A Better Tomorrow

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

  1. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    What I find especially tricky when things are going well is dealing with the "high" that comes with that. Not only is there more energy but just seeing how one actually has a certain level of power over his life is daunting in some ways. There is also the thought of "wow, things are actually getting better" that can produce all sorts of strong emotions as well. Getting adjusted to this is tricky and sometimes it's hard not to push oneself too much or become overwhelmed when this starts happening. Basically it's important to stay calm even when things do seem to improve, but it's not always easy. Sometimes, in my case, when things seem to get going in the right direction I can sometimes get a special type of anxiety that gets close to panic attacks. It's like reality becomes a bit too intense.
     
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  2. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    I totally agree, you do not want to share Icarus' fate flying too close to the sun while feeling exceptionally good at the moment. Balance is key!
     
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  3. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Pete McVries

    One thing that has been interesting for me to notice is that change, which can be uncomfortable due to the pain or struggle needed to enact it (e.g. having to go through urges and withdrawals in order to beat an addiction), can also be uncomfortable just because it is unfamiliar. Being able to recognize the sensations and emotions that accompany this unfamiliarity really help take the bite out of the discomfort though, because once you have done so, all that's left is unfamiliarity. You see it for what it is.

    @Thelongwayhome27

    I feel like excitement and anxiety are different but related emotions. One can swing into the other.

    I relate to the feeling of getting overwhelmed. Finding and maintaining safe bandwidth between 'action and inaction' has been really helpful for me recently.
     
  4. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Hey there fellow rebooters,

    Back on November 10, 2019, I mentioned that I was going to take a break from the forum, falsely predicting that I would return about five weeks later. I couldn't have been more wrong. It was more like three months.

    At that time, I made a few posts in a handful of journals, only to disappear again for another four months.

    I distanced myself from YBR because I noticed that I was overly obsessing about it, repeatedly checking my topic and those of others. In addition, visiting the forum made me think more about porn and my addiction, which seemed to me to be a bad idea since my thoughts and feelings were already dominated by the two every day. In some ways, I felt like I was adding fuel to the fire.

    This doesn't mean that all the time I spent on the forum was detrimental, but it did mean that I needed to take a break until I felt ready to return.

    In my November 20 post I mentioned that I had some significant changes in store and that I wanted to devote more time to them. Looking back on the time between then and now, I can say that in some ways I have made significant changes in my life, while in others I haven't. If I imagine that during this period I were to be watched from a third-person perspective (imagine something like The Truman Show), I think the latter would appear truer than the former. This is something that I notice I beat myself up about, more often than I would like. But the fact of the matter is that when I objectively look at the change I have enacted, I see that I've made improvements at a very fundamental, but important, level. And I don't want to lose sight of these victories, as basic as they are.

    So I have decided to try and increase my presence on the forum, or at the very least in this topic. I hope that this--in addition to other tools that I use, like my daily records and logs--will serve as a concrete reminder that I have changed and will continue to change for the better, regardless of whatever dark chasm my thoughts and emotions beckon me toward in the present.

    What better way to start than to give a concise summary of what has changed for me on the PMO front? Put simply, when I do relapse, I look at porn and its substitutes far less often than before. What's more, I have been able to radically reduce the duration of my sessions, regardless of whether its fantasy or pornography. The result? Recovery has become noticeably easier. Not easy, but easier. And this is so important. I was focused so much on quitting as a whole, to find that 'right' combination of precautions, recovery techniques, behaviors and purpose that would lead me through recovery, that I neglected to invest adequate time, effort and consistency in reducing the problem at its source. To reduce the amount of dopamine that my addiction was being fed so that I could loosen the grip it had on me.

    I hope that this isn't misconstrued as me saying that those other components don't matter, because they most certainly do. But at that stage of my journey--which had transformed from a sojourn into a prolonged residence--I had continually overlooked what I had spent time learning when I made the transition from viewing my porn use as a detrimental habit/behavior to seeing it for what it is (an addiction) almost five years ago.

    Now for those who are reading, please remember that I am not saying that this is the most important realization to have at your current stage of the recovery journey. Maybe you need to take more consistent precautions. Or maybe you need to look into other techniques to help better cope with recovery. I'm just sharing the above because it was an important change that I had been overlooking for quite some time.

    I hope you all have a great, PMO-free day. And if you don't, there's always tomorrow.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  5. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Experienced some pain in the middle of the night and slept somewhat poorly. Nothing I can do about that, but being sleep-deprived is one of the most consistent causes of relapse for me. Unsurprisingly, I had some persistent urges today but made it through them all. Best thing I can do for the remainder of the day is go to bed soon and turn off my IADs starting now.

    Good night to all those reading, or perhaps good morning or afternoon depending on where you're located.

    Take care
     
    BoughtWithBlood likes this.
  6. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    I came across a poem today by David Whyte called The Journey. There was one stanza that caught my attention and made me think about addiction and recovery. I’ve included it below:

    “Sometimes with
    the bones of the black
    sticks left when the fire
    has gone out

    someone has written
    something new
    in the ashes
    of your life”

    That’s all for today.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
    Gil79 likes this.
  7. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    I’m a bit tired right now, so I don’t think I’ll be able to contextualize this as well as I’d like, but there was a member on the Reboot Nation forum who made me realize that there were some parts of my post on Wednesday the 17th that could be interpreted in the wrong way. As a response to that user’s post, I tried to clarify some elements of what I originally posted with what I wrote below:

    I’m actually one of those people who takes the saying ‘once an addict, always an addict’ to heart. It’s important for me not to forget this because it reminds me of my reality and helps me to make better choices consistent with that reality. What I meant in my previous post is that at that time, due to a combination of how I was using the forums and where I was at that point in my life, I was thinking so much about pornography, my addiction, and recovery, that it was detrimental to making progress. It’s not like all the time spent here and on YBR was problematic, but some of it was. That’s why I needed some time away from the forums. Hopefully that makes sense.

    I hear you about the slippery slope of reducing. Had I tried doing doing so during much of my many years struggling with recovery, I think I would have found myself in a position similar to the one you are in. But I had reached a point in my journey where doing so actually started yielding noticeable improvements in urges, withdrawals, self-confidence and self-control.

    Don’t get me wrong. I still look at every moment after a relapse as ‘the last time’ so to speak. And I always will, because that is the only way an addict of my severity will ever truly recover. This ultimately means no more porn, no more masturbation, no intentional sexual/romantic fantasy, no intentional arousal searches on the web, and no intentional ogling of women (or as close to zero as humanly possible for the last three). But doing my utmost to pull back the reins on a relapse when it does happen, as well as gathering data and monitoring my changes, has lead to some significant improvements that are making this process comparatively easier than before.

    Something I’ve learned from my experience of struggling through recovery is that different combinations are going to work better for different people at different stages. I definitely am not saying that what I’m doing is the right choice for you now or ever. It’s up to each and every one of us to consistently experiment on ourselves and observe the results over time. From that, we can better construct an approach that gets us closer and closer to the life we want to live.


    Hopefully this gives anyone reading my topic a better idea of where I was coming from with my original post. I definitely see how what I wrote could raise some red flags in the mind of a reader.

    As for today, things were overall ok on the PMO front. I did have a short period where I entered yellow/light orange territory, so I relocated and calmed down before proceeding with the rest of my day.

    Hope everyone had a nice, PMO-free day. And if you didn’t, well there’s always tomorrow to get back in the saddle and resume your journey.

    Take care
     
  8. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I have been experiencing the same thing, although my break from the forum was not intentional and was longer (2+ years). In that period I stopped seeing porn as a problem and looking back my porn use decreased by a factor 5 in feequency a d duration. My break from the board was not the direct cause. As in your case I think it was more that I focused on the source of my problems and the investment in other, more satisfying aspects of life. I came back in 2018 because I realized that it was still too much and didnt comply with my values. Since then things are way easier on the rebooting front. Still difficulties, but minor compared to before. The last year or so and especially the last months I finally have the feeling I am beating this thing and keep noticing the positive effects on at least a monthly basis. In othee words, to me it makes sense what you write.
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  9. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Gil79

    Thanks for stopping by and contributing to my journal.

    It’s uplifting to read about your journey and how you have gradually made progress with your addiction even though it has been an extended battle. It means a lot to see examples of people who are like me AND making the impossible possible. It’s really motivating.

    To be honest, I often feel so dejected from the feeling that I’m ultimately going nowhere with my struggle and that I’ll be stuck in this limbo for the rest of my life. This reinforces the destructive idea that I’ll never be able to regain self-control and the self-trust and confidence that comes with it. But in the past few months, I think I have made the mental transition (or most of it at least) to feeling that at some point in the future, I will beat this. It’s just a matter of time. Hearing directly from people who have beat this thing (@Pete McVries) and people who are beating it (yourself, @nuclpow, @Thelongwayhome27, to name a few) helps bolster that feeling, and that’s why I am glad to be back here and on Reboot Nation.

    Take care, and good luck with all future cases of triggering cleavage. What I find most frequently gets me in public is when my eyes unintentionally fall on women’s butts when they’re walking. Especially when driving. I have to keep scanning my visual field in order to drive, and sometimes my eyes will happen to fall upon some buttocks moving up and down. I don’t want to objectify women, and I definitely don’t want to be triggered. But I can’t help seeing it at times when I am outside, so I try to deal with it as best I can in the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
  10. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Well, today was thankfully light with the urges and withdrawals, and this is taking into account that I was somewhat sleep-deprived (consistent trigger) throughout the day because I stayed up late to check in on someone who was having a difficult night.

    I've mentioned this before either here or elsewhere, but I have been getting a lot better about turning off my IADs at a certain point in the day and putting them away in a more distant, difficult-to-access area of the house. My goal is to consistently do so by 7:00, and I am pretty close to that target today. It feels good.

    Best wishes to all those reading.

    Take care
     
  11. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

    The bad news is that I relapsed. The good news is that it was short and only to fantasy. I attribute this to my habit of turning off IADs early and putting them away. I would say the main cause of my relapse was a bad esophageal attack I had in the middle of the night (it's been a while since I've had one) accompanied by some gut pain. I'm not pleased, but I'm not devastated.

    Some readers may notice that I haven't made any mention of how many days I was PMO-free. This is because I have tried to distance myself from thinking about counters and streaks and instead focus on urges and withdrawals whenever they happen. What matters to me is dealing with the present, and thinking about streaks and counters can pull me away from that.

    From here on though, if someone is interested in how far along I am, they can just use this post as my Day 0 so to speak. Although that would be for FMO. I haven't looked at porn for longer.

    I'm pretty tired today, what with the lack of sleep from the midnight attack, spending a few hours outside at a picnic and getting a little sunburned, and then heading back home to do a lot of cleaning I had been neglecting. Going to turn off my IADs after posting this, shower up, and slowly get ready for bed.

    Take care
     
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  12. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I feel the same about this. I think that a counter can be motivating in the beginning when you're trying to get through the withdrawal symptoms in the first days or weeks, but it doesn't help with recovery.
     
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  13. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    What are IADs? I assume "Internet Access Devices" (or something like that)? It's definitely a good idea to be aware of the times, when you are most vulnerable, and to adapt your habits accordingly. I'm most vulnerable to relapsing in the evening, when I'm just browsing the internet without any intention. So for a few days now I'm taking a walk every evening around 7:00 or 7:30 PM (after dinner) and read a book afterwards. Before I'm going to bed I check WhattsApp really quickly. The habit of the evening walk and only reading a physical book in the evening was something I did during my best periods. Don't know why I always stop doing things that are good for me.

    And you shouldn't. Sounds like a minor lapse and you weren't prepared for this situation.

    Good mindset.
     
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  14. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you don't feel devastated because that feeling can serve to take the relapse further. Also, even if an FMO is probably not ideal, don't forget that it's still very good that you did not go beyond that. I hope this is a minor blip that you can keep going from on the same good path.
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  15. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    This is when I'm glad that I have my old journal stuff. Although it may seem that I'm stuck, I have actually been making progress (in certain fields, at least!)
     
  16. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Today overall was fine. Had some minor-moderate urges here and there, but was in control the whole time. I did decide to take a break from caffeine to once again explore what the long term benefits are. We’ll see how far I make it, but what this meant for today was a ton of crappy headaches. I think this plus some of the negative thoughts/feelings I was having about myself led to the urges, but either way I’m glad I didn’t buckle and give in to fantasy.

    @Gil79

    That’s good to hear. Better for me to become less reliant on it now rather than later. Thanks for the stamp of approval ; ). Makes me feel a bit more confident.

    @-Luke-

    Pretty close. I use it to mean Internet Accessible Device. Although I came up with this on my own—in order to avoid having to write out all the different devices I’m referring to each time I mention them—it may have been coined by someone else before me. Regardless, it’s been a pretty useful acronym so far.

    I’m also really vulnerable in the evening. Almost all my relapses happen after dark. Morning and afternoon ones are close to non-existent. So having a consistent sleep schedule and turning IADs off before then are something I’ve been investing a lot of effort and attention in. The walks and reading are great habits to have as well. I’m (very slowly) trying to build up a consistent habit of reading non-fiction during those later hours of the day. What type of places do you usually stroll through?

    Thanks for the stamp of approval by the way. Add that together with the one from Gil79, and I feel a bit more confident than a bit more confident ; )

    @Thelongwayhome27

    Me too. The future is yet to be seen, but I do know that if I give additional energy to this slip, I’ll only give it further power to lead me back to relapse once again. One thing I think I’m starting to notice is that my OCD thoughts are starting to reduce a little. I don’t want to create any false hopes, so I’ll reserve judgment for the time being, but I really hope some of my mental issues (including OCD) noticeably improve as I get more and more sober. I just have to be patient.

    @Eternity

    I hear you. My internal world often leads me astray, making me think that things are hopeless and nothing will ever change. But having external, objective records—like journals, logs etc.—really help me when I’m lost in the fog of my subjective experience and being misled by my addiction.
     
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  17. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Another relapse-free day.

    Because of some unexpected circumstances, I unfortunately had to finish some things up on my computer later than I would have liked, and thus violated my cutoff time for IAD use. No surprise here, but using them late in the day made me feel triggered. I would say orange-zone level urges. Because of that, today's post will be short because I want to turn them off ASAP.

    Hope everyone else sailed through their day PMO-free.

    Take care
     
  18. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Another day down.

    Made sure not to make the same risky mistake today by putting my schedule in place beforehand so that I wouldn’t have to use my IADs in the evening. In my experience, some things are so risky that complete elimination is what you want to aim for. Last night, although relapse/slip free, was a difficult but useful learning experience.

    As for urges, I think they were overall worse today then yesterday. Spent some time outside, which I haven’t been doing much of with the pandemic, and boy did I underestimate my mental readiness toward ogling. I was doing a pretty poor job, and while many body parts were catching my attention, it was the butts that were really grabbing my attention for some reason. Regardless, I view this as a learning experience, because it informed me that refraining from ogling is more difficult than I originally thought. From here on, I will create a little pocket of time before going out to mentally prepare myself so that I can keep my eyes on the prize of recovery and off of women’s bodies.

    All in all I’m alright though. My computer has been giving me problems for years, and it’s finally time to move on to a new device. The new one arrives soon, but it’ll be subject to the same rules I have for IAD use. I’m really looking forward to having a reliable machine that doesn’t frustrate me on a regular basis. One less trigger causing stressor, which is an additional plus.

    Hope everyone reading did their best trying to stay PMO-free today. If not, I hope you all learned something you can utilize on the next attempt.

    Take care
     
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  19. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Today was tough, but I’m still PMO-free.

    Last night, some time after my writing my previous post, I was trying to fall asleep when I overheard a bad fight going on between the people I live with. So, after some deliberation, I got out of bed and successfully deescalated the situation. The experience left a sour taste in my mouth however, significantly affecting my mood and delaying the time I went to bed.

    As a result, I felt pretty crappy physically and mentally when I woke up this morning. Still managed to get up pretty close to when I normally do, but this malaise sat with me during the early hours of the day. Luckily, I was okay with urges at this point, but from late morning to mid-afternoon, I was repeatedly battered by urges begging me to fantasize. While many images and scenarios flitted in my mind, I was essentially able to make it through them all without engaging them (although I did dwell on them from time to time for a few seconds). From mid to late afternoon, I spent my time outside and did better with ogling than yesterday, despite the fact that I forgot to make a pocket of time before leaving to get myself ready and be more mindful about my eyes and where they fall when outdoors. I think I won’t forget the next time this happens, but I’m just pleased I did better than yesterday.

    Lastly, in the evening, something really frustrating happened (probably amplified by withdrawals), which made me just want to drop my drawers and quickly bust a load to some porn. But I knew this wasn’t really the path I want to follow, so I relocated and set some time aside to calm down. And I did. Another day down.

    Wishing all those reading the best with their recovery journey.

    Take care
     
  20. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    These are some really nice examples of healthy emotional management. This is something most of us really have to learn and is part of the foundation of a healthy and addiction-free life. Well done!

    I also like your day to day approach. It is easy to get overwhelmed when we think of the future. There are so many uncertainties. But today we can do everything in that is in our power to make the right decisions.
     
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