breaking out of cycle

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Ashitaka, Jul 7, 2021.

  1. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Hello

    I turn 30 next week.

    I am starting a journal to hold myself accountable during my self improvement journey. My wife caught me while I was mid PMO during my work hours. She is 7 months pregnant. She feels betrayed, angry, saddened, and confused. I feel pretty disgusting, and realized I need to deal with my issues so I can be a good role model for my kid.

    The posts on this website really resonated with me, I struggle with a PMO + videogame habit that I started when I was a teenager. While I technically haven't gamed in over six months, I have relapsed and binge watched YouTube videos of people playing videogames.

    My porn use follows a similar trend as gaming, i.e. I watch more porn when I watch less YouTube, so I think the origin of my habit is out of boredom and procrastination, i.e. both PMO and video game use are ways I distract myself from work stress and anxiety. This creates an endless cycle where I procrastinate from work, feel stressed because my work demands are piling up, procrastinate further etc.

    Early on in the pandemic, I would smoke weed and then go for hours long walks and runs in the forest, sometimes daily. I hid all of this from my wife and would just pretend I "got lost" or something. My weed use was problematic, but I think it was more about escaping reality and experiencing adventure then it was about the physical sensation of being high. I am over a year sober from marijuana (MJ), but my feeling of success is dampened by the realization that I am just replacing one bad habit for another (ad nauseum).

    During the pandemic, I was working from home (or living at work, hard to tell sometimes). Working from home (WFH) has made procrastination very easily accessible, and over the last year I have wasted so much time; to name a few: checking Accuweather every twenty minutes, obsessing over every single hurricane during last summer, "doomscrolling" Reddit and Instagram for hours everyday, checking my Robinhood account every hour. At my low point my ability to focus my attention on a task was less than 30 seconds.

    Things got really really bad about a year ago when I was actually hospitalized because I voiced suicidal ideation to my wife during an argument, and then literally ran away from her. I am really grateful I ended up in the hospital, because I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and have ended up getting some professional help. My wife has been my my rock during this period, just in encouraging me to improve myself and get help, and also sticking by my side despite the trail of shit I have pulled our relationship through.

    Why have I held onto these self destructive behaviors for so long?

    I am cutting myself off from ALL these compulsive / obsessive behaviors, and I want this thread to be my way of being accountable.

    If anyone else is reading this, feel free to say hi. I hope my story can help other people with their own self improvement journey. If no one else is reading this, then its ok, because I just want to do something so I can track my progress.

    Intentions,

    I want to be more present, more here, and less aloof.

    I want to be more caring, show my family that in some ways I can be trusted to make good decisions.


    Questions,

    Which behaviors, actions, habits will build up to my idealized persona? What do I want? Who do I want to become?
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
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  2. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    I'm working alone at my computer. Its been twenty minutes since I posted this. My muscle memory kicked in, ctrl shift n r e d d i t and I stopped, looked at what I had typed, closed the private browser, and stopped myself.

    I should really just get this presentation done. If I really have spare time at the end of the day, I have started repainting the kitchen so I will do that instead.
     
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  3. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Its been 1 day. I've definitely abstained from the PMO cycle before, but I haven't ever tracked my progress. Definitely having the counter helps my motivation, even if its just a silly number.

    TW; sex and porn

    Yesterday I had serious urges while I was cooking dinner. I kept finding myself reaching for my pocket for my phone and walking towards the couch. Every time it happened I kept redirecting myself and was able to get through it okay. Its startling how so much of this behavior is deeply ingrained and unconscious. Its a reminder that this will take a long time to recover from.

    My wife and I are working on reconciliation, I feel she is less angry which I'm incredibly grateful to her for. I've fucked up several times in our marriage, with weed and video gaming. I think there is a degree of confidence in that I was more or less able to cut those things out of my life - with plenty of false starts - but eventual success in the end.

    One thing I think that helped was that I explained I'm not actually attracted to the people in porn, and for me the attraction is that I feel its more about the release I get from orgasm. We looked at porn together, which was really hard to bring myself to do because I felt very ashamed and guilty. It was definitely worth it because I realized objectively its pretty sad; actors being paid to pretend to enjoy a physical act.

    She felt my porn use still is a betrayal of our marriage, which sucks to think about but I need to hear that. She told me she knows most men watch pornography. I explained that hearing her talk about how my porn use has hurt her made me realize how porn can be toxic for a relationship, among other reasons because it sets up impossible and unhealthy standards for intimacy, and leaves the other partner feeling left out of sex. What other reasons is porn bad for a relationship? For me, the draw of porn is penetration, but talking it through I realized that this is a very narrow dimension of sex and sexuality, ultimately leading to sex where only one (male) partner orgasms. Talk about selfish! Thus the effect of porn on me is to make me a much worse lover.

    I felt guilty after waking up because she told me I initiated sex last night. I don't remember this, so I must have been asleep (this has happened before). After hearing her talk about how she has been feeling dissatisfied with our sex life, I wanted our next sexual experience to be more special.

    I think that its okay, and we will have other opportunities to do it right, as I said earlier, seems to be my motto - plenty of false starts - but eventual success in the end.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
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  4. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Today is day 2! Its very rainy, tempting to just sit down and have a very lazy day. Still have deadlines at work, I suppose that is good. This weekend I will stay at home and do house projects (replacing kitchen cabinets, painting the kitchen, and building a compost bin). It will be challenging to remain productive, I'll have to check-in here at some point to make sure I am on track.

    This morning I talked to my therapist about what happened last week, he had an insightful question. Yes, porn, marijuana, video gaming, all had negative effects on my life. While acknowledging the self-destructive nature of these habits, rather than focusing solely on these effects, what are the benefits of these habits? Maybe benefits is not the right word, but I still felt this question is important, because if I want to get better I need to replace bad habits with good ones that can still fill the same needs. Otherwise, that aspect will go unmet which may wear down my motivation to get better. A better way of phrasing the question would be in terms of needs, i.e. what need does porn / marijuana / video gaming / whatever fulfill?

    I always felt that these three habits for me were about escaping work / life reality and accessing some fictional or virtual fantasy. I have been feeling lately that my life is a bit unbalanced, lots of work, life, lots of material things, little spirituality. I chose Ashitaka from Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke as my username because I felt he embodies a duality of spiritual and material aspects. For me, the purpose of these habits is about reconciling the daily grind of life stress with the ultimate goals of personal achievement. When I used porn, it was because I was trying to watch less video game content. When I started playing video games I was trying to stop smoking marijuana. When I started to smoke marijuana, it was because I was trying to quit smoking cigarettes. When I started smoking cigarettes I was trying to resolve teenage anxiety. This is the ultimate connection between each habit and anxiety, and I've been reflecting on how the key to ending the cycle of bad habits is to deal with my anxiety.

    I read an interesting article relating Carl Jung's theory of individuation with Ashitaka, saying this film "can be seen as a form of individuation quest, but with a slight inversion: instead of a reality-based individual struggling to reconcile less concrete, perhaps spiritual aspects of their self with their more developed personality, the story of the film represents an intuitive and spiritual person having to accept a humanocentric, progressive, and industrious reality as being an inevitable part of their own life."

    Here is the link if you are interested: Ecclectica - The Inverted Quest of Ashitaka: A Jungian Analysis of Princess Mononoke (brandonu.ca)

    I really recommend Miyazaki, he is a brilliant film maker. Have you seen Princess Mononoke?This is a nice review of the film: 'Princess Mononoke' | Critics' Picks | The New York Times - YouTube

    I feel a strong connection with Ashitaka's story because he embodies a lot of the conflict and anxiety I developed while growing up, his story is about the stress about the eternal conflict and friction between individuals and the social / cultural world and between people and nature. These are really big themes that I can't resolve in a day, I will need to be like Ashitaka, a strong virtuous upstanding rational and deeply intuitive person if I want to fix the world.

    What I can do to become this person is to keep living one day at a time, while freeing myself from distractions that prevent me from being mindful of how thoughts become actions, habits, mood, into personality. My biggest goal is to be less anxious, and if I want to be a less anxious person, the first step is be mindful of my thoughts and actions. I can only control myself in this very moment. I can do this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
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  5. Deleted User

    Deleted User Guest

    Hi Ashikta. Welcome here and congrats on "confessing" your addiction. I think this forum is a great place to do that as we like minded people sharing more than only this addiction and not judging each other.

    Are you still able to get an active sex life with your wife being 7 months pregnant? Because if not, maybe your wife could have seen it like an "alternative", though of course this wouldn't have been honest? ;)

    I also have been a video game ("addict"). That's why I think those counters play a huge role for (ex) gamers. And not only for gamers, it is scientificaly proven that we like our reward, and the reward is seeing the counter grow each sucessful day :) It's just like those Kill Deaths ratios in FPS, or your character's lvl of skills in an MMO, etc ...

    Also, out of the blue : Do you think you ADHD (or add if not hyperactive though now they use ADHD for both conditions). I used to PMO also in the middle of a work related task while working from home. Talk about productivity .... :p
     
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  6. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Yes - actually our sex hasn't ever been better. We are definitely nervous about the post-partum period, though talking through it I feel like we can still experience intimacy without the sex part. This will doubtlessly be a major test of my commitment to not PMO.

    I think the reward feedback cycle from video games has had a big role in my lack of focus and motivation in later life. I think its also partially because I never really developed self-discipline to be comfortable with uncomfortable tasks. Probably because I would easily revert to playing video games, smoking marijuana, or (over) exercising instead of confronting myself. Hmmm..

    And yes, ADD / ADHD has come up a few times for me while talking to my therapist. He stressed first that its not a diagnosis at all and second that most of the population seems to lack focus and attention. I sometimes wonder if ADD is more a result of the intense work-centered lifestyle typical in this day and age, because I read somewhere that the typical hunter-gatherer only spent 20-40 hours a week actively working.

    Do people have attention deficit simply because they are asking too much attention from themselves?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
  7. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Today is day 4, still going strong! Actually today will also be my fourth day without Reddit or any video game content as well.

    Last night, some friends came over to cook with us, and we watched Lost in Translation (dir Sofia Coppola w Bill Murray and a very young Scarlet Johannson). While they cooked I took down the kitchen cabinet just to find a big ol' mess behind it all. Seems like the last house owner put the cabinets up in a quick and shoddy way. This kind of threw me off because the kitchen is a huge mess right now and I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do. I have a contractor / handyman coming over this afternoon, and we decided just to ask them if they can fix this for us. Sometimes you just don't have enough time to do everything yourself.

    I felt like the film really stuck with me, because I was bothered that the resolution of the film is the two main characters develop a relationship despite that they are both married to other people. Johannson's character is obviously a very young person, and she looks up to Murray as an older person who has life figured out. Sometimes, older folks are just as screwed up as we are, its like "the blind leading the blind", or “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit”. I guess ultimately its just a film about two lonely people that end up being lonely together.

    I do feel super restless today. I woke up this morning and immediately felt that my back hurt. Last week I only went on a single 1 mile swim, so I did 30 minutes of vinyasa yoga, which was tough, I was so tight I could barely touch my knees. I want to go swimming to stretch my shoulders today as well. Its the summer, the pond is warm and its a really good way to relax and workout.

    I'm glad I came here to write and download some feelings. My personal goals today are make my bed, to keep my streaks going, and exercise. I want to study for an upcoming test and paint the kitchen.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
  8. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Today is day 6, hanging in there!
     
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  9. Ashitaka

    Ashitaka New Member

    Well that didn't end well. I ended my week long streak this morning. Oops. Time to start over.

    I did observe I had a lot more focus and attention at the beginning of this week, which started to fade at some point Wednesday afternoon. I started by reading news a little, then switched to Reddit for a period. I felt a bit guilty about that and regained my focus through the rest of the morning. In the afternoon I got distracted again and watched some video game content on YouTube.

    I thought this wouldn't be too much of a problem, but then this morning I did PMO. Although I did get up initially to start making lunch, I did notice immediately afterward I was completely disinterested in doing anything productive. I kinda just sat and zoned out for a minute or two. I'll keep thinking about this and update this post later on to think about what effects this is having, how I can avoid relapsing in the future etc.
     
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