Addicted to Porn
The remains of the campfire were cold. And the labels on the bottles of Bud were bleached white by days in the sun. Whoever had camped out in the woods near my house was long gone. My friend and I picked through the debris they'd left behind. An abandoned hip-hop CD. A few empty baggies and bottles. And a magazine.
The cover was weathered and unrecognizable. I poked it open with a stick, scared of what critters might be calling it home now. Its dewy, wet pages flopped open. I saw a woman. And I saw her naked breasts.
Since I was only 7, I ran. I mean, girls had cooties. They were gross. They were things we chased at recess, but didn't know what to do if we ever caught one. But I still remember that image. I was excited by it, but scared of it at the same time. I didn't understand it and I knew I shouldn't be seeing it.
And I knew I wanted more.
A few years later I got my chance. This time I didn't run away. I was 13. I was at my friend Tyler's* house. Tyler was my only friend with internet access. Almost every day, we played computer games for hours.
But one day we clicked on what we thought was a game to download, and our lives changed. It wasn't a game, but a video. At first, we laughed as we saw the blurry, slow-moving image of a woman. We laughed nervously as if to say, "That's so stupid. Turn it off." But we didn't turn it off. We watched it. Then I went home.
But Tyler went looking for more and showed me what he found. I didn't run away this time. I didn't want to keep looking. But I did. I was caught.
Eventually, looking at nudity online together grew uncomfortable and boring. So Tyler and I took our passion for porn solo. Tyler kept downloading anything he could find, progressing from topless women to sex photos to hardcore videos. Meanwhile, I bounced between feeling guilty and wanting to see more. Some days I was strong. Other days, I was like a lustful porn addict looking for a fix. I never purchased or downloaded porn, though. I was a church kid in a small town who could be recognized and ratted on. And I had no computer at home. Instead, I stole porn.
I searched my friends' houses in hopes their dad had a hidden stash of Playboys somewhere. When that didn't work, I stole porn magazines from convenience store shelves. Not many. Just three or four over a couple of years. But I savored them.
I imagined one page at a time coming to life. It's embarrassing to say, but these women made me feel loved. My eyes would feast on their skin and it made me feel like a man. For just one moment, I felt wanted. I felt pleasure.
I felt close to someone, and it never bothered me that she wasn't real. She was to me.
But those moments of fulfillment did pass. Always. The pleasure faded. And in its wake I fought pounding waves of regret and guilt. I felt a million miles from good, a billion light years from God. I'd often think back to how I saw that first picture of a naked woman. I had used a stick to keep it away from me. I felt like God had the stick in his hand now, poking at me from a distance, trying not to get any of me on him.