Pillars of salt

Day 102.

I am really hurting. And I’m looking back…

I have no illusions of being at the top of the mountain. I know I still have so far to go. But when I turn and look behind, I can see how far I’ve climbed, how far down it is — and what a slippery slope even taking one step backward would put me on.

At this distance, I can see and understand a bit more clearly. I know that falling back into porn and masturbation wouldn’t give me what I’m really longing for; that it would be, at best, a narcotic. Temptation suggests that I could do “just a little”; that I could slip into it for some temporary relief and get up again; but I know that that’s not true. The relief is only relief because it is oblivion; it consumes me and drowns out the pain, along with everything else: every hope, every desire, every good.

Yesterday I slipped, not into porn or masturbation, but into its client state: the kingdom of real girls whom I’d made into objects of fantasy; real people on Facebook whose lives I’d nosed into through their publicly-posted photos. I revisited some of my old favorites, for the first time since I began this stand. It didn’t progress any further than that, but it reawakened a longing: to know girls; to have a life. One of them had gotten engaged — it happens all too often among these young, pretty, evangelical women. That’s a life I missed, the voice says; because I wasn’t an evangelical; because I didn’t go to a Christian school; because I was never a part of any such church or family. And the voice says I could have had that, but was denied it; and it urges me to take it for myself, or to make it — at least the facsimilated fantasy of it. To acquire and cultivate relationships with these girls again, these girls whom I will never really know. And one by one, they will all get married…

Those girls are relatively benign; but as I long for a deeper intimacy, for a fulfillment of the desires that the fantasies stir but cannot fulfill, it inevitably leads back to porn. And there, the desire for empire is an essential part of it. The reason why I’ve been standing for over a hundred days, despite having free access to the Internet through the limited means of my phone, is that I’ve given up my throne: the great hoard of gigabytes upon gigabytes that I collected and ruled over. And knowing that that exists somewhere outside my reach is an inhibition against starting over. How could I start over, knowing that I couldn’t add to the trove I worked so hard to build before? Of course, logically, I could join anything new I accrued to my stash later; but it doesn’t work that way in my mind. How could I know I wasn’t collecting things I already had? No, thus far, I have been unwilling to cross that line.

If it were within my reach, I don’t think I could resist right now. As much as I know it is a lie, that that life holds nothing but pain, I miss that sweet narcosis. I love my Lord and I want to please Him, but right now, I have lost sight of hope. Why am I doing this? Why do I have to be clean? I know, truthfully, that purity is freedom from slavery, and that is a reward in itself, but some days it is so hard. The voice says to take for myself what I haven’t been given — that is the essence of all sexual sin, in fact — and it would be so easy, wouldn’t it?

It is a comfort to me to suffer this week, as I remember that my Lord suffered for me.

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My Empire of Dirt

black iron crownDay Six. Today is beginning to be a lot more tempting.

One of the most difficult, nagging thoughts that keeps recurring to me is that of “all I’m giving up.” A part of me hasn’t quite grasped that what I’m proposing here is the end, a permanent cessation of my activities. I continue to have thoughts of “when I come back” to it — and rising panic when I remind myself that if I am able to follow through, there won’t be a coming back.

Because that means giving up all I’ve worked for, all the hours I’ve invested, all the effort I’m expended, in building what was on the verge of becoming a really splendid fortress. Over so many months — but most of all in the past month — I’ve built a really excellent computer application, to harvest and manage my menagerie of “friends.” My very best programming work — the fruits of my most brilliant bursts of inspiration and energy — are all products that I cannot share, because they are all directed toward my obsession.

Everything I am as a programmer, I owe to this. I taught myself HTTP server–client communication, the ins and outs of Internet encryption, the utility of SQL databases and elegance in using them — all for this; all for porn. I can, and have, taken these skills and applied them to other work — but I am still very proud of my baser creations. The past month, I’ve been consumed by an almost manic rage, pouring myself into this day and night tirelessly, impelled by such an intoxicating feeling of godlike power and mastery, as I watched my monstrous creation come to life, bending the computer and the Internet to my perverse will. This week, I’ve steeled my heart not to look back — but it is wearing on me.

And my “friends” — I’ve spent so much time with them; I feel I know them so well, have such intimate conversations with them. That is all a lie, of course; I know that. But these women who show themselves to me — at last I feel I “have” them as my own. They are not “porn stars,” but “models” — not “whores,” but “artists” — not “professionals,” but “friends,” and “real” — as real as I can make them in my mind. That must be okay, right? my mind continues to implore. It’s not really porn; it’s art. But I cannot kid myself. The definition of “pornography” is not always so much in the intent of the creator, but in that of the end-user: if I use it for my own sexual arousal and self-gratification, then it’s pornography.

And all of this I’m giving up. The feeling of “power” and “control” — that is what’s so enticing about the devil’s yoke. But over whom do I really have power, if I give up my self-control? What sort of kingdom am I leading, when my subjects are leading me? I give it all up — I give myself up — to a power greater than myself; to a good Lord who alone can guide me out of this enveloping darkness.