My Porn Addiction Started With a Book and a Babysitting Job (Part 1)

You’ve heard, and might even believe, that pornography is and always has been a “guy’s issue.” I’m here to tell you this: young women have been watching porn a lot longer than smart phones, social media, and Wi-Fi have been around.

It’s more than a result of abuse and grooming. Sometimes we just find it, like it, and keep using it. Sometimes, it’s about nothing more than how it makes us feel. And sometimes, we have no idea what we are reading, watching, or engaging in, but we keep going back anyway.

My story started young.

It was late 1989, and my mom’s friends needed a last-minute babysitter for their two kids. I agreed to help out and had a great time with the kids. They were pretty mellow, and even helpful in their parents’ absence. While we tidied up, I found a small magazine stack in the living room. My interest piqued for a reason I don’t remember, so I thumbed through, stopping on a story. All of these little magazines were full of short, sexual, and incredibly exciting stories like nothing I had ever read.

Setting the magazine down, marking the page I left off, I got the kids ready for bed and then anxiously sat down to read more. Some of these stories were from a woman’s point of view. I felt mature, reading such “grown up” stories. After a while, I put the magazine I was reading back, and started working on homework before the parents got home.

After that night, all I could think about was what the people in those magazine stories did and described. These thoughts followed me to school over the next few days. As the weekend got closer, I was asked to watch the kids again. This time I could hardly wait to get the kids to bed and “relax” with a few more stories. We cleaned up a little, but I was distracted.

Weekend after weekend, this became my routine. After a while, I began to babysit for free so I could keep my access to this amazing new world I had found. A few weeks in, I began masturbating behind the couch to relieve the tension I began to feel after a story binge. In fact, it got to the point I couldn’t even stop thinking about what I had read until I relieved myself. My focus on homework lessened, but I kept the thoughts under control at school. Well, mostly.

Porn made me feel empowered—at first.

A year or so later, I was no longer babysitting for this family, but I’d still think of the stories I’d read or venture into my own mind and make up new ones from my imagination. Erotic literature, also known as “lit porn,” became my earliest sexual education course. Having experienced both covert and overt sexual abuse, I’d already learned a little about my body, and my mom had explained sex to me in terms of love making and the deep feelings that make us want that with another person.

But this stuff I found? It taught me how to dress, how to walk, how to flirt, even seduce, should I ever need those skills. Lit porn also taught me that sex could be secretive, expressive, intense, stolen, angry, and without boundaries of age, race, number of partners, or the “love” my mom taught me about. It blew my mind to think that I didn’t have to love someone, I could just get them to want me, and that made me “empowered” and “feminist”—whatever that was.

Luckily, I had also become a Christian shortly before discovering lit porn. Because of that, I drew the line at flirting and getting guys to like me. I truly wanted to do what my mom had said, and what they taught me at church: wait until I was in love, then only be with that person. So, I created an intense, intricate and totally safe fantasy world. I’d have boyfriends in the real world, but my readings and prior abuse had me so terrified of what men would do if I said no, or changed my mind, I was too scared to even let them kiss me.

On one hand, that fear kept me out of danger and safe from disease or teen pregnancy. On the other hand, I was totally incapable of expressing what I felt in normal, healthy ways. If a guy put his arm around me, I would literally begin to have a panic attack. Fearing what would happen if I passed out only made it worse, so I avoided being alone with the most innocent of my male friends, or any young men for that matter.

I continued to spiral into addiction.

At the age of 16, my online friend group started getting together to watch “Jap-Anime.” I loved it! Flirty, coquettish, cute girls and handsome, suave, wise older boys and men. Teen drama, relationships, boys fighting over who got to date the beautiful female star while her friends all swooned in jealousy. Much of what we watched was then termed “bubblegum” and was harmless.

Well, it seemed harmless then.

Looking back, I see how it reinforced the flirty seduction—the act of being unobtainable to increase desire I had gleaned from the lit porn. Only now, there were “innocent” cartoon girls I could identify with. I could dress like them, act like them, but keep myself safe by not being alone with any of the guys. The saddest part now is how many young men I hurt by not knowing better, or even knowing how to truly connect and care for them in a relationship.

It breaks my heart to think of the male friends I was not interested in, some of whom had romantic feelings for me, but only got hurt because they weren’t “cool enough.” (Meaning they didn’t act like the guys in my anime, lit porn, or fantasies, so I had no idea how to relate to them, even if liked them back.) I had been so inundated with the messages of an overly-sexualized world, that I had no idea how to be different or the pain I was causing.

Truth be told, I had social anxiety, and spent most of my time avoiding the older men but desperate for the attention of any 17 to 23-year-old. I wanted to belong—to be a part of something where I could relax and feel included. Really, I just came off as needy and insecure, which only attracted super creepy guys who were my mother’s age. The dressing up in little black dresses and pretending lost its appeal after just a few gatherings. I went back into high-functioning isolation. No one really noticed, not even those I thought were my best friends. The fantasies were so thick that I couldn’t even see that I didn’t have close friends left.

Years later, I’d find out that my best friend since age 12 had considered a new young woman in the neighborhood her best friend since we were 15. I was crushed, confused, and spiraled for years. How could I not have realized that? Neither one of us were very good to each other those years. I was so wrapped up in the double life and numbness of fantasy fed by anime, jumping from one guy to the next, and wishing I knew how to have a perfect life like the girls in anime and lit porn, that I couldn’t see how out of touch with reality I was. The losses and loneliness in the real world hurt too much.

Complete recovery seemed out of reach.

By my senior year, the feelings of betrayal by friends and my awkward social skills culminated, and I withdrew from personal relationships at school and church altogether. Again, it seemed as if no one noticed. However, I had begun to crave more. I quit the anime, quit hanging out at parties, and decided alone was better than what I was doing. Since the parties and anime went together, there was no more bubble gum, hentai, or anything else. What went on in my head was enough, almost.

I had quit masturbation at 15. Without any other outlet for my sexual cravings I dove into a severe anorexic binge that lasted 5 years. In and out of emergency rooms, hearing my mother tell the doctors I was doing it for attention, was tough. But I wanted to be good, and without close friends, this was all I had. Even if I wasn’t watching or reading “bad stuff” anymore, at least now I was thin enough to be worthy when I finally found love.

A few years and fair amount of work on myself later, I had a husband and a baby. But the fantasy world in my head was still rampant. Married life gave me flashbacks of earlier abuse, so I went deeper into the fantasy world and anorexia, literally believing that if I lost enough weight the memories would melt out of me and the fantasy would stop. My husband and step mom were at a loss when I finally told them I thought I might be anorexic and was afraid of dying. Praise God that they hung in there with me, and I finally began to get help.

To be continued…


Lacy is a wife, mother of four sons, author, women’s recovery coach, and advocate for female recovery efforts. She advocates for research, new treatment and recovery methods for women, and education of parents. She won’t stop talking and writing until every woman who struggles knows that she’s not the only one.