- Craig interviews Joshua Shea, author of The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About
- Joshua was arrested for texting an underage girl and or possession of underage porn
- Unhealthy sexuality will take us to darker places than we ever imagine
Busted for Sexting a Minor
If you follow the news, you can’t help but see what’s happening with Donald Trump. Porn stars are coming out of the woodwork saying that they had relations with him. Whether it’s true or false, history will be the judge.
Now, in this context, a friend of mine, who I was close with for a period of my life, has recently been arrested for attempted solicitation of a minor. Seeing his mugshot, and knowing the pain behind those eyes, really has shaken me over the course of the past few days.
So, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how low unhealthy and broken sexuality can take people.
Well recently I interviewed a guy named Josh on my podcast and we talked about this. And this is where our conversation started, with me asking Josh just how low his unhealthy sexuality took him.
Josh: First, I’ll say, I’m sorry about your friend and I can tell you that the mugshot that I have is probably the single worst photo ever taken of me and was a huge catalyst for my recovery because I have never looked so sick in my life. You can go find it on Google if you want it. Ultimately, that was a little more than four years ago. My life was one where I was well known in my community. I was the editor and publisher of one of those nice, glossy lifestyle magazines.
I live here in Central Maine, the area I live in called Lewiston-Auburn, two different cities, is the second largest as far as combined population.
So, I created that magazine. I also created a film festival that Movie Maker Magazine once called one of the 25 coolest in the country. On top of that, I was also on my city council in my town. So, I was a very busy person.
I think one of the reasons I kept myself so busy was because for 20 plus years I was battling not only alcoholism, but also pretty bad porn addiction. What happened to me over time is that trying to keep everybody else happy, trying to do well in all my endeavors and just trying to hide who I really was caught up with me and eventually the business starts failing and eventually my relationships with my wife and kids start to get a little bit estranged, and I see nothing but alcohol and porn for relief.
I started down a road where it really hit the critical point in the addiction cycle where I was drinking two, three times a day. I started looking at porn more than once a day and I made the transition from just looking at video clips passively online to actually going into chat rooms and talking with women. Unfortunately, for me, most of the time I did this I was not on my psych meds. I pulled myself off of them, thinking that if I could tap into my mania I might be able to save my business. That was a big mistake. I was only sleeping two or three hours a night. So, there was this perfect storm coming together and I ended up usually for three or four months, one or two in the morning, talking to women online.
It was really almost as much about power as it was about sex. It was even more about power to be perfectly honest. I ended up speaking to a girl who was a teenager. I found out about a year later that she was only 14 years old. I wasn’t interviewing people for their ages. If they looked like they were a woman that was enough for me. I didn’t want to know, I don’t think. One day in early 2014, the Maine State Police showed up at my door with a warrant for my computers. I was arrested and that began my journey towards recovery, which I am so thankful for today.
Now, last week my book came out. It’s called The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About and it is a memoir basically from the moment that I really decided to start that magazine up until the day that I was arrested. It does have what happened to me after at the end, but it really is about that time, and it’s about how I rode up this crest of popularity and excitement and it tapped into my narcissism. I tapped into my ego, but it also caused other problems. My coping mechanisms were that of a five-year-old kid. So, when things got bad I went to alcohol. I went to porn for myself.
Craig: Yeah. Let me ask you a question, Josh, one of the most popular genres of pornography, Josh, is teen porn. Do you think that had anything to do with loosening your moral structure when it came time to chatting with these girls in these chat rooms?
Josh: With my porn addiction, looking back I would guess you could say that there were probably seven or eight different genres that I liked. The teen porn, the young woman porn was one of them. I think that it helped me descend into my porn addiction and I think it definitely made it more acceptable when I was talking to women online.
Most of the time it was always adult women. It was just something that you could obviously tell when someone’s in their thirties. When I would get somebody who was 17, 18, 19, 20, I didn’t want to know. As long as they looked like they were a woman that was enough for me.
I think that there’s no one thing that leads to the place that I got, and that’s part of the problem is that I couldn’t have looked at one part of my life and said, well, I’m going to eliminate the teen porn and everything will be fine or I’m going to eliminate the drinking and everything will be fine or I’m going to go back on my meds and everything will be fine.
I had a lot of different pieces to this formula of my journey to rock bottom. One of the reasons I wrote the book was hopefully somebody who might be on that journey can see where it leads. It led me to go to a criminal place that 99.7895% of my life I never would have gone there. I think about it now and I almost wonder who that person was, but I did go there and it was important for me to find out why, and that’s really why I wrote the book was to show people that anybody can be a porn addict.
It’s not about being some 19-year-old pervert in your mom’s basement who’s never kissed a real girl.
This happens to everybody.
Like I said, it’s also a bit of a cautionary tale for people who are living in shame and embarrassment that they’re dealing with this.
Craig: What did it feel like when you opened the door and saw the police?
Josh: That was a moment I go back to a lot. There were three unmarked police cars. There’s no such thing as an unmarked police car. If you’ve seen any TV show from the seventies you know exactly what a police car looks like. When three of these cars and a van pull up in front of your house you know something’s up.
I didn’t not know immediately that it was about porn because I wasn’t somebody who was collecting vast amounts of underage porn. I wasn’t somebody who was trading it online. I wasn’t involved in that whole underground world. I was just talking to women in a chatroom….probably a better word would be females because they did range.
When they showed up it didn’t take me long before they said, “We have a search warrant for your computers,” for me to figure out what was going on.
I’ll tell you, I thought of two things. First thing I thought was, oh my God, my life is about to change forever and then with about half a second of reflection I thought to myself, thank God, my life is about to change forever, because I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I was.
I knew I needed some kind of massive intervention. Like I said, changing one piece of my life wasn’t going to help at that point. I needed some kind of massive intervention. It came courtesy of the Maine State Police. It didn’t take me long before I realized just how frankly how lucky I was to have them show up at my door because, as I mentioned in the book, I give even odds that had they not shown up I wouldn’t be able to sit here with you today because I’d be long dead.
Craig: You would have killed yourself.
So, I was arrested at that time. I was brought to the county jail. My wife bailed me out an hour later and when we returned to my house there was already a TV news van parked right out front of it. It was the top story in Maine news for the next two, three days.
As somebody who was a journalist since I’ve been 18, 19 years old, I understand the headline, City Councilman Nailed on Sex Charge, is a hell of a headline. That’s going to sell papers. People love shocking news and I worked so hard to get everybody I could possibly know, or everybody I could possibly get to know who I was and then it kind of blew up in my face because it was such a big story when it happened.
Craig: What must it have been like when you told your wife what had happened? You come home, you’re in the car, she picks you up, she bails you out. I want people, Josh, to feel that reality of when your life turned upside down and what it must have been like talking to your wife for that first time.
Josh: Well, I’ll tell you, part of it is that, I would go into shock. I almost withdraw and it becomes an out-of-body experience and it’s almost like I’m witnessing what’s happening to somebody else even though it is me.
When I was put into the policeman’s car he let me take my phone and call my wife and I told her, hey, the police are here. They found that I had some underage pornography. Don’t worry. It’s not little kids or anything like that, but it’s older teenage girls, and I need you to go get some money and meet me here. So, that next hour, the toughest hour was the hour that I was in that holding cell, the hour that I was getting my mugshot taken, that I was getting fingerprinted, you see the sheriffs sitting at their desks just doing their work as if it’s another day because to them it is another day.
Your world is crashing and sitting alone in a holding cell, even though I was only there probably 40 minutes, it was just, I don’t know what’s going to happen next. How do I tell my parents when I leave here? Is this going to be a big story? What happens to the film festival this year? Oh my god. What am I going to say when I talk to my wife? What do I tell my kids and everybody in the world? How do I handle this? What happens next?
She paid the bail. They told me to leave through a certain door and that she’d meet me out there. She was already in our Jeep. It was running. It was a snowy day, and I got into the Jeep and I wasn’t planning on saying this. I had nothing planned, but I sat there and the first thing I did was just turn to my left and say, listen, if you want to get a divorce, no questions asked. I completely understand.
She, once again, said, “It wasn’t little kids was it?” I said, no it was not. She said, “Okay. I know you’ve had an issue with porn. I didn’t know that it was getting that bad,” because I meticulously hid it for years. Through the grace of God and her being a strong person, she stayed with me.
Craig: So, you guys are together, Josh?
Josh: We’re still together.
We were together for about 10-11 years and then this happened. I think we’re coming up on 15 years here this coming June. We worked through this. I saw my lawyer the next day. We started to talk about what was going to happen. He said, “It would be a good idea for you to get some help because you’ve got some issues.” At the time I thought that my alcoholism was really the issue. That’s what caused all the porn stuff was my alcohol. I blamed it on that. I went off to rehab in Palm Springs. I thought it would be 4 weeks, 28 days, get my certificate, you know. I drank a little, but I didn’t think I had a problem. Once I got there and started talking to people I realized just how massive my alcohol problem was. I wasn’t there 28 days. I was there 70 days.
I learned so much about myself. While I was there I started to see a sex addiction therapist off campus. He was a brilliant guy who helped me unlock some stuff that happened to me when I was younger. He also helped me understand how I formed my attitudes and opinion towards sexuality. Just a fantastic experience. I came back to Maine. I stayed in deep therapy while I went through the legal system.
After about another year or so I really came to understand that this wasn’t an alcohol problem that resulted in me doing something stupid with porn. This was also a pretty massive porn problem, when I looked back at how I used it through my life, how it had been a surrogate for real intimacy, how it was a completely objectifying thing, how I was able to avoid real relationships or avoid any women ever saying no to me because the great thing about porn is they can never say no, and you can have anybody you want. Learning about those attitudes that I actually had, that is what made me realize, jeez, you really do have a massive problem here.
I went to Texas and I spent seven weeks there at a sex and porn rehabilitation center and then I came back and faced the legal music and ironically it was almost two years that my legal process was strung out. When I ended up going to jail in early 2016, that person who went to jail was one of the healthiest versions of myself I’d ever been because I had two years to work on myself full time, and when I was in jail I met a lot of people who reminded me of the people who I met in rehab, but didn’t have the resources, didn’t have the money, didn’t have the opportunity to get some of the help that I did.
As I was there I realized I’ve got a lot of time right now. I’m a professional writer. I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s time for me to put this down on paper. I’m under the rare situation of I can’t hide what I did. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet because this was played out so large in the media that if somebody’s going to step forward I still carry a cross of shame. I still carry a cross of embarrassment, but my story is already out there if you want to jump on Google and look at it and learn the real rough parts and the legal parts of it. I thought I’d fill in a lot of the blanks while analyzing what happened in my life and hope that my story might be a mirror for some other people out there.
Craig: That’s beautiful, Josh. What’s your life like today? What’s your life like today? You’ve come back from this. Are you working?
Josh: My life is great. One of the other things that I was “addicted to” was work. Between those three gigs I had I was doing 80-100 hours a week. When people say you can’t work 100 hours a week, I’d laugh at them because you can actually work about 120 if you try. I ran from my problems and I hid from my problems. The number one being who I am, who I was, not liking myself.
My life is terrific today. I hope my kids and wife would say that I’m an attentive father and husband. I think that I have much more of an inner peace. It’s ironic because I’ve tried very hard to keep my work to about 30 hours a week. Most of what I do is ghost writing for corporate clients. I write their marketing books that they use to get business. I’m paid more for that now than I was working 80-90 hours a week before. I have time to read. I have time to relax. Not having the alcohol in my life is physically I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. And, then, not having the porn.
I don’t feel like I hide things anymore. There’s nothing to hide from my wife. Honesty is my policy. It’s just so freeing. Whether I’m sitting and watching a television show that’s absolutely stupid or I’m sitting in therapy talking about serious stuff there’s just a sense of peace that I have now because I have balance and I know who I am and I never did before.
Craig: How do people find this book? Where can they get it? How do they find it? Tell us, please.
Josh: The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About. It’s available through all your typical online outlets. There’s a link on my website.
My story, the book, is a memoir. It’s really just about my story, my descent. You’re not going to find a lot of facts and figures. You’re not going to find a lot of how to or self help in there. This is really just about my story. My website, recoveringpornaddict.com is where you can go for the resources, where you can go for the self-help. It’s also where you can go for the continuation of my story.
My book is about the descent into madness. My website is more of a story of rejuvenation of recovery. So, like I said, recoveringpornaddict.com. You can also get the link there. Type my name into Amazon. It’s not hard to find the book.
Craig: Great. Thank you. I really encourage you to go to his website. I encourage you to buy the book. The theme of my life over the course of the past few days, seeing what’s been happening nationally and seeing what’s happened to an old friend who was recently arrested for attempting solicitation of a minor…I can’t help but think about how low are you going to go?
How far are you going to let this take you? How deep in are you going to get? Do you have to wait until you get fired like me where I had no choice but to confront my demons or get arrested like Josh. Here’s the reality, guys. It doesn’t have to get that bad. This is why we’re doing this so you don’t have to go that low.
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