As far as anyone was concerned in December of 2015 I was reasonably happy guy living a blessed life. I’m a Christian and believer in Jesus Christ. I had a beautiful wife and family, a nice home and lifestyle. I had friends and people who cared about me. My wife and I had purchased a new home several years before in a nice community. We had just shared a wonderful Christmas together as a family. Our house was decorated for the holidays as always. By all appearances everything was great.
But, things were not so wonderful and I was living a tormented life.
On January 1, 2016 my life completely blew up as my wife intercepted a text message from a woman I was engaged in an affair with. I had been watching porn on my smart phone in the privacy of my truck for over a year. I had gotten on a chat site and met a woman there which led to an emotional affair and ultimately, adultery. It only happened one time but one time was enough! However, the heart I was given to protect, the heart of my wife, I had stomped on! I denied that there was anything going on and that the text she saw was generic but that was a lie! Even though I was trying to end the relationship with the other woman, I was found out. It did not take long for my wife to discover what was going on through accessing phone records, text messages and my history on internet porn sites. I was such a coward and continued to deny that there was anything significant going on beyond a friendship.
I was kicked out of the house and the locks on the doors were changed. In the beginning my wife said she wanted nothing to do with me ever again and would never be able to trust me again. Men who are engaged in this behavior do not understand the level of unfaithfulness and betrayal their behavior communicates to their wife through watching porn. Trust is destroyed. When wives find out or husbands disclose their behavior some marriages survive and some don’t. Over 26 years of marriage and this is what my sin and behavior resulted in. Pain, anger and trust destroyed.
My life though, had hit rock bottom in absolute brokenness and the level of shame, guilt and self-hate was extreme.
What happened? How did I get here? Why had I behaved in a way to destroy my wife and family? Why had I acted in a way completely contrary to my spiritual beliefs? How had I gotten so far from God? I was strong believer in Christ and genuinely an integrity driven man who somehow got way off the beaten track and taken out by porn, fantasy and sexual immorality. My family and everything that I believed in and valued was torn apart.
In my life I achieved a degree in Education, was a high school teacher and coach, I have worked in sales and management in the Sports Photography industry and had owned a business in the Sports Photography Industry in California for 10 years. Without going into detail I sold my business and moved my family to Ohio in 1999 to accept a position as a Manager/Sales person in the same profession. Things did not work out and circumstances put me behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer rig in 2002 in order to maintain financial stability. Suddenly I went from working out of a home office, which I had done for 17 years, to being home every other weekend. I went from interacting with people on a regular basis to rarely ever seeing my wife, kids, friends and church family. I eventually was able find a job where I was home every weekend but my life was not the same and certainly not what I desired. Driving a truck over the road is a very lonely and isolated way to live and I battled depression, insecurity and low self-esteem issues over those years and had lost any vision and belief as to what I might be able to accomplish in my life or what my purpose was.
But how did I get here? 16 years ago I accidentally found porn on my PC. I was not looking for it but there it was and it definitely grabbed me. I was not one to go looking for porn magazines or go into adult book stores. I have never been in a strip club or pursued any kind of adult entertainment. My wife found out about the porn activity that day and angrily confronted me. She felt betrayed and I did not “get it” but I did go talk to my Pastor about my behavior. As I look back now I cannot believe that I felt she had over-reacted. This was going be a onetime mistake and I would confess and seek a repentant spirit. But there was an image burned into my brain that did not leave. A year later I intentionally returned to a porn site and I was caught again. That event resulted in my wife and me separating.
I ended up going through a 12 Step Program at Celebrate Recovery and thought I would be healed. I genuinely wanted to get rid of this urge and I did not watch any porn for 12 years, nor did I have much of an urge to do so. Unfortunately as solid as the CR program is, it did not deal with my specific issue of bondage to lust and sexual immorality and that was a problem. After a few years my mind returned to fantasy thoughts. Even though I gained insight into many solid biblical principles that can be applied to dealing with our wounds, hurts and addictions, porn and sexual sin is an animal of its own that needs to be addressed in a more specific manner.
Although I was not watching porn online I had an active thought life. The Book “Every Man’s Battle” openly discusses the sexual battle that is common to most every man from one degree or another. I am one of those men. I was tormented because I knew many of my thoughts were sexually immoral and my life was not exactly a picture of “not even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3). I was a believer in God, the Creator of the Universe and Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Still self-hate, my beliefs and prayer were not changing my private thought life. I loved my wife, I loved my kids, and over the years I was involved in many different ministries at my church. There were very positive parts of my life that I thoroughly enjoyed yet there was a battle going on in my mind and the thoughts in my mind were too often not pure. Even though I had read the book “Every Man’s Battle” I failed to implement the suggestions I read in that book. Stubbornness? Selfishness? A rebellious spirit? I wanted to do this in my own power? Unable to surrender to God? Probably a combination of all of these.
Somewhere, on a given day, in the fall 0f 2014 I found pornography on my smart phone in the privacy of my truck. It was evening and my drapes were pulled in my cab. Embarrassingly the truth is, I was captivated. I knew it was wrong though and that night I decided that I should really not do this again. A couple of days later I went back online. This behavior repeated over and over the next few weeks. I was talking myself into the idea that it was OK because I was in the privacy of my truck and it wasn’t hurting anyone. At the same time I was tormented because I knew it was sin and it was wrong.
For a couple of months I would watch porn in my truck several times a week then I would go home on the weekends and just act normal. In fact, I felt relieved to be home to be with my wife, family, dogs and our lifestyle. I would head back to work determined that I was not going back online but most weeks it happened the first day on the road. I convinced myself I could stop anytime. Wrong! I prayed to God to give me the will to stop but I continued going online and after a while it was every day, sometimes more than once. My desire to watch porn had become compulsive. I wanted to stop and tried to stop in my own power but I could not. The other problem is that there are behaviors and attitudes that accompany the porn lifestyle such as masturbation and a compromised pattern of thinking that has a huge impact on what is moral. Subjective and objective reasoning are affected. The separation you feel from God is tormenting.
There are many lies the porn industry tries to convince you of and I was buying into everyone. I thought about the word addiction after many months of repeated behavior but I went into denial about that. I was living a double life, one on the road and one at home. I felt so much guilt and shame but I could not stop. I hated myself. Oh I acted as normal as can be when I was at home, with family or friends but this secret lie was destroying me inside. I was addicted and to make things worse I joined a chat site and all this behavior resulted in being in complete bondage to lust of the online sexually immoral lifestyle. The problem with the addiction to porn and the accompanying behavior is that you are engaged in a “secret” lifestyle when compared to other addictions which are hard to hide or conceal.
In January of 2016 when my life came tumbling down around me I had some choices to make. Up to that point all my behavior was completely private and secret. After my wife made her discoveries I chose to make a phone call and disclose my private life to a close male friend of mine who also was a close friend of my wife. Even then it took two calls to come completely clean with total honesty. I ended up sharing what was going on with three other men as well. Even though a burden had been lifted as to the lie that I had been living, I knew something had to give and I really had no idea what to do. I knew I wanted to change and be healed but I had no idea what that would entail or where to start.
Initially I found Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). I attended some face to face meetings, acquired much of the SA literature and books and engaged in SA phone meetings while on the road. that ultimately led me to three guys on a SA phone meeting that were active in recovery and genuine believers in Jesus Christ. They reached out to me and have become an important part of my recovery and life as we began communicating often in support of one another. We pray for and with one another. Today, I am still communicating with them on a regular basis or whenever necessary and we have become close friends. Recovery happens in community and these guys were and still are an important part of my recovery community and spiritual community.
Even though I needed help and the right program would be instrumental I also knew the most important part of these circumstances would be connecting with God. I had to spend quiet time getting honest with myself and honest with God about who I was and how I got to this place in my life. I had to work very hard not self-destructing in my shame, pain and guilt. Believe me there were times when I gave serious attention to ending my life, driving my rig right off a cliff.
It was absolutely necessary to get completely honest with God, confessing everything I could think of and asking Him to reveal to me anything I was not recalling (Psalm 139:23-24). I had some very specific prayers that I had written out in regards to my understanding of who He was and the role he would play in rebuilding my life. Interestingly, I had such a strong feeling almost immediately that this was far more than just getting sober sexually. I felt strongly that He knew what was going to happen, he allowed it to happen and maybe, he was coming after me. Why? Because I am not the sum of my behavior. I am a child of God! He loves me and has a purpose for my life. He forgives me and he does not condemn me and I needed to absolutely understand and believe those truths. Up until these circumstances I had struggled to really believe that.
I really wanted to find a faith based recovery group and I found it right in my city of Columbus, OH at Vineyard Church called Men’s 180. That was early in February of 2016 so I was 5 weeks removed from the disaster that was my marriage and fallout of my sinful behavior. Normally I would never be able to attend a face to face meeting on a Monday night but two weeks in a row my schedule worked out that I could attend. Definitely a God thing! There were important resources there that I was able to get my hands on including one book called “the Unconditional Surrender to the Spirit.” That book had a huge impact on my initial recovery program and still does today because the weakest part of my relationship with the Trinity of God was my relationship with the Holy Spirit, God living inside of me.
I also met the director, John. We connected and because of my schedule he offered to have me call him every day Monday through Friday to talk as a means of support. I took him up on that offer and I called him nearly every day for a year. I was reading material and resources as well as getting an email devotion each day tied to scripture and recovery, written by John. Three years removed from our initial conversation we still talk and I am part of a 180 Online Support Group that John leads and could be leading my own group in the near future.
I knew I was in for a long tough road because I would be doing recovery from my truck purposely isolating myself there for 2-3 weeks at a time to completely be consumed with re-building my spiritual life and self-absorbed in recovery. I was motivated and determined to change my life, to become the man that I wanted to be and God wanted me to be. I had work to do and I was growing in my relationship with God, most notably the Holy Spirit.
I had resources. I had John and my three SA friends to talk to. I had an SA phone meeting I called daily. I tapped into my smart phone to listen to sermons from Pastors I liked. I listened to praise and worship music. This all became my community of support. I literally turned that same truck from a den of sexual disaster to a Rig of Recovery. My relationship with the Holy Spirit grew as I began to pray Galatians 5:16 and Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with Holy Spirit and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. This was John’s recommendation. John also recommended that I pray Romans 12:1-2 every day. To offer my body as a living sacrifice, offering my eyes, tongue, thoughts, feelings and emotions to the Lord. To not conform to the patterns of this world and to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. He also said to pray the Armor of God on every day from Ephesian 6:10-20. So, I did. I daily verbally pray to put on each piece of armor, understanding the purpose for each piece in order to fight the enemy. What a difference that has made in my life. REALLY! I cannot emphasize how this daily prayer ritual has impacted my spiritual life.
Now, this journey has not been easy! It has been the hardest thing I have ever undertaken. I have made mistakes. Recovery is a slow, steady process. I had some slips and falls along the way. But I just kept getting up and moving forward. There were times I doubted myself. So what was it that kept me moving forward away from watching porn, acting out or any other related behaviors? It was my determination to change and my willingness to do the work along with the Holy Spirit working in me to begin a transformation to a different person.
I came into Christianity at age 20 with a warped view of God because I brought the view of my earthly father into this relationship with God. I have a deep Father wound that I have carried around since I was a little boy. It has led me to some severe insecurities and craving the need for validation and affirmation. It has been a struggle my entire Christian walk to really believe that God loved me unconditionally and did not condemn me. I have spent much of my adult life working for and earning the love and favor of people and God. This journey has helped me completely turn around my view of God the Father.
I feel God has performed the beginnings of a miracle of life change in me! I know he can do the same for any man or person who is struggling with this sin and addiction. I have not arrived! The struggle and journey is a process and it takes time but the internal peace that comes with the journey is worth it.
In January of 2017, a year into recovery, two significant things happened. I found a Christian Counselor. A man who had lived the struggles of sexual brokenness. He led me on a journey to discover how and why I ended up in sexual brokenness. Mark (nathanscry.com) has helped me to discover past wounds and how I had been medicating so many things in my life that led to an addictive behavior pattern and eventually to pornography. We worked through a recovery process rebuilding my self-worth and self-esteem, a journey to discover what it means to experience contentment in any of life’s circumstances. A journey to change self-destructive thought patterns.
Secondly, I came across the John Maxwell program, a training program for public speaking, training and coaching. The John Maxwell Group is a leadership training program that incorporates leadership principles and the idea of adding value to people through individual coaching, leadership training seminars and mastermind sessions as well as public speaking. John Maxwell was a Pastor for 25 years and you can see the spiritual connection in much of his writings. It has had an impact on my own mindset and I am incorporating some of the concepts and content into recovery and joined together with spiritual principles has led to my website, ministry and business, Recover2Lead. God is leading me through a steady process of personal growth and development using His word, recovery principles and leadership principles.
I have learned so many things on this journey about the brain and addiction, recovery, leadership, Scripture, God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. I believe God has called me to help other men who are walking in the secret shame and guilt of sinful, immoral behavior, porn and sexual brokenness. We are human beings with a sinful nature, our flesh. We live in a fallen world behind enemy lines and the ruler of the air is Satan. We are at war. There is a spiritual war we are born into whether we like it or not (Ephesians 6:12). James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That is not a passive response to flee. It means FLEE! Flee, as in run away from or bolt, get out of Dodge, now! Flee as in flee from sexual immorality, 1 Corinthians 6:18.
I have not “arrived” or suddenly been transformed into some spiritual saint. I am just a man who has done a lot of work to change what led to a destroyed marriage and because of the separation I felt from God due to my sinful behavior. That decision has allowed God to do a work of transformation in me, a gradual process of sanctification. I wanted to change because of the damage I caused to my wife and family, and myself. I have not watched pornography since November of 2015. I really never think about pornography and the compulsion for sexual fantasy is rarely an issue. I’m a man and a sexual being. Every day there are temptations but God has removed the compulsion to think and act in a sexually immoral manner. He can do that for anyone who has the desire to flee from sexual immorality.
I and many others including some important spiritual leaders in this country feel that Satan is using pornography as a primary weapon to take out men, marriages, families, ministries and the Church. I choose to fight. I choose stand on the front lines and put the evil one in his place, under the cross of Christ where he has already been defeated. There is hope for every man or woman who has succumbed to this hideous sin and disease of porn and sexual immorality.
I encourage anyone who is struggling with pornography or any kind of sexually immoral behavior or sexual brokenness to investigate the options on my website. Discover a path to honesty, confession and healing. Feel free to send me an email for help or encouragement. I am also available to speak to Men’s Ministry Groups or Youth Ministry Groups as the millennial generation has become the largest consumer of online pornography.
There are places to go on this website that will provide for you a starting point leading to educating yourself, recovery, healing and victory. Start by getting honest with yourself and then with God. I cannot adequately explain how awesome it feels to be at peace with myself and God when it comes to the victorious journey in the desert I have been led on from the place of despair and depravity that I once lived, in sexual sin.
My program is about exposing men to the facts about porn and the negative, harmful effects on their lives, families and Christian walk. It starts with a 12 week DVD program called “The Conquer Series” (conquerseries.com) led by Pastor Ted Roberts (puredesire.org) and supported by Pastors and Psychologists who take a comprehensive look at porn, lust, addiction, the brain and the path to healing and victory from sexual brokenness. This part of the program is done in person. Following these 12 weeks is a face to face or online program with a step by step study and direction led by John Doyel (Men’s 180 – 180recover.com) and facilitated by myself, Bob Natale. This part of the program can be done either online or in a face to face setting.
This is not a 12 step program. 12 Step programs are very good and successful but the 180 program is an outstanding Faith based and Christ centered recovery program that focuses on biblical principles, recovery principles and community. Recovery starts with honesty and confession and happens in community.
God has also had me on a different journey that led me to make a decision to move back to California where I grew up. I came here to help give care to my aging parents and my children, specifically my adult quadriplegic son. My recovery program continues, whatever my location, whether in person or online.
My marriage did not survive but many marriages do. If both husband and wife are believers God can restore your marriage. God hates divorce but what I have come to understand is that the sole of each individual person is more important than any one marriage. I pray for every man or person engaged in this struggle to find the path to healing, peace and freedom. It is worth the battle to find peace in yourself and peace with God.