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Drew Boa

By November 10, 2021No Comments

Episode 56

Drew Boa

Recovered Compulsive Porn Consumer, Author, & Founder of Husband Material

In today’s episode, guest Drew Boa shares how pornography has impacted his life and what he’s doing now to help other men quit porn through Husband Material, the recovery organization he founded. Listen as Drew talks with podcast host Garrett Jonsson about how childhood sexual trauma, early exposure to adult material, and other experiences throughout his life fueled a compulsive porn habit that he was eventually able to overcome. Drew discusses how turning to porn can be a coping mechanism for consumers, how to cultivate self-compassion during recovery, and the benefits of a life free from porn and its influence.

To learn more about Drew, visit HusbandMaterial.com, or look for his book “Redeemed Sexuality: 12 Sessions For Healing And Transformation,” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

DISCLAIMER:
Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Fight the New Drug Ad: If you’ve been enjoying listening to Consider Before Consuming, consider signing up to give $1 per month to support our efforts. Your contribution, whatever the amount, can make a significant difference in our effort to educate individuals on the impacts of pornography. Sign up to give just $1 every month at ftnd.org/give1. That’s ftnd.org/give1.

Garrett Jonsson: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.

And in case you’re new here, Fight the New Drug is a non-religious 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.

We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some, you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning- listener discretion is advised.

Todays’ episode is with Drew Boa. Drew was exposed to pornography at an early age, and continued to turn to porn for much of his life. Today Drew is porn-free and helps others work through their unwanted porn consumption. During this conversation we talk about how porn can be a coping mechanism, how to cultivate self compassion, and some of the benefits from living a life free from porn and its influence.

With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s kinda nice to record with someone who runs a podcast.

Drew: Oh yeah. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Cause you just arrived, and you’re ready.

Drew: Yes, sir. Oh my gosh. I love my podcast. It’s probably my favorite part of my job.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s so cool.

Drew: Is this like your main thing that you do at Fight?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, the podcast then I also present, so we go to like junior highs and high schools and colleges. I was just in Detroit, I got back yesterday because I presented to a junior high and high school out there.

Drew: How was that?

Garrett Jonsson: It was great.

Drew: That’s so cool. I mean that, I can just imagine like how, uh, how uncomfortable it must be for some most kids, but then how empowering.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Yeah. It’s pretty cool. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of our events, our live events, but…

Drew: I haven’t.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, that’s, that’s usually the, the thing people think is like, “Man, this is going to be kind of awkward.”, you know? But the way that the presentation was designed, and I can’t take credit for that, it’s really well done. And by the end of the presentation, we invite all of the kids to come and sign a banner that is like a become a Fighter banner. And I would say that 80 to 95% of kids come up and sign the banner.

Drew: Wow.

Garrett Jonsson: And, and it’s really cool to see that, you know, a large percent of them are onboard and aren’t awkward about it and are just excited to be part of the solution.

Drew: Wow.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s pretty cool.

Drew: I hope and, and I expect that some of that will happen in this recording.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t even know where you’re located at.

Drew: Yeah. I am in Santa Barbara, California.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice.

Drew: Are we recording this? Are we doing the episode right now?

Garrett Jonsson: I don’t know. We’re just talking and it’s recording.

Drew: [laughter] okay.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, we’re just talking and it’s recording. So it seemed like you were so like, you were just ready and so I just kinda jumped into it.

Drew: Okay.

Garrett Jonsson: But yeah.

Drew: Yeah, yeah. Well, let’s go, I’m in Santa Barbara, California, right? Between the mountains and the ocean. And I kind of alternate between the two and my own exercise. And that’s just such a wonderful release to be able to have during the day after working at the computer, go out into nature and unwind.

Garrett Jonsson: I don’t know if there can be a better situation between mountains and the ocean.

Drew: It sounds impossible. It’s like, wait, does that exist on planet earth?

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah. And it does.

Drew: It does. Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: So we just go to the ocean to do your exercise. What are you doing?

Drew: I am swimming.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice.

Drew: I am not one of the hardcore ocean swimmers who goes out to the edge of the swim area where it’s really deep. I stay so shallow that sometimes my hand touches the bottom.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Drew: Because that just helps me with my anxiety about any animals that are out there and…
Garrett Jonsson: You’re like “this depth doesn’t allow a shark to enter underneath me.”

Drew: Exactly. And if there is a shark it’s probably three feet long and it eats microscopic creatures. So I’ll be fine.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Right. And then when you go to the mountains, what are you doing for exercise?

Drew: I am running on the trails trail running kind of intimidated me at first. I thought, you know, I’m used to running on flat stuff, but what a reward to get to the top of one of those trails and to look out when there’s a great view, um, it’s breathtaking.

Garrett Jonsson: Totally. Comparing that to pornography. I’ve had this thought a lot because I also, I’m not a huge trail runner, but I also enjoy hiking. And I’ve had this thought sometimes as of late, like viewing pornography versus engaging with a quality, healthy relationship. It’s kind of like the difference of looking up a hike on Google and actually participating in the hike yourself.

Drew: Yeah. Ah, it’s so good.

Garrett Jonsson: You know?

Drew: Yes. It is so much more challenging to do the real hike. You’re going to sweat. You might get lost. Um, it’s going to be difficult and yet the more you do it, the better you get and it’s so worth it and satisfying in the end.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. That’s awesome. Well, as we begin the conversation Drew, I, I usually like to ask our guests so that we can get to know you a little bit better, but also so that you can kind of brag about yourself a little bit. And the question is, first of all, what’s something that makes you happy? And then what’s something that you’re proud of?

Drew: Something that really makes me happy is elephant seals. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Elephant seals? [laughter] just saying that makes me laugh. So they make me happy too.

Drew: [laughter] Well, I used to hate elephant sales. I thought they were the ugly fat, lazy type of seal. I thought they were worthless and pointless. They just sit on the beach and they’re lazy. My view of them completely changed when I visited a real elephant seal rookery out here on the central coast of California. And I was talking with a docent, somebody who volunteers to be out there educating people about the seals. And now they’re my favorite Marine animal.

Garrett Jonsson: Really?

Drew: They’re just incredible.

Garrett Jonsson: So what’s something that you learned that was like, “This is my new favorite Marine animal.”

Drew: The reason why they seem so lazy is because they are hunting continuously 24 hours a day for most of the year out in the deep ocean or on the coastal shelf where they have to avoid orchestras. And they are incredible endurance athletes just constantly hunting. And then when they come back to land for two to four months out of the year, they’re fasting that whole time. They’re not eating anything.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh wow.

Drew: And so they’re just conserving their energy. And I was like, “Wow, you are my hero. These seals are amazing.”

Garrett Jonsson: That’s wild. Wow. That is really cool.

Drew: You know, and I guess it’s kind of a metaphor for how I’ve had this relationship with myself, where I used to hate myself. I used to say, “Why do I use pornography? I hate the specific type of pornography that I’m using, but I’m so compelled to it and drawn to it.” And now I’ve been able to appreciate the way that I was trying to survive and the way that porn was just a pacifier for the wounds that I was carrying when I was a little boy. And I’ve learned to love myself and appreciate that boy, and that has made all the difference, Garrett.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow. That’s really cool. Thanks for sharing that. I want to come back to that statement at some point during this conversation, the statement you said that “you hated the type of pornography, but you were drawn to it” at the same time. So let’s come back to that at some point during the conversation, uh, go into what makes you, what’s something that you’re proud of?

Drew: I am really proud of my son. Um, I have a 10 month old son. His name is Isaiah and he’s such a delight. He is awesome. He’s almost learning how to walk. And one of the reasons why I’m so grateful for Isaiah, first of all, for who he is. And second of all, because my family also had a baby boy named Josiah who was born and died after four hours. And that’s a big part of my story, of my family’s story. But, um, Isaiah doesn’t replace Josiah. He is such a gift though. And it’s a gift for me to be his dad.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s something that is worthy of being proud of. And, uh, thanks for sharing those things.

Drew: Yeah. Thanks, Garrett.

Garrett Jonsson: Uh, I think that it’s important as we start this conversation. Um, the name of the podcast, as you know, is Considered Before Consuming. We’re talking about the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation. And we speak with people that are experts, and influencers, and activists, and people with personal accounts. And in your case, you’re a coach and you have a personal account and you’re an activist in a way. So it’s kind of like three of those wrapped into one.

Drew: Yeah. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: But I think it’s going to be important since the main thing is first understanding you as an individual and your account. It might be good to go into your first time exposure to pornography and, and understanding how that situation unfolded for you in your personal account.

Drew: Yeah. I was in eighth grade at a sleepover and my new friends in this new town where I had moved to were using pornography and inviting me to watch the videos. And even later in the evening, masturbating together in the same room and having a little contest in the dark of who can masterbate the fastest. And I didn’t feel great about it. I also didn’t feel ashamed of it. It just seemed like this is what it means to be a teenage boy and be one of the guys.

Garrett Jonsson: Have you heard of Skinner’s box?

Drew: Never heard of it.

Garrett Jonsson: I think you have actually, I just, I just recently learned about it. And when I learned about it recently. It was like a relearning experience because I had heard about it, you know, the box with the rat, and the lever, and the food dispenser.

Drew: Okay. Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: There’s this experiment and the guy who did it was, uh, his name was…

Drew: Oh, B.F. Skinner.

Garrett Jonsson: B.F. Skinner. Yeah.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And he had the rat and the box and the food dispenser and the lever and the rat when, when they press the lever, that food would come out and it was a reinforcement to pressing on the lever. And I kind of think that a modern day Skinner’s Box is a kid in his or her “box”, in their room. And the lever is the cell phone with, with a wifi connection.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And it kind of seems like that’s what was happening to you is that there was a, a short-term reinforcement there that like normalized this.

Drew: Well, yeah, there was a bond. It was part of what made me one of the guys.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: So really underneath all of the behavior, there was this deeper desire for inclusion and acceptance. And that is a lot of what kept me tied to pornography, even though I wasn’t aware of it.

Garrett Jonsson: Hmm.

And did your porn consumption become an escalating behavior?

Drew: Yes, it did. It got to the point where my fantasies escalated and I needed more intense imagery to turn me on. Even though I was also ashamed of that imagery. I had a lot of ambivalence about feeling aroused by it and also disgusted at the same time.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. It kind of goes back to that Skinner’s Box. There’s a reinforcement there.

Drew: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: But that doesn’t mean that that reinforcement is healthy.

Drew: Yes. Yeah. And I actually believe that I was being exploited by porn. We often talk about how young kids are exploited by porn to become performers. I believe young kids like me were also exploited by porn to become consumers. We were trained in that box.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: So that’s huge, especially if you’re carrying self contempt about your sexual behavior, realize that, um, it’s not all your fault. We were set up for this. We were trained, we were conditioned from an early age to get home.

Garrett Jonsson: Like I think that that thought of understanding this problem, understanding this issue in a very detailed way can help you have self-compassion.

Drew: Totally.

Garrett Jonsson: And accept what it is and move forward in a healthy way. Like what age did you finally realize you could have some self-compassion for yourself?

Drew: Man. It wasn’t until my twenties.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, wow.

Drew Boa: It wasn’t until I went on a much deeper journey that took me back to my childhood and I realized why porn was so appealing in the first place.

Garrett Jonsson: And why was it for you as a, as a young teen? I think you already kind of mentioned like the acceptance part.

Drew: Yeah. I felt so rejected at school. I grew up moving around between different countries, Puerto Rico, United States, Mexico, Canada. And I had a really hard time connecting with other kids. So I felt rejected at school. I was neglected at home, even though I just thought it was normal.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Drew: I was abandoned emotionally. And also some of the themes that were disgusting to me had to do with power and domination. And that relates to feeling powerless and specifically the specific way that I was sexually abused by my grandmother and other family members, which I never would have thought, but I was sexually abused until I went on this journey. And even that’s a development from within the last year of being able to say that out loud and it’s taken incredible courage and humility. And I even feel a tension in my chest, as I say that like that I am a survivor of abuse. But when you look at the specific type of porn that I was using, it mirrors the abuse.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow. Well, thanks for sharing.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And you know, those journeys, those therapeutic journeys, those can be a wild ride.

Drew: [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Like I guess I shouldn’t even say they CAN BE, like journeys ARE a wild adventure. And the fact that you’ve been able to dig up some of this stuff and work on that, self-improvement, it’s a cool thing. So kudos to you.

Drew: Yeah. And another thing for me is that I grew up in the middle of something, which is “Wex is bad.”, “Sex is nasty.”, “Sex is gross.”, “Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it. And certainly don’t do it unless you’re married.” And so I grew up with a negative view of sexuality and so sexual behavior for me had to be secret. It had to be private and it became a forbidden magical realized thing rather than just a normal part of life. I guess what I’m saying, there is, I think a big part of why I went to pornography is because I was repressing my sexuality so much that eventually that energy came out through binging.

Garrett Jonsson: But this is kind of your learning and understanding of what was happening then. In the moment I’m sure it was more of like an impulsive decision where there was no forethought of the future or possible consequences or what was happening. It was just right then and there. Is that, is that true?

Drew: That’s mostly true. I did have a kind of dread about how this might be shaping me, like “Who am I becoming as a result of this behavior?” And that was actually rather wise of me, even though I couldn’t stop the behavior. In the end, when I finally did get married and have my first sexual experience with my wife, I wasn’t able to fully respond to her body because like those rats, I was conditioned and I was trained to use certain sexual imagery and the touch of my own body rather than another person’s body.

And that was a way that I had to be reconditioned. And it took me about seven months to finally have full, healthy sexual intercourse.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow.

One of the things that we sometimes say is that you shouldn’t take sex advice from a, an industry that profits off of fake orgasms.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Um, if I’m thinking of someone who might be pro pornography and they hear you say that consuming pornography molded you, some people that are pro pornography might be skeptical of that statement.

Drew: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And can you talk to that a little bit more about how that negatively affected you as an individual? Because I’m a believer in this theory called social learning, where you can observe things and model things and imitate things and behaviors and attitudes and reactions just from observing things. Is that kind of what happened with, with you?

Drew: Uh, part of it was that I was using these images and videos pornographic, and I developed a pornographic style of relating as a result.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Drew: Which was self-absorbed, it was isolated. It was immediate. And all of that runs against what a real relationship with a human being is. Like, it’s not immediate, there’s got to be patience and delayed gratification. It’s not isolated. It’s no relationship with somebody else and creating something beautiful together. So for me, I think, I think social learning is a big part of it for traditional porn. For me, it was the reinforcement of isolation, immediacy, and ultimately immaturity because I believe porn is a pacifier. It’s a childish immature way of being a sexual person because the way that I was using images and videos, pornographic really kept me isolated. It kept me preferring immediate gratification to delayed gratification in a real relationship. And it kept me immature because I had no idea how to relate. I was relationally immature because I was seeking my connection and acceptance through porn.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Wow. That’s interesting. There’s a, there’s a thing called alexithymia.

Drew: Yes.

Garrett Jonsson: Do you know what that is?

Drew: That’s one of my favorite vocabulary words this year.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] I’m glad you know what that is. I think that’s really cool that we’re on the same page in that way. I don’t think that’s a very common thing to know.

Drew: It should be more common. And it’s basically the experience of, “I don’t know what I’m feeling.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: And it’s almost synonymous with having a secret struggle with pornography because we’re using it to alter the mood that we’re feeling. Whether we know what that mood is or not. And usually it’s like a pacifier. I like to say porn as a pacifier because whenever you’re feeling: happy, sad, angry, lonely, you stick the pacifier in and the child stops crying for a moment. It’s not actually making you safe. It’s just making you feel differently and mitigating, medicating, helping you cope.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: Um, yeah, just like we, we put the pacifier in the mouth of a child and it doesn’t actually feed them. It doesn’t nourish them. It doesn’t actually give them the intimacy or connection that they need, the attachment that they need. Um, we become attached to the pacifier and that is what happened to me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And expounding on that a little bit. When you take the pacifier away finally from the kid and they throw fits.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s that can happen with pornography consumption as well. There is a little bit of a withdrawal effect.

Drew: Yes. And that is exactly what happens when you stopped using pornography. And when I tried to stop using it, I was so alarmed because I couldn’t, because all of a sudden the child within me is throwing a temper tantrum.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. In, in our mid twenties or whenever it is for the older or younger, but …

Drew: It’s not the mature, adult, rational part of us that is attached to porn. It’s a much younger part. It’s the three-year-old, it’s the seven year old, it’s the 13 year old who is showing up all these years later.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, you’ve talked about how pornography affected your relationship with your significant other in regards to how it affected your sex life with that individual.

Drew: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: You’ve talked to that a little bit, but are there other ways that pornography disrupted the harmony within the relationship with your wife?

Drew: Thankfully, it didn’t. Thankfully I was able to get free from porn shortly before we started dating. And as we were getting closer and growing more committed to each other, we eventually went through premarital counseling. Actually it was pre engagement counseling, which I highly recommend.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Drew: And we were thinking about committing to get married and our engagement counselors gave us a little assignment and they said, “I want you to ask two questions to each other, one, What do you appreciate about the other person? And number two, what do you see in yourself that needs work?” And that second question stopped me in my tracks. I remember sitting on Rebecca’s couch. I couldn’t look her in the eyes. My stomach was tight and I can be a slow talker. It took me a long time to get the words out. Eventually I looked up and I said, “I’m not as free from porn, as you might think.”

And in that moment, she gave me such empathy and kindness and tenderness that something changed within me. And I knew that if I’m going to marry this person, if I’m going to commit to her, I need to be 100% confident that porn is in the past. At that time, I had had over a year of freedom in the past, but I had that recent relapse right before we started dating. And I had to tell her about that. And that is when my journey got a lot deeper. That’s when I started researching. That’s when I started training and reading as much as I could. And that’s what took me back to my childhood. And that’s when I didn’t just get free from the behavior, I got free from the battle. My sexual brokenness paved the way for me to get healing at a much deeper level than just the behavior; it’s given me such incredible skills and character qualities of vulnerability, of emotional intimacy, of curiosity, rather than criticism and judgment. Of compassion. And self-compassion rather than self contempt of courage rather than fear and shame. And all of these things have made me husband material, as I like to say.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, that makes sense. Honesty is going to strengthen a relationship.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. And even if at first that honesty brings about some challenges and some hardship and some sadness, if that honesty is backed with action and long-term consistent action, then that is going to be healthy.

Drew: Yes. And we need to be very clear that honesty and vulnerability have to happen in a safe, appropriate way.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Yeah.

Drew: You can be honest in a way that’s not safe. You can be honest in a way that ultimately creates more problems.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for clarifying. That, that makes sense.

Drew: You’re welcome.

Garrett Jonsson: Going to your relapse. I don’t know if you’re a person who wants to talk about this and if I ask a question that you’re not comfortable with and just say, “I’d rather not answer.”, that’s totally fine. That’s a healthy boundary. And my question is regarding your relapse. And the reason why I wanted to talk to it is because I think a listener who is currently experiencing unwanted porn consumption or problematic porn consumption, they hear your experience. And I think they might be intimidated or hopeless because it’s like, “Well, he told the truth. And then now it’s been seven years and he’s never had a challenge with pornography again.” And in my experience, when I say me, I’m talking as a listener, the listener might say, “In my experience, that’s not the case. I’ve told the truth. I’ve tried to stop. And I am still engaging in this unwanted porn consumption.”

Drew: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And so I’m wondering if you can talk to your relapsed. So you had a year without any pornography consumption and then you went to pornography again?

Drew: Yes.

Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to those maybe cues or triggers or whatever it was that turned you back to pornography?

Drew: Yeah. I’ll tell you exactly what happened, I graduated college. I had a wonderful undergraduate experience where I entered my first groups that allowed me to tell my story and find other guys who I could talk to about this who accepted me, who loved me, even when they knew the things that I hated about myself. They, they didn’t respond to me the way I did. And so I was already on this healing journey. I was already having highs and lows and good seasons and tough seasons. And then I got more and more freedom. It was great. By the time I was a senior in college, I was leading groups. And when I graduated, I lost my entire support system.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Drew: And the post-college transition is a doozy. It’s a lot easier to go to college for the first time than to leave college. And so I was in the middle of back in that place of isolation, of feeling friendless.

My best friend got married and moved away. I was no longer in a group. I thought “I’m doing so well. I don’t need a group anymore.” I was over-functioning. I was overworked, and busy and trying to do an internship and get a job and continue to, to rebuild the rubble. After having my entire life set up for me, when I was a senior. It was a devastating wasteland, but I went on as if everything was okay and I could handle it. Well, that’s when I had my most significant period of acting out sexually since I started this journey. And I thought, “What is going on? Is all of my progress up until this point, a sham, and an illusion have I really just been fooling myself this whole time, because now I feel like I’m back at the beginning. And all of that work was for nothing.”

Garrett Jonsson: We all experienced stress. Yours was a transition from college to graduation and moving past that.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Whether you’re getting a new job, getting a car, whether you lost the job, whether you’re getting a transitioning into a new living space, whatever it is, all these types of transitions are stressors. And there’s also like in addition, other types of stressors, like catastrophes, losing a friend where your friend gets married and all of a sudden you don’t have that person anymore, um,…

Drew: Or break up.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. So all of these different types of stressors can be triggers.

Drew: And here’s what that means. Here’s what that means. My healing and freedom up until that point was still valid.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: And it was limited because I was coming up against challenges I had never faced before. So my level of freedom was still there. And also the level of challenge was now greater.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Drew: And because of that, I felt like I was back at the beginning. The truth is when we swerve off of the road of recovery, we don’t go back to the beginning of the road. It’s not like rock climbing where you’re climbing up a cliff and then you fall. If you’re doing Free Solo, then you’re really done. But, um, you know, then you feel like you have to go back to the beginning, back to the ground level. It’s not like that. It’s not like rock climbing. It’s like a road. And when you swerve off the road, you go back to the place from where you left off.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: And when I got back to that place, from where I left off, I realized that even though I had a whole year without pornography, what’s to say that another relapse is not around the corner. Because when stress hits and when life gets hard and when trauma hits, like when my baby son died, if I do not have a depth of healing and freedom, that’s greater than those challenges, they’re going to take me down. And when I had that experience in pre engagement counseling with Rebecca, I got more motivated than ever to get to the bottom of this. Because even if I’m winning the battle against porn, I’m still fighting a battle. And as long as you’re fighting something, it has power over you. I needed to get free from the battle. And that’s what made all the difference.

Garrett Jonsson: We could relate this behavioral thing, pornography consumption, to a substance thing. And like cigarettes, a person can go a long time without smoking cigarettes and that’s healthy.

Drew: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: But if they have certain cues, whether it’s like a time of day or the smell of cigarette smoke or stressors daily stressors, or maybe it’s an old buddy that they used to smoke with all the time, all these things can trigger that person to want to consume a cigarette.

But that doesn’t mean that the year that they’ve gone without cigarettes, didn’t help them. Right?

Drew: Right, right. We can have both. And we can say, “Yes, you have grown, you have changed. You have healed. And this is an opportunity for even more.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yep.

Drew: You know, I wish I didn’t learn it that way. And I also realized that relapse can be the best teacher because you remember the lessons. So unfortunately, um, relapse is a great teacher. Here’s what I would say though. Anybody out there who’s struggling with porn, reframe relapse, not as failure, but as feedback.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: Because it doesn’t mean you failed, you might be going up against challenges. You’ve never faced before you might be in the middle of a shame storm or a trigger tornado, normalize that, validate that, and receive it as feedback.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Drew: Because we have so much to learn from it.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Did you refer to it as a shame storm?

Drew: [laughter] Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: I’ve never heard that. And so I need to ask a little bit more about that and, uh, regarding shame, generally speaking, you know, they show that it research shows that shame can negatively impact a person’s ability to break free from compulsive behaviors. And you would just mentioned the shame storm. Can you talk to shame a little bit more?

Drew: Yes. Shame is a normal human emotion. I am seeing more and more that all of our emotions are really, really important. They’re actually evidence of love. So sadness is love in the face of loss. You can’t be sad unless you love something that’s gone.

Garrett Jonsson: I like that.

Drew: Anger love in the face of injustice. Something is wrong and it needs to be put right. If you weren’t valuing fairness and justice, then you wouldn’t be angry. And in the same way, shame, I believe is love in the middle of lack.

Garrett Jonsson: Hmm.

Drew: I don’t have something. Maybe I don’t have something that these other people have. Maybe I don’t have the same kind of physical appearance. Maybe I don’t have the same kind of accomplishments. Maybe I don’t even have the same level of freedom from porn. It’s, it’s love. It’s, it’s kind of a, uh, self love actually in the face of humiliation and embarrassment. And so first we just need to validate shame, um, and also realize that if left unattended, it is incredibly corrosive and destructive.

So one of the ways that this happens for us sexually is if I have a lot of shame, let’s say about my body for me, partly because I was sexually abused, then what I need truly is honor is a sense that I am enough, that I am beautiful, that I’m brave, that I’m strong, but porn comes in and it’s giving me a fake version of that. That makes me feel even worse about myself. And I, and I believe as a result, even more that “I really am ugly.”, “I really am hopeless.”, “I am really a coward.” And I believe that, that this, this shame, which is, which is ultimately a good and a normal, healthy thing that we just, we just need to process it. Um, it becomes something that hinders us and that becomes part of our identity.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: And I think “Porn is just part of who I am.”, rather than, porn is not who I am. I’m loved. I’m valuable, I’m strong. Um, and there are times when I feel shame, but shame is not who I am. The problem with shame is when it takes over, it’s kind of like the movie Inside Out. Have you seen that movie inside out?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, I have, but it’s been a long time and I don’t think I really paid attention to it.

Drew: It’s a Pixar movie where there’s this 11 year old girl named Riley and in her brain are all these little characters and each one is an emotion. You got sadness, fear, anger,…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, you’re bringing it back- I remember now.

Drew: Well, um, what needs to happen for our brains to be healthy for us to function properly is for all the emotions to have a seat at the table without taking control. They all need to feel welcome. They all need to feel important because they all have a role to play, but I’m in the driver’s seat.

Garrett Jonsson: I love that.

Drew: And in the middle of a shame storm, it’s like shame is grabbing onto the controls and, and we can approach it with curiosity and be like, “Why? What’s happening here?”

Garrett Jonsson: Right. It’s like this board of directors and you’re the CEO.

Drew: Yes.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Drew: Yeah, exactly. And that’s, I think that’s a big part of, of becoming free is like, “I’m going to be the CEO of this little family.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I love that. Have you noticed that your, you know, your daily exercise, you mentioned going to the beach and swimming or to the mountains and some trail running, on days that you don’t do those things. Have you noticed that shame starts to creep in a little bit more?

Drew: Yes. Yeah. I mean, all of the emotions have needs. Um, you know, what, what is fear? Well, fear needs to feel safe. So how, how can I bring safety? Sadness needs, needs to feel, needs to feel embraced. Um, anger needs to feel validated and justified and kind of, you know, acknowledged and my shame. Gosh, my shame just, it needs to be honored. And so when I’m in the middle of, of a season or a day when I am running on empty, getting out to the trail, getting out to the water that makes my little board of directors very happy.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: And it’s giving them what they need.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Drew: But sometimes they might need something different and I gotta be sensitive to that.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. That’s really cool.

Drew: And it’s like, okay, that’s very, very different from the way I was approaching it before, because there were certain parts of me that I hated, you know, in my board of directors, there was a part that was attached to porn and holding onto it. And, um, and I hated that part of me and I wanted to kick it out. But now what I’m doing is I’m learning how to love each part.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: That doesn’t mean I’m going to give into it and do what it says. It means that we’re going to work together to meet the need in a healthy way.

Garrett Jonsson: Are you a believer that all of the emotions that we feel should be expressed? And the reason why I say that is specific to anger, using anger as an example.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Are you a believer that anger should always be expressed?

Drew: I’m a believer that anger should always be explored. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Drew: Um, because some of these emotions that we’re talking about with the board of directors, they are much younger than we might think. When I, when I experience a typical anger, maybe a little bit of frustration. If, if my neighbors came out of their house and started making a bunch of noise right now, while we’re trying to record this podcast, there might be a little bit of frustration. There might have a little bit of anger, but if they come out and they’re making noise and all of a sudden I am livid and my reaction is disproportionate.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: Okay. That needs to be explored. Because whenever you have a reaction, that’s disproportionate to the current circumstances, it’s reasonable to assume that’s actually connected to previous circumstances that I might not be aware of.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I like that.

Drew: Let me summarize that.

Every trigger tells a story. Every triggers tells a story and every emotion that’s disproportionate to the circumstance because of this thing called implicit memory is actually acting as if this is something that’s happening again. That happened to me before. So in that situation of anger, maybe that’s taking me back to a place where I was a little boy and I never felt like I had my own space. And my siblings were always crowding around me. And there were no healthy boundaries. And maybe, maybe I was mistreated by them. Maybe that’s a six year old anger. Now that’s not even my story. I just came up with it on the spot. But the point is sometimes when we, when we have those emotions, they get out of control, like a shame storm or an anger explosion. It doesn’t necessarily need to be expressed. Maybe it does. Maybe I do need to have that conversation with my neighbors, but it always needs to be explored and asking that question, “When have I felt this way before?” So that I can get to the root of it.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well said.

Drew: Thanks.

Garrett Jonsson: I love that.

Drew: What do you think about that?

Garrett Jonsson: Like I said, well said, because I think you summed it up is that you have to be curious about the emotion and if the emotion isn’t proportionate to what’s happening, then there’s an issue and an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. And in those cases, when you identify that that’s the case. I think expression is unhealthy because I think expression can perpetuate or compound on itself.

Drew: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Anger becomes a greater anger if it’s because of a deeper issue that you’re not addressing.

Drew: And when you explore it, you might decide or discover. “I’m not actually angry at this person. I’m angry at my brothers and sisters from all those years ago.”, “I’m angry at my father.”, “I’m angry at the person who abused me.” Okay. Now that anger needs to be validated and expressed in a different setting.

Garrett Jonsosn: Yeah.

Drew: Then you got to go on that wild therapeutic journey, right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, exactly. That’s right.

Drew: And we can even do it with friends. It doesn’t even need to be with a professional person. You need to have those safe people who can normalize and validate whatever it is and help you go deeper.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Well, I kind of want to get into some of the benefits of being pornography free.

Drew: Yeah. And I love the way Jay Stringer puts it. “What do we want to be free for? Not just free from, what do we want to be free for?”

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Drew: And for me, the benefits are many. My wife doesn’t have to worry about my sexual behavior. My kids don’t have to grow up completely clueless about sexuality, except for what they learned from peers and popular culture. Because I’m talking about it with them in an appropriate age, appropriate way and without shame, without fear. And that is a huge benefit for me as a survivor of sexual abuse.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. I love that.

Drew: I, for me, that’s a huge motivator and that’s a huge benefit. The ripple effects of my recovery will go on for generations. It’s not just about me.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s right. I love that.

Drew: Sometimes it can feel selfish. It can feel selfish to spend all this time and energy and attention and risk on going through a program or working with somebody professionally to help you. And it’s like, “Oh, this is, this is just selfish. This is just about me.” No, it’s not. It is the greatest gift you could give to the people you love.

Garrett Jonsson: Put your oxygen mask on first.

Drew: Yes, sir.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for sharing those things.

Drew: You’re welcome. I mean, think about it. Think about how much time porn has taken up in the life of somebody who’s been attached to it for many years.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh. I like that comparison.

Drew: Think if you could have that time back?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: Think about how much of your thought life it’s taken up. Think about what kind of passions or pursuits you could do instead if it wasn’t in the way.

Garrett Jonsson: Dude, you can have a doctorate. [laughter]

Drew: Yeah. You could be learning languages.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] For sure.

Drew: You can be trail running. You can be serving in the ocean. Well, maybe not. You got to find whatever your thing is.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Drew: But there is so much beauty and strength on the other side. And if you could see it now, it would be an easy decision to go all in on freedom from porn.

Garrett Jonsson: Love that. You mentioned Husband Material at one point during this conversation, I want to come back with that a little bit. Can you talk about Husband Material and what it is that some of the ways that you encourage and coach the men you’re interacting with?

Drew: Yeah. Husband Material is my organization where I help men achieve lasting freedom from porn by outgrowing it, which means that our goal is to become sexually and emotionally mature, healthy adults. We talk about very specific sexual brokenness and how to heal and grow.

Garrett Jonsson: What are some ways that you encourage and coach the men that you work with?

Drew: I take a very different approach than the typical sexual addiction or porn recovery approach, which is usually starting by asking, “okay, what’s wrong with you? Like, what are the things that you’re doing or thinking that are wrong, or what happened to you in trauma or your childhood that was wrong?” I actually start with “What was right with you? What beauty and strength was within you? When you were a child, what made you light up? Where did you feel a sense of satisfaction and joy?” and start there?

Garrett Jonsson: I like that. How does that approach help the men that you work with rather than focusing on “what are the issues?”

Drew: Because it’s empowering. Because it’s, once again, going back to self compassion rather than self contempt. And when you get in touch with that child, then you can help that child grow up and become mature and become an adult because porn was a pacifier that he or she used, um, to cope with life.

Garrett Jonsson: What about a person who is considering marriage? Do you have any advice or thoughts on that? What do you do as a coach? Or what advice do you have for people who are considering marriage?

Drew: Yeah. Well, the best gift you could give to a future spouse, or family is your own personal growth and freedom to do this deeper work, to, to go on the “wild journey.” Um, that’s going to make you a better you, a more fuller you who, who is able to reclaim your beauty and strength that was exploited by porn. And, um, and then you don’t give your, let your sexuality be a gift rather than a curse. Um, so, so do as much work and, and get as much healing out of the way as you can before marriage. And here’s why, because the downside of continuing to have pornography in your life after you get married, especially if it’s a secret struggle, is that when it is exposed or discovered, it’s not just your individual healing that has to happen. It’s your partner’s healing and then the relationship healing. So it triples the work you have to do if you are rebuilding in the middle of a marriage rather than beforehand.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Drew: And it gets a lot messier.

And also for somebody who is in a relationship, wondering “How much should I share with a boyfriend or girlfriend?” Um, don’t lead with it, like on your first date, don’t talk about your secret struggle. Also. Don’t wait until after you’re engaged because when you’re committing to somebody they deserve to know before they make that commitment.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well we want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word during this conversation, Drew.

Drew: If you’re listening to this and porn is still a part of your life, and you wish that it wasn’t. I want to remind you that porn is not who you are.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for putting in the work day in and day out for the past seven years, showing up to battle, pressing forward.

Drew: Yeah, I mean… it takes a lot of guts, and I have a lot of respect for Fight the New Drug because as your platform grows you face a lot of opposition, and I feel like you guys are paving the way for the rest of us.

Garrett Jonsson: We’re grateful for all of the organizations out in the world that are helping change the conversation. We’re all in it together. Well, again, thanks for being here today. Thanks for sharing.

Drew: Thank you so much, Garrett. It was a lot of fun.

Fight the New Drug Ad: Looking for a way to spread awareness on the harms of porn? Why not rep the movement in one of our conversation-starting tees? With over twenties tees in various designs and phrases, you’re bound to find something that speaks to you and will spark conversations with others. And the proceeds help to mobilize this movement. Get your gear today at FTND.org/shop. That’s FTND.org/shop.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.

Fight the New Drug is a non-religious 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 guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

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.