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Sally Alley

Episode 75

Sally Alley

Fighter & Parent of a Recovering Compulsive Porn Consumer

Like most moms, Sally did her best to protect her son, Smith, from experiencing the harmful effects of pornography. She used filters and parental controls, but Smith found a way around it. Smith’s porn consumption escalated without Sally and her husband’s knowledge, and by the time he was 11, Smith says he was consuming porn five to seven times per day. Listen to Sally tell podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, about how she finally learned of her son’s unwanted compulsive porn consumption, how she felt first learning of his habit, and what she wants other parents to know so they can help their children.


Sally: And especially as… you know, this kind of moved on and watching my son and the turmoil he was in, I also just felt a whole lot of sadness, you know, as moms, our, our main priority is to, and his parents altogether is to protect our kids. And I, and I deal, I did feel like I let him down. Um, you know, that’s just the reality of it. Those are the emotions I felt now. Do I feel that way now? I felt very differently now.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: But in that moment, it felt like I was a, I had failed. I had failed in protecting him…

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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.

Today’s episode is with Sally Alley. Like most moms, Sally did her best to protect her family, which includes her son Smith, from experiencing the harmful effects of pornography. She used filters, parental controls, and more, but Smith found a way around it. Smith’s porn consumption, escalated without Sally and her husband’s knowledge. And by the time he was 11, he says that he was consuming porn five to seven times per day. During this conversation, we talk about how she finally learned of her son’s unwanted porn consumption, how she felt when she first learned of his habit, and what she wants other parents to know, to be able to help their children.

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

Sally, We want to say, thanks for joining us on the podcast today.

Sally: Hey, you bet. I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Garrett Jonsson: Your story is, is very, very unique. Oh, maybe it’s not unique? I don’t know. What do you think is your story unique?

Sally: Uh, I actually think it’s very typical. Um, I, I hear from people all the time that it, I almost get taken back in time, as they’re telling me what’s going on with their own, their own child, uh, because it feels so similar, right. That, you know, the feelings are similar, the emotions are similar. The experience is similar, their child’s emotions and reactions are similar. So yeah, I don’t think it’s that uncommon.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s true. Right when I said your experience is unique, then it, I like try to speak truth always. And right when I said that, I was like, actually, I don’t know if that’s true.

Sally: [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Because it’s more typical than we think.

Sally: Yeah. I think the only thing that’s unique is that, um, I’m an open book and we speak very publicly about it. So I think that’s more unique, but that also comes with time as well, so…

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, I’m just wondering if we can kind of get to know you a little bit better, get to know like what your day to day looks like.

Sally: Uh, yeah. Um, I’m a mom of four, four children. And, um, my now my oldest is, uh, 25 and my youngest is 15. Three girls and one boy, I had two girls then a boy and then another girl. And, um, for most of my parenting, uh, life, my adult life, I have been a stay at home mom. Um, I’ve always had kind of a, I don’t know what to call it a “side gig” for lack of a better word. So I’ve always had something that I’ve done, um, kind of on the side, whether it was, um, property management, or ran a catering business, um, you know, for friends and family, uh, things like that. I’m now a full-time real estate agent, but, um, for the most part, I, I was dedicated as a mom, uh, to, to raising my kids. So that was really where my efforts, uh, have lied and, and my passion has lied.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s great. When I talked to your boy Smith, he mentioned how big of a role your family played in his healing and in his recovery. And so that’s a really cool thing.

Sally: Yeah. He, and a lot of that is a credit to Smith because he allowed his family to play a, a big role in that. So I credit a lot of that. He credits his family to that, but I really credit a lot of that to his willingness to allow people in as he, um, was going through that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: And, and that was a slow process. You know, he told one person at a time, um, he told his older sister that wasn’t living at home at the time that was living out of the area at the time. And I think that was a safe zone first. And then slowly, slowly moved into those that were close around him, that he was, you know, interacting with more regularly.

Garrett Jonsson: His older sister was the first person that he opened up to about his unwanted porn consumption?

Sally: No, no, actually, um, his dad and I found out prior to her knowing, but other than when we found out, uh, we just made it very clear that this was his story.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Sally: And that nobody would hear about this, um, from us that this was his time to tell others and to share as he wanted, but we did encourage him to lean on those that, um, loved him. And that would be around and support him because, you know, we, we personally believe that you can’t battle life challenges regardless of what they are. You can’t, uh, battle those very, um, very well alone.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. It’s like, we’re hardwired for connection and we shouldn’t have to face anything alone. We need, we need those that, like you said, we need to lean on those that love us.

Sally: Yeah. Yeah. And, and no one understand those that have, you know, we have healthy relationships with, I think there, that is where we find healing is in that connection. Um, I know Smith mentions the quote a lot, “Addiction is grown in solitude and destroyed in community.” And I believe that to be true wholeheartedly, you know, you know how sometimes you have a memory and you can, you don’t just remember it in your mind, but you can remember the smell and the feel and the, the sounds that were around you, you can remember it like that vividly, you know, like that’s when I think things are really etched in, in our minds. And, and I feel that way about what I found when I found out that, um, that Smith had a significant habit of consuming pornography. I remember the feeling of in my stomach. I remember the smell. I remember the feel of the tears on my face.

And, um, I, I remember after I found out after he, we found out because of, um, uh, a claim that was made up against him, actually, the, the police got involved and we found out about that. Um, and then it just, you know, by us telling him that, “Hey, we’re your advocates. And we need to know, uh, all that you can tell us.”, that just kind of broke the Hoover dam. And, um, he just came forward with, with probably more information than I would’ve liked to have known came forward with, um, his consuming of pornography and what had been going on in his life. And for, um, you know, I, I took a moment after, after talking with him and kind of having this interaction. I had to take a moment for myself. And I remember going up to my room and I remember the feeling of the tears on my face.

I remember the, “How, how did this get through?”, “How did I not see it?”, “How has this been going on?” Um, you know, “What did I do wrong?”, “What did I miss?”, “How did I miss this?” We, we raised our kids, um, in a home that was, you know, we discussed, um, pornography and the fact that it will be an issue. And that it’s not a matter of, of if it’s a matter of when. And we, we were very open with that. We had several family, friends that had been negatively impacted that had, we had one particular family friend that, uh, moved in with us after his marriage broke up, um, and was living with us, uh, due to his pornography consumption and the things that, that led to, he ended up living with us. And it, it, that was never a, a private, um, matter that our kids knew what had happened.

And, um, so we had talked about this. I had filters, we had regular conversations about that. I felt like, you know, my kids didn’t have cell phones. I mean, I was the, I was the mean strict mom, right. That didn’t have cell phones. We had, they had purchased their own iPod touch. And I, I felt like I had done what I could to, you know, keep my roof what was happening under my roof, safe with filters, and routers and, um, restrictions, parental controls, all of those things. And I felt like I was very diligent. And when I realized that I, what I had done, hadn’t been diligent enough. Um, there was a lot of mom guilt.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I think that most parents can relate to that where it’s like, we, we think that we have it in the bag, like this parenting thing, and then something like this happens, or other situations, whatever it might be. And it brings us back to reality of like, “Oh man, we still have a lot to learn as parents.” But as you’re describing this, you’re you mentioned that you kept asking yourself, like, “How did I miss this?”

Sally: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Do you label those questions that you were asking yourself and those sentiments that you had when you were asking, “How did I miss this?”, “What did I, what did I do wrong?” Do you think that was guilt? Or do you think that was like shame talking?

Sally: Well, I definitely think it’s shame now because, um, you know, guilt, I think is a motivator for change. And I think guilt can be a, a positive thing. Uh, shame is where we just kind of dwell in, um, in this pity or whole of what we did wrong. And there’s no motivation changed. It kind of spirals downward. It feels like to me, um, so I think it was definitely some shame, but also, also I think there was just a lot of, um, you know, I had had a lot of gut feelings and intuition, and there was some frustration with myself for not pushing harder on that. Not knowing there was something off, but not pushing harder. And although I don’t believe that there was anything that would have allowed maybe my particular son to come to me without having something that cracked the egg.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: Um, I do believe that I could have pushed harder to maybe find out earlier. And especially as, you know, this kind of moved on and watching my son and the turmoil he was in, I also just felt a whole lot of sadness, you know, as moms, our main priority is to, and his parents altogether is to protect our kids. And I, and I deal, I did feel like I let him down. Um, you know, that’s just the reality of it. Those are the emotions I felt now, do I feel that way now? I felt very differently now. Yeah. But in that moment, it felt like I was a, I had failed. I had failed in protecting him. I had failed in, um, you know, being one that he could come to, although we had had all of these conversations, we had talked about how it will never be your fault, you know, crash and tell, you know, crash the computer and come tell an adult kind of thing, turn it off, tell an adult we’d had all those conversations, but for some reason I still wasn’t a safe place. And that’s just the reality of the emotions that happen. Or at least that’s what happened with me.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Sally: Um, and from talking with other parents, it sounds like it’s, again, pretty typical.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I have empathy for both sides are facing something that’s kind of unprecedented. Um, and what I mean by that is because of the ease of access to technology, the, the youth today’s youth have to navigate this new porn landscape for the first time. Like they’re the first part of the first generation ever in the history of the world having to nav navigate this. But also that means that their parents, you and I, as parents, we also have to navigate this, uh, for the first time ever in history. And we don’t know exactly how to do that.

Sally: Mhm. Yeah. It’s a challenge for sure. And, you know, I thought I was doing it fairly well. I was putting in all of the effort that’s for sure. And I was doing all of the things that I knew how to do, you know, now I know better. And so I do better.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. [laughter] For sure. That’s a good way to put it.

Sally: But you don’t know what, you don’t know what you don’t know. Yeah. And I just, I just didn’t know.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, it reminds me of those four words that oftentimes we don’t want to hear, which is “We need to talk.” Right? Those four words are kind of what led to you discovering this about your boy, like what he was going through. And I just want to acknowledge those four words. Like “We need to talk.” in your case. It was because like you said, there was a claim against him. And so it kind of like a, it was a rock bottom moment, which opened him up. But there’s benefits to that. Although those words we need to talk or there’s, those rock, bottom moments are like terrifying. They can also be liberating.

Sally: Mhm. Mhm. For sure. And, and I think sometimes we need to add, I think that we need to talk should be expanded. Um, at least for parents coming from a parent perspective. And as I’ve thought about how I could have, um, maybe been more of a safe space and what would’ve made, uh, Smith talk to me. And as we speak now to other youth that say, “I just don’t know how to tell my parents.”, you know, “How do I go talk to my parents?” I think if we said, I need to, we need to talk, and this is what I need from you. I think those words would do both sides of the conversation, a world of good.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Yeah, because it’s teaching kids like the emotions that we feel, and this isn’t just kids, this is all human beings. Like one of the, the goals in life, which is very challenging is to be able to like identify and articulate emotions that we feel, and then like make them mentionable and make them manageable.

Sally: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: like, so I think that you’re right. When you say that, um, a young person going to their caregiver to their parent says, “This is what I need from you.” That shows a lot of maturity on the kids part. And like, it, it equips the parent to act a little bit.

Sally: Yeah. And I think, you know, we talk, we talk a lot about how parents can set up safe zones or Smith calls them “no trouble bubbles”, which was coined by his, his friend, Collin Kartchner, the late Collin Kartchner. But you know, it’s easy to say, “Hey, parents set up a no trouble bubble where your kids can come and talk to you. And they know that, um, anything they say to you will be, will be responded to in, in just a matter of, I love you. Thanks for sharing. I love you. Um, how can I help support you? And then, then the consequences come the next day.” That’s a great solution and a great tool to use. However, what if you live in a house where no trouble bubble hasn’t been set up.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: And I think as, um, I don’t wanna say children because that makes them sound so young. But I think as, um, like…

Garrett Jonsson: Young people?

Sally: Young person, you also have to have grace enough for your parents, or, you know, give them room to know that they’ve never experienced this either. They’ve never, they’ve never had a situation where maybe their child has, or that particular child there’s going to always be a first time where they haven’t had that particular child come to them with something that’s heavy hearted, that’s serious, that needs help. That need maybe professional help. Um, so I think being able to open that conversation with, “Hey mom, dad, aunt, or uncle, or grandma, whoever I’m wanting to confide in, I, we need to talk, and this is what I need from you. I’m gonna talk about some serious things that are hard for me to discuss. And so I don’t really want you to respond tonight. I, I need to know that you love and support me. And I’d love to come back tomorrow after we talk about this and we both have time to process how we can move forward.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: I think having that as a opening statement, all of a sudden then your parent comes from a place of compassion, as opposed to defense and fear and guilt shame that I was talking about. And instead of them reacting in a manner that is defensive because of those feelings, they’re able to react in a compassionate manner and just kind of take it in and then figure out the best way they can then respond.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s a beautiful thing. And I’m definitely going to incorporate the no trouble bubble into my parenting style.

Sally: [laughter] It works great.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] That’s awesome.

Sally: Yeah. I think it works great for the parent because you already have your script. You don’t have to worry about what am I gonna say? Yeah. And the kids know what to expect, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

I want to hear your opinion on this, but like, as a parent, one thing that I’ve found is that when I share my challenges or my shortcomings or pitfalls or mistakes with my kids, it’s such a powerful thing because it encourages them to be more open with me.

Sally: Yeah. I would a hundred percent agree with that. And, um, I think that was one thing we probably didn’t do as well. Um, you know, my husband is a recovered alcoholic and I know Smith has mentioned several times that even just the days he comes home from work and he says, “You know, today is one of those days that I, I would just really wanna drink.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: And Smith has mentioned that just having that and hearing that makes him think, “Oh yeah, he’s in, in the fight too.” Right? He’s he has tough days too. He has those thoughts that go through his mind as well. And communicating that I think is really helpful to any of us.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: Which, um, I think is one reason I have a lot of parents that reach out to me because they want to hear from somebody that’s been there and that’s maybe on the other side and can see the hope.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: You know, and I think we all wanna know we’re in this battle together. It’s the same connection, right.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: It’s that theme is so consistent through all of these challenges that, that we face in the world.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well, it’s pretty cool that your husband is able to open up with Smith about his challenge with alcoholism, because it’s really, it’s similar. Not that they’re the exact same thing, but it sounds like your husband would turn to alcohol for escapism.

Sally: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And it seems like oftentimes that’s a reason why people turn to pornography is for escapism.

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Sally: Yeah, absolutely. It’s just a numbing agent, right? Some of us use alcohol, some of us use pornography. Sometimes people use even things that are great, like exercise. I mean…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: Sometimes it’s even just an over consumption of anything is can lead to challenges and interfere with your personal relationships.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, it seems like you’re a person who is really aware of the harmful effects of pornography even before you’ve walked with Smith through this. But I’m wondering if looking back, if you can identify any misconceptions about… like misconceptions that you held about what it means to have a challenge with pornography?

Sally: Um, you know, I think before I, I mean, I, I do think I was pretty well educated in, in pornography, um, because of our friend experiences and, and just our life experiences that had opened our eyes to that. But I, I do think I was a little bit less aware of the emotion that comes with someone that is com consuming pornography regularly. Um, and, and I can only say that because I watched my son go from a, you know, bright-eyed, uh, outgoing, positive person to somebody that was oftentimes belligerent and combative and contrary, uh, just for the sake of being such. And so I think I was a little bit less and, and then definitely once he kind of came clean with everything that was going on and all of the emotion that had been bottled up for so long once that came to the surface, I was unaware of the emotion that goes on with those that are, are struggling with that.

Garrett Jonsson: Once you had this conversation with Smith about his porn consumption and you started to address it together, did you notice that working and what I mean by that working, you mentioned that like you noticed there was a shift in his personality.

Sally: Oh yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And I’m just wondering if like, you know, that famous coined phrase that says “name it to tame it.”

Sally: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: I’m just wondering if that, if you experienced that or if, if Smith experienced that once he named it and labeled it and identified like what was happening and why he felt this way, did it help him?

Sally: Yeah, we definitely saw a significant, uh, change in just his being within a couple of weeks.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow.

Sally: Um, and it wasn’t just us, you know, my husband and I, during that time were the only ones that were aware of what was going on. But even his sisters that weren’t aware at the time, um, they mentioned how, you know, “He seems better. He seems happier. He seems, man, I’m getting along with him better.”

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Sally: You know, “He’s not making any of those sarcastic mean comments.”, or those kinds of things. So yeah, we definitely saw some significant improvement, um, in, in that once we, once we called it out, once we knew what it was and I, and I talk a lot about this with again, parents that call me and I, I, when they call. And they’re usually in that, in that moment that I described that I can remember so vividly and, uh, the feelings of that.

And when it’s just first comes to your awareness and I talk with them a lot on that, oftentimes even in that evening. Um, and, um, I say, “I know this feels like the worst day, but it’s really the best day. And the reason is that now, you know, now, you know what it is there. We can find community, we can find support, we can find tools and resources and education and, you know, therapies and modalities, all these things that we can help support our child, where we couldn’t before.”, um, you know, it’s a diabetic not knowing that they need insulin.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: It’s, it’s any of these number of things. How do you treat something or support something or, or, you know, it’s the love languages it’s knowing how people need to be loved and, and supported and how can, you know, how to fight something you don’t know exists?

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Sally: So I definitely think that’s a huge benefit.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well, you’re talking about how you kind of acting like this light at the end of the tunnel for other parents within your circles. Like, would they call you feeling hopeless and then you are that light at the end of the tunnel for them. I’m just wondering, like at what point did you start to see a light at the end of your tunnel that you were walking with Smith?

Sally: Oh, it was long and it was slow. Um, you know, Smith was young when, when we found out and so he hadn’t had, you know, decades of porn conception. And I think that definitely makes a difference in how quickly the recovery is, and it’s not lost on me that this is an ongoing battle and that this is a roller coaster. Um, you know, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon for sure. And there’s ups and downs and there’s good days and there’s bad days. However, um, probably it was when Smith started really helping others, that there was really a huge change in him. It was when he saw that he had friends that once they knew he was struggling and they started wanting to, um, you know, “join the club” for lack of a better term. [laughter] Um, that was when there was really a difference in his, uh, mentality and, and just his, uh, attitude of, um, you know, I saw, I started seeing a difference right away in just his personality and kind of knowing that he wasn’t carrying around this, this bag of rocks anymore by himself, but, but we really saw the hope, um, and what life could look like, um, in the fight about, I bet it was nine months, maybe almost a year into it, into his recovery.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s when you first started to see a light at the end of the tunnel?

Sally: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think I first saw light a couple of weeks in.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Sally: When I started finding community and I started, um, you know, finding out more about recovery and talking to other people that had, that were on the other side, that’s when I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. But when I really felt like I came out of the tunnel and saw the full ability and what this, what life really could look like when I really saw the full picture, it was probably nine months into it. Maybe, maybe even as much as a year it’s long and it’s slow. And there’s, there’s, you know, [laughter], there’s a lot of processing of all of those emotions and all of those, um, habits and locking back down your house and feeling like you have control again and, and feeling safe and, and never feeling safe. Right? Getting used to that, getting used to that knowledge, that it’s never going to be enough. Um, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a lot.

Garrett Jonsson: What do you mean that it’s never gonna be enough?

Sally: I mean that in this day and age, I think technology is working over time; that we are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that is doing all it can to feed pornography into as young, as minds as possible. And, um, there’s always a way around every wet router. There’s a way around every parental control. There’s a way around every, um, you know, every rule, household rule, there’s just a way around everything.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: So thinking that you can, you know, build a moat and keep it out is just it’s it’s ignorant.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay. Yeah.

Sally: And I think you have to get used to that feeling. I think you have to get used to knowing that there are, there are holes that there are ways and you have to feel comfortable with that.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: And you have to have other systems in place to combat that. And that’s, I think over the first several months, that’s a challenge because you feel like, oh my goodness, here’s another thing, you know, here’s another way.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: Man, there were actually sex accessing it this way too. Or she, I didn’t know that you could [laughter], you know, there’s just so many things.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: Um, that we just can’t protect our kids anymore from ever being exposed or ever having it come across their eyes, their ears. That just it’s impossible.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: But that doesn’t mean that our efforts shouldn’t be just as diligent and we just need to add an additional layer of protection, which is open conversation and connection. And that takes a little bit more work, and some time and trust and experience. And…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, as you were talking about the catharsis that you experienced by connecting with other communities or, um, the catharsis that Smith experienced by opening up to his, his buddies and whatnot, I can’t help, but think about the 12 step program. I’ve never participated in this, the 12th step program, but from what I understand, the 12th step is help someone else.

Sally: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And I think there’s so much power in that.

Sally: I have heard it said that if you can get to the 12th step and you can experience that, that’s where the majority of people stay in recovery as opposed to relapsing.

Garrett Jonsson: Mm.

Sally: Um, I have heard several people that have gone through, uh, AA and even many, many therapists that have expressed that same thing. If you can experience the magic of the 12th step that’s when they see the most success in recovery.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I’m wondering if you have any advice for young listeners who are scared to open up about their porn consumption with their parents or caregivers. And we kind of already talked to this regarding like the no trouble bubble..

Sally: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: Do you have any other advice for those listeners?

Sally: Well, I can speak to my own experience is really all I know, but I also have experience of, uh, sitting with dozens and dozens of other parents. And like I said, the emotions are the same. The, oftentimes the reactions are different, but the emotions, the thoughts, the, um, are all the same. And so I would say that, um, allow them the opportunity to fail in a reaction and, and set them up and you up for success. And I think a, a good way you could do that is, you know, maybe it’s not that you tell your parents first, maybe it’s that you tell someone else Smith talks a lot about that. Just if you’re feeling like this is kind of a secret, just tell anyone it can be, it can be, you know, Smith talks about his experience. I don’t know if he shared this on the podcast, but the first person he told about his pornography consumption was a stranger while he was working at Chick-fil-A as a cashier, somebody walked up with a, with a Porn Kills Love shirt on.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: From Fight the New Drug. And he just said to the, to the customer, “Hey, I appreciate you wearing that today. I’ve, I’ve had my own battles and, and I really appreciate that you are, um, wearing that message, thanks for doing that.”

Garrett Jonsson: Hmm.

Sally: And he said just his experience in that moment, speaking to a complete stranger that he never would see again, um, just felt like a weight lifted. And so maybe start small or write it down. You don’t have to look them in the eyes. You don’t have to tell them all of it at once. You can say, you know, “I need to tell you something. I know it’s really hard for me to talk about this. So I’m gonna send you a text.”

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: Or, um, I have a friend whose son left her a, a note on her nightstand and said, you know, know, she, she went up to bed to get into bed. And there was a note on her nightstand from her son that said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I need help.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: And just open that door just a little bit so that you can allow them in, because I have yet to find a parent that wants their child to suffer alone in silence.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: I just don’t know that they exist.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Sally: And I know that can be hard to trust, and I know that it can especially be hard to trust when we, as parents react poorly- we’re going to. Um, know where those reactions come from and then give us another chance if we have not done well. Um, you know, maybe that’s, maybe that’s just leaving some information, uh, about, about pornography and saying, “Hey, can we talk?” to your parents? It doesn’t have to be a, a typical, what we see as a traditional conversation. You know, it can look any way you want any way you feel comfortable with it, but, you know, and that may mean you give a little bit of information that may mean that it’s not a conversation and that’s okay.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: But trust that they want you to not suffer in silence, that they may not react perfectly, that they may not know resources right away.

But that they’re, they’re your teammate and they’re your advocate. And most parents I know, will fight harder than anyone else you can find. There’s nobody better to be on your team than your guardian or caregiver.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s a beautiful thing. As you were talking, there was several times that I got the chills a little bit, like when you, especially when you’re, when you’re talking about connection and the catharsis and the healing that can come through connection. There’s been several times that I get the chills of like, oh my goodness. That’s, that’s the answer.

Sally: Mm. Yeah. I, I can tell you, I’ve had several, uh, dear lifelong friends made just through the connection of our struggle.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: And our efforts in trying to help those around us heal and heal ourselves. And there’s yeah. There’s a lot of beauty in, in the human connection.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: Even, even through very difficult dark times, I believe that that happens.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Now I’m also curious if you can address this for more of like the parents or caregivers that are listening, and you’ve kind of talked this a little bit, but I’m wondering if you can elaborate on it. What are some of the benefits that you’ve experienced because you’ve addressed this issue with your child? Like, do you, do you and Smith feel closer today because you’ve addressed this together?

Sally: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I feel like I’m much more of a better equipped support to him because of this. Um, even in things that we don’t have to discuss, uh, you know, Smith talks about, um, when he’s struggling or when he’s having a hard time, he’ll come up to our room and he calls it “the Smith special” he’ll lay on our bed. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Sally: And sometimes it’s late at night when to be honest, I just wanna be in bed.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: And, um, he’ll come up and just kind of sit there and not really talk that much, but there’s not even a whole lot of talking that has to go on all the time, but we know, “Hey, he’s, he’s having a hard time. He’s struggling with, with what he wants to be doing, as opposed to what he thinks he should be doing.” Um, you know, he has, he’s feeling some, some triggers, some stress, some anxiety, maybe some sleep deprivation, he’s a teenager, all of those things.

And so just being aware, because he has opened up about his experience, being aware that instead of me saying, “Hey, go to bed, you know, I, I gotta go, I gotta be at work tomorrow.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: Instead of that kind of a reaction I’m able to say, tell me, how is your day, what are you looking forward to tomorrow and, and make it kind of a, a place, a space where he can feel safe, even if we’re not talking about, you know, the, the struggle with, um, whatever’s going on in his mind or in his heart. Um, the other, the other thing that has really become for us a benefit is I’m able to support where I am best utilized, which is he doesn’t talk to me about, um, if he has a relapse or if he, um, you know, messes up or slips up as he calls it.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: Um, that’s where he uses his support group. He uses them to talk about that, but he will come to me and say, “Hey, mom, there’s this hole here. Can I get some support and help in figuring out how we can tighten down restrictions?” You know, “I’m feeling weak here.”, or, you know, “I’m feeling like I can handle more internet ability on our third party app.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Sally: You know, “Can we give me a couple hours a day of whatever that is, right. I’m feeling like I can handle it.” So those kinds of conversations where if we hadn’t gone through this, I just wouldn’t feel the same. I wouldn’t feel like I was being the support system that I feel like I am now. And a lot of that is because I’ve learned where I can support and where I can’t

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Sally: Where I do belong and fit in and where I don’t.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Sally: And accepting that.

Garrett Jonsson: I love that as the conversation comes to an end, we do want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word during this conversation. Is there anything that has been left unsaid that you’d like to mention before we end?

Sally: Um, I think the main thought in all of this is that there is a lot of hope and we have seen a lot of success in, in our personal experience and in, in Smith’s recovery. However, that’s not, it’s not the end of the story. And we know that, and I think there is beauty that’s found in the battle.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, Sally, I said it already, but I’m gonna say it again. Thank you for everything. Thanks for putting in the work day in and day out for years now. And thanks for being here today with us.

Sally: Oh, it was my pleasure. We love the work that that you’re doing. And, and we love the community that you’re building.

Fight the New Drug Ad: Did you know the majority of young people are exposed to porn by the time they’re 13 years old? Get more fast facts about the impacts of pornography and exploitation at That’s

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’ve enjoyed listening to Consider Before Consuming, consider subscribing, and leaving a review.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this episode. 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.


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