This is Micheal’s Story

Over twenty years ago I came to know Christ as my savior. As with many new Christians it wasn’t too long before I became luke warm and slid back into the world, unable to resist what the world had to offer. My problem was I wasn’t attending a Bible TEACHING church and I was too spiritually immature to understand the importance of a consistent daily diet of God’s word. Without a daily intake of God’s word and prayer in the Christian life one can not expect to grow spiritually or grow in our relationship with our creator. But God’s nature is not mans nature. The Lord reached a mighty hand to pull me back in on more than one occasion.

The Lord sent me a good wife to tighten the reins on my life. Rededicating my life to God I was enabled to quit drinking and smoking. At this point in my life I decided to start heavy weight training in the gym in order to gain some muscle mass and get in shape. All my life I have been skinny and I wanted to change this fact. So now the devil used another human weakness of our sin nature against me…vanity. I talked myself into using anabolic steroids to reach gains I never thought possible. After all, testosterone is a natural occurrence of the male anatomy, what could it hurt (so I told myself). I did extensive research on almost every anabolic known to science. I went from 155 lbs to 210lbs of lean muscle mass. Most of the side effects are hyped by the media with the exception of anger and rage. But one side not mentioned too often is the elevation of sexual desire to an uncontrollable level. I can now understand why these wrestlers and professional football players are continually being arrested for violence and sex crimes. It was ONLY by the grace of God that my face did not appear on TV under the headliner of a sex crime story; wanted for rape, lude acts or some other horrific crime. Under the influence of steroids my sexual addictions were now out of control.

When I came to face the problem I realized that I have had sexual addictions since childhood, even if didn’t know I had any problems.

With the abuse of a pedophile neighbor when I was about seven years of age and the public school system later encouraging self stimulation and exploration, I can now see where the descent into this alluring pit began. I wondered how this could happen to me. I was supposed to be a child of God, a Christian! I turned to the only true source for answers, the word of God, and began my research. As a result I wrote a book dealing with the tree fold spiritual war all believers face, but I still needed help.

I sought counseling and confessed my sin habits to my wife even though I knew divorce would be the result of my confession.

I had reached a point that I was willking to lose everything in order to please God. My wife and I have been through some hard times and it’s not over I’m sure. But we are still together and she has been my only friend and accountability partner outside of God. I quit anabolics years before my world crumbled and my sin was exposed. I now weigh only 160 soaking wet and I do not work out at all now. My body and the gym became my idols. Perhaps I will pump a little iron in the future, but somehow I doubt it. I have given my body back as a living sacrifice to the one who pulled me from the pit. When I was tormented in the agony of my sin that enslaved me I turned my Bible in desperation to get a word from God. It may sound silly but I turned to page 777 and in the middle of Proverbs was an out of place sentence…it read

“There is surely a future hope for you And your hope will not be cut off. (Pro 23:18). I later went to my other Bible and turned to page 777 after many struggles and much suffering. This is what I read

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps (Ps 40:1-2)
It was as if God gave me a message – part 1 and part 2.
I now desire to serve Him while there is still time. We will all face God someday, our time is short. How will you spend it?

This Is Jack’s Story

I grew up in a military family like many others. I really had not thought much about the impact of how the military life affected me as a young child, but I can see when I put it all together that it was a starting point for how I would relate to people for a long time. Moving every three or four years was tough, but you learn to adapt and make friends quickly. Unfortunately, however, these friendships were often very shallow. If you weren’t moving soon, many of your friends would be. We spent the first two years of my life in Japan, four in Texas, 3 in Hawaii, and then we moved to California when my Dad went to Vietnam. This was when I first came to God and sought his help to understand why things were happening, and why my Dad was going off to war. I was scared!

Religion in our household was a confusing subject.

My father’s mother was a Christian Scientist, and my father held on to many of those beliefs, but we were brought up knowing there was a God and Heaven. I can remember going to Christian Science Church when visited my Grandmother, but we usually went to regular Sunday School wherever we were living at the time. It was when my Father went to Vietnam that I found a youth group I could really relate with. It was during this time I came to the Lord for guidance and support. I was reborn and gave my life tho Christ at the age of 12. However it was only a short time later my problems really began and I began my life on the run from the Lord. He had no part in my life for the next 30 years.
When I look back at my family life as a young child I can now see how dysfunctional it was. My parents never talked about sex, it was an embarrassing subject anytime something came up in a movie, etc. My parents would never fight in front of us as kids, and they would never allow us to fight. The phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” was often used in our household. I remember once at about the age of 5 or 6 I called my brother “stupid” at the dinner table, and because of it found myself out the front door with a packed bag. I know my parents were not serious, but as a 5 year old I sure didn’t know it then. This is when I first remember being so stubborn, I sat out there a long time. I think my parents expected me to come crying back to the door, but they had to come and get me. We also were frequently spanked, sometimes with with a belt, other times with a “switch” from a tree.

I remember a specific tree when we lived in Hawaii where my Mom made us go get our own switch. Boy I hated that tree.

I really began having a tough time when my Dad went to Vietnam. I understood how much my Dad loved flying, it was what he did, and going to Vietnam was the only way the Air Force would let him keep flying. I guess I was old enough to understand it did not make sense that if they did not let him fly under regular conditions, then why would they let him go fly in a war? This was when I realized there was more going on with my parents. There must have been more to my Dad going to Vietnam, but of course it was not discussed with us kids. When my Dad’s tour in Vietnam ended he accepted another tour in Hawaii and my Mom refused to move us back there, so my Dad flew home once or twice a month for the next two years. During this time my Mom started dating one of our neighbors a few doors down, and I remember how wrong I thought this was. I felt embarrassed and could not ask my Mom about it. I thought of calling or writing my Dad to tell him, but I couldn’t do it. When my Dad’s second tour in Hawaii ended he came to California and my parents divorced. I was 14. Neither my Dad nor Mom took the time to explain the situation, or ask how I felt about it. The only thing I was told was “We’re splitting up, and your brother is going to live with your Dad, and you and your sister will be staying here.”

It was around this time I also realized my Dad had a real drinking problem. On one hand I’d like to blame it on his Vietnam experience, but I can remember him drinking as far back as I remember. He still has a serious drinking problem today.

It was only a short time later when I found how sex, drinking, and drugs could numb my feelings. I began masturbating a lot. I discovered pot and began hanging around with the “stoners” at school. I used to get drunk almost every weekend with friends at the high school football games and parties. By my senior year it was all pretty much an every day thing. Getting high just helped me enter my fantasy world, made it all easier. My grades surely suffered because of all this, in fact I almost did not graduate with my class. I was in all the most advanced classes, I had the brains, I just did not care. My childhood dream of going to the Naval Academy was gone. Nothing mattered anymore other than keeping myself numb and away from reality. This all began in high school and went on for many years thereafter. I gradually moved to stronger drugs and had a pretty serious bout with cocaine. I eventually woke up from this when I realized one day how deep I was in it, and when I almost got someone seriously hurt hurt over a drug deal. This person was someone who had been my best friend (or so I thought) all through high school, and I have not talked to him since this episode 19 years ago. I sought some counseling and kicked my drug addiction but I never really quit until I got married and had kids.

I never stopped masturbating.

I always thought it was normal. I figured everyone did it, maybe I just did it more than others. I never really talked to anybody about it, and I felt embarrassed if the subject came up, or when people told jokes referring to it. It never occurred to me that this could be an addiction and could be at the core of my addictive habits.

I do not really remember my first ever sexual thought. I suppose it was a Sears catalog or something equivalent with girls in bras and underwear. Once as a kid in Hawaii (6 or 7) I remember playing out near or in a sugar cane field and a man or older person exposing himself. I don’t remember anything happening, and I only have a vague recollection of the incident, but it certainly caused curiosity. I remember when I started mowing a neighbors lawn (12 -13) I was allowed in the house and I discovered quite a large stash of Playboy magazines, several years worth. This was the beginning of my addiction to pornography. I took a few of the magazines home and hide them. After I looked them over I traded them out with with others from his stash. The problem was that my neighbor was always a very neat person and eventually noticed some missing.

My Mom confronted me about it, but all I could do was cry for feeling guilty and shameful for what I had done. This was a common reaction when I have trouble with my Mom, and afterwards I would always find another way to suppress my feelings. Masturbate, get high, whatever was most convenient at the time. This became the way I dealt with the problems and stresses of life at the time. And it became a learned response that I used for the next 20 years.

I did not date a lot through school, in fact I was probably just perceived as shy, but I distinctly remember when I first began lusting for the beautiful girls around school. I still remember the name of the first girl I thought I was in love with, but it was not love, it was lust. I used to fantasize about what it would be like to kiss her, and fantasized about sex in my mind. The few girlfriends I did have as I grew up I never really could get close to. The relationships would not last long because of my fear of getting hurt along with my preoccupation with fantasy. It didnot take long with pornography (and getting high) before I became a master at fantasizing. I did not lose my virginity until I was 18. It was pretty much a one night stand thing where I kind of went with the flow of things. Of course it wouldn’t, couldn’t, turn into a relationship. I did have what I’d call my first real love a couple years out of high school. I let go, or at least tried, and got close with someone. We had talked about getting married and things were good for a couple years, but then the trouble started, maybe I got bored. We continued to try for another couple years, but this is where I can distinctly remember beginning my double life. This was around the time when I started doing cocaine pretty frequently and she did not know about it.

As things got worse in our relationship I turned to masturbation as my sexual release, and to numb myself to what was going on. When we broke up I was seriously hurt and considered suicide. I knew I seriously needed help and I sought it at a counseling center recommended by my school. There were two very unfortunate things about this experience: one, it was not Christian based, and two, I do not think anyone really knew about sexual addiction, or the extent of it, at the time. Another couple of years went by with me still masturbating a lot, with only a couple of somewhat serious relationships that did not last long. Eventually I finally made a decision to change some things and try to get out of the rut I was in. I got a new job with a great new company offering a lot of promise, and I resolved to stop doing any cocaine (which I still did occasionally after the earlier incident I mentioned). I met my wife shortly thereafter in the restaurant I was working in. I realize now it was my lusting for her that got us together. She caught me staring at her all the time and started staring back. It got to a point where I felt I had to ask her out even though I had always told myself I would not date anybody that I worked with. It was a whirlwind romance. We got engaged, she got pregnant and we were married all within a year. Everything was good for a while, in that I did not masturbate much, until the time came she was uncomfortable because of her pregnancy.

I returned to masturbating frequently. One day my wife found out. She knew I had a collection of magazines and she had her suspicions and confronted me about it.

I couldn’t express myself and again just felt the guilt and shame for hurting her. But I still didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, I told her it didn’t have anything to do with my feelings for her. I tried to stop with the old “white-knuckle” technique, but I couldn’t stop. My wife found out again, confronted me again, I felt the guilt and shame, tried to stop. I started trying to be sneakier and sneakier and just avoid getting caught.

This scene has been played out over and over and over again now for 15 years. It was the only thing my wife and I would ever fight about. Each time we’d get into this issue it would get worse and worse. We could go days and even weeks at a time without saying much to each other. There was NO intimacy. The worse this got the more she’d begin to lash out at me, calling me names and saying things that hurt me deeply, and it would be especially bad if she’d been drinking, or if we were at a party, or even just out for dinner with friends. Over the past 2 years things had gotten really bad. The more this happened, the more I’d withdraw, the more I’d withdraw, the more I’d masturbate to kill my pain (the learned response from when I was a kid). The more this went on the more she’d be hurt.

My wife began to see the patterns, and this became a vicious cycle that nothing was going to break. I was now spending hours at a time surfing the porn sites on the web. I’d stay up way late at night after my wife and kids had gone to bed. I started planning ahead checking when my wife would be working so I could stay home alone. My wife visits her family back east every year, and I began to look forward to her trips away. I’d rent video’s while she was gone and make my own tapes by hooking up our two VCR’s together. I remember how scared and embarrassed I’d be if someone we knew would see me in the x-rated area of the video store. I always tried to go during off hours, or to another store where I wouldn’t chance running into anyone I knew. I also began frequenting adult bookstores. Because I was spending so much time looking at naked pictures, it really impacted my day to day life. I began looking all around, wherever I was, and pick out the most beautiful women around, and I’d fantasize, even undress them in my mind. I would fantasize about people I worked with and knew, as well as complete strangers. I couldn’t help myself. No matter how many times I tried to stop, no matter what it was costing me in my relationship with my family, friends, or anybody for that matter, I’d still do it. I was absolutely powerless! I was at my bottom, broken and bleeding at the side of the road, and it still didn’t matter, I’d still act out!

I finally admitted to my wife that I thought I might have a problem and I promised her I would work on it. I tried to white-knuckle it again and guess what, I failed and fell back in just as deep as ever. Finally my wife had had enough. She left me her wedding ring. This had significant meaning to me as we had gone through this so many times before where she wouldd be mad at me and not wear it, but she had never given it back, and things were especially bad this time. Since I admitted to her that I thought I might have a problem, it was like confirming her worst fears, and she decided she could not take it anymore. I needed help and I Prayed to God to please help me. I did not want to live like this any more, but I just didn’t have the power to stop.

On February 9th, 1999, God was patiently waiting for my call. When I prayed and asked for his help a sudden feeling of peace and calm came over me. I was at my computer searching for SA help when this all happened. I heard God tell me “Everything will be alright my Son, come to my house.” Within 4 mouse clicks I was brought from an SA site to a website with a Christ-centered SA program called “Renewal From Sexual Addiction.” Coincidence?…NOT! I remember the first time I came to RSA, how hard it was to come across the parking lot, not knowing what to expect. What I found was Love, Acceptance, and Understanding. But most of all, I found many friends…that cared about ME? I had been so wrapped up in my addictions that I never cared about anyone but myself, and I did not think anyone, other than my close family, cared about me. I find myself looking forward to Friday nights, and my time with the guys. Every week I am inspired by God’s work in everyone’s life. God has done amazing work in my life for the past year including many things I had previously thought impossible. I’m not positive where He is leading me, but one thing has been clear, there are many others in need of help, and I feel God has asked me to reach out to others and tell them there is hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is truly the one with all the power to change even someone like me, who was previously hopeless.

I want to thank all those who have shared before me as they gave me the hope and courage to do this myself. I also want to thank the Pastors and staff at Saddleback Church and Celebrate Recovery and those that stepped across the line first and admitted it was possible to be addicted to sex. Most of all I want to thank God for the work He has done in my life, and continues to do on a daily basis.

What has this addiction has cost me?

OUCH! Monetarily over the years, thousands of dollars for the materials over time, magazines, videos, internet access and sites. More importantly it has cost me a relationship with God for almost 30 years. If I were to put a value to the time I have lost in my relationship with God, I would not be able to tell myself the cost. I am still in my infancy in my relationship with Him, but I am determined to make up for lost time. Many times over the years I can look back and see where God was trying to get my attention, but I was not paying attention. I alienated myself because I knew deep down I was living in sin. This addiction has also cost me many lost ? what should have been ? happy times with my wife and family. There has been so many occassions over the 15 years we have been together that we have not been getting along, and it should have been happy times for us. In the end it still may cost me my marriage. My wife has been seriously hurt for a long time, and I just pray to our Father that he leads me in the right direction to make amends for the pain and suffering I have caused. More importantly, I ask for your prayers that she herself finds the salvation and promise that Jesus died for us all for.

Thanks for letting me share.

Sincerely In Him,

Jack

This is Fred’s Story

I am admitting I am POWERLESS over my addictions, uncontrollable anger and, compulsive behavior; that my life has become unmanageable.?
Hi, my name is Fred. I was born in the inner city just outside of Boston to parents of the upper lower class income level. My father was an unskilled blue-collar wage worker while my mother stayed at home. She was not a well woman as we grew up. I have a sister who is 4 years younger than me.

As for who I am today I can better reflect back on my life and recognize shortcomings of growing up in my parents household, e.g., learning skills that are not beneficial to me or anyone today, and that my parents took care of their own needs first before those of my sister and me to name just two. I needed nurturing from my mother and affirmation from my father. My father usually worked a second job at night to supplement the low household income of Northeast city dwellers during the 50?s and to provide for my mothers variety of illnesses. Because of this he often came home tired and irritable with little time or interest for family activities. He was, and still is, an active rageaholic, a very nervous and insecure man, and at one time did drink more alcohol than any man needed. Today I know he is a lust and sex addict, still, at the age of 84.

My mother was very sickly and oftentimes bedfast for days when we were growing up. Her patience for us was often thin. She is also a very nervous and anxious woman with an obsessive/compulsive cleaning disorder and she was not truly able or willing to raise two children. Because of this she took care of herself and reared my sister and I to fear and often times experience my fathers anger.

My father was not discriminatory with his addictions or anger handicap either inside or outside of our family. I believe that my mother also suffers from the same sexual addictions that we all do in our family. Even today, my sister is a bright, educated, attractive, and successful career woman who leads a committed homosexual lifestyle.

My parents were good teachers. They did instill in me the difference between ?right and wrong? (not necessarily between good and evil) and I learned life?s traditions for ethics, church, God, and family values and allegiance. However, because of their self-centeredness, their guidance and influence taught me to use and abuse anger toward others as well as launch me into my own lust and sex addiction that today has brought me near destruction and death.

As I can remember, it seems that certain crucial events during my growing years happened somewhat simultaneously. I was a very active and energetic boy developing in the city neighborhood streets and even as a young boy I had my share of mischievous opportunities.

Compared to others in the neighborhood I was not a bad boy and I was not easily intimidated and I was very curious. I can remember my mother seemed not very happy nor accepting of my escapades and either convinced me that I was wrong, made a mistake, or caused trouble and I was punished without any real explanation why. This would continue as I grew older and it got furthered later by threatening me with ?wait till your father gets home!? And, subsequently, began feeling the results of my fathers irritation and anger towards me physically and yet still without proper explanation. This continued until I was nearly 16 years old.

Unbeknown to me, psychologically, a pattern was now to begin developing. Because of the physical and emotional abuse I was experiencing I began to lie in order to avoid these punishments and pain. This would work more times than not but in those instances when I was accused of wrongdoing and then caught lying it seemed the resulting consequences were even worse. Because I had seen my father in somewhat similar situations, with my mother and others, I watched him use anger and rage to control those events to the outcome he wanted or needed. So, I decided to use the same tactics with both of them to get what I wanted or needed. This worked more often with my mother than it did with him.

A lifelong pattern was now inplace – Mistake or Problem / Lying / Anger or Rage. There was only one last occurrence to come that would complete a circle that would lead my life down a road not fit for normal man.The earliest recollection of an emotional and mental image of sex or sexuality occurred at approximately 6 years of age at the suggestion and idea of my then best friend involving our kindergarten teacher.

It was also during these years (6 – 8) that I heard and watched lewd stories, sexual jokes, and sexual overtones by my father toward my mother?s sisters during family and holiday gatherings.

My first physical experience of sexual things and feelings happened when I was 8 or 9 years old. This was quite shocking and confusing to me because I did not know what this was. I never heard anyone discuss or talk about this feeling and there was no platform at home to take this, so it became my personal secret. And, almost immediately, I learned to like and enjoy it, and seek after that exciting and exhilarating, yet calming, physical sensation.
As I grew into my junior high school years I continued my patterns of lying and anger (whenever necessary) to avoid punishment or pain. I also continued pursuit of my bodily sensations as often as I could but did not know why or what this was all about and still never telling anyone. It was during these years that I discovered my father’s magazines in his bureau. That occurred because my mother would suggest that I go into my fathers bureau to retrieve things for either her or me to use. Now I had material that I put together with my physical pleasure and began fantasizing about these possibilities. Sexual fantasizing was and is the central core of my addiction.

Just before my 13th birthday, I experienced my first wet dream and shortly after that I discovered masturbation. With the help of some older friends I had in the neighborhood I now had what I needed to put it all together. During my 8th grade year the final element of my pattern was unveiled and the beginning of a very turbulent life was about to commence. At this time of life, after several years of abuse at the hands of my parents, I was in great rebellion to authority. I didn?t care if I was accused of wrongdoing – accurate or not – I lied at will, got angry or enraged whenever necessary, and then could soothe that emotional or physical pain by acting out sexually.

My life during this era was still being managed by my parents and their selfishness, so I did what I needed for self-preservation.

This pattern continued during my high school years. I got involved with an older, tougher crowd, discovered cigarettes, beer, wine, and hard liquor, explored more pornography through magazines, gave away my virginity at age 15, and began a relationship with a girl during my junior year (age 16) that would continue through all 4 years of college. This relationship expanded my physical addiction to an extremely high level and then launched me into a downward spiral that lasted until 1999. Almost 34 years!

It was only by the grace and love of God that when I entered college in 1967 that I came out alive and in one piece in 1971. During these years I continued to smoke and drink heavily. My sexual acting out continued to expand through pornography, physical contact with my girlfriend and other women. In 1968 I joined a fraternity and there I discovered drugs, ?blue movies? otherwise known as stag films in those days, and I had my first affair with a married woman, got caught and almost shot by her husband. I got my girlfriend pregnant and had the baby aborted. I did graduate with an above average GPA but did not get a job. I wondered ?What is going on??

I now had a life, at age 22, that included the same boyhood patterns of mistakes/lies/anger , a sexual addiction to pornography, masturbation and sex, a love for marijuana, hashish, bourbon whiskey, beer and wine, a girlfriend of 6 years with a relationship pretty much spent, no longer living at my parents home, a full College Degree, and no job! Was I finished? Not yet. What next – DENIAL – life was good. Satan had only just begun.

The next couple of years proved to be the final catalyst that launched my downward spiral into perpetual motion. It was during that first year following graduation that my girlfriend, my first and most precious love (then), finally left me to marry another man. I was crushed and devastated beyond belief but my clinging to denial let me do nothing about it. Little did I know, then, that God may have been trying to break through the thick wall I was building but I, ultimately, would have none of that.

I held onto that denial for dear life. I was so deceived into thinking and believing that sex was my salvation but, of course, it was becoming my greater pathway to destruction and death. I got deeper into it, making mistake after mistake, creating more and more lies, getting more angry and hiding it less and less. I experimented with and used more drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, pornographic videos now, extramarital affairs, and seeking more and more intensity in every aspect of my sexual activity and becoming less and less satisfied with each event. As my life continued, I sought after more hard-core (videos, movies, magazines), more danger (acting out locations, sexual acts and paraphernalia), and then the internet. This lead to more fantasies, and then anger because of unfullfillment, and then to more acting out. I was still clinging to denial that anything was wrong. ?This is what all of us really cool guys do!? I carried this attitude and thinking into every aspect of my daily life and routine for many years to come.

This Is Drew’s Story

My name is Drew and I am addicted to sex and lust. Almost 13 years ago I began recovery from alcohol and have since understood that I am multi-addicted. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food and sex were among the things I have used to alter my moods. Of course I was always seeking something outside of God and myself that would help me feel better. As I recall my past I know there are gaps. My memory is not real sharp these days, because of my age, my past drug and alcohol abuse, and depression.
My parents were a hard working couple who grew up during the Great Depression and had been on their own by the time they were teenagers. My father was an alcoholic and my mother blamed him for all that we did not have. My older brother became rebellious and was frequently in trouble. I, on the other hand, became the shy, good kid, mostly out of fear.

In my late elementary and junior high school years I discovered masturbation. I “played doctor” with a neighborhood friend a couple of times. I built a fort in our back yard where I could go to be alone and I obtained some “men’s” magazines which I used for masturbation. One time my mother caught me with the magazines and declared angrily, “If you want to see naked women I’ll take my clothes off for you!” I had seen my mom nude in the bathtub before and she was an obese woman. The thought of her disrobing for my educational benefit was horrifying to me.

During late junior high and early high school years I joined the Boy Scouts. It was there I had the first positive male role model in my life. The Scoutmaster encouraged me and also gave me my first job in the business world working in his hardware store. By high school years I was a shy, intelligent fellow. I was somewhat of a nerd. I didn’t like competitive sports so I didn’t fit in with the jocks; I didn’t like the advanced classes in math and science so I didn’t fit in with academics. About this time I was approached by a rather weird guy who was about a year older than I. He had a car and invited me to go to a movie. After the movie he drove us to a secluded place, showed me some porno pictures and led me into mutual oral sex and masturbation. This happened two or three additional times and each time I would feel thrilled and ashamed. One night when he arrived to pick me up my dad later commented, “He looks like a queer.” I, of course, strongly denied it. At the same time I was thinking, “How could he possibly know?” My dad wasn’t well educated, but he was pretty sharp. Within another week I stopped seeing the fellow.

After high school I joined the Marines. I thought if they could toughen me up I would feel better about myself. Still a virgin, I was sent on a tour to the Far East. I did not want to return to the U.S. without having had sex so I went to prostitutes. Each time I went I felt I had to get pretty drunk to cover my feelings of shame and performance anxiety. Upon returning to the U.S. I quickly acquired a girl friend and declared us engaged. She was a willing sex partner and tolerated my premature ejaculations. I ended the relationship soon after I entered college.

For the next six years I wandered back and forth between college and working, moving from one town to another, going from one girl friend to another, seeking an ultimate sex partner. I was greatly influenced by the sexual freedom and Playboy philosophy promoted in the 1960s. I discovered pornographic movies and acquired a collection. I even wrote a college paper considering pornography as an art form and tried to legitimize my growing addiction to porno. I lived with a girl who had done lingerie and nude modeling. She couldn’t get enough sex and neither could I. We used each other without having a clue as to how to provide what we really wanted. When we broke up it was unpleasant and painful. I had taken up guitar and wanted a life style of drugs, sex and rock n’ roll. I didn’t do that very well because I had no plan and no commitment.

Through all of this I believed in God and knew there were limits. But God and religion just weren’t much of a priority in my life then. I subscribed to situational ethics. If it felt good and didn’t hurt anyone, go ahead and do it. I was not aware I had lost my self confidence, if, in fact, I ever had any. The last time I had felt really good about myself was the first few months after I exited the Marines. And that was mostly illusory.

In 1969 I met the woman I would later marry. We carried on an affair which included me moving in with her and her two children. We became drinking, drugging and sex buddies. It became “Let’s get loaded and . . .” She became pregnant and I insisted she have an abortion. Two years later when I left to return to college I realized how alone I felt without her, so I offered marriage and she accepted. I still had my porno collection and saw no need to get rid of it. After college I worked at one job after another, moving wife and family back and forth across the country. I continued using drugs and porno, going to porno movies then home for sex with my wife. In the early 1980s my jobs involved travel and I found porno in motel rooms. I would isolate myself with pizza, wine and porno, even choosing at one point to stay in a “pornotel” instead of going home to my wife and teenaged daughters. In addition, my wife had gained a lot of weight and had become no match for the fantasy women in porno.

By the late ’80s my wife entered treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. I reluctantly joined AA and decided to get sober, too. Ten days after my wife stopped drinking, so did I.

With sobriety I found that my sexual desire for my wife had all but disappeared. I became aware that I had an aversion to her obesity, but I still loved her. I also became aware that an organic problem contributed to my low sex drive. For the next several years I tried on again, off again organic therapy with moderate success.

For several reasons my wife and I separated for two years. When we got back together about two years ago I agreed to go for marriage counseling. After three months of counseling we were very close to divorce. Lack of sex, lack of intimacy, lack of consistency on my part all contributed to our problems. However I was still not willing to look at the mental component of my low sexual desire. I could still get turned on by porno, but not by my wife. Sex, to me, was a control and physical pleasure issue, not a character or spiritual issue. I had total control over the porno and my response to it, and no involvement or risk at all. The only risk was of getting caught and I was too slick for that, so I thought.

About a year ago I heard a man’s testimony about his sexual addiction and I was intrigued to notice many similarities between his story and my own. I began to think, “Could this behavior that I have always tried to rationalize as being normal and acceptable in the secular world be in reality sexual addiction?” I had been in men’s small groups for codependency and adult children of alcoholics and now tried the men’s Recovery from Sexual Addiction group. Wham! At my first meeting it hit me like a ton of bricks. There were so many men with the same struggle I had that I fit right in. My hope was renewed and I began immediately to see the path I needed to take.

Ten months ago I stopped acting out and began the best fellowship and involvement with other men I’ve ever had. Although it didn’t happen immediately, I came to realize I needed individual therapy from a knowledgeable, compassionate therapist who was trained and experienced with men’s sexual addiction as well as my other issues of anxiety, depression, deprivation and self esteem. I now fully comprehend that I want and need help. Although I have been described in the past as a loner I now cherish a significant change in my viewpoint: I thought I had a problem relating to women and I didn’t care much for other men. To solve that problem God gave me an incredible group of men whom I love and am grateful for!

The woman I married 28 years ago is still my first wife. She has chosen to stay with me even through periods when she has been convinced it would be better and safer to leave. I love her deeply and want the partnership to continue with a scriptural basis. My wife has declared she will not leave me so long as I keep trying. I know I am not without sin. I know that God loves me and has forgiven me. I know that one day my wife will be able to forgive me. I don’t blame her for waiting to see evidence of the improvement in my character.

My struggle with self confidence, fantasy, and sexual compatibility is something I want to be done with. I have rationalized much of my past behavior as an expression of my freedom and search for happiness. I now seek a new freedom and a new happiness. That will be a freedom and happiness given by God, enabled by Jesus, and facilitated through you, my new partners in life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing with me, and thank you for letting me share with you!

This Is Cliff’s Story

I remember the first time I admitted my addiction to a roomful of strangers. It felt as if I was proclaiming to the world that I was a Nazi or some kind of ax murderer, but soon I realized the wide-spread nature of this addiction among many men and I knew I was not alone, in fact I was among a great majority of people who struggled with lust. It was ignorance and prejudice that caused me to see my own addiction as something separate from me…just as when I thought about food addiction I would picture a 300 pound woman eating chocolates in front of a soap opera, or an alcoholic living out of a cardboard box on skid row. I saw sexual addiction in my mind as a serial rapist or a child molester, certainly not someone like me who never did any of those things. How wrong I was about sexual addiction, especially my own…it was keeping me in denial and darkness.
My first experience with shame that I remember came when I was only five years old. I was in kindergarten and I remember that there was a tradition in my class where each child was made “sheriff” for a week. They would wear a sheriff’s badge and be an honored guest in our kindergarten class. I remember waiting anxiously for my turn, and when it came, I was very excited. During my week as “sheriff” I remember walking through one of the hallways at school and I saw one of my female classmates go into the girl’s bathroom.

I don’t know exactly why, but in my child-like curiosity, I looked inside the girl’s bathroom when the door opened to see if it looked the same as the boy’s bathroom, after all, I was “sheriff” and had special privileges. One of my other classmates saw me do this and reported it to my teacher. My teacher shared this in front of the entire class and asked me to return my sheriff’s badge.

I was humiliated and shamed before the entire class. I remember feeling my face get hot. I’m sure it must have been very red as well. Even though this was not something specifically sexual, in my 5 year old mind I related any experience with the opposite sex as being shameful and wrong. Since my kindergarten teacher was also female, my shame and guilt became even greater. This set the stage for how I would feel about myself in the future.

All through elementary school I was a terrible student, barely passing at all, and not really caring if I did. In fact, my worst subject was music. I could not seem to understand how it worked and why it was so complicated.

My brother was seven years older than I was, so when I was nine or ten, he was in high school. We shared a room together since we didn’t have a very big house. One day I remember finding a pornographic magazine that belonged to my brother. My young eyes stared in amazement at images I had never seen before in my life. Again, a sense of shame overwhelmed me. I knew I shouldn’t be seeing this and put it away, believing that something terrible would happen to me as a result of that experience, but when it didn’t, I was drawn back to it again and again, not understanding why I was feeling these things. Why didn’t my father tell me about all of this and why didn’t he protect me from it?

Sex was a word that was never spoken in our home. By it’s very absence, something told me that it must be wrong or evil, just confirming the feelings I already had. No one told me about God’s plan for sex, or that it was intended as a beautiful expression of love between a husband and wife. Finally, one day my father gave me a book entitled, “what every young boy ought to know.” It was a book that I’m sure had been passed down through the generations since it was copywritten in 1849. I eagerly began reading the book. My father turned over page corners on the pages he wanted me to read carefully. They all related to sexual self-gratification and warned that mental illness and in some cases, blindness, could result from such an activity, also stating that I would be eternally damned for doing such things.

My father never spoke to me about the book or asked me if I understood it. I guess he figured that he had fulfilled his “duty” as a father and didn?t want to have to answer any questions. of course, I was afraid to ask my father anything about it. At a very young age, I was faced with the prospect of mental illness, blindness, and eternity in hell for something I couldn’t stop. Not once in the book did it mention the process of reproduction or sex as an expression of love, so I couldn’t understand what sex was for in the first place, except to plant guilt and shame, and now fear, into my mind.

The biggest pain for me growing up was wanting to know my father and wanting him to love me, but never getting what I needed from him. One thing I enjoyed a great deal as a child was baseball. In little league I was always asking if my dad would come to my games to watch me play. I remember the first uniform I received as a little leaguer: I was so proud of it, I think I slept in it the first night. My father never shared my excitement and seemed completely indifferent. Whenever I would get up to the plate to bat, I always looked over my shoulder to see if my dad had shown up at the game and always felt my heart sink when I realized he wasn’t there.

I really wanted him to be proud of me. one game I made a spectacular catch in center field, reaching over the fence. I was so excited I ran home as fast as I could after the game to tell my dad what happened. I remember he never even looked up from reading his paper. From this point on in my life I became dedicated to winning his love and approval no matter what it took.

Ironically, my parents sent me to a private Catholic school as a child to teach me how to be a Christian, but really only taught me how to be religious. One day I brought some pornography to school and showed it to some of my friends in the school yard. I was caught by one of the teachers and sent to the principal’s office. my parents were called and, of course, my father was furious that I had done such a thing. I can remember going to my room that night to act out privately to stop the pain in my heart from another rejection from me dad. I didn’t know how to get free from this thing I didn’t understand.

My parents sent me to a psychiatrist which, at that time, meant you were “nuts.” I remember the psychiatrist asking me questions about my feelings and my behavior and I was so ashamed and humiliated, I remained completely silent through the entire session. That was the only session I had. After that, my parents just pretended that it never happened and I remained confused, alone and ashamed of who I was.

Although I was a poor student in elementary school, when I reached high school I became a model student. I had actively begun my quest for perfection to win my dad’s approval. I was on the honor roll in school every semester. I acted in all of the school plays and I began to sin in the school choir. I started to like music and singing. I was enjoying drama and music and I felt I was good at it. Once again, my father did not share my enthusiasm, saying, “Why don?t you pursue something that will help you make a living rather than some ‘sissy’ drama thing?” This angered me, thought I didn’t dare share my anger with my dad..that was too dangerous, but I did feel good enough about what I was doing to keep doing it in spite of my father’s comments.

My largest project in high school was when I as 16. I wanted to put on a variety show for the community, so I met with the city council to secure an auditorium, applied for all of the permits, talked to several newspapers to get advertising, and got together a bunch of my friends in music to put the show together. This would be my first time singing in public and I was petrified, not just because of normal stage fright, but also because my father was in the audience. The show received great reviews in the newspaper but all my father could say was that the amplifiers were “too loud.”

He continued to minimize my interest in things he thought were “sissy” in his words. To my dad, anyone who was shaped in creative or artistic ways was “weird” in some way. I can still remember the pain I felt when my father called me “queer” for wanting to pursue more artistic endeavors. Although I knew I had never struggled with homosexuality and had no desire in that regard, that statement would cut into me for years to come. There could have been no more hurtful thing that I could have heard from my father than that.

Even though my addiction raged daily in my mind, I was very shy around girls. In my junior year I met a girl and we sent steady through my senior year. Although we never technically had sex by definition, we pushed that definition to the edge. This fueled my addiction even more and I became a slave to my thoughts and pornography became a regular companion.

I graduated from high school and went to college. I was, at the time, hopelessly addicted to the relationship I had with my girlfriend. She soon found someone else and I was devastated. I began a period of isolation and increased exposure to pornography. I wanted my girlfriend to want me back again, and since it looked like musicians get all the girls, that was the life for me. I learned to play the drums and got a band together and began playing in clubs while in college. This did not have the desired effect on my girlfriend, so I threw myself even more deeply into the music. Since I didn’t get along with the piano player in the band, I decided to learn the piano myself at age 19. I studied for hours and hours each day, and soon the piano became an obsession to me, taking the place of my ex-girlfriend. Even though my motives were unhealthy, God had a plan to use my passion for the piano later in my life. With the help of a gifted teacher, and nearly constant practice at the piano, I began to play professionally after one year of study.

But, I was still deeply addicted to the behavior that was taking me deeper and deeper into darkness. My rationale was that everyone I knew was doing the same thing so it must be a “guy thing.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. My complete sense of self esteem was tied up in music, and the female attention I received from it, but there was still a haunting loneliness deep inside of me that wouldn’t go away.

By this time I had accumulated a considerable collection of pornography. In my mind, I had a relationship with the women in these magazines and for a while it took the loneliness away, but the relief times got shorter and shorter and less and less effective.

While working in a nightclub I met a woman who later became my first wife. She told me the first night we met that she had been attacked that very night at a nearby park. Naturally, as a skilled rescuer, I immediately jumped into an unhealthy relationship and we were married about a year later. I found out after we were married that she had never been attacked at all, but that she had said that to draw me into a relationship with her, and of course, it worked, but the foundation for our relationship was more than shaky. I was no able to actually make a living at music, contrary to my father’s earlier statements and I thought that this would show him that I was worthwhile and a success. It still didn’t make a difference, so I continued on my quest for acceptance.

I thought that marriage would end my struggle with lust, but it continued regularly and between my wife’s “victim” issues and my sex addiction, we became more and more distant from each other. I mistakenly thought that since we never really fought, that our marriage was okay, and besides, I was completely occupied with music and I really didn’t have the time to work on a marriage anyway.

One day I got a call from my agent saying that there was a weekend opening at the Sahara hotel in Lake Tahoe, but it was just as a fill-in for a couple of days. I jumped at the chance and after the job was done, the head of the hotel came up to me and asked if we were interested in staying longer. He booked us for an additional 6 weeks and told us that we would never be out of work if we were interested. For the next five years we were playing all of the finest hotels, nightclubs and casinos in the country. We were hanging out with celebrities and the best musicians in the business. I thought that I had truly “arrived,” and that fame and fortune were my destiny.

I had now reached the point where I was making a great deal more money than my father. I was certain that this would really impress him. I would send home photos and press releases expecting to hear, “Son, I’m proud of you,” but of course, I was again, disappointed.

I managed to stuff it all away again and concentrate even more heavily on the music and my addiction. After all, my band was very successful, we had recorded an album, and I was too busy to be thinking of negative things. Since I led the group, I was responsible for dealing with agents and managers, doing all of the business of the band, signing the contracts, and arranging and scoring all the music we did. When I wasn’t doing that, I was practicing at the piano…I had also become a workaholic, working 14 hours a day and leaving no time for a marriage that was already dying. I believed that I was headed for the top. My ego was way out of control and the opportunities to act out were endless. I was enslaved even more deeply by my sexual addiction.

My first wife would almost always travel with me on the road. Little did I know that when I was performing at night, she was in the hotel room, drinking herself into oblivion and keeping it a secret. I’m sure if I had been more alert, I would have seen it, but I was distracted to the max.

One fateful evening on the road, with less than five minutes before my band was to go on stage, I received an urgent phone call. It was my mom telling me that my Dad had had a massive heart attack and may not live through the night. My heart sank as I went on stage that night, hoping I would get the chance to see my dad again. The next morning I found out he had died and I knew finally that the words I needed from him would never come. I felt as though all of my accomplishments were in vain. I had been living my life totally for my father’s acceptance.

About a year later I came off the road and my first wife and I bought a home in California and had a child together. At this time, we joined a church and began regular attendance. From time to time I would go out on the road again, but would continue to maintain contact with the church. My first wife continued her drinking and soon after that, began a relationship with the man she worked for, keeping it a secret for a long time. when I suspected something was wrong, I knew I could no longer live in denial and so we both sought counsel from our pastor. My wife would appear sincere, but continued her relationship. I was told by the pastor to go ahead and pursue a divorce since my wife was continuing her adulterous affair. On his advice we were divorced.

Of course, I was devastated, lonely and needy, and discouraged. My pastor too a personal interest in my grief and met with me to encourage me and counsel me. one day he came to my home and to my great surprise made a sexual advance to me. I was stunned beyond words and then became very angry and I literally physically ejected him from my home, using words that pastors are not used to hearing. I was shaken after he left and I remembered the words my father had said years ago when he called me “queer.” I knew he was wrong but still I felt ashamed of what had just happened.

Now that my wife was gone, and I had separated from my church, I gave myself complete permission to act out with as many women as I could. I was still in the music business, working in clubs and working a sales job during the day. During this time, I’m ashamed to admit that sex with many different women was what my life was all about. I had to “conquer” in order to feel good about myself. This went on for about four years. I began attending another church, but never really received any spiritual growth since it was a very legalistic church.

One evening I found myself at a party and in walked someone I couldn’t take my eyes off of. She was beautiful and had a great personality. We started dating, and as always, my mind was focused on sex. In the beginning, that was my main focus in the relationship, but I was to find that this person was someone I would soon grow to love, even though I was not capable of real love at that time. I walked into her life when I was at the height of my uncontrolled behavior and she was going through a divorce. Once again, I became the rescuer. She had just become a Christian and was attending a new church called Saddleback. We remained sexually active at first because she’d never been told that this was not God’s will and, of course, I wasn’t about to tell her. We dated for about a year and without recovery, we weren’t aware of all of the painful past each one of us brought into the relationship. Not only did I not realize my own issues, but my wife also was not aware of the effect of her own childhood abuse which led her into food addiction and codependency. We decided we wanted to get married and we met with our Pastor who “spilled the beans” about God’s will for sex. We decided from that point to remain abstinent sexually until we were married to follow God’s plan for our relationship. Of course, it was difficult, and I continued to struggle daily with lustful thoughts. I knew I had to stop, but I didn’t know how.

Our marriage in the beginning was extremely stressful. Not only were we trying to make our relationship work, but we were also trying to make a blended family, with step parents and step children, work. The stress drew me back into my addiction once again. Although I was never physically unfaithful to my wife, I began a phone relationship with another woman and actually had lunch with her once.

When my wife confronted me with our phone bill and recurring phone numbers, I had to confess my actions to her. Only six months into our marriage, I was told that it was over. I had deeply hurt the woman I loved and again feared another divorce. Instead of divorce, we began some serious counseling with a trained Christian counselor and remained together, but our relationship was deeply scarred and there was no trust left. As I “white knuckled” my behavior I remained okay for a while, but it eventually broke down. My wife and I began attending Celebrate Recovery in 1992, and since I didn’t know what group was right for me, I attended the men’s codependency group since sexual addiction was something I had never heard of before. In time I began making 900# phone calls to get my fix and I knew I was out of control.

I recall one night in the men’s codependent group I felt compelled to share that I thought I might have a problem with lust. I remember that there were 13 men in the group that night and 11 of them admitted to the same problem. For the first time I realized that I wasn’t alone. But, I didn’t know how to get help. my wife gave me a book about sexual addiction. It was entitled “Lonely All The Time” and just the title alone spelled out my life. I read the book and knew that this was me. When my wife found out about the 900# phone calls, I knew I had to get help or our marriage was over. I went to the Christian therapist that my wife was seeing and he told me that he would not treat me unless I attended seven sexual addiction meetings in seven days and he would see me in a week. I obtained a list of secular meetings and that week I drove all over Southern California to get all of my meetings in. I remember walking by the meeting room and staring in just to see what sexually addicted people really looked like. The fact is, they look just like everyone else.

By God’s perfect timing, Celebrate Recovery began a sexual addiction group one week later led by a Christian psychologist who still remains my sponsor and dear friend. That was nearly six years agoa dn by God’s amazing grace, I have remained sober since that meeting. At that meeting there were only 4 people who showed up including the leader. God began changing my heart in a way that I could never begin to describe. When I accepted WHAT I was, I was able to appreciate WHO I was…who God made me to be and what I could give back to Him.

The turning point in my recovery came one night when I was driving home from a therapy session. I realized what a major role my father had played in my life and in my addiction. I was able to let all of those years of anger I held in come out as I drove home. I became so angry, I had to pull over the car. After I had raged in my car at my father, I sobbed for about 20 minutes on the side of the road, when I realized what I had lost, and all that I did to try to get it back. I also realized that it was there all the time…my heavenly Father was holding me close to Him even in my darkest moments. If I had only seen Him, I would have been healed sooner.

As I continued in sobriety, I began to see other lives around me change. I not only saw God work in my own life, but in the lives of other men as well. After some sobriety, I was asked to lead the meeting each Friday night, an experience that has enriched my life and my relationships more than I can say.

In the first meeting there were only 4 people and now it is standing room only every Friday night with people attending from as far away as San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

God speaks to me most effectively through the Psalms. I think that the reason I can relate so well to David is that he was not only a musician, but also what looks to me to be an out of control sex addict. What is so amazing to me is that the Bible calls him “…a man after God’s own heart.” That God could embrace a sex addict in that way is such a wonderful encouragement to me, but my encouragement also comes from the thought that God save His best stuff for people like me…people with a weakness. That’s why I love people in recovery…because we come to God not just to praise Him for who He is, but because our very survival depends on it.

I must thank first of all, my Lord Jesus for taking me back again and again, over and over, until I had finally given up on doing things my own way. He is the reason I am sober…but He has also put people in my life who spoke His heart and passed on His strength.

I must thank the scores of men who have shared their stories in meetings through the years who never knew the effect it had on me…and to the men I meet every Friday night to share their struggles in an effort to honor their wives and their families by seeking God’s healing. They are to me, the heroes of the Christian life and I am proud to call them my friends.

And of course, in my most inspired moments, I could never find the words to thank my wife for staying with me through it all, and for honoring her commitment to the Lord and to our marriage. Next to the Lord, there is no one I’d rather spend time with than her and I have grown to love her in a way that only God could create in my heart.

I believe that there is someone who is listening tonight who struggles with these same things. I just want you to know that you’re not alone and there’s a place where you can be accepted just as you are by other men who know your struggle and will share the hope and healing they have found here at RSA.