I’ve had a bit of an odd journey with rebooting (I guess everyone does). When I first started, I thought porn was my biggest obstacle. Porn was an emotional crutch for me. It was one of the only places I felt safe expressing my emotions. I was always of the mind that masturbation was healthy and natural, while porn wasn’t. Thus, I allowed myself to masturbate during my initial 90-day reboot.
However, when I started getting closer and closer to 90 days without porn, I realized that I was using masturbation for the same reasons I was using porn. It was an emotional crutch for me. It was something I used when I felt lonely, rejected, frustrated, or misunderstood. So, I decided to go for another 90 days, this time without porn and without masturbation. Now, I’m 165 days clean of porn and 90 days clean of masturbation. I must say, I’m very pleased with the results.
I think it’s important to mention that, while my daily counter is relatively impressive, I don’t believe that successful recovery is measured in days of abstinence. Abstinence is not the same thing as recovery. Recovery is not measured in days, but rather how things have changed in your behavior, your thought process, and your mindset. A 90 day reboot is an excellent milestone to set course for, but it’s not going to do anything for you if you spend the whole time gritting your teeth and wishing you could just go back to your old habits. So, rather than focusing on the number of days I managed to abstain, I’m going to discuss some of the changes I’ve noticed in my behavior, my mindset, and my life.
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is that I’ve developed more compassion for myself. Throughout most of my life, I’ve been a very self-conscious dude. A lot of the thoughts in my head are self-deprecating, even when I do something beautiful or creative. Porn and masturbation were outlets for me to soothe those wounds. Now that I don’t rely on porn and masturbation for that anymore, I’ve had to face my self-deprecating thoughts head-on. I’ve had to find healthier ways of soothing those wounds. I’ve learned about the healing powers of meditation, journaling, exercise, therapy, and being open and honest with friends and family. Self-criticism festers when it’s buried beneath a layer of porn and masturbation. It only really starts to heal when you expose it and take a step back to look at it as a whole.
Another big change is that I am more emotionally sensitive. As an American male, I was always taught that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness when I was growing up. I wasn’t just taught this by the instructive figures in my life like teachers and parents, but also by other kids. I eventually taught myself to hold my tears back when I was sad, to stop myself from sharpening my voice when I was getting angry, to control my breathing when I saw something beautiful, and to appear emotionally solid at all times because that’s what makes you a man.
In America, we males are conditioned to believe that the only appropriate outlet to express yourself emotionally is in the bedroom. Sex is the only time where you’re allowed to be vulnerable, without fear of judgment and without holding anything back. I think that’s why I turned to porn in the first place. As it turns out, I’m a very emotional person, and I need to express myself physically. After taking away the emotional outlets of porn and masturbation, I know that I have so many options other than just sexual stimulation to really be myself and feel things physically. I may even be able to cry again before too long.
My sex life has improved (and is still improving). My partner and I are closer together now than we’ve ever been before, and I think I value our sexual experiences now more than I did before I started rebooting. These days, sex is so much more for me than just another orgasm in an ocean of meaningless PMO sessions. I enjoy foreplay almost as much as I enjoy penetration. I enjoy the entirety of our relationship, and sex has come to be about so much more than orgasm for us.
So those are just a few things that I’ve noticed about myself since I stopped using porn and masturbation to medicate my problems.
For about the past six months, I’ve been a very active user on this forum. I visited almost every day, I’ve made lots of posts of my own, and I’ve made hundreds of comments. I’ve engaged in interesting debates on topics like relationships, sexuality, ethics, and law. I’ve read inspiring stories, and I’ve seen a community of people that supports one another and encourages everyone to “get a new grip” on life. I love this community, and I’m so happy I came here.
Having said that, I think I’m going to cool down for a bit. I’ve spent a lot of time on this forum, and I want to gain some more independence from it. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving forever or anything like that. However, I should mention that leaving this forum and living a PMO-free life on my own is a long-term goal of mine.
I will come back here when I need additional support, and I will come back here if I have questions to ask or have people I want to talk to. So, in a way, this is a goodbye. However, it’s also a new beginning. I definitely don’t see this as the end of my recovery. Rather, I see it as a new milestone in my recovery. I’ve now reached a point where I’ve gained more confidence in my abilities to engage with difficult aspects of my mindset and my behaviors, and I’m going to carry the knowledge I’ve learned on this forum with me everywhere I go. I will continue to stay recovery-oriented, and I encourage you all to do the same when you reach your 90-day goals.
All the best,