Recovering Porn Addict & Activist
Think pornography consumption is just a “guy” problem? Meet Emma, a 19-year-old cosmetology student who was just 11 when she was first exposed to pornography. By the time she was 12, she says she consumed it multiple times a day on the iPod Touch her parents gave her. Her uncontrollable porn habit was also accompanied by feelings of shame and worthlessness that came from being a young girl who was told people who consume porn aren’t worth dating. Listen to Emma talk to podcast host Garrett Jonsson about how she first was exposed to pornography, developed an addiction to it, and eventually broke free.
You can watch Emma’s video at ftnd.org/emma.
Garrett: What is up? 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, a wide range of topics are covered that may be triggering to some. Listener discretion is advised.
With all that being said, let’s just jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
I do want to acknowledge that this is not an easy topic to talk about.
Garrett: And so first of all, props to you because you’re 19 years old and you have a good head on your shoulders. Like you got things figured out, you know, what you want to do in life.
Garrett: And I don’t know that I would have been able to have a conversation like this at 19 years.
Emma: Yeah. Smelly. Yeah. I don’t, I mean up until like this year I was where everyone else was. Like, I wasn’t talking about it, but I’ve been talking about it a lot and it’s great. I love it.
Garrett: Why is it great?
Emma: Um, I love it. I just feel like I’m fully being myself, you know, for the first time. And I feel like, um, they say like “everyone has a chapter that they don’t read out loud.”
Garrett: Oh interesting.
Emma: A friend of mine told me that recently. And it’s like, and I was thinking about that and I was like, “That’s true, but I don’t anymore.” Which is fun for me. Cause like it’s interesting. Cause like that was my chapter that I never like read out loud, but now I’m reading like every chapter of my life out, out loud and like there’s other parts of my life that I just feel inspired to talk about. So I’m just like so open with everyone now. And I it’s like the most like liberating feeling to be honest.
Garrett: That’s amazing.
Garrett: So I guess the question to ask first is, um, when was the first time you experienced some of the negative consequences of pornography?
Emma: Yeah. Um, so I first got exposed to pornography. I think I was about 10 or 11. Um, I can’t really think of a general time of like, or like a general memory until actually a couple of days ago I was thinking about it and I remembered something that I literally forgot about for so many years. Um, what happened is I went to a friend’s birthday party. Um, and I was in like the fourth grade and there was pornography like up on the walls of the house, like pictures. And I mean, she lived with her dad and her brother. And so I don’t know what vibe was going on there, but, um, I think that was actually the first time I ever saw it. Cause I, like I said, I didn’t remember that until just recently. I was like, wait, I think that was the moment where I was like, “Whoa, what is this?” Cause I remember having like this sick feeling, I was like…
Garrett: That is interesting.
Emma: Yeah. And I remember like calling my mom, I went to the bathroom and I called my mom was like, “Come pick me up.” Like “There’s something wrong here.” And she came and picked me up. I don’t, I didn’t tell her what, what actually was there. I was just like, Oh, I just didn’t want to be there anymore. I think I told my friend that I was sick or something, but I think that was actually the first time I saw it. Um,… it just, I can’t, I was very confused I think, because I just knew that, um, I just knew it wasn’t right. Because to see like these pictures of, it was women from what I remember, just like without clothes on, just like up on the wall, I was like, there, I was just confused. Didn’t know that that was a thing.I don’t know. It just made me feel like almost sick to my stomach. Cause I was like, “Something’s off about this.” Um, but again, I was just really confused and, but I think that was honestly the first time I ever saw it. So yeah.
Garrett: And you’re in fourth grade, which is so young.
Emma: SO young. Yeah.
Garrett: When I watch your video and I see pictures of you at that age, I’m like, “Goodness gracious. You are a baby.”
Emma: A baby, right?
Garrett: And it’s like, “Oh my goodness.” It, it weirded me out to see like the pictures brought. Yes, yup. A new reality of like, “Oh my goodness. She is so young.”
Emma: Yeah. I totally agree. I, I will like meet kids that are like 10 or 11 and I’m like, you, I mean, I’m 19. So I still have my whole life ahead of me, but it’s like, they don’t even know like it’s so disturbing the fact that I was exposed to it at that young, um, because yeah, you’re right. Like I was a child. Like I will look at the pictures of myself and I’m like, “I cannot believe that I had this like big secret at that age.”
Garrett: Yeah. That chapter that you weren’t reading out loud.
Emma: Yeah! And it’s like kids that age should be like, I don’t know, like playing yeah. Playing with like easy bake ovens and like, I don’t know,
Garrett: For sure! [laughter]
Emma: [laughter] like, yeah. It’s, it’s crazy.
Garrett: So why didn’t you tell your mom, you said you called her, she came and picked you up, but you just told her you wanted to leave. Why? Why is that?
Emma: Because I don’t really, I mean, it’s just, you know, when you’re a little and you see something that you’re not supposed to or do something, even though it wasn’t my fault, I just went to this party and it was there. Um, you just hide it from your parents, you know, you’re like, Oh, I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t know if I thought maybe I would get in trouble, um, for seeing it, even though it wasn’t my fault. Um, but yeah, I just knew it was wrong and didn’t want my mom to know. So.
Garrett: When you say that you knew it was wrong, did you grow up in a house that talked about the harmful effects of pornography?
Emma: Yes. So, um, we talked about it a little bit, but it was honestly like kind of beat around the Bush kind of thing. Um, I feel like we didn’t, it’s just like an awkward thing for parents to talk about. And so I didn’t have, like, I knew what it was. I just knew that it was like these pictures, videos or whatever, but I had that was it like, I don’t think that we ever really talked about like what bad can come of it because I honestly, like, I don’t know if my parents know or I don’t know if they knew how to talk to a kid about it, but yeah. I mean, it’s a hard thing to talk about, but yeah.
Garrett: Did you feel shame?
Emma: Tons of shame. Yeah, the whole time. I think anyone that, um, is, has a problem with pornography, I think shame is like inevitable, um, yeah.
Garrett: When did the, did the shame start that day that you saw it?
Emma: I would say so. Yeah. I think it did. Um, Yeah. I think that the shame was definitely there the first day, just that I even saw it. Um, I guess it just spiraled down from there.
Garrett: And um, when you say it spiraled down from there, when was the next time you were exposed to pornography that you remember?
Emma: So I think the next time, um, was I was also, I’ve always just been a very, I guess it’s like a blessing and a curse that I’m a very like curious person. Um, and I’m, uh, like the kind of person that someone will say something’s bad and I’m like, “okay, let me like try it to figure it out.
Garrett: For sure!
Emma: Or like, I always, like, I have to try things. I always like want to try things for myself or like, see it myself. It’s kind of, it’s like, yeah.
Garrett: I think it’s a normal thing. I think that a lot of us are that way though.
Emma: Yeah, I think it’s a normal thing. Yeah. It’s not so good for me. [laughter] But, um, I think I just was curious also like, um, I was, you know, obviously when you’re a little, you’re curious in sexuality and stuff, and also on top of that, I was curious about just like bodies in general and like the way that they worked
Garrett: Of course.
Emma: And like, I, um, was like interested. I still love being, I love, um, like the female reproductive system, because I always wanted to be like an OBGYN and I wanted to deliver babies and stuff. Um, and like, I was like a freak about it. I’m not kidding. I would literally read my mom’s textbooks when I was little it, cause I thought it was so interesting and I’m like, I’ve seen like birthing videos and I think they’re cool.
Garrett: Yeah. It is an amazing thing. We have three kids and I didn’t birth them, but … [laughter]
Emma: [laughter] Yeah.
Garrett: But I was there. It’s an amazing experience. It’s an amazing process.
Emma: Yeah. I’ve always been like, so like amazed by that. It’s kind of weird. I don’t know. I feel like I was like born to be a mom cause I’ve always been so excited to like experience that. Um, but yeah, just like a curiosity of just, I don’t know, everything it’s when that age, when you get to that age, you’re just curious about, you know, like the differences and like boys and girls and anyway, so I think I probably just like looked something up. I don’t know. I also was friends with a lot of like guys in the fourth and fifth grade. So, um, I think sometimes like those boys talk about like inappropriate things and sometimes I was like, “What’s that?” like “I have to know to be cool.” You know?
Garrett: I think that’s common.
Emma: Yeah, I would say so.
Garrett: Cause the first time you saw it, you mentioned confusion. Then now you’re curious, you’re searching for it. What were your feelings upon seeing pornography at a later date?
Emma: So I, the one thing that I vividly remember watching pornography, like by choice or looking at pornography by choice, um, once it, like, I obviously got past the confusion and like understood what it was, um, and then kept looking at it out of interest and then honestly, like, you know, just like something changes and like you literally just, I don’t know, like you just get hooked and like keep looking at it. Um, but I do remember vividly like the most like, um, the, kind of like the same feeling that I had that night that I saw it at my friend’s house, like this like gut feeling that I knew it was wrong and it like nauseated me. Like I would feel like nauseous, just like looking at it. Like I just, I don’t know, like I just knew. Um, and it’s interesting because as time went on and I kept looking at pornography, um, I noticed that feeling like completely go away. And so it got to the point where like, I was kind of just like numb and just like looked at it just because it was a habit at that point. So…
Garrett: How old were you when you started seeking it out yourself?
Emma: Um, I would say like 11, probably. It was quick. It was like right after that. Yeah. Yeah. It was all pretty quick.
Garrett: Gotcha. And how did it escalate in regards to like frequency and like duration of time with pornography?
Emma: So, um, I would say at the beginning it was just like every now and then, like, not that often, but it definitely escalated to the point of, and this is when I knew it was like an issue, um, is when like I would, it would get to the point where I would have like an urge to watch it or to look at it, but I didn’t even like want to, if that makes sense. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that where you’re just like, I don’t even want to look at it, but like I need to.
Garrett: Yeah. There’s definitely a difference between liking or enjoying.
Emma: Yeah. It’s like, I didn’t enjoy it, but I wanted to look at it. Yeah.
And it got to the point where frequency wise sometimes like on the bad weeks it would be like multiple times a day. I’m not even kidding, probably like three times a day. And, um, duration wise, it wasn’t that long ever because I always was like, “Okay, I gotta stop.” But, um,
Garrett: By the way, I just want to say thanks for your honesty, because it takes a lot of courage to be honest about something like this.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah.
Garrett: And I think a lot of our listeners can relate.
Garrett: And so for you to be honest, you know, it’s inspiring.
Emma: Thank you.
Garrett: Um, yeah, that would be very challenging and that’s not healthy for a 12 year old to be seeking out any pornography, but three times a day that’s problematic.
Emma: Like, as a coping mechanism almost is what I noticed. Yeah.
Garrett: When you say “coping mechanism”, do you remember why you would turn to pornography?
Emma: Yeah, so, um, pornography was something that I honestly don’t never really had, I guess I did have like urges every now and then to watch it, um, or to look at it when I was like, just hike in a good mental space, but I noticed the worst, what happened when I would have like a stressful week or like pornography definitely led to years of like depression for me and stuff. And so, um, whenever I like something bad would happen something stressful. What happened? Any kind of negative emotion brought it on. And so when I, what I mean by like when “I had a bad week”, I would watch it multiple times a day. I mean, like, um, something would happen or I would feel some sort of way that would make me, I don’t know, like it was just a constant, like I felt like I needed to watch it anytime something bad would happen. Cause it makes me feel better, but it didn’t make me feel better. It’s so weird.
Garrett: It’s like a temporary thing.
Emma: Right. Like feeling of happiness, but then to be honest, like after it’s even worse.
Garrett: Yeah, I don’t even know if I would use the word happiness.
Garrett: At least in my, according to my perspective.
Emma: [laughter] Yeah, it’s not happiness.
Garrett: Wow. Well that’s a lot.
Garrett: Um, I just want to acknowledge that being a teenager is challenging.
Emma: It is.
Emma: SO hard.
Garrett: Today, I think there’s different aspects about technology that make it even more challenging to be a teenager today, comparing to other previous generations that didn’t have to deal with the technology.
Garrett: And so, you know, I think that we need to acknowledge that that’s tough for everyone, but then you add in the consumption of pornography and it becomes even more challenging. Um, you said that pornography caused depression for you.
Garrett: Um, and it’s possible many of us, I don’t know what the percentage is. I’m not an expert, but a lot of us experienced depression. So it’s probable, you would have experienced depression without pornography.
Garrett: Cause that’s normal for a lot of us. Um, but how do you feel pornography influenced that or exacerbated that problem?
Emma: Yeah. Um, uh, for me I noticed a cycle of, um, watching pornography and then, because it was such a big secret, it would kind of, um, put walls up with the people that I loved or my friends and my family. Um, so like I would be myself, but not completely, like there was always this part of me that no one knew. And so because of that, I felt like disconnected from everyone. And that’s one of the biggest things that I noticed is that I just felt disconnected from like life in general. Um, and so I would try to go hang out with my friends. I would try to go hang out with my family and I just like, couldn’t fully be engaged with them for some reason. Like I couldn’t be myself. And so obviously that would make me sad or feel depressed. And so then I would turn to pornography pornography, um, for that, like you said, “temporary relief”. So it’s kind of like this ongoing cycle of like, not being able to, um, relate to people or to open up to people. And because of that, those, the feelings that come with that you turn to pornography and then it just goes around and around and you literally can’t stop. And I think that’s where the depression came with me is like, I just could not stop.
And so I just felt so disconnected from everyone. And I would say like loneliness was like one of my biggest things during that time. Um, because not only did I like not have anyone to talk to about it, but, um, I just, I don’t know. I felt so alone. And there’s a difference between, I would say, I would think that there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely because I definitely wasn’t alone. Like I had my family, I had both of my parents and all my siblings and I had all my friends. Um, and I was like, I wasn’t alone and I could have talked to people, but I just felt so disconnected and I felt so lonely and like, I couldn’t relate to them.
Garrett: Wow. Yeah. Did they feel that, do you think?
Emma: Um, I don’t think so. I think that they thought that they knew everything, but like, there was, that’s why it’s so like harmful is because like people think that they know you, but they don’t.
Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. And then you feel like your deceiving, and that deception can be eating away at you.
Emma: Right. You’re like, “I’m not being myself” and you know, that ties to, “Okay. So people like love me hiding this part of me. Like what if I told them what they still love me? Probably not.” You know, that’s what you think.
Garrett: Right. And that’s a, yeah, that’s a sad thought.
Emma: Yeah. You think that they only like this like fake version of you.
Garrett: How were you able to hide it from everyone?
Emma: Um… so I shared a room with my sister. Um, but like she was always gone. I mean, it wasn’t hard like growing up this day and age, like we have like smartphones and I had like an iPod touch, um, that I got from my parents, me and my sister got them at the age of 12. I think that’s when it started. Um, so it’s just like, you can, you can make it work, you know, like when you have that kind of issue, you find time.
Garrett: Its the ease of access.
Emma: Yeah. It’s so easy nowadays. It’s so easy. Cause you know, you have computers like TVs, phones, like so much, like it’s kind of like hard to stay away from it, honestly.
Garrett: Did it hurt your self confidence?
Emma: Yes. Oh my gosh. That’s like the number one thing I would say that got affected by, or, I mean, even, I still like deal with kind of the after effects of it, but my confidence was like how we were talking about like how you have to like be your fake self kind of, um, that like brought my self esteem so far down. Like I, my self esteem was so low and like, luckily now I’m like more confident than I’ve honestly ever been before.
Garrett: That’s cool. Why is that? Why, why are you more confident than ever?
Emma: Like I’ve found my role in society and I like, I know who I am now and I’ve done a lot of self evaluation and self-improvement, and definitely there are things that I still like need to improve on and am working on currently. And that’s something that actually keeps me away from pornography is like working towards school. Um, but yeah, like just being myself and doing what makes me happy and learning how to like be selfish sometimes and just do things for yourself, definitely build my confidence.
Garrett: For sure.
Garrett: Um, but obviously it takes a lot of work and patience and effort to get there, to get here today. Um, so what was that journey like? When was the first time you trusted someone enough to be like, “Okay, I’m going to tell you about this chapter that I don’t read out loud.”
Emma: Yeah. So, um, there’s like two people that stand out to me. When I think about it, I’ll tell you about both of them because that’s what I got. Um, so the first person that I told for the one of the first times, I don’t remember if it was her or him, but um, so one of my really good friends, she, um, I met her at like a camp for, um, we were at a church camp. I didn’t know her, but I like saw her and I was like, Oh, she looks like she’s so much fun. She was like the hype person. And um, I remember she, I thought she was like one of the camp leaders. She looked like she was honestly like probably 19 or like funny. And I was like, “How old are you?”
Cause I was 16 and she’s like, “I’m 15.” And I was like, “No way.” And I was like, “Dude, you look so old.” And I was like “In a good way.” That was just my way of like trying to be your friend. Cause you know, when you, sometimes you see someone you’re like, “I want to be their friend.”
Garrett: For sure. They just got that good vibe.
Emma: For sure. So yeah, they just got that good vibe. So, um, so I was like, I want to be your friend and I just talked to her and then she was so nice. Like after just that one, like five second conversation, we would like wave at each other. And then one day we started talking and like, we hit it off right off the bat. We became like best friends instantly. And um, so we would just hang out the rest of the camp. And then I, it was like only a couple of weeks after camp we were like texting, um, somehow like the topic of like chapters that we don’t read out loud in our lives came up. And um, she like opened up to me and said that like she had some things that she was dealing with, that she needed to like get help for. And um, I don’t want to say what it was for her sake, but, um, I was like, so in shock because this girl to me, it was like, so like the perfect girl like that, everyone wanted to be kind of thing. Um, she was so happy, so like beautiful, so fun. And I was like, “There is no way that you have this problem.”, you know, like she has any challenge that she has any challenge. I was like, I bet I was like, I swear, I thought the hardest challenge that you had was like what to wear in the morning.
But like, I just, wasn’t so much shock that like this perfect person in my eyes or this perfect friend had that problem. And I think that’s when I, it really like hit me. And that’s when I knew that, um, that you were like more than what you are going through. And that’s when I knew that like,
you know, because if there’s more to her than there’s obviously gotta be more to me because my whole life had been consumed by it. And I thought that it’s like, I thought my worth was defined by it, if that makes sense. Um, and she taught me, um, that you’re worth you are not your problem and you’re not, you’re what you’re going through.
Emma: Um, and then the second time I think it was after, um, so then I told her, so I ended up telling her, um, and we actually pushed each other to get help.
Garrett: How was that?
Emma: It’s overwhelming when you tell someone for the first time, I’m sure you can relate because it’s like such a dark part of you. Um, but I think talking to someone that could relate and was like, “I totally know how you feel.” like we actually pushed each other to get help.
Garrett: Did you feel lighter? Did you feel happier? Like more authentic?
Emma: So much lighter. It’s like this big burden that I’ve been carrying for at that five years was just like lifted off of me. Wow. Um, so then, uh, she actually pushed me to like get help. And then I told my parents after that. Um, and then the second time that really stands out to me is I had a really, really like good guy friend. We were best friends actually ended up dating him, but that didn’t work out anyway. So back when we were best friends, um, I just had a conversation with him one day. He just like noticed that I was like in a mood and we were just talking and I kind of just like, you know, when you like hold everything in and just everything comes out, I kind of just spilled the beans and like told him my whole life story. And, um, that also was really great too, because these two people that I told were both people that I like really looked up to. So it just like the biggest burden was lifted off of me. And it’s funny because it took so much courage. I think about it now to tell one person, um, when I, when I first started telling people, but now it’s like, I talk about it with anyone.
Garrett: For sure. It still takes courage.
Emma: It takes courage.
Garrett: It’s just easier.
Emma: It’s so easy now. Yeah. It’s super easy.
Garrett: What was his response?
Emma: He was, I mean, he responded in such like a positive way too. He was just loving and, um,… Yeah.
Garrett: You said that you went to a church camp.
Garrett: So you grew up in a religious home?
Garrett: The reason why I think it’s important that we talk about this is because I hope some of our listeners and myself included, we can walk away from this conversation and be like, “Okay, how can we improve? How can we help future girls and future boys who have this challenge? How can we, what can we avoid saying? Or what can we say instead?
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. Um, that’s something that like is probably the number one thing that I’ve taken from this is like, be careful what you say to people, um, for a couple of different reasons. I did have a, um, one of my religious leaders, um, uh, they were teaching about pornography and it was fine, you know, like whatever. But first of all, they approached the conversation as if like it was a male thing. Um, she first like approached it by saying like, “I know you girls don’t want to hear about this, but we have to talk about it. You know? I know it’s not like a thing that you guys deal with.” That’s number one is like, don’t approach it just to one gender. Cause it’s just like not, it’s not one gender. Um,…
Garrett: How did that make you feel in the moment?
Emma: It makes you feel… I mean, I was like 11 when I heard that and um, I don’t, it just makes me feel like something’s wrong with you? Cause I’m obviously a girl and I was like, “Wait, so only guys deal with this. Like, what’s wrong with me?” You know, I was just so confused and then she continued to tell us, and I think she has some personal accounts where pornography has like ruined not ruined, but affected her family. And so I understand, but at the same time, like you need to hate the, the issue. You don’t have to hate the person for it. And so she anyway kind of took that anger out on us. And, um, she was telling us about how pornography is so terrible and it ruins families and like stay away from it.
She was like, “stay away from guys that deal with it, stay away from men that, um”, she basically, I mean, and I don’t know if these were her exact words, but this is what I took away from it. Um, as a, as a 12 year old was she told us, you know, that we need to like really talk about it before we get married with someone, which I agree. But then she said like, “If they’ve ever dealt with it or are dealing with it that you definitely want to like rethink who you’re gonna marry.” And, um, that’s an example of shame to me, is people just like telling you that? I mean, ultimately what that means is that like you shouldn’t, I don’t know, like I, to me, she basically just said like, if someone deals with this, then they’re like not deserving of love. Right?
So at what age did you tell your parents?
Emma: 16. Yeah.
Garrett: So fast forward three years, and you were sitting here today.
Garrett: Um, can you think of any like milestone moments in those three years that helped you be where you’re at today?
Emma: I would say telling my parents was definitely a milestone for me because it pushes me to be better instantly. Um, like when you tell someone that cares about you, like you want to be better for them. So I would say telling my parents, which by the way, I didn’t have the courage to tell them to their face. So I wrote them a letter or through a letter and I was on the outside of the envelope. It was like read together. Cause I didn’t want one to read it and freak out. [laughter]
Emma: I don’t know why I was thinking, but, um, that..
Garrett: I like that though, because I think that we can learn from that because we’re all different. So we kind of have to do what’s best for us. I liked that awareness that you had to write the letter. Um, if you can going off of your experience on how your parents reacted. Cause none of us are perfect and none of us react in perfect ways. Um, what tips would you have for caregivers who their kid comes to them and says, “Hey, I have a challenge with pornography.” How, how should they respond?
Emma: So I would say that like, I love my parents and, but obviously like you said, like they’re imperfect and they reacted in a great way, but also kind of what I’ve taken from that is there are some things that I probably would have done different. Um, so the way that they reacted was just very well, the first thing that I really liked is that they didn’t ask too many questions. They kind of just took it and they’re like, “Okay”, like, okay. And that was, that was comforting to me. Cause obviously it was so hard for me to talk about. And so if they were to sit there and interrogate me, that would make me feel like I’m very like shameful and I don’t know, it would just have intimidated me too much. So the first thing I would say is like, just maybe don’t ask too many questions cause it intimidates the person more. And then when you put those negative feelings into your child, then they start doing it more. Um,…
Garrett: I think that intimidation might increase the probability that they hide it.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. Cause they, if anything happens then that you won’t want to tell your parents again, because you were so scared the first time.
Emma: So I would say like that, um, I would also say, uh, just like love them and just understand that they’re coming to you because they want to get better. Um, and those are the things that my parents did great. But I will say that the, um, feelings that I did have that maybe, you know, like they could have done better, but again, this was probably their first rodeo. Like they didn’t know what they were doing. Um, I would say like, I wish that maybe they would have taken more action to like help me do something about it. Um, because I, I came to them almost like as a cry for help. And I totally love that they like took me in and stuff, but it kind of was like a one and done situation. Like I kinda told them and they listen and they’re like, “okay, like we understand like thanks for telling us.” And then it kind of was like left there. And so I almost wished that maybe, and I know that they probably just didn’t want to like push help on me, but maybe if they would have like been like, “okay, do you want us to maybe like find like a counselor or something or a therapist or something to help you?” You know, you know, they, I just wish that maybe they would have like pushed help on me because I honestly, I actually did go back to it after I had told them because, um, I mean, cause like nothing, no change happened. Other than that, they knew.
Garrett: Yeah. I think that previous generations, sometimes the answer was “Just stop.”
Emma: Right? Yeah. That’s kind of what happened.
Garrett: Especially with this thing. Just stop, can’t be the answer in most cases, most of us need more than, than that.
Emma: Yeah. And they’ve gotten so much better about it now.
Garrett: By the way you’re parents aren’t alone.
Emma: Yeah. Oh no. I know.
Garrett: We’re not calling them out.
Emma: I love them. I love them, but I totally understand. I can completely understand like how much of a shock shock that probably came to them. And like…
Garrett: And there weren’t very many tools for them to utilize.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. They were like, Whoa. Yeah. So I completely understand. Um, but like, like you were talking about, it’s like just a learning moment. Like maybe that could have helped me a little bit more, but I mean, other than that, like I really think I am really grateful for how they responded.
Garrett: How did you feel when you turned to pornography again, after telling those two people and then your parents, how was it to go back?
Emma: So, um, I, like I told you at the beginning that I had like this really distinct, like gut feeling and I was doing super good at, after I told my parents for awhile. Um, and I, then when I started turning pornography again, I don’t remember. I don’t remember when it just happened, but that gut feeling that I had five years ago came back for the first time. Um, I distinctly remember like feeling like, “Oh, this is the feeling that I had five years ago when I first started.” Um, yeah. I mean, it’s like, I it’s almost like I got re like the whole cycle. Yeah. Well I had to become desensitized and then all of a sudden, like when I started talking about it and staying away from it, um, I don’t know. And then I, and then I jumped back…
Garrett: There was a healing.
Emma: For sure. Yeah. There was a healing and I jumped back into it and it’s like, the process started all over again for the next couple of years. So yeah,…
Garrett: Dude, I admire once again, your honesty because so many of us can relate, you know, and I think it’s, it’s part of the journey. Right? Um, so it’s good to know that other people have had to deal with that too, you know?
Emma: Yeah. Yeah.
Garrett: That’s cool. What advice would you have to someone else who has tried to stop again and again and again, but hasn’t been able to?
Emma: Um, I would say first of all, like I know this is like super cliche, but like I would say like, don’t lose hope and like keep remembering that like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Um, and that like, even like in your like lowest lows, like there’s only one way to go up and that’s up, you know?
Emma: And that it will get better. Um, but I would say that that only happens if you take action. So I would encourage someone to who’s going through it, to really talk about it and get the help that you need. You know, whether it’s like counseling have people, one thing that helped me was like setting restrictions for myself. So like on my phone, I have restriction. I have like the parent restrictions, but like I had my brother put a coat, put the code in.
So like, I don’t know it. And I don’t think he remembers that either. I just said, Hey, pick four random letter numbers. And I sat and he’s like, why? And I was like, no, like just do it. And I set the restrictions on my phone. So I put, I turned off like the adult content filter and I had him put, punch the code in. And so both of us forgot it. So I set restrictions for myself. Sometimes it stinks cause like I can’t go to like certain websites just if they mentioned like the word pornography and stuff, but um, Yeah. So it like restricts basically everything with any sort of inappropriate words or whatever.
Emma: Um, which sometimes is annoying, but like it’s, it’s just there to remind me, like to stay away from it. So I would say set setting restrictions for yourself. It’s honestly like one of those things where it’s like, if you can believe it, you can achieve it kind of thing. You just have to like believe that you can get better and like, um, really just work towards other things in your life and focus on other things and just get the help that you need. Talk to people. That’s like the biggest thing for me is just talking. And, um, another thing that helps me is, um, this is like the biggest question I get ever since my video, I’ve gotten so many questions about this, but it’s just like how, and for me, the biggest thing that hap that helps is just keeping myself busy.
Emma: So keeping yourself happy, keeping yourself consistently busy. Like I go to school 40 hours a week and then I work an additional like 15 to 20 hours. So I basically have no time. [laughter]
Emma: So it just keep yourself busy and like, yeah. I mean there’s no, and it, I was actually talking to my friend about this. She was like that’s. So she was like, “I feel so sorry for you.” And I was like, “why?” And she’s like, “because I have anxiety and I have depression, but I can take like medicine for that.” She’s like, “I can swallow a pill and it’ll make me feel better”, but she’s like, there’s no pill to swallow to get over this addiction. You just have to do it. And I think that that’s so cool. It like makes you strong if you’ve been through it, it makes you strong if you’ve made it out because you’ve, there was nothing you could take to numb the pain, you know, you literally just had to go through it.
Garrett: That’s interesting. One thing that’s interesting about that comment is I think sometimes pornography is the pill, right? We take as a pill to alleviate the anxiety or to the stress.
Emma: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would agree with that actually. Yeah. But it obviously does more damage than good. So there’s like, no, you know, it’s, it’s very, it takes a lot of willpower, but you can do it. Like you just have to, you have to first admit that you have the problem and then figure out what things like triggers, I guess, are, um, your issues and then just stay away from it. Like I have to stay away from a lot of things. I have to stay away from a lot of certain like show TV shows or, um, you know, just things like that. So…
Garrett: What is it today that helps you feel love and connection?
Emma: Um, first of all, obviously just like not watching it, but, um, I would say, um, ever since being open with like my siblings in particular, like we’ve had a connection like, like closer than ever before. So I would say just, um, open communication with people has, has helped me personally feel the most connected spending time with people and, um, digging a little deeper. I’m a very like, um, I don’t like to kind of talk surface level. I don’t like surface level. Um, I mean I love everyone, but, um, I was, I’ve always been like, I feel I have a hard time having, like keeping friendships and relationships that are surface level. I have to always dig deeper into people and sometimes it annoys them, but like, I’m just like, I don’t want to know…
Garrett: The small talk.
Emma: I don’t want to know your favorite color. I mean like, I sure I’ll care to want to know your favorite color or what you had for dinner, but it’s like, I want to know like what you’ve been through. And so I think like digging deeper into people like helps you open up and it also helps you relate to them. And that’s like, how my relationships have been recently. I’ve had a lot of closer relationships with my friends and family ever since talking about it.
Garrett: That’s awesome. Emma, any last words for words, for our audience?
Emma: Yeah, I would say first and foremost, be careful about what you say and make sure that you’re always speaking from a place of love and um, you’d never know what people are going through, you know, like a tiny fraction of their life and to just be careful and be kind to everyone because you never know when they’re at that breaking point and one like negative comment could send them over and just try to uplift everyone and be some, try to make some sort of difference and be some inspiration.
Garrett: Thanks for joining on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links attached to 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.
MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND
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