“It’s not you… it’s me.”
These are well-known “famous last words” of so many relationships. Well, this is what I wish I could tell every woman I’ve ever lusted after.
What I mean, dear sisters in Christ, is that you are not the problem.
It’s not you. It’s not your body. It was me and the state of my heart and the attachments of my heart that drove me to lust after you.
The Porn Awakening
I was only nine years old when I was exposed to pornography for the first time. It was during an after-dinner television show and it wasn’t what you might think of as porn today, but at that time, it was porn to me, and that’s what ultimately mattered at that moment. Following that, I made many decisions to turn inwards and objectify others in some pornographic way.
This was merely a new manifestation of intemperance for me, and it weakened me in many ways. In fact, unchaste pursuits ruled my heart to the point where I’m positive I could’ve found a way to lust after a woman whether she was wearing a swimsuit or a snowsuit. No clothing type/style could’ve “prevented” me from lusting when it was lusting that my heart wanted to do. This was because the lust came from within.
I had to be healed of my perspective of the body. I had to recognize it to be beautiful and also the temple of God; a masterpiece of His creation, not to be used or objectified. Getting an internet filter, learning to “look away,” and having an accountability partner all helped manage my behavior but none actually transformed my heart. I was looking to external factors because it was easier than looking inside myself. Meanwhile, I was fixated on behavior management above the pursuit of virtue. Often, I chose the easier path. I chose to remain a boy instead of becoming a man.
There came a bottoming-out of sorts, however, where I had to get serious and cooperate with God and actually allow Him to transform my heart. I needed to let Him in to transform my desires.
It took years for a redeemed vision of sexuality to evolve. Encountering women who radiated joyful, holy modesty (in demeanor even more than clothing) was also helpful, because they were constant reminders of why I wanted to stay focused on my desire to honor women (and not objectify them). It also helped to know that I could still influence the desires of my heart based on the desires I would choose to feed. I started by practicing self-control in the little things, which led to greater transformation in other areas. It was tough at first, but I realized it was not impossible. Gentlemen, have hope. Always.
I had to learn to forgive myself for my past. Without that, those attachments would’ve still controlled me. They would’ve prevented me from becoming ready to move on to bigger and better things with the Lord (and in terms of relationships with others).
The Reality of Transformation
It takes a long time to wire the brain differently. Think of unlearning a language, and learning a new one. I have to keep in mind how easy it might be to slip back into old patterns. The farther I am from intemperance in other areas of my life, however, the farther away I am from unchaste thoughts/pursuits. More importantly, the better I practice temperance, the higher my self-confidence and awareness is of how I can offer myself to others in chaste and holy ways. I suppose this is what the devil hates; a man being restored by cooperating with the grace of God.
For this reason, I would like to again mention: Ladies, it wasn’t you, it was me. And I accept the reality of my past while praying for a better future for all people who have been impacted by pornography in some way. The only way for us to move forward is to do so with joy and with magnanimous hope of a better tomorrow where we can see each other more truly as first and foremost beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is the most loving way that we can see each other—no matter what someone is wearing.
Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker, author, and consultant who lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at National and International conferences in the United States and Canada and also presents to clergy, schools, and parishes. Additionally, Hudson serves as a consultant to various Catholic agencies, speakers, and educators. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com and he can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.