I am very happy I found this subreddit. This is a unique online community in that it is the only online quasi social network on the internet (that I know of) committed to fostering the development of true core values in its members rather than falsely inflating egos through external value systems (up-votes, false praise, pandering, that sort of thing). There is truth here, sometimes hard truth but truth nonetheless and I hope that never changes.
One thing I really appreciate is the wisdom and experiences that are freely shared here and I hope to add something useful to that cache today.
I am a 39 year old male. I have been married for 12 years and have been PMO-ing for most of my life. I was hooked as soon as i got a hold of my first JC Penny catalog. It honestly has never been anything that I felt was a negative impact on my life other than the usual religious admonitions against porn and masturbation in general. PMO was just something I did. I have struggled the last few years with other addiction issues, and 60 days ago was the last time I did anything substance-wise. Since then I have been clean, sober, and PMO-free.
I started a daily routine of weight training, yoga, and cardio and have kept faithfully to that discipline. Things have been amazing. I have all the usual super-powers that you guys have all mentioned but also I have begun to develop a sense of self-worth that I don’t believe was ever there before. That is new for me and something that now is more valuable to me than any high or buzz I ever had in the past. Of all my addictions though, PMO is the strongest and has proven to be the hardest one to kick (hell, I’ve been jerking off since I had the power to make a fist and get a boner).
Yesterday I found myself edging. I was browsing imgur and found some racy pics as one does on imgur, nothing I would even consider pornographic based on my previous browsing habits, but there it is. It was enough to tip me over the edge and I found myself breaking my streak. What I had done really didn’t hit me until this morning on the way to work. I found myself breaking down and crying about it, mourning what I had given away so easily when the surge of excitement was on me. It honestly scared me because there are things I have kicked that are far worse than porn and my thought was: if I open myself to relapsing with this addiction what about the others?
So far I’m doing well, I am resetting my badge and moving forward. What follows is what I have learned from my first attempt at no-fap and my sincere hope is that I might help at least one other person in their struggle because lets face it, this habit is a motherfucker.
- You’re going to screw up. That is OK as long as you learn from it. Don’t let a moment of weakness give you license to return to your old life. Remember your old life sucks otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
- Not jacking off is the easiest part of no-fap. (I hear this all the time here and it is SO true) The real work is in taking back control of your mind. You have given so much time to establishing this pattern of thought-action-reward that it is likely hardwired. Luckily our brains can change. The challenge is laying down new patterns of thought to remove and replace the old ones, to hone your ability to choose what your mind focuses on. This is why mental disciplines like meditation are continually mentioned here. Remember the problem is not your dick, it’s your brain. If you don’t do the work to change your brain you will likely relapse (I am a perfect example).
- Edging will mess with your recovery. If you edge, if you purposefully look at anything that stimulates the old PMO pathway in your brain, that pathway is reinforced. I found that a few days before I relapsed I was edging on sites like ebaumsworld and imgur, like I said they were just racy pics but they were enough to get me distracted away from my goal. Take steps to prevent this, avoid sites with these types of images.
- Yoga pants exist. There will always be things that trigger the old pathways in your brain. This is why so many of us have trouble getting past our first attempts at no-fap. We live in the world and the world is filled with sexy stuff that is going to mess with our mind. Again we have to strengthen our ability to dismiss the images and triggers without allowing them to take root and that takes time.
- Honor the process not the results. Focus your attention on the process of your own personal change and try not to get caught up with getting to a certain milestone. If no PMO is a lifestyle change you are making then it follows that you hopefully will be doing this for, well… life. What will your badge look like at the end of your life? How many points will you have? Does it really matter? I feel if we focus on the work, the ritual of healing ourselves, the milestones will take care of themselves and we will be less likely to wallow if we mess up.
- Have an accountability partner. I am married so my main accountability partner is my wife. Your accountability partner can be anyone but make sure they are someone you can talk to on a regular basis and someone you agree to be completely honest with at all times, even in the face of defeat. The minute you start to conceal your defeats you begin to build a little room for the old habits to move back in.
- The ultimate accountability partner is yourself. Only you know your own mind. Your mind is where the battle is occurring and where your ultimate victory or defeat will live, so be honest above all, with yourself. For years in the depths of my addictions I was an expert at lying to myself. PMO is no different. In the end we see only to the limits of our perceived self worth. As you begin to heal, your self worth begins to grow and with it comes the challenge to replace your old destructive values with new ones. This process is humbling and frustrating and one I have only begun but I can feel the changes taking place each day I give time to work on myself.
Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now. Stay strong!