Today is the second year anniversary of my father’s death. When it happened, I was a little more than a year into recovery from porn addiction.
My dad struggled with addiction throughout his life. When I left home for university, he gave me a talk about avoiding alcohol and gambling. “Those have been a problem for men in our family,” he said. He meant himself. I knew that and I heeded his warning. I drank in moderation (at least, for a college student). I never developed a taste for betting ponies or playing cards. I obeyed Nancy Reagan and just said “no.”
But I have a compulsive side, just like my old man did. And when screens with porn on them came along, I got hooked hard. My dad hadn’t warned me about those. He hadn’t known to. They weren’t really a thing when I left home for the first time.
When I entered recovery and started attending SAA meetings years later, my dad said he thought I was being too hard on myself. He was a product of his generation. He struggled with the notion of porn being harmful. Hell, he’d given me my first Playboy. I also don’t think he grasped how screens changed porn consumption, how they rewarded compulsivity and trapped people in a trance-like ludic loop, even as he played hours of hours of solitaire on the home computer (and maybe looked at porn, too, who knows).
So, when I tried to talk to my dad about addiction, he mostly shied away. I wish he hadn’t, but as a dad myself I also empathize. I feel responsible for making sure my children won’t struggle with this disease. If they do, I’ll feel like I’ve failed them.
And yet, my dad taught me profound lessons in confronting addiction that carry me through recovery every day. A great admirer of Winston Churchill, he often tried to foist some biography or collection of Churchill’s speeches on me to read. As sons are wont to do, I resisted with all my might. But, since my dad’s death, I have cracked those books and found, not surprisingly I guess, a wealth of experience, strength, and hope, as we say in the program. Churchill was a poet of overcoming adversity. I think that’s why my dad loved him.
In October 1941, as bombs were still falling on London, Churchill visited his old prep school, Harrow, to deliver a speech to the student body which included this now-famous line:
But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
My dad read that passage to me countless times as a kid. I shrugged it off back then, but no longer. Now that I see and know the threat porn addiction poses to my life and others’, I will never, never, never, never give in.
I owe that resolve to one person.
I miss you, Dad.
Longer-form writing from the PornHelp team on current topics relating to problem porn use and recovery.