“I need to switch rooms.”
I had arrived at the Marriott in Colorado Springs for a conference. Checking in, I realized I was not roomed with who I had wanted. I asked about switching roommates. The conversation was a bit embarrassing for me, but I pressed ahead. The first person I talked with had to get a manager. I talked to the manager, and they said they had to get someone else associated with the conference. I was now talking with a third person about why I needed to switch roommates at the hotel. With each person I talked with, there were opportunities to bail on the conversation and make due with the arrangements the hotel. I ignored those “opportunities” and graciously held firm that I was going to be rooming with my friend. I shared the reasons were due to accountability, and this seemed to slightly unnerve the person I was talking to. After over twenty minutes, I had managed to switch rooms. A feeling of relief washed over me.
When I started dealing with my porn addiction, I think there was a part of me that believed life would return to normal. I’d be able to do the things I’d always done. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A key component to my recovery has been putting myself in situations where I can succeed with it. Over the years, these were things I had to learn firsthand how it was a gateway for me back to porn. This can be anything from:
- No web browser on my iPhone.
- No Twitter app on my iPhone.
- Not visiting SportsIllustrated.com (due to the swimsuit and cheerleader pics/links)
- A filter/reporting software on my laptop.
- Being above reproach when it comes to interactions with women.
- Not watching shows like Game of Thrones or The Wire.
- Scheduled daily reminders to get off the computer when it is late in the evening.
- Being open with Jana about anything.
This entire list is not something I believe should be the standard for everyone.* I’m just sharing what I have done over the years to help position me to succeed when it comes to recovery.
*I do believe one should be honest and open with their spouse and not keep secrets.
I know some think “it’s not that big a deal” with some of this, and maybe it is for them. For me, it is a big deal. As much as I would like a fantasy series like Game of Thrones, when one of the biggest selling points I’ve heard about it is the amount of scenes with nudity and sex I know I can’t go near it.
Some of this may seem ridiculous to you (and this isn’t even all of it), but I have had to learn not to care what others think when it comes to staying clean. I’ve lost friends and missed out on a few things, but I’ve experienced more fulfillment in life.
Clearly defining boundaries for me has helped me to live freely within the boundaries. Admitting weakness has helped me to be stronger when facing temptation.
Jana and I have a deep trust in our relationship. When I come to her and share with her whatever I’m dealing with, inevitably it helps strengthen me against it. Confessing it to someone else brings the temptation out into the open…into the light. Is it awkward at times for me? Yes, but I’m always grateful after the fact. Jana is as well. She doesn’t want me to go at this alone.
When I managed to switch hotel rooms to have the roommate I wanted at the conference? I didn’t have an issue all week. I trusted being with my friend. It was a relief to be within the boundaries I knew were good for me. Was it weird spending the time to make that happen, sharing a part of my story that is off-putting for some, and potentially offending someone else because they may think I don’t trust them? Yes, but worth it as opposed to white-knuckling it throughout the conference while trying to deal with temptation.
Does it get easier? The more I’m honest with myself and others about my shortcomings, yes it does. If I can be honest, and not worry about meeting cultural stereotypes about manhood, then it is easier in the aftermath. Part of my story is I shared with a guy how I was struggling with lust. They laughed in response and basically told me to “be a man”. I am weak when I fool myself into thinking I’m strong by other’s standards of manhood. I am strong as a man, husband and father when I confess my weaknesses as a man.