My day counter hits 89 today, and this upcoming weekend I have planned an overnight getaway with my spouse of 23 years. I can say I am grateful to my Higher Power that I’ve learned so much over this time, have seen some awesome benefits, have met many wonderful people (both virtually and In Real Life), and have experienced the effects of changing everyday habits that have made a real difference.
While chatting with one of my AP’s this morning, he commented that the failure rate for sex addiction was in the high 90’s (percentile), and later finding out how long I’ve been married said “You are busting lots of odds sir. Need to take you to Vegas.”
A list of tools I put into place are here. As I look back over the past three months, a few things stand out as vital to my own recovery, and clear indicators of the kinds of behaviors that deaden my capacity to lapse.
Yes I have a written plan on how I will become porn- and masturbation-free. If you are just starting out, here’s a 7-day plan for you(podcast and outline). I use the 30-day plan available here (video and link to PDF). There is a clear consequence for a relapse as well as a clear reward for a successful month (i.e. the celebration overnight trip). There are lists of identification of unsafe places and triggers, as well as how I’ll counteract these places and triggers.
No, this isn’t my parole officer I am to report to, this is more like a peer that I can talk to, email and text regularly, and help each other out. I share my monthly plan with my AP, there are several I keep in touch with, and these are so, so important. Yes I understand many people here are introverted, have social anxiety, or are in situations where they feel they cannot get personally involved with others in recovery. Yet there are so many benefits to having In Real Life conversations with others, when I make a suggestion to get involved in the lives of others I mean it. I am so familiar with excuses I’ve heard them all before. It is truly depressing and sad for me to read up on journals here stretching back 3, 4 or 5 years (and sometimes longer) where men are still struggling and lapsing time and again. Breaking this cycle of addiction is not easy, and takes work, no doubt about that. And as a key to recovery, do you have people you could call on a moment’s notice when triggered and slipping into middle-circle behavior? If you are not calling people regularly to talk about how you are doing in recovery, you will never make that call when you really need help.
You can learn a ton by reading books, and reading the experiences of others here on this forum, and participating in group meetings like PAA or SAA. I’m up to book seven on recovery from porn addiction literature, and would rate the Big Book of AA and the Green Book of SAA as my top books to recommend. There are several others that have been enormously helpful as well – Out of the Shadows and The Final Freedom come to mind. I have four or five more books lined up, and plan to continue this as there’s always more to learn about recovery as I’m an active participant in my own recovery. Also Porn Free Radio has been a key these past three months; last week i finished Episode 255 and am somewhat sad that there are no episodes left. There are others on the topic of porn addiction, but nothing to solidly recommend at present.
I have purposefully minimized, to a great degree, use of social media, and of electronic media in general. No TV watching, no late nights in front of the computer surfing the internet, no reading of news, observation of Amish Hour from about 9 or 930pm until I go to bed (typically 1030 or 11pm). Time spent reading, journaling, thinking, or chatting with family members. When I get up, I’m online; however I’m participating here and on the PAA Daily Journey forum as a daily habit, or corresponding with APs. This feels very sustainable, and enjoy the change quite a lot. Another daily habit has been long walks in the morning and most evenings, when alone I listen to podcasts.
Okay, after all this, what have I gained? For starters, a saved marriage that has survived a crisis and is stronger than ever.
The biggest effect, to be frank, has been our sex life.
Details have been shared that went unsaid for over 20 years. Delayed ejaculation, something I suffered with for about 15 years, has just disappeared after a matter of weeks. And thoughts during sex are much more focused on the partner, which makes such a difference.
Outside the bedroom my opinions and take on things are different – I am a bit less passive.
At work, a boldness and clarity that was not there before, and good timing as I started a new role only a few months before i began this journey. At home, a purpose in my communications with my children, and a growing honesty as I realize how many lies I propagated while being addicted to pornography and covering up for it. At a volunteer organization, a new willingness to give, without expectation of return nor complaining about how things are done, and a willingness to be part of a solution, rather than just a complainer.
If you are just starting out and reading this, I can say it is hard but it is worth it. You may have been much younger the last time you were PMO-free, and becoming PMO-free you will realize new things, and have a new life.
By – luckydog