Okay, let’s get caught up. I’m Adam, I’m divorced and I’m fairly certain that I will get married again so I’m employing my own divorce-recovery method called Reviewing the Tape. It’s where I look at the memories of my previous marriage as though I were a professional sports team preparing for its next “game”. I’m a drinker and I hate myself a little bit.
Now let’s proceed.
For this one I’m going to pretend it’s the Monday after Super Bowl XLVIII and that I’m a member of the Denver Broncos. It’s time for the tape session. My teammates and I are in the viewing room pretending that we haven’t been crying since last night. You know what? Scratch that. We are all crying like babies. We just got our asses handed to us for a solid sixty minutes that felt like an eternity. We let ourselves cry because we’re adult men and we’re in touch with our emotions. We’re not only crying but we’re also hugging.
Coach walks in and he isn’t happy. He tells us that it’s time to stop crying and then he presses play.
We expect to see Trindon Holliday cause us to start the game on our own fourteen-yard line by opting to return the opening kickoff out of the end zone. He should have just caught the ball that was kicked to him, put a knee down and let us start on our twenty-yard line. Instead, we see my ex-wife- she’s my fiancee at this time- and me sitting on my couch. We’re watching Monk in my Dallas, Texas apartment, roughly a year before we get married.
I sink in my chair because my team’s filled with childish assholes who are about to have a field day with me.
Monk is on a commercial break so my then fiancee turns to me and asks a simple question: “Do you look at porn?”
The truest answer would have been, “Nope, I stare at it intently whilst I masturbate.” That kind of honesty would have been overboard so I just I said, “Yep.” She thanks me for being honest and then said that she didn’t want me to do it anymore. I said, “Done,” and then went back to watching Monk. (It was the episode where Monk and his therapist found a dead cleaning lady.)
(Are they “cleaning ladies” now and not “maids”?)
Side note: Never make a decision anywhere near the image of Tony Shalhoub. There may be studies about this or there may not be, I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m willing to bet one hundred dollars that if you ask one hundred men how the decisions they made, while watching Wings, Monk or either of the first two Men in Black movies, turned out, you’ll hear one hundred guys saying, “I would’ve been better off just shooting myself in the dick.”
Had the two of us been watching one of the many Law and Order selections, I probably would have said, “What? Eww! No! Pornography is not only degrading to women but also to the men who perform in it as well as the ones who watch it!” (I don’t believe that. Not even a little bit but had Richard Belzer and Ice-T been on the television, standing over a dead body, that’s exactly what I would’ve said. Unfortunately, I was experiencing the Shaloub Effect and I not only admitted to looking at porn but I was also dumb enough to say that I’d stop.)
Coach turns from the screen and looks at me like I’m the dumb-ass who snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s head and gave Seattle a two-point lead in the twenty seconds of the game.
Manny Ramirez, the afore mentioned dumb-ass, is sitting in the back of the viewing room and he can’t stop laughing. While doubled-over and holding his stomach, he cries, “Jesus Christ, you’re such a dumb-ass!”
I sink into my seat a little more.
Coach fast-forwards to our first premarital counseling session.
I pray that the tape gets eaten.
(We still use VHS in this fantasy.)
Let me say this before I continue: If you, knowingly, see a counselor, of any kind, who only has a bachelor’s degree and a license, you deserve the train-wreck you are about to become.
Now, with that said, we wanted to get married at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. IBC, like ninety-nine percent of all churches, wants us to get premarital counseling before they marry us. I go and find us a counselor who meets my very strict criteria: Is at the top of the Google search after I enter “marriage counselor 75206”.
The porn thing comes up as we tell the counselor about ourselves and he compliments me for quitting, cold turkey. We forgot to tell him that I don’t like compliments. I hate them. I’m fairly insecure and every compliment, regardless of how nice it is, causes me pain. Also, I had looked at porn, for the first time in about a month, that day. His compliment was unfounded since it was born of a untruth. Unfounded compliments are the worse type of compliments. I, immediately, shoot down the compliment and confess, “Thanks but I looked at porn today.”
Coach presses pause, to give team time to crack up.
“Holy shit! It’s like he only knows how to be a dumb-ass!” Manning yells.
Right before I open my mouth to remind Manning that he’s his father’s second favorite son, Coach let’s out a, “Hey!”
The room falls silent and we all face forward.
Coach gives all of us his patented scowl and then presses pause again.
I might as well have just said, “Thanks but I just ate three babies so I’m going to just go home and take a nap,” because my soon-to-be ex-wife and our counselor react as though I had said just that. She loses all of the color in her face and starts crying. Our counselor, who I would eventually start referring to as the biggest douche I’ve ever met, went right into intervention mode.
(I have been heard, on more than one occasion, saying, “I hope that asshole chokes to death on warm ice cream.”)
There I am, my fiancée is crying on my right and the counselor’s right in front of me, making her cry more as he convinces me that I’m a sex addict. Her tears really help his argument.
Forty-five minutes later I’m in a room, with twelve other men. We are sitting in a circle of folding chairs. I stand and say, “My name is Adam and I’m a sex addict.” That night, I told them that I liked porn a little too much and I bought two books from the group’s leader, the Sex Addicts Anonymous Green Book and one to guide me through the twelve steps. Then I got myself a sponsor. A guy introduces himself to me and tells me that he’ll be my sponsor. I could call him when I wanted to look at porn and/or masturbate so that he could talk me down.
(I can’t mention my sponsor by name because the first rule of Sex Addicts Anonymous Club is that you do not talk about Sex Addicts Anonymous Club… unless you blog about it seven years from now and, if that’s the case, for God’s sake don’t use our names.)
Champ Bailey, our all-star defensive back who doesn’t know that he’s going to be a New Orleans Saint in a couple of months, hears what the sponsor tells me and blurts out, “Oh, hell no!”
I begin the “the program” immediately and with zero hesitation because I loved the woman that I was going to marry. That was my motivation. Hindsight, however, has shown me that I did love her but, also, that I made her hang-up my own. She saw my looking at porn as cheating on her, whereas I didn’t even know why I was doing it to begin with.
(I didn’t look at a lot of porn, per se, but whenever I made a to-do list, the last line always read, “or you could just look at porn.” My trying to quit it like it wasn’t a “thing” was equal to jumping out of a moving car.)
There are psychological aspects to looking at porn, as well as biological, that I was not aware of. I loved having the orgasms (who doesn’t?) but I also, without realizing it, was using pornography as an emotional coping mechanism. Porn was there when I was stressed, regardless of the intensity of the stress. It could’ve been something as big as a tough day at work or as minor as having to refill an ice tray; Porn was there for me.
I honestly believe that I could, possibly, still be married today had I answered my wife’s question by saying, “I’ll quit looking at porn but you should know that it helps me cope with stress. Will you help me deal with stress? Not in a creepy way! But in a way that allows me to share and grow.” You know, like an adult.”