Pornography: A Girl Problem Too!
Pornography, is a guy problem.
Well that's what I was told.
But the truth of the matter was, that I knew it was a lie. As a seemingly pious Catholic woman who, to the eyes of the world was leading a pure and chaste life, was indulging in an area of darkness that was leading me deeper and deeper into despair.
Then one day, due to the brave testimony of a respected Catholic woman, I realized that this was not a struggle that I as a Catholic woman suffered alone. The musician Audrey Assad whose music helped me many times to connect with God so deeply made a public announcement that she as a Catholic woman had struggled with an addiction to pornography.
What amazed me even more was that with this admission, many wonderful and inspiring women in my own life stepped forward and spoke of their own struggles in this area. Through the courage of one woman many others found that they could step out of the darkness and seek help from their sisters and from God.
It is difficult for me to say when exactly I was drawn to pornography. At the tender age of eight I was exposed to materials that were unsuitable for me as a child. I would not have said that I indulged in pornography then but it did awaken sensations within me that confused and excited me. Looking back periods of childish experimentation with other children gave me a thrill, and even though I did realize that I should not be behaving so, I did not fully understand the gravity of what I was doing. A moment as a child where I witnessed the actions of an older male indulging in a graphic sexual act in front of me was not fully understood as being wrong until my early adult years.
By the age of twelve though I became more aware of how inappropriate certain actions were but it would seem that my curiosity was a far stronger force than the faint awakening of reason within me. During a sleepover at a friends I explored this forbidden adult world in late night pornography. Had my parents been aware they would have been horrified as they had been careful never to expose us to anything that would suggest sexual immorality. The experience left me feeling raw and empty but like Pandora, I had opened a box that would not be easily closed, and certainly would not be forgotten.
As my teenage years progressed and I matured I saw many of my schoolmates fall into the grips of lust, fuelled by the film, television and music industry that had convinced them that they were powerless against their desires. I knew in my heart that I would never sleep with a man until I was married. Outside of marriage sex became animalistic and in it's grips people stopped seeing the soul at the centre of the action. In my friends 'relationships' I could see that true connection seemed to be lost, people were opening themselves up to abuse in mind, body and spirit and many around me driven by their urges seemed to be doomed to repeat this process over and over again as they sought new boyfriends and girlfriends. Another encounter in my teenage years with an older man who attempted to commit a criminal act with me convinced me of the depravity that we could sink to when we saw sex as just another day to day act.
Despite my resolve not to sleep with anyone outside of marriage I did not realize that by being a willing participant in the action of viewing pornography that I was essentially agreeing to participate in a sexual act.
But the bite of the bitter fruits of pornography that I had tasted before were merely appetizers for the full rotten fruit bowl that I was about to partake in at University. A few flatmates were openly promiscuous. Men would come in at all hours treating them with careless regard, a means to an end. Aware of my Catholic upbringing I was ridiculed and pornography was played in the main sitting area quite frequently. Although I put on a display of being outwardly disgusted I didn't walk away from the disturbing scenes that flashed on the screen. All things dark, inhumane and completely unnatural poured from the black box at the center of our lives. It may come as no surprise that I numbed myself down to pretend that I was as hard as the girls around me. But this too came at a price for as I cut myself off from all feeling I found it difficult to connect with anything and so I sought highs in the occult and in other addictions. This despair was tangible all around the flat as we all 'lived' in denial of how jaded and depressed we had become. There were several late night emergency hospital visits as one of the girls drank herself unconscious and had fits, one of the other girls attempted to take her life twice, one girl so hurt by men and convinced of their evilness declared herself to be gay and when one girl was assaulted by another in the flat we split apart.
Dosed up on antidepressants and in the grips of addiction I found God. But even after I came into the knowledge of how loved I was I still sought out the thrill of pornography. I found that as the years passed television shows were becoming more graphic in nature. The soft porn elements of many popular TV shows re-awoke my morbid curiosity of more graphic pornography and fuelled by alcohol I re-immersed myself back into the darkness and engaged in singular sexual practices.
But unlike university this time it was different. I knew deep down that I was loved and valued and that I and the people in the films I was viewing were cherished children of God with a greater destiny than we had built for ourselves. I knew that I was lost but I knew that in my self loathing and disgust, as I tried to cower in the muck and loneliness of my own self created darkness that I was being sought out by a God who just wanted me to know that he did not see me as I saw myself.
It would be a long journey but it was through the love of Christ and the power of confession that I would come into a profound realization of the intrinsic value of every soul. It also gave me a profound insight into the freedom and clarity that are gained from seeking purity and how our deepest desires are realized when we align our thoughts with that of our creator.
Part two coming soon.