“The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.” – Sophocles
For me, there came a point where the self-hatred and shame diminished. A point where I was able to think about porn without despising myself for what I did, where I could accept that I made bad choices but recognise the place of pain from which those choices came.
That’s when the grief set in.
When I was pushing the truth away, not wanting to acknowledge that I’d ever chosen to watch porn, I had this little fantasy in my head. I knew I would have to face my past eventually, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I was certain it would be pretty awful, actually. But I had this tiny hope that after the awfulness was over, it would all go away. I thought that by “dealing with porn” I’d be able to put it behind me and it would never bother me again. I thought I would be able to live my life as though I’d never heard of porn, never chosen to watch it, never been caught in its trap. I never articulated it but I know in the back of my mind I was just waiting for the moment where everything was okay again.
Of course it was nonsense, that fantasy. How could things be ‘okay again’ when they were never okay in the first place? I didn’t watch porn because I was happy; I watched it because I was in pain and I wanted to make the pain go away. And once I’d watched it, everything changed for me. It set my life on a path, and even though that path was temporary I can’t pretend I never travelled it.
So now I am feeling grief as I realise that porn is, irrevocably, one of the things that has shaped my life. I can’t change that, ever. I can’t go back and unsee the things I’ve seen. I can’t go back and erase unhealthy fantasies. I no longer feel the shame and self-hatred I once harboured, but I can’t live as though those feelings were never there. No matter what I do, I can never again be happily ignorant about porn.
Part of me rebels against that. I don’t want to be that woman, the woman who watched porn. I don’t want the knowledge it gave me. I don’t want to know what addiction feels like. Even as I take pride in how far I’ve come in my healing, I desperately wish I’d never had to make the journey at all.
And yet, here I am. I have made choices, and watching porn was one of those choices. Because of that, I have scars; and although I no longer feel the sharp pain of the wound, sometimes the scars still ache. I can’t change that, and so for now I have to live with the grief. I grieve the happy oblivion I thought I would have once I started talking about porn. I grieve because nothing can take away the images I have in my head. I grieve what might have been, if I’d never taken this particular path. And I can’t help grieving the death of my dream-self, who existed only in my mind, and who has no scars at all.