When I was about 17 or 18 I started masturbating. And then I stopped.
I should point out here, for the confused, that I'd been fascinated by sex for the best part of a decade by this juncture in my life. Having felt sexually charged since the age of about 11 and watching soft porn on a weekly basis (or more) since about 12, I'd been wanting sex for as long as I could remember. At the tender age of 17, I finally did have sex, and after that I started masturbating.
I'm aware that it's usually the other way around. But this is how it happened.
Despite well-meaning friends (Esque, to name a name which isn't her name, included) linking me to sites that would "teach" me how to masturbate, I still had no real desire to do so. I could get hard with alarming ease and I knew exactly what worked for me - the scenes and pictures and ideas that still have some resonance today. I enjoyed the sensation of being turned on and how long I could remain erect for (usually until I got bored and curled up into the foetal position crying until it went away), but I never really craved a release. I wasn't even aware of what it involved, assuming that semen looked a bit like piss.
After I'd had sex - even though I'd still never managed to orgasm apart from that one time in my sleep - I went back to the soft porn I had at my disposal - again, the same scenes although that collection has been bolstered somewhat since - only, this time, my hand was involved too. I had no idea, still, exactly what to do - but I eventually developed a way of wrapping my thumb and index finger around my foreskin and rubbing to and fro which seemed to work, along with the time-honoured method of full-screening the low-res videos and sitting as far back from the monitor as possible in order to make it look swish. The first time I made myself ejaculate I don't actually remember, but I do remember it being glorious, and most vividly the subsequent trip I made to the toilet - every night after every orgasm - with my dog sitting outside, fixing me with an accusatory stare.
And then I tried to give up.
Why, when I'd just discovered something fun, free and frisky? I'm still not sure, but I certainly felt guilty. I'd been feeling guilty about watching the stuff since I started - it was, I rationalised in my head, all the fault of the girl(s) I had a crush on, since if I had someone to date, I wouldn't've had to cure my solace by virtue of UK Living and Channel 5 - but I felt much more so about actually taking matters into my own hands, even if it was in a quiet corner of my room where my computer happened to be.
Since I had a girlfriend now, and I was having sex, I naturally assumed that, this time, I could give up. Sure I could. I'd tried before, but found no reason to continue - I'd just live with the heavy feeling of guilt in my chest for the REST OF MY ENTIRE LIFE and engage in frantic prayer in my final moments - but, once I'd found out how to masturbate, I could stop, right?
So I deleted all my stuff.
This also felt wonderful. I was free of my sin and vice and usually celebrated by listening to James ("This is what I'm all about - James! I don't need the porn any more!"), but a couple of days later, I always went back and started the slow, laborious process of trying to stabilise Grokster for long enough to download, once again, the exact same scenes so I could start masturbating to them again. I never saw myself, really, as an addict... because I wasn't: I was a young adult doing young adult things. In the back of my mind, however, I still saw it as wrong - leading to a vicious circle of downloading, wanking, deleting and James that I really wanted to break.
I finally - FINALLY - broke the circle at university. How? By failing to give a monkey's any more. The minute I sat at my new laptop in my tiny room in halls, I racked my brains for ways to pass my copious free time, seeing as how I only had six hours a week of lectured and seminars. Well, if I was going to wank, then I would wank - and damned be the consequences.
And so I quit quitting.
Best. Decision. Ever.