Donny's Ramblings

Personal Costs

30 Comments

I’m cross posting this to both this column on Donny’s Ramblings as well as the column I write on the XXXChurch website. I’m thinking this is gonna be a long one.

Wendy, my ex-wife, and I are pretty good friends. We were high school sweethearts. We dated 4 years and were married 6 years. During 3 of those married years I produced porn behind her back: first on a part time basis, later full time.

After our divorce, Wendy and I maintained a unique relationship. Our son deserved parents who got along. Who cooperated with each other. Who loved him despite their differences, and who demonstrated that love, in part, by keeping their personal disagreements out of his life as much as possible. That’s what he received.

Now, as a Christian, everyone talks about the two of us reuniting. “Wouldn’t that be the ultimate display of God’s healing power?” they ask. Or some similar question that means pretty much the same thing.

I can’t say the two of us haven’t discussed it, but I can say that at this point such a reunion doesn’t look very promising. We’re friends. Best friends. But there’s a lot of… baggage between us, you might say. Some very painful experiences. Some very bad memories.

Wendy has accepted my apologies. She’s forgiven me. She’s an amazing woman. Forgiveness and re-committing one’s entire life to the person who caused so much hurt… well, those are two completely different animals.

Sometimes she has an issue with this blog and with my speaking engagements. Oftentimes she has “issues” with me over a variety of other topics. There’s a lot to work through.

When she recently asked me why I don’t focus more on what porn cost us while blogging or speaking I asked her if she’s actually read everything I’ve written or listened to all that has been spoken. Admittedly, she doesn’t read a good portion of what I write. It’s easy to understand why. A lot of the topics written about here are still a raw wound in Wendy’s life. She definitely didn’t deserve what I put her through.

Tonight I’m writing a bit more about the personal costs. I’m going to rip myself open for this one.

Straight, blunt talk.

To start, I’ll have to share more of the details of my past. Only by doing so can I paint the picture of what my lifestyle choices have cost.

Like most males, I had a personal interest in porn. I preferred to look at solo models. Hardcore sex content didn’t really interest me. The visuals that “got me going” didn’t involve other men molesting the fantasy women I viewed.

My first adult magazine was one left in a park where a friend and I played. I was in grade school. The images intrigued me. The corny words beneath them are still in my mind to this day. I can literally tell you what was written beneath my favorite images.

I also remember buying magazines from a liquor store near my home when I was in the 10th grade. The clerk had to have known I wasn’t 18, but he sold them to me anyway.

Still, my interest in porn was an off-again, on-again thing. It hadn’t consumed me.

Yet.

What really got me was when I was showed photos of a woman I knew. The photographer, her husband, had no evil intentions. He was just proud of his wife. What happened in my mind is almost indescribable. Not only was it a turn on to see someone I knew so exposed, I started thinking that I could have one helluva good time picking up the camera and pointing it at willing models of my own. I’d never considered photographing a nude female before that time, but afterwards it is something I wanted to do very much.

I found a private party willing to part with cash for photos. I also did a bit of research and found companies willing to buy.

At first, I photographed a few girls I knew. It wasn’t hard. I can’t describe it, but there’s something intriguing to many woman about being photographed nude. With less money than you might imagine, it was easy to change “Yeah it might be fun to pose naked but I’d never actually do it” into “Yeah, I’ll do that… I’ve always wanted to pose nude.

I’m a smooth talker when I want to be. That definitely helped.

In my own home, I once photographed a girl who had been a High School classmate. Wendy was at work. To show off, I emailed some of the photos to an acquaintance I’d met on an instant messaging program. He sent a few of the photos back to Wendy. That almost ended in divorce. She didn’t believe me when I told her I wasn’t sleeping with the girl. She didn’t believe I’d done it for money (and even if she had believed the money part, her feelings on the matter wouldn’t have been much different).

We got over it as best we could. She assumed I wouldn’t do such a thing again.

I didn’t want to hurt her, but I didn’t want to give up the thrill of making money by photographing naked women. I decided I’d just have to work harder at hiding my “work”. And honestly, at that point the money wasn’t the major motivator. I was addicted to the rush of having models expose themselves to me. I was addicted to producing pornography.

Later the thrill would subside and I’d be motivated to “go big” by the desire for money and the desire to throw my actions into the faces of the religious hypocrites I’d been around each church service, all of my life.

I was caught again when I forgot to erase photos off the card of our digital camera. Earlier that day I’d done a “test shoot” of a model so that I could email her photos to a client for approval. When Wendy saw them I convinced her they were pics my friend John had found online, and that I’d had him transfer them to my compact flash card so I could look at them later. A few rocky days later and we’d moved on.

I kept shooting models behind her back.

A day came when I slept with one of them after a shoot. I hated myself for it. I decided to hide my actions from Wendy but promised myself that if I ever did such a thing again I was going to come clean.

While Wendy was pregnant I continued shooting models. With a baby on the way, you’d think that if there was any decency left inside of me I’d stop what I was doing. I didn’t. I congratulated myself that I hadn’t slept with other models. I congratulated myself for “keeping it professional”.

When Caden was a newborn I started my first porn sites.

While on a business trip to Los Angeles I was called by a model who’d worked for me a few weeks prior. She was also in Los Angeles and wanted a ride home. We spent the night together in a hotel along the way.

A few weeks later I kept the promise I’d made to myself: I told Wendy the truth about my “work” while on another business trip to Phoenix.

That was it. I never again spent the night in the home we’d made together.

In my case, what did my “porn life” cost?

My self respect? Surely.

A great wife? Absolutely.

What else did it cost? I’ll share some of what I know, but there are many “costs” that I do not even comprehend myself.

It cost my son, the most important person in the world to me, the chance at having his mom and dad at home when he arrives from school. It cost him the chance to witness what relationships are supposed to be like. To witness how a man should love his wife. To witness how two people who love each other should learn to bend and give and compromise. I don’t have the chance to help Caden with his homework as I’d like to do, because I’m not usually there when he comes home from school. My decisions took that opportunity away.

It cost Wendy intense personal anguish. One day she had a husband she loved, the next she was living in the house we shared with only her infant son to keep her company. I can’t imagine how crushing that must have been. I can’t imagine the gut wrenching anguish and tears she must have experienced.

Just a few months later, when I’d started dating Belinda and was “living it up” as a man who was all of a sudden able to freely, openly produce pornography, I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been for an innocent mother to watch me drive away with our baby boy in the car and another woman in the passenger seat.

She once told me she was unable to watch a romance movie for 2 years after our separation.

The only way I can cope with this stuff, by the way, is to realize that the wretched man who did all of these things has been forgiven and given the chance to start with a clean slate. THANK GOD FOR HIS GRACE. And thank Wendy for hers, as well.

Wendy wasn’t the only one affected. Her entire family grieved with her. Her entire family was thrown for a loop, wondering how something like this could happen to someone who definitely didn’t deserve it.

Wendy’s little brother, with whom I’d been very close since he was an infant, all of a sudden lost a loving “Uncle” figure.

Amongst my friends and family, many lives were thrown into turmoil by my actions. The fallout affected others more than you might imagine… more than I might imagine… more than I’ll ever fully comprehend.

If I were to stick my finger in a light socket, the resulting shock would not be a punishment. That shock would be a result of my free will to make a bad decision. Cause and Effect.

If you were passing by me when I had my finger in that socket, and I grabbed you, the shock you’d receive wouldn’t be punishment either. You’d be affected by MY free will… by MY bad decision. You, as an innocent bystander, would experience pain because of the actions of another. Again, Cause and Effect.

And so it goes in lives all over the world. Innocent children are killed because of the free will actions of their parents or some complete stranger. Innocent husbands are torn apart because of the free will of their wives, who have affairs. Innocent wives are hurt because of the free will actions of their husbands, who can’t control the impulse to consume pornography.

I realize there are some who make the claim that pornography can enrich the sex lives of couples who consume it. I am not going to debate that particular issue at this time. But what I will say is that there are many wives who are NOT OKAY with their husbands consuming pornography. It doesn’t matter if the husband thinks there is no harm in it: if his wife has a problem with it, he shouldn’t do it, pure and simple (I’m not going to get into the moral reasons to stay away from porn at the moment, either).

When we were married, Wendy used to be “hurt” by several things. I used to think some of the things that hurt her feelings were ridiculous. I’d get upset that I had to walk on eggshells and watch what I said out of fear that she might be hurt.

As I age and experience life, I have begun realizing that she had a right to be herself. She shouldn’t have been expected to change for me. I either needed to make myself compatible with her, or choose not to be with her, or she could choose not to be with me.

Regardless of a person’s moral beliefs, this same concept applies when we start talking about whether or not pornography hurts marriages. The fact of the matter is that many women are indeed hurt (yes, even outside the spiritual arena) when they find out their husbands consume pornography. You, my constant reader, may personally believe it’s ridiculous to feel that way, but the fact is, it DOES hurt, for whatever the reason may be. In such a case, a husband needs to stop watching porn. He needs to respect his wife’s feelings. He made a commitment to her, after all, for better or worse.

He needs to stop hurting the innocent with his free will decisions.

My personal attraction to porn led down a path that ended up costing everything that should have been valuable to me. I was too daft, too bitter, too selfish to see what really mattered in life. The same can be said for those who allow pornography to control them, or who have chosen to produce it without regard for the lives of those involved, or those who have chosen to act in it, or…

Thank God that Jesus Christ can and will set those free who want to be set free. I am glad I accepted that freedom. I may never recover all that was lost, but I have already recovered so much.

If you’re struggling, reach out for help. It’s there for the taking.

30 thoughts on “Personal Costs

  1. Thank you for that…

    God Bless

    Mike

  2. Thank you for that…

    God Bless

    Mike

  3. That’s what following God is all about. Bearing it all for the world to see. Being broken and reset to zero.

  4. That’s what following God is all about. Bearing it all for the world to see. Being broken and reset to zero.

  5. I am hoping you will write a book when the time is right, because I think it could help a lot of people.

  6. I am hoping you will write a book when the time is right, because I think it could help a lot of people.

  7. Hey Donny – the beginning of healing is bringing things to the light, right? I hope the best for you. God is good and he loves you. I really appreciate you writing this, writing what “porn” cost you. It sure has cost me a lot – it has cost me similar things. Priase God that your story and mine is filled with hope because we are Christians and God can redeem the past. I hope that message is heard by those flirting with porn and can avoid being enslaved by its deadly effects.

    Thanks for being so honest.

    Michael
    The Confessions of a Porn Addict

  8. Hey Donny – the beginning of healing is bringing things to the light, right? I hope the best for you. God is good and he loves you. I really appreciate you writing this, writing what “porn” cost you. It sure has cost me a lot – it has cost me similar things. Priase God that your story and mine is filled with hope because we are Christians and God can redeem the past. I hope that message is heard by those flirting with porn and can avoid being enslaved by its deadly effects.

    Thanks for being so honest.

    Michael
    The Confessions of a Porn Addict

  9. I can understand what porn did to your life and how you regret certain decisions and the effects on your marriage and son, it is a very sad occurence for many people. There are still, people like myself who are poor college students who are enticed by the “easy money” when it seems like no such things exists. Nothing seems to come easy…and I have nothing persay that would be adversely affected by my posing again…if I don’t believe it is wrong for me, should I still be persecuted?

  10. I can understand what porn did to your life and how you regret certain decisions and the effects on your marriage and son, it is a very sad occurence for many people. There are still, people like myself who are poor college students who are enticed by the “easy money” when it seems like no such things exists. Nothing seems to come easy…and I have nothing persay that would be adversely affected by my posing again…if I don’t believe it is wrong for me, should I still be persecuted?

  11. persecution is the pain of our own spirits crying out for love. wanting to be loved for who we really are. not just for our appearance or position in life

  12. persecution is the pain of our own spirits crying out for love. wanting to be loved for who we really are. not just for our appearance or position in life

  13. God bless you, Donny. Honesty is so rare today especially when it leaves you vulnerable. I keep you in prayer.

  14. God bless you, Donny. Honesty is so rare today especially when it leaves you vulnerable. I keep you in prayer.

  15. Three men walk into a bar. The fourth one ducks.

    “I’m very much of the ‘make it dark, make it grim, make it tough,’ but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon

    If I were to write something like this, it’d be easy to get into a bout of “I’m too much of a failure for God to even use me.” Just guilt and depression and self-loathing. I’m praying that it won’t happen in your case, Donny.

  16. Three men walk into a bar. The fourth one ducks.

    “I’m very much of the ‘make it dark, make it grim, make it tough,’ but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon

    If I were to write something like this, it’d be easy to get into a bout of “I’m too much of a failure for God to even use me.” Just guilt and depression and self-loathing. I’m praying that it won’t happen in your case, Donny.

  17. Jeff,

    I like myself too much. I am one person I doubt I’ll ever hate.

    🙂

    – D –

  18. Jeff,

    I like myself too much. I am one person I doubt I’ll ever hate.

    🙂

    – D –

  19. Dear Donny,
    When I came to the part where you mentioned that you both had too much baggage, something erupted in my mind to say, “then you need to get a bigger house”. Of course all joking aside, as I have been one to believe in a reunion in God’s time of course for both of you. It so often the past points and memories of them that keep two people from forging a new path, especially when the fear is that you’re vulnerable to fail again. Given the try and try again experience in which you failed to make things right, certainly is ground work that needs to be broken up again, for new pavement to be poured. Would you ever fail again? certainly a potential fear point for Wendy and a vulnerable spot for you. Quoting Job, Job 3:25:
    “For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid befalls me”. Earning the right into her heart again, with the past forgiven and sealed, and a no going back policy in your soul, even when things get dry, boring, out of work, fights about other stuff, so that you’re not like the disciples who went back to fishing when the Shepherd was gone from the picture – apparently, but not really…then maybe if that is your life goal and determination, then it is something that Wendy could bank on. But you’re still human, you could still fail… The core triggering mechanisms that brought yo there before could still be there if not removed – unmasking them as you share like here, help. In any event, taking those chances and risks are what Love is…it is vulnerable, it is not a mechanical automatic thing. A safe things so that walking on egg shells is your lot in life. It is alive, it can get hurt, but it is also all of the things from 1 Cor. 13 and ultimately in Christ, it is God, who helps us in the areas where there is slack. She has certainly worked her way through a lot of that and has most definitely stuck her neck, or better her heart out there again and again. If you could always keep before you that her heart is the lost treasure and that you would do anything, even die to everything to find it again in God’s love and time, then maybe, just maybe, you are on your way. You realize the cost to some degree, though she knows it deeper, are you willing to pay an even higher cost to keep her at all costs as long as God is glorified? I think it is in you…I know it is in you, because God has deposited it there, right in your heart. Keep sharing your heart and keep letting the Lord of love heal every part. Let the seeds and ripples of change be just as impactful and even deeper in effect moreso than those which destroyed everything in the first place. Who knows what God might do. Definitely tell your story, love compells you too, even though some in the middle of porn or delving into it, usually pay the hard way as the scales on their eyes and hearts blind them to the truth till it is sometimes too late.
    God bless you brother and thank you so very much.

  20. Dear Donny,
    When I came to the part where you mentioned that you both had too much baggage, something erupted in my mind to say, “then you need to get a bigger house”. Of course all joking aside, as I have been one to believe in a reunion in God’s time of course for both of you. It so often the past points and memories of them that keep two people from forging a new path, especially when the fear is that you’re vulnerable to fail again. Given the try and try again experience in which you failed to make things right, certainly is ground work that needs to be broken up again, for new pavement to be poured. Would you ever fail again? certainly a potential fear point for Wendy and a vulnerable spot for you. Quoting Job, Job 3:25:
    “For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid befalls me”. Earning the right into her heart again, with the past forgiven and sealed, and a no going back policy in your soul, even when things get dry, boring, out of work, fights about other stuff, so that you’re not like the disciples who went back to fishing when the Shepherd was gone from the picture – apparently, but not really…then maybe if that is your life goal and determination, then it is something that Wendy could bank on. But you’re still human, you could still fail… The core triggering mechanisms that brought yo there before could still be there if not removed – unmasking them as you share like here, help. In any event, taking those chances and risks are what Love is…it is vulnerable, it is not a mechanical automatic thing. A safe things so that walking on egg shells is your lot in life. It is alive, it can get hurt, but it is also all of the things from 1 Cor. 13 and ultimately in Christ, it is God, who helps us in the areas where there is slack. She has certainly worked her way through a lot of that and has most definitely stuck her neck, or better her heart out there again and again. If you could always keep before you that her heart is the lost treasure and that you would do anything, even die to everything to find it again in God’s love and time, then maybe, just maybe, you are on your way. You realize the cost to some degree, though she knows it deeper, are you willing to pay an even higher cost to keep her at all costs as long as God is glorified? I think it is in you…I know it is in you, because God has deposited it there, right in your heart. Keep sharing your heart and keep letting the Lord of love heal every part. Let the seeds and ripples of change be just as impactful and even deeper in effect moreso than those which destroyed everything in the first place. Who knows what God might do. Definitely tell your story, love compells you too, even though some in the middle of porn or delving into it, usually pay the hard way as the scales on their eyes and hearts blind them to the truth till it is sometimes too late.
    God bless you brother and thank you so very much.

  21. Donny,
    I don’t know you, but I read this post while tag-surfing and it really touched my heart. Thanks for putting your story out there. I posted it on my own blog, hope you don’t mind.
    God Bless

  22. Donny,
    I don’t know you, but I read this post while tag-surfing and it really touched my heart. Thanks for putting your story out there. I posted it on my own blog, hope you don’t mind.
    God Bless

  23. Ittybittyblog,

    I don’t the link at all. Thank you for posting it. 🙂

    – D –

  24. Ittybittyblog,

    I don’t the link at all. Thank you for posting it. 🙂

    – D –

  25. Donny,

    As a 32 year old woman who has been married for almost 13 years and has 3 sons, I am curious to know exactly what caused this big epiphany of yours? Granted I haven’t read through all of your posts yet so I’m sure it’s there somewhere I wanted to know. Personally I like porn. I don’t see a problem with it. I watch it or look at it alone and with my husband. Perhaps because I am obviously not into the actual production side of it and I don’t feel that there is an addiction issue with it (at least with me), I don’t understand the whole “porn is evil” thing. I am a firm believer in to each their own, and I am also a firm “non-believer” in organized religion. My curiosity about your situation has gotten the better of me, and you seem to be very open and honest. Thx!!

  26. Donny,

    As a 32 year old woman who has been married for almost 13 years and has 3 sons, I am curious to know exactly what caused this big epiphany of yours? Granted I haven’t read through all of your posts yet so I’m sure it’s there somewhere I wanted to know. Personally I like porn. I don’t see a problem with it. I watch it or look at it alone and with my husband. Perhaps because I am obviously not into the actual production side of it and I don’t feel that there is an addiction issue with it (at least with me), I don’t understand the whole “porn is evil” thing. I am a firm believer in to each their own, and I am also a firm “non-believer” in organized religion. My curiosity about your situation has gotten the better of me, and you seem to be very open and honest. Thx!!

  27. Donny,

    I serve a God who created the universe, but even bigger than that He healed a relationship broken by porn, prostitutes, affairs and alcoholism…for 8 years I put her throught hell.

    Through the fog I always knew she was my best friend…she raised our three kids along with God when I was just plain gone, mindless, sick. She was always my rudder in life and when I lost her I went in what ever direction the wind blew…I wandered aimlessly, lost…I knew to much had happened, I did not even know if I could love her again, as a wife and a lover…but this was not about me, this was not about my wife; this was about a family…

    I have seen my counselors in my recovery and I ask them one question. “Of all the children you have seen from divorce, are there any who do not wish it could have been fixed”. Of the probably 15 Dr’s and counselors I have asked they have all told me that in every single case, 100% wish it could have been different.

    Your son needs the two of you to stand strong. In my recovery it is interesting because only people who are not from divorced home will say “oh, kids are resilent” or “oh, the kids will be fine”…

    My parents are dead now…I never gave up hope of just one more Christmas together…your son will always wonder…he will always hope, in his eyes you will always see it when you drop him off…why not daddy, am I not worth it…

    Fight for him Donny…You find a way to win that sweetheart of a woman God gave you back to your heart…I did..

    Sometimes my wife forgets that I have placed her on a pedistal, sometimes she tries to open a car door her self and I have to remind her, that is my job…yes sometimes she slips from the pedistal and I have to put her back up there…My little boy now opens the door for me and races to get to his mom’s door.

    I remember when we told the kids we were going to work on getting back together. My wife called me that night and told me…

    “Our son is happier than I have ever seen him.”

    A man in our small group said the other night that he had asked his kids if they were happier after his divorce because the fighting was over and he said my kids said yes. I shared this with my wife and she said “Isn’t that like me asking you if this dress makes me look fat?”. She was right, funny but right.

    I remember my dad asking me if I was ok with the divorce, I mean after all my mom was taken ill and was in a rest home. Dad said “A man needs sex” and I said “I just want you to be happy dad”…it was a lie.

    I am not preaching bro, but it is possible…it is hard, but it is possible and there is one very good reason for you both to do this…

  28. Donny,

    I serve a God who created the universe, but even bigger than that He healed a relationship broken by porn, prostitutes, affairs and alcoholism…for 8 years I put her throught hell.

    Through the fog I always knew she was my best friend…she raised our three kids along with God when I was just plain gone, mindless, sick. She was always my rudder in life and when I lost her I went in what ever direction the wind blew…I wandered aimlessly, lost…I knew to much had happened, I did not even know if I could love her again, as a wife and a lover…but this was not about me, this was not about my wife; this was about a family…

    I have seen my counselors in my recovery and I ask them one question. “Of all the children you have seen from divorce, are there any who do not wish it could have been fixed”. Of the probably 15 Dr’s and counselors I have asked they have all told me that in every single case, 100% wish it could have been different.

    Your son needs the two of you to stand strong. In my recovery it is interesting because only people who are not from divorced home will say “oh, kids are resilent” or “oh, the kids will be fine”…

    My parents are dead now…I never gave up hope of just one more Christmas together…your son will always wonder…he will always hope, in his eyes you will always see it when you drop him off…why not daddy, am I not worth it…

    Fight for him Donny…You find a way to win that sweetheart of a woman God gave you back to your heart…I did..

    Sometimes my wife forgets that I have placed her on a pedistal, sometimes she tries to open a car door her self and I have to remind her, that is my job…yes sometimes she slips from the pedistal and I have to put her back up there…My little boy now opens the door for me and races to get to his mom’s door.

    I remember when we told the kids we were going to work on getting back together. My wife called me that night and told me…

    “Our son is happier than I have ever seen him.”

    A man in our small group said the other night that he had asked his kids if they were happier after his divorce because the fighting was over and he said my kids said yes. I shared this with my wife and she said “Isn’t that like me asking you if this dress makes me look fat?”. She was right, funny but right.

    I remember my dad asking me if I was ok with the divorce, I mean after all my mom was taken ill and was in a rest home. Dad said “A man needs sex” and I said “I just want you to be happy dad”…it was a lie.

    I am not preaching bro, but it is possible…it is hard, but it is possible and there is one very good reason for you both to do this…

  29. Awesome. Linking. Thank you for sharing Donny. Oh, and follow me back on twitter. I am RightBloggerPat, that is following you. 🙂

  30. Awesome. Linking. Thank you for sharing Donny. Oh, and follow me back on twitter. I am RightBloggerPat, that is following you. 🙂

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