Long before I was ever a sex addict struggling with lust, I struggled with being offended. In my previous blog, How Pornography is Destroying our Children, I share about my very first exposure to porn which happened to be hard core porn. According to some models, I should have been hooked and continued to seek it out like an animal with no self-control. Although, it was over 10 years later I began to seek it out again, around the age of 18. Because I felt so much shame from that first exposure, I never wanted to experience it again, and I sure wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. Porn made me feel shameful and guilty. Why would I want to feel that again? I would say that was not only true for me, but it’s true for most of my clients, as they resist going back. Many men have told me their stories of being exposed to porn at a young age, but it didn’t become an addiction until years into their marriage. This is by no means absolute. However, I would agree modern technology makes it much easier to return to with private access, which I did not have.
During the 10 years after my first exposure at the age of 7, my parents got divorced. Eventually, they both remarried my new stepparents. I was placed in joint custody by the courts. I spent weekdays with my mom and weekends with my dad along with my new stepparents and step siblings they each brought into the marriage. Throughout this arrangement, the desire for sexual fantasy was not an issue. However, looking back now, I can see very clearly how I struggled with being offended. Inside, I did not like my stepparents or new siblings. I resented my life being turned upside down for no fault of my own, my older sister or my younger brother. I believed “my rights” and life had been violated. I would spend hours thinking and internalizing conversations and physical fights I wanted to have with my stepparents – and even my parents, because they too were now the enemy. Now, I refer to this as judge, jury and executioner thinking in which I would always end up being the victorious hero, and they would see everything my way. They would even repent of their “wrongs,” which I believed they had done to me!
Growing up on a farm, I had endless hours on the tractor in the field by myself to cultivate my fantasy life. Being alone and isolated was a safe place for me which also gave birth to my intimacy anorexia. I had it all written in my head and in my heart. I had replayed it thousands of times with different endings, much like the pick your adventure books. I had written a novel in my mind. I was deeply offended, bitter and resentful. Fantasy became my medication and escape, as this helped me survive as a little boy. All it took was a real or imagined offense and my fantasy rescued me. However, like many things that help us survive as little boys and girls, they are generally the things that dismantle our marriage. In the end, all the verbal and physical revenge fantasies I had in my head were never expressed to anyone. I just stuffed the anger. The anger turned inward and caused anxiety and depression.
As I entered into puberty and began to notice girls, a whole new form of fantasy awakened in me…sexual lust and fantasy. I did not even need porn. My addiction was so secret that all I needed was a snapshot in my mind to save for later. A real or imagined offense would occur which triggered not just the old fantasy but the fantasy girl(s).
I share all this today to make a point that if you struggle with lust, sexual addiction, fantasy girl, or intimacy anorexia, you most likely struggle with being easily offended. This does not mean every addict struggling with sexual addiction operates in this way. However, I do believe at the heart of any addiction is the addiction to being offended. When you get offended, you are already in a form of fantasy. We tend to feel life isn’t fair, our rights are being violated or this needs to be avenged. Then, we play the scenario in our mind to justify our “rightness” and their “wrongness.”
Fantasy and lust are all about serving self and taking. The sex addict has been so programmed that this often goes unnoticed, as the mind quickly begins to medicate the pain with sex, porn, or masturbation to quickly feel better. The transition is really seamless, as the old form of judge, jury, and executioner thinking or fantasy is replaced with an upgraded app of any and every sexual fantasy imaginable.
In the heart and mind, the relapse occurs in the form being offended long before a sex addict acts out or an intimacy anorexic acts in behaviorally. The relapse takes the form of an offense occurring in the heart. Fantasy is then played out in the mind due to feelings of rejection, fear, disrespect, hurt, anger, or jealously, etc.
Imagination is God given. Imagination is where dreams and ideas come from and bless others. However, for addicts struggling with addiction, one’s imagination may be hijacked by fantasy. Fantasy becomes the default that is triggered by a heart that has a real or imagined offense done to them.
Treat and surrender your addiction to being offended by surrendering revenge to God. Then, lust, sexual addiction, intimacy anorexia and all other addictions will disappear.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.