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Smith Alley

By May 11, 2022June 8th, 2022No Comments

Episode 69

Smith Alley

Teen Mental Health Advocate, Public Speaker, & Recovering Compulsive Porn Consumer

Trigger Warning: This discussion includes frank, explicit, discussions about pornography consumption, and suicide ideation. Listener discretion is advised.

Like most adolescents today, Smith was exposed to porn well before the age of 18. His porn consumption escalated without his parents’ knowledge, and by the time he was 11, he says he was consuming porn five to seven times per day. His porn consumption and the shame that he felt because of it were two factors that led him to want to end his own life. Smith made a suicide plan, but he says he didn’t want to go through with it when he learned about Fight the New Drug. Listen to Smith tell podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, about how porn negatively impacted his life in real ways, what he did to address his unwanted compulsive habit, and why he’s since created a supportive community where mental health is addressed.


Fight the New Drug Ad: Regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political persuasions, or any other diversifying factor, porn can impact anyone. If you’ve recognized the harmful effects of pornography in your life, or recognized the harms pornography can cause in society, we welcome you to become a Fighter. As Fighters we strive to be bold, understanding, open-minded, and accepting. If you’re ready to become an official Fighter, we invite you to join the movement at That’s Join us in our fight for love by becoming a Fighter today.

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 Smith Alley. Like most adolescents in the world today Smith was exposed to porn well before the age of 18, his porn consumption escalated without his parents’ knowledge, and by the time he was 11 he was consuming porn five to seven times per day. His porn consumption and the shame that he felt were two of the variables that led to him experiencing suicide ideation. He made plans to take his life, but he says that changed when he learned about Fight the New Drug. During this conversation, we discuss how pornography negatively impacted his life in real ways, what he did to address his compulsive porn habit, and why he’s since created a supportive community where mental health is addressed. With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Garrett Jonsson: Thank you for joining us today, man.

Smith Alley: Yeah, of course.

Garrett Jonsson: I noticed that your like got scratches and bruises on your legs.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Can you give us like the background behind that?

Smith Alley: Yes, I can. I I’d be happy too. yeah, I, I play, uh, lacrosse. I’m a high school student, so I play high school lacrosse. And so I’m always banged up during the spring.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice. You’re a high school student, but you’re 18?

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well that makes you the youngest individual that we have ever recorded with for Consider Before Consuming. So we just want to acknowledge that and express that we feel very fortunate to have you in the studio today.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, I’m glad to be here.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I want to jump straight into your personal account.

Smith Alley: Okay.

Garrett Jonsson: And we want this conversation to be hopeful, but to achieve that, we have to talk about the moments when you felt hopeless. So I’m just wondering if you can talk to like your lowest of lows, like jump straight. What was that for you?

Smith Alley: Yeah, I think that, um, I obviously had, like, I think everyone does that, that spiral. And so it’s that little thing that, that just starts you off and leads you down the wrong path for me, I had a really bad sutter when I was little. And so I walked into the, of the first grade and I sat down and my teacher came in, started class, said that we were gonna introduce ourselves and kids started sending up, they’d say their names sit down, came to be my turn. I got up, I got really nervous. My legs started to shake and I go, “uh, hi, m… m… m… my name’s Smith.”, cause I had this really bad speech impediment. And I, I remember this girl turning around, looking straight in my eyes, like deep into my soul and saying, “Why can’t you talk right?” And so I said, that’s like the beginning.

And because of that experience, because that’s the day that I bought into that, this, this belief that I wasn’t good enough and that I would never be good enough that I didn’t like deserve or I would never make my parents proud that, um, I wouldn’t, I would never really have friends who truly cared about me after that experience. That’s what, what led me kind of into the spiral, right? You start to hate yourself. And then as most people do, who are in those similar situations, you find a, a numbing substance. And for me that was porn. Um, and you know, I was exposed to pornography nine years old, pretty young for when was that? It would’ve been like 2010, 2011. Um, and I was exposed to pornography. And like the other thing is for, for standards of the, of the world and of the nation, like I’ve been given a very good life.

Um, my parents are just great people and they always had conversations about pornography and what to do when we see it. And they were very proactive about those things. And so I remember seeing this as a nine year old and I knew exactly what to do. My mom had told me to turn it off until an adult. So I turned it off and I, I set this tablet down and immediately, I think back to that, that little kid who didn’t think that he was enough and I was afraid that even though it wasn’t my fault, like I’d been innocently exposed to online pornography just by I a link that I, I wasn’t, that wasn’t what it appeared to be. And I clicked on that and saw some soft porn and like that, that changed me. And I didn’t tell them about the experience. Um, nothing really came of it until,…

Garrett Jonsson: So can I stop real quick?

Smith Alley: Yeah. Yeah, of course.

Garrett Jonsson: So you said that you were aware of what to do, but you didn’t do that. Like you, your parents had told you when, if you see this, when you see this stop and tell an adult or tell us, so you knew that, but you didn’t do that right. Is that true?

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Why was that?

Smith Alley: Again? I think that, and we’d had conversations like more than just the regular “Porn is naked people, porn as bad, turn it off, telling an adult.” And so I think, I think that reason is I, I, again, like, I just didn’t want to make them be ashamed or disappointed in me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: I think that again, I, I already bought into this fact that I wasn’t enough, but I didn’t want to show them that. Right? I was raised with three sisters. I, my dad’s only boy and you know, those families that have like five boys and two go off and they’re just MEH, and then there’s like the two that do okay. In life. And then there’s the one like super successful. Like I felt the pressure to be the one successful cuz he didn’t have any other boys. And so I think I just developed a sense of pride and a need to be perfect. And so because of that, I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to expose any imperfections. And the other thing is, um, I think I was just scared. I was scared of disappointing them and I was scared of getting in trouble.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: Like for, in my experience for a teenage boy to want to talk to his parents about pornography.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: It’s pretty unusual, you know, that’s usually just an awkward topic that you steer away from.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: Um, and so I, yeah, I think, I think that means you’re normal.

Garrett Jonsson: It seems like you are very comfortable with like the discomfort that can come from being vulnerable about mental.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And I’m just wondering if like, if that comes naturally to you, do you like, do you think you were born with this ability to like speak to mental health issues? Or do you think it’s something you’ve had to develop?

Smith Alley: Yeah, no, I hated it. Yeah. I was definitely that kid who like never talked about his emotions and you know, a lot of my anger and a lot of those feelings came out as anger and yeah, I didn’t want to talk about anything. I’ve never felt comfortable talking about those subjects, but after dealing with that myself, um, I realized that my lack of, or my inability to be vulnerable, uh, almost led to my death and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. So at this point it’s like, I, the, the risk of having an awkward conversation is much less than the risk of someone not feeling safe with me and being able to like talk about something hard that they’re going through.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. You mentioned that the lack of vulnerability almost led to you losing your life.

Smith Alley: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to that a little bit more?

Smith Alley: Yeah. So, you know, going back to my story, um, I saw porn at nine, went back to it around 10, um, started using it regularly. I have an, a very addictive personality. Uh it’s genetic. My, my dad was an alcoholic, um, before he met my mom and just very addictive personality, very impulsive. I started, uh, using porn about five to seven times a day by the time I was 11 and a half. Um, and so it, it kind of, it was like my extracurricular activity almost. Um, but I, I had to be really sneaky about it because of my parents were the way that they were again, this just self-loathing. I, I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t have confidence. I didn’t believe that anyone else should love me. I, I knew like again, my parents are great people. My siblings are, are amazing.

I knew that they were ready to love me, but I didn’t feel deserving of that love. Um, and so porn was a way that I felt this fake love that I, I thought I was deserving of. And so that, that just con continued and just got into a really vicious, um, self hatred cycle with, with addiction. And in eighth grade, I remember sitting in my wood shop class and for so long, I had wanted to end my life. And for so long that I, I was, I was ready to, to get it over with. But that day I’m like, “Okay, like this needs to have happen.” So I made a plan in my, in my wood shop class to, to take my life. I, I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel like there was anyone who truly, if, if they knew me right. And that’s the whole thing is I felt like I was a secret and the, the true Smith Alley was a secret.

So I felt like, you know, if my family really knew me, cuz I knew that they were, they were wanting to, to give me love. And I always thought, well, if they really knew me, then they wouldn’t love me. They wouldn’t care if I, if I woke up the next day, if they knew who, who my true self was, they’d be disappointed of me and, and ashamed of me. And I’d just felt like, because, because of that, like I was a, I was a bad kid. I felt like because of what I was involved in, I was a bad kid. And I got into that, into that mindset and I made a plan to take my life. However, I didn’t, um, I didn’t want my parents to, to have to find me because I knew that they were good people. And I knew, you know, they’d done so much for me in my life and I didn’t want them to have to deal with that. And so, um, This whole plan revolved around like them going out off for a weekend, they’d usually do it like two to three times a year. Get a hotel…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, just a little getaway.

Smith Alley: Yeah. Go get away. And, um, so I was, I was just ready to, to take my life when that happened. And I remember, um, on a Saturday they told us that they’d booked a trip for the next weekend. Um, And I, I felt like relieved almost like I was finally just gonna be able to escape this, this life that I was living. And, um, That week Was just, it was nothing to me. You know, everything just passed by and I just got through the day looking forward to that weekend. And, um, This is why, I mean, I like adore what, what, what you guys do? I, Clay is my hero. Um, Sorry. I cry every time. Um, that Wednesday, That Wednesday, I found Fight on Instagram. And I just went down the rabbit hole with it. And I just started reading everything and watching every video and Looking through the social media and just liking every post. And I, I realized that day that I wasn’t, uh, a bad kid, but I was a good kid that had been enslaved by, by a drug that… I was an addict. And I like that wasn’t me. Right? My actions, weren’t me. My thoughts weren’t me. I’d been, I’d been enslaved and coincidentally, the next day, this guy, um, who’s now one of my greatest mentors came into my eighth grade health class and talked to us about his situation, uh, his experience with 20 years of drug addiction and, um, his experience with mental health and suicide. And he had a, he had a story, so similar to mine and what I realized that day, Because I knew before that, like that people struggled and that people wanting to take their life and that there were, you know, people were addicts and people used drugs. And, um, But I never felt like I could identify with those people. Right? Because I was just the smiley kid who was always in school leadership, always played sports. Um, again, like super normal.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: I, I was a popular kid.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And so I never identified with those kids who were, who were really struggling, but this guy, he came in and I finally for once felt like I wasn’t alone. Um, and those two things happened one right after another. And that, that saved my life. Cuz I decided that like my life was worth living. And even though I didn’t change my habits right away, I knew that this thing that I thought had defined me, um, my addiction to pornography, I knew that that finally wasn’t me. Right? Like, that was, that was something that was controlling me. That was something that everything, and in every way that, that affected me was not who I truly am.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Well, there’s a lot of variables that go into like a person having suicide ideation and you’ve named a couple of them, the porn consumption, and then also like the shame that you felt of the variables between shame and porn consumption, which was more of a variable in, or more impactful to you to want to take your life?

Smith Alley: Definitely shame.

Definitely just the, the conversation. It, and I think most importantly is like, we can start a conversation, but if, if there aren’t people who are actually talking about it, you know, nothing’s gonna change. Right. Cuz you can offer people, statistics and data and whatever. But until I, I feel like there’s a, an actual human conversation happen to. I feel like that’s when it, that’s when the shame breaks and I’ve had my, my slipups and I’ve had my mistakes, but never in those in those times, have I been like, you know, “It’s all over.”, right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: I, I’ve never fallen back into that same, uh, same state because I’m not ashamed anymore because I like, I, I talk about that openly and it’s something that I’m willing to just battle. Right? It’s something that I’m willing to slip up and I get back up and I just go harder. Right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: I, I just, I just keep going and I keep working to, to overcome that. And so that’s, that’s what I’ve tried to do is without, without shame that control that porn has can’t exist without shame. And if you have like a desire in your heart, those two, it just can’t exist. It, it won’t hold you for, for longer than you can stand on your own two feet. It, it just won’t.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I think this goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. I am glad that you’ve been able to release the shame. And I also like that you talked to some of the setbacks that you’ve had, because I think that unexpected setbacks can be a common pitfall that can keep people stuck.

Smith Alley: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I mean, I talk to a lot of people about, about this and one of the biggest mistakes is that they say, “I just want to get this over with.” I like, it’s a, it’s a one and done, you know, and I think it’s almost like people expect in an analogy. I think it would be, you know, there’s this 405 pound dead lift. Right? And these people, people oftentimes expect to hit the gym for six months straight and to get really strong. And then for the rest of the, their life, they want to be able to, to deadlift that, right? And you know, they’re 65, haven’t hit the gym in 40 years and, but they should still be able to go in there and, and deadlift that. It’s just, I think that, um, it’s never something that you just get again, people say, “I just want to get it over with.” and, and for me it’ll never be that way. Yeah. It’ll always be a battle of emotions and a battle of like chemical and balance my brain. And it’ll always be something that I’m always hyper aware of.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And because of that, because I’m always thinking about how to beat it. I think that’s when I have the greatest chance because I’m, I’m the ever just gonna dismiss it. Like, oh yeah. I, I won that, you know, off to the next thing.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s almost like your analogy speaks to like the consistency, because if the person wants to be able to lift 405 deadlift forever, they have to do it every day or, you know, consistently.

Smith Alley: Yeah, definitely. And I think for me, I I’ve have seen that. That’s the key to my success is I, you know, I set goals and I do journaling, but if I, you know, there have been times I once went, I was, uh, almost three years just clean done. And it had been about six months that I, since I had journaled and sat down and like looked over my goals and I slipped up and I was like, I, yeah. You know, like…

Garrett Jonsson: Like “I thought I was over this.”

Smith Alley: Yeah. And I was so upset at myself. I’m like, “How could I let myself do this after three years? Like, I’m not even dealing with anything stressful at school or, you know, anything super emotional.” I just like, I didn’t even know what was happening. And I went to my therapist and he’s like, “You idiot. I haven’t seen you in six months. no wonder you lost.”

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Smith Alley: And He was like, “If you don’t continue that, no, you have to that strength up.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: These things, I call like my border patrol, um, goals that I set to do every day that, that help me keep my mind in a, in a good spot. If I don’t do those, I’m gonna fail. And so for me, it’s all about that, that consistency.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. As a person who likes fitness, I have to ask, is that your number, like the 405 number? Is that your dead lift?

Smith Alley: No, not quite. The last time I got up, um, 395. There we go once.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice.

Smith Alley: But that was a year ago.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice.

Well, I said this earlier, that we’re fortunate to have you because for many reasons, but one of the reasons why is because you’re so young and I’m just wondering if you can talk to how normalized porn is in like the junior high setting and the high school setting. And as you answer this question, I just wanna like state this verbalize the following and it’s that we wanna be loyal to the absent. So like, as you answer this question, I don’t want you to like speak to like your group of friends cuz like that’s their business. But like generally speaking, what, how normalized, how common is porn consumption amongst junior high and high school kids?

Smith Alley: I think it’s extremely common. I think even more common is the shame and the secrecy behind it. But I think in, in high school it begins to become more normal and less shame, especially with certain groups. And so I’d say, I’d say that it’s extremely high. I mean, especially among young men, it’s almost on hundred percent and I think it’s getting to the point where as I grow my, my online platform and have more people messaging me more and more, I’m seeing, I’m seeing girls reach out as well.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: About, about struggling with that. And you know, again, that’s a majority number too that that has seen and struggles with, with pornography.

Garrett Jonsson: So once you learned about Fight the New Drug, was that what empowered you to finally talk to your parents?

Smith Alley: No.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, how did that come about?

Smith Alley: Um, so I actually, there was this girl at my school and we both liked each other. And um, turns out that again, girls are now a majority too, and we had both, um, been involved with pornography. Uh, and so over Snapchat we had decided to meet up and to do some of the same things that we had, we had seen it in porn. Um, and so that all happened. We, we had talked about it again over Snapchat messages disappear. That day I remember it was, it was the first day where I actually felt something like I felt, I felt a need to change my behavior and to change my and so I decided, um, that I had to like cut things off and, and, you know, end that relationship. And so I went back and this is like the most, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this on the podcast, but the most douche bag move ever, um, went home, texted her, told her that we could never talk to each other- couldn’t be friends, or whatever. And of course that hurt her emotionally. Um, and so she went to her parents and said that I had, I had, um, they tried charge me with _____ is what they tried to charge me with. And so then I’m this 14 year old kid who doesn’t have any evidence to prove, prove otherwise, because it was all over Snapchat, which me messages disappear. And I learned that you have to go to a Supreme court case to get Snapchat, to pull files like that. Um, and so my parents get the police to call them. And that’s how my parents found out about, um, my experience with pornography through that. They also found out about where I was with my mental health. And so I spent about a year and a half sorting out court stuff. Um, got that taken care of great. It got to a point where she kind of admitted, admitted that they didn’t have any evidence and that nothing like that really went on.

And so that, that kind of worked itself out thankfully after a year and a half. And, um, that’s, that’s how it all came out. And I, you know, looking back on that day, it was April 23rd, 2018. My parents checked me outta school. They had just gotten a call from the police. Um, felt like my world was ending. Like I was like, I don’t know what college I’m gonna be able to go to. I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to get a job that I want to in the future. I don’t know how this is gonna affect me. I just felt like my world was ending. And I remember that night, my mom came up to me and she grabbed my face and she said, “Smith, I will fight for you, but you have to fight for yourself first.” And that’s the point where I just decided that no matter what I’d gone through that I was going, like I was going to redirect and I was going to change, um, the path that I was on. And now, like I would never change what happened. I would never choose a different path because that has empowered me to change. And it’s put me, it’s given me the opportunity to step onto the path that, that I want to be on.

Garrett Jonsson: I just want to acknowledge that it goes a step further because it’s not just your experiences that empowered you or that empower you. It’s your experiences, plus your willingness to be vulnerable with them.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Was that experience after you learned about Fight the New Drug?

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: So you had started to internally address your unwanted porn consumption. Like you saw Fight the New Drug, you some of the shame left, but you still hadn’t completely opened up about it?

Smith Alley: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.
How did you feel when your parents finally did know about these things like this struggle that you had been fighting?

Smith Alley: I felt a lot of relief. I felt, um, I mean, I was scared. I was really scared just because of the other circumstances surrounding that situation. But I was very relieved that, that I didn’t have to fight it by myself anymore. And more than that, I finally could see what it was. Right? Like this thing that had been eating me away that had been like taken me that had taken me to, to the lowest of lows. Like I could, I could finally point at point at it and say like, “That’s it. And if I can conquer that problem and that problem and that problem, then maybe I can be happy again. And maybe I can love myself again.”

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool. I think it’s really cool that you experienced catharsis, that you experienced by your Mom and Dad being aware. And I think that’s cool because today you’re creating a cathartic experience for other people by being open and vulnerable with mental health generally speaking in with specifically about porn consumption.

Smith Alley: Yeah. Yeah. I hope to be.

Garrett Jonsson: So it seems like this experience that you had that was like this rock bottom experience from that point, how important has your family been in, in your healing process?

Smith Alley: Crucial. I mean, I think that I, I don’t want to discredit myself because I think that I’ve also, like I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am, but I, I don’t think I could have done it with that without them. And I think especially the way that they reacted just with, of course it wasn’t perfect the way that they reacted. I don’t think any parent reacts perfectly, but it was definitely with love. And I could feel that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And I could feel that they were ready and they were willing to do whatever was needed, um, to get me to where I wanted to be. And so that, that initial reaction was crucial, but at the same time, like their constant support was, was crucial. I remember I would go up into my parents’ room, I’d go in and I’d like, just be having a hard time.
I’d just climb into my Mom’s bed as 16 year old kid. And just sit there some time, just cry.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: When, when I needed to, and it was just always love. Right. It was always love that I, I got from them the same with my Dad. Um, you know, I got to this point with him where I was open with him about my struggles and he was open with me and there’d be stressful days and we’d be sitting together and he’d say, “These are the days that I just want to drink. You know, I want to go get a bottle of whiskey and drink my sorrows away.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And I remember like that being so important to me and that being so, uh, having such a big effect on me because I was like, like, “I know how you feel, you know? Like, I, I, I can relate to you.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, his was an actual substance and yours is a behavior, but the end result was the same, which is escapism.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: I think it’s really cool that he was able to open up or is able to open up to you about that. Because it makes him a better dad, for sure. In my opinion, because those challenges, the vulnerability he brings to the table, it makes you be like, “Okay, I can actually talk to some of the things I’m struggling with too.”

Smith Alley: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I think that again, it’s just that, that ability to say like, “Hey, I I’ve been there.” I think more powerful than, than what we give credit to.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I’m just wondering if you can talk about showing up despite having the wounds that, that you have.

Smith Alley: Right. Yeah. I love this. I love this quote, um, from this book called, uh, The Wounded Healer and I, I now I, I like to consider myself that because, you know, I’ve been hurt and, and now I, I love to heal people and it says something to the effect of, I’m not gonna quote this perfectly, uh, a minister’s message will not be perceived as authentic unless he knows of, of the hurt of which he speaks. And then it says something like the great illusion of leadership is that someone can lead out of a desert that they have never been in.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh yeah.

Smith Alley: Something like that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That makes sense.

Smith Alley: And so I think for me, like having walked through some of those deserts, having, having been there, I think it gives me the amazing opportunity to be able to go back and, and to not only heal and heal as someone who’s been wounded, but to also to guide, to, to give hope and to, to show again, like that guy that came into my eighth grade health class and showed me that, you know, he’s been wounded too, and now he’s healed. And then he helped me like being that for someone else. I think that’s one of the sweetest gifts that, that we can have in life.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. It seems like we, as people don’t want to show the wounds that we have, we want to act like everything’s fine and that we have it all together and that we’ve never experienced these challenges.

Smith Alley: Mm-hmm

Garrett Jonsson: But you’ve proved. And like that book, I, I need to read that book. I’ve never read that book.

Smith Alley: It’s good.

Garrett Jonsson: The Wounded Healer.

Smith Alley: mm-hmm yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That makes sense. Well, getting more specific, like with your porn consumption, can you talk to how it negatively impacted you? And I’m just gonna prompt you with some questions.

Smith Alley: Okay.

Garrett Jonsson: Um, for example, did your point consumption have an impact on your sleep patterns, like in regards to quantity of sleep or, um, quality of sleep?

Smith Alley: Yeah. Um, I remember people used to always joke that I, I looked high coming to school because I was always so tired. And I think that that definitely had an impact, especially just the stress. And again, I was always scared of like my parents figuring out I was always so worried about hiding that. And I think that stress as well, like impact, excuse me, impacted both my quality and my quantity. I used to have a really hard time going to bed. Like, it’ll take me two, three hours to fall asleep.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: Um, and I think, I think that that was a big, um, that was a big part of it was, was that, that consumption.

Garrett Jonsson: If I’m doing some self-reflection, I don’t know if you can relate to this, but like one thing that prompted that question for me to ask you is because I kind of experienced that when I was consuming porn, like if I consumed porn late at night, it’s like, my brain couldn’t shut off. Like, it was like that my, it was just constantly ticking and like, I couldn’t go to sleep.

Smith Alley: Yeah. I even had the, um, the experience where if I didn’t consume porn at night, like it was all I thought about. And it was almost like I had to, I had to consume it so that I could go to bed. You know?

Garrett Jonsson: It’s like both.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Because yeah, I get what you’re saying.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s a really good point.

Smith Alley: Brothers [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah. That’s a really interesting thing, huh?

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: You, you can’t sleep if you do it and you can’t sleep if you don’t do it.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Huh. You that’s interesting. What about your view of healthy sex? Like how did your porn consumption? Did it distort your view of healthy sex in any way?

Smith Alley: I mean, I, I would say that I didn’t know what healthy sex was. Um, I think that it’s a huge problem. Our, our sex education today, even now as like an 18 year old, our sex education, we learn about anatomy. Right? But outside of that, like what is healthy sex? How do you, what is sex? And I think that for sure, I, I probably didn’t have a, a good idea of what healthy sex was. Um, it definitely led me to, to view people, uh, to objectify people, which, which I hated. Um, and that was, that was a really hard turnaround for me, was to like, look at someone and see them for more than just like their body and to see them for more than just us, what what’s on the outside. And that was something I, I really struggled with, um, for even, you know, with pornography at first, it was fairly easy for me to quit because it had put me in this situation that I was like, “Okay, like, I, I need to stop right. This, I, I don’t know where this is gonna take me.” But It has a lasting effect on how you, on how you view people.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And I remember, like for years straight, I had to retrain in my, my brain where I’d look at someone and I’d say, I I’d see them differently. I’d see them as the porn industry would see them. And I, I like started to retrain myself and I’d just shake my head. I’d say “No.” to myself and I’d shake my head, cuz I had to retrain myself to, to see, to see people for more than just their body. And like you said, people aren’t products and to see them like that. And I think that was, that was very hard for me. Um, And of course like that, that ideology, that someone is, is a product or they are their body parts. That’s not what healthy sex is. And so I think in that way, I didn’t have a, I didn’t have a good idea of, of what, what that is.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, going back to talking about your age or the stage of life that you’re in, you’re about to experience a significant life event as you transition out of high school.

Smith Alley: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And significant life events can be triggers. And we’ve talked about the importance of consistency. So my question is what are you doing today to avoid the potential pitfalls of tomorrow, for example, graduating and transitioning away from high school?

Smith Alley: Right. Well, I think that the, the first thing is I’ve like I’ve understood and I’ve acknowledged the fact that the time that I’m going through is a trying time for everyone in this stage of life. I talked to a, a child psychologist and they said the most three, the hardest times of transition for a, a child in their whole life is the first day for first grade going into first grade, going into middle school and leaving high school.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, really?

Smith Alley: It’s not even, it’s not even entering high school. Hmm. And so the first thing is like, I acknowledge that so that I, I validate all of my feelings of uncertainty and everything like that. The other thing is it’s important for me now to create habits and to like solidify those habits that I can continue to have them when I’m living by myself. Um, and so for me, like I do this thing called mindful, uh, habit, habit journaling.

Garrett Jonsson: And I’m actually, I’m creating journals now to cuz other teenagers and well people in general, but I think I’ve shown teenagers how to do it. And then, and they really love it.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool.

Smith Alley: And so each letter in mindful stands for a different goal that I set every day ministering. So serving someone intellectual, how can I make myself smarter a no goal? So a habit that I don’t like that I want to change mine lately has been like cleaning my room cuz I’m not very good at it.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Smith Alley: Um, the divine connection. So whatever you believe in, you know, it could be mother nature, it could be organized religion, whatever that is, how to connect with that fitness, uh, understanding emotion. So like just setting time to, to process the feelings that you’re having and then letters, letters is, um, every day I try to write a letter to either my future self or my future spouse to kind of keep me centered on like where I want to be going and, and, and what I want to be doing.

So I do that every day. Um, and then the other thing important for me is continuing to be involved in this fight. And so, you know, I have a, I have a company that helps parents, um, empower them on how to set up their tech safely so that they can try and prevent early exposure and then just help out their kids that might be struggling. And then, uh, I have a nonprofit where, uh, I travel and speak and do a lot of events like that, where, you know, that of just being involved and being able to help people, helping people helps me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: And so that’s always been super important for me,

Garrett Jonsson: Helping people helps you. That’s cool. It’s definitely an important part. Helping others heal helps in the healing process, for sure. What advice do you have for someone that doesn’t feel like they have someone that they can talk to about it?

Smith Alley: I’m here, I’m here. I think that that’s very normal to, to not feel like there’s someone there for you. Um, but I also believe that this field is just littered with warriors and healers and people who, who want to, to open up a conversation. Um, and so I’d start little. I remember, but the first person I ever told wasn’t even my parents, it was this guy who it was right after I found Fight the New Drug I was working at. Chick-fil-A just here downtown. And this guy walked in with a, a porn kills love shirt. And I, I just told him, I was like, “Hey man, I’ve been struggling with that for a long time now. And I, I appreciate you wearing that shirt.” And it was like just the first person I ever told and just the, the burden lifted off me. And I think that made it easier to tell people in the future start small; message me, message someone, message someone who, who, you know, is, is being, uh, um, an advocate in this realm. Because even if you don’t have family members or friends or teachers, mentors that you can talk to, there’s someone out there, uh, I, I refuse to believe that, that there isn’t someone for us to talk to. Right? Like that’s crazy.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Makes sense. You talked to your deeper why of like, why you started to feel shameful mm-hmm in the first grade, that moment where you like that shame hit you . And as we’re talking about what people can do, who don’t feel like they can talk to someone, I think that might be an important thing is like figuring out your why, like their why. Right? What is it that really is triggering them to want to escape?

Smith Alley: Yeah. And, and I think accepting yourself to like, it, it doesn’t matter who, who you talk to about this problem. If you don’t accept yourself first, I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of young men who, you know, that they’ve talked to me about it. They’ve talked to their parents about it, but they still think that that they’re a horrible person. Right? They haven’t cut themselves some slack. And because of that, that A: keeps them from, from telling other people, B: keeps them from putting in the effort because they don’t feel like they’re capable of, of turning their life around. Um, and C: I think, I think that keeps them from, from believing that they is a higher and a greater love for them. And so I’d also say like, just accept yourself and accept yourself and understand that, that you can’t do it all. And you know, like cut yourself on slack. I always say that I’m my own best friend, because I’m gonna spend a hundred percent of my life with myself. And so I’ve, I’ve had to learn to enjoy the company cuz for a long time, I didn’t, for a long time, I hated myself- I hated everything about me. And I just wanted, I always wanted to change myself. But now like I lean into those weird things about me. Like before this literally 15 minutes before I got here, I was at my house playing with my new lightsaber that I just bought, like bizarre things like that.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Smith Alley: Those things that other people would call nerdy about me. There are things that I love about myself. And so I think accepting that and putting your mental health first, I, I have an awesome girlfriend, but I always tell her like that. I love her. She’s my second favorite person in the whole world because my first favorite person in the whole world is myself because it has to be myself. Um, because I, I have to, I just have to have that love, that love for me. And so I think like putting yourself as, as your priority, um, and just like accepting yourself is, is so crucial.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. As I prepared for the conversation, one of the things that I heard you say, I think it was on social somewhere on your social. I heard you talking about how you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Smith Alley: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Does that kind of align with what you’re saying? Like you have to kind of help your else. You, you have to fill your cup up first so you can help other people?

Smith Alley: Yeah. And, and I talk about all, I talk about that all the time on, on my social media, because I just honestly with school, high school, trying to graduate, and lacrosse and running two businesses, trying to manage social media, I get burned out. And there’ll be times where I just put all my story, like, “Okay, I’m peacing out for a week.” Yeah. Because ultimately I can’t, I have almost 17,000 followers on Instagram. I can’t help them if I’m not first helping myself. And so I’ve, I’ve had to learn the fact that like, if I, if I want to have the, the capacity to help someone else, I have to first be willing to give to myself. And sometimes that means doing less of now so that you can do more later. Right? So I do less now I take more time for myself now so that I can do more of, of helping people later. Yeah. Um, that I can extend that period of time so that I, I don’t just burn out.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. There’s a book that I haven’t read, but I wanna read it. It’s called The Paradox of Choice. And the whole book is based on less, is more, there’s something wise about taking that approach of less is more.

Smith Alley: And I think when you do that, like I’m sure, you know, those people, um, that just like run around like a chicken with their head cut off, like they’re trying to do everything. And sometimes that results in those things that they’ve committed to being low-quality. Right? And so for me, like I have to protect my mental health so that every interaction I have with someone who needs my help is high quality.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: So they’re getting a hundred percent of me and I’m not off distracted with something that was going on, you know, three weeks ago that I’m still handling.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: If, if, so thing comes up and I need a week, I’m gonna take a week so that when I get back, I’m not, I’m not still thinking about those things. Right. I’m gonna, I, I shouldn’t say get it over with right. I’m gonna process those emotions. I’m going to get through those things. So that if I have an interaction with someone who needs me, I’m a hundred percent there. And I think that’s, that’s the same thing as like the, the less is more.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well, stepping back a bit, you mentioned that at one point you were consuming porn five to seven times per day. Can you talk to some of the triggers or cues that pushed you to consume porn? Whether it was like your parents leaving the house or a certain time of day, can you talk to some of those triggers?

Smith Alley: Yeah, I think, I think there’s like, um, emotional and, and mental triggers, but there’s also, uh, situational triggers too. And so I think a big one for me is stress. Relieving stress is a big one. Um, anger has always been a big one. And so anytime I, I feel those feelings, I I’ve, that’s been a trigger for me, but more situational, like I’ve seen in my life that the time that I’m urged more, they’re consistent. I think that’s how life is. Like, we talked about being consistent. And so for me, I call this like clockwork because almost every single day when I get home from school, I’m not gonna use the gross bathrooms at the school. And so I like run into my house to go to the bathroom, and I try not to take my phone into the bathroom with me, but every once in a while I’ll find that it’s, you know, I forgot to set on the couch before I go to the bathroom.

And that’s all always been like a trigger for me. Right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Smith Alley: Is if I’m in, if I’m in the bathroom right after school, I I’m tired. I woke up early to go to school, hard classes, everything like that. That’s a trigger for me. Um, for a long time we talked about, uh, nighttime night time routines. That’s always been a big trigger for me, especially again, like laying in my bed and being like, “Okay, you know, I can go a single night without this.”, and trying to push through that. And then it’s just, I think, and I think, and I think, and I, I have to, I felt like I had to watch it, excuse me, to be able to fall sleep. And so I used to, um, I had this bed frame, it was like a twin bed frame and I had metal bars. And for about a year, I’d put my arms up the metal bars and sleep so that I couldn’t, I couldn’t take my arms out [laughter] so that I couldn’t grab my phone or I couldn’t, I couldn’t leave.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Really?

Smith Alley: It was like once I lock myself in I’m in for the night and I’m going to bed. And so I just sleep with my head down, buried to the fellow like that. And so I did that for a long time, um, because that was a trigger for me. And so I think most importantly, it’s, it’s important again, to understand, like not only emotional and mental trigger, you know, if you’re, if I’m going through something hard with my family or if I get in a fight with my siblings or, you know, if a girl breaks up with me, those have always been triggers for me. If I’m stressed or if I’m angry, if I’m, if I’m sad, those kind of tied to the situational things. But at the same time, like if I’m in this room at this time where I’ve oftentimes consumed pornography, that’s probably gonna be a trigger for me as well. And so I think that that, that was big. Um, and just understanding those.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

That’s great, man. That you’ve been able to identify those. How did you get to the point where you were able to identify those?

Smith Alley: I, I, so I actually, I joined a, a recovery group, uh, and we used to always do like these lost battle analysis. So if you came to group and you had lost that week, then you’re gonna of tell us exactly, like, after you lose you record times of everything,…

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Smith Alley: You record exactly what happened. And then you talk about what happened. And everybody just basically picked you apart about like what you did wrong. They try and look at consistent habits. So I could tell you, you know, 30 kids that I’ve gone to group with and exactly what they’ve struggled with, like their weakest times, their weakest places in their house, their, I could, I could tell you all of those things. So really just like picking those people apart. And so getting that feedback and understanding, like being able to tell them that, and they can look at the situation from an outside perspective, that’s helped me, uh, target, like, and identify what’s, what’s been a trigger for me.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow. Do you feel like your connection with some of these people is like a very deep, healthy connection?

Smith Alley: So strong, seriously. Like some of my greatest friends are, are there. Um, and it’s just like a brotherhood for me. And so I think again, just have having those opening, having those open conversations, and it’s such a, an environment of non-judgment those things are, are super crucial for me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. We’re kind of jumping around the conversation, but it takes me back to like the catharsis that you can experience by I being vulnerable and how beneficial that can be.

Smith Alley: Mm-hmm.

Garrett Jonsson: :ike you said, start small and tell someone like that’s so big. Mm-hmm, , it’s so important.

Smith Alley: Yeah. And yeah, it’s key. I think that, and that’s with all the problems, you know, like you’ve said, I talk about mental health in general, dealing with, um, depression, myself, and, um, some suicidal ideation myself. Is that on everything that’s with everything you just start small and open communication, vulnerability, opening up to somebody that you trust. That’s that’s the key to everything.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well, before, or we end the conversation Smith, I want to give you the opportunity to have the last word. And so I’m just wondering if there’s anything unsaid that you want to tell the world at this time.

Smith Alley: I think my message, there is always just like, there’s a reason why there’s a reason why people like me get up and battle. And there’s a reason organizations like Fight the New Drug exist and it’s because there’s hope in the world. Like, and although times may feel dark, you aren’t alone and there is hope. That’s why we do this. That’s why we commit time. I, I think it’s cuz there’s hope. And so don’t lose that, like hold onto that hope, because again, it’ll do so much for you. You will be shocked at, at what, just a little bit of hope. Um, and, and some hard work can do in your life. And I’ve seen that.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I just want to acknowledge the hope that you provide at the world. I feel more hopeful today than I did yesterday because of this conversation. I feel more hopeful right now than I did two hours ago, even because of this conversation. And we at Fight the New Drug just wanna say, thank you for being with us today. It means a lot.

Smith Alley: Of course.

Garrett Jonsson: And uh, not only showing up today, but putting in the work day in and day out, you know, going back to the consistency thing because yeah, you showed up with the powerful message today and, uh, that didn’t happen by accident. So thanks, Smith.

Smith Alley: Of course.
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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.

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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