Age 52 - Porn, ED, Finding myself with 12 Steps

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HELP signI'm close to 400 days P-free and feel like sharing and clarifying for myself where I'm at in my recovery.

The Back story

I'm 52, I started my PMO career in the late 90s, I didn't do pre-internet porn, no blue movies , mags, strip shows, escorts or chatrooms. That might mean something when it comes to rewiring: I had a healthy sexual life until my late 30s(not prolific or super-fullfilling but normal nonetheless) .

I did have 12 years of full on porn use. daily sessions, sometimes 2 sessions, lasting anywhere between 2 hours and 6 hours per day. My porn was relatively clean, no extreme stuff although i slipped into some borderline genres from time to time which I would never consider in real life.

I'm reluctant to use the word success as there isn't one particular point in the recovery where you can say : its done, Ive
reached the goal. I see it as ongoing progress.

Most of us in the 40+ section realize after the magic day 90, that ED is healing but the real recovery is only just starting. Now its about reforming our life's and cleaning up bad beliefs and dysfunctions that have led us to porn in the first place. When we look at whats wrong with us the issues are deep and complex. 40 years of living out childhood patterns left me a split person. On the one hand I was popular, respected, outgoing. my life was considered interesting. On the other hand I was languishing in procrastination introspect, angry and under achieving It got worse when I sold my business and retired early with definitely not enough money to live decently. Thats when my PMO use was getting into full swing. I thought frugal is good and  was irrationally hoping I would still have my big coming out as the genius I always thought I was.

8 years of no girlfriends, a few miserable attempts, very little bed time with women and total avoidance of sex, because my ED started very early in the game. Intimacy, I realized after rebooting, was never my strong suit.

The turning point

In 2011 I met a fantastic woman, classy, stunningly beautiful, vivacious ... and...totally into sex, which I right from the
start couldn't provide. Really bad ED and zero libido. That beautiful body in front of me was like a hunk of meat for me. I
did not know what to do with it. If you would like to know how that mix panned out you can read it in my journal. In short , it was chaos, drama, emotional insecurity for both. arguments, anguish, desperation. Under major pressure from her I revealed my PMO addiction one year into our relationship and started a half-arsed "reboot" with PMO once every 2-3 weeks and M twice a week. I didn't get rid of my ED but my libido was getting better.

Reboot

After a year of that she left me after cheating on me regularly . I collapsed mentally and rebooted for real. I cut alcohol
out, No M for 100 days, No O for 60 days, all by the book. 12 therapy sessions. SLAA weekly meetings, YBR, books and revealed all to scores of friends and my mother, who nursed me for 2 months thru a period of utter emotional mayhem. I had insomnia and moodswings from one extreme to the next. I ranted and raved every night to my patient mother. I ruminated all day about how i was wronged by my Ex-Gf. Of the guys I've been watching I have had the most mental time, the most anguish. I simply went crazy. The breakup of course had a big part in it.

I developed a love addiction to her which was replacing my PMO quite nicely.

PMO-MO

I had a fairly easy time with urges and triggers. I never ever got close to relapsing. Although my life was an utter mess
and my emotions were very unstable PMO never came up significantly. As I said , I transferred my addictive energy
elsewhere. Mainly an obsession with my ex, I also started smoking, 30 ciggies a day. To this day I'm virtually PMO free. No relapses at all. Nothing of note. very minor nostalgia for the good old days when I could just indulge and comfort myself.

I have MOed since day 100. Not very frequently, but I do tend to MO when I'm frustrated, sometimes several times , then I go quiet again. I have identified that fantasy is my problem. I indulge in wishful illusions of women I cant have. That is a problem area that needs to be dealt with, as I believe that this is another way of avoiding my real needs.

ED

Of course like most of you my immediate concern was my erections. By day 60 it was getting much better. I clumsily poked around a bit with my ex who volunteered to be my sex nurse, while still being in a relationship with someone else. I had serious hangups still and the erections were unreliable.

Now , one year on, I still cant say that im back to normal. Strangely my GF ( we got back together at some stage and split again a week ago) thought my erections were OK, I myself always feel self conscious and think im too soft. My hangups are the real issue. I have resisted penetrative sex almost entirely. A serious blockage in my head. I do believe I can do it and its time to get practical, but the drama in our relationship always subdued me and I didn't feel confident to pursue it.

Strangely my erections are worst when I M. My fantasies don't seem to arouse me enough to get it up but I M anyway. I should say that I smoke periodically and drink on the upper end of moderate. The others don't talk much about it after they have been here for 100 days or so, but I assume I'm one off the less encouraging cases. Saying that, I'm much better and very happy about that. I believe I can face the female world with a chance of success.

Personal development

I think most in my age section agree that after the first stage of recovery , when we battle the immediate addiction
(urges, triggers etc), we enter into stage 2 . Stage 2 being the realisation that the damage it has done is wide ranging,
and the causes are deep.

I have made huge steps in understanding where my issues originate. I uncovered the emotional neglect from my mother, the constant pressure to perform and her constant harrowed state. I understand there was abandonment and a period where my mother didn't keep me safe while we lived with her second husband who was an alcoholic. My first father outright rejected me and does to this day. I learnt that that made me an introvert child and person who believed all his life that he ultimately couldn't trust anyone. I became a lone warrior. I took refuge in fantasy all thru my life. I had an internal monologue, often full of anger and even hate. I sought my own company a lot. I masturbated daily since I was 13. PMO was a logical progression.

Where I'm at

Everyone in my groups and private life says I have improved a lot. I hold a lot of respect for facing this demon and owning up in public. I can truly say that most people have a very good opinion of me, much better than I have of myself.I personally feel that in my self-esteem I'm lower than I was when I entered the process. I have less self-confidence, I'm less active, i have not recovered fully from withdrawing like a wounded cat that hides under the couch. A lot of that is fall out from my tumultuous and dysfunctional relationship with my ex, and the fact that I , for the life of me, could get a grip on it.

this isn't supposed to sound like a downer. I am VERY happy that I have rebooted and with the progress I'm making. I never thought it was going to be easy and full of quickly achieved joy. Feeling joy has always been my issue and therefore gaining that skill is part of my recovery. I have a much better understanding of myself , I do understand a lot of my patterns and the cause of my dysfunctions. I can identify what I'm doing wrong. I can allow myself to feel the pain of past hurt. I can define my true needs a lot better and am slowly developing boundaries. Previously i was safe because I was fortified behind walls. The reboot made me unbelievably vulnerable and exposed and for a time helpless. I now am developing boundaries.

I understand other people a lot better. I am now able to listen to my partner and take her story, her needs and fears
seriously and I can accommodate them. Making amends and owning up to my monumental fuck-up helped me in this. I had to humble myself and allow myself to feel the pain and guilt for what I had done to myself and my women. I will have a good sexlife again and a fulfilling relationship.This process has made me evolved beyond normal people, who never have to face their demons because they cope alright. I have serious issues still, I'm still languishing workwise and socially. I still have a low opinion of myself and ruminate too much. But I have better mechanisms to deal with it and
believe that I can tackle all this.

My advice

Don't get hung up about ED. IT WILL GO AWAY. the less anguish and stress you devote to it the quicker it will get to normal or as normal as you are able to given your age and health. Do stick with the YBOP recommendations of 60 days no sexual activity, 90 days no M. And after that go easy. Define your intimacy needs and relax into sexlife without pressure. Don't use ED drugs. Get normal, in a physical and mental sense, don't shortcut your success with chemical aids.

Do I need to say it: Show some damn resolve in the face of your triggers and urges. Its simple: Just don't do it, no ifs and buts. Stop even talking to yourself about it. No bargaining. Identify when your needs and your reason is talking as opposed to when the demon is talking. The addiction is cunning and baffling as the SLAAers say. It knows your weaknesses. Don't give it an inch. A peek means a relapse. Its 100% certain. ( And one more thing: strip shows , chat rooms, escorts, compulsive cheating and multiple affairs are the same game. Who are you trying to kid?)

Get all the support you can get. Despite its enormous value this forum alone is not enough. 12 step groups are invaluable. do therapy. its not the answer but it does open doors in your head that you may avoid opening. Read relevant books. tell your story to people you trust.  Trusting is part of the recovery. If you don't trust anyone, not even your wife: there is your problem. And stay on this forum way beyond when you think you are safe. You aren't, believe me.

DO TELL YOUR PARTNER. How dare you not tell her? It affects her fundamentally and she has a right to know why you have robbed her of decent intimacy for so long. Wives usually will support their men when they better themselves. Its in their own interest. However you will need to be patient with her. She will be hurting. Remember its your fault not hers.

Start this process by admitting to yourself that you have a fundamental problem. You lost control over your porn use, you are an addict. Admit that the fallout is severe. Make a list of what it has done to you, that will take possibly weeks.You will find that it is linked to a host of issues like underachieving, weak bonds with people incl partners, escapism, procrastination, low self-esteem, anger, self-loathing. BEING STUCK.

Realize that porn is the symptom not the cause. The issues are MUCH deeper

Be confident that this is the only way forward you have. If you want a better life, want to be a better you, then this
process of discovery and healing is the only direction you have . Everything else , any half arsed patch-work is futile.
Sooner or later you will be back on PMO or if not then some other vice.

Say goodbye to T&A or whatever genre gets you off. Shed a tear, sniff sniff. Bye bye my babies. Its not for you anymore , NEVER EVER. It was never a good idea in the first place. Real connection, intimacy and sex is where its at. There is no substitute.

Don't blame it on your wife. If she doesn't give you sex or has some deep issues and you are codependent you have no choice but to address it. Don't blame it on anything. You are coping with the same stressors as anyone else, except that you are not coping well. The coping mechanisms that you learnt early in life are redundant. The little boy in you needs to grow up and face the world.

Go out of your shell. Face the world with all its hazards. Its going to be ok. Socialize, engage, show honesty and integrity. Own your faults. Take failures in your stride, everyone fails from time to time. Trust in trustworthy people. Start believing some of those platitudes and truisms you have heard so many times

And lastly: YOU WILL WIN. There is no finishing line, it will never be perfect but you will progress way beyond where you started. And PMO is definitely going to vanish out of your life if only you stay active in defeating it.

I wish you all the best on your journey, guys. You are worth it and porn isn't.

LINK - Porn, ED, Finding myself and the cause of my issues

by imout