotionally and psychologically.

I was the good kid in the family so I had the responsibility of holding the family together. I always acted like everything was fine, and I made sure my siblings were taken care of. I mitigated my parents’ relationship. I had to help make sure that the Clark family looked perfect to the outside world. Talk about a responsibility! Naturally that was extremely draining emotionally, physically and spiritually. I felt disconnected from my family and alone. I cried myself to sleep multiple times a week because of the overwhelming feelings of sadness, heaviness and emptiness.

As a thinker by nature, not a feeler, I flipped an internal switch to shut down the feelings and emotions. In choosing to live my life this way, I further separated myself from all of my relationships. In my isolation, however, I craved emotional intimacy, particularly from guys.

Some girls when they are craving emotional intimacy from males go straight to guys. They jump from one boyfriend to the next and fill that void in their life with make-out sessions and erotic sexual behaviors. I wasn’t one of those girls. I found a much more subtle and unnoticeable (or so I thought) way of filling this void in my life—or more precisely, it found me.

It was the summer after my 6th grade year. We had just bought a computer with Internet service, and it sat on a desk in the family room. Like a lot of girls that age, I was obsessed with American Girl dolls and I was thrilled to get on the American Girl website and play online games.

In those days, people were not yet too familiar with filters and pop-up blockers. One day, I typed “American Girls” into the browser, and BOOM—my life was changed. Instead of taking me to the American Girl website, a lesbian pornography site popped onto my screen. I stared at it, confused. I hadn’t even known porn or lesbianism existed! I knew something wasn’t right about it—my conscience was blaring like a high-pitched siren and flashing red strobe light inside of me. I tried to exit out of it, but more screens of porn just kept popping up. I was panicking inside. Eventually I was able to close all of the windows and I calmed down. I hoped that my parents wouldn’t find out what had happened.

A few days later, my mom called me out to the front porch. I sat next to her on the step and she told me that she and my dad had seen the porn on the computer (by viewing the browser history). I told her that it had just popped up when I searched for “American Girls” and that when I went to close the window, more and more pop-ups appeared. She was terribly saddened by this, evidenced by the fact that she started crying. I was confused. I had no idea why porn existed; why people film sex; why I had come across it; why it was two women and not a man and a woman. But all of my questions had to be put aside because my mom was clearly in pain. She told me to never look at porn again. I told her I wouldn’t. But I was curious.

ADDICTED

I had discovered that viewing porn made me feel things. Good things, at least in the moment. I could fill the void in my life of emotional intimacy by viewing two people faking an emotional interaction. I thought it was brilliant. I could do it in secret—no one would even know about it. I had figured out how to delete the history on the internet browser so my parents would never find out. It was a foolproof plan.

The problem, of course is that porn is very addictive, and the more I used it to fill the emotional hole in my life the more of it I wanted! Like any addiction, you start needing more and more of it to fulfill you in the same way a smaller amount previously had. I began watching it for hours in a day, particularly during the summers when my parents were working and I was at home.

In those early days I would just look at pictures—sometimes even when my mother was just in the other room. The thrill of potentially getting caught was mixed with the cravings I had for the exhilaration and physical pleasure it brought. But porn brought with it other things.

I remember the first time I became aware of the term masturbation. It was eighth grade. The girl I sat next to in my physical science class asked me if I fingered myself. I remember thinking I didn’t know what that meant, but I was pretty sure I didn’t. While that was true, I had found other ways of masturbating through imitating some of the things I saw online.

Porn also brought with it lots of confusion. Because of my negative view of men, I watched lesbian porn exclusively for a couple of years, and that deeply affected the direction of my physical attraction. I went through a period of three years, beginning in 8th grade, in which I was attracted to females as well as males.

My porn addiction also brought with it intense amounts of shame. I attended an annual purity retreat with my church youth group. The message I got was that only boys struggled with porn and masturbation; girls struggled with body image and eating disorders. These messages stem from the assumptions that females are less sexual and not as visual as males. Yet, here I was, a teen girl drowning in a porn addiction. There were days that I wondered if God had made a mistake when He created me. If I was really a boy stuck in a girl’s body.

Because of this shame, I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone about my secret struggles. Instead, I just kept spiraling deeper and deeper into my addiction, although at the time I didn’t want to admit that I was an addict, as any good control freak would do.

Tenth grade was the worst year of my life. I was so deep in porn that I would even look at it on the school’s computers during my free periods even though I knew they had filters and Internet tracking programs installed. If that’s not desperate, I don’t know what is!

I had successfully shut off my emotions before, but now it felt like they were beginning to seep through the cracks in the boards that I had nailed up to hold them out. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had lost control. I had driven myself into a state of depression and I wanted out.

During this time in my life, Superchick’s “Stand in the Rain,” was my anthem!

She won’t make a sound. Alone in this fight with herself and the fears whispering if she stands she’ll fall down.

She wants to be found. The only way out is through everything she’s running from. She wants to give up and lie down.

I admitted to myself that I was an addict. And my sexuality was all screwed up. My mind had been warped. My thinking about relationships was perverted. From years of viewing pornographic, artificial relationships, I saw women and men as sex objects.

WORTHLESS

Once I reached the point of actually wanting to be free from the addiction, I struggled with feeling as though God would not want to save me. I could go for days or weeks without looking at porn, but I would always give in to the temptation eventually. I knew that God has the power of completely ridding me of the horrible desire to view porn, but He wasn’t doing it. I was continuously failing. The only conclusion was that He had better things to do. He had better people to save. Yes, He loved me, but not enough to save me from the hell I had gotten myself into.

My life was ruined, and it was all my fault. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems—they were my responsibility. Personal responsibility is a wonderful thing, but not at the cost of your spiritual, mental, emotional or physical health. God made us to be in relationship; to lean on each other when we can’t hold ourselves up—to share each other’s burdens. That is the core of our sexuality. Relationship.

I resigned to the fact that this would be my life. I would be a porn addict forever. Forever using the brief high I obtained from viewing porn and masturbating to cover up the shattered pieces of my life.

This feeling of hopelessness often leads teens to be suicidal, but I knew I couldn’t kill myself. I hated physical pain and I knew that the grief it would cause my family would devastate them. I would just have to live my life in this ravaged state. I told myself I was strong, that I knew I could do it, that this is the life God had for me. Deep down inside, I knew I would never make it.

But God was not done with me.

One night, halfway through my sophomore year, I was going through my nightly routine in the bathroom. I was feeling particularly emotionally overwhelmed and broke down crying standing there in the middle of the room. Intense feelings of hopelessness and despair washed over me. I became physically weak and sank to my knees on the bathroom floor. In that moment I felt the Spirit of God physically draw near to me. I heard God tell me that He was not done with me. That this was not the life He had for me. This experience did not have to be in vain. He would redeem me, and if I was willing, my experience could be used to help others.

I cannot aptly describe that experience to this day. It was supernatural and restored within me a bit of hope. However, my desire for porn only increased the following weeks. I was beginning to think that I was crazy for allowing myself to think that God would save me.

REDEMPTION

A few weeks later, I was kneeling in my bed before going to sleep. I had slipped into another state of hopelessness and was crying out to God. In that moment I felt something cold and dark grab me internally and try to pull me backwards. But there was another force and that one grabbed onto me and pulled me face down onto my bed.

I had never experienced spiritual warfare before, but I knew that’s what had just happened. I had felt God physically fight for my life. He had all the reason in the world to let me go, but He chose to hold on. Thinking about it still makes me shudder to this day.

That was the turning point: when I finally understood that I have a God who is willing to fight for me.

My youth minister was the first person I told about my porn addiction and struggles with masturbation and same sex attraction. His response is still one of my most treasured memories. After confessing to him, we sat together and just cried. He listened, asked a few questions, and knowing that I was an avid reader, gave me a book to read that helped me think through the causes of my same-sex attractions. Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction by Anne Paulk.

The following year, realizing that I was not going to get rid of this addiction on my own, I found an accountability partner. Having accountability in your life is so important and it’s not just for addicts! We all have areas that we struggle with, and accountability is so helpful in identifying those areas and surrendering them to God daily.

When I entered college, I was still occasionally viewing porn. I would have binges during which I would look at it for 3 or 4 days out of the week and then go without it for a couple of months. I knew that I had to go to counseling. From reading the book my youth minister had given me, I recognized that there were deeper issues I was using porn to cover that had to be addressed— such as my relationships with my parents.

Now, four years of counseling later, and addiction-free, I can attest to the danger of porn, but more importantly to the grace, power and glory of God. It was not an easy journey. It is weird to think that eight of the 22 years I have spent on this earth were consumed being a slave to pornography. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal” (Romans 6:22).

I wholeheartedly believe that the Spirit is purifying me, not just from my porn addiction, but from my sinful nature in general, and renewing my mind. Ultimately, that is the only hope any of us have.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Sydney Clark launched the Simply Sex(uality) project which seeks to encourage and empower Christians and the Church to interact with the topic in a more knowledgeable, positive, and Christ-centered way. Visit her blog at SimplySexuality.wordpress.com.

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