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Will I Ever Be Enough - How my beliefs kept me from overcoming pornography sooner
Episode 12416th January 2022 • The Self Mastery Podcast: Overcome Pornography • Zach Spafford
00:00:00 00:19:44

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For a lot of my life I had a very real sense that I was not very important in my family.  As the 4th child in a family of five, early on I observed my needs as being secondary to those of my older siblings or my parents or my little sister.  

This is just the way things work in large families and small families.  The truth is that every child, as they grow up, experiences things that create narratives that they internalize as their reality of who they are.  

For me, one of the things that I felt and struggled with was this sense that I was not enough to merit someone paying attention to me and spending the time with me that I wanted them to spend.  


It really didn’t matter what I was doing or how successful I was in sports, drama, or school my parents were busy and, in my mind at least, didn’t show up as often as I thought they should. 


This perception, whether it was true or not, helped my forming mind create a sense that I was not enough.  


This affected the relationship that I have with Darcy and how pornography helped soothe me through parts of our life. 


On the 94 freeway headed north as we left the Chicago temple when Darcy and I were first married Darcy made a comment about my driving.  I reacted in a way that was not kind, was not safe, and not how I would want to show up in the rest of my life.


I got upset, angry with her characterization of my driving.  I felt like I was being attacked for doing my best and that no matter what I did, it would never be enough. 


Fast forward maybe 15 years, heading south from a trip up to Salt Lake, Darcy made another comment about my driving. Again, upset, frustrated, and defensive I proceeded to let Darcy know that I didn’t think her characterization of my driving was fair.  After all, I was doing my best and clearly, she didn’t appreciate everything I do to make her life happy, safe, and stable.  


I was, once again, not enough. 


You might have similar stories, your stories might differ in details, but feel the same. 


One of the reasons that I turned to to pornography was it’s extraordinary ability to bring me to a place where I was always enough. 


In the world of pornography, you can be with any woman, regardless of your talent, abilities, or money. 


In the world of pornography, the women you are with are willing to do anything with, for, and because of you.  They want you, the same way you want them. 


You don’t have to prove you’re a good match, capable of caring for them and your children.  You don’t even have to know anything about them, and they want you. 


Being wanted, unconditionally the way pornography makes you feel is possible is a powerful sensation. 


In the world of pornography, you are always enough, for as long as you can make the fantasy last.  


After that second driving incident, Darcy and I met with our friend Dr. Larry Bradley.  In that session, he mentioned two things that have made a significant difference in our lives. 


He helped me see that I was carrying around this idea that I wasn’t enough and that I can never do enough to please the people in my life. 


He also helped Darcy that the narrative that she learned for herself was that “I’m not lovable.”

 

So, just to re-clarify.  This isn’t a story about how bad our parents were or how they didn’t do enough for us and how we are damaged beyond repair and it’s all their fault. 


What Darcy and I experienced is a normal process that young minds go through to understand and manage their expectations in the world they are presented with. 


What we had to do, and continue to do in our marriage and lives, is become aware of how our brains were offering us a narrative that we weren’t good enough and that was hindering our long-term happiness. 


One of the ideas that most of us take into marriage is that our partner is there to validate us and help us feel complete. 


For me, I wanted Darcy to tell me that I was doing enough in all my efforts. 


For Darcy, She wanted me to act in ways that made her feel loved above all else. 


We go into our marriages with a sense that our partner is supposed to be there to complete us and when that doesn’t happen, we often find ways to manage that sense of not being enough. 


For many of the men and women who are listening to this podcast, that means escaping into a world where you are made to feel enough without exception.  


Now, you might be listening to this and think, oh, so the solution is for zach to be more loving and do the things that make Darcy feel lovable.  And for Darcy to be more expressive of her belief that Zach is doing enough and that he is always doing his best in everything he does and to never criticise him for what he does that she doesn’t like. 


But at the same time, if you live in the real world, you know that always being on guard to protect your partner’s fragile sense of self in ways that are always validating and uplifting is not only an impossible task, it would be mind-numbingly exhausting.


Here we arrive and we have this story in our heads about how we are not enough.  Most of us use behaviors that feel good and temporarily meet our desires to feel enough.  And most of those behaviors that we use create long-term negative effects in our lives which perpetuate the sense that we are not enough.  Many of us have gotten married, working to integrate ourselves with another person so that they can help fill that gap in our lives, which doesn’t work, which only deepens our sense that we aren’t enough.  


If you are recognizing this in your life, you’re not alone.  And you’re probably wondering what do I do to move past this downward spiral of never being enough in your own mind and in your actions.  


Let me give you two concrete things that you can do in your life to create a process of escaping this downward spiral. 


First, face up to your behaviors.  


When Darcy was asking me to slow down or drive more safely, she was putting something in front of me that she found to be undesirable behavior.  


Once that is done, I have to have a mechanism within me that allows me to evaluate that behavior on its merits and based on who I want to be in my life. 


Facing my behavior means that I’m not looking at that behavior through a lens of whether it is acceptable among others or if it has been tolerated in the past.  


It means evaluating my actions in light of my values and my desire to be a more complete person.  


Driving is a fairly small example, but pornography or overeating is often more impactful.  


As Darcy and I progressed, there were occasions where she would find something that wasn’t pornography but that was me following links that included bikini pictures or other material that I would not have been proud to explain to others that I was looking at.  


In her best moments, Darcy was able to engage with me in a conversation about that particular behavior or incident without making it mean anything about her.  She would ask me, is this who you want to be?  


This is a really great question when confronting your own behavior. 


When we ask this question without judging ourselves we can look at the behavior objectively and compassionately.  We can see it for what it is, a way to manage our sense of discomfort.  And we can evaluate it in terms of how it integrates into the whole person we want to be when we are alone and with others. 


In other words, when you find or your partner points out behaviors that don’t seem to be part of the whole picture you have of yourself take a step back from defending it. Allow yourself to be objective about it.  Imagine how it might feel to live without it.  


Facing your behavior and dropping judgment isn’t easy.  It is a really uncomfortable and meaningful process.  


Second, let go of caretaking your partner and other equals.


This is something that a lot of men do, and I did, to try and keep Darcy happy.  Darcy also did this to try and keep me happy, but more, to keep me from turning to pornography. 


Caretaking our partner is about hiding from them what is real and true for us.  


For me, I would do this by lying about my pornography viewing behaviors.  I would also do this by giving up what I wanted to show her that her needs and wants were more important than mine.  


She would do this by engaging with me sexually even when she didn’t want to, in order to try to manage my pornography viewing. 


Working to manage our partner emotionally and physically is frustrating for both parties in the long run. 



The Self Mastery Podcast is dedicated to helping Latter-day Saints overcome pornography. Men and women struggle with overcoming pornography.

This podcast draws on the real-life experiences of the hosts, Zach and Darcy in their struggle to overcome pornography, strengthen their marriage, and grow personally.

If you want to know what real success looks like in overcoming pornography from real people who have been where you are, then this podcast is for you. The interviews with real clients who have succeeded, the amazing skills, techniques, and systems that are shared, and the real-world experiences of the hosts make this the number one podcast for Latter-day Saints looking to overcome pornography.

If you are ready to take your knowledge and understanding to the next level, join the Self Mastery Membership at zachspafford.com/workwithme