Confessions from a private browsing addict

RELATIONSHIPS | Stella Udeozor | 6 mins

We all know why the private window browser was created.

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Sometimes the dark shadows of our lives seem like the safest places to reside.

We stay protected in the depths of our secrets, fears, and insecurities. For me, I discovered what soon became a deceptive safe haven at the tender age of eight.

I’m now a 24-year-old, single woman that constantly stumbles on my walk with Jesus. There are certain memories and habits that were written in my past that I wish I could erase. Unfortunately, much to my regret, they linger.

I can easily remember back to the day the internet stole my childlike ignorance. On the shared computer in my family’s study room, I was exposed to a limitless library of pornography in a matter of seconds. Someone forgot to click the “hide files” box, and it wrecked my world. It was transfixing. It was attractive. It was addictive.

It’s funny how the conscious works. At the time, I honestly did not know much about sex, how it worked, or what it was for. I was naive to the anatomy of the human body and what triggered certain responses. I didn’t know better when I stumbled upon those videos, but I knew something about it was dangerous. No one could see what I was doing. So I kept it hidden, and I returned to it time and time again.

What started off as a curiosity soon became my deepest secret.

My go-to in times when I felt alone, rejected, or just lustful. While I could not identify the emotions then, I have retroactively uncovered the truth behind my addiction. I needed an escape from reality, and I found this enthralling fantasy world to be far more appealing than my broken home.

Growing up as the fifth child of six children raised by a single mother had its peaks and valleys. My mother, a medical doctor and owner of an independent practice, did everything she could to love and provide for my siblings and me; however, her demanding career kept her busy for much of my childhood. The absence of my father led to many misconceptions of what true love looked like. As life got harder for various reasons, my desire to fill fresh voids increased. I turned to what I knew would offer me instant gratification, an easy fix.

Before going any further, I’ve got to ask people who follow Jesus a few questions:

  • Why have you solely chastised men for watching pornography and left women out of the conversation? Don’t you know that only makes us feel more isolated and estranged?
  • Why have you been more concerned with the act than the deeper issue within?
  • Why have you treated pornography as a second-class sin only worthy of mention in young adult men’s accountability groups?
  • Why have you brushed over the magnitude of an industry that has broken records for the top searched topic on the internet? It’s a far more frequent search than “Who is Jesus?”

Anyway, I digress.

I was not alone on my eight-year-old quest to escape from reality and get lost in the trance that pornography offers. Young children around the world are living in secrets. Marriages are falling apart. Single people are becoming complacent with temporary gratification. It affects people of all ages, life stages, and genders. In fact, if you are reading this now and have struggled with an addiction to pornography, know that you are not alone.

For years I lived with my secret. As I became more serious about my faith and exploring what it looks like to follow Jesus, I started to realize that porn might not be the best way to solve my issues. But it did not stop me. It only provoked me to hide my sin under the pew. I felt trapped in a double world.

The Incognito Browser had become my default. I didn’t have to worry about Google guessing what came after “p.”

There was no stress over someone borrowing my computer for a homework assignment. I found comfort in being the “only party” involved in this affair. I felt okay making excuses for my actions: I’m single. It’s not like I’m the one having sex out of wedlock. It’s not that bad.

The Incognito Browser provided a false sense of comfort. Then one day I asked myself the most honest question: “If you honestly believe pornography is okay, then why do you feel the need to hide it?” I knew I needed to expose myself before it happened against my will. Mark 4:22 reads, “For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.” I began to talk about it. I opened up about my addiction and invited people into my secret universe. If I am completely honest, it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. But it worked.

Over this ongoing healing period, I have learned about a striking phenomenon commonly known as shame. Shame is a vicious foe that deceitfully attacks its opponents by keeping them in hiding. It might sound like a contradiction, but the greatest invasion strategy that shame uses is simply to sit back and linger while you attack yourself. It’s no wonder Adam and Eve began to hide themselves before they were even questioned. If you struggle with addiction in any capacity, start to talk about it. Attack back.

I would love to tie this up in a pretty bow and say the first time I opened up about my addiction it stopped, but unfortunately, I cannot.

My struggle with pornography has been a tedious battle. I am fortunate to say I currently have the victory over it. In our current society, it is extremely easy to dismiss the issue as it has become so normalized. But if there is no problem with it, then I dare you to call your mom and tell her you watch pornography every Tuesday during your 2pm work break. I rest my case.

I urge you to no longer live incognito. Whatever it is that you struggle with—be it pornography, overeating, alcohol, Netflix, or Tinder; bring it to the light.

Written by Stella Udeozor on May 21, 2018