I write this post from a place of vulnerability. I don’t often discuss masturbation because it would never come up in “polite” conversation. If it did come up I would never shy away from talking about it though. I feel like sometimes we hold our past wounds so tight because we worry about what others will think of us, but sometimes I feel like that’s not allowing them to see the light of day. The more light we bring to our wounds, the more potential we have to shed a bit of light into someone else’s life. By writing this I acknowledge that this is part of my past, and claim my freedom from this past wound.
Addiction to Masturbation
Long before I met William, I was addicted to masturbating. Many people will claim it’s healthy and natural, but for me, it was anything but healthy. Masturbating was an addiction I couldn’t quit. I felt so much inner turmoil and self-loathing. It was a cycle of pain that kept repeating. I couldn’t go to sleep because that was when I was faced with my racing thoughts. I couldn’t escape my own body.
I often times wished I had another addiction, one that I could just keep away from myself, like alcohol or drugs. But that’s the thing with addiction, it’s all-consuming, and even if I had those instead there are still many ways to relapse. One addiction isn’t necessarily better than another, although mine would seemingly have the least side effects. The damage on my soul and having to live with myself was the hard part.
Cycle of Self-Hatred
Many factors went into overcoming my addiction. I sought out therapy, I read books, and tried numerous recommendations for overcoming addictions, but would find myself time and time again in the same cycle of self-hatred. It also wasn’t talked about as a women’s problem, I mostly heard that men did it. That’s what got me into trouble in the first place.
When I first learned about it I figured if guys do this, why can’t I? If men looked at porn why can’t I? Luckily I saw through porn quickly. I knew what I was watching wasn’t authentic love, that the people involved weren’t really enjoying what they were doing. Watching porn was the wake-up call that I needed to realize how far I had become a slave to my own sexual impulses.
William knew of my addiction as we were courting. If I felt tempted he would sing Latin hymns to help me fall asleep. Underlying the addiction was my anxiety. I was using masturbation as a way to cope with stress, to not have panic attacks, to not feel depressed. So sometimes when I called William he would just help me figure out where my stress was really coming from. Having his loving voice sing peaceful songs on the phone and to have someone who accepted me at what I felt like was my worst helped immensely. I had to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to face it on my own and that I needed help.
Having his loving voice sing peaceful songs on the phone and to have someone who accepted me at what I felt like was my worst helped immensely. I had to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to face it on my own and that I needed help.
Inability to Accept Love
A piece of advice that really helped me was when a priest told me to go into the chapel and say, “I believe that you [Jesus] love me.” He said, “don’t leave until you believe it in your heart.” I believed fully in an intellectual way that Jesus loved me, but my heart still needed convincing. That’s why it’s still one of my favorite prayers to this day.
An inability to accept love, or a belief that I’m not worthy of love, was more at the source of my addiction. What gave me hope was having a fresh start in the sacrament of reconciliation. I had a God who believed in me enough to give me another chance. I prayed especially to Our Lady Undoer of Knots because she is known to help undo the knots in people’s lives that keep them from God.
Striving for Holiness
I knew it was important to overcome my addiction before entering into marriage. As most people who are married know, getting married doesn’t fix any problems. So as we were courting we prayed for purity in our relationship and to honor the gift of sexuality during that stage in our life.
During our courtship, we strove to show our love for each other in other ways, by making each other gifts, by spending quality time together, by affirming each other. We knew that in marriage we would be practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP), which would also require periods of abstinence.
During our NFP lessons, one section is on S.P.I.C.E. which stands for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Creative/Communicative. These are each a part of our sexuality. So even during times of abstinence within our marriage, we can still express intimacy and love. Although practicing NFP can be hard, the grace of the sacrament and the intimacy that we find during those periods of abstinence are good for our relationship.
So much grace and healing has flooded our life, through our courtship and now our marriage. So I write this post out of gratitude that I’m free of this addiction. I write because I know that there is hope for those who are still addicted. I hope that by bringing it to light it might help one person. So for those who struggle with addiction of any kind, know that you are loved and worthy of love. There’s always hope!
4 comments on “Past Addiction”
Well done Bethany, this is a difficult subject to discuss. I think it’s good for people to know any addiction can be overcome. Keep writing I am looking forward to you next post!!!
Thank you for sharing your experience! What a great testament to your now husband for helping you through everything!
Yes, he really helps me be my best self. Thanks for reading!
Thank you so much for your vulnerability and sharing yourself. I struggled with this particular cross as well, and the best thing I ever did was to share my struggle with my (now) husband and close friends. Shame is the thing that keeps people, especially women struggling with this sin, in the dark and being vulnerable allows others to do the same! Thank you for your courage 🙂