Age 35 - Persistence pays
I have been using porn lately, which totally sucks. Here are some key concepts that have helped me increase the amount of time between active porn addiction periods.
1) I'm probably a lifer.
Porn became an indispensable way to make myself feel instantly "ok." Understanding this during active periods has really helped me to not panic, returning me to a state of complete separation from porn which, if you do it long enough, becomes the new normal.
2) Your preference for any particular kind of porn is insignificant in the long term.
Whatever your "kink" is doesn't matter at all, except that in the beginning it is the most obvious thing you notice and for many your porn preference is a source of crippling shame that really challenges the self esteem and contributes to cycles of abstinence and binging. If I think of this as more of a long term problem I am working on and make an honest commitment to change I will be on the road to taking those active steps to get myself recovered. No more beating up on myself it's time to learn how to bring down the pulse when horny-ness attacks! (I read about that particular subject on Your Brain on Porn.)
3) Progression of the addiction can be arrested and is not inevitable.
While I watched porn, I became desensitized to things I would never have done in real life. When I got older I began to make attempts to mimic what I saw in the videos and I realized that I was beginning to spend money on porn, frequent strip clubs and learning how to meet women using dating websites. My addiction had escalated and things were happening that were completely unexpected and detrimental to my interests such as health problems (STD's and ED) and relationship problems (years invested in relationships only to end in heartbreak.) For a long time, my conscious belief system failed to recognize red flags that if seen in others I would have easily recognized addiction.
4) Denial and turning a blind eye toward the behavior is a hallmark of all addiction.
.I couldn't possibly bring myself to believe these problems had their origin in all the porn I was using and that if I treated that and quit *masturbating* and sex for awhile these issues I mentioned above would be minimized or completely avoided. This is the kind of progression those of you who have just become aware can *avoid* if you continue to come here and share with others, don't give up, and *if necessary,* seek professional treatment for the addiction
5) Secular morality is a powerful foe of porn.
A strong moral argument against porn can be beneficial in the process of understanding the addiction and that this secular morality could rest with great strength upon a humanistic philosophy not based upon worshiping a deity, sacred texts or traditional beliefs. At the same time this moral humanist position can be inclusive and seek to work with those who have quit (legitimately) based upon their religious beliefs and the precepts of their religion which is a morality in complete accord with the idea that porn has a negative impact on the world, not just our individual experiences.
It is not simply that a natural process occurred in my brain as I continued to use porn, as a narrowly biological critique will emphasize, neither is my porn addiction a result of "original sin." More than anything else it was a consequence of my belief that porn use is "normal" and therefore not worthy of attention, even as the things I would see in porn became more objectionable. The most important thing I took from the videos was an ideology that taught me to disrespect women in my life who were short term sex partners or potential long term mates.
It has been 11 days since the last time I looked at porn. I'm very happy about that because I know I can go a lot longer. I'm no longer giving myself an excuse and I've beefed up the porn blocker to make it more difficult. Too bad I'm on day one of M/O but I got through 8 days recently and then fell off. I know I can do better later.
Wow! Here I am at day 10 and I'm getting a taste of that (youthful male energy). It's always been pretty fleeting because I would run back to my fix and I think this relationship helped perpetuate that. I plan on continuing to cultivate the "energy" and the restoration of balance to my gray matter.
Rebooting ("My brain will reboot as a computer does") doesn't really describe withdrawal from PMO accurately, although the brain starting anew is valuable in the sense that it can give hope to those suffering a sense of loss or "lack" that they were staving off by continuing to have "maintenance" orgasms.
Regardless of it's mostly positive use, another area that this metaphor falls short is how it implies that like the computer there will be this linear process in which our brain "reboots" itself if we are able to stave off addictions. Yeah sure it is, until you make it to day 28 and you have a raging hard on for 12 hours straight, prostrate on your back panting in the heat for release, all the while repeating "Must not fantasize!"
When I read posts of hundreds of people experiencing a "reboot" replete with all sorts of every day pain and suffering I just wanted to re-humanize the discussion. Sometimes it sucks and it's supposed to suck. One guy said his balls itched for like 4 days! God, I really feel sorry for you "4 Days of Ball Itch Guy." I would actually prefer blue balls to that because at least I know *that* goes away if you stop thinking about it so damn much and do something productive. It's worth mentioning too that I'm not now experiencing any serious withdrawal symptoms so far as I can tell. That is to say things are not sucking particularly badly for me right now.
I'll self diagnose for a second here...
Since I've never gone more than three weeks without MO I'm stuck in a kind of perpetual withdrawal. The relationship part is also key to his success, something that I don't have just yet.
Yeah faith backed up by experience.
I've done it before so I can do it again. I'm at day 7 again. Much better than days 3 and 4 IMO.
So it's been almost two months since I first broke the news to my ex.
I've lately been cruising the dating websites. I'm not ready to make those profiles active though. I don't really have the emotional energy to go on dates, not yet. I'm content to look. In the past cruising the dating websites could have led (and did) lead to watching porn and masturbation. That hasn't happened in a while and I feel like I've made some progress. I did however take a backward step when I looked at an escort website and a website for people who want to have affairs. I guess I was just tired of reading the same things over and over again and expecting that it would be different somehow.
Anyway I haven't signed up for anything yet. Just looking and I even blocked the escort site because I don't need my brain to get all contorted over the fantasy of that. Besides today is day 21 for me and it's the longest I've gone in awhile. I can honestly say I expect to go at least another week and I have no desire to look at porn. This is good progress to me and is related to the fact that when I was in a relationship with an expectation of sex, then when that expectation was inevitably unfullfilled, I gave myself permission to first masturbate more frequently and then go into porn relapse mode. This happened right up until we broke up. I haven't looked at porn since literally the same week we broke up. Somehow just the potential of actual sex led me to really want it...then relapse.
So I have completed the longest time of no orgasm since joining this web community and it isn't likely to stop anytime soon, even though I could probably find a sexual partner very easily. That's not really what I'm looking for by itself though and that has remained true since I joined reuniting and read CPA. So a big thank you to everybody who has said anything supportive over the months. Every kind word has been welcomed and every bit of advice has been read with interest.
When I joined here I was in a different mental space and was ready to go out and find a partner right away because I had been without a girlfriend or partner for two years while I made some significant changes in my lifestyle: my diet, my career and my place of residence. That is I became a vegan, started pursuing music as a professional career and moved away from home to be close to NYC. Changing my sex life has taken a bit longer but a lot has changed here too and I do give credit to people on this forum, I'm grateful you are here.
It doesn't look like I'm going to have sex anytime soon, which is fine by me (at least right now!) and that means I'm probably going to go even longer. I would like to at least get 60 days under my belt. This thread is just for the sake of marking time and for expressing my appreciation to all of you. Last time I used porn was only a few months ago but it feels farther away than that. Just like a lot of long term heavy porn users I get flashbacks and fantasy creeps in but they no longer have the effect of upsetting my inner balance. This is a pretty significant change that I want to continue feeding with a renewed commitment to a healthy, vegan diet and an athletic training program.
Good luck to everyone who is experiencing the unflattering, depressing and sharp ups and downs of rebooting and the even more daunting task of finding somebody out there who on top of being a good mate choice (hard enough by itself) is also someone willing to give this Karezza thing a go.
I guess after a month of no sexual activity at all my subconscious had had enough and I had a wet dream. The only thing that sucks about it is that I was so deeply asleep that I don't remember the dream. I was robbed! Then I got that familiar thought that I deserve a "conscious" orgasm now that it's happened already. This is a wrong headed approach because in the past that has led me to acting out....therefore I need to just continue as I have up until now.
I'm surprised I went over 30 days *without* one...I guess I've done this enough because I knew it was coming sooner or later. That said, I still have some lingering "chaser effect" emotions but it's not the same as if I had consciously masturbated. I'm just more "aware" of sex or masturbation today whereas usually after two or three weeks of no PMO things are much more under the surface and easier to ward off fantasy. I'm not dissuaded!
Let's see last use of porn: about two months and a week... it is easier staying away from that.
I'm gonna keep this up just because I've never gone this long so every day I have goes toward my personal best to date.
I can say with confidence that I learned something from each relapse because I have had so many of them. Despite our best hopes to use porn moderately there continue to be significant impacts on other areas of our lives, at least in part a result of continued use. That means anyone who sees porn as a problem for them can't make the decision to use porn lightly. If one does use it - almost seemingly against their will - they must acknowledge that many years of indulging in our favorite habit, especially for hours or days at a time during periods of heavy use, might just be a factor in our "decision."
So for people who have just discovered this problem for yourself or have struggled for a long time with continued relapse - here's the rub. Nobody is going to reach through the screen and stop you from using it if you want to use it. We have to learn collectively how to do that for ourselves by completely replacing the habit with healthy, fun and life affirming activities that make the old days seem like a bad dream, instead of feeling as though we are missing out on a "good time." We should take the attitude, "I'll Do Whatever it Takes" as the hallmark of our successful separation from porn. This also applies to the somewhat more controversial (at least to those who don't understand porn addiction) decision to quit masturbating for an extended time period of at least 8 weeks.
I have had as many relapses as the next chap so I feel like sometimes having one relapse too many can finally wake us up a little to just how far we are willing to go in order to leave porn and masturbation behind. I'm comin up on 5 weeks now, I still have bad days, there are more days however that I don't think about sex or masturbation and I have way more ability to shut down unwanted fantasy that leads to relapse in the first place.
Porn is a jealous mistress. Likes to have our full attention...luckily that cycle has been broken
I didn't realize how isolated i became. Also today I had my second wet dream in 8 days and that has given me a chaser effect worse than the first one in like 30 days! Monday, if I make it, will be day 42. I am still kinda on the fence tonight but I like to keep the goal in my sights if I'm going to make it.
I admire those who have gone for two months. Since this is the longest I've ever gone it's like I don't want to start all over again, and besides I like not masturbating, for the most part I think clearer.
I know that I can stay away from porn but I've never gone this long without mb'ing.
I've learned that having wet dreams are as much a part of reboots as blue balls or other withdrawal symptoms. Wet dreams are pretty much inevitable and it's what you do with them and how you prepare for and handle the chaser effect that will determine your success. I'm glad it's going to be 60 days soon because it reminds me that while this isn't easy, once you get in a stride the days and weeks seem to pass a lot faster. I want this to be my new normal.
Do I think I'm rewired? Not quite. There are still things lurking under the surface that can come back in an instant if I allow it. Part of my lizard brain is determined to have them back, after all didn't I teach it that this was "normal." I no longer masturbate to porn or even masturbate with any frequency. That's enough for me to take heart that some kind of powerful change has happened. Do whatever it takes, comrades! You will see results in your life.
I do have some positive things happening, like I'm way more physically active than at any time in my life and it has been consistent for two months and I have seen some modest results.
Porn for me has "gotten smaller" too. For the first time I can envision this future where not only do I not look at it or use it but those things that were imprinted on me are far away and irrelevant.
So here on day 64 of my reboot (never imagined I'd make it) I rejoice at the phenomenon of "lifeless" or "dead" penis. Actually this is a total misnomer, my penis and my sexuality is more alive and well than ever before. The difference is that I can now focus on other things and the energy I used to waste on PMO is going towards trying to do well in school, finding a suitable mate with whom I can experiment with Karezza and paying more attention to my personal goals. This is a new lease on life in a sense because I feel free from the sexual compulsivity that plagued me after I made the decision years ago that it would be best for me that I quit porn. I'm amazed at how easy it is now to knock away the urges and improve my mental state without using porn or masturbation. That's not a dead penis, that's a brain that is waking up to things *other* than a penis.
That's what for me is the deeper meaning that can be had from leaving porn and masturbation rituals behind, you don't miss it so much and *other* things (those things I'd been putting off) now take the place of importance and priority that should have been all along. Consider your social life from a bird's eye view. Did you prioritize activities that allowed you to meet interesting members of the opposite sex that share the same interests with you in some area?
For those going through a reboot it's time to embrace what you think is a "dead" feeling! It ain't dead man. You are just learning how to put out the fire in your crotch for once that has been so manipulated - and not just by your own hands but by the designs of others who seek to capitalize from your slavery to your own sexual desires. Now you are turning the tables and taking full responsibility and nothing is scarier than being a sexually responsible person for the first time in your life and in an historical moment ……I applaud you all who are attempting this and I write with the conviction that you *will* succeed, despite all setbacks, momentary failures, dramatic scenarios or other mitigating circumstances. Do whatever it takes! Do take control and remember that there is more to life than your cock!
OMG DAY 72....the day I used to see others write and I thought it would never be me!
I'm very happy I'm at Day 72 and I'm going to go as long as I can. Just checking in with everyone and I'm here to tell you guys struggling with relapse that this is *possible* and even likely if you stick with it and get serious about your recovery. Continue to examine what is holding you back. How much do you want to beat this thing? Do whatever it takes my friends. While you are at it get out there and start exercising!
let's see...I don't really masturbate anymore...
Renewed focus on goals and ability to turn off fantasies before they create a downward spiral into relapse. That's the best part. I know that I can live without porn and I intend to keep it that way for a long while, even if I do reintroduce (slowly) masturbation. I need to read up on solo Karezza practice to see what I can do.
I don't think it's time to start masturbating yet. Why end my longest streak ever? The thing I want to avoid is longing for a woman and then having sex with one I'm not really interested in having a relationship with. I don't want to repeat old patterns in that area.
When I have no prospects it's really easy to avoid masturbation....as soon as the possibility of actual sex shows up it gets a little more difficult for me.
I know it (85 days) sounds like a lot but it's a drop in the bucket compared to years of unlimited PMO. I'm happy I made it this far. We'll see if I make 100 or not before finding a mate with long term potential.
don't give up, no matter what you can do this.
I'm on an all time streak. It's like would you want your video game to reset your score when you are about to beat a boss? Not on your life. I never want to forget how bad it feels to be back in the sticky sweet clutches of porn. It's such a enormous waste of time and energy but I've been able to stay away since June and really that doesn't feel all that long ago.
Sat, 2011-10-22 20:30
Withdrawal is a thing of the past, I still get fantasy, dreams and real life come-ons that I need to stay away from though.
It gets easier after two to three weeks.
I started out just doing my reboot and I am happy with the results but how do I know when I've gone long enough? My friends don't understand it and I didn't expect them to. On the other hand when I think about sex I still have pornographic fantasy. That kinda sucks but I guess I wasn't expecting to be "cured" it's a long term process. I'm curious what others have done or think in this situation. Overall, with all my relapses from last year into this year it is a very good "problem" to have. Never thought I'd make it to 99 or 100 days.
I suppose once my ex girlfriend was out of my life something clicked inside and suddenly it was much easier to finally walk away from porn. Something about the combination of a lack of actual sexual stimulus, lack of expectations around sex and the emotional pain of separation was enough to make it really easy somehow, after months and months of back and forth relapse and then going a few weeks ect. I'm not advocating any particular method for anyone else though, just that being alone made this possible, even though I've been on a few dates and had some stimulus it was easier to get over it quickly and not masturbate or relapse.
Day 100 feels great....I've kept myself very busy with workouts and classes. I also just started writing for the school paper. It's only a matter of time before I meet someone who is a good candidate not just for dating but for something long term.
May, a year later
So I woke up after a stressful day (I still had fun, but without days off, even fun can be stress inducing) around 1 am and I was extremely horny.
I felt like "I'm going to have a wet dream anyway so why not avoid the trouble of changing my drawers." So I masturbated. I must tell you nothing has changed and I want it to be 2 weeks or longer before anything like that happens again (probably it will be much longer.) Any hint of it creeping in as a regular "stress reliever" could spell trouble and I'm not having too much in the way of cravings today so I think it will be a cinch. Let's face it, I just completed a run of over 9 months of total celibacy, I don't know how many days that is. No porn, masturbation or orgasm and through the toughest times as well, so this isn't such a bad thing and doesn't seem to have the same consequences as when I used to do it every 3 or 4 days. There is still the desire and possibility, I just have a much stronger control of all that.
To my chagrin I still have some pornographic fantasy that pops up. I don't think the rewire is totally complete but I also know I'm in way better shape mentally/physically than ever and I'm pursuing my life's passion with gusto so there has been steady improvement in my quality of life.
I'm starting to meet more women now too and that could also be a factor as well as the seasonal weather change. I look better and feel better and I think women notice that. I'm also playing more gigs and that gets me noticed. I've also got over 90 days of no booze or pot and that feels good. Overall things are good, even if I'm exhausted and still have a ton of homework due the next week and a half. It's going to get done and then I can relax.
[In response to question - a week later] My ED was mild and directly connected to porn.
I experience no ED when I don't look at porn or masturbate. I can have an erection with just fantasy but when my mind wanders in that direction I choose to avoid it so as not to set myself up to want to masturbate. That says nothing about my subconscious though. Since I came a week or so ago I've already had two separate wet dreams. I attribute this partly to stress however.
If presented with sex I have no doubt about "performance" but I prefer not to think about it as a performance and would like to focus on bonding behaviors instead of rushing into sex. The problem I will inevitably experience, after this long away from intimacy with a woman is premature ejaculation, not ED.
My libido during this time has been up and down, increasing during times of stress. I think my mind and body knew I would feel better if I just masturbated but I didn't do it. When I ignored the impulse, it went away and I wasn't horny any more. I had much clearer state of mind than in the past.
Confidence, vigor and stamina, sometimes aggression were all there in spades. I became something of a workaholic this semester and took on enormous responsibilities in a range of fields. Including playing with two bands, working two part time jobs, being an activist and of course all the while working out and holding down full time graduate school classes. I am at the end of that run and I don't recommend it. I needed to save time to feed my soul. For me that is more AA meetings and I'm looking into meditation and yoga for the summer/next semester.
I don't think I experienced any unique traits as a result of abstaining. Rather my own unique traits that were there all along had a chance to develop along more or less natural lines. As I continued the physical work outs I noticed a change in my body becoming more muscular and that increased my confidence and got me more attention from the ladies. A lot of good progress happening there with my whole attitude and outlook on women.
The higher the months really didn't matter. I literally had the same type of experience three months in as six months in. My libido was something that was always there but was way more in the background, like it was easier not to notice it. I still looked at and was attracted to women but I didn't experience the kind of anxiety around them that I used to like I really wanted to talk to them and didn't, it was more like that's nice, now what's on my agenda now.
I'm back on the path again which I must say is much easier now than before when I masturbated multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day...for the majority of my life.
It's been over two years since I discovered this anonymous web forum where it's ok to talk about porn addiction and where there is a viable alternative and solution offered to kick the habit for good. When I found it, it seemed pretty impossible to me that I'd be where I am now but it also feels like it wasn't that long ago that I was on here nearly everyday and posting copiously about my relapses, attempts at dating, masturbation rituals or wet dreams. Things that are taboo for people to talk about in public really.
I'm really glad this website is here and thriving the way it is. This place gave me hope when I thought things were hopeless. It gave me a simple regime to follow that would lead to a way out from constantly worrying/thinking about using porn or having sex with someone. While it's normal to have sexual thoughts, as a result of my addiction to porn, I didn't get "normal" sexual thoughts. I was obsessed!
My entire brain had become pornified to such a degree that even now my sexual fantasies haven't changed all that much. They are much less disconcerting now however and I'm able to quickly refocus on other things that matter. I even, sometimes, fantasize about simpler more mundane things like a long kiss or caress or imagine what it must feel like having Karezza sex. Before I came to this website I hadn't heard of a reboot and I would never have considered quitting masturbating or orgasm as a means of averting porn addiction. You couldn't have told me then that I would subsequently go 9 months without PMO and masturbate only twice in 10 months.
I don't consider my latest masturbation to be a relapse as I had no desire and still have no desire to look at porn. Both times it was in the middle of the night and I had let my guard down. Part of this is related to the counselor I'm seeing who told me it should probably be ok to masturbate again. I'm not so sure about this because I like my mellow state of mind and ability to keep what used to be out-of-control sexuality in check. It gives me some pride and confidence in myself that I am able to do this.
I've decided that masturbation is a superfluous sexual behavior that gets in the way of true connection with a woman. I don't want to masturbate any more with any regularity because I would like to have that energy for my projects but more importantly I want to share that energy with a mate. I'm not so concerned any more about forcing that meeting with the right person. I'm concerned with living the life I want to live according to my values and opening up the space for that person to come into my life as a result of my numerous activities.
This week I had my first lesson with my personal trainer and I'm very excited to work with him because he knows what he's doing. I've been working out consistently for 10 months and this is a first for me. I have dropped weight, become more toned and in the process discovered energy and confidence that I didn't know I could muster. I still get nervous around women I like and I have recently met someone only to chase them away by pursuing too much in the beginning, without letting things go naturally, but I chalk this up to my decision not to date for a while which has left me a little rusty. I probably won't make that mistake again and besides she was too young.
I now also have over 4 months without smoking pot or drinking and honestly that has been fantastic for me. My mind is clearer and more focused on fulfilling my potential in life. I don't need those crutches any more than I needed PMO. I'm really going after the things I want and I'm less distracted by things like hangovers and "wake and bake" days that end up wasting time and decrease my quality of life. As a result of quitting I've had to learn new ways of doing things, meet new people who don't drink or smoke and also do some internal house cleaning that is part of the 12 step program I'm in.
I used to hate the steps and all the god stuff and I still don't believe in god, however the point is I have to change, work on myself, try to do right by people and look for those parts of my personality or character that will take time to change for the better. I have a lot of great qualities that I have not recognized in myself and I think booze, pot and PMO were part of my not recognizing those good things and always focusing on things I did wrong. I'm glad that I can accept those parts of me that aren't perfect and still strive to work on them when they run rampant, whether it be the crippling fear of attractive women I want to talk to (who may well want to talk to me!) or the various times in the day I am angry and want to make things miserable for myself or someone else.
Needless to say this takes a lot of practice, just like going through a reboot. It's pretty profound really Let me say thank you again to reuniting and to Gary and Marnia and everybody who passed on words of wisdom to me. I will try to give it back as best I can. I've already met a guy in real life who says he struggles with sex addiction (I'm attending AA and he attends both AA and SAA.) We'll see if I can be of service by telling him my story and letting him know about this website and how non-judgmental and science-based it is.
To all those struggling with relapses and who are new to the reboot and having a hard time: Don't fret so much but DO try to the best of your ability to prevent a relapse before it starts. Only *you* can hold yourself accountable. Do whatever it takes! You have a power inside you that is waiting to be let out and that will happen in time if you are able to put some time together and recover, so don't cosign the liar inside telling you that one more relapse won't hurt. If you do relapse, don't beat yourself up but use it as a lesson in humility and use that as a wake up call to do something different next time to prevent it. Stop it in it's tracks and refuse to give in to PMO and in the end you will not be hounded by those thoughts any longer, certainly not porn anyway. They will simply get weaker and weaker until they become an extremely tiny and insignificant whine in the back of the mind that is *easily* dispatched and put in it's place, if it should happen to get through to conscious thought. It rarely does for me these days.
I still hate porn. It's horribly misogynistic and an integral part of how modern capitalism has enslaved the working class. That said, I don't feel the need to focus on those things that I can't immediately change and instead I focus on what I can do for myself that is achievable and realistic. This also includes being a part of a collective movement for change that will help sweep away these rotten conditions and system and help usher in a better world.