I’m 42 and have lived my entire life behind a computer screen. Early on it seemed the only way I could find peace and contentment was by playing video games or watching porn. It wasn’t just fun and exciting but it also took the edge off and made all that pain and discomfort that I felt daily go away. It was like the thing I could count on in a world I never truly felt I fit in – the screen.

I became infatuated with video games from age 5 or 6 – all my friends played them it’s the main thing we did. But I seemed to be more into it than them. They would be interested in doing other things too, but not me. I just wanted to keep playing. I remember even in elementary coming up with reasons to miss school so I could play games all day. Even at this young age games were already affecting my life and stunting my social skill development.
Then I remember being 15 and having my first experience of not being able to control my sexual behavior. Internet was new and AOL was the thing, but after a certain amount of minutes you had to pay more. My dad said you have this amount of minutes! So I knew I would not go over that amount of minutes lest make my father angry and you didn’t want to make him angry.
But I found AOL trade chat rooms and newsgroups – and in them internet porn. And I quickly found that I couldn’t seem to stop when I wanted. I remember the time of day getting late saying I need to quit but not being able to quit. “I’ll stop at 10:00 pm”. Then 11:00 pm would come around. “I’ll get off by midnight.” Then I’m still on at 2:00 am.
I remember starting to feel fear as the minutes were ticking away and that once they were done I would have to stop because my dad would be so pissed if I used up the free minutes. So I felt fear of running out of minutes because I wanted to keep looking at more porn and experiencing the high, something that was new to me but I definitely wanted more of that feeling, that euphoria. I didn’t want that high to end.
Then, the fear changed from being scared of running out of minutes to realizing I had already run out of minutes but was still looking for more porn. I was terrified then, knowing my father was going to be pissed and that each minute would be increasing his bill. But I still didn’t stop, I couldn’t stop.
The final bill came to a bit over 300 dollars for that month and I paid the price. I also lost access to the internet, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, despite the consequences. I was obsessed with it and the way it made me feel. But something else accompanied the excitement and intrigue however – and that was a shame. I felt shame.
At 16 I got my own computer and internet and didn’t have to worry about a specific amount of minutes anymore. As a result, I lived in the screen. My friends were being social in high school and I stayed on the screen. Want to go to a party? No thanks! Want to go to a dance? Nah, got something going on. Want to go play basketball? Busy sorry! I LIVED in the screen whether it was surfing for porn endlessly one night, or losing myself in a fantasy video game world the next. Going to sleep telling myself I’ll never do this again I’m stopping for good became a regular occurrence. The next day or so I would be back at it again.
I barely graduated high school, missing I think 45 days of my last semester. I often couldn’t get up for school because I was up all night looking at porn, or playing a game. At this point, I also noticed I didn’t seem to have any interest in sex with girls as all my friends did. I did find girls attractive, I just would rather watch them on a screen than interact in person. At 18 porn had already changed me, warped me, to not desire human contact but just to seek sexual gratification from a distance and by myself.
I had my first relationship at 18 and it lasted 3 years, still my longest one to date. At first, I swore I would never watch porn, I would only be loyal to her and she said she didn’t think it was okay to do. I lasted about 8 months. Around that time we had finally begun messing around sexually. Interestingly, instead of desiring sex with her, I desired to do things to her that I saw in porn, film those experiences with a video camera, then watch the video and masturbate the same way I did with porn.
I wanted to make my own porn. Actually, I didn’t really want that, the real me deep inside – the real me didn’t want to do those things with her at all but the addictive part would take over and any boundaries I tried to create for myself I would cross. This would not be the first time I crossed my own moral boundaries.
So, once I convinced her to go along with this stuff our relationship changed. I was no longer emotionally connected during any of our sexual interactions, she was just an object. She knew this and expressed she felt pain – I also felt pain after the act and shame. The same I felt after watching porn and we would often say let’s not do this stuff anymore. Then the next time would come and my addictive mind would crave it again. The resolutions and pain of the last time, even from a few days prior maybe, were a distant memory. So I would talk her into it again and she would go along with it again thinking it would make me happy and get me to love her more. This was the beginning of our downfall; when my addiction took over in the bedroom and everything that resulted after.
I started watching porn again around this time in secret so I had that shame too. To make a long story short, our relationship went downhill and ended after 3 years. All the while, I never once wanted sex with her. To this day I have never experienced a true desire for intercourse with a woman due to the mental twisting porn has done to my brain.
After our relationship ended, I knew I needed help. At this point, I had spent close to 2 years with her watching porn and constantly swearing I wouldn’t watch it anymore, then continuing anyway. I could objectively see how it had twisted me and the resultant way I interacted with her sexually due to the warping of the brain.
I was scared, I didn’t want to grow old doing this. Nothing sounded worse. And I didn’t want to do the things I did in that relationship again. So I went to a therapist, and that therapist suggested going to a group called SAA. I did go and I remember my first meeting a bunch of guys, older guys, saying how lucky I was to be getting this under control in my early 20s. They were ecstatic for me. I was so excited that I seemed to find some acceptance and a place to go. It was relieving to know it wasn’t just me, I had truly believed I was just a monster and defective, the only one doing these things.
I could never have imagined that 21 years later from that day, I would still be dealing with this shit. I spent the next 21 years saying to myself “I still have time, this is too good to pass up I’ll give it up soon.” Or just giving into cravings rather easily. All the while I continued to lose myself more and more in games also.
I haven’t experienced many more relationships since that first one, I was too busy with porn and games. Or, when I wasn’t, I was too full of shame to have the confidence to interact with many people. But those moments of not doing either never lasted long – but the shame was constant and ever-growing. As was the internal pain.
There was one other long-term relationship in my early 30s though, which was again destroyed by my addictive behaviors. The same thing happened with the sexual stuff, but now my gaming had progressed also. It too now was resulting in a life of chaos. I couldn’t control when I would stop, there were no thoughts in my head but the game. If I wasn’t playing, I was thinking about how I could get done whatever needed to be done, the bare minimum to survive, so I could get back to gaming. My relationship suffered, the final straw was when I yelled at her for interrupting a voiced cut scene in a game. Not the first time, but it was the last. I’m surprised she stayed around as long as she did.
After she left things took more of a downward spiral. A chunk of years later here I am typing this. I exist, not much more. Practically anything that requires work, or me being present, I’ve actively pushed out of my life to make time and freedom for games and porn.
The sad thing is, I’ve rarely been content doing this in any manner. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s been a bit like being tied up and forced to watch yourself slowly deteriorate and waste away. A part of you is screaming inside, crying, pleading to stop, knowing the damage and pain you are doing to yourself, your life, and the people you love. But you can’t stop. “I’ll give it up tomorrow.” 21 years of tomorrows.
As of now, I’m unrecognizable to anyone who knew me even 10 years ago, let alone when I went to that first SAA meeting 21 years ago. I’m a shell, a husk of a human at this point. I missed out on a family and kids which I so desperately wanted, always choosing pixels over reality. If it wasn’t porn it was a video game, if not a video game it was porn. It always feels so safe in the screen, like nothing can hurt me or wrong me. Yet it has destroyed me.

I live with a cat, am almost 43, and have no kids or partner. I am in a 2 bedroom apartment sitting here at a table as I write this with a pizza on the counter. I’m over 300 pounds. I lost my last job because I couldn’t function properly anymore calling out so much either because I spent all night gaming or watching porn. I’ve been single for close to 10 years now. Haven’t had an erection in years. At this point, it’s become almost necessary to avoid as many life responsibilities as possible just so I can live in the screen to escape the pain of knowing what a life of living in the screen has done to me.
A part of me feels and remembers being a teenager or a kid and having dreams and hopes. It feels like yesterday. How did this happen? Where did the time go? Who is that monster in the mirror?
I didn’t game or watch porn today and the torture of living in reality, knowing the truth of what has happened in my life as a result of decades of this, is practically unbearable. It’s like I’m in a nightmare I just want so desperately to escape but I can’t. This is real. What I feared most back then has happened – I did get old and never stopped doing it. I wasted my life. I wish I hadn’t. God, I wish I hadn’t. It’s so painful!
If you’re young reading this, please do anything at all necessary to overcome this now. Please, if you had the opportunity like I did at 21 to get over this destructive behavior use every ounce of strength and willingness to ask for help you can muster. It really will destroy your life and the longer you go the harder it is to stop.

Source link: I was 18 when I said I need to stop – I’m now 42 sitting alone at a table having destroyed my life.

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