“A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart.
We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves.” — Meister Eckhart
In the mornings I got up and went to work, a picture of elegance, professionalism and intelligence. On Sundays I got up, went to church and taught children in Sunday School.
In the evenings I watched porn.
When I think now about those two faces, my two lives, I wonder how I managed to maintain both for so long. I suppose it was really two parts of one life, but I felt like two different people and I had to work hard to keep them completely separate. As time went on it became harder to maintain the disconnection, as porn-thoughts and images would surface during the day at inconvenient times. People always think it’s nudity or dirty jokes or movie sex scenes that trigger such thoughts. I guess for some people that’s the case, and I wish it had been that for me too – at least then I would have been prepared for the unwelcome thoughts that invaded my brain. For me, though, it was hardly ever that kind of thing; it was always something innocent, but my mind traced a line that led back to porn.
I hated myself for those thoughts. I didn’t yet hate myself for watching porn; at that point I merely I hated myself for not being able to control my thoughts during the day, during the ‘non-porn’ hours. I saw it as a lack of self control, and it put me in danger. If porn intruded on my daytime life then there was a risk I might say or do something that would give me away. It was vitally important that no one ever knew about what I was doing in the evenings. They couldn’t see my other life.
Thinking about it now, I realise that I didn’t want to see that other life either. I watched porn, I made deliberate choices about what I watched, I knew what I was doing… but still I just couldn’t think about it too much. I know now that I needed the porn in order to dull the pain I felt living my life everyday, but the only way I could cope with the fact that I was watching porn – me, the ‘good girl’ – was to put that part of my life in a whole other compartment and pretend it wasn’t there. I’m sure that half my energy was spent just trying to maintain that disconnection, even while I was watching porn.
Of course it was never possible to disconnect completely. My two worlds overlapped so often, and every time it happened I felt a stab of terror. I was afraid of facing what I thought was the ‘real’ me – the disgusting, perverted, porn-watcher – but even more than that, to connect my two worlds was to risk exposure, and that was my single biggest fear. It’s a fear that kept me silent for seven years after I stopped watching porn – seven years of shame and self-loathing, but that was far preferable to exposure. Indeed, it seemed a very small price to pay to ensure my safety.