Year in Review
Here’s a recap of nine months of rebooting progress with some ideas mixed in the hope that it is of use to someone. I’m currently at 56 days without MO and P. The world does look different after sticking with this process for some time and the orgasm lenses come off.
I have no intention of stopping. I’m just going with the flow. I’m certain my penis will work if I need it to and at the moment I have no female with which to use it so it lies in wait like a fine champagne. Only it’s made out of super thin glass in the sense that if I held it a certain way I could orgasm from thought alone. Plenty of my slips over the last nine months have taken shockingly little effort – or maybe I just discovered a more effective method. The females will have to use kid gloves on me.
I’ve been keeping unscientific, but reasonably accurate records since I initially quit P cold turkey in early April 2010. I note at a minimum whether I P, M, O, something else or in between, and also any feelings I want to record. It is helpful to me to see what I wrote.
For the nine months, I took the (date difference-1) over the number of days and found that on about 63% of days I was completely PMO free. About 13% more were MO without porn or any fantasy story beyond my own head. About 16% of days I used P or P-lite which could be anything sought out as a P-substitute. The numbers are a bit skewed by my latest abstinence run. I went an average of about 2.5 days between any kind of use. I only had a few intervals longer than a week and they tended to be about 20 days – until this time around.
From my notes I can see different ways in which I used porn. I know we talk about it being ‘meds,’ but in a couple of instances it was literally medication because I was pretty sick when traveling and it was the only quick fix to get my mind off being sick and keep me on the move. I remember at the time thinking it was a bit weird to have this medication option in my tool belt. It did help at least for a little while. I think cavemen would have used orgasm in this way. It can be a survival tool.
There were also times where it was more of an experiential thing. Use a little imagination. Those situations were locational and didn’t involve porn or any fantasy. Sort of a growth practice I guess. Whether that was a craving creeping in or not is hard to say.
Then there is transition period usage such as a new country, new term, relationship starts/stops, very stressful projects, etc. At those times it varies, but once I start it is harder to stop than the medicative and experiential.
I’m not sure how to define binge, but in most cases I did not binge. In only one case did I exceed twice in 24 hours. I think it is important to keep the binges under control. I don’t think I was as heavy a user as some here, but that is progress for me. We all start at a different place.
It is ultimately not a race, and one needs to learn a new way of life. Still it might be possible to jump start the process with radical rebooting (abstinence). I can’t be sure because I can’t do it over again.
In all cases, try not to count. You can check your notes at any point. Counting will add pressure. Plus, it is fun to get the count surprise later on and it forces you to journal at least a little because otherwise you lose the ability to know the count later.
Here is what I conclude from my data. If you’re not in a relationship, hold off. If you are, be wary of it being used as a crutch. This can set you back if you’re not careful. You need to come to grips with your life on your own without your old meds or new meds from a partner. If you’re not in a relationship, you will find better partners after this process. It will be the same in the sense that some will be more suitable than others, but the overall quality and willingness to be with you will improve. There will also be a lot less BS because you will both see more clearly who each other is.
What to abstain from?
Rebooting is tricky. I think initially abstain from all porn and don’t worry about reasonable, non-binging masturbation. Try to be fantasy free and just aware of your own body. As hard as it might seem, it is much easier to stop porn than masturbation. I went cold turkey for two months with two testings in that period. Aim for at least a month, ideally two, without porn. And skip the testing. Trust that your penis will work. Your brain needs a break from porn initially to be aware of its effects.
Then I tried the other way, meaning porn without masturbation. I needed to feel the effect of only porn on my mind and body. Until I happened upon this, I got stuck in a frustrating cycles. This isn’t testing so much as understanding. There is no goal with the porn. Don’t seek the porn, but don’t excessively fight the cravings. If you get to the point that you are masturbating to porn, stop and reassess what to do next. Some weeks of porn only was instructive once my brain was more sensitive. Try to avoid extreme porn if you can. At some point I noticed an entirely different reaction to porn and a preference for being with myself without porn intruding on my awareness. You wouldn’t read a book in a movie theater. I found I wanted to turn the super-stimulating porn off and read my own body in silent awareness.
Pay attention to your own touch. This is a good sign of your brain sensitivity coming back. You’ll also notice varying sensitivity in your penis. It will feel more sensitive, especially at first, but should level out as you go along.
I think it is fine to mimic bonding behaviors in place of orgasm driven masturbation. Cupping your genitals; kissing your arm, inner wrist, or shoulder; palm on chest/heart, etc. are all good ways to let the cravings subside. They also help proactively manage sexual energy. I’m experimenting more with breathing, specific exercises like pelvic rocking, and fasting which helps a lot with breathing and mind-body awareness. All of this is untimely to be more genuine and a better partner down the road.
Go easy on yourself. In the beginning, I found this easy and thought, “What’s the big deal?” This process isn’t easy in the slightest. We’re undoing years and years of societal and behavioral programing. I’m humbly aware that I could slip today and take half a year to get back to this point. I’m also aware that I’ve had good and bad periods. As long as you are learning, you are making progress. I learned as much or more from those frustrating periods as from abstinence. It isn’t a race. You need to do it right by learning what you need to at the right moment.
Early on you should review your notes. If there is negativity about slips, work on that. Slips are a positive learning experience. Deamonizing slips will slow your progress.
It varies. It sucks. It will get better with time. You just have to suffer through. There is no other way, but it is worth it. Again, go easy and remain aware as the symptoms vary and seem to mean different things. If you can do this when you’re under less stress, withdrawal will be easier. When the stress comes back, you might slip and have to start over. Withdrawal under stress seems to be the worst, but perhaps a necessary experience of life without our coping mechanism.
You can get through some of this a lot easier by working on your underlying issues and by giving back at some form of support group, through friends, etc. You’ve got to get out of isolation and find commonality with others to help ride out the bumps in the process.
Lose the goals
Whatever your interactions with the opposite sex, try to approach them with goalless giving. In a conversation you give your time and effort to talk with this other human. A date is similar. There doesn’t have to be any goal for either person. You will get more out of the moment and rewire more fundamentally.