This is the entry for Day 31 of my journey. Please be warned that I am brutally honest in this post as we examine a subject that perplexes me to no end and that the material is mature in nature.
Yesterday I wrote about the compulsion I experienced on Sunday morning to expose myself to a drunken man while looking out of my apartment window. I resisted the thought and moved away from the window. In that post I said that I am no exhibitionist. Well, I spoke to Frank, my accountability partner, and he encouraged me to bring the matter before God and to ask why I have this urge. This is what I’ve been doing ever since—I got very little sleep last night as a result. Frank also encouraged me to practice theophostical prayer, but after doing some research I do not think I will do so. I have my reservations about it.
That said, I will now tell you my story.
A classmate exposed me to pornography and masturbation at the age of 9. We were in the 4th grade at that time. In that same year I started drawing pictures of girls with holes in their dresses which their privates on display. These things I drew in class. Soon I was filled the desire to let other people see me naked. Once I almost gave in to the thought of exposing my genitals through my parents’ bedroom window to our neighbours across the street in broad daylight. Thank God I didn’t do it.
Throughout my primary and high school years I imagined walking to the train station from school with my genitals hanging out through my pants’ zip, but I never acted on this.
I got involved with nudism last year, which basically amounted to me walking around naked in the apartment when no one was at home and reading people’s stories online as well as taking part in a couple of fora and browsing pictures online. Earlier this year I went on my first and only nude hike, influenced by all the reading I did. It was awesome and distressing at the same time as I didn’t know why I wanted to go on the hike. Along the way I came across a cyclist. At first I didn’t know what to do: should I put on some clothes or should I just continue walking? I did the latter because that is what my “heroes” did. I don’t see this incident as an exhibitionistic act as I had no intention of exposing myself to anyone—in fact the time of day was such that I didn’t expect to find anyone on the trial. I was only acting out a nudist fantasy of mine. But, the drawings I did in school and the desire I had of exposing myself are exhibitionistic and a form of acting out the porn I filled my mind with.
Last year from March to October I took to hiking nearby trails with my genitals hanging out of my pants covered by a jacket. When no one was around I would unzip the jacket but whenever I sensed people around I covered up. I did this on dark streets as well. But, I would never intentionally nor “unintentionally” expose myself to anyone because it’s just wrong. These acts were done under a compulsion.
When these exhibitionistic thoughts (of walking in public with my genitals exposed) became very disturbing (almost taking over my thought life), I went to see a psychologist for help. That was from March to June last year. Instead of helping me with the problem she tried to exacerbate it. We spoke about my porn addition and masturbation addiction. She wanted me to release the beast, to give in to the urges to look at porn, masturbate and walk with my genitals exposed. She did, however, sense a disconnection therefore she encouraged me to hike without my shoes, to lie on the ground and connect with the earth.
Usually when exhibitionists expose themselves, they do it to get a certain reaction out of their victims. Some look for shock, others admiration while a minority desire a reciprocal (sexual) response from their victims. I had no such desire with the “walking fantasy”. In these fantasies the behaviour is acceptable. However, the only time I desire a reaction is when I wonder whether people can see me from the street when I stand at my window in the middle of the night.
So, when I asked God what the root cause of my exhibitionistic desires is the word intimacy flashed in front of my eyes. Now there are confusing reports about the cause of exhibitionism. Some experts say that it’s a power thing, much like rape, while others say it’s a sexual thing. Exhibitionists tend to masturbate to their fantasies or to the memory of the incidents. Some even masturbate during the exposure. So, there is an element of sexuality there. Some exhibitionists have erections but most don’t.
At first I thought that I was driven by power, but now I’m not so sure. I believe that these exhibitionistic thoughts and acts of mine are driven by a need to connect with others and with God. I do sense an element of lust in it as well since the urges, thoughts and acts have their root in the porn I consumed in my teenage years.
I would like to make an important distinction here between nudism’s exposure and that of an exhibitionist. Andrew Toth, the author of The Exhibitionist, defines exhibitionism as:
“a predetermined act whereby the exhibitionist singles out a person (predominantly female) or a group of people, and sets up a situation whereby he exposes himself to them, and only to them, in order to elicit a reaction.”
He explains the difference as follows:
“The complexity of this apparently simple act was well illustrated to me when I visited a nudist beach in Sydney one Sunday afternoon. I sat atop a rock, gazed out at the wall-to-wall genitalia and I knew it wasn’t exhibitionism. About an hour later I saw a male, beef bayonet erect, strutting his stuff along the water’s edge. That wasn’t exhibitionism either.
“A short while later I noticed a young man, in his late twenties, I’d guess, casting furtive glances in the direction of two females sitting nearby. I recognised the signals immediately and looked more closely. He was sitting side-on to the girls, knees drawn up close to his chest so that his penis was hidden between his chest and his thighs, but visible to the girls. As I happened to be sitting quite close by, I caught a partial view of this sizable erection; the girls, mid-twenties I’d say, were getting the full view; they started to giggle. That’s exhibitionism!”
(I came across that post last night as I searched for answers on the internet. Andrew Toth published the post on an exhibitionism website. I don’t feel comfortable sharing the link because it has links to porn sites. I didn’t see any porn.)
I agree with the definition and illustration because I see it play out in my own life.
Frank, my accountability partner, also asked me to find out what my triggers for these thoughts and behaviours are. They are mainly driven by stress, frustration with the way things are—my situation, and lust. Them being driven by frustration about situations explains why the thoughts took over my life last year. The more I entertained the thoughts, the more frustrated I became and the more prone I became to those thoughts.
I am not proud of this side of me. It repulses me. But, I can only thank God for keeping me from exposing myself to people. David in Psalm 115:4-8 ESVUK says: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” And that is what has happened to me. The porn stars were my gods and I became just like them. They are exhibitionists. And in my heart I became one too.
As a final word and to show how much this subject distresses me, I should say that in addition to losing quite a large amount of sleep over this last night, I also woke up twice to find myself masturbating. I stopped as soon as I understood what I was doing.