- Interview with Matt Dobschuetz from pornfreeradio.com
- Matt discusses how his porn addiction cost him his productivity and his job
- Matt and Craig talk about some of the problems with ‘battle’ language for addressing porn addiction
- Matt highlights some of the resources on his website, pornfreeradio.com
Christians and Porn Addiction:
An Interview with Porn Free Radio’s Matt Dobschuetz
Today we have Matt Dobschuetz from pornfreeradio.com.
I was on his podcast a while back and people keep hearing it and calling me so I wanted to have him on.
Matt: Thanks. Thanks, Craig. Yeah, we did take a similar path. We were both in corporate America. And, we both left not totally by our own design.
Craig: Mine was exclusively not by my own design, for the record. They asked me to leave and security was present, just so we’re on the same page.
Matt: I bike commuted the day I went to work and I had to take an Uber home because I had a box and I had the bike.
Craig: That’s almost like a meme. The guy who just got fired on his bike, carrying the box.
Matt: I know. It was hilarious. But, you know what? That day I drove home it was the most beautiful day of the summer, it was 10:30 in the morning, my building was made of glass, and the Uber drove me around the back side of the building and the sun was shining off the building and I never went in that building again. It was like, it was like the heaven’s gates opened or something and I just was exiting. It was the most beautiful scene. And, I got home and I was alone and had to find an old Nokia candy bar phone because they took my smartphone when I left. But I put my life, you know, I moved on from there.
Craig: So, you’ve got a very popular podcast on pornfreeradio.com. I know it’s kicking ass on iTunes, hundreds of thousands of people are listening to your message on healthy sexuality, being a good Christian and navigating this minefield of healthy sexuality in a hypersexualized society as a Christian. And, I work with a lot of Christian men, so I’m so glad you’re here, Matt.
But, I want to first talk about you and that moment where you went into work that day and they said, “Hey, man. This is it.” You were underproducing. Tell us about what brought you to that place and the impact that your sexuality or your expression of it.
Matt: My layoff, or my exit, really was about me going on a different path. I had started the podcast and I had started creating content for guys who struggled, and I think that my company saw some of the stuff that I was doing and maybe in some way my passion had shifted as a manager, as a leader. And, they were very kind and gave me a nice package. I had been there ten years in marketing, but it was really about moving on.
Now, one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is when I was in pornography, when I was in the addiction, how did that affect my career? I think it undermined my confidence, and so I wasn’t good at advocating for myself. I was never a manager when I was in porn. I was never seen as a leader. I was definitely an underperformer when I was in the addiction.
Craig: I like how you’re talking about the impact, Matt, because, you know, and you get this too, people call you and they want to share their story, and everybody’s got a story and you’ve heard the same story hundreds of times, right? I was exposed to pornography as a child. I was raised in a home where sexuality was shamed. How often do we hear that?
Matt: Or not talked about.
Matt: Shame. Completely silent.
Craig: . . . and I had to find my way, and I found my way that brought me down this dark path and here I am now, consumed. I self-identify as a porn addict. And then I ask the question, so what? They go, “What do you mean, so what? I’m calling you. I’ve got a problem.” I say, “So, look at the data. Billions of people are watching porn. Their lives aren’t crumbling.” What’s the impact? I want to know about the impact, and you just talked about the impact.
Tell me a little bit more about when you were in that place, that impact that you were just talking about and then your experience in working with Christian men.
Matt: Well, the first thing that really impacted me the most was I had a mistaken belief that I got in childhood that I was unlovable and when porn came along I was a little eight-year-old guy, I saw something that was overwhelming/exciting to me.
Awesome, numbing, and that sense of being not good enough, unlovable, was muted by this incredible energy that came from the porn. So, as soon as I saw porn I knew it was something I wanted to see more of, and you talk about me being a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home. I knew that there was a piece of this that wasn’t – it’s not that it was just sexuality, but I knew there was an unhealthy piece to this. Maybe it was part of my moral core or the way I had been taught, but I knew there was something unhealthy about it. But, it wasn’t talked about in my house.
Craig: So, you fall into the category of “not talked about” where I fell into the category where it wasn’t talked about and when it came up it was clearly a dirty and disgusting thing and you save it for someone you love when you’re married.
Matt: My parents talked a lot about healthy sexuality. They modeled it. They were strong Christians. They really were open. But here’s the one conversation I remember. I’m at the dinner table and my dad, who at the time, sold tools to mechanics, and so he was going to …places with pinups on the wall, that kind of stuff.
So, I don’t know how it came up, but we talked about at the Harley Davidson dealership they had some of these motorcycle magazines with topless women in it. I think I had even maybe looked at one and maybe my dad saw me. So, they were talking about it. My dad was talking about it, and my mom turns to him and she said, “Well, you never would look at one of those magazines, would you?” kind of shaming my dad. My dad is prone to be a little silent. He just got all quiet. So, the only message I got as a young boy was well, this must be the most shameful thing in the world to look at one of these magazines. So, that’s the last conversation I ever had about it until, believe it or not, about 25/30 years later, when I’m recording Porn Free Radio and my dad starts listening to it and he’s like, “Hey, can we talk about some of the stuff you’re talking about?”
Not because he’s struggling, but never knew.
Craig: I feel it in my heart. What a nice bonding time for you and your father. What was that conversation like?
Matt: Well, here’s the crazy thing. I had just recorded episode 7, and it was called What My Dad Told Me About Pornography and the answer was nothing. So, it kind of laid him out a little bit. He told me he listened to that episode and here’s what he said, Craig.
“When I was listening to the episode I started thinking about my dad. I wasn’t even thinking that the dad in the story was me. I started thinking about what did my dad tell me? How did my dad miss me? What information did I not get growing up?”
So, he realized he was just like me. He was like a boy wanting dad to speak into this area of his life and he had the same gap that I had. So, it actually was a very powerful connection when he finally listened to that episode.
Craig: That is so, so beautiful.
Matt: It has been good. I mean, literally in the last couple of years there’s been a lot more conversation about what happened to me, what the experience was, you know definitely my dad said to me, “I was in such a place of unknowing. I didn’t know how to talk to you about stuff. I didn’t know.”
He was a campus pastor when I was really young, and this is in the 1970’s, and a guy came to him and said he was struggling with porn. My dad just knew about magazines, but he didn’t know that someone could be addicted or he didn’t know how to help him. He said it wasn’t until he heard my podcast that he realized, oh my gosh, Matt has the same thing that that guy in 1975 had. Like, he realized he just didn’t know. He didn’t know about it and then he didn’t know how to help me even if he did know about it. So, even when he found out about it when I was in recovery he didn’t know how to speak into it.
Craig: So this curse that you bore for so many years and had such an impact, you’ve turned it into a blessing. You’ve turned it into a gift that you’re sharing with other people. Tell me about that realization when you were at rock bottom and how you found yourself at this place here, touching so many people’s lives.
Matt: Well, I had a couple rock bottom experiences. One of the first ones was when my wife of just under two years found me masturbating and looking at porn. She had no idea that I had brought this into the marriage and she thought it was something in the past that maybe I kind of dabbled with, had no idea it was a regular thing – hiding, lying, – all the things that would go along with covering an addiction. So, that was one night that was just kind of a rock bottom experience.
I had another one, too. The first time, after about 30 days, after a tearful confession, my wife went out of town and I tried to fill up my night with busyness and it gets to about midnight and I think about an old modem that I had in the basement that was broken. My wife took our family modem with her on this trip, but I think about the old broken one. So, I go downstairs and obsessively for about an hour and a half I piece together this old modem and within about 90 minutes, 2 hours, it connects to the internet and it was so scary. Remember the old modem.
When I heard it handshake and connect I jumped back and I was at the threshold of my office, and I’m looking in and I remember the Yahoo browser popped up. This was the old days. Yahoo pops up and the cursor is blinking in the search box, and I could hear my heart beating.
It was like, baboom, baboom, baboom, and I had all those lies came to me, you know, like you already screwed up. You told your wife you wouldn’t be on the internet. You’ve already screwed up. Just go for it. She’s gone. She’s not going to be back. She’s in San Francisco. She’s not going to be back for three days. Go, have a party. But, I was so scared and I had this moment of insanity almost. I thought for a second if I could get into the computer, rip out the modem, and with a hammer or something break it I could be free that night.
And, so that’s what I did.
I ran in the kitchen and I grabbed a hammer. I ran back to the thing. I didn’t even unplug the computer. I ripped open the computer. This was the old style where it was plugged in. Ripped out the card. I could have electrocuted myself. I pull this thing out. I start beating the shit out of it, you know. Man, that thing is hard to break, too. It’s hard plastic. It’s probably in a landfill now somewhere. So, I thought for a second, wow, freedom, victory, I did it, and then I had what could only be considered either a panic attack or an encounter with darkness.
All of the sudden I felt like there was an evil presence in my house. I turned on every light in the house. I went from room to room and didn’t feel safe in any room. I called my wife. She prayed for me on the phone and she said, “If you don’t feel safe you just need to go to your brother-in-law’s house and just sleep on the couch.”
I hung up the phone with her. I had tears in my eyes and I didn’t feel safe and I ran out of the apartment, 4:00 in the morning, and I rang my sister and brother-in-law’s doorbell. They’re great kind of people. They didn’t ask questions. I just laid on the couch. My brother-in-law went back with me the next night and all the lights were still on. Everything was fine. I never had an experience like that again.
Craig: That moment obviously is one of significance to you. What does that mean to you?
Matt: Here’s what it was. Something was at stake here. It wasn’t just a little childhood dalliance. This was at my core and when I destroyed that modem that one night, whatever it was inside me or outside of me, if it’s in the spiritual mode, whatever it was just, I mean it just exploded. And, you know, Christian guys a lot of times use battle language. I don’t really like that sometimes, but that night I was in a fight.
I was in a fight with something that really had a hold of me and it was still early. It was 30 days in. I had just, you know, 30 days before I had been crying to my wife and apologizing saying, “I’ll never do this again,” and there I am standing at the doorway thinking I’m going to do it and then when I said no to it, it was like everything in me, everything in my apartment just kind of collapsed.
So that’s when I got serious. I went to a recovery group right after that. I realized I couldn’t do this on my own, because I didn’t know anybody like me at the time. I didn’t know anybody who had rebuilt a computer to get on the internet.
I remember me and my wife were very open. We told people in our church group and the other guys all looked at me like, “What are you talking about? Even if I did do that I wouldn’t talk about it.” You know, so it was like I felt so alone. So, finally I went to this recovery group and it wasn’t the greatest recovery group, but people were honest there and the leader just had a lot of empathy and it just started to click like this is bigger than just a little fascination, a little something about porn.
It’s about feeling unlovable.
It’s about this core wound from childhood that I carried with me.
It was about the silence that was in my family about this and how my dad didn’t speak into my life. You know, it was all those things together.
Craig: I love what you said about your discomfort with the battle language, and while there are certainly points in our lives where there is a battle and we are fighting and sometimes literally, in my experience, there were times that I felt I was fighting for my life because I did try to kill myself at one of my lower moments.
The long-term challenge in using that language, I found, is I would start giving it too much power. The more you demonize and pedestalize and battle and fight and war the more power this becomes.
Tell me your discomfort with that language because I think this is an important lesson for my brothers.
Matt: Well, I know exactly why I’m uncomfortable with it. Here it is: I think a lot of porn use is tied to we’re trying to take care of ourselves. It’s unhealthy self-care.
We’re trying to make ourselves feel better.
We’re trying to make ourselves not feel pain.
We’re trying to feel good enough.
So, here’s my problem with the battle language. If it’s the enemy, porn, the battle, then what about those needs? What about those real needs, those hurts, those wounds, those places where you need self-care?
You talk about me working with Christian guys. I don’t just work with Christian guys but a lot of the guys I work with are Christian guys.
I make them see that their needs are important. That they need good self-care because if you just demonize it, if you just make it the enemy, the devil horns, pornography, blahhhh. Just make it that, then what does the guy think? When I feel sad, when I feel any uncomfortable feelings, well those must be bad because they always lead me to porn, so I don’t want to feel.
Craig: Matt, I love you. I am so enthralled with your message. I think there are a number of flaws, particularly in the Christian community, for dealing with this problem. It’s demonized, exactly the reason that Matt talked about. Matt is my number one guy, my number one referral source for people who call me and say, “Hey, I’m looking for a Christian approach, Craig. I like your style. I like your action-oriented goal centric habits, mindfulness.”
You know one of the questions I ask my guys, right? One of the curveball questions that I like to ask people is, I say, “Stop. Is it so bad? Tell me all the good parts. Tell me all the positive attributes of pornography,” or even their compulsive sexual behavior, you know, prostitutes, massage parlors.
“Wait, what are you talking about, Craig? That’s the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard. How dare you?”
Sometimes there’s a sense of umbrage. I say, “Tell me. You do it every day. Why do you do it?”
“Well, it helps me escape. Sometimes I feel like I need to numb. Sometimes it feels like a warm security blanket when I’m having problems.”
So you’re using it to deal with problems.
What starts with, “Are you crazy? That’s the dumbest question ever,” they come up with this list and I say, “Well, there’s your list of unmet needs because all of your negative behavior is a function of your unmet needs. Get those needs met and you’re going to be just fine.”
Matt: Yeah, and when the Christian guy goes into battle he’s battling with his needs. That’s where I lose the metaphor right there, and I try to never say it. Every once in awhile you can’t help but use it because it’s just every man’s battle. Everyone says it.
When I catch myself doing it I cringe.
Craig: I know. And, there’s a place for it. Like you said, sometimes when you’re in that place and motivating and fighting, but it’s always, it’s not fighting not to do something.
If there’s a fight in me it’s to live a great life.
It’s to be the best version of myself.
So, when did you decide to say, “I’m putting all my eggs in this basket?” Because that is a very, very scary time.
I remember it for me, Matt, when I stopped applying for jobs, because I got fired. I got fired like you did six years ago. I can’t practice law in California. Nobody’s calling me back. I couldn’t even get a paralegal job when I was assistant to the general counsel for a $3 billion company, but I’m moving in this direction. I’m feeling a connection. I’m helping people . . . and I’m starting to feel this excitement and this is my calling, and I’m sick and tired of keeping these secrets. I’m just going to tell everybody because no more, no more lies. I’m just going to start talking about it, and when I made that decision to stop applying for jobs it was one of the scariest jumps that I’ve ever taken in my life.
Do you have a moment like that?
Matt: I was kind of thinking about doing this fulltime and I got this package and I’m strategizing with my wife, going to a couple of friends in my life, and I sat down with this one guy. He’s an entrepreneur, just a serial entrepreneur and he’s super positive, and he asked me this question. He said, “Did they give you a package,” and he said it in a somber way. And, I said, “Yeah,” and he goes, “So, they’re funding your startup.” You know, he’s like, “This is the opportunity.” I thought, “You know.” I told my wife. I came home and said, “Let’s do this. I mean, we’ve got a nice runway here. Let’s see if we can take off.” And, well, that’s kind of how it started.
I was working with one of my early coaching clients. We’re getting to the end. He worked with me like three months, and he did a great job. He really had some movement and the last session I met with him he said, “You know what? I’m glad you got fired. Because there’s no way you’re going to be meeting with me at 4:00 in the afternoon to work with me for an hour a week. I needed help and I’m glad you’re there.”
“I’m glad you got fired, you know. I’m glad they laid you off.”
Craig: I’m glad too. I feel truly blessed, Matt, that our lives have intersected and we’ve both taken a similar path and I have someone that I can talk to who’s been there and can share on some of the more challenging parts of this journey, and it’s so nice to have a friend.
Tell me what you’re doing now.
How can guys get in touch with you?
Tell me about you’ve got an online course.
Matt: Well, one thing that I identified right away is guys have an intention to go porn free. They kind of have an idea that it’s a problem but it doesn’t go any more than an intention. They don’t have a plan. So, one of the first things I did was create a short course called Your Porn Free Playbook that helps guys do the essential things that they need to build a plan, a strong recovery plan that’s focused on them.
Because everyone gets hooked on porn for different reasons. Everyone goes to different things, has different weak points in their life. So, a plan that is a one-size-fits-all plan, I think, is not going to fit at all. It’s not going to work, but if you go through this course it’s just, it’s the same thing I do with my paid coaching clients.
We identify why are they leaving porn. What’s the selfish reason that they have, not because of their wife, not because of their job, not because of their religion, but what do they get out of being porn free? What’s the thing that porn is robbing them of; their confidence, their joy? What’s missing? What do they get in recovery?
I help them define a why. I help them define active commitments. I help them identify some of those triggers and obstacles, the mistaken beliefs like being unlovable and then I walk them through how to connect with other people; that your plan is activated by people, not just a coach, not just your wife, but other men, and how do you build that network. You know, one of the most exciting things I’ve done this year, Craig, is I went from just doing one-on-one coaching to doing some group coaching, and the coolest thing to see is the relationships between the men.
Here’s the thing. When a Craig Perra gets on the line with you, when a Matt Dobschuetz gets on the podcast, guys love what we’re saying. They agree with us. They relate to us. They empathize with us. But, when they connect with some other guys who are in the process, not quite so far down the road of sobriety, there’s just amazing things that happen. You know, when they see a guy get to six months, they’re like, “Oh, six months. That’s something I can shoot for. That’s something I can wrap my head around.” Dude, I’m coming up on six years next month.
So, when you get guys together and they’re all on the same page, they’re speaking the same language, rowing in the same direction, boom, that’s when the magic happens.
Craig: The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is connection. I’m with you. I love seeing the dynamic between my men on the group calls. Matt, how do people get in touch with you and where do they find you?
Matt: Pornfreeradio is my central place. Pornfreeradio.com, that’s the podcast. Coming up on episode 100, will launch January 2. So, if you want hours and hours and hours of this kind of talk it’s all there including, I just counted five episodes with the man, the myth, the legend, Craig Perra. I don’t know how you got into five episodes. Talk about not sharing a platform. How did that happen? All of them were fun.
That’s the first place. If you want to find me Porn Free Radio is the place to start. It’s on iTunes. It’s on Google Play. It’s on all the places where you can listen to podcasts. And, from there, you know, pornfreeradio.com/playbook gets to my course and that’s just an awesome thing to do when you want to go to that next level and create a plan.
And a lot of my guys have connection. A lot of my guys are in 12-step groups or they’re in church groups but they don’t have any structure. These groups meet, not so much the 12-step groups, but the church groups, they meet. They want to be porn free, but they just show up and basically report how they acted out with porn every week. There’s no structure. So, one of the things I do with my planning is I help guys get the structure, so if they have an accountability partner they can make the relationship much more meaningful and actually hold each other accountable.
Craig: That is awesome and this course that Matt created is awesome. From one course creator to another I know it’s helping people. I know it’s changing their lives.
Matt, thank you so much for being part of my life, for being there for me when I needed to tal, and for doing what you do.
Matt: Well, thank you, Craig. Love you. Love your guys. If it was a battle, we’re brothers in the battle.
Craig: We are brothers in the battle. That’s for sure. That’s for sure. Keep up the good fight my friend, and thank you so much everybody.
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