Age 34 - Mid-way Update: 14 months of committing to No PMO
When I started on this NO PMO journey, I was naive. It seemed to have been promoted at the time that if you could manage to stay away from porn for 90 days not only would you be "cured" — you would also see massive side-effects of increased confidence, alpha male charisma and the hottest females crawling all over you.
In short: It seems to me now that when I entered on this journey I was lured by mostly porn-brain created reasons — to become more attractive and meet women for sex.It is only after a year of entering on this journey that I attain a clearer idea of the magnitude of how my brain was drilled for sex. I am now, thankfully, at a very different point in my recovery, and I would like to share with you what has been developing for me.
I started to get serious about quitting pornography and masturbation in February 2013. Upon my first try I made it to 96 days, then relapsed, then tried again, then relapsed again. It is now April 2014, more than 14 months after I started, and my counter is "down" to 30 days NO PMO? How's that a success story? What has changed?
THE REASON I CONSIDER THIS A SUCCESS STORY
Before I started to seriously quit PMO I used to watch porn for about an hour or two and masturbate on average every day. That equals, say, 10 hours and 7 ejaculations per week, that is far in excess of 500 hours of watching porn per year, and a draining volume of more than 300 ejaculations a year.
For all four months of 2014 so far I have watched < 5 hours of porn and masturbated (and ejaculated) twice. The first was after a 67 day clean streak, the other was about three weeks later.
What matters is that on a day to day basis porn is not an issue for me anymore. I used to draw on my dopamine fix from porn in order to numb feeling sadness, meaninglessness and depression. In all honesty, sadness and meaninglessness is still something I wrestle with.
But as for porn urges and depression I have adopted a serious regimen of doing Bioenergetics, breathing exercises, walks, Qi Gong and meditations every single day, and have optimized my diet to include more fruits and vegetables and rely on a vegetarian diet about 80% of the time. These routines were the key for me to 1) overcoming depression, and 2) learn to effectively deal with sexual urges, processing them and rejecting PMO behaviour.
As for the subtle effects of quitting PMO
- I do feel much less "hooked", I barely experience cravings of any kind.
- I use my time more productively and consequently feel better about myself
- I feel much cleaner, much more proud of myself, which fuels my self confidence
- I have a clearer understanding of my deep-seated issues — which isn't always easy, but the first step in addressing them
So why is this only a "mid-way" update?
Well, I personally no longer believe that quitting porn is a one-off (once and for all) thing. There are no magic bullets and there are no quick fixes. I believe having done more than twenty years of damage cannot be undone by a 30 day or even 90 day effort. Becoming clean is a day to day, week to week, month to month effort, and I am now prepared to walk this path for the long haul. A relapse is no longer an excuse, a relapse doesn't make me feel bad and it doesn't even bother me much, because I know it doesn't mean that I have "fallen off the waggon", I am not back to where I was. At best I consider them a minor setback now and I refuse to make a big deal of them; this I have found to be a very important new accomplishment.
My goal is to be 100% porn-free, and this goal remains unchanged.
I still have a lot of shit to work through, specifically the meaninglessness and sadness I encounter. But I no longer numb them with porn, I am willing to tackle them head on, so that is a huge change for me.
As for recommendations from my experience:
1) it is easiest for me to stay away from porn and not waste a single thought on porn, when I have social plans with my friends. At best I have a whole week lined up with social commitments, working on a project together or just going out for a walk, a coffee, a movie or having dinner together. Doesn't matter. But as long as I am out of the house, I know I'm good.
2) Qi Gong, Bioenergetics and meditation are making a world of difference for me. These exercises help to ground me, help me feel much calmer, eliminate cravings, and keep me from spiralling into depression. They have taught me how to store, manage and purge excess energy, and Qi Gong, in particular, has given me — I am not religiously affiliated in any way — a much needed and greatly appreciated idealogical and spiritual framework for semen retention and personal cultivation.
3) Accepting and internalizing the fact that this will be a long haul effort — much longer than 90 days; a question of lifestyle, not a one-off procedure — helps me to stay on track and see relapses as opportunities for learning. I now know much better when I am straying into relapse territory, and I know that this rebooting or whatever you want to call it will be an ongoing matter for up to five years. (See also: http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/post-acute-withdrawal.htm) This prospect is not daunting, it helps me to prepare for the challenge.
4) I know now that the only way to avoid PMO behaviour is to purposely and fully avoid all enticing materials, including borderline and gateway eroticisms. Once I enter an arena of enticing material, I know it becomes sooo much harder than simply avoiding it altogether. In addition I have noticed that social encounters with attractive females usually lead to an intense build-up of sexual desire. Many of my relapses happen within two to three days of such real-life encounters. Knowing this helps me to better prepare for and deal with it.
For the moment I am keeping a strict no porn, no masturbation regimen. I am not trying to reach any particular number of days etc., I am rather striving for a porn-free lifestyle and dedicating myself to working out my issues, overcoming my traumas, and practicing self-cultivation.
If you were in need of motivation, I hope this helped.
Thank you all for participating in this forum, and thanks to the many who have supported me through their stories and on my journal.
All the best to you.
Keep moving forward!
by EFS White