2 years of sobriety- My journey in finding self-acceptance and inner peace

Discussion in 'Ages 20-24' started by Freedom from Servitude, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    I had a near miss Friday evening. I was on the borderline of relapsing. After finishing my extended working hours, I was very tired and found myself procrastinating on the computer. I was tempted to watch a documentary on social media with triggering material in it. Bad idea. I reached out to my sponsor sensing that I was in a dangerous situation. But I was stuck in a rut, and just couldn't bring myself to leave my desk. I found myself typing in the name of a porn star on Youtube. My heart pounded and I had a full on erection. Fortunately, nothing explicit came up in the thumbnails. At this point, I decided that a relapse was simply not worth the consequences and closed the internet window. I survived in this case, but only through the skin of my teeth.

    It is the latest in a series of misses lately. They point that I have been relaxed in handling trigger situations and that I am not meeting my needs.

    In the case of Friday's events, I felt triggered to act out because I have been working hard filling in for my boss while she is on holiday. I hadn't had a proper weekend off in a while. I also had just finished working extended hours on Friday. My need to recuperate and restore balance was not being met. Under those circumstances cravings are like excess steam that is released when a machine is under too much pressure.

    For the past two days, I have been listening to my feelings have given myself the rest and relaxation that I need. I spent a lovely day with a friend walking in the countryside yesterday and am putting my feet up today. I am also due to go on holiday next week. I am severing my ties of the past and moving forward. Life is on the up
     
  2. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    I went on holiday last week and was surrounded by women wearing very little in hot weather. I found it a challenge to keep my eyes off them. I did, and I had a great time for the most part. Spending time with the family brought out my insecurities. I blamed myself when the conversation ran dry and for not finding things to say. Actually, I am quite a good conversationalist, it was just, as is often the case, my brothers and sister were just content to stay at the level of casual chit chat and childish humour. My therapist told me that this is pretty normal for families, and she was absolutely right. She suggested that my expectations were too high. That struck a chord, however, obvious it seems. Always I endeavour to remind myself that I am perfect for the unique individual that I am. I strive to give myself the self love I deserve.

    I found myself in another trigger situation last night when I was tempted to watch a drama with sex scenes in it. I was genuinely interested in the drama for its historical setting, but, if I am being honest, the prospect of seeing sex scenes was what motivated me more to watch it. It is another example of how I have been 'pushing the envelope' to see how much I can get away with lately. I am using this as a checkpoint to reevaluate my whole strategy. Something isn't working and if I am not careful I will come crashing down. This is how relapse starts. The definition of what becomes acceptable gradually expands and before you know it you are opening a porn site.

    What was interesting was that I did not feel triggered to go and look for porn and masturbate. I did not experience a dopamine rush either. Without doubt all of these things would have happened two years ago. I was just fine, like I imagine any non addicted person would be if they saw those scenes. I have been feeling strong all day. This makes me feel that something has changed physiologically in my brain since the old days. Healing is too much of a simplification, the inner addict will always be there, but change has taken place. However, I am not using that as a licence for complacency. In future, I must avoid trigger situations whenever I can if I am to keep on my path of recovery.

    I have yet to fully investigate why I have been struggling lately. However, I feel that waning motivation has a lot do with it. I have been chasing after an outdated vision of sobriety that I dreamt of in the days where I was firmly within the grip of this addiction. I hoped that, by now at nearly hitting the two year mark, I would feel great and at peace within myself. Undoubtedly, I have gained so much by kicking porn and masturbation out of my life. However, I still feel empty, and I experience a lot of pain with my anxiety and depression. When I am triggered, the lack of sexual pleasure can be seen as a big price to pay for marginally better mental health. So it is time to go back to basics and develop a realistic vision for my life in recovery. I can also do with an example to look up to who has managed gone through similar challenges as me and has managed to push through them to reach as place of satisfaction in their life. There aren't many stories of guys around here who have been at recovery as long as I have. At my SA group, I have the longest standing sobriety. No matter, I shall have to make do. I choose to give compassion to myself for last night and acknowledge that I will mistakes, however, hard I try not to. I am imperfect and so will be my journey of recovery. Here is to hitting 2 years of no porn and masturbation!
     
  3. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    It has been over a month since I last posted, so its time for another update. I have now hit 2 years of no PMO and MO. It hasn't been a perfect journey and I have come close to relapsing a few times, but I haven't crossed the line I set for myself. For that I am really proud of myself.

    My experiences of the past few months have reinforced my conclusion that we never truly heal from the addiction.It will always be there waiting to strike when we are feeling weak. I have had strong cravings to act out over the past few days, and was just an inch away from a relapse before I managed to talk myself out of a dangerous situation I found myself in. The cravings came back with a vengeance last night. I didn't do anything to antagonise them but that just seems to be the way at the moment.

    I am certain that there is a connection between general internet browsing and cravings to act out. Both activities stimulate the reward centre in the brain and cause the release of dopamine. Even if I don't encounter a trigger on a website, if I scroll down for too long, I am inclined to feel cravings. Anyway, I feel that I have managed to contain the situation by calling one of my SA fellows, and by reading motivational videos and stories.

    I still experience a general feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. Some on here would describe it as the flatline, but at two years, I feel that I am way beyond that. I can't put my finger on what is missing, but I am determined to keep looking and I am sure that I will find it. I think adjusting what I do in my spare time will help me to feel more satisfied. I still go to Toastmasters, and see my friends, but at home I think that there is room for more productive activities that boost self esteem. Examples I have in mind are story writing and drawing. I have been getting my teeth into a fiction novel lately, and I am really enjoying it.

    Increasingly, I see now that the next stage of my recovery now lies in a relationship with a woman. Although I have fantasised for years about getting a girlfriend, I have procrastinated on it in equal measure. I am frightened, yet for the first time in a while, I actually feel willing to confront my fears and do something about it. The question is how to go about finding someone. I don't meet many women in my age group, and I feel a bit uncomfortable about online dating. The latter might just be the only option available to me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  4. Lifeisbeautiful

    Lifeisbeautiful Active Member

    Your words give me hope and strength.
     
  5. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks, Lifeisbeautiful. This is not an easy journey but it is so worth it. How are you doing?
     
  6. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    I feel that I have an addictive relationship with my computer. Another potential area of abuse is my smart phone, now that I have one. I have had the day off work today and I have done nothing but laze about, catching up with TV and surf news websites and social media.

    That wouldn't be problem if I enjoyed it. But I don't. I feel unfulfilled and unmotivated, not too dissimilar from when I used to relapse to porn long ago. It only saps away time away from activities that are more rewarding and build my self confidence

    I feel that I would enjoy my spare time more if I occupied my attention doing other things. The TV and its computer has its place, but it is best when it is used in moderation. Right now, I can't trust myself to use them responsibly. I knew I wanted to do other stuff this afternoon like go for a walk in the sunshine, and read, but I couldn't motivate myself to get out of my chair. I was a slave to the dopamine trail.

    Time to treat this seriously as an addiction on the same level as my addiction to porn. I am going to put together a plan of action and get some accountability for those plans on here and in the SA fellowship.
     
  7. jack91

    jack91 Find your way throuh Staff Member

    I am envy about SAA. They sure sound great. I have similar problems than you. I bought game i love and just like that i can lost +6 hours a day in there. Dont know what i should replace it with. To be honest im kinda tired of 'trying ' all the time. Maybe i play games for now.
     
  8. Lifeisbeautiful

    Lifeisbeautiful Active Member

    "That wouldn't be problem if I enjoyed it. But I don't. I feel unfulfilled and unmotivated, not too dissimilar from when I used to relapse to porn long ago. It only saps away time away from activities that are more rewarding and build my self confidence "
    I can so much relate to it. I think addiction to porn and internet (read stimulation) go hand in hand. I too spend a lot of time online on completely useless activities. This means even if I don't relapse, I am setting the stage for one.
     
  9. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks for commenting guys, great to get a dialogue going

    My little group in the city near where I live is brilliant. I'll admit I started to doubts about my place within SA as a non-religious individual because the 12 step movement puts so much emphasis on faith. I felt out of place because many of my fellows in the locality and throughout the UK kept going on about the Christian church and God. This is at odds with the way that I perceive the world. In my opinion, with the programme's emphasis on individual powerlessness and faith in a higher power, it can be easy to downplay the power of our own choices in deciding the outcomes of our lives. So much of my recovery has been based on learning from people online in communities like this. That's a very rational process. If you want to achieve something it helps to learn from the experienced. I still don't see Gods hand in my recovery.

    I agree completely. I am convinced that it is not good for our brains. I am not too bad during the week when I have work. Not having that many hours in the evening to waste away helps :) but I am better at making the choice to engage in other activities like yoga and reading. It is when I have my days off and I haven't got any social commitments that I tend to crash in front of the computer.

    When I can be motivated to put it in place, I find planning my computer use in advance and timing my activities can really help in curbing my screen time. You just have to be disciplined in fighting the temptation to deviate from that plan.
     
  10. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Another month of sobriety in the bag

    I had a valuable insight from my therapy session this week. She highlighted that it seemed strange to her that I spent more or less my whole life being a shy introverted type and yet I have been holding the expectation of becoming an extrovert who thrives in social situations. It is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. She has a point.

    I realise that I have been operating with the understanding that human beings are like biological machines. Our personalities are like canvasses that can easily be changed depending on the circumstances that the individual goes through. One expectation of mine has been that I would become a confident outgoing type who derives energy from being around others, after I spent enough time pushing myself out of my comfort zone. This picture doesn't take into account the personality traits that we accumulate through life. These traits, while they are not impossible to change, are a fundamental part of who we are. What if being an introvert is just who I am and that I cause myself unnecessary pain trouble when I don't accept that?

    I've come a long way with my social confidence over the past few years, but that doesn't change the fact that I can feel awkward around others and I need time by myself to recharge. There is nothing wrong with that, its just how I roll. What's more, by accepting that tendency, it allows you to appreciate to a fuller extent the intricacies of social interaction. I have been grateful for the conversations I have exchanged with my colleagues at work this week. Under my therapists recommendation, I took a Myres-Briggs personality test. My results came up as INFJ, a personality type that has an interesting blend of introvert and extrovert qualities. I could see a lot of myself in the personality type description. Becoming aware that these traits exists is helping me to become more accepting of myself. It will also influence my lifestyle choices to enable greater inner peace and harmony. But, crucially it is making me realise that I have nothing to fix simply because I am OK as I am.

    I think that we partly become addicts because we can't bear to accept ourselves for who we are.
     
  11. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Just a quick update. I have felt utterly exhausted lately and with fatigue comes the natural companions of anxiety, depression and cravings to act out. I am knackered as I type this post. I don't know why I have been feeling so tired. The jobs that I have are not very demanding, and I have been taking the time to rest. I eat properly and exercise within my limits too. I have had countless blood tests done to rule out nutritional deficiency, chronic disease etc.

    I have been chatting with other long term rebooters who are in a similar situation to me. They are convinced that the PAWS are at work in both of our cases. I know that this has been known. Altruism247 reckons that he was still not 100% until the 2.5 year mark. They may well be right, but I am not entirely on board yet.

    I have been doing well regardless of my constant fatigue. I stood up and did another speech at the TM group last week despite the fact that I was terrified of doing so. It was well performed too. I am reaching newfound levels of confidence in my public speaking.Despite some frustratingly slow progress in other areas, I feel as though I continue to grow in confidence socially too. I can hold my own pretty well with most people in a conversation now. I still find it tiring, but as I wrote in my last post, I think that this is just how I am. Socialising is more enjoyable than it used to be, and I have met a friend on two separate occasions this past week.

    Over the past month and a half or so I also feel as though I have managed to reign in the gradual creep towards a relapse. There has been no more messing about by engaging in triggering behaviour. I have kept things under control by reaching out to my sponsor the moment I notice cravings. I then enter my breathing space and think of my role models. This gives me another shot of motivation to do the next right thing.
     
  12. jack91

    jack91 Find your way throuh Staff Member

    Who are your rolemodels? Are they known nofappers?
     
  13. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Hi Jack, my role models include both real and fictitious figures. There aren't any known no-fappers among them, but the exercise would benefit with their inclusion. To give some of my examples: the Buddha, Bruce Wayne, Napoleon Bonaparte, King Arthur. I'm really revealing what a big nerd I am :). They all represent qualities that I admire and try to cultivate within myself.
     
  14. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    04/08/2018

    I am still feeling quite exhausted today, but I did have more energy levels than yesterday. I managed to get a real sense of peace of being in the moment this morning. While this didn't last, I was able to keep a level of mindfulness throughout the working day.

    There is a deep sense of uneasiness, a kind of mild anxiety and depression that is a constant feature of my existence at the moment. The urge to escape it manifests itself in the abundance of lustful thoughts that fill my mind. I also experience compulsive urges to of urges to ogle at women wearing hotpants in the street, and indulge in porn flashbacks.

    So long as it means that I don't spend too much time on the computer, I want to try and keep my journal updated regularly. I keep a private anxiety journal anyway. It makes sense to merge both of them. This way I have a more complete record of recovery that I and other people can benefit from on this forum.

    I have touched on my aim to reduce screen time before, and I have started to do this well over the past month. The general guidelines I follow are two hours of screen time in the evenings on a working day and 4 hours of screen time on my days off. Generally I have been sticking to these well. They are only guidelines though, and I am not being perfectionist in how well I stick to them. If I can just cut down on my overall technology consumption, I think that this will help the reward system to recover, and free up some time for other activities.
     
  15. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    05/08/2018

    Feeling a little more energised today , but still depleted. I am looking forward to the few days off I have coming up. I am also due to go away to Wales next week, which will hopefully help me to recuperate.

    My CAT therapy finished last Wednesday. It wasn't what I was expecting, but then I realised over the course of the therapy that my expectations were unrealistic anyway. I was seeking 'the cure'. My therapist helped me to become aware of my perfectionist thinking at that covers many areas of my life including how I should feel. It is no surprise that an addict who spent 10+ years running away from reality finds it difficult to stay with it. The entire course of therapy essentially involved developing this awareness of perfectionist thinking and highlighting the need to be able accept the intermediate states between good and bad that most of us live in most of the time.

    These are all valuable lessons. Acceptance and gratitude are key qualities that I would do well to practice. Nevertheless, I know that something is missing in my life, and I don't think I could get my therapist to understand this. My take away from CAT therapy is that I need to accept that I am an imperfect being with limitations, but this, in my opinion is not irreconcilable with the instinct that I have that something is off. In my search for greater happiness, I just need to stay grounded in reality and also know that there is something to be appreciated in the here and now even though it may not seem like it on the surface.
     
  16. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    06/08/2018

    Today has seen a continuation in symptoms from the last few days. I felt absolutely knackered throughout the day and even thought that I might nod off at one point in the afternoon. I also was dizzy. It seemed to be a push even to walk. Fortunately, I have got a day off tomorrow, which will make all the difference. I notice that I start to feel a little more energised when I watch something on TV. This might have something to do with dopamine being released in the brain. I wouldn't make too much of a point of it though, as most people would feel a little less tired with a break.

    I am going to use tomorrow for some quiet time to myself. I enjoy socialising with others, but I feel the need for a nice lazy day in. I'm learning that it is ok not to push myself 24/7. I am listening to my body and respecting its needs. I have both my SA meeting and TM club this week and I don't have to attend both. I will take things one day at a time and see how it goes.

    I have got back into reading fiction lately. It is ideal for the hour before I go to bed when I switch off electronics. I'm reading Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' at the minute. I'm also balancing this with non-fiction reading. Another book I am on is David Allen's 'Getting things done'. I find it difficult to stay organised and get all the things that I want to sorted, so I am sure that I can a learn a thing or two from this book.
     
  17. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    07/09/2018

    I have had a good day on balance. My anxiety levels have been relatively low and I am all the better for having a day off. I have invested my time in worthwhile causes. I have strengthened my connection to others by reaching out on this forum. I have enjoyed reading personal development material, moving through another chapter from 'Getting Things Done.' I have also delved into a bit of history today, reading short biographies of Alexander Pushkin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander Dumas and Cardinal Richelieu. To add to the mix I enjoyed watching a documentary on the cultural revolution in 60's America. I have listened to some music too and cooked some meals for the next few days. I feel as though today has been productive and that I have managed to get outstanding activities done. Getting on top of these things and staying organised plays a role in me feeling good about myself and boosts self esteem. It is one of the reasons I am reading David Allen's book. Learning how to live a more productive life is just another way of managing my mental health.

    As an accompaniment to feeling good about myself, I am also getting some good memories from the past arising, which makes a welcome change to the usual negativity that automatically fills my mind.
     
  18. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    08/08/2018

    I have had another good day. Anxiety levels have been relatively low throughout. Energy levels are still low, but they have been more stable. It was because I was feeling tired that I decided to call into the SA meeting instead of attending in person. It worked well enough and I was glad for having company of fellow addicts in recovery. It has been a productive day, which has made the difference on my relatively good mood.
     
  19. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    09/08/2018

    Had an alright day. I have been feeling generally buoyant with perhaps a hint of depression in the background. I experienced a dip in mood late afternoon. I had quite a productive day, and then procrastinated a bit by watching the final scenes of a Star Wars film with family, and then proceeded to hover over media outlets and online forums. The dip in my mood may have been a dopamine crash. Happily, though, the procrastination session didn't last that long and I have got all the things that I wanted to get done today. Progress not perfection. With the slight dopamine surge came cravings to act out, but I handled them smoothly by entering my breathing space and reaching out to my sponsor.

    I have been implementing more of the GTD done method, by changing the organisation of my work space and my electronic and physical file storage. It really is a handy little book that I highly recommend. But reading is one thing, it is having the will to put things into practice where the difference is made. Ultimately, as the author has noted, good productivity all comes down to a series of habits. Eventually, the changes will be automatic over time with some repeated effort on my part.

    I have mostly been preparing for my trip tomorrow. At times, I have been feeling really optimistic about this trip. Going away for me and being in unfamiliar surroundings can also be a major source of stress, but I'm trying to surrender my perfectionist urge to want to make the trip go a particular way and just accept things as they are. I will be gone for a little while which means that this journal will not be updated for some time.
     
  20. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    10th-18th August 2018

    I have had a wonderful time in Wales. It was the break that I hoped it would be. I enjoyed spending time walking in the stunning natural landscape. It was good to go on a technology detox. I only brought my smart phone with me. I occasionally browsed a few websites and made some phone calls to friends, but my technology consumption overall was very limited. My friends and I didn't watch TV at all and spent the evenings in great company chatting and playing board games. We all have a similar sense of humour and I enjoyed our conversations immensely. I shall miss them.

    It is not that I was able to escape my anxiety and depression. It was always there in the background. But there was a sense of being able to rise above it. At times when I was walking, I could even feel 'just alright'. The relief that I had allowed me to tune in a bit more to my feelings and contemplate what I want out of life. A relationship is part of that picture, but also investment of time following goals and doing activities that boost my self-esteem. Just the simple act of building a big sand castle on the beach turned out to be quite enjoyable and conjured a sense of achievement. I think getting away more often could be a valuable coping mechanism for my anxiety and depression. I have almost finished reading Getting things done, and I am putting into practice Allen's methodology with the intention of leading a more productive and fulfilling lifestyle. It is part of my plan to build self esteem and better cope with my anxiety and depression.

    We had a lot of fun at the beach too. I found this a very triggering experience as there were women walking about in bikinis and skin tight bodysuits that displayed their figures. I found it extremely difficult to keep my eyes off them. The only reliable way I found to stop myself from ogling was to leave the beach and go for a walk along the cliffs of the coastline. It worked very well, but as the friends who I were staying with spent the day at the beach, I had to go back there before we could return to the cottage. I spent the whole day travelling back by train yesterday, and had a tough time with cravings. I managed to stay afloat and avoided acting out. I notice an attraction towards all women, their flaws and all.

    I am feeling sad that the break and the memorable time I shared with my friends has come to an end, but I am also very grateful that it happened.
     

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