My Story – Part 2: Fighting My Addiction to Pornography (and Giving the Gift of Going Second!)

Because this story’s been written before in my book Permission to Speak Freely, I’ve adapted a few of the chapters to use on my blog. If you’re interested in purchasing the book, it’s currently on sale on Amazon for $7.98 and you can pick it up by clicking here.

Or, you can also watch me share the story on LifeToday, which is a great Christian television broadcast. James & Betty Robison were such amazing hosts, and they had someone do my makeup and my hair and make me look presentable and fancy.

 

Anne Marie Miller Pornography Abuse Story

 

*****

I know, I know. Porn is a guy’s problem. Girls—especially good, teenage girls—don’t look at porn.

And the last place you would expect to see porn is the living room of a former pastor, right?

But during these “dark years,” between a portrait of my family taken at Christmastime and an old, broken, dot matrix printer sat a computer screen. The place where I typed book reports and instant-messaged my friends became the doorway to an endless amount of forbidden fruit—and even more amounts of guilt.

Still in culture shock from our move to Dallas, and now with an awakened sense of myself sexually, I began to notice the provocatively lit neon signs loudly proclaiming XXX and FULL NUDITY. On the way home from school on my bus, I overheard two boys talking about looking up images of people having sex online. Ignited teenage hormones and my lack of sex-ed combined with the new technology of the Internet proved to be a dangerous combination.

Late one night, after my parents and younger brother had gone to bed, I logged on and did an innocent online search for “sex.” I had no idea that typing that one word into a computer would lead me to an addiction I’d fight for years.

And it wasn’t just a physical addiction either. Viewing these outwardly flawless women fed the huge emotional need that was left by my dad’s withdrawal and the youth pastor’s rejection. Through the fantasies I would have by looking at that computer screen, I would find love and affirmation.

I graduated as planned my junior year and moved out a few months after my seventeenth birthday. Now I had my own apartment with my own computer, and all the freedom in the world.

I would go to work (now the manager of the Christian bookstore), come home, and look at porn almost every night. Soon my porn binges started affecting my performance at work and my relationships because I wouldn’t get any sleep, and when I was with friends, I would secretly obsess about how soon I could be home and when I could get my next fix.

What’s a girl to do?

Of course, I never mentioned my struggle to anyone. Looking at porn was typical, even expected, for men . . . but a girl? A girl who likes porn? I even questioned my sexual orientation. If I was straight, why did I like looking at naked women? So was I gay? Or bisexual? Or was I just perverted?

I hated the pattern I had fallen into. I think I knew it was wrong. At least I realized anything that caused this much obsession couldn’t be right.

But I couldn’t stop.

The addiction went from online to offline. When something as dark and lonely and shameful as a sexually oriented addiction has a grasp on you, you do a lot of things you’d never in a million, billion years dream you’d ever do.

According to everything I had seen, to be accepted and loved meant to have a sexual relationship, and what girl doesn’t need to be accepted and loved?

For years this addiction held me tightly in a dark embrace, and somewhere inside me I knew it wasn’t the life I was intended to have. I knew it was wrong. And as I got older and began to rediscover my faith and my purpose and identity in Christ, I knew I had to break away from the safety I found in my morphed perspective of sex.

As twisted as it was, it was familiar. And that familiarity brought me comfort.

But I knew I needed to let it go.

When I was twenty-one, I moved to Kansas City and met a girl named Kristi. We became friends and one evening as we sat in her bathroom painting our toenails, she began sharing her story with me. Lust. Pornography. Masturbation. She looked at me with timid eyes waiting for a response.

Any color vanished from my face as I told her my story. Inappropriate relationships with guys. Porn. Lust. We had almost the same story, and for the first time that night, we were both able to confess to another human.

The weight we both carried around was lifted. It was exactly what’s described in James 5:16 – “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

The healing mentioned here is a spiritual healing – a weight bound up and lifted off of one’s spirit.

Confession isn’t the end-all, but it was the beginning of a transformation. We invited God into our struggle. We invited others into it. We took practical steps like putting software on our computers and met weekly and asked difficult questions.

That’s what it took. Confessing to God. Confessing to others. Committing to each other to ask and answer the hard questions for a long, long time.

After a few years, freedom slowly happened. The pull to look at porn hasn’t been strong in over a decade. Have I messed up now and then? Yes. Have I confessed those times? Absolutely. And we keep going.

Kristi gave me a huge gift that night. She went first. It’s the hardest thing to go first, to confess the broken using awkward words and avoiding eye contact. What happens on the other side of that confession is something beautiful. When you confess, there’s somebody on the other side of that confession who could very well be keeping a secret too.

So when you go first, you’re opening up this amazing opportunity for trust. You’re saying, “I’m broken.” That trust carries so much power with it. It can give people the courage to go second.

When people go second, it’s not an easy thing, but because you’ve already broken the silence—you’ve already released some of the shame in that confession—it makes it a little bit easier. They know they can trust you. And so you give them a gift.

The Gift of Going Second.

It’s the Gift of Going Second that starts waves of confession and healing.

It’s now your turn. Who can you give the Gift of Going second to?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, hateful or rude. Let's be grown ups here!

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9 thoughts on “My Story – Part 2: Fighting My Addiction to Pornography (and Giving the Gift of Going Second!)

  1. Thanks so much for your courage and vulnerability. Your post reminded me of something a mentor told me after I confessed a bucket-full of brokenness. He said, “The God who reveals also heals.” A thousand amens.

  2. amazing, thankx again Anne. so powerful and especially writing as a woman cos of that whole myth of ‘porn/masturbation being a guy thing’ – i think it is predominantly more a guy thing but have come across enough girls/women in my life who have come forward and confessed [to other girls/women – always good to keep same gender on that kind of counselling] at camps where i have been a speaker to know that it covers a lot of people and bringing it into the light is so so powerful but i like how you didn’t make it an easy sell – “Confessing to God. Confessing to others. Committing to each other to ask and answer the hard questions for a long, long time.”

    For me my eventual ‘cure’ or path towards it was pretty immediate [and involved meeting my now wife] but i struggled for a whole lot of years as a youth pastor [i chronicled mine and some other brave peoples’ stories here – http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/taboo-topics-pornography-and-masturbation-intro%5D praying, crying, shouting, not wanting it but continuing to head back to it… definitely finding someone you can trust [and there’s the risk, that can go badly] who will be safe with your story and your shame and who will make the time and effort to walk the journey with you is one of the hugest things.

    and the whole thing of going first always helps someone else out…
    great post, love that you’re sharing this and that it’s getting a lot of airplay
    keep on
    love brett fish

  3. Anne Miller, I love your transparency and your willingness to go first! As someone who has gone second it is hard, really, really hard but so worth it. The freedom I felt and still feel when I confess which is a lot because I screw up a lot is something you cannot explain. I am not to a point where God can use my story at this time because I am still in it but I hope that I will be able to overcome my fear and be obedient to Christ and his call on my life.
    When you find someone or a group of people that allow you to be yourself and love you despite and through it that is the grace of Christ that so many Christians fail to give, and so many Christians and non Christians alike give up because they don’t receive that grace and love.

  4. Oh to know that peace…. that freedom…. I’d give anything to know it. And yet here I sit, struggling. The weight seems too much to bare at times but I feel like such a loser to reach out for help from anyone. It’s so embarrassing… where do you go? Who do you take this too?? I have no one…. No friends, no family, not my spouse or my pastor… I feel so incredibly weak and alone and like such a failure.

    • I don’t know who you are or where you are but please know that I am praying for you right now, this moment. God is never too far out of your reach and there is no where you can go that he is unable to meet you. I pray God will put people in your path as firsts, so you can go second.

    • Just Me:

      Might I humbly suggest a group meeting such as Celebrate Recovery (http://celebraterecovery.com/)? They have hundreds (if not thousands) of groups all over the U.S. I met my two closest friends and accountability partners at a group very similar to this.

      It is a SAFE place to find healing and hope.

      I will be praying for you.

      Sincerely,
      Gary

    • I so share your thoughts “Just Me”. Anne I admire your courageous reveal your vulnerability and allow God to use it for His glory.I hope I will reach that place one day. It just so seems unattainable. Your story has come common points with mine, and is so excruciatingly painful to go through, let alone share it with another soul, or the public, for that matter.

  5. I am going to have to look into this book you have written. I always share my own story when I feel God prompting me to, but I think it would be nice for someone to have a book suggestion as well. And I completely agree, that confession is key in finding freedom! Thanks for sharing!

    If you want to read more about my own story, you can read it at http://women-masturbate.com/

  6. Someone sent this email to read and I will say , God is good and thank God for relationships.
    The truth that we practice sets us free. I have heard and read, and also walked others through this kind of process, may the Lord continue to strengthen you as you share your story. From victim to victory. Father forgive us as leaders as we cause others to stumble.