Nineteen years ago, I first began wending down the tortuous spiral of self-harm of PMO, a willing prisoner to the shackles of addiction. It was from within this cage that I lost my virginity, went through three long-term relationships, matured sexually, and developed my adult personality. I have never known myself as an adult in a context free from PMO.
And I never will. I cannot calculate the damage PMO has done to my brain, to my body, and especially to my personality. What would it have been if I had done differently? Who would I be today? These are questions I will never have an answer to, and nor do I wish for one. What matters is what I make of my life from now on.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I had a very nasty breakup last year as a result of a crisis that ultimately stemmed from my PMO addiction. I’ll refrain from going into more intimate details, but the pain of that breakup, and the realization of how great a part my addiction had played in it, brought me to finally say, “enough.”
That was July 2016. Even after going through so much, it still took me another year and 4 months to get it right. And now, for the first time after starting to PMO 19 years ago, I have gone 90 days without any sexual activity of any kind. I avoided even normal sex during that period because (a) chaser effect was too great a risk and (b) it’s not easy for me to hit on girls in the first place.
Now I feel ready.
I don’t have any superpowers. I’m not a sex magnet. I’m not a social butterfly. I haven’t bulked up.
What I have is stability. Structure. I’ve built a great deal of willpower and emotional strength that has replaced three decades of self-doubt and volatility. I’ve proven to myself that I can take on the most daunting of tasks and pass with flying colors. I’ve learned that challenges that seem at first insurmountable, gradually decrease and become less frightening when we put our feet down and keep our head up and look them in the eye.
I have built more in the last three months than in my entire life. I’ve grown more psychologically and emotionally than I had ever thought possible. I’ve come to understand that failure is sometimes unavoidable, but giving up is a choice.
18 months ago I checked into a hotel because I had just left my ex-girlfriend’s apartment in tears and didn’t have the strength for the hour-long bus ride back home. I woke up sobbing and banging my fists into the bed and yelling that “I only get into people’s way, nobody wants me around”. I look at the window and for a moment almost contemplated the simple jump that would put myself out of my misery and spare everybody else the burden of having me around. I can’t think of a time in my life when I’d ever been in such a dark place.
Now all of that seems distant. I was used to being a failure. I was used to being rejected. I set myself up for failure at every try because my brain couldn’t understand the concept of success. All I had was sabotage, excuses, rage, and self-loathing. I resented myself for being in such a wonderful relationship and I unconsciously did everything I could to make it fail.
Today I woke up and texted my ex. I call her my ex for context, but we’re really good friends. We’ve gotten past our mutual resentment and forgiven ourselves for our mistakes. I told her about the 90 days, not because I want to get her back or anything, but simply because she has a right to know that I’ve taken the first step to undo the damage that I’ve wrought. I wish her the best. I hope she finds someone who makes her feel as beautiful as she is. I hope someone makes her truly happy.
As for myself, I will continue reminding myself of my goals every single day. I will continue to tell myself that I am capable of many, many great things and long as I understand that I am worthy of a happy, fulfilling life with healthy friendships and relationships. Greatness does not lie at the top of a tall mountain waiting to be discovered. Greatness lies in every step we take. Greatness lies in every word we speak or choose not to. Greatness lies in every thought we listen to, and in every thought we reject. Moreover, greatness comes when we accept greatness as normal. “Whether you think you will succeed or you will fail, you are probably right.” This has never had deeper meaning for myself than today.
Thank you all for the words of support, for helping maintain this wonderful community and for accepting each and every one of us who comes here in desperation and in pain. We will rise again. We will destroy this epidemic, one by one. We will reclaim our true selves, and we will normalize greatness.
When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll have completed 90 days of complete sexual abstinence. The first month with the horrible cravings and urges seems like a lifetime ago. I don’t think I remember anymore what it was like to live in that brain fog and state of mental and emotional disarray. Nor do I want to return to that.
I feel as though I’ve woken up from a very long slumber.
I feel like there’s no challenge I can’t take on.
I’m going to see my friends now and we’re going to have lunch and watch Rogue One and Episode IV in sequence. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate.
Tomorrow is the beginning of a new life.
I’m 34. PMO addiction has created many problems for me, notably wrecking my previous long-term relationship. I’ve been fighting with this for some time, but only after this last breakup did I start to take it seriously.
I have ADHD and it’s genetically motivated, so the symptoms are the same. Aside from that I’ve noticed that I’m stabler emotionally and surer of myself.
Other positive changes are slower, but I’ve been able to keep a steady pace.
Thanks for the link. That’s pretty much where I stand. I consider myself an addict and don’t have the luxury of indulging in any kind of porn or masturbation again.
LINK – The Final Stretch: Day 90