I was at church one Sunday, about three years ago, and my dad told me something that I never expected. He told me that he was going to start speaking publicly about his struggle with porn addiction, trying to help others who have the same struggles. I was in complete shock. I had never really known porn to be something that could be addictive. In spite of my shock, I reassured my dad that I would be there to back him up and support him through his journey.
It was very courageous to speak publicly about this topic. Sex is a topic that seems to get overlooked. It is uncomfortable and even taboo to some. I was proud that my dad was strong and bold enough to come forward with his struggle and share his victories.
My Own Addictive Struggle
The bottom line is that addiction causes harm and disconnect in the lives of all that it affects. It needs to be taken seriously regardless of what it is. I learned this through personal experience with my own disease: anorexia.
Anorexia is very complex, but my biggest struggle was with control. I thought that if I couldn’t control certain things in my own life that I would control what I ate, what I looked like, how much I worked out, etc. No one can make me eat or stop me from working out.
Addiction Covers the Real Problem
Addiction is more often about emotional struggle. This is where I can personally relate to my dad. I struggled with personal beliefs: the belief that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t deserve to be loved, and that I was a failure. These were all contributors to my actions. These thoughts stem from what media culture shows us. We can never live up to who and what we see on television. We will never look like that model, or be able to jump that high, or run that fast. When this gets to be too much, some need to find some kind of release to cope.
My release came out in the form of an eating disorder. For my dad is came out in the form of a porn addiction. These coping techniques distract the addict from what is really going on emotionally. It takes them to a place where they do not have to think about the reality of their discomfort, about the things going on in their lives. The addiction “comforts” the things in life that we are not satisfied with. The pain is taken away for just a second. Instead of dealing with the issues at hand, the quick fix seems to be the safer more effective answer.
All these actions do not just impact the addict: it affects everyone around them.
Supporting My Father
Everyone has a role to play in an addict’s life. As a child I have found my role to be as a supporter of my dad. This may not be everyone’s role, but I have embraced this role. This addiction is not one that is talked about much in the public; it is something that is kept hush hush. One thing I always wanted my dad to know is that I would be there to support him in any way that he needed. In addiction you feel alone. You do not feel like anyone is going through the same thing or that they will understand. In my dad’s case, I don’t necessarily understand exactly what he is going through, but I know how I felt with my eating disorder. I did feel alone and like no one would understand me.
The best thing that you can do for someone is support them. Ask what they need. Be their backbone. Do not be ashamed. The addiction itself is not the issue. There are underlying issues, and that is where we need to support them. Help them conquer! You cannot fix the problem but you can take part in the solution.
Photo credit: amslerpix
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Danielle Wobschall is 27 years old and lives in Orlando, Florida. Her father, Dan, is the founder of Every Man’s Hope.