Take a workshop that's of interest to you—preferably one that will connect you with other people in a way that's not superficial. Here's one man's experience:
- Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to take an intense three-day men's workshop called the Authentic Man Program (AMP) which had been recommended to me by another forum member. It was an amazing experience that dealt with my issues of intimacy and dating. Through it, I was able to see how women reacted towards me, good or bad.
For much of my adult life, porn was what filled the void. At times, I look back and think about how sad and pathetic that is. But the reality is, porn is just one of those outlets that occured when I wasn't getting my needs met. So what did I learn from the weekend:
- It's okay to feel shame. It doesn't have to cripple me or make me feel less than anyone else. During the course I mentioned my porn addiction and my shy-bladder syndrome to a bunch of other men. It felt strange at first, but I knew that this would help me feel stronger. The men were great and supported me all the way.
It's okay to express my sexual desires and not feel ashamed about it. This, I would say, was the hardest part of the weekend. I've never felt comfortable telling a woman that I found her attractive or that I wanted to kiss her, sleep with her, etc. But just to be clear, there is a difference between being crude and being upfront. On the last day, we got to practice owning up to our sexual desires with real women. No doubt we were all feeling a bit nervous. The women gave us feedback about how they responded to us. What I learned was that how I feel is more important than the words I say. So being in a calmer state is something I'm working on.
I also realized that being present in the moment and being in tuned with my body was important in letting go of my hangups. My feelings of shame would come up from time to time when I tried to escalate my sexual interest toward one of the woman. I realized I was letting the "analytical" side of me play Devil's Advocate. Sure enough, the thoughts of "whether I was good enough for her" or "she can't be turned on by what I just said" played a part with me hesitating to escalate. It's amazing how easy it was for me to go back to this state of not being present. I had to keep focusing on staying tuned in with my body. This will come with practice.
Overall, I had many great realizations about myself and my issues in dealing with intimacy. I still have a long road to go, yet now I feel like I'm going the right direction. Whereas before, I felt clueless with women. So as for next steps as far as dating goes, I'm going to actually not worry so much about finding a girlfriend. Instead, I need to work on building a social life. It's hard to get out there and expose myself and make new friends. But I realize that I didn't give it a good chance before. I hid behind my mental hangups. Change is a scary thing, but it's also a part of growing up.
As for my porn addiction update, it's been one month PMO free (and about 9 months since I started experimenting). This time around it was much easier. I attribute this to the fact that I took sexual fantasies off the table. Sure, the fantasies would pop up from time to time. However, I never actually indulged in them.
Just a couple days ago, I experimented with having an orgasm without ejaculation, and with no porn using the three-fingers technique from a Taoist book. The first time around it worked like a charm. However, I was pressing really hard that it hurt afterwards. The second time I did it again with less pressure. Some semen came out but not much. As for the effects, I feel much better than when I've released the whole load. Those spermies really do have a power effect on your energy level. My only worry is stressing the prostate, so, I will use it sparingly.
The good news is that I didn't use porn this time around. Every other time prior I did go back to porn. I think part of it was that when I abstained for a long time, I wanted my next one to be a good one, so I went back to porn. Also, this time around I wasn't working up to the porn with sexual fantasy. Instead, my body just knew it wanted a release and I obliged.
And lastly, I want to give you an update on my shy-bladder syndrome. A couple weeks ago I learned a breath-holding technique to help me be able to void in public restrooms. (http://www.paruresis.org) It works every single time. This technique has eased much of my anxiety. What a relief.
This may not seem like a big deal, but there is a part of me that wants to cry right now. For over 16 years I lived with this mental issue that crippled my manhood and self-esteem. I feared going out and doing activities, whether it was going on a road trip or going to a night club. I felt so ashamed for having this issue that seemed so incomprehensible to others. I changed my whole schedule to accommodate it, planning pee breaks at just the right time. I would nearly dehydrate myself before going out so that if I did drink any fluids I wouldn't need to use a restroom. I turned down so many invitations to parties because I knew that I would have to drink and eventually feel the urge to go. And even if I did manage to summon the courage to go out, I was always in a heightened state of anxiety. Trying to meet women was the last thing on my mind, or made me even more anxious.
So where do I go from here? Sometimes I feel completely scared. Yet I also optimistic too, as if something quite beautiful and exciting awaits me. What this will be? I haven't a clue. What I do know is that I can't get to where I want to be from doing what I was doing before. So I'm going to commit to pushing past my comfort zone as uncomfortable as it may be. It won't be an easy task and I know I will fall flat on my face from time to time. But as long as I'm going in the right direction, I will eventually get there.