Pray for us

Today is Saint Agnes’s feast day.

In her honor, I added her medal to my brown scapular (it used to have a St. Benedict medal, but I wear another St. Benedict medal elsewhere).

Brown scapular with St. Agnes medal

I’ve been doing well. Things are good with Dove. I have a lot I want to write and share, but I find myself very busy again and not having time to sit down and do it. I’ll make an effort.

Dear sister Agnes, please pray for us. I need God’s grace to overcome.

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Scratch

I think Dove and I will get through this.

Well, scratch that.

Dove and I had a good couple of nights. I thought we were beginning to move past this. I had a post about half-written today, looking forward to the future, dealing with recovery in the context of relationship — something I never thought I would be able to deal with — about trust, and intimacy, and fidelity.

But tonight we had another blow-up, and I’m more afraid for us than I’ve ever been before. Please pray for us: we need a healing.

In the world

I didn’t make it to eighty days. I fell very hard soon after my last post, on Day 50. It was a struggle getting back up for about two weeks, but I’m here again. Day Seven today.

The past couple of days have been very hard. I feel a loneliness, a longing, specifically for female companionship, more than I have in a very long time. For so long, I outright dismissed the idea of ever having a girlfriend again. Between my brokenness and my addiction, there seemed to be no hope for that. And I was content. It was easy, on one hand, to tell myself that I had nothing to lose, that the habit wasn’t keeping me from any real relationship, so what did it hurt? why not content myself with what I have? and on the other hand, to convince myself — and I still believe — that I need this time alone, immersing myself in God, to be healed and prepared for whatever vocation lies ahead.

Alone in crowdBut I’ve been alone for most of my life. I haven’t had a “girlfriend” in more years than I care to admit — the few girls I’ve been out with were more combatants whom I had to fend off than “friends.” And I have struggled with loneliness. That loneliness is what led me headlong into disaster several years ago, when fueled by my addiction and the distorted view of sex and relationships that pornography gives, I said, To hell with God’s plan, and set out to experience what I felt I’d been denied. And sin chewed me up and spat me out.

Now, it’s been easier to believe that I’m too damaged to be a part of any meaningful romantic relationship; that with my ongoing struggles against this addiction, any relationship would be doomed from the start; that in my sexual brokenness, I would be an unworthy partner and husband. And I was content. I didn’t have to worry about it. I deleted all my dating site profiles, tried to stop thinking about it. And that is fine, as long as I’m alone with God and praying. If I could withdraw to a cloistered life, I might could forget. But here in the world, all it takes is one cool breeze to fan the embers back into flame.

A girl. There’s a girl at church, Clara, the daughter of some dear friends, who, the first time I ever met her, swept my heart away with foolish dreams and fantasies, after so many months of not thinking about such things. At first she came for a visit; now she’s back to stay, and I see her every week. I can hardly speak to her. I always do speak to her, but seldom more than, “Hi, how are you?” I don’t know what she thinks of me. She sat with me once at a potluck dinner. What does that mean? It’s fear, more than anything else, that binds me up; it’s easier not to worry about girls. But I’ve been worrying about girls my whole life. It’s that worry, that anxiety, that insecurity, that loneliness, that’s probably at the root of every problem I’ve ever had.

I had a very sensual dream last night about a girl I was intimate with years ago. The one who, despite being such a fleeting moment, made me feel more special than anyone had in many years. I can’t shake her. It is absolutely true what they say, that sex binds two people to one another, body and soul. Today is difficult. Please pray for me, my dear ones.

Tantrums

tantrumDay Four. After one last bitter fall, on the most bittersweet of days, Good Friday, I’m now doing quite well — so well I’m rather afraid to tell about it, lest I become prideful and careless and fall. Easter is a time of resurrection and rebirth, of getting up, of breaking the bonds of death. Please pray for me in this critical time.

It occurred to me today that something is changing; something is different. It’s often only in looking back that I realize where I’m coming from. And looking back now, I see it more clearly than I’ve ever seen it before: The very worst, the most brutal of my episodes, my trips into sin, my benders of porn and masturbation and more sinister things, have been tantrums. Like a little child throwing a fit, I’ve willfully abandoned my self-control and lashed out in a demand for attention and reparation — from God? — or in self-pity, wallowing in my own pain, picking at my own scabs, and somehow wishing to “take it out” on the world — ultimately, on myself.

Like a tantrum, there’s always something that gets me upset — not getting the toy I wanted, or not getting to go out and play — wanting it all right now and on my own terms. And what I wanted, what triggers me, is now so clear to me. I’ve acknowledged my dislike of these things before in terms of “this hurts me” or “I don’t want to see that” — but so often my tantrums are directly triggered, precisely by these things: By seeing wedding photos on Facebook, especially of pretty young girls getting married to pretty young boys, both only on the cusp of adulthood, age eighteen or so — as I see so often in certain sects of the evangelical Christian world. Or pictures of adorable babies born to such young couples. Or announcements of engagements or weddings or pregnancies or births, so often involving girls I sort of liked. And I cry out, Why was this denied to me? Why is my lot to be alone? How can all these other people be so blessed, so happy, while I am such a wretch? I must be worthy of so much hate.

All my harvesting, especially as it’s happened lately, of pretty young girls on Facebook; my harvesting of the lovely models on the modeling site; even my harvesting of “amateur” porn, of “self-shots” and other images of supposedly “real” girls — pours forth from this wound. Why was it denied to me to have a girl? Why have I been deprived of this intimacy? I will take it for myself. At its heart, it is all a tantrum. I scream and I cry and I stamp my feet; I flail my arms and pound my fists against the knees of invisible opponents. I go on binges, sucking up as much of my drug as I can, eliciting as much stimulation as I can, to punish myself for not being good enough; to punish God for failing me so bitterly; to punish those around me for being so happy and having what I can never have. I realize, morbidly, that this is the kind of anger, the kind of darkness, that so often becomes the heart of serial killers on the TV shows.

jesus_healerAnd now, I feel something is beginning to change. I used to feel bitter, or pained, or resentful, any time anyone announced they were getting married, or posted wedding photos, or posted photos of their baby. And now, lately — maybe in just the past few days — I don’t anymore. I’ve genuinely felt happy for people. Two or three days is not much to draw a conclusion from, but something is genuinely different. Can it be that my deepest wound is at last beginning to close up?

A prayer I’ve been praying just since Saturday, just since this revolution has begun, begins, asks Jesus to “heal those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life.” Can this really be happening?

Back Again

So I’m back again. I was blogging here under a different name some months ago, but that name was rather unkind to myself and a rejection of the hope I cling to. I also was too graphic, I’m afraid, in my posts, gave too much personal detail, and rather allowed myself to gloat in my sin, rather than pursue the purpose for which I intend to blog: to give an account of my struggle with sexual addiction, as a young man and Catholic Christian who believes the grace of Christ can set me free.

I’m not quite sure how often I’ll blog or what I’ll share, but I feel the need to pour myself out again, to let out these words and feelings that boil beneath the surface. If anyone happens to find my blog, you are welcome to read and follow along, and I pray I will find encouragement and healing here.