A Better Tomorrow

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by NewStart19, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. Shady

    Shady Well-Known Member

    Happy New Year. Stay strong.
     
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  2. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Happy new year man!
     
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  3. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    January 7, 2021
    - Day 1 (No porn, masturbation, orgasm, or intentional fantasy)

    Remarks/Summary of the Day:

    I'm returning to my old format so that I can better reflect on my progress as well as a leave a record of my experiences in the hopes that it might be useful when I find myself struggling or confused later on down the line. Slept in a bit later than I do usually, which itself hasn't been all that great recently. I'd like to change that.

    In spite of the fact that I slept in late, I found myself making up for lost time, finishing one task after the other without too much distraction. That was nice. Just for reference, my last relapse was about 30m to porn, which is pretty good for me. Always want to do better though. But I really need to take each moment at a time.

    Trigger / Response Log:
    Emotions (Anxiety, Sadness); Troubling thoughts -> Applied mindfulness; mindful reset and then redirection

    Urges:
    Some moderate ones here and there, but nothing too troubling. This is to be expected though, as the first--and usually the second--day after a relapse are relatively ok.

    Emotions:
    Anxiety present (moderate to high), some sadness

    Cognition:
    Neither good nor bad

    Pain:
    Dull aching and a minor burning sensation; pinching pain above my left testicle

    * Something positive / something I did well:

    - Was more productive than I expected to be
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
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  4. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    January 8, 2021
    - Day 2 (No porn, masturbation, orgasm, or intentional fantasy)

    Remarks/Summary of the Day:
    This is going to be a short entry because I have a pretty intense headache right now. Sleep is still poor. It gets my spirits down, but I'm hanging in there.

    Urges:
    Nothing destabilizing today, but--as I mentioned in my previous post--the first two days after relapse are usually fine.

    Trigger / Response Log:
    Had a few murmurs today due primarily to flash fantasies -> Used mindfulness to cut the chain (once I had become aware of them) and redirected my attention elsewhere

    Emotions:
    A little bit of depression and sadness

    Cognition:
    Same as yesterday

    Pain:
    Same as yesterday, but to a lesser degree

    * Something positive / something I did well:

    - Worked for around seven hours with only a few minor breaks. Feels good, but I should note that I had some chemical help (methylphenidate & 90% sativa concentrate)
     
  5. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Was watching an episode of a show on Netflix, and in one segment they switched to a woman going through childbirth. Her moaning and gasping triggered me strongly. I’m ok now, but I wanted to post this as a reminder. Here’s to the day when someone giving birth (a natural, non-sexual act) doesn’t turn me on. Note to self, move more in that direction.
     
  6. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    January 11, 2021
    - Day 1 (No porn, masturbation, orgasm, or intentional fantasy)

    Remarks/Summary of the Day:

    For those who regularly read this thread, perhaps some of you were thinking yikes!, a lapse in journaling must mean a relapse (a pattern you often see if you use porn recovery forums). And indeed, I did relapse, but that wasn't the reason for the gap. So instead of going over today in particular, I will try to quickly cover what happened.

    Basically, my sleep has recently been stuck in a rut so to speak. While the results in the past have been mixed, there have been times where staying up all night has worked in snapping me out of this place when nothing else seems to be working. So I decided to try just that on Friday-Saturday. Now for me, sleep-deprivation and spending more time awake during the evening are common triggers for me, and while this is something I am well aware of now, I also am aware that being stuck in a particularly poor sleeping schedule is detrimental to getting some sobriety under my belt, and since I had been unsuccessful in breaking out of it these past 2-3 weeks, I decided it was worth a shot. And you know what? In spite of the difficulties, it was working out pretty well. I made it to about 12:00 PM on Saturday, and to give me something to focus on so that I wouldn't fall asleep, I decided to watch some harmless content on YouTube via my Android TV, which meant I couldn't use my Stylish layouts that remove a lot of the unnecessarily distracting and potentially triggering content (such as thumbnails). But I was ready for that and tried to be as vigilant as I could be in my sleep-deprived state; however, something very unexpected (and kind of inexplicable, as it was totally unrelated to the content I was watching) happened. I didn't encounter a thumbnail of a booty with a thong, or a some partially exposed breasts in a bikini. There was a full-blown porn pic as a thumbnail (TRIGGER WARNING START

    A buxom and slightly chubby woman lying down on her back and being drilled in missionary position

    TRIGGER WARNING END
    )! I suppose this is a rare occurrence? In some ways it makes sense. An uploader will make this their thumbnail in an attempt to get more views, but their traffic is still light enough that it has yet be flagged (still have no idea why the algorithm chose this as a related video though...but I digress). Anyway, guess what happened? I felt very triggered, and went down to my computer wanting to try and find it again. Instead, I stopped, decided to abandon my plan of toughing out the rest of the day until the evening came so I could fall asleep, and instead chose to go to bed right there. Great choice if I do say so myself. Once I woke up, I fantasized for a few minutes, but to be honest I don't fault myself too much for this, as I was only partially conscious. But after those few minutes, I snapped myself out of it and got out of bed. The thing is, my failed plan meant that I had a crappy, irregular start to Sunday, which meant that I was in a terrible state to get the tasks done for the day that I needed to get done. Plus, the curveball that hit me smack dab in the middle of my face still had my urges in a heightened state. So, partway through working on things on Sunday, when I was also struggling to focus and concentrate and was worried about looking at porn, I decided to FMO for about 15 minutes. I still had some lingering thoughts of wanting to search for that particular image again (Isn't the addicted brain so stupid? How would this particular picture be any different from the mountains of content I've already wasted a considerable fraction of my life beating off too?), but ultimately I was able to do most of what I wanted to do without any further FMO, PMO or peeking.

    All in all, not the worst outcome. I'm still stuck in my sleep rut though, and that is concerning. But hey, things could've been a lot worse, so I am feeling ok.

    The rest of this post will pertain to today.

    Urges:
    I am still having some flashbacks and yearning for that image, but nothing too tough so far. But anything outside of PMO leaves this un-satiated feeling which can be difficult to deal with. Not sure if anyone else can relate to that.

    Trigger / Response Log:
    Nothing too compromising, so I will leave this blank.

    Emotions:
    Some irritation/anger

    Cognition:
    Ok I suppose? I didn't do much today that required higher level cognition. Verbal fluency was somewhat poor I guess.

    Pain:
    A bit of burning/aching on the shaft. My epididymis (?) is feeling a bit better compared to my previous entries, although I can notice some minor aching.

    * Something positive / something I did well:

    - My overall schedule has been maintained in spite of my failed sleep gambit

    Gifts of Recovery Questions and Answers:
    Q1 Would I marry myself or someone like me?
    A1 No

    Q2 What have I not accepted about myself?
    A2 This is a tough one for me. Can't really think of an answer at the moment.

    Q3 What gifts await me as I love and accept who I am and who I am becoming?
    A3 At the very least, I think I would be able to more effectively move toward my goals by generating less internal friction within.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  7. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    I've encountered some of those thumbnails too, very annoying. I always thought Youtube would be safe (well, it's not, but at least some decency.) It's also strange, how we need to find something that went away. I guess unfinished business, but come on. It's just the same old crap. Unfortunately the brain doesn't seem to follow logic.
     
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  8. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Eternity

    Yea, it's kind of like this. The abominable PMO monster has chased you into a corner, but thankfully there is a metal cage with a door you can close and lock. You look at your brain with a smile on your face and let out a big sigh. Your brain returns your smile and nods its head. As you relax and close your eyes before slumping to the ground in relief, you hear an unsettling noise, as if the latch to the gate is being opened. So you open your eyes, only to witness in horror that your brain, with the same smile plastered on its face as before, is slowly lifting the latch arm up out of the limiter holding it in place. At this time, your brain notices your gaze upon it, but, without a single disturbance of its countenance says--in a relaxing and reassuring voice--"Don't worry. It's ok. There's nothing to be worried about. Let me show you." It's at this point that you decide...well, that's up to you isn't it? I know I'm tired of seeing the same ending of this story play out over and over again. I want front row seats to the premiere of the movie For Real This Time. It feels difficult to get my hand on that ticket, but I'm working on it. I hope the seat next to me is vacant though. I mean, I know I would really enjoy this film, but I think I'd enjoy it even better with someone else who really appreciates it. Who knows? Maybe I'll bump into you at the premiere and it'll turn out you got the exact ticket for the chair right next to me. And then I won't even need a ride back, as you and your monster quadriceps and endurance will zwift me back home so I can get some sleep and move on to the next chapter of my life. The difference is that it won't feel like a movie anymore. It'll be real ; )

    January 12, 2021

    - Day 2 (No porn, masturbation, orgasm, or intentional fantasy)

    Remarks/Summary of the Day:

    Extremely tired and drained, but I did it! I pulled off the all-nighter, in spite of the fact that it was a grueling battle to stay awake AND I didn't relapse. I know it's just one day, but this bodes pretty well for me. I'm both relieved and excited (or as much as I can be in this zombified state). It's now time for my much deserved rest.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
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  9. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    Look at all the people you know. Would you want to marry any of those people?.....You're being way too hard on yourself saying nonsense like that. I wouldn't want to marry about 98% of the population. But, I can tell you're an above average suitor for the simple facts you can write a coherent sentence, you're trying to fix your problems, you aren't rambling conspiracy theories or other glaringly obvious stupidity, and I'll just go out on a limb and figure you don't spend your evenings watching Dancing With the Stars and comparing yourself to other idiots on facebook (...or worse).

    I have a bad self esteem, but when I look around and logically take an account of things, I'd rather take my chances being me than pretty well anyone I see.

    I think most people on here have really neurotic brains. Lots of smart, anxious people that are trying hard to fix their problems and being really hard on themselves when they aren't perfect. Statistically, most people are obese, watching nonsense TV, working jobs they hate, blowing what money they have on absolute nonsense, in debt, addicted to all types of shit, can't look after themselves let alone the kids they pushed out without thinking about it. And you better believe the vast majority are ripping off loads to porntubes.

    Like, how many people do you know that actually have every facet of their life together?.....No one does.
    Yeah we all know jacked in-shape people, or people that get the dough, or good with women, or squeeky clean etc......I don't really know anyone who's got ALL that shit on point. The vast majority of people I know have nothing going on whatsoever, or some glaring issue...And the thing is, they don't seem to care.

    Think of a lot of the cool kids from high school, the ones that were getting all the pussy and that.....Look at those fuckers now, I don't know about the ones you knew, but a lot of the ones I knew are just absolute train wrecks now. Way worse than say, the piss-drunk, living in the past dad in Friday Night Lights. I've got unreal stories for days on that front, holy hell.
    I bet back in the day we were thinking, man, I wish I was one of those dudes. Now I think, those people are complete freaking morons....and they always were.

    What we thought then was an obvious illusion, and you bet your ass much of what we think now is as well.

    I like to think of all of us as the folks playing the long game. Intelligence, wisdom, that thirst for knowledge, habit formation, addiction stomping....just like money well invested, compounds over time.
    Having these neurotic brains sucks a lot of the time, but it's the cross successful folks have to bear.
    The fact you're angry or depressed or whatever means your still in the game.

    Just play the long game, we're gonna win this.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  10. Bilbo Baggins

    Bilbo Baggins Well-Known Member

    Great, and funny. It’s not the first time you mention those things here, it’s important stuff. We guys here worry a lot. Way too much.

    Good ending too. This place needs light every once in a while. Yeah, things can get pretty heavy here sometimes...

    @NewStart19 I have been reading you for months, and I am almost certain that the woman who will be your girlfriend will be a lucky one. Good women want good men. You have flaws, like most of us, but from your posts I can tell you seem like a good man. Don’t forget it, don’t get lost in despair.
     
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  11. Do these questions come from a book or website?
     
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  12. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Just checking in to say I am still doing fine on the PMO front. Feeling it is necessary to journal everyday can be detrimental for me, and I don't have too much on energy or time right now to do the entries, so I will probably be posting them when I have the time/energy for it, which is plenty good for me. I am still riding out the effects of the sleep schedule change, which can be rough, but I am being smart and safe so far. It'll probably take a few days for the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue to dissipate.

    Thanks for stopping by @Doper & @Bilbo Baggins. I really appreciate the responses, and will reply to both of you once I do my next entry.

    To answer your question @chickendinner22, it's from the book Gifts of Recovery: Daily Meditations for Men and Women in Recovery from Sex & Porn Addiction. It's a daily reader that provides some advice and guidance about a certain topic/issue, with a quote related to that issue and some follow-up questions for you to reflect on. At times it can be hit or miss, but a lot of it has been pretty great so far. It keeps your brain in this dynamic, reflective process with respect to not only your addiction but also lifestyle and self-improvement in general. I made a habit of opening it up really quickly and reading the daily topic earlier in the day (around when I eat breakfast). It's great because it keeps you thinking about something new each time, and on days where you feel (or are quite literally able to because you have more time) like engaging or pondering it more, you can, and for the other days you can just give it a quick read and move on.
     
  13. @NewStart19 Thanks. I went searching and saw your original post about it. Thank you for posting that. Too bad it's not available as epub from other retailers. I would love to pick it up but my wife and I agree no amazon purchases related to PMO recovery since we share an account with our older daughters. Would love to work through the daily questions.
     
  14. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    I'm still alive! Just trying to ride out the rest of this sleep-schedule transition, I'd say I'm about 70-80% there if I had to guess.

    There have been a couple of books related to recovery/self-improvement that I've heard mentioned but never read (The Porn Myth, The Four Agreements, Cupid's Poisoned Arrow, Atomic Habits, The Brain That Changes Itself), so I decided to buy them all and hopefully will post some of my notes here from time to time. I'm going to start with The Four Agreements first, as it's relatively short. I also bought Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn again, as I misplaced it at some point and it's a short read. Lastly, there was one more meditation book by a teacher I've been interested in (Diana Winston), so I bought that as well (The Little Book of Being). It's great having a lot of interesting options that I can apply directly to my life that also mesh well with my non-fiction reading hobby.

    @chickendinner22

    No promises, but if I have a bit of extra time in the next couple of days, I'll try and type up the questions and post them to this topic. Keep your eyes out ; ) Quick question though, do you have Microsoft Office? That's what I use for word-docs and spreadsheets, so the extension of the file will correspond to this software suite, though I am sure other programs (maybe OpenOffice) can handle them as well.
     
  15. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @chickendinner22

    So I had some free time and got something ready for you, but out of respect for the author and his work, it only consists of the first two months of questions. Hope they prove useful. You can find them in the document attached to this message (unfortunately in .txt as that seemed to be the only option available).

    @Doper

    Thanks for the supportive post. I appreciate the sentiment. I’ll admit my response was a short, curt no, so perhaps me not elaborating on it gave the wrong impression. I wasn’t trying to disparage myself, as I have done enough of that in the past and it never really helped. But it is a possibility for some people to get caught in that trap, and I do have to remain vigilant at times as the feeling can try to creep its way back into my mental home and convince me so to speak that it belongs here. My short answer was more so just a response of the moment. One way the questions help for me is when I don’t feel pressure to fully answer and think them through. I often quickly go through the questions, which at times feels unfortunate (but then again everything is an opportunity cost), but I am just glad that every now and then something will hit in a certain way that gets me to reflect somewhat differently on my life, and that alone is enough. But basically my "no" meant I don’t view myself as a good enough partner yet, but all the more reason to do what I can to be a solid companion and maybe even a great parent someday. That being said, I have been making changes in my life that make me feel more and more enriched by just living, so I am more comfortable with the idea of perhaps living the rest of my life outside of a relationship. And that feels nice knowing that both paths are seeming a bit brighter for me now. There really is a lot in the landscape of life that can sustain one until the day they expire, family being a big one that's pretty important to a lot of people. But if I do make that choice to build a family, there are certain areas of my life I’m going to have to improve. I want to keep working on tipping the scale of self-improvement more toward excitement and less toward shame, as the latter often torpedoes the process.

    As an aside, I do not watch Dancing With the Stars haha, I haven’t even seen an episode. Maybe if dancing is a passion or a hobby it merits a few views? Though in that case there may very well be better options out there. All the dancers out there will have to educate me.

    For me, the biggest problem with Facebook was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the novelty of it all (repeatedly returning to the page and refreshing it to see if there was a new like, comment, wall post, etc.). One thing wrestling with my porn addiction has helped a lot with is getting my internet use habits more under control. I won’t explain exactly what I mean by this right now, but I definitely “waste” considerably less time on the internet these days than about a year ago (as a percentage, maybe 80-90% less). It’s great. My memory is rusty, but I think Gary Wilson said something like porn-addiction is actually a subset of internet addiction (but it’s worse because it latches on to other natural reinforcers)...but don't quote me on that. I might skim through YBOP again as part of my great reading expedition.

    Anyway, I may not have quite the same outlook on others as the one you posted, but I can definitely say that there are many things you can look at from a straight numbers level that are pretty sobering to a person's view of themself. I’ve never made much money in my life, but when you look at how much people make across the world and where you fall, it’s staggering (and I’m not even trying to reach to the extremes of global poverty). I believe obesity is another problem you mentioned, but that of course depends on where you live. To be honest, people who suffer from eating addictions have it pretty rough. Porn addicts have the supernormal stimulus of sexual content + novelty (usually) through high-speed internet, and eating addicts have the supernormal stimulus of readily accessible food (usually in the form of supermarkets but not always) that are often filled with items that were purposely made to be addictively sweet, greasy or salty to further hook people into consuming them. And unlike porn (or sex, or orgasm), eating is something you almost virtually need to do keep living (unless you're on an IV all the time; highly unrealistic). So my sympathies with those struggling with the problem, but for now all I can do is walk my own path toward recovery. Hopefully they do the same on theirs.

    Also, while there may indeed be people that are “worse than me” for whatever reasons, I hope that they do acquire some of the gems you mentioned, like intelligence, wisdom, healthier habits, etc. But I know that for the interim I’ve got to keep working on me.

    Lastly, if you’re comfortable answering, why is that you don’t use your thread as a general purpose journal? I know there are users like @Bilbo Baggins and myself that'd be curious to see your thoughts, ideas and behaviors out there in the open (that you too can refer to whenever after the fact to get a better perspective on your personal patterns, habits and tendencies) and maybe even hear what other people think about them. I know plenty of people don’t, and to be honest most of my posts haven’t been in this format, but I’ve been reflecting on journaling more and it got me thinking.

    @Bilbo Baggins

    Thanks for that. Despair can be this dark curtain that envelopes everything and distorts the lens through which you view the world. I’ve had my fair share of difficulties with it. It’s still around, and can be quite convincing at times, but it is slowly but surely becoming more foreign to me. But I think understand some of what those who are suffering from it are experiencing…I mean, fully above it all, meta, from a bird’s eye view…would anyone really want despair as the background to their story of life? With all that potentially lies in the garden of lived experience, no matter how short one's time in the pocket is, that just couldn’t be the case. To anyone despairing, I hope they get better at recognizing the feeling as an experience, not identifying with it, and instead keep focusing on optimizing their efforts on changing themselves so that the background itself eventually changes.
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    "I want to keep working on tipping the scale of self-improvement more toward excitement and less toward shame"

    That's a pretty quotable quote.

    I understand the way I portrayed others in that post may seem to some a bit negative and cynical, but I was just trying to ensure you that from my vantage point you are surely as valuable (...more in my opinion) as most. If people have some of those issues I mentioned, that's normal and to be empathized with. My point was most people aren't TRYING to FIX anything or go through any pain to achieve something better than a mediocre outcome. But expect everything to just turn out alright. An example is rich people and their political minions brainwashing poor people into thinking extremely low taxes are their best option, and it works because poor people all think their going to be rich someday, even though all evidence points to the contrary.

    Maybe I'll get to journalling sometime....I can think of a number of reasons I don't. I don't like talking about myself...at all, I don't want to compulsively come here looking if people liked my shit...same as social media. I'm more focused on solving problems than support. I know what I have to do to succeed, and don't think I need to ruminate on it, but maybe it might help. I think for many people it may be be productive.
     
  17. Bilbo Baggins

    Bilbo Baggins Well-Known Member

    Journaling can be pretty embarrassing. We usually write about our last relapse, or about the fact that we feel inadequate and shitty. But it opens the door to receiving advice from other guys (usually the same 5 or 6 guys who are interested in your story). In theory, all we have to do is staying away from porn, but in our day-to-day life, it gets trickier. That’s when journaling can be helpful. People will tell you things you have never thought of, that could have an impact on your life. At least, that’s how it is for me.
     
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  18. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Doper

    Haha, must be all the self-improvement books I have read.

    No doubt, and that was definitely the vibe I got. So once again, appreciate both the supportive stance and the sentiment. And I definitely think there are many unnecessary or unhelpful distractions in life that make a good number of people lose sight of the project of actually living or improving the quality of lived experience.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. If you’re comfortable with a follow-up, how about journaling just for yourself, without disclosing it in some public space? Have you tried it in the past? If so, what were your thoughts on it? For me personally, there are definitely times where it is useful, and other times where it isn’t. Like many things in life, it is tough for me to balance it. One big problem is the opportunity cost. The more time I spend with it, the more valuable the output is, but some days I want to spend this time elsewhere, which puts pressure on me because I feel doing it daily (consistently) over a long period of time is where one can get the most benefit from it. Anyway, that aside, I think @Bilbo Baggins's remarks on journaling hold some weight. Sometimes we can get so lost in our own heads, that we mistake the lens we view life through as life itself.

    But if your efforts have led you closer to the path of achieving your goal(s), and you have clarity about what works for you and what doesn’t, then I wish you godspeed with your efforts.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021 at 12:14 PM
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  19. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    January 20, 2021
    - Day 1 (No porn, masturbation, orgasm, or intentional fantasy)

    Remarks/Summary of the Day:
    Today overall was mediocre, but some of that was definitely due in part to a (binge) relapse I had yesterday. While I wasn't ok with it, it wasn't as upsetting as it world normally be because it at least aided me in staying up late enough to round off the rest of the sleeping rut I have been in. It'll probably take a few more days to even out the edges, but I am looking forward to having to worry less about sleep and focus on getting more sobriety under my belt.

    Nothing much of note happened today. I drove someone to the post office, and while they were waiting in line, I stopped by a nearby store. One of the employees there had some sizable breasts with exposed cleavage, and--while waiting in line and looking here and there--my eyes happened to fall upon them. I froze for a second or two, but then re-centered myself and made sure to keep my gaze elsewhere for the rest of my time in the store.

    I'm trying to pick up a consistent habit of reading current events, something which I tried a few times in the past but was never able to make stick. Currently, I'm subscribed to The Economist, which is a weekly periodical. This is a bit more workable for me, as daily publications are a bit much for me to handle (or at least they have been; things could change someday). For the time being, I am not aiming at reading the entirety of the magazine every week. Instead, I am trying to make sure I get in a couple of articles a week and, if I'm lucky and have the time/energy, maybe I'll be able to squeeze in the whole thing every week in due time. But no need to rush this. I just want to create a foundation for the habit. Some articles that I read today were about the newly-elected president of Kyrgyzstan, democracy and its relationship with mobs, who might succeed Angela Merkel, and Ford Motor Company's decision to close its factories in Brazil.

    I have also been reading a book titled History of the World Map by Map, which I read on a daily basis for two pages (i.e. one topic) a day. I just started a new section, which briefly summarized the period it covers, but--while I understand why they are in the book--I'm not the biggest fan of these parts because they are far too general (with far too little space to cover the breadth of the topic) and thus harder for me to assimilate any useful/interesting information. Maybe I'll include some information in my next entry since my reading will cover a more specific topic.

    Urges:
    Had some flashbacks from yesterday, but not too many. My last relapse was to porn, but this was only the second time I used it in the last few weeks, with the other time being a mix of PMO/FMO. I feel slightly pleased about that to be honest.
    The cleavage mentioned above triggered me a little (it didn't help that I found the woman attractive), but thankfully it didn't create too many ripples.

    Trigger / Response Log:

    Porn flashbacks -> No special action taken
    Unintentionally seen cleavage -> Mindfully severing the link and redirecting my attention

    Emotions:
    The first third of the day was rough. A lot of hatred and rage, with some bitterness. I did an extra meditation session to ameliorate it (as it was interfering with my ability to function), and that thankfully carried me through the rest of the day without (much) further interference.

    Cognition:
    I feel like a broken record, but it was ok, perhaps a little worse than normal? It's hard to say. If I were to elaborate a bit, memory retention was poor (but it usually is), verbal fluency was shoddy (but again, it usually is), and concentration was hit or miss (I do occasionally take methylphenidate--i.e. Ritalin--to help with this, and I did take about 10mg today; not too much FYI: I split one ten-milligram pill into halves and spread them out). Brain fog throughout the day, better at some points but worse at others.

    Pain:

    Similar to earlier entries, but somewhat worse due to yesterday's relapse.

    * Something positive / something I did well:

    - Helped someone I know out by driving them to the post office
    - Deciding to do an extra meditation session to dispel some of the rage I was feeling, instead of letting it sit there while I continued on with my activities for the day

    Gifts of Recovery - Questions and Answers:

    Q1: What terrible things have I held on to from my past?
    A2: Man, these questions can be difficult for me to answer. The brain fog and mood swings definitely have their roles to play...but I digress. Let me think of an example. Before I knew about my GI problems--more specifically my esophageal problems--and the physical discomfort caused by them started becoming a more common fixture in my life, I was, as one might expect, concerned about the physical disturbances happening within my body. Now for anyone personally familiar with esophageal pain, you'll be aware that one way it manifests is via chest pain. At the time, I was concerned that there was something wrong with my heart (which I had some issues with when I was a child), so I went to see my then cardiologist for support. Everything came up ok on his end. Trusting his medical expertise, I relented, only to have the discomfort continue and further worsen. So I saw him again, but this time, instead of suggesting the possibility that I may have some issues with another organ in my body, he (heavily) suggested that I had psychosomatic issues, referring to some issues I had as a child as support for his claim. This made me feel confused and alone, as I had had panic attacks in the past and was able to discern the difference between them and these new and severe physiological sensations occurring within my body. Ultimately, my problems got worse, and I was rushed to the ER one night, after which he finally suggested that I see a gastroenterologist, who confirmed that I had some issues with my esophagus. While this impacted me in several ways, the largest impact was that it undermined my trust in physicians and dampened my desire to seek medical assistance from trained professionals. While the negative impact of this has lessened over the years, my tendency to avoid seeing a doctor and either tough things out or resolve the issue on my own still persists to some degree to this day. Why did I have to suffer incredibly yet so unnecessarily for a year, lost in despair and confusion and wasting my time and personal resources because a doctor (who I had been seeing since I was a child and trusted) insinuated something that wasn't true and chose to keep information from me about other possible alternatives? The decisions this man made created a lot of problems in my life (and prolonged a debilitating pain that could have been ameliorated from a far earlier point in time), and yet I never received any apologies or recompense for the determination he made (and that he was being paid for; it wasn't like he was doing this merely out of the goodness of his heart).

    Q2: Were these actually terrible things or were they misunderstandings?
    A2: Hmm..I would definitely say that it was personally a pretty destabilizing experience for me. As for the misunderstanding side of things, it's hard for me to say. At the time, and for a few years after, I really thought he was utterly in the wrong. As I mentioned before, why not provide me with the information that the severe discomfort I was feeling could possibly be due to my esophagus? Was suffering for a year and ultimately being hospitalized (and having to pay for all of that) the required price of admission for a simple referral to another physician? But, if I were try to apply the cognitive distortion of mind reading to this scenario, there could have been some factor(s) I was unaware of that led him to make this "diagnosis." Perhaps behind the scenes in the American healthcare system they frown upon specialists referring a patient to other specialists "unnecessarily"? Or maybe it is very unlikely for someone of my age at the time (early 20s) to be experiencing dysfunction with their esophagus, and he didn't want to lose credibility for referring me to a gastroenterologist over something that was statistically unlikely? I'm not sure. But my judgment of him and his decision is definitely influenced by what I don't know about the inner workings behind his decision.

    Q3: What gifts await me as I separate my experience from another person's intent?
    A3: Yikes, another difficult question. Well, I think in a very broad sense, I would be able to reduce the mental/emotional suffering generated when interacting with other people. When you open yourself up to the reality that it really is difficult to know exactly what someone's intent truly is (without honest and effective communication), I think you might be able to dispel a lot of the internal turbulence caused by holding on to a definitive interpretation of another person's words or actions in your mind.

    Self-improvement Books: Thoughts and/or Notes

    This is a new category--in addition to the above Q&A--that I'd like to try and incorporate into these entries. While I haven't made too much headway in this arena, I did start reading a book called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom recently; however, my reading has been light so far, and I haven't made any specific notes on it yet.

    Even though I did have some reservations about picking up this book, I had heard it recommended multiple times by someone who has given me solid advice about self-improvement and who has already introduced me to some helpful books in the past, so I decided to add it to my list. The fact that it isn't too long of a read was another plus.

    The author spent time studying with a teacher of Toltec wisdom, and the book begins by giving its quick explanation of what it means by Toltec (as there seems to be different meanings associated with this word), defines a few terms, and then tells a story--accompanied by its brand of mystical jargon--about a man long ago in Mesoamerica who came to realize certain truths about the world. This part of the book, while interesting (to me at least) for its exploration of a part of the world at a certain point in time that I never learned about, wasn't quite what I was looking for and seemed to justify some of my reservations about choosing this book as a useful aide in self-improvement; however, the next section made me a bit more optimistic, as it dove in to its philosophy a bit more. The jargon was still present--although less so than in the earlier section--but the author elaborated on what was meant by this jargon, and so far it has mapped on pretty well with actual phenomena in the world (e.g. the influence our environment has on creating and maintaining the feeling of self, the state of being that includes but is not limited to this feeling of self, the heavy degree of subjectivity that undergirds the internal rules and judgments we apply to ourselves, how substituting healthier thought patterns for unhealthy ones can--in the long run--lead to better lived experience, etc.). I have yet to jump into the four agreements themselves, but I hope I find at least one that I deem to be of significant value. If I do, it'll make reading this relatively short book a worthwhile endeavor.

    That's it for today. Take care
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021 at 12:18 AM
    Pete McVries likes this.

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