Donny's Ramblings


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“Why Was I Not Enough?” – A Letter From a Hurting Spouse

Back in May I received the email that follows.  I asked the sender if I could remove her name, post her email and answer it here.  She gave permission, so I marked it unread, as seeing it in my inbox would prompt me to write.  But I haven’t addressed it until now because I really want to do it justice, and to do so requires me to rip myself apart in my reply.  Today feels like the right day to do this.

So you know, I’m not writing from the perspective of a counselor.  I’m just going to respond from my own point of view.  I’m not going to concern myself with proper sentence structure, either.  My thoughts might not apply to other men, and might not represent her husband’s motivations.  Therefore, I invite anyone to share their own perspective.  Personally, I prefer real life stories and reasons over generalized “study results.”

First, the letter:

Dear Mr. Pauling,

You’ve probably gotten these questions before – ad nauseum.  I hope you will respond anyway.  I am in the midst of a divorce.  Addiction was a major theme in the demise of my marriage – alcohol and drugs most recently, but pornography had been a source of pain in our relationship from the beginning.  Honestly, I’m not sure of the extent because I was really naive.  Many times I thought it was no longer an issue and then I’d make a discovery that demonstrated otherwise.  I’m looking for insight.  Is there a way to make sense of this that will provide peace of mind?  I fear not, but I have to ask these things.  Although you can’t know what was going on in my husband’s mind, there have to be some commonalities among men who allow porn to wreak havoc in their marriages.

What role did I have to play in my husband’s use of porn?  Why was I not enough?  Why was I not deserving of his respect and fidelity?

The lies, my God, the lies were the worst.  The outright lies and the subtle deceptions were rampant.  Every day there was deception on some level.  You lived the ultimate lie; how did you look your wife in the face every day?  Were you snickering behind her back at how clueless she was?  Did you have any love for her at all?  Did you come to look upon her with utter disdain?  I gave this marriage everything I had – was that all part of the joke, “See how much she’ll endure before she realizes I don’t love her.  Stupid b*tch.”

When you looked at your wife, who did you see?  Knowing my husband was viewing thousands of images of other women said to me, “He wants ANYONE BUT you, *****.”  Is that how you felt?  Did you want anyone BUT your wife?  It would seem that someone with a porn addiction would have a high sex drive, but just the opposite was true with my husband – at least with me.  Was that because I fell so short of the fantasies acted out in the land of porn?  Could I just not hold a candle to the beautiful, seductive, pleasure-savvy women he would seek out wherever and whenever he got the chance?

Please help me understand.  This has ground me into the dirt.  I am working hard to overcome the sense that ‘I am nothing.’  Because rejection of this type certainly sends that message.

While I’m at it, there’s something I’d like to you to consider sharing as you talk to different groups.  Exposing children to porn – even unintentionally – leads to disaster.  You see, I was set up for this whole scenario years ago.  The fact that I am writing you as a devastated wife is almost nauseatingly cliche.

My Dad used porn heavily.  No, he didn’t show it to me and he kept it in his nightstand drawer (fully accessible, just out of sight), but he never hid the fact that he liked porn.  A lot.  He and one of his friends would laugh about jokes in the latest edition of Hustler when our families got together – right in front of the wives and children.  The wives laughed too.  I saw my stepmother reading Hustler when she was sunning herself on the deck.  I thought porn was an absolutely normal part of life.  So when I was 12 and a garbage bag full of old Hustlers ended up in a closet that also housed my toys, I took a look for myself.  I figured I had better educate myself so I wouldn’t end up divorced and alone like my mother (my Dad’s first wife, who did not like his porn use, but was of the belief that “men can’t help themselves”).  I’ll spare you the details, but it set me up for many years of abuse and ultimately the turbulent marriage that is now ending.  Children should be separated from porn as vigilantly as they are separated from guns.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  The burden of so many sharing their pain with you has to be great.  But I guess that’s why you were called to public ministry, right?  🙂

I’ve forwarded your story and video from LifeSiteNews to my Dad and brothers and I’m praying it will have an impact.

Blessings,

*****

This wife’s letter asks so much.  I’m going to take bits and pieces of it, then reply below each part from my own perspective, as if Wendy (my ex-wife) was the author, asking these questions of me (it wasn’t her, by the way).

What role did I have to play in my husband’s use of porn? Why was I not enough? Why was I not deserving of his respect and fidelity?

If Wendy had asked this, I’d have to reply, “You were enough.  I realize I complained about so many things.  I know I had the attitude that you wouldn’t just let me be myself.  I complained that you didn’t trust me.  I complained that you didn’t want to have sex often enough.  I complained about all sorts of things, didn’t I?  I don’t remember whether or not any of my complaints were even based on real reasons, because the truth is that I was just a really selfish man.  You were right not to trust me.  I used some of those things I thought were ‘valid complaints’ to justify making my own poor decisions.   That’s really what my complaints boiled down to:  trying to sell the idea to myself and to you that I had an excuse to make bad decisions.  One of those poor decisions was my use of porn.  There are so many versions of porn that every man on the planet, and most women, can be tempted by if given the right circumstances… or should I say, ‘the wrong circumstances.’  I word it that way because the circumstances are something I could have controlled.  I didn’t have to be up late, on the computer while you slept in our bed.  I didn’t need to come home and turn on the computer at lunch time while you were at work.  I definitely didn’t need to go to the seedy parts of town, sneaking in the back door – hopefully unnoticed by any friends or acquaintances – of shops that sold pornography.

“I could have controlled myself.  I could have been a man of God.  I could have fought a fight worth winning, worth bragging about, of which I could be proud.  But I didn’t.  I gave in to temptation.

“To be honest, one of the biggest reasons I looked at porn is because I had fantasies about things that I didn’t want to do to you.  I felt those things would degrade you.  I didn’t mind carrying those thoughts out in my head with someone else’s daughter as the ‘recipient’ of the actions I wanted to commit.  I had no problem disrespecting a girl on a screen.  She didn’t seem like a real person with real feelings to me.  I didn’t see her as someone’s little girl, the way I do now.  She was just an object for me to use in my ‘it’s all about Donny’ fantasies.  Regardless of the hurtful words I said, that’s what my porn use and cheating came down to:  pure selfishness.  I wanted to engage in a type of sexual release that didn’t require consideration for anyone but myself.  I didn’t want to honor my vows or consider your needs.”

I didn’t want…

*I*

That’s what it all boiled down to… a desire to receive for myself, exclusively.  A desire to consider nobody but me.

The lies, my God, the lies were the worst.  The outright lies and the subtle deceptions were rampant.  Every day there was deception on some level.  You lived the ultimate lie; how did you look your wife in the face every day?  Were you snickering behind her back at how clueless she was?  Did you have any love for her at all?  Did you come to look upon her with utter disdain?  I gave this marriage everything I had – was that all part of the joke, “See how much she’ll endure before she realizes I don’t love her.  Stupid b*tch.”

Wendy and I were asked several times by Oprah Winfrey’s people to appear on their show.  The show didn’t want to speak only with me; if they couldn’t have both of us on the show, they didn’t want to do the interview.  I desperately wanted to participate.  Over the years, Wendy has turned down numerous requests for interviews.  Those requests even included a personal phone call from a pastor whose congregation numbers more than 20,000 people.  Oprah’s people fared no better… she turned them down, too.  But she DID consider it for a few days longer than any other offer, because she knows the secular members of such an audience really need to hear about God’s love, grace and forgiveness.

During her days of consideration, she asked me if I’d be okay with her telling the audience what she really thought.  “It wasn’t the porn,” she said.  “It was the deception.”  I was a deceitful person in every way.  What you wrote in the paragraph I just quoted could have been written by Wendy, right down to that last line.

But I DID love Wendy.  I don’t fully grasp why I was so deceptive.  That part of my character still haunts me to this day.  Just a few days ago, Wendy and I had a conversation.  I was very excited about some of the things God has been doing in my life and those with whom I’ve interacted.  Wendy interrupted my joy to make sure I knew that she still considers me to be the world’s biggest liar, and she’s not sure how much of the things I was telling her were able to be believed.

NOTE: this was just days ago, almost 6 years after I left the world of pornography.

As Wendy said, porn wasn’t the root problem in our marriage.  Deception was even more damaging than pornography ever was.

I deceived myself just as much as I deceived Wendy.  I believed, about myself, exactly what I wanted to believe.  I never felt as if I didn’t love Wendy.  I felt as if I loved her very, very much.  I also tried to believe that I held myself in high esteem, while at the same time holding other parts of myself in utter contempt.  Those parts of me,  I considered to be beneath her.  I wanted to hide those parts from her.  She was too good for that part of Donny.

No, I never once thought of her as a “stupid b*tch.”  I put her up on a pedestal that I didn’t feel I deserved to stand upon.  I’m not sure if I can explain it, but I NEEDED her to be royalty, to be perfect.  My own self esteem was so low that I needed to believe I was somehow connected to something bigger than me… something that I could physically touch and see.  God wasn’t enough.  God didn’t even come close.  I needed Wendy to be that object of perfection.  But since I didn’t feel I deserved her, since I felt like I was a pathetic excuse for a man and that nobody would like me if they knew who I really was, I took out my dark areas on others I didn’t respect  such as images on a screen, and eventually real women via physical cheating.

I deceived her because I didn’t want her to know how pathetic I was.  I wanted to be more than what I felt I actually was.  I wanted to be better than I felt inside, and I wanted her to believe that of me.  Sometimes, oftentimes, that lack of confidence came out as anger towards her.  It also came out in lies to her and to myself.

My point, dear *****, is that it was all about me and never about her.  I’m sure the same is true in the case of your husband.

When you looked at your wife, who did you see?  Knowing my husband was viewing thousands of images of other women said to me, “He wants ANYONE BUT you, XXXXX.”  Is that how you felt?  Did you want anyone BUT your wife?  It would seem that someone with a porn addiction would have a high sex drive, but just the opposite was true with my husband – at least with me.  Was that because I fell so short of the fantasies acted out in the land of porn?  Could I just not hold a candle to the beautiful, seductive, pleasure-savvy women he would seek out wherever and whenever he got the chance?

I’ve answered this to some extent in previous replies.  I’ll repeat some of what I said and dig a little deeper here.

When I looked at my wife, I saw my wife.  She turned me on SO much.  When I met her in High School I’d never had a serious relationship before her, so for me she came to define all that the perfect woman embodied.  Her physical features became what I considered to be perfect.  Everything about her became my preference.

And then came porn and the girls within it.  All of those images filled my head, and each type of woman that was different from my wife fulfilled parts of my fantasy life that I didn’t want to place on Wendy.  Some of that fantasy life didn’t even exist before I saw those images and watched those videos.  Some things repulsed me at one point in time, but grew to be an interest as time passed.  As I said before, there were actions I wanted to do, sexually, that I felt degraded my wife.  Through porn, this woman with that body type will fulfill THAT fantasy for me, while this other woman with that characteristic will fulfill some other twisted fantasy.   What I did with Wendy was “holy” to me.  Our sex life was what pure sex looked like in my mind, and the rest of it was what I let myself believe I really deserved.  And when I say, “…what I really deserved,” I am stating that  from the viewpoint of a man with really low self worth.

I often didn’t want to be pure.  This became my reality more and more as I felt less and less worthy of my wife and the beautiful child she eventually bore for me.

I’m convinced satan will twist anything God intends to be pure.  That’s his nature.  The more God loves something, the more satan wants to attack it.  One of God’s first commands to humanity was the command to be fruitful and multiply.  That command had nothing to do with growing strawberries and teaching algebra, and everything to do with sex.  God loves sex.  It is a gift to us.  But because He loves sex so much, His enemy twists it into something it was never meant to be.  That’s where porn and twisted sexual fantasies come into play.  This is a spiritual battle.  As humans, sexual drive is built into us by our creator.  Satan loves twisting that drive.

To answer your question, “Could I just not hold a candle to the beautiful, seductive, pleasure-savvy women he would seek out wherever and whenever he got the chance?”, I would have to say, “In my case, Wendy was the sun to which some little candle couldn’t possibly compare… but I didn’t feel worthy of her.  I felt too dirty, and I didn’t know how to clean up, so I just gave into the dirt more and more all the time.”

While I’m at it, there’s something I’d like to you to consider sharing as you talk to different groups.  Exposing children to porn – even unintentionally – leads to disaster.  You see, I was set up for this whole scenario years ago.  The fact that I am writing you as a devastated wife is almost nauseatingly cliche.

My Dad used porn heavily.  No, he didn’t show it to me and he kept it in his nightstand drawer (fully accessible, just out of sight), but he never hid the fact that he liked porn.  A lot.  He and one of his friends would laugh about jokes in the latest edition of Hustler when our families got together – right in front of the wives and children.  The wives laughed too.  I saw my stepmother reading Hustler when she was sunning herself on the deck.  I thought porn was an absolutely normal part of life.  So when I was 12 and a garbage bag full of old Hustlers ended up in a closet that also housed my toys, I took a look for myself.  I figured I had better educate myself so I wouldn’t end up divorced and alone like my mother (my Dad’s first wife, who did not like his porn use, but was of the belief that “men can’t help themselves”).  I’ll spare you the details, but it set me up for many years of abuse and ultimately the turbulent marriage that is now ending.  Children should be separated from porn as vigilantly as they are separated from guns.

I agree 100%.  I was first exposed to porn when I was in the third grade, when I picked up a magazine that someone had left in a trash can at a local park.  I still remember those images to this very day, quite clearly.  As I’ve traveled to speak these last six years (December will mark six years since I began speaking out on this topic at venues other than this blog) I’ve heard the same things over and over and over again from person after person:  their struggles with porn began at a young age due to exposure as a child.  On October 18th, I posted this update on my Facebook wall.  The woman mentioned in that post, seeking retaliation against me, made an accusation back in December of 2010 that I showed her daughter pornography and allowed her to drink alcohol.  I would never, EVER do such a thing, especially to a child, but because of my background and public profile that relates to this topic, I’m an easy target for such an accusation.  Having personally experienced the devastation pornography wreaks in the lives of all who touch it, I’m adamant that children never encounter it.  I  regularly ask my son if he’s seen it and am thankful that thus far he has not had to encounter it.   I also speak at youth events, where I challenge young people to keep themselves pure and keep pornography out of their lives.  The average age of exposure is now 11 years old… it’s no wonder our families are falling apart.  Boys see images and videos on a screen and begin to believe they depict the realities of sex, when nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s my belief that your husband’s problems really have very little to do with you, *****.  He needs professional help.  Some will say, “He just needs God.”  I disagree.  In the Bible, we are told to share each other’s burdens.  We are told to confess to each other.  The point is that God instituted life to involve healings that include other people.  I’ve been seeing a Psychiatrist for quite some time now.  We’ve made a lot of progress but there is still so much work to be done.  It was hard to admit that I needed help.  It was hard to admit that God didn’t miraculously recreate me into a perfect, valiant man.  Valiance is a journey, and others are needed to complete it.  Your husband needs to be willing to start that journey, and to continue on it as long as it takes… which just might be the rest of his life.


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For Me, It Takes a Toothbrush

Along the Sacramento River Trail

A view from the Sacramento River Trail: my favorite place to converse with my Creator.

Last night I wept, snot running down my face and dripping off my chin, for a period of about 4 hours. It wasn’t fun and I really didn’t like it. At least not then – not while it was happening. This morning I see it in a different light, because it’s times like that, when my soul cries out to God and to others, when I feel a toothbrush at work inside.

Some of those close to me sometimes question whether I’m fully letting Jesus inside to clean things out.  I know that I am. It’s just that I don’t think He wants to magically make everything perfect. I think He purposely works on issues slowly so that I understand them better. He isn’t just taking a fire hose and spraying the place out… He’s taking a toothbrush and slowly deep cleaning. I sometimes feel like others need to see fire hose evidence in order to believe a work is in progress, but I am more than overjoyed with the toothbrush. Perhaps you, dear Constant Reader, aren’t the type that needs to understand things about yourself like I do, but I want to know… I want to understand… I want to get it. I feel that is going to be a big part of any future ministry God may have for me: identifying with others who have gone through the same things I’ve gone through and maybe being able to be used to help others “get it”.  For that to happen I need to reach that place myself.  Slowly.

My cockiness is melting away.  I am realizing I really don’t know much.  I’m not nearly as smart as I thought.  I’m enrolled in Seminary and want to be used by God, but I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever have anything to say to anybody.  Perhaps that’s all for the best? Perhaps that’s the only way to be if God’s words are to be spoken and not my own?  I feel inadequate.

In the two weeks of 2006 between September 11th, when I knew I would no longer be in “the business”, and September 25th when I finally asked Jesus to take over, I wanted instant answers and solutions to all the anger and bitterness and questions I had about Him, Christianity, and people. I tried to strike a deal with God that if he brought those answers I’d give him my life. He didn’t respond at all. He was silent. On September 25th I finally understood that it wasn’t that He wasn’t willing to answer my questions, He just wasn’t going to do so all at once. He has been very faithful with slow answers. Some of them even in dreams. Most of them through something I read and then ponder, or something someone says to me that I ponder while prayerful, or through ideas that form when speaking with Him along the Sacramento River Trail, my favorite place to converse with Him.

This slow rate is purposeful, and I am loving the journey.  I am content in the knowledge that change will continue.  I am not asking for speedy results, because I am realizing the value of “one step at a time” results that really have a chance to sink in.  Does this make any sense?  It is lovely what’s happening.   But I do wish those closest to me would reach the place where they, too, realized that all these things they think I need to let God heal – the bitterness… the anger… the constant questioning – I AM letting Him in to heal.  Again, it is purposely slow.  And maybe some of you might even be who He uses to point out what’s next, but I need those who are close to please be patient, because this is a one-thing-at-a-time situation.  Lots of time went into the damage, and lots of time is going to be required to toothbrush it away.


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Being Judgmental – Random Thoughts

Before Christ, I often railed on judgmental Christians. After Christ, I’ve continued to do so from time to time. But Wendy’s mother emailed me awhile back and pointed out:

Being judgmental of the Judgmental is still… judgmental.

I contemplated what she said for a long time, and still contemplate it today, and her words have helped me get rid of a lot of bitterness. It’s not all gone, but it’s going.

_________

One of my favorite Gandhi quotes:

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I would like to see that perception of Christians changed, wouldn’t you? The answer to making that perception change can also be found in another Gandhi quote:

Be the change you want to see in the world.”

It starts with me.  I am the only person I can really change, a task made easier with God’s assistance.

“God, please help me.”


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Interview: Former Model Roschel Wynn

Roschel Wynn modeled for me when she was 19 years old. Yesterday I interviewed her for this podcast (which is also going to be released on the XXXChurch podcast as well as Jason Harper‘s Triad Podcast). She wanted to share her story, her experiences.

Beginning with a shoot that incorporated both photos and video content, her first job for us was for a Playboy owned website. She also modeled for a handful of amateur sites that purchased content from us. Even though she did all “solo” work and never touched another person, the work she did for us still affects her to this day.

Roschel reads this blog, so if you’d like to say something to her feel free to leave a message.

This audio interview lasts 33 minutes, 16 seconds. You can listen here:

Or download the file here:
Right click and save to your hard drive…


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A Message From a Former Model

For some reason, I’ve been really feeling compelled to contact one of the girls who modeled for me. I finally tracked her down and had a conversation with her via Yahoo Instant Messenger a few days ago. Amongst other things, I asked if she’d mind allowing me to interview her for the column I write for XXXChurch.com. I promised to keep her anonymous.

Today I received this message from her:

Donny-
Hey, well I’ve been thinking about our convo the last couple days and i finally went on your myspace to read some of your comments to see if you were truly being honest. I saw the last comment from the guy talking about seeing your pod cast on xxx church and so I decided to watch it. I’m so happy for you and I want to ask for your forgiveness. I was a horrible Christian when I was doing what I was doing. I was not only putting myself in a horrible position but I was putting you in that position too by allowing that to go on. I also wanted to tell you that I’ve hated you till now. I know it sounds extreme but I blamed you for where I was at. If it hadn’t been for you taking those pictures I would still be able to hold my head high. Now I’ve realized that that was Satan. He was telling me to blame you when all along I should’ve been blaming myself for everything that was going wrong in my life. I needed someone to blame other than myself. You were it. I’m sorry. Also I forgive you. I forgive you for taking the pictures. It sounds stupid because that was your job and I’m forgiving you for your job but for some reason I feel like I needed to say that. For what it’s worth. I would love to do the interview and if you want a testimony on screen I would love to tell my story. You don’t have to keep me anonymous. I feel like it makes more of an impact if you can see that person, it’s real. But it’s up to you, I’m just God’s tool. He makes everything good. Thank you Donny. You’ve helped me more than you know. Please give me a call when you have a chance. Talk to you soon. God Bless
-R

I removed the rest of her name because I want her to be very sure she’s okay going on record or on camera. If she’s sure about it, I look forward to allowing readers to place a face with yet another story of how porn affects the lives of those involved.

I am also very thankful for her forgiveness.

There will likely be more on this story in the near future…


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An Email I Received Today

From the boyfriend of a former model. He became her boyfriend after she had worked for me. This model keeps in touch with me from time to time. I’ve cross posted this to my MySpace blog as well as the column I write for XXXChurch.com.

My name is (Name removed) you don’t know me but my wonderful girlfriend had worked for you. Her name is (Name removed). When i heard she did a couple photoshoots with you it was probably the one thing that made me wonder if I could truly love her. I blamed you. I have since realized that I love that amazing girl no matter what. We have been together for a year. We have our own place together and couldn’t be happier. I had asked her why she still talked to you and what she said made a lot of sense.

“I have to learn to forgive myself and I want Donny to know I don’t blame him, he is probably doing enough of that on his own.”

I know a little about you from what she has told me and from the porn sunday blog you posted and I just wanted to let you know I think you’re doing good . I know it probably dosent mean much coming from someone you have never met but it makes me feel better to let you know. (Name removed) is loved with all my heart and is doing well. I hope life is good and that you are doing well also.

Wishing you the best of luck.

(Name removed)

This email… I don’t really know what I think about it. I can put myself in the place of this man and empathize with how he feels. This is the first email I’ve received from the boyfriend of a former model. I really am glad he contacted me.

Just a month or so ago I had another model that told me it’s hard for her to find a boyfriend. She’s an amazingly beautiful girl, but once a new love interest hears about the work she did for me he usually leaves. For a specific instance, she shared a story about a guy she’d been very interested in for quite some time. Things were progressing well for her until he learned about the modeling she’d done for me. As soon as he found out about it, he no longer wanted to date her. When she talked with her mother about it her mom said she could totally understand how the guy felt and didn’t blame him at all.

Both of these situations are examples of how porn affects the lives of those involved long after their “career” is over.

Here’s my response to the email above:

(Name removed),

I am glad you contacted me. I really don’t know what to say. I was a very selfish person, making money at the expense of other people for so long. I never took the time to consider how it would affect the models for the rest of their lives. I always justified my actions by saying “I warned them and they signed a release.” The truth is that I knew better. I had a bigger perspective. I chose myself over each and every model who worked for me.

I’m so glad you looked beyond the work (Name removed) did for me. She’s a really great girl who needs a good man in her life. She was young and naive, and I’m glad you don’t hold that against her.

I have no excuse, but thank God things have changed. As you know, I no longer produce porn. I now travel the country in an attempt to educate people about the realities of that industry. I don’t want to take away anyone’s rights to work in the business, consume porn, or produce it. But I do want people to realize there are real life consequences.

For what it’s worth: to you, as well as to her, I apologize. I wish the two of you nothing but the best. They say “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. I don’t think that’s just a cliché. For (Name removed), and for me, I think it’s very true.

Feel free to email me any time.

– Donny –


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Personal Costs

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.


4 Comments

Neglecting God

Donny:
8:13am
I’ve been neglecting God lately. That stops today. I’m very yucky without him.

The Other Person on IM:
8:14am
You start noticing pretty severely pretty shortly huh?

Donny:
8:14 am
Yeah.

The Other Person on IM:
8:14am
The same for me…I really notice it with me. What I told you yesterday is true. You were just lashing out because what they did hurt you….but it just doesn’t matter….be hurt and don’t try and control what they do…you can’t. Just worry about what you do and let it go.

(more conversation, edited out ’cause it’s too personal)

The Other Person on IM:
8:17am
Anyway, I just saw your focus was on the wrong issue, which really isn’t an issue at all. The only issues you have to deal with are yours. LOL. Heard enough yet?

(there are some really good people in my life)