Recently I have become more and more aware of the separation I feel between the ‘outer’ me – that people see and interact with – and the ‘inner’ me, that is constantly aware of my struggle with porn and the fact that those I am speaking with have no idea about this secret of mine.
Despite being regarded as a very outgoing and socially capable person, I often feel very isolated internally when I am with other people, because I am so conscious of this secret. I have also started to slowly admit that despite my ‘socialness’, I have actually very few, if any, close friends. At least not any that I see with any regularity. I have good friends that I see maybe once a month, but that’s about as good as it gets.
In thinking about why this might be, (and credit to a new therapist I have been visiting), the notion arose that I may be subconsciously struggling to build these relationships because of the knowledge that no-one is really getting to know the ‘full’ me – they are always shielded from the fact I have an addiction (because I don’t tell them).
One of the benefits I think I will get out of going to a 12 step group like SAA is the ability to meet people who, for the first time in my life, will be able to get to know all of me – warts and all. They’ll know what I’m going through and vice versa, and there will be no hidden agenda or pre-occupation (hopefully).
I’m quietly quite excited about this prospect. Of being able to speak to another human being without permanently having to remember I’m hiding something from them and worrying about saying something that may give away my secret.
Merging the two identities
Leading on from this, I now need to consider what my life will be like in recovery (not that I’m doing very well at recovery at the moment). I.e. I think I need to start defining myself as an addict, rather than as a normal everyday person with a dirty secret. I need to stop living two lives – one being the normal guy that people know and like, and the other being a shameful and embarrassed porn addict.
So I think I’ve decided I’m going to start telling people, with the goal being to, at some point in the future, be living a relatively open and honest existence whereby people know I’m a porn addict and it isn’t something I actively try to hide from people.
This is obviously a huge step but I think it will be a powerful one that could really deflate the shameful feelings associated with the addiction and allow me to continue to tackle it in a healthy way and start growing a single identity of who I really am.
The question is who to tell! And when. I rarely get the time to spend with any of my friends one-2-one for a period of time, so I don’t have an answer yet, but I’m working on it.