I first became addicted to the PMO cycle around 12. Early on, I also slowly became entrenched in a serious fetish addiction that fed into the PMO cycle. Easily by 13 or 14, I was already making daily use of PMO. Binge usage was common.
In high school and early college, I was very depressed. Despite my attempts to get rid of PMO, I kept returning to it. I was fearful that I would never be able to detach from PMO and the fetish. It was a spiral of all kinds of sadness and depression: use PMO to avoid the feeling, and behold, the PMO usage intensifies the gloom…and so, I return to PMO to avoid the feeling, &c. &c.
Regardless, I eventually made more progress with the help of accountability (around 20 years of age). It was a painful day-by-day process (I even had an old, pre-NoFap chart somewhere that had my streaks). I recall telling a friend once that everything seemed lost after a return to PMO/fetish after 30 days. And yet, 30 days is small number to me now!
Little by little, those old streaks that seemed so long became smaller by comparison. Little by little, the successes seemed to dwarf the failures.
But this was very slow. I made it to over 100 days and relapsed. But this was still higher than my last attempt. Then, later, higher still. And so on and so forth.
Anyway, to make this story a little shorter: I joined NoFap because I had yet another relapse after nearly two years of being clean. I was tired of falling back into the same patterns after so much time.
So what do I have to share here? Well, I hope I have at least something worthwhile.
-Things of this nature take time. Do not give up. It will be hard and likely filled with emotions. And yet, climb the ladder of healing one rung at a time.
-You can change, and this is a hopeful thing to remember. I still struggle with temptations to PMO/fetish…but I am markedly different than when I first started out on this journey. When I first started out, I almost believed the lie that I could not change (which is a destructive yet easily believed by one who is in a dark place). Yet, somehow, I did change. Also, I am not as sad as I once was. Now, 99% of my time is not marked by PMO. I have greater control of my thoughts. There is healing.
-Accountability is a great resource. My first real attempts to change involved the help of one of my best friends. He was (and is) such a strong support. He showed his worth in remaining a true friend despite my deficiencies. I suggest finding a real life accountability partner who shares your goals. My own time on NoFap (short as it has been) has also been marked by great camaraderie and beautifully simple interactions. Though I am unsure if anyone really reads much of my own writings, it has still been a help to have an audience of some kind, as well as the occasional dialogue.
-Journaling, too, has been a good thing. Again, even if nobody reads it, it serves as a tool of self-accountability & reflection. Many studies recommend the practice, and I think the simple unpacking of thoughts is a good practice. Even in my own log, my day 1[this link requires a NoFap login] said, “I am currently feeling the early effects of PMO. Many of you know what this feels like. Pretty close to the initial fall, there comes a pull of all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional strains. These usually make a return visit by week’s end (which seems like a long time at that point!), and perhaps even a month down the road as well. At this very moment, I really want to go back to PMO. Even though I know the shame, the regret, and all the terrible pull it has had on me in the past. Reason struggles in the cloud of passion.” and “My body is tense. I am bored and lonely. I have had a lot of stress lately, and today, I have wasted a lot of time…” Even items like these are useful to remember and compare to the present.
That was a lot, and I am sure I could keep writing. But, even so, day 90 has come at last. I am thankful for the support of this community. If anyone here ever needs help, I can lend an ear; this beast is best felled by many companions, after all.
As for my own continuing goals? I hope to add another 90 days (because the initial start of my 90 days still felt the effects of the relapse; this 90 will begin on a cleaner note and hopefully hasten the healing).
[Response to a question]
What led to my most recent relapse (of near two years)? It is hard to say. There is not a single answer; these things usually have multiple variables attached to them.
But again, in my most recent relapse, I was still trying to adapt to a new mode of life. I had been (to use a modern expression) a monk. For almost two years, I had been without most technology. I lived in a community. I lived simply.
That experience ended in an abrupt and painful way. A therapist I had confidence in compared it to her own struggle with divorce.
Anyway, I found myself in a different world than the monk-life. My path was altogether thrown off. I was sad and aimless–without job or my beloved community. In addition, I had to learn to live in the world. I did not relate to many in the same way either (my goals had changed). Simply re-learning moderation in electronics was slightly difficult because I had not used most modern devices in a while.
Add to that the fact that I had a new liberty that I did not understand. I was gaining means and had no community or rule of life to hold me in balance. I had found out that in a short amount of time a lot of PMO related items I had been interested in had become socially acceptable (defended by seculars as “sexual self-expression”). In theory, I felt the rush of being able to do whatever I wished. This, in itself, was a hard beast to tame.
I am also a fallen man, and I still suffer the effects of a poorly spent youth. Curiosity got the best of me one day. I thought I would look at old PMO related items; not P itself, but P related. This is putting oneself in harm’s way, and it is dangerous. From that point on, all it took was the slow erosion of the will and the reigniting of the passions. And from there, it only takes one click to enter into an old way. The rest falls like dominos.
So I do not have a good answer. And yet, this is how addicts often can be. Years of freedom from alcohol, for example, can be undone with one drink. I am, in many ways, no different. One day a temptation came; I indulged the thought and then acted out upon it. That is the basis of that relapse–and it is why we must always be on guard.
If you have more questions or wish for a better answer…well, I can try to narrow it in. But I think it relates to many small life difficulties joining forces to become one big problem.
I suppose that is all for now.
A Modern Miroku
LINK – 90 Days of No PMO