Age 26 - Some thoughts at 90 days, after 3+ years of recovery (ED)
I've been working on my recovery for years now, since before /r/NoFap existed. This isn't the first time I've made it to 90 days. Unfortunately, it's not even the second or third. I have failed many, many times. The majority of my "streaks" during recovery have lasted a week, maybe two, before a humiliating and seemingly inevitable relapse.
There was one dark period of about five or six months where I effectively gave up and went back to using porn far heavier than before. And I paid for it, too—with anxiety, depression, PE, and PIED like nothing I had experienced before.
Recovery has been a long process for me. I sincerely hope that it doesn't take as long for any of you, but you should be aware that it might. And the process isn't behind me either. My commitment is renewed and tested each day. It does get easier over time, and it's true that a relapse doesn't undo all the progress you made.
So what's special about this 90 day milestone? It began 149 days ago—the last time I looked at porn. I can't explain how or why it happened, but this was when a few things finally clicked for me.
#1. Your attitude should be, "I no longer want this as part of my life," rather than, "I must not peek, I must not touch." The difference is subtle, but the former comes from a position of choice and power, while the latter carries an implicit sense of deprivation. I couldn't bear to think that I would never again be able to pleasure myself to the images of naked women that I had come to hold so dearly.
You can consciously agree that this is how your attitude ought to be while being unable to change. It came to me progressively over time. The first step is deleting the collection.
#2. Small goals are very helpful when you're first starting out. Focusing on a week, two weeks, or thirty days helps to mix up and reshape your old habits and get you thinking clearly again. There comes a point when you should no longer rely on this crutch. Ultimately, your focus must be on the big picture, not on the counter. "I want lasting freedom from this," rather than "I want 90 days."
I wasn't upset when I had to reset my NoFap counter because I masturbated. Big deal, learn from the mistake, move on. A minor set back when the goal is lasting freedom. I realized that edging was deadly to my goals, so I began to treat myself even more strictly. If I had to reset because I edged, so be it. The important thing is that I find lasting freedom.
Side-note on this point of contention: it's popular to say, "Well, masturbate if you like, it's what works for you," or "Edging is at your personal discretion." People don't like to draw clear bright lines. I won't comment on this either way, but I will say that the main reason my recovery has taken as long as it has is because I waffled on these issues and experimented with a variety of strategies, all because I wanted the sense of "control" over my sexual urges that porn gave me (except without porn).
My advice is to get serious and give up porn, masturbation, and edging. You will feel horny at times—you should. Learn to be comfortable with having an itch you can't scratch. This is the only sustainable strategy in my experience. Habitual edging eventually leads to masturbation, and habitual masturbation eventually leads to porn use.
#3. Porn filled some kind of purpose in your life. It may have been a kind of self-medication that masked a deeper mental or emotional problem. If nothing else, it took up a considerable amount of your time. Recovery is not simply about "not doing something," but also what you do instead. Use this opportunity to become a better man.
Much has been said about this already and continues to be said each day. Exercise is crucial. Diet, meditation, quitting other addictions, learning new skills and languages—any or all of these could the tools for your success. Don't make a habit of dilly-dallying on the Internet, or, if you already have, break that habit. Stay busy.
What's the benefit to all of this madness? I don't believe in superpowers, I believe in health. To a man who has been sick for many years, health can feel supernatural. And chronic porn use and masturbation will make you sick, kill your confidence, make you anxious and depressed, pervert your perspectives and desires. That is not to mention PIED, which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Returning to health reverses all of this. This is my motivation, and this is why the commitment is easy to renew each day.
TL;DR: The formatting highlights the main points. It's a lot of text, but this is also a summary of years of experience.
Hi all, and welcome to the many new folks joining us! I joined the challenge, oh, six months ago, and it's been very valuable to have a small, supportive community where people care about your progress and want to hear from you.
Don't be intimidated by all the names on the list—we're still a small, supportive community. (A lot of people are, unfortunately, inactive.)
When did you start your recovery, and why?
At the start, three years ago, it was about my faith and wanting to live a moral life. Although my faith is still important to me, it honestly isn't my first, second, or even third reason for continuing now.
By luck and sheer stubbornness, I went over 90 days on my first attempt. And even had the fortune of doing another 90+ days after a short relapse. It was huge, but in a lot of ways the effects then were subtle. In other words, it wasn't all superpowers and happy endings: I flatlined for most of that period and went through a lot of difficult personal transitions, like a messy break-up, which were probably related to that.
Still, I got a taste of what life might be like without compulsive porn use and masturbation. After a while of continuing my efforts, I fell into a long, extended relapse period of three or four months. What I learned then was that I really am happier, more confident, less anxious, more ambitious, less depressed, etc. when I'm not fapping! Aside from that, I experienced PIED worse than ever before. So I came back to recovery for these reasons, and that's what still drives me today.
UPDATE - 3 years later: I have been tracking my recovery for 3 years. Here's my data.
I also keep a spreadsheet that gives me some basic statistics on these data. Link
I made a similar post last year but it didn't get much traction. I was coming off of a relapse at that time, but I made some important changes, and I'm still going on that same streak today for over a year now. I have a suspicion that we, as a community, give excessive weight to what numbers our badge counters and those of our fellow commenters say. In other words, we give someone with a long streak more respect than those with short ones. In fact, my success rate last year (96.2%) and this year (97.4%) are not that different. As with most things, if you keep trying, I think you'll have more success and fewer failures as you keep going.
Feel free to ask any questions. I wrote a 90 day report a long time ago, and still stand by everything I said. If you are looking for specific tips, for my money, there is no better guide on the Internet than /u/foobarbazblarg's Concrete Tips, with my number one piece of advice being to get an accountability partner.