Starting Over

“If it were me, I would feel trapped.”

I had no idea how prophetic those words would become.

I had just told my Godmother that I was planning on moving in with my boyfriend of a year and half, and I promptly ignored her.  Because of my choices, I had already allowed sin to take hold of me, and in the next two years I would allow it to trap me completely.  I didn’t start out that way, though.

I was raised Catholic, and lived a fairly devout life.  But like many people, I came from a broken home—my parents divorced when I was six years old.  Even though I was the “token Catholic” in my group of friends in high school, I was very much influenced by the world.  In fact, I was so good at justifying my behaviors and living like nothing was wrong that nobody truly knew the extent of my vices.  I was watching pornography and committing sins of the flesh with myself and any boyfriends that I had on an almost daily basis. When I was sixteen I lost my virginity with a boy I had been dating for a little less than a year.

When I went away to college the next year he and I broke up, and I needed an attention fix.  Eventually I started dating someone who, while generally a “good person,” was effectively an atheist. I allowed him to tease me about my faith (he called going to church “attending cult meetings”) and he and I were having sex on a fairly regular basis.  All this time I was still going to Mass and even holding leadership positions in Catholic Campus Ministry.  And I honestly thought I was fine.  I would tell myself, “I’ll confess this when it feels like a sin.”

When I moved in with my boyfriend we essentially lived like we were married.  I would get worried when he didn’t come home on time, we went to events as a couple (except church, of course), we had mutual friends, and we even had a pet together.  After two years of dating our relationship started to sour, though, and I moved out of our apartment even though we agreed to keep dating.  That time apart gave me the freedom to grow in my devotion to God.

That Christmas season, I felt a calling to grow closer to Mother Mary.  And when I started listening to God, He told me something that broke my heart and gave me hope all at the same time: I would have to make a choice between my comfortable, sinful life or Him.  On New Year’s Day 2011, I chose God.

I broke up with my boyfriend that day (kind of a jerk move, I know… “Happy New Year! I’m leaving you for Jesus!”).  My new year’s resolution that year was to not date anyone for a year.  I stopped watching pornography, and I started going to Eucharistic adoration on a regular basis.  But, out of fear, I still avoided confession like the plague.

In February of 2011 I went on a Lenten retreat, and I worked up the courage to go to reconciliation.  It was there that I confessed sexual sin for the very last time.  After that I started going to confession almost weekly. And Lord knows I needed it!  Because I was still attached to my vices, I was still finding my affirmation of beauty and worth in the attention I got from the opposite sex. The difference, though, was that I cared about my relationship with God enough to apologize to Him and repair it through confession.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2011 was that God can “write straight with crooked lines.” That summer I followed His will to study theology at the grad level, where I met the man who would eventually become my fiancé.  In fact, he proposed to me on New Years Day 2013, exactly two years from the day I decided to rededicate my life to Christ.

If you’re struggling with the same things I struggled with, I need for you to know that there’s hope.  God has the power to free you from your vices, but He’ll only do it if you let him.  He loves you so much, and He’ll never abandon you, because even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim 2:13)

– Anonymous

23 Comments

  1. Thank you for your honest testimony.

    However, I am a bit concerned about your statement, “It was there that I confessed sexual sin for the very last time”. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it seems like the pornography addiction was totally over 1 month after you decided to turn your life around.

    I am so happy for you. Please don’t think otherwise. But it’s rare for an addiction to end that quickly and painlessly. I’m not belittling your struggle, but to give men and women false hope that they, too, will be able to quit their addiction in a month is harsh and could potentially be harmful.

    I write from the perspective of a female porn addict, who’s been battling this demon for 10 years. For 4 years now, I’ve been actively trying to quit, but no matter the tactic, it hasn’t seemed to work.

    At the beginning of my journey, I read testimonies like this, where people said that they had quit cold-turkey and were free in a matter of weeks. I gave in to despair, thinking, “Is there no one like me who struggles with this yet seems to make no progress?” Now, of course, I know better. It’s rare to find a recovery process that takes such a short amount of time.

    Again, I agree with the message of hope that this witness brings. Yet I know now that it’s not *only* through a strong faith that one can overcome addiction, but through simultaneous active attempts at purity and practical means as well. I wouldn’t want young adults seeking healing to think they were freaks (as I did) because their recovery wasn’t fast and painless.

    Let us pray for each other.

    By Alie | 3 years ago Reply
    • I used to be addicted to pornography too before my conversión in 2008 , and in the moment that I choose Jesús I only see that kind of thing one more time and I quit it inmediately , when God want you to change He can do it very fast if He want .

      By Paula Salazar | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hi Alie. I was a porn & masturbation addict as well for couple of years. Just like the lady in the article above, I didn’t feel like it was a sin. When I finally had the courage to confess it, I was freed. I stopped masturbating and watching porn. But few months later, I fell again. I was so ashamed because not only that I feel like I’ve failed myself, but also because I’ve failed God.I admit that temptations was very very strong the first few months. But oddly, one of the main reason why I left these ‘sexual demons’ are not only because I’m afraid of breaking my promise to Jesus, but also because I’m ashamed of confessing the same sin over and over again, especially to our local priest. I’m ashamed of what the priest would think of me whenever we see each other since there’s no veil hiding my face during confession (he left it open). I don’t know whether this is a good or a bad thing, but it seems to be working for me. But of course, all credits goes to Jesus because He assures me that He can deliver me and He did. I am now masturbation & porn free for almost two years now. Of course the temptation is always there, but I put all my trust in Jesus that He will take care of me and my thoughts. And of course, Mother Mary is such a wonderful mother. Mama Mary, ora pro nobis.

      By Elle | 3 years ago Reply
      • You make an excellent point about confession – having a regular confessor and spiritual director, as well as multiple friends who know my struggles, have helped me in my journey.
        Our Mama is such a beautiful helper and guide, is she not? I have found myself growing so much closer to her recently, and I think she is one of the main reasons that I have “recovered” as much as I have.

        By Alie | 3 years ago Reply
    • Weekly Sacramental Confession will be your greatest help in this battle.

      By Jason | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hi Alie,
      You’re absolutely right that addictions take time to recover from.
      In my case, the Lord granted me absolutely incredible grace to quit watching pornography “cold-turkey.” Thank you for pointing out that my case is an exception to the rule. Most of the time recovery requires a long period of counseling, sacramental aid, and a strong support system of people who care about you and your recovery.
      Thank you for your prayers, and I will continue to pray for you and others struggling with this addiction.

      By Anonymous | 3 years ago Reply
    • Read St Augustine’s Confessions, I believe it is Book Eight where he reveals how he was instantly and miraculously delivered from the demons of lust that had beset him his whole adult life. Through a move of the Light of grace flooding his soul upon reading the scriptural passage his Bible fell open to (Romans 13:14 “…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof…”), he suddenly had the confidence that he could live celibate and pure. Some come out only with prayer and fasting. God honors our effort with a holy boost of power from on high to break the devil’s strongholds. No, you cannot get free by yourself, but with God, ALL things are possible! Where sin abounds, Grace much MORE abounds!

      By JCMeg56 | 3 years ago Reply
  2. Wow, I really needed to read this today. Thank you so much.

    By Louann | 3 years ago Reply
  3. Honestly couldn’t stop smiling at the end of this, really moving and beautiful how it all worked out

    By Edward | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Great testimony! Thank you for sharing. All glory to God!

    By Ashley | 3 years ago Reply
  5. i have been through a similar life and u give me hope. Thanks 🙂

    By someonelikeu | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you very much for sharing this! It’s an inspiring and hope-filled story, especially to teens and adults who are in the midst of experiencing, or overcoming this struggle. It is never easy, indeed. I find it amazing how you were able to free yourself from this sinful chain that fast. Thank you for the courage to share your story! Keep on sharing it so that more young people will get to realize that “with God, nothing is impossible.” He has the power to change and transform us to become pure and holy, if we will allow Him to. God bless you dearie!

    By jcloveslei | 3 years ago Reply
  7. Thankyou for sharing and God bless you for the helping other girls out there <3

    By Amitha | 3 years ago Reply
  8. I understand that God is forgiving. I am a 22 year old young adult in college, grew up in a Catholic home, and when I moved to go to college I had influences that could have driven me to think having sex and moving in with a guy was acceptable. I have done little things that I would consider sin, everyone is a sinner. Yet, although I have hit rock bottom (depression etc.) while I have been in college I still believed in God. It is a hard concept for me to grasp that he would forgive someone who lived the life of “Catholic” and then went and had sex. It sounds ridiculous, you could say I am a hypocrite (aren’t we all at times) but there are some sins that I believe are irreversible. I feel like it gives young people the excuse that if they have sex now, they can repent later and be “cleansed” of their sin and be cleared to go to heaven. I am not saying that everyone that has sex before marriage, divorces (and therefore commit adultery in terms that either they or their spouse end up with someone else), and everyone that moves in with their boy/girl friend is going to hell but where is the line? Where is the honesty of actually repenting? I guess in the end anything can happen and can have a certain appearance on Earth but not until we face judgement day as individuals will we face our choices. I am still exploring my faith as a Catholic and I am constantly learning.

    By Alex | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hi Alex,
      It’s understandable to be conflicted about the situation. The Catechism explains sin and forgiveness much better than I ever could. If you’d like to read them, paragraphs 1854-1864 and 1440-1484 lay out the Church’s teaching on sin and reconciliation.
      God bless!

      By Anonymous | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Thank you for writing and sharing. God knows I’ve needed this message as I’m going through the same struggles right now. God bless

    By Michael | 3 years ago Reply
  10. I am 57yrs old have had the sin of masturbation my whole life since 10 or so. I became a Catholic 6 yrs ago, divorced from a sexless marriage of 36yr 3 years ago, but still have problems with it. I am so ashamed to keep confessing it. I just read this week the church considers it a mortal sin. I have had a priest tell me not to confess it, it is not a mortal sin, it just brings too much shame, so for a while I didn’t but my heart condemns me so I started confessing it again, all the while truly not wanting to do it but it keeps happening. My last confession my parish priest told me to ask Mary to show me my triggers. Since then it has happened again and I am so dreading confession. Today I read in 1Peter 2:1 to give up the temptations of the flesh that war against your soul… and that is definitely what it does, it wars against the soul of one who has not killed their conscience. Most of the time it is a way to stop my restless leg syndrome so I can go to sleep, or else just to relax me so I can go to sleep. I don’t think sexually,hardly ever. I even went to a counselor to find out why I do it, and she told me, You don’t have a problem, in fact I teach people how to do it.” “Don’t be conformed to this world but Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” the scripture says, the world says its OK. In fact a movie I watched recently Meryl Streep did it. So it is coming out of the closet so to speak. I lived a while free from it 5 yrs after I was married, then again, shortly after my conversion to Catholicism but finally succumbed to it again. I was a Christian since I was 17, and have done it most of my life. When my husband quit having sex with me after 10yrs of marriage, I felt I was justified because that was the least hurtful way to get my sexual needs met. He was a pastor of a church, and I tried everything I knew of to get help with this but to no avail. He always told me it was God’s judgement on me because I had been sexually active prior to our marriage with one other guy. He was a virgin when we got married. Our whole married life was out of kilter in every way possible. I finally gave up on it. Anyway, I am not dating, have no desire to look for a man or to ever remarry unless my ex dies, then I will be free of my marriage. But may not even then .

    By KD | 3 years ago Reply
  11. Pray, fast, immerse yourself in spiritual reading. Desire God; pant after him like a deer for water. Let go of earthly attachments. Cut tv and fiction reading out of your life. Use the time to sit in adoration. If you do not have the desire, ASK God to give it to you. Ask Him to show you the ugliness of sin and it’s effects in the world. Learn to hate sin more than you love it’s fleeting pleasures. Since becoming Catholic in 2010 (after 40 years of sincere truth-seeking in the sectarian wilderness), God has drawn me to desire his holiness and the mind of Christ above all things. I now experience such transcendent Joy in His presence, it dwarfs the puny feeling of a fleshly orgasm! The heights of spiritual ecstasy await those who abandon themselves to God’s amazing Love. Study Catholic spirituality and the lives of the mystics — we have a tradition that is unmatched in any other faith and it goes back to antiquity!

    By JCMeg56 | 3 years ago Reply
    • I recommend Dan Burke’s apostolate, the Avila Institute for spiritual formation. They are a new online resource for Catholics desiring to study Catholic spirituality and grow deeper in the Faith. Just finished two fabulous courses there on the Wisdom of the early Saints and on the Bible and the Revelation of Prayer. Unbelievable blessings and insights are flowing in that apostolate!

      By JCMeg56 | 3 years ago Reply
  12. Gloria in excelsis Deo!! 😀

    By John | 3 years ago Reply
  13. Almost same experience. However, what if me and my bf now(whom I’m living with now) are planning to get married next year? Is breaking up with him needed? I really love him, and I also love our God. I’m ashamed that I am so weak that we both decided to move in together for a lot of reasons (that was almost 2 years ago). Now, we’re deciding to get married soon, next year.

    By Faith | 3 years ago Reply
  14. question, I have made many similar mistakes (technically still have my own place)… the BF had to travel for work and this is when I had time to think and reconsider my choices. Now that he is coming back, is there something I should/could tell him as to the why? do I have to try to “teach” him? No clue how to deliver that message

    By Sophie | 3 years ago Reply

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