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Claire

By April 8, 2020 July 14th, 2020 No Comments
Episode 19

Claire

Activist & Recovered Compulsive Porn Consumer

Think porn is just a “guy” problem? Think again. This week’s conversation is with Claire, a former compulsive porn consumer and anti-porn activist. Claire stumbled across porn at a young age, and what started as a natural curiosity of human sexuality turned into something else completely—a compulsive behavior to watch more and more explicit content, in more hardcore versions. It wasn’t until she was in high school, when her dad brought home some information he learned from a live presentation by Fight the New Drug, that she realized she struggled with pornography. Even then, she kept her compulsion a secret. She now describes how she is “grateful” her parents caught her when she was sixteen, and perhaps even more so for their loving reaction. Listen to Claire and podcast host Garrett Jonsson swap stories about their individual struggles, and learn how Claire has found her way from feeling shame about her struggles to freedom in her story recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with pornography, we encourage you to check out our friends at Fortify, an online researched-based recovery platform that has helped tens of thousands of users to overcome pornography.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Garrett: What’s up people? I’m Garrett Jonsson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming a podcast, but Fight the New Drug. Today’s conversation is with Claire. Now here’s the thing. One of our goals at fight the new drug is to break misconceptions. One misconception around pornography is that females don’t struggle with pornography. Well, Claire is here to break that myth by talking about her personal experience. Today. Claire enjoys a life free from pornography and its influences, but there was a time when she struggled and she was convinced that she was the only female with this challenge, but we know that she’s not alone and neither are you. With all that being said, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

We want to welcome to the podcast, Claire. And Claire, As I sit across the table from you, I want to say thank you for coming in and sitting down with us and discussing the harmful effects of pornography because we know for a lot of people this isn’t the most fun conversation to have.

Claire: Thanks for having me.

Garrett: And so we appreciate you being willing to help us address this topic. And I think for a lot of our listeners, they’re going to appreciate and they’re going to benefit from your experience. So as you know, Claire, that our podcast is called considered before consuming. And our goal is to bring in and record conversations with a variety of people. Some of them are experts and some of them are activists, and then some of them are personal accounts. And so you would fall under the category of like a personal account.

Claire: Yeah, I’m not really anyone special. [laughter]

Garrett: No, I think that’s a definitely a false statement. You’re definitely someone’s special. [laughter] I’m diving into it. Let’s give a little bit of context as to can you tell us how old you are because I think that’ll help give us context in two guards to the technology that was there.

Claire: Yeah, so I’m 21 years old, um, and I started struggling with pornography when I was really young. I honestly don’t even remember how old I was when I was first exposed to it.

Garrett: So your part of the first generation ever in the history of the world to have to deal with the harmful effects of pornography to this level of intensity.

Claire: Yeah, I mean it’s everywhere.

Garrett: And of course pornography has been around forever, but once again it’s changed. In 1995 it changed, but also again, in like the mid two thousands, it changed because of cell phones. And so I think for some, some people who don’t understand, um, maybe some of the people from the prompt, from previous generations, they might think like, “Well, pornography has been around forever, so why is it a challenge right now?”

Mmm.

What age did you start looking at pornography?

Claire: I remember it was probably around like eight or nine.

Garrett: Eight or nine. Were you seeking it out or did you just stumble upon it?

Claire: I just stumbled upon it. It was just one of the things they start like with like a picture with pictures, lead to videos. Um, books even can be very graphic and explicit in what they describe.

Garrett: Right. Erotica. So eight or nine years old and you don’t even remember. Do you remember the first instance because maybe you don’t even remember the age, but do you remember the first?

Claire: Um, I mean, I feel like in some ways, yes. Like, I remember, um, seeing it in, you know, your mind is like, what is this? It’s curious. You’re young, you don’t understand what’s going on. Um, but I don’t remember very specific details about it. I just remember the feeling of being curious.

Garrett: Yeah, and so that’s in about 2007?

Claire: Approximately.

Garrett: And you’re eight or nine years old. And what was it from there? Like how did it progress after that?

Claire: I think it was just that curiosity of not understanding, but wanting to understand and…

Garrett: To understand pornography or to understand sexuality?

Claire: Sexuality. Um, and so I started looking up other things like “What, what were, what was this, what was going on here?” And you know, it gets worse.

Garrett: Yeah. The desensitization process kicks in and you oftentimes will need more and more often and a more hardcore version to get the same level of intensity in the brain.

Mmm.

One of the misconceptions we’re trying to break around this topic is that this is only a guy a problem.

Claire: Which it’s not. It’s so far from that. And I remember like we were in Guatemala and you asked me to come on this podcast, what I told you about my struggle with pornography and I was kind of quiet about it. I didn’t really want to talk about it. I hadn’t talked to almost anybody about that. And since then I, the trip was amazing, changed my life and I came home and I’ve been so much more open about it. I’ve had so many people, like when I’ve told them that, they’re like, “Yeah, me too.” So many other women are like, “Yeah, me too.” And I’m like, this is ridiculous. This is so ridiculous that we think, Oh, what’s a guy problem? It’s an everybody problem. We’re all human beings.

Garrett: It’s a human problem. Yeah. So how, when you say you’ve had these conversations, has since the trip,

Claire: Yeah,the trip, the trip was only a few weeks ago.

Garrett: What was it about the trip that has empowered you to kind of own your experience and be more open?

Claire: Well, first of all, it was a conversation with you that was really helpful to hear your story and to know, okay, there’s people out there who can own their experience and you know, progress and help other people.

Garrett: Yeah.

Claire: But I also think that the documentary when we sat down and we all watched the documentary together, that was seriously the coolest thing. Seeing women in the documentary portrayed as well. These women who really have had struggles with pornography, whether it’s just compulsory or if it’s actually addictive and it’s portrayed and these people are portrayed in such a positive light, they had a struggle and they’re overcoming it and they’re not bad people. That changed my life to see that and to know that I wasn’t alone.

Garrett: That makes me. [laughter]

Claire: It makes me happy too. [laughter]

Garrett: That’s so cool that uh, the documentary helped in that way and we will link, um, with this episode, the documentary so that our listeners can get on and get access to brain, heart world, that documentary, um, of the documentary brain heart world. What was your favorite part or what was your favorite uh, episode? Cause there’s three parts.

Claire: Right. I like to brain the best just because I felt like of all of them that was the most applicable to my experience with pornography.

Garrett: Interesting. So what about the brain was fascinating.

Claire: So you know, like talk it out in the documentary about like neuroplasticity and how your brain changes to things that I was exposed to and all of that. Um, and I totally noticed a change. I didn’t realize it at the time, but retrospectively I’ve realized that what I have experienced, like what I experienced, it had an impact on my grades. It had an impact on my relationships with my friends. It had an impact on the relationship with my family, my siblings, my parents, and I had an impact on everything. And it had an impact on my vision of myself. And so as a result, when I, when I was using, I felt like I was worthless and that, you know, no one would ever want me, no one would ever love me because of those things that I had done. Which isn’t okay.

Garrett: Shoot. When you say what you’ve done is like when you’ve, because you’ve had a challenge with pornography.

Claire: Right.

Garrett: You felt like you almost felt a little bit of fear for maybe current or future relationships because you didn’t want to tell the truth.

Claire: Yeah.

Garrett: And I think that’s so often the case as we go through life and as we date and as we get into relationships, like we want to show a little bit of baggage, like we want to be a little bit vulnerable, but sometimes we’re fearful like I don’t want to show everything.

Claire: Right. You don’t want to scare them away. And you know, like going on the trip really helped me realize that this is part of who I was. It’s part of my past and I’m overcoming it. I overcame it like cool. And it doesn’t make me a bad person for having struggled.

Garrett: Dude, I love that. I love the, as you say that like you shrugged your shoulder a little bit, like it’s, it’s, it’s no big deal. Like you, you had to go through it and you’re all about self-improvement and you’ve addressed your challenge. That’s so cool.

Claire: And then anybody else can do the exact same thing.

Garrett: So what would, when you say that anyone else can do the exact same thing? I think for a lot of people they don’t feel like they really can because maybe, well maybe a go into your experience. Did you ever feel like you weren’t gonna be able to overcome your challenge?

Claire: I think that I felt that sense of hopelessness the most when I was silent, like before I opened up to my parents about it for the first time I felt very hopeless and when I mean it’s a problem. So you’re going to slip up after the first time? Most likely I’m going to, unless you’re really cool, you can quit cold Turkey.

Garrett: I mean you’re really cool. [laughter] What I’m saying is like the, like you’re saying, the probability of you just white knuckling it and quitting cold Turkey is very good, are very slim.

Claire: I mean just like anything, you’re going to have slip ups and the more I was silent about those things, the more helpless I felt. I decided that silence is to porn as oxygen is to flame. Like you can’t just stay quiet about it. You don’t have to open up to the world on a podcast about it per se,

Garrett: Right.

Claire: … but talk to your friends and talk to your family and people who will support you and that will help you overcome anything.

Garrett: And so your parents were the first people that you felt comfortable with and you reached out to them for help?

Claire: Yeah, they actually, it’s kind of embarrassing. They caught me, but I’m grateful.

Garrett: That’s cool.

Claire: I’m really grateful that they did because you know, from there they never shamed me. They never said, Oh my gosh, how could you they, they loved me. They’ve loved me my entire life. They’ve never stopped and they’ve loved me even more since.

Garrett: Dude, I love that. One of the fret, one of the words you used that I think is so cool is you said, “I’m grateful” that gratitude, you’re grateful that you got caught?

Claire: Yeah.

Garrett: That’s an interesting… [laughter]

Claire: Yeah, incredibly grateful. I wouldn’t be sitting here with you today if I hadn’t been caught.

Garrett: Wow.

I mean maybe I would not. What I would’ve gotten the guts to say something and do something about it. I was getting closer because of Fight the New Drug, Fight the New Drug pushed me in the right direction. Even learning about it, awareness helps so much to know what pornography is, what it does to you. It was starting to scare me, but I got caught and that changed my life.

Garrett: So from age eight and that’s around 2007 how did it progress to you getting caught? At what age did you get caught?

Claire: I was a sophomore in high school. I was almost 16 years old. Okay. And when did you hear about fight the new drug? I heard about it just a couple of months prior to that. So I heard about Fight the New Drug in November of, let’s see, that would be 2013 and then I got caught and the beginning of my recovery started in may or April of 2014.

Garrett: Okay. So even though you knew about fight the new drug, you were still having this challenge because really because of the silence, right? Like you were being educated…

Claire: Right.

Garrett: And you said that was helping you in the awareness side was helping you. But the silence was still there…

Claire: Exactly.

Garrett: … and that tendency of secrecy was eating away just as it does with any behavioral or addiction or substance abuse.

Claire: Right. And like I said, the more that we’re silent about the topic, it’s, you know, I think people have on the world today have a couple of views. They’re either like “Pornography’s, okay, anyone can use it.” Sometimes people even say it’s “healthy” versus people who just are, it’s like “It’s taboo.” We don’t talk about it. There’s those two extremes, have those two extremes and that’s a real problem because you know, we know that pornography has these health problems and causes these issues in your brain, your heart, the world in general. And if we’re silent about it, if we’re saying, well yeah, we know that, but we’re not going to say anything, you’re going to end up with more people like me who are too afraid to speak up and get the help that they need.

Garrett: Yeah. One of my favorite quotes is “That what you fail to confront, you condone.” So like we need to confront this and it’s cool that you’re kind of doing your part.

Claire: I’m trying. [laughter]

Garrett: Awesome. What made you, how did you hear about Fight the New Drug?

Claire: So they did a presentation at my dad’s work, I guess, and he came home and he’s like, “This is really cool, guys.” And he sat us down and he went through like a little mini booklet presentation with us. And I remember sitting there thinking, “This is me. I have this problem.”

Garrett: And he has no clue that you have a challenge with pornography at this time?

Claire: He had no idea.

Garrett: Interesting. So those conversations, like some of our listeners, they’re having conversations but they don’t feel like it’s making a difference. But that was for you, one of those first sparks.

Claire: Oh yeah. I don’t, I don’t know what happened without Fight. Like I have no idea. I don’t like to think about where things would have been otherwise. I’m really grateful. I mean to that runs, Fight the New Drug for doing what you do because it really does make a difference. At one presentation, maybe no one in the room that day had a struggle with pornography. But because of that, my dad went home and he started a conversation with his family.

Garrett: So you said that when your dad had this discussion with you that you felt like “That is me.”, this is how I’m being affected as well. Was there one aspect of his discussion that resonated with you? Was it like about the brain or was it about, what was it that when you say “That is me.”

Claire: It was kind of scary to think, Whoa, that’s a lot of impact that pornography can have on someone’s life. And then I, it was very internalized. I realized I am someone who struggles with pornography and at some point I’m needing, I need to get help, but I didn’t know how to do that.

Garrett: Go into like the secrecy side. You didn’t tell anyone about your challenge of pornography. Did you tell anyone or was it completely just you Claire?

Claire: Just me.

Garrett: Just Claire taking on the world.

Claire: Taking on the world, which is so sad if you think about it. No one should have to go through those things alone. But I was afraid. I was afraid of what people would think of me, my parents. I mean I didn’t want them to know. I didn’t want them to be ashamed or you know, disappointed or angry. Um, and then after all the, after I’d recovered, I didn’t want anybody else to know because of those same reasons.

Garrett: Did you know of anyone else before hearing about fight the new drug? Did you know of any other people who are struggling with the challenge with to pornography?

Claire: I didn’t, I didn’t know anybody. I felt completely alone.

Garrett: Interesting.

Claire: It was, it was sad. But then after like I, you know, I’d heard about Fight and I started my recovery. I was, you know, doing really, really well. I had a couple of friends open up to me about it completely out of the blue. It had nothing to do with anything I had said to them, but both of them were boys and I was like, “Okay. Yeah, I just like, I’ve always heard porn is a ‘guy’ problem.” It wasn’t until Fight started posting things on social media about how women struggle with porn too. That I started to feel like, “Okay, well maybe I’m not completely alone. There’s other women out there, we’re just sparse I guess.” Um,

but since I’ve been really open about it, it’s completely changed my view of the problem.

Garrett: That’s cool that you’re so open about it and your, your awareness is so healthy. Those who believe that pornography is only a “guy” issue. What do you wish they understood about what it is like to be a woman who struggles with pornography?

Claire: It’s very similar. I mean, I’m a family studies major. I studied these kinds of things all the time. And you know, men yes, are more visually inclined. So that’s what we tend to, we think about when we think of pornography, we think of videos, we think of pictures, things that tend to stimulate men’s brains more. But women are just as stimulated in some ways. And so it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can be harmed by pornography. You can become a habitual user of pornography. It can wear down on your personality and everything that you love about yourself can disappear because you’re so focused on the high that you get from pornography.

Garrett: It’s like we’re really talking about being, like you being Claire and how pornography was getting in the way.

Claire: Yeah. I wasn’t able to be myself when I was using pornography, who had time for things that I really enjoyed when my brain wanted to watch pornography or read pornography or whatever it was. I didn’t have time to, I play the harp. I didn’t have time to play the harp if I wanted to view or consume. You don’t have time to expand your talents. When you’re doing that, you don’t have time to think and discover opinions and you know sides of yourself. You didn’t even know if all you can think about is pornography, it literally consumes you.

Garrett: Yeah. They say that like mainstream internet pornography’s “free”, but that’s only like a partially true statement because yeah, like it’s, it’s free in the sense of you’re not trading money for that free internet porn, but you always pay the price. Right. There’s always a price to be paid. You pay it now or you pay a later and like the price for one of the prices you paid was you weren’t able to develop talents that you could have otherwise developed.

Claire: Yeah, I’m sure that there are so many links to things that happened in my life that I could tie it back to pornography. Um, and sometimes I’ve sat down and thought about like, “Wow, like, you know, if this isn’t the way that things had gone, like maybe if I had done, if I hadn’t, then maybe I could have done this.” But it doesn’t do any good to sit there and dwell in the past. It’s much better to say, “Yeah, that’s what happened in the past, but I have my whole life ahead of me to do things that I do love to do and to regain whatever pornography pornography took away from me.”

Garrett: I liked them. Um, what negative things did pornography add in your life? Was it like, did it increase anxiety? Did it increase depression, did increase loneliness, did it for you to increase any of those things?

Claire: I feel like it increased mine, um, need to procrastinate, to not do my homework. I got worse grades because of it. Um, and I think as a result, it’s been hard for me to develop trust in relationships because maybe not necessarily because of what I think they’ll do, but more of what they’ll think of me. And that’s ridiculous. It’s sad. It shouldn’t be that way.

Garrett: Right. Do you think your challenge with pornography will make you a better spouse or a better, like as you transition into, by the way, are you, you’re not married?

Claire: No, not married. Single as a Pringle.

Garrett: Okay. So not married. “Single is a Pringle.” And do you think that your challenge makes you a better person?

Claire: I think it does, but that’s because I chose for it to make me a better person if I had just, you know, been like, yeah. And I feel like staying silent is part of the decision. You know, like everyone has the right to, you know, keep things to themselves. But for me, I can be a better person by speaking out about something that I care about.

Garrett: Yeah.

Claire: And by acknowledging that I am not perfect, but I have survived.

Garrett: Yeah. None of us are and we’re all trying to survive.

Claire: Yeah. And that is gonna ultimately make me a better wife one day better mother. Because that way when like, you know, maybe my husband comes across something and he struggles with something or my kids, I can relate. I can be there for them. I don’t have to be this aloof personality that has never struggled with anything ever. I’ve been there and I can help.

Garrett: I love that. I think I’m very grateful for my challenge with pornography because of that because I think it does make me a better version of myself because I’m more understanding. Um, I think I am more, um, encouraging than I might have been if I didn’t have this challenge. I think I’m more open minded. I think that it makes me a better husband. I think it makes me a better friend. I think it makes me a better father and like looking at what you said, like “It’ll make you a better mother one day.” It’s like, yeah, your kids are so fortunate. If you end up having kids like they are so fortunate because you will be able to have meaningful conversations with them.

Claire: Yeah, exactly. And I won’t be afraid to tell them what I experienced and how it affected my life, but if they ever do come across something, then I’m not going to be the person judge them. There’s no shame… there just needs to be love.

Garrett: That’s cool. I like that. So you talked about how pornography it made you, it perpetuated your procrastination?

Claire: Yeah, I was lazier.

Garrett: Interesting. And, and then you also mentioned some false expectations?

Claire: Yeah, just like not just of other people but of myself. Like who was I supposed to be in a relationship? How is this supposed to act in a relationship? I was pretty young so I wasn’t really to a stage of actually getting into relationships. And I’m lucky in that regard that I wasn’t, you know, consuming pornography by the time I was getting into relationships. But there are residual effects. I mean for a very long time I struggled feeling like I was ever good enough because I don’t look like the women that they hire to be porn stars.

Garrett: It’s, yeah. The thing about pornography is that it perpetuates false expectations for both genders.

Claire: Yeah. It was so sad. Just on my way up here, I had a friend open up to me about a relationship that she just got out of. She was telling me all of these things that had happened, horrible, abusive things that had happened to her, mainly emotional and manipulation, like abuse that she didn’t even recognize and I was asking her, I’m like, “Why do you feel like that’s okay? Why did you feel like that was normal?” And she talked about how they had both watched pornography and how this was. She’s like, “Well boys just do this.” And I’m like, “No boys. Don’t just do that. Not boys who care, not boys who love, that’s not normal. That’s not okay.” It just broke my heart to think that her expectation for what she should was less than what she was worth. And I never really experienced that side of pornography, like the harms that it can do, but it gave me a very real glimpse into, she thought that this is just how boys acted. She thought that she was just supposed to smile and take it because that’s what she’s supposed to do. But that’s not love. That’s not even close to love.

Garrett: Yeah. Love requires, um, altruism and it requires discipline and it requires patience and it requires communication.

Mmm.

Just on a side note, will your friend be okay with you sharing that? Saying that I had a friend on the way up here.

Claire: Yeah. As long as she remains anonymous.

Garrett: Okay. Um, so at 16 is when you got caught, right?

Claire: I was almost 16,

Garrett: So it’s been about four or five years now since you addressed your challenge.

Claire: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, did you ever go and seek out professional help from like therapists or…

Claire: Um, I did seek professional help. I went, I saw a therapist just a few times just to kind of get things cleared up for me. But, um, I thought it was super helpful.

Garrett: That’s great. Did professional… everyone’s recovery so different and that’s why it’s so interesting to kinda hear your experience.

Claire: It is so different.

Garrett: Um, you went to a couple sessions. The reason why, one of the reasons why I was asking about the therapy or the professional help was did you ever receive like a diagnosis of like, yeah, you’re probably addicted or was it a compulsive behavior or just unhealthy habit that you had formed?

Claire: Um, you know, like even when I described it to her, like she never officially gave me some sort of diagnosis. In my own research, I’ve determined it probably wasn’t, um, so much. And addiction as maybe a compulsory habit.

Garrett: Did you, so after you used pornography, did you feel increased? I’ve already mentioned this, but I want to mention again, like did you feel increased depression or loneliness after you consumed?

Claire: Oh, every single time. Every single time I felt depressed. I felt anxious every single time.

Garrett: Is it challenging for you to go back to how painful it really was and you said it…

Claire: It is really hard. Like I, I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t really open up about it for a really long time is just knowing that I felt so alone the whole time. And I don’t, I, if you ask anyone who knows me, I’m a very much a people person. I like being around my friends. I don’t like being alone almost ever. And so feeling like, yeah, maybe I’m with people, but I’m alone in this struggle. I’m alone in whatever I’m going through. That’s not okay. And I, I don’t like to think about it very much.

Garrett: Do you think that there’s different stigmas for guys and women?

Claire: You know, I, I bet there is, but I think the main stigma for women is that they don’t. And so if you do, then Whoa, what are you, what’s wrong with you? If you have a “guy” problem, like that’s some really unique kind of crazy, I don’t know. But that’s kind of how I felt.

Garrett: Yeah.

Claire: I think, you know, being open about the fact that women do struggle, there’s a lot of them out there. I mean, like I said, I’ve had quite a few that since I’ve opened up to them, they’re like, “Yeah, me too.” It’s a whole different me too movement. It’s me too. I have struggled as well and you know, banding together over that fact can help us even be stronger against it.

Garrett: That’s so cool. I think you’re 100% correct. Um, I think for a lot of our listeners, let’s say a portion of them are parents and those who are parents and they’re listening to this episode, it’s very possible that some of them are thinking, “Not my kid, my kid doesn’t have a challenge with pornography.” Where are you? Where are your parents ever suspicious that you might have a challenge?

Claire: I don’t think they were, I was a really good kid. I mean, I was in honors classes and I was in extracurricular activities and I, you know, I was the good kid, you know, like we didn’t, I didn’t look like a kid that would have a problem.

Garrett: That’s the thing is that there is no look.

Claire: [laughter] No, there’s not, there’s no way that you can just look at it and be like, “No, they’re fine.” You have no idea. No idea. It could very well be your child. And so it’s important that you have regular conversations with them about the harms of pornography, what it can do, and then open up and say “If you have seen or if you are looking and consuming pornography, then talk to us and we’ll help you and be very loving and open.” Because as scared as I was to tell my parents, it wasn’t because they hadn’t said those things. I think they did their best, but it is scary. Um, ultimately I think that the more that we talk about this topic and the more that we try to get rid of the shame that is there when it comes to pornography, the more we can start treating people who have struggles, pornography, similar to victims, people who have gone through something very, very difficult and all they need is support.

Garrett: Right. That’s so cool. And yeah, your parents, they’re great parents.

Claire: Oh, they’re fantastic.

Garrett: I love that. So they’re great parents…

Claire: And they’re going to be listening to this too. [laughter]

Garrett: [laughter] Yeah, they’re great parents. Shout out to your parents! and for the listeners out there like that, say “Not my kid.”, like you just don’t know. And so like you said, these conversations are so important to have, um, with your kids and not just one conversation but

Claire: Consistent regular conversations so that they know that when it does come up. I noticed when I say “when”, when they see pornography at some point in their lives, whether it’s intentional or otherwise, they will know that they can trust you and they can talk to you about it.

Garrett: I love that, that when word is such, there’s so much truth there. It’s not a matter of if, because of the climate that we live in today, it’s a matter of when your kid is being exposed to pornography. One thing that I find interesting is that you were 16 or 17 years old when you start to address this challenge. Fast forward to today and you’re 21 yeah. So that’s about four years of addressing this challenge. And just you said just recently when you saw the documentary that was one of your most favorite aha moments that you’ve?

Claire: Yeah, that was the first time that I realized that I was not a bad person. Like people had always told me that, you know, my parents never made me feel like I was a bad person. None of that ever came from them. Anyone I had ever opened up to had been loving and supportive and no one had ever made me feel like a bad person. No one besides myself. Interesting. And when I saw the documentary and for the first time I felt like a solidarity with these people. Like I get it. I understand I am not the only one out there and I am not a bad person because my struggle, I am not defined by my struggle. That’s so cool. I love that everyone needs to watch Brain, Heart, World.

Garrett: That’s cool. I think a lot of people are skeptical about watching the documentary.

Claire: It was the happiest thing I’d seen the long game. Yeah. Like I think clay mentioned it in the first podcast. He talked about how, you know, seeing like the videos, people, dark rooms, laptops or whatever and you know, like, and then when they did interview people it was like the shaded things so you couldn’t see their face. Um, but that documentary is not like that at all. It’s bright. It’s hopeful. It addresses the facts of pornography. It doesn’t talk lightly about the harms that it can cause, but the people that they interview, I have never met any of them, but I want to one day and it talks about, you know, they have struggled but they are good people and they are progressing and making wonderful changes in their lives. And there is a lot of hope and a lot of awesome future out there for them. That’s the same thing for me.

Garrett: I love that. But that took some time for you to finally have that aha moment.

Claire: Yeah, exactly.

Garrett: Took a lot of time and it took almost four years for you to have that. That is so cool. I’m still learning and all of us are, but I, yeah, I can relate. Even though I’ve been
three over three years since I started addressing my challenge with pornography, I’m still having aha moments.

Claire: Yeah.

Garrett: So it’s, it’s pretty cool to see you have an aha moment at four years. [laughter]

Claire: Yeah. [laughter]

Garrett: And I think that a lot of our listeners who have a challenge with pornography, they might feel hopeless. You know? They’re like, “No, I can’t. I can’t do it. Like I can’t overcome it. I’ve tried and tried again and tried again and try again and try again, and I cannot overcome it.” And so to see someone that has that had this, that has overcome their challenge of pornography, that is continued to be vulnerable, to help others to even, even though it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun at times to address this challenge, I’m sure.

Claire: Yeah. It’s, I don’t know if it’s ever easy. [laughter]

Garrett: Yeah. But you pushed through that difficulty and you have this aha moment, this freeing, liberating aha moment at four years.

Claire: I’ve never felt more like myself.

Garrett: Wow. That’s cool. That’s really cool. And it’s cool to sit across from you, Claire, and like see this confident to see Claire.

Claire: Yeah. [laughter]

Garrett: Like you, like to see, you’re confident, you’re, you’re kind, you’re considerate. Um, you’re encouraging, you’re real.

Claire: Thank you. That’s so nice.

Garrett: Like all these things are such great quality. No, seriously, it’s such great qualities to have in you. You have them. What would you, do you have any advice for other women out there who have a challenge with pornography?

Claire: I would just say first and foremost, you’re not alone, so don’t feel like, “Oh, I’m the only one that’s ever struggled with this.” And if you can’t exactly relate to my story, that doesn’t mean there’s not somebody else out there that hasn’t gone through something very, very similar, if not almost exactly the same to what you’re going through. So first of all, you’re not alone. Um, and then I would say the first step is really just to open up to somebody, somebody that you really trust and just say, “Hey, I struggle with porn. Can we talk about it?” Or just even just “I struggle with porn.” and then…

Garrett: Even those words as, as, as strange as it sounds in my experience. Even the words like verbalizing “I have this challenge…” is empowering.

Claire: It is. It really is. I, like, like I’m talking to people, people I’ve known for years and they’re like, “Oh, what are you doing?” “Oh, I’m going to go record a podcast for Fight the New Drug. And I’m talking about my struggle with porn.” And you know, some people are like, “Oh that’s really cool.” You know, they take some a second, but they appreciate what I’m doing and that has been the fastest way to quench feelings of, you know, self doubt of feeling like I’m worthless or that I’m alone is talking about it. Like I said earlier, like silence is to porn as like oxygen is to flame and you know, I think that’s like the first step is just talking to somebody about it. And I mean there’s so many other ways you can like start to like really start your recovery process.

For me, maybe more unconventional, like really just involved kind of working with my parents and working with myself and then later going to a therapist, um, to kind of tie up the loose ends. I suppose. Taking a trip to Guatemala to feel better about myself. [laughter]

Garrett: [laughter] Yeah, that is a unique recovery.

Claire: Yeah, but I mean if you feel like you need a therapist and go see one, if you want to, you know, there’s fortify, which I’ve heard it is an absolutely amazing free app. Like use that, do whatever you need to do overcome. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes you. Yeah. That’s the important thing is that, you know, yeah, maybe I actually technically overcame the habit a lot faster, but I feel like my recovery hasn’t really ever finished until more recently when I feel like I’m finally back to myself.

Garrett: Right. Um, one thing I think it’s important when you mentioned Guatemala, some of our listeners might not realize why you went to Guatemala. You said that was part of your recovery.

Claire: Yeah, I didn’t expect it to be part of my recovery for sure. Um, I, you know, Fight the New Drug and went to Guatemala in July of this year and it was so cool.

Garrett: Yeah. We had fighters from all over the world.

Claire: Yeah, we had some from Chile, some from Canada all over the place and it was really cool.

Garrett: And so, yeah, I just wanted to get a little bit of context and we had so much fun with you while you, while we were there, Claire, and so many good memories.

Claire: Yeah. It was actually really hard for me. I like you didn’t get to interact with me a lot the first couple of days, but um, you know, we were getting there and that kind of thing. People ask me, well, how did you get involved with Fight the New Drug? And I didn’t want to talk about why he got involved. I didn’t cry. So I just used my excuse that I’m a family studies major and it’s something that I’m passionate about, which are both true. I just left out the fact that I had struggled with pornography, but as the week went on, you know, I started to open up about it a little bit more. I didn’t feel as afraid to talk about my struggle. There were some other people, Chaz, um, was on that trip and he talked about his struggle too. And I was like, if a social media influencer couldn’t do it, so can

Garrett: I remember with my personal experience, I did the project where I ran 30 marathons in 30 days wearing handcuffs, but I didn’t tell anyone about my challenge, my personal challenge with pornography until marathon 26 so kinda like you. [laughter] I did not want to tell anyone about my personal challenge. I was just, I did the marathons and I told people that I was advocating and helping change the conversation around the harmful effects of pornography. But I was scared to tell people about my story until marathon 26 and then I finally told the truth, then kind of stopped being a hypocrite if I’m, if I want people to be open and if I want to change the conversation, then I, my, my wife actually helps me realize that I need to be open if I’m wanting other people to be open.

Claire: Yeah. And I realized like you helped me understand that more when we were on the trip. We’re on a plane flying from one end of Guatemala to the other on this rickety little airplane.

Garrett: I remember that.

Claire: It was sketchy. And you said something along the lines of, “You know, like you could really help a lot of people.” And I realized like there was never anybody that I knew or had heard of that had struggled with pornography like as a woman. And I was like, well what if I’m the first one that people get to hear about? I’m like, I want to help. I want to feel like…

Garrett: That makes it, that makes me smile because you are a one of the first ones that’s coming to the podcast to talk about the harmful effects of pornography and how it’s affected you as a, as a woman, as a person. And so you are one of the first and I just want to encourage our listeners to, to do their part, right. Cause you’re doing your part.

Claire: I’m trying to at least.

Garrett:Yeah. And part of your part was addressing your challenge and so listeners out there if like whatever your part is at this moment, um, just do that and press forward and help change the conversation. Help someone else. Because Claire, to be honest, as people listen to this, you are definitely, there’s going to be people like I have already benefited from our conversation, but there’s going to be a lot of people out there who can, who can uh, relate to your experience and your experience is going to resonate with them. And so Claire, I want to say thank you on behalf of all of our listeners and our team. If I the new drug, everyone around the world, we benefit from you, from your experience. And so thank you.

Claire: You’re welcome and thank you for having me. I, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to share my experience.

Garrett: Thanks for joining us on this episode. Consider before consuming. Consider Before Consuming was brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a nonreligious and non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science facts and personal accounts. If you’d like to learn more about today’s conversation, you can check out the links attached to this episode. Now. Moving on from that, it’s been said that the average person makes about 35,000 decisions every day with all the decision making you do in a given day. We’re sincerely grateful that one of your decisions today was to listen to this conversation. So thank you. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase yourself awareness. Look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND

A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.

Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.

Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.

Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.

A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.

An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.