In Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray, an artist’s portrait of Dorian reflects the soul of his subject. The original portrait captures the true beauty and innocence of Dorian at that time in his life. Over the years, Gray begins to live a hedonistic lifestyle and he continues to sink ever deeper into a life of sin and corruption. However, no matter how bad his behavior and the years of aging, his physical appearance does not change. He still looks young and vibrant. However, the actual portrait changes dramatically and absorbs all of his ills.
This classic novel illustrates how many people who secretly struggle with compulsive sexual behavior feel—that their soul is indeed wretched. The secrets we keep and the lifestyle we attempt to keep compartmentalized and hidden take their toll. The old saying—you’re only as sick as your secrets—rings true. We attempt to live life normally—go to work, help our kids with their homework, participate in family functions—but there always remains that dark cloud.
If you are someone who struggles with compulsive sexual behavior and you have not attempted to get help, how do you even start?
It’s Not Too Late
You may feel as thought it’s already too late to turn back. Many of my clients have felt this…that they were in some way, “damaged goods” and that changing their behavior was too difficult or hopeless. Behind this false story rests a lot of fear and it will take courage and a bit of a risk by you to take the necessary steps to change. The first step may be the most difficult but it is indeed necessary.
Addiction thrives on secrecy and lack of accountability. Think of someone you can talk to and tell your story. A best friend. A pastor. A family member. Hanging on to your secret is a burden and talking to someone about that secret starts the process of change. Be selective in your audience, however.
Options for Help
Fortunately the landscape for help with compulsive sexual behavior has never been more populated. As more and more men, women, and children have struggled with pornography in the cyber age, so too have more options for help become available. Here are a few to consider.
- Faith Based Help — Places of worship often provide someone to talk to about this sensitive problem. If you are religious and prefer to talk to someone of your own faith, you may find this the best first option.
- 12-Step Fellowship — Twelve step fellowship meetings have been around a long time and there are indeed meetings for people who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior.
- Online Programs — Self-serve programs are available online. The pluses are the convenience, usually low cost and it feels good to start something…however, you may find the lack of personal accountability a gap that needs to be filled. Compulsion Solutions offers an online course using George’s techniques.
- Professional Help — Seeking professional help in the forms of psychotherapy and/or group therapy do provide the best long-term solutions to changing the problematic behavior. You not only want to change the core behavior but the root causes too.
Your own internal portrait need not absorb and hide away your faults. Consider instead stepping out into the light and meeting your problems in a thoughtful and mindful way. Help is here if you want it.