Thought I would share with you a brief summary of my journey. I am not posting this in the success forum because the road is long and hard.
What brought me here:
- Porn addict for a good 15 yearrs
- Social anxiety
- Caught red handed by my wife – no option to deny it and carry on
- Was sort of rebooting/abstaining/in denial for over a year before finding YBOP
- Finally decided that I had a problem and that I wanted to fix it (that last part was the hardest)
What I have experienced in these 90 days
I have experienced a dramatic drop in urges – from literally being convinced that this would never work and talking about a need to “release” and being “unable to control myself”, to accepting that I could survive 60 days, to rarely experiencing p urges, to knowing I will always be an addict but that I can absolutely live a clean and good life.
I had a brief blissful flatline.
My PIED evaporated. I went from needing to fantasize, focussing everything I had on maintaining an E, the smallest obstacle (like a condom or an invasive anxiety) reduced me to a flop-star. I have since experienced very proper sex, fully sober, fully aware, calm, and most importantly highly aroused by what was actually happening in the room. I was able to take long condom detours without it being an issue.
My anxieties have not magically disappeared. However the fog has lifted, and I have unlocked hours and hours of my waking day that I can now spend on actually sorting my life out rather than running scared. As a result my anxieties have dropped consistently.
My general outlook has become far more positive despite the damage caused by my addiction being so deep.
I am fitter, healthier, just better frankly.
What did my Reboot look like?
I put as much energy into no pmo as I did into no peeking. I was aware of many many ways that I could get my hit without a “full blown” relapse and I decided to treat them with equal extreme prejudice.
I steered clear of any form of stimulation for 60 days, then I started to test the water with my wife. I kept monitoring myself afterwards for chasers.
I eliminated any p fantasy – like a see-saw I found myself becoming more naturally creative again.
I had a life vision – it was onl one sentance for the first 60 days because it is hard to get detailed when you are such a mess – but the vision helped me focus on a point on the horizon.
I was not literal in my appreciation of what p is, or what my triggers were. I knew when I was igniting the old pathways and I simply stopped. Zero tolerance. If I couldn’t at least do it for my reboot I would never really know if it worked.
I never stopped knowing that the urges are temporary. There is more than one way to eliminate an urge.
I got a therapist with addiction expertise.
I shared EVERTHING with my wife, who was able to set aside her hurt enough for her to also be my accountability partner.
I wrote a journal and I accepted a responsibility to be true to you guys.
I kept reading about this addiction, other’s experiences of it. I learnt from their mistakes, and benefited from their wisdom.
What does the future hold?
More of the same
Hard times, pain, anxiety dissapointment
The ability to deal with the above
Good times, real proper good times.
The life vision awaits.
Good luck all. And even if I fall, know that this shit works and I will have fallen because I chose too.
BY – BryanHoward
UPDATE – 6 Months Clean – My Thoughts
Hi all, This is a long post, so pour yourself a drink and get comfortable
As I celebrate 6 months of no p, no m, no fantasy, no bullshit, I want to share some of my experiences with you.
Read the journal for the life story, but in a nutshell I have been a heavy p-addict for the best part of 20 years. I didn’t even know I had PIED because I was so obsessed with p that I just assumed I wasn’t built to enjoy real sex. When high-speed internet p came online I soon forgot about all the self-loathing I had for not being able to have good sex. But I didn’t live happily ever after with p, I married, had kids, and subjected them to a decade of the very worst that I was capable of. The worse I was, the more I needed p to numb it all. This perpetuated until I was one big sloppy wreck of an addict – and it was this sloppiness that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it was not a personal epiphany that started me on this journey, it was getting caught red-handed. I still tried to hide, to deny, to downplay, and to lie. Then on October 29th 2014 I decided that I actually wanted to die happy.
I have followed the advice so well put together by Underdog, someone who, along with sir Gary Wilson I want to thank for giving me the words and tools for a journey I knew I had to undertake but could put a single foot forward for.
1. No p ever, not a peek, not even a visual memory – anything intrusive comes up and I defer my attention, I count my breaths, and move on
2. No MO
3. No stimulation until rebooted – on day 65 I had my first (non WD) orgasm with my wife – it was like loosing my virginity all over again, but the way it should have been
4. Achieve the life vision at all costs
5. Understand and avoid your triggers – they might not just be a naked lady
How the hell do we stop pmo-ing in those early days?
As an addict I came into this journey like a little boy – someone or something else was the cause of everything. Even my urges were something that I decided were totally beyond my control, a physical build up that could ONLY ever be relieved by PMO. But I made myself a promise – the kind of promise that you really really know you are going to deliver on – because if you can’t then you deserve nothing in this life. So I made it simple, because I was terrified of failing. I would stay off porn for 10 days – there is nothing in this world that can compel me to PMO in just 10 days. I knew it was going be a war, but I also knew that when I got to my goal, I could either “reward” myself with a relapse or I could keep pushing. Behind the short term promise was a longer term commitment, I knew that none of the success and results noted in YBRB or YBOP could be achieved if I didn’t ACTUALLY reboot – so the last thing I was prepared to do was to “half reboot”, not feel the benefits, and also feel starved of my poison. I knew on some level that I would make it for 60 days (what I decided might be the shortest time it would take for me to reboot).
I felt urges, I felt anger, confusion, my anxieties went up and down, and life kept on going – throwing challenge after challenge at me.
But instead of relapsing I read about other people here relapsing. Sure enough that creeping sense of “what harm will one quick PMO do” or “imagine how amazing it will feel after this short detox” was replaced by an undeniable realization that only disappointment and setback would result from it. Journals on this website, and some of the post in this thread, were very very helpful.
Exercise was, and is, my go-to drug of choice. If I simply couldn’t get my head together, and if the walls started to close in, I would drop whatever I was doing no matter what and I would burn myself to pieces at the gym. The endorphins satisfied my instant gratification needs, and it created a cycle of health and positivity.
The first few days of a reboot are without doubt the hardest. So many people here are failing to get past just a handful of days. It must be so crushing to not get past these few days, but for those that haven’t – there is a plateau at the top of this summit. Sure, there are always challenges, but you will never have the such an intense combination of 1) withdrawal symptoms, 2) brain for, 3) low motivation, 4) lack of obvious reward for giving this up. If you can just convince yourself that the plateau is within your reach, you can make it.
And convincing yourself, tricking yourself, is key in those first few days. I thought of my addiction as a totally separate part of me, an intruder that needed to be caught, restrained, and left to die. But in those early days he is very much part of you – it’s his voice saying “but what if I simply HAVE to release?” and “willpower is not enough, I have a stronger addiction than these other guys”. So you need to come up with ways of tricking the addict. I did this by allowing myself to PMO once I had achieved my goal, if that was what I really wanted to do when I got there. I also didn’t talk too much in absolute terms, like “I will never see p again” – not in the early days. I allowed my addict to think that one day in the future I would be reunited with PMO. It doesn’t really matter HOW you get through those first few days, you just simply HAVE to. When you come out of that first stage the addict retreats from centre stage, you are able to move around without being hounded by him, and small positive changes start to happen – the recovery has generated momentum.
More than just P
There are a lot of people here who know this – there are very very few of us who simply have an isolated p addiction, nothing else. Most of us carried some baggage into this addiction, or at least picked some up along the way. The life vision, therapy, support groups, journaling, exercise, healthy eating – the more holistically that you view your recovery, the more likely you will be able to achieve it. This can look very different to any one of us, but my advice to you if you are struggling is to zoom out and look at the bigger picture; forget about porn and your weird fetishes for a minute and spend some time to consider how you cope with stress, anxiety, pain; how you feel about yourself, your life. Don’t just acknowledge it, meditate upon it. It is a myth that therapy leads to big “aha!” moments or sudden overwhelming tidal waves of new emotions and understandings – you find yourself saying things that you have had in your head for years, it just feels different – you feel it!
Brace yourself for the next challenge
It scares me how many relapses follow a period of ease, confidence, complacency. So many people decide to “test the water” or decide that the addiction is no longer a threat to them, or they get used to recovering on the plateau but suddenly hit a very steep challenge and they buckle, or the anxiety builds up in them slowly without them recognizing it and they are in a fog before they have a chance to mitigate it. I have got to the point where every time I hit a high point or I make a statement to myself about how well I am doing, I immediately start to brace myself – because it always comes, life throws something at you. I have had so many great reasons to relapse during this recovery, I think one of the main reasons that I haven’t has been hyper-vigilence. I am no longer afraid of relapse or of triggers, I am afraid of my state of mind when the triggers come. So I no longer have to obsess about restricting my exposure to p or sexually suggestive content, I spend more of my time assessing my mood and dealing with my stress and anxiety productively – this makes the triggers pass over you like water on a ducks back.
There are very real positive effects that come from rebooting – but as for superpowers, you need to manage your expectations on that one. Imagine you are a runner and you have been wearing lead shoes forever. Rebooting is like taking them off – you still need to win the race, you are still competing with other runners who are not wearing lead shoes. But knowing where we have come from tends to give us a spark, a determination to make every bit of use out of our newfound ability to have sex/be confident/recall information/stay focused etc etc. This is similar to the runner benefiting from the increased strength that they have accumulated through wearing lead shoes. But this is not a permanent advantage and this is not why we took off the shoes. We are not here for the superpowers, we are here to rejoin the world and to struggle on equal footing. We still need to achieve success by putting ourselves out of our comfort zones, challenging ourselves to become better.
Get some help
Whatever it is, you will need it. We have to take what we can get, but make sure you have some form of accountability and support network. Journals, spouses, GF’s, therapists, SAA meetings – this addiction cannot be solved in secret. You need an external lifeline, for when you are loosing yourself, something to slap you in the face and say “no – that is bullshit”. I would say that this is more important than creating walls by using blockers and other restraints – it is better for you to know that relapse is ALWAYS possible, but it is the aftermath of a relapse that you choose not to walk into again.
Re-associate with the internet and your electronic devices
Despite having no content blocking I managed to never peek at porn. I didn’t want to lock myself away from a tool that I needed for work, and more importantly a tool that was worth so much more than PMO – so I worked very hard on how I viewed my devices. I kept YBRP open on my browser at all times – every time I turned on the browser there it was, reminding me what I was doing. In order to avoid triggers I had to make some changes to my social media feeds and how I dealt with junk mail etc but more importantly I continued to use the internet for recovery, every day, until eventually I started to view my iPad as a tool for recovery rather than a tool for escape. I have always just been a click or two from PMO – just like an alcoholic is never far from a bar. It may be harder to abstain when there are no walls between you and your poison, but the empowerment that comes with knowing you did – that drives you to succeed.
Be good to yourself
Forgive yourself. Believe that you deserve success. Move on from the disgust and frustration with what you have been doing. There will always be a time to seriously acknowledge these things, but we have already been living out our punishments for what we have been doing – low self-esteem, loneliness, lack of connection, anxiety – it’s that cycle of self-loathing that feeds the need.
Don’t get caught up in the small stuff
There are no universal rules in this, and we all come with a unique combination of “stuff” that needs to be fixed. So don’t worry too much when your journey doesn’t fit what you expected, or when you disagree with someone else take on all of this. Somewhere in this forum and YBOP, sprinkled within all of the accounts and articles, is the perfect map for you – you need to learn to pick up on what works for you and run with it – just be aware that sometimes it’s the thing that you are objecting about the most that is actually the hurdle you need to overcome.
Rebooting is real
All I know is that this works. It is not easy, there are no shortcuts, the road is long and hard – but the urges subside, your confidence and clarity increases, anxieties are easier to deal with, and rewiring is real and fun! The way I feel, think, behave, now has changed so much in the last few months – I know that it wouldn’t have worked if I had not have walked this path. It’s a fear of throwing that all away, and a genuine preference for living life without p, that keeps me clean now.
OK time for the backstory. In a nutshell though, I will develop on it as I progress through this reboot.
I am 34 years old. I MO’d myself to sleep almost every night of my life since I was about 13. I discovered porn in the same year. Porn was not online back then, but when I was 15 I already recognized that I had a secretive “hording” approach to my porn consumption vs my more “normal” friends. I was at boarding school, which in some ways is like prison, and porn was a form of currency.
1998 I was 18, living at home with my divorced dad, lots of freetime and the internet was booming. I used porn online maybe 5 days a week.
1998 I lost my virginity in a weed-smoke paranoia-fest. It was a disaster. Instead of laughing at it and moving on I was terrified that it was something permanently wrong – from that day forth I associated sex with absolute terror. Porn was the warm embrace that would never judge me.
2000 – world fell apart as sister announces she was sexually abused by my dad.
2001 – Broke up from my longest relationship – 20 months – with girl from University. We were never suited but I expect she was happy to leave as I probably just didn’t seem that into her. The first few weeks I was very much “in the room”, not using porn, no ED issues. Then it started to sink in and I ramped up the porn consumption and ran away from intimacy – that pretty much sealed my fate.
2005 – I am a passionate student, physically active, have two years of therapy behind me, have done alot of work on my family situation, living independently with friends. Using plenty of porn but felt very confident that I was the “finished article” – someone that any girl would be lucky to meet.
2005 – Started a relationship with my neighbour, a beautiful girl, that I had been getting to know over the last few months since moving in. She was loving, kind, non-judgemental, a total breath of fresh air.
2006 – The honeymoon period is barely over and we are already moving in and she is pregnant. Rather than trying to identify with how I feel about all of this I am in fact the one ploughing ahead with everything.
2007 – First born son – One of the most amazing things that one can acheive on this planet. But I am terrified. Terrified that I will fail to support my growing family, that I am not good enough, that I will become my father. I make the biggest mistake of my life, instead of sharing my fears with my wife and moving the fuck on I turn to the warm embrace of my friend P – “this can stay between you and me; you will be my outlet and will enable me to carry on with a smile on my face – no one will know and to that extent it will not exist”.
2008 – I take a job that has me travelling to a different country 2 weeks of every month. It’s a big career move, but part of it is driven by my desire to run for the hills. I focus my porn binges on when I am away. That seems to feel like the right thing to do. I don’t try to have affairs or one night stands, which would be easy being a man in a foreign place with keys to an executive floor room at the hotel. I tell myself that this is what being faithful looks like. I ignore the growing occassions that I still need to use porn despite the fact that I am at home.
2011 – It’s November. I have two boys. My wife has suffered depression for quite some time now. I put it down to some sort of mystical post-natal thing or an inherent chemical imbalance in her brain. The elephant in the room, by the name of P, sniggers but I can’t quite hear it. My wife has no idea about what exactly I am doing, but she knows she is miserable – she has a husband that is barely home and when he is at home he is a prick – lazy, ungrateful, an attitude that suggests he pines for escape. She delivers an ultimatum – change your job or we are in serious trouble. Makes sense that travel is the real demon, and I am glad for it to take the heat off of P. SO I agree that it will be healthy to be at home more.
2012 – Took a new job, moved to a new country. It’s a rough entry and the family is shell-shocked – I am arrogant, puffed up, impervious, and using porn as if someone is about to shut off the internet.
2012 – October. Caffeine, porn, stress, sleep deprivation = full blown panic attack at work. Something is gravely wrong but of course it can’t be porn right? Just work.
2013 – May – My wife is cleaning the house and moves my laptop. It pops open and displays everything I have been doing for the last few weeks. I have grown incredibly sloppy (which I am grateful for now). She is mortified, she immediately confronts me. The evidence is irrefutable – I can’t bullshit or manipulate myself out of this. So I accept that I am an idiot, but I downplay the extent of the problem. My new challenge is to make this uncomfortable period go away so I can get on with my old ways. Yes I will use it less, and I will be more careful, and I am already a better father to my kids so let’s just stop talking about it ok?!
2014 – We have been through relationship counselling, I have agreed to see a specialist too. I am making good progress. I am using the term “addiction” but have no real understanding of what I am. I have no intention of permanently ridding myself of this. September comes and I finally walk into my therapists office and tell him that I have never really wanted to quit until now. I have relapsed to PMO about 6 times in a year, which in some respects is an amazing feat; but this is nothing more than abstinance – I have made no effort to recover, to create a life vision, to rewire my brain. I have been holding my breath for as long as I can and patting myself on the back for how few times I have come up for air. I have also continued to share nothing with my wife. The shame of everything, not to mention what I assume she will do if she sees it all, compels me to hide it all. So she only gets the one confession to my first relapse. I have had 5 since then.
Last month – I am 35-ish days into my latest streak, more like a recovery but my poor wife is still stuck at the starting gate wanting to know who I actually am. I come clean – it gets extremely ugly. The addict in me expected a high-five for being honest – I quite rightly got a slap instead.
Last week – my therapist suggests that I see a support group. I go home, type “porn addiction support group” into google. For the last 7 days I have permanently had YBOP YBRB and daily strength open on my ipad. I am posting, reading, and most importantly sharing with my wife. She is still furious and deeply hurt by everything I have done. I have to stay focussed on the reality of where I am today while simultaneously accepting that my wife has to “catch up” with me now that I have finally let her in. That is the price you pay for “trickle-disclosure”.
Today – I am 6 days into my formal reboot. I am aiming high. I need 60 days of no PMO, no M, no O. Then I will take stock and plan further ahead. I am following the Underdog approach and will create a life vision. I want to do this right.
Let’s see how it goes.