Still struggling myself

I’ve posed as someone who’s got it together for…a long time, ever since I started taking on a real role at HeartSupport.

I started to believe this lie: if I’m going to help others, I can’t let them know I struggle too.

But the truth is I’ve continued to struggle with an addiction to porn. Though I’ve put earnest effort towards freedom, I’ve spent the past few years fighting this alone. Here’s what it’s been like for a long time:

Struggle, relapse, feel terrible, confess to a friend or my wife, try really hard, sustain purity for a few days, struggle, cycle again.

And I’ve been embarrassed to share the reality of my struggle because I bought the lie that if I DO share that I struggle, I’ll prove that I’m a failure.

BACKSTORY…

When I was growing up – maybe when I was like 4 or 5 – I remember my dad telling me, “You’ll never be the best…” His intention was to tell me to release the pressure of being perfect and keep improving but what I heard was, I’ll never make my dad proud. And I made an agreement in that moment to believe this lie that’s defined my life since:

I am always going to fail.

And while I desperately didn’t want to believe that, I felt like my dad’s judgment that I’d never be the best was more objective than my hope that I was enough to make him proud. So also in that moment, I made a promise to myself, since I didn’t want to believe that lie was true…

I vowed that I would prove him wrong.

HOW THAT AFFECTS ME TODAY…

When I uncovered those pieces of my story, a lot of the rest of it started to make sense. I realized that I tend to feel more tempted to relapse when I fear I’m about to fail. For example, towards the end of my day at work or towards bedtime, I have to come to grips with the fact that I’ve done all I could do that day. I can no longer hide in the potential of what I “COULD” do, fantasize about how I’m going to make these huge accomplishments and ultimately prove my worthiness. And as that fantasy starts to fade when I’m faced with the reality of all that I’ve done and not all that I could do, I start to feel anxious about ending my day. To me, it feels like if I end my day, I’m going to prove that I’m a failure. And to me, that feels like death – it feels like saying I’m worthless, and it feels like the same crippling disappointment I felt when I was a kid just wanting desperately for my dad to say, “I’m proud of you, son.”

When I’m anxious, I begin to speed up. I try to cram as much “accomplishment” and “productivity” in as possible in the last hours or moments of my day. It feels like if I DO MORE, I have more evidence to prove that I truly am worthy of love. So I try to do as much as possible, and I start to get unbalanced here.

Reality is, most days, things come in the way of me getting stuff done – life, kids, wife, house stuff, appointments, calls, emails, texts, whatever. Interruptions are a part of daily life, and that’s fine, EXCEPT when I’m clawing for my self-worth. I get ticked off when anything slows me down or keeps me from making progress towards that end. I have a short fuse, almost like I could get blown over at any minute, because I’m scrambling for the finish line.

As my anxiety and urgency and anger and fear and anticipation of pain and worthlessness spin and spiral, at some point, my hope dies. I get exhausted of trying to carry the weight because at the end of the day, I truly believe I am a failure (going back to that agreement I made in my backstory). So I’m faced with a decision:

–> continue to fight all of these heavy emotions, try to get stuff done to prove my worth against what feels like insurmountable evidence otherwise
–> or relapse…and dump it all and escape what feels like inevitable pain – even if it’s just for a moment

And right now, I’m stuck in a habit of choosing to escape into porn and masturbation.

What’s worse is I wake up the next day starting all over – feeling I have the chance to really prove myself and searching for quick wins and opportunities to show the world I am worthy of love – then at some point, I hit anxiety I won’t come through, and the whole thing spirals out of control again.

STEPPING OUT OF ISOLATION

Last year I was in such despair, struggling completely alone, and I cried out to God and asked Him for the thousandth time – Help me…

On a particular night in May, he spoke a word of hope into my soul…he gave me this picture of the Israelites as they’ve got their backs against the Red Sea – if you don’t know the story, the TLDR is that the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians, Moses told them God was going to help them, they fled together while the Egyptians pursued them, and they ended up completely stuck with their backs against the Red Sea with no escape from their pursuers – and God told me in that moment, “I will lead you out,” and He gave me the picture of when he split the Red Sea for the Israelites, and when they felt there was no way, He made a way.

Over the course of the next year, I started going to a Bible Study at my church – the first time in almost four years – and got honest with a couple of guys. I told them where I was really at, the reality of my struggles, the honest-to-God truth of where I was at in life…I took off the mask and let them see me as I was – and man that was scary.

But they were encouraged by my struggles and my failures, and it stirred them both to take off their masks too, and we became best friends. Almost a year later exactly from when God promised He would lead me out, He led me to a group that was specifically focused on recovery from sexual addiction. My best friend and I attend that group every Monday, and I’m starting to see what’s really going on underneath the surface. I feel hope bubbling in my spirit and a belief rising in me that I can truly be free. I am engaging in a process that’s promising, and I feel God confirming it in my heart – He is going to lead me out.

But HERE, where I’m at in my journey is very much in the thick of it. I am not free. I do not have any sustained period of sobriety. I struggle to this day. And part of my healing process is realizing – this isn’t about porn. This is about these deep wounds I took as a young boy…the sustained feeling of worthlessness, the isolation from others out of fear of judgment and criticism, and the beliefs that I swallowed that I am a failure…it’s about my heart, not my habit.

OWNING MY FAILURES

And one of the things God’s revealing to me is that I’ve spent my entire life trying to be a man who never fails – because I imagined that never failing would give me life, it would prove my worth, it would be the safe place for my soul where I could finally believe I am loved. But He’s showing me that being a man who owns my failures is much more profound. Actually, until I own my failures, I’ll still be controlled by this fear that spirals me into my addiction. Because I’ll be afraid that if I were to truly share all of my shortcomings, I’ll never be loved.

So this post is part of my ongoing journey towards freedom – even though I’m supposed to be free so I can lead others into the freedom they hope for their own lives, I still struggle with my addiction to porn. It’s just where I’m at today. And I have hope that owning that is going to lead to my freedom, because if I own my failures enough, I will break the fear that’s been controlling my life…I will grab hold of a new belief – that owning my failures is a way to bring God’s wisdom and power into my life and into the lives of those around me…that instead of trying to be the hero of my story, I admit I am in need of rescuing…and I believe that God will come through. He’s going to split the sea for me, and one day soon, He’s going to lead me out.

In the meantime, I’m still struggling myself.

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Nate,
I haven’t gotten to meet you yet but some day I know I will. I want you to know that we all love you here and you’ve helped so many of us push through our struggles and now we want to help you. You are an amazing person and I hope you realize that. So many of us have thought we were failures at life too. I know I sure have but over the last couple years i’ve known you and the rest of the Heartsupport crew i’ve been able to be more open with people in my circle and have met so many others struggling with anxiety and depression as I do that I talk to on a daily basis thanks to you guys. I know God has brought us all together for a reason and i’m so proud to be a part of this whole thing. I know I might have just babbled on but I had things to say. I’ll make a post up of my own on here once i’m done writing this. I’d love everyones feedback once it’s up if anyone has any. Some people may think getting help is hard but it’s actually not once you know where to look. I love you Nate and i’m glad i’m one of the lucky ones who gets to know you! :smile:

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@NateTriesAgain Wow. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story, for your transparency and rawness. Your honesty will help others see that even those they look up to, who appear to have it altogether, still struggle. In effect, this will give others hope that they, too, aren’t hopeless, and can be used by God, even if they don’t currently have things altogether. I love how you shared the “why” behind your actions. I believe God sees the reasons behind our sin, and while he doesnt excuse the sin because of them, he looks upon us with deep compassion. Because he sees the pain that is leading us towards the temptation and disobedient actions. God is going to use you in an even greater way as a result of you sharing this. Your story will give others the courage to share their stories which will in turn lead them to freedom.

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Hey Nate,
Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the thought that “I’m helping others so I’m not allowed to struggle”. I know I have. So thank you for being so honest and helping others see that it’s ok to still struggle and that God will lead us out.

Hannah

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Hey Nate,

I appreciate you being open about this, I know it is not easy.

I will admit from the outside it is hard to see that people are struggling- you put on a happy face, you use certain texting language, you use emojis that depict the opposite of how you feel. It’s like playing pretend. Then you get home- you take off your mask, you turn off your phone, and you sit there with the thoughts you stored in the back of your head for the day.

I can very much relate to the feeling like you didn’t do enough in the day time- so you jump up from what you are doing and try to accomplish as much as possible in so little time. I do that a lot. For instance last night it was only 8:30pm and I turned off my computer for the night- then I was sitting on my bed thinking I could have worked on Potato People or YouTube or social media and then there I am sitting on my bed just thinking about all the stuff I could have done. It really sucks.

Sometimes I try and rush to do things- I attempt to pull all nighters and I think that with living like that I can accomplish a lot and I start to believe the lie that hey I don’t need sleep anymore.

I also get the feeling of trying to do all of that in so little time and you start to fumble or you aren’t going fast enough and then you get so pissed off and annoyed and you just need something to make you escape from that thought of how you didn’t accomplish a lot today and how you didn’t establish to others your worth- so you feel worthless and like you failed. So you turn to an outlet and you feel ok.

Then that cycle just goes and goes. Tbh I’ve had a lot of days like that. I thought there was something wrong with me, I felt guilty, I let it take a hold of me and I had to overcome it. I slip some days when things turn to utter Hell. But that is when we have to pick ourselves back up.

I see you have fallen and picked yourself back up so many times- I can relate in regards to self injury, it’s like your doing really well and then things get too hard and to be too much and the cycle restarts. It sucks. But today here I am 60 days clean from self injury, I can’t be sure as to how long this will last but I made it this far.

A really malicious thought to have is that because you aren’t ok you can’t help others- but man that’s not true,

I still think that a lot of days. Like I have displayed such a happy persona for the past few days so that means I have to be ok- but I’m not. So I put on a mask and I pretend to be ok until I reach a point where I fall. And then I feel like crap because I believe the lie that I have to be OK if I’m helping someone, but that is not true.

Nate it’s ok to still be fighting this battle. It is a battle a lot of us fight a life time and that is ok.

Relapse is a part of recovery.

Something that has helped me somewhat is just reciting the phrase “the sun will rise and we will try again” (Truce by Twenty One Pilots (my bois)). That helps me a lot at points where I am really struggling with the amount of work I need to get done.

It’s ok to be tired. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to not get everything done in a day- because the sun will rise and we will have a new day to wake up to and try again.

You are loved Nate even when you relapse, even when you are struggling, you will always be loved.

Hold fast, I believe in you. You are not alone- you never will be.

With love,
Lyss (ur old pal Blurryface)

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Hey Nate,
I just wanted to tell you how proud and impressed I am with you. Your post was not one of failure, but one of hope, inspiration, and success. I really truly felt that reading your post. Don’t give up. God’s grace is real and it works. Love you brother.

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I’m glad you still have hope. If ever you feel like it’s completely run out, you can take hope from us.
I believe in you.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT IN ORDER TO BE LOVED.
Failures can be seen differently in the eyes of others as accomplishments for how long you’ve managed to hold on and how hard you’ve fought. We all fall down sometimes, and even that hero needs to be rescued. That hero can’t be expected to be always perfect. You aren’t God. You shouldn’t be perfect, you should be yourself. It’s OKAY to be imperfect and have failures. I know how worthlessness feels, but think - what is worthy to you? What’s worthy to this person?
I think you are more than worthy to be loved. You’re fighting, you’re admitting you have struggles, YOU CAN DO THIS.

Stay strong <3

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I really resonate with this – one of the things I’ve realized is that the only reason I wanted to be “the best” is because I thought that’s what would make my dad proud. It’s not something that I ever consciously decided, it was a subconscious pursuit from that moment I was wounded.

But what’s interesting is that I’ve asked myself the question – if not the best, what do I want to be? I started to think back, and one of the people I remember specifically admiring growing up was this kid on my soccer team named Shane. He LOVED this pro team called Newcastle. Die-hard fan. At the time, I was a “fan” of Manchester United, mostly because they were #1, and I – even in my fandom – wanted to be the best. But Shane loved Newcastle, who were like #10/#11 out of 20 teams at the team. And I just loved that his passion for this team had nothing to do with whether they won or lost. He loved the team because he actually loved the team. There was something so noble and vulnerable and courageous about loving something you knew was going to lose. It was more true to his heart; it came from desire, from love as opposed to from fear, which was where my fandom came from.

And I think most of my life I’ve been like Newcastle and expected myself to be Manchester United. And I’ve been disappointed with myself because I’m not #1.

I wonder how I let go of the desire to be Manchester and embrace my inner Newcastle.

Maybe I’ll hit up Shane and ask him why he liked that team so much…

–> and re: all – thank you so much for reading and replying and encouraging me. It’s relieving to take off the mask and receive so much support and love. You are all so kind. Thank you.

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@NateTriesAgain,

You are not alone. I struggle with this as do many others. Though it has gotten better, success comes in waves and I’m not perfect. None of us are.

What is truly important is your incredible courage to share your struggle with all of us, and your honesty with yourself about what you’re going through. In addition to that, you have built up a little accountability team — your wife, your new close friends, and HeartSupport. Accountability and willingness to open up and share your struggle with others is probably the second most important aspect of getting through this — the first being your repentance to and faith in God, which you have. That accountability is something that I had very much of a year ago when my addiction spiraled into a huge issue that almost ended my relationship several times. Now, not so much. I have come a long way in dealing with my addiction but now the accountability is lacking. And that’s kind of my own fault. So I’m really proud of you for having the courage and the strength to share this with all the people you do. It’s truly admirable and I think it will actually help you a lot (and it will also help others a lot because they’ll be inspired to open up about things they’ve kept hidden forever).

Seriously, I am so proud of you. We’re all here with you if you need anything. Hold fast, because this storm will pass and God truly will lead you through.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit if life and peace.” - Romans 8:6

I am praying for you that you will find more and more strength from God to come closer to Him and to live more and more by the Spirit instead of by the flesh. Romans 6-8 is a great read to help you through all of this. I would suggest even studying it in a men’s Bible study. This next passage is the very end of it, Romans 8:37-39:

“In all these things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Hold fast. We believe in you, my friend. It’s okay to not be okay, and we will get through it all together. Please keep being open with others, especially your new friends.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:24-25

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So I read your post and I had to leave for a moment to think about what I wanted to say. I read the first few sentences and all I could think was “wow I feel like I’m going to have a lot to say to Nate when I’m done reading this” and I do haha.

Firstly let me just say thank you, thank you for posting this. It means the world that you would open up and be honest. I struggle a lot with being afraid to show my struggles so when I saw you felt the same way…idk it just made me really happy that you posted.

And I don’t have a lot of advice to give about porn addiction. I feel like your church group can probably give you better guidance than I could. But as I was reading your post I kept hearing in my head, “Hear me. I am louder than your doubts” God wants us to focus on his love and his mercy. When we focus on the enemy or our negative thoughts we are giving them power. And I think when we are honest about our demons we begin to take their power away little by little.

This is something I have to learn to do as well and I know it isn’t easy. But I am going to try to listen to God’s truth in the screams of lies in my head. Because His truth has saved me over and over again. The devil hates love, life and only wants to destroy. You are working for a non profit that wants to show others that they can be loved and that they are worthy of life. Your heart will be attacked because of the threat you pose to the devil.

But I believe that you are taking power away from the enemy just by posting this. God is working some beautiful and incredible things through you already. You don’t have to be perfect. God uses us through our brokenness and flaws. God isn’t looking at you and seeing your flaws. He is seeing all of the beauty He can make out of the dark.
(End of rant lol)

TLDR: You Are Loved!

Cassie

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Thank you so much for those powerful scriptural references and the reminder to continue to be open and that it’s okay to not be okay – so funny to be on the other side of that statement…I believe it – I am not okay, and that is okay. I accept where I’m at, and I accept God’s love of me right here. Thanks for the reminders brother.

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Cool thing is YOUR post opening up reminded me that God was challenging me to open up too – so thank you for YOUR courage. Because it is what prompted me to do this. Spurring the other to spur the other. I love how honesty and vulnerability beget more of the same.

I also appreciate the reminder that – God’s in the MIDDLE of this. He’s not waiting for me on the other end. I can boast in my weakness for HERE He is strong. He is steady. He is present. He’s unfaltering in my mess. He loves me, embraces me in my mess.

You know, an image that’s particularly powerful for me recently is that in the parable of the prodigal son, the son realizes as he’s in the mud and shit of a pigpen that he could have a better life as his father’s slave than as a manure manager…so he bolts, and he heads home…covered in mud and shit…and when he gets in the father’s town, his father sees him walking through the public streets and sprints out as fast he can and wraps his arms around his son…who’s covered in mud and shit and loves him publicly in front of the others in town. He’s unashamed, unswayable by my mess. He loves me because of who I am to Him – I am his son, and He gets covered in my mess to love me. I love God’s love.

Thanks for sharing your mess with me and letting me share mine with you.

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Thank you very much for sharing! It’s encouraging to see someone else struggle with the same things that I struggle with!

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