Day 33 of sobriety.
Yes, I will tentatively call it sobriety. Something feels different; something has been changing. It’s been nearly two months since I deleted all the porn. The count is from the last time I masturbated; the last time I fell into unchastity. And not with pride, but with relief, I rightfully reclaimed my 30-day Celebrate Recovery chip the other night. But as before, my true landmark will be at forty days.
And also as before, the 30-day mark marked a renewal of the struggle. The first thirty days were relatively free from temptation. But on Day 30 itself came a resurgence. It seems a little ridiculous to me to suppose that this war should follow such a well-rounded schedule — that Satan and his demons, or God and his angels and saints, should observe a human calendar, or that they should retire and resume to human perception at all; surely this must be a product of my own psychology, the power of self-suggestion. But I can’t dispute the fact that for thirty days, I wasn’t interested at all in ogling women, but instead found a bedrock of fortitude and — grace? — that enabled me to turn my eyes and my heart to purity and to cherish and take comfort in chastity.
And then suddenly a few days ago, the fight was on again. In those blessed thirty days, I learned more than ever before how important my time alone with the Lord was; how to take refuge in prayer from the troubles of the world. Where so often before, stopping what I was doing to pray was something cumbersome that I only did grudgingly, now I found a new delight and a new peace and a new longing to turn away from my preoccupations to give my mind and heart to Him. And then, all of a sudden, I was fighting again — not as if a rug had been pulled from beneath me, or my security blanket jerked away, but as if I’d been gently prodded from the protection of the Nest that I might learn to survive in the world; not that my defenders had abandoned me, but that they’d withdrawn to a deeper distance to allow me to practice what I’d learned and to grow in strength.
And last night especially was fierce. I am finding, as I did before, that when I block the usual exhaust ports — when I cut off the ways in which I’m used to finding release — it starts to come out my ears. “It” being… my energy, my frustration, my anxiety, I guess. And by coming out my ears, I mean I start to express that bottled energy in other, potentially not-so-good ways. The wisdom of the world, which i believed for so long, says that this is precisely the reason for masturbation, to provide a necessary release, since not releasing it would be unhealthy and maddening. But I’m no longer buying that. While providing a release, masturbation only ever served to inflame my sexual desires — rather than a purging, it spurred them to greater and greater ferocity, and me to greater and greater fixation on them.
So what do I do now? Is it just a matter of time before I give in again? Should I just resign myself to that, taking comfort in that my falls are becoming less and less frequent? As surely as I were to give in to that, I know that I would fall into an even deeper and darker place, as I did for the first six months of this year, so seized with my fixation that I was completely unable or unwilling to let go — in which I amassed some hundred or more gigabytes of porn, more than I’d ever hoarded before, and longer than I’d held on to it in years. No, I cannot give in; I must keep up the fight. Even if I do fall again, I must get up. But what can I do for now? All I know to do is to consciously turn away from the temptations and fixations, and turn my mind and heart to prayer — even if I have to do that a hundred times a day, as my mind drifts away again and again into darkness; even if it seems a losing battle, to keep stopping myself and pulling myself away again and again. Will this fire inside ever die down? Will I be able to hold it in, before it bursts out some other inappropriate port? All I know to do is to trust in the Lord and in His strength.