I’m writing this on day 90. It’s been a strange journey. I’ve had streaks of 90 and 60 days porn free in the past two years, but this is the longest I’ve gone without MO and P. Over the past 90 days, I’ve had ups and downs, faced past issues, created new ones and most of all, learnt more about myself.
I knew I needed to seek help when I was using PMO to escape my life. I hadn’t had sex in four years (and still haven’t). I’d even started trying out my porn induced fantasies on myself. I had issues with HOCD (homosexuality obsessive compulsive disorder), which was made worse by people calling me gay for years because I like musicals, opera and am more of the quiet type than ‘one of the lads’.
The main thing I realised was that my life was full of disparities and contradictions. I wanted to connect with people, be noticed, share feelings and experiences, actually participate in human interaction and most of all, be able to feel love. However, the things I wanted so desperately were also the things I was most afraid of. How could I connect, be noticed, share feelings, and be capable to feel love and to love others, when I had so much shame?
Shame is such a powerful emotion. I can recall the exact moment when I first realised that shame was the prominent driving force in my life. I watched Brené Brown’s TED talk on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, and I never looked back. Still it didn’t come easy, vulnerability is not something you can purchase or philosophise about. It is a skill, and skills need to be practiced. It was also about this time that I first read ‘Models’ by Mark Manson. Brené and Mark spurred me on to change my life.
I’d been self medicating for years my using porn and masturbation whenever I felt lonely, frustrated, bored, or anything at all really. Looking back, I can see that I wasted my most formative years in front of a screen masturbating. I had all the classic issues like trouble relating to others, lack of empathy, a sense of being an outsider, social anxiety and numb emotions.
I reached out for therapy. I had six counselling sessions at my University. As we explored, more and more issues started coming out of the woodwork, and I felt even worse. Sometimes, things get worse before they get better. The important thing is that I felt something. Yes, I wasn’t happy, it was a very dark time, but I was actually able to feel it and not run away to a fantasy land. Being able to feel anything was a major step to improvement.
By the end, she recommended that I try reaching out for more specialist help. After being on a long waiting list, I started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on the NHS. I realised that I had anxiety issues regarding relationships and social situations. I was so needy with potential relationships that I drove them away. Maybe it was self sabotage, so they wouldn’t get past the façade and see my shame. I realised that my thoughts and my actions can influence each other, and that I had the power to change. With a newfound optimism, I started NoFap again.
I had ups and downs during the 90 days. I had times where I felt great, and others awful. I had, and am possibly still in a flatline period. With the encouragement of my therapist, and as the result of NoFap, I started trying to connect with people in real life, and push myself in other areas of my life. I went of a few dates with a girl, we kissed on our second date. It didn’t go anywhere as she didn’t know what she wanted. But I actually met someone new, and let them in! I tore down the brick wall that’s been my defence for so long. So what if I got hurt, at least I can get hurt. Running away from the possibility of pain means you don’t have the possibility of pleasure either.
I’ve made improvements in other areas of my life too. I’ve been getting way more work done for my PhD. I’ve just auditioned for an opera in London. Singing wise, I’ve never had more connection to the body and been in better voice. I’ve started being happy for no reason, which believe me, is really, really strange. I know its cliché, but even things like nice weather (which is rare in the UK), or a particularly good day in the office, or a pint down the pub with friends feel so much better than before.
I’ve gained more self assurance and self-worth. I now know that I am worthy of love, and with time, will be capable of loving someone. I feel far less socially awkward and my speech has improved. I’m comfortable with talking to and meeting new people. I’m not afraid of who I am. I’ve started setting boundaries with what is and is not ok too.
That being said, I am still unsure as to what to do next. Part of me wishes to carry on until I meet someone, which doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, as I still haven’t met anyone at day 90. Another option is to start MO’ing again, but focusing on my physical experience, being present in the moment and not fantasizing, and try to re-connect to myself physically and sexually.
All in all, its been an interesting two years. Here’s to the rest porn free.
UPDATE: I got the results of the opera audition today, and I got the part! Learning all the music is going to keep me busy! I’m 23.
LINK – 90 Days – Past, Present and Future
UPDATE – 180 Days Hard Mode – Connection, Loneliness and Isolation
Wow. I’ve gone six months without watching porn or masturbating. Six months without an orgasm. Six months of more time and freedom. Six months of self exploration. Six months of self improvement. Six months of new hobbies and interests.
I’ve talked about my earlier experiences with Nofap up do day 150 before. I feel a lot has changed in these six months, though I still have things to work on.
One of the most striking things to happen recently was simply having a female friend over for dinner and to practice some songs for an open mic night. We’ve known each other for six years. I live on my own, and I mostly work from home in my one bedroom apartment while I work on my PhD. I can go a week with only seeing my colleague. I go through periods of lots of social interaction when I do any concerts or performances, but other times I can go a week almost on my own. Loneliness is tough to battle through.
When my friend visited, I was struck by how strange it felt to have a girl in my flat in a casual friendly way. It was just such an alien concept. We had dinner that I made, practiced some songs and then watched a film. We sat next to each other on the sofa/couch, and again, it was such an alien experience that it actually made me uncomfortable. I gradually felt better through the film, but it just highlighted how much isolation I’d been living in. It’s possible to have many friends or do many activities and still be alone. In fact, oftentimes, the more people I see on a regular basis and in large groups, the more alone I feel. It is close contact, especially casual open contact that is still strange to me. I think that one evening helped me an awful lot.
NoFap is one thing, but it gives us back our sight to see the areas of our life that we need to work on. I am devoid of physical contact, whether platonic or sexual, and it is that that I need to become comfortable with in the coming months.
I am however still seeing benefits. I’m able to appreciate the world around me more. I am less anxious in social situations or when something goes wrong. I’ve just got braces as a 23 year old male, and that would have crippled me with social anxiety and worry before. I do find it easier to talk to new people.
I am also going to try to work towards more physical contact. Whether that be from friends or possible romantic partners (the latter being thus far unlikely), it is the next barrier I need to break through. PMO is not the answer, it breeds isolation and feeds on loneliness. Don’t let it win. It’s time to foster real human connection.
LINK – Day 200 – A New Outlook, A New Humanity
Well, I’ve reached day 200 of a hard mode streak. I last MO’d on the 1st of March 2016. I’ve written about other milestones before, so I’ll just mention what I’ve been thinking about recently.
At this stage, the big benefits like reduced social anxiety etc, have already passed and have become the norm. A lot of the differences you start to notice this far into the process are small, almost hidden, almost secret.
My thoughts on inter-personal relationships have altered in the past month. I used to treat them in a closed off, almost scientific manner, with each being its own discrete entity, and each moment being a moment in itself, without a connected whole. I now notice that they are more like a spider’s web, where each relationship with each person weaves out from the centre in a number of ways, each different, each their own, but never the less connected to a whole. I’ve also started to see relationships as something that is also spread over time, something that evolves and changes. Perhaps you’re friends with someone now, and you won’t be in two years’ time. Perhaps the nature of a particular relationship might change from platonic to romantic; the nature of relationships isn’t set in stone. If the web gets knocked down, it can be rebuilt. By the way, I don’t know where the metaphor came from, I don’t even like spiders, but that’s beside the point.
I’ve had flatline periods and times where I’ve had urges and have struggled. At this point, it’s difficult to tell whether my wanting to MO sometimes is an old urge coming to the fore, or whether it’s a genuine will to express my own sexuality. I don’t think that cutting oneself off from everything sexual is good idea. I guess I’ve recovered and I need to rewire.
I’m also less afraid to be open, for people to truly know my thoughts, my feelings and my actions. Perhaps some of the shame that I had been harbouring for so long has been lifted. Shame feeds on silence and cannot survive when it is shared. Empathy, sharing and understanding are to shame as Anduril was to Sauron. (I wanted to get a LOTR reference in here somewhere, success!)
I’ve read a few books recently that have altered my perspective on life a little, which I’ve included at the end of the post. I’m also being more productive recently. I find that during flatlines, though I don’t have urges to worry about, I find it difficult to concentrate and get work done. During times where I have a sexual appetite, the boost in energy really helps to get things done, despite urges.
I’m also noticing real girls. Like, turning around and double taking in the street kind of noticing girls. This never happened before nofap. I knew what I was meant to find attractive. I could point it out, but I didn’t feel anything from it. Now, that’s completely different. I notice girls all the time, and it’s amazing. Not just from a visual point of view, but from the feeling that they are their own person, like me, and have hopes and dreams, like I do. I don’t feel separate from everyone else anymore. Humans are not a solitary species. I finally feel human.
Books: The Humans – Matt Haig A comedic yet serious novel that is about an alien coming to Earth, and during his trip he discovers what it is to be human. Humanity is full of contradiction, but that is where the beauty is. Even though he’s a far superior being, he can’t comprehend love. It fascinates him. It’s a good reflection on most of the aspects of human life that we take for granted. And there’s a dog called Newton, who’s also cool.
Yes Man – Danny Wallace A true story where an ordinary guy decides to say “Yes” to absolutely everything offered to him for six months. Saying “Yes” leads to interesting places. Saying “No” usually leads to sitting in your apartment being bored.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F**k – Mark Manson (of Models: Attracting women through honesty fame) I’m still reading this, but the first chapter really hit home. Both of Mansons’ books are must reads.