Document the Victory

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by realness, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. realness

    realness Active Member

    Thank you @forlorn ! I have been working out on the patio in good weather and limiting my time in the basement. I think that's really helped over the last few months as I've been consistently been hitting 2 week streaks. Which is good. The bad thing is I'm a little stuck at hitting 2 weeks and then relapsing! Ha. But I'm getting some clarity. And the failure is consistent. When I know I'm going to get a few hours of time home alone, I've failed to prepare a few days out by calling and setting up accountability. If I wait until the day before to do that, I'm teetering and debating about indulging and I am prone to fail so close to the event, when my thinking is getting murkier and cloudy. So that is something practical I need to do next time. It used to be Mondays, but now with school schedules changing it is Wednesday afternoons where the house may be empty 3-4 hours. So on Sunday or Monday at the latest I need to call a buddy and set up a check in or chat.

    I love how you remind me that the longer we stay clean the better we feel and the shame will ebb away. With my relapses spacing out to 14 days, and being a one-and-done relapses, the guilt and shame seems to be more intense the night of and the day after, but it seems to fade very quickly after that as I enjoy practically living without PMO.
  2. Apeman

    Apeman It means you're a baboon... And I'm not

    I've also noticed a significant spike in difficulty around 2 weeks. I wonder what's up with that.
    It's nice to know that the benefits we're all after are so close at hand, though. You don't need a crazy long streak to feel the effects.
    realness likes this.
  3. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Yup - 2 weeks can be a tricky point. As someone who's done really long streaks (followed by really long relapses too - so definitely NOT showing off) I can say that, while I'm sure the experts will have some decent explanation, the truth is that it's a bit more random than that. I'm learning to try to watch for relapse warning signs - patterns of thought and behaviour that normally precede me screwing up. The biggest one for me is forgetting that I'm an addict - I don't mean that we should go round forever beating ourselves up - but we should be staying part of a community like this and staying mindful of letting our minds wander. As long as there is P on the internet, I'm only ever one click away from my drug (even with P blockers - which you should have but shouldn't rely on).

    I guess everyone's warning signs will be different but I bet, if you think about what your thoughts and behaviours are like at around 2 weeks you might be able to figure out what your own triggers are...

    Anyway.. sorry to ramble on your thread! Take care
    realness likes this.
  4. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    It’s good that you’ve got some clarity and found out that the failure is consistent. You now have a pattern to work with. It also sounds as though what you can start to do about it by planning in advance. So that’s great progress, as you’re no longer relying on willpower when urges comes up, but instead are trying to preempt it.

    Around ten days to two weeks used to be the usual time for me to relapse.

    Keep going!
    realness likes this.
  5. realness

    realness Active Member

    I'm excited to keep going with no porn. I've MO'd or FMO'd every few days since my last PMO relapse on 16 September. Although this is preventing the buildup to want to PMO I'm starting to feel worse after doing this. Earlier after my latest relapse I wouldn't feel so bad and definitely felt MUCH better than PMO'ing. Anyways I welcome feeling worse about MO or FMO. It shows that this stuff needs to go too. My excuse right now is that there's no sex with the wife. We're just exhausted and surviving with young kids, while also working on some of our resentments and issues Regardless, I'm excited to continue with no P and all the shame, guilt and baggage it brings. And I'm ready to extend victory and time away from MO and FMO. They are also, to a lesser extent, holding me back from embracing real emotions and the work required to address my shortcomings and character defects.
  6. realness

    realness Active Member

    Feeling drawn to guilt and shame about previous relapses. So I came on here and commented on a few journals. I'm thankful for good people who share their story of reality. The good and bad that they struggle with. Their honesty. That's why my handle is realness. I really dislike faking things, ignoring things, sarcasm. So I love this place of reality and honesty, growth and encouragement. Two more days and I'll be at 2 weeks of no Porn.
  7. Cali

    Cali Member

    Past relapses do not matter, only this moment, this reboot, and a better life in front of you matters.

    I agree 100%, reading and commenting on the journals is really keeping me accountable for my actions in my current reboot.
    realness likes this.
  8. realness

    realness Active Member

    Damn this 2 week thing continues to hit me. Reset today. I made a better effort at contacting a friend today during some time alone, but I still chose to blow him off and indulge in some soft core. It led to a bit of hardcore but didn't last long. 30 mins of PMO relapsing. I'll continue to examine this 2 week relapse cycle. It's certainly an improvement from daily or weekly PMO. But I'm still inviting harm to me. Emotionally, spiritually and physically this stuff harms me. And it presents harmful opportunities to damage my family and my marriage. Just everyone says, it felt so good to indulge for a few minutes. And a microsecond after cumming the wave of regret hits. And I asked myself, why? One thought I had is will this cycle go on for a long time and then gradually improve, similar to my daily relapsing improving?

    Some thoughts I've had to examine further- why not celebrate my urges, sexual drive, and appreciation for the female form? Reasonably of course. Kind of like surfing the urge. Acknowledge it, affirm that it's good to feel alive and drawn to something. Take away it's power and affirm that feeling this way doesn't require me to consummate those feelings with PMO or MO.

    Thank you for being here. I don't feel like confessing this in person to the few people in my life right now who know about it. I'll do what I should have done earlier today, get out and do some physical work on the back yard and get back on my feet.
  9. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    You slipped on a Wednesday? The day when you have the house to yourself for a few hours. What measures can you put in place to manage your alone time better?

    I like this idea. Sometimes we have to use covert methods to get our minds back on our side. Acknowledge that you will be triggered. It's human nature, it's biological. It's how we choose to respond that matters.
    realness and Lowdo like this.
  10. realness

    realness Active Member

    I'm feeling so good. Each evening I celebrate a day with no P, and experience gratitude for the moments of clarity, peace and joy that I got to experience without the fog of guilt and shame obscuring everything. Each morning the past few days I've celebrated as an opportunity to extend my life with no P, MO or PMO. I'm enjoying this and I know it won't last! Although there aren't many strong urges now, I am experiencing times each day where guilt and fear surface and I have to fight through it. These feelings are based around my daughter interrupting my PMO back in August. I got some great counsel and encouragement here. And that helps me see that the guilt and shame make that previous experience bigger than it was, that I can verge on catastrophizing it. So I've had to work at processing those emotions and stare fear and shame in the face and say fuck off. It's a blessing that my daughter hasn't been negatively affected by that. It could have been much worse. And each time the fears and shame come back from that experience, it's an opportunity to be grateful for the learning experience and work hard to ensure it never happens in my home.

    I'm getting a lot of encouragement from the thread

    I like @DoneAtLast 's point about white knuckling and developing will power being a big component of the first 90 days or so of a recovery. I've shied away from those things, afraid that I'm doing my recovery wrong and that it should be about more than just willpower. But acknowledging that I need to work hard and dig deep when urges hit at certain times is my reality now. I'm ready.

    @forlorn reminded me about safeguards on Wednesdays when I'm home alone. I didn't do a good job of that last week. I weakly tried to set up a conversation with an accountability partner but it was too easy to blow that off. I'm learning from that and I need to put more work into structure. Being somewhere and actively doing something. This means I need to limit the time actually home alone when no one else is home. I need to break up the time and go somewhere else. Utilize the coffee shop. I am also still thinking about a dns type option to block adult content at my router level. This would be effective for me because I'm not very technology literate. But because I'm not technology literate, I've been holding back from doing anything because messing with the router settings might mess up my internet connection. Which would majorly impact my working from home and my kids access to school and entertainment. I
    Gil79 likes this.
  11. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Hey @realness - it was great to read your latest update. I'm glad you're feeling good and blessed right now. You're also absolutely right about planning ahead for time alone. This was a big component in my initial recovery - planning anything that keeps you safe is better than nothing but one thing I found helpful was making sure to plan in activities that i enjoyed: going for a walk/run, watching a safe (trigger free) movie, doing something creative. It's a powerful way of rewiring the whole reward circuit thing... we get wired to think of PMO as a 'reward' so giving myself healthy rewards instead has allowed to look forward to occasional evenings alone while keeping myself safe. It might be helpful early on to have a back-up plan that gets you out of the house if necessary tho!

    With regard to blocking adult content, a number of home routers have got effective dns-based filtering. I've been using a netgear router with parental controls for many years. It's easy to set up and is pretty effective - it's based on OpenDNS which is free and shouldn't mess up any legitimate web activity. However - even if you are non-technical, if you know how to switch it on, then you'll know how to switch it back off. You should definitely have a filter but never rely on it!

    You're doing great - keep going!
    realness likes this.
  12. realness

    realness Active Member

    Alright I'm really pondering this two week thing. It's a long enough break that I gain a lot of confidence, joy and peace being away from PMO. It also makes the high so much higher when I cave after two weeks and fighting off some urges along the way. And the recovery is quicker as it's a once and done relapse and I'm off again. I need to write this out because I seem to be ok with this cycle and I need to ask myself honestly if I want to recover permanently from PMO, or am I ok with how things are.

    Again I have to fight to act on things and not just intellectualize. Intellectually I know that I will be a better man without PMO in my life. Period. I'm an "ok" man using PMO every two weeks. I can be an ok father, husband, and employee, and I can be "ok" with myself. But do I want to be a great man? Do I want bigger and better long term rewards or do I want to settle for cheaper short term highs of PMO.

    It's great that I've made progress and am not daily or even weekly PMOing, but where do I want to go from here?
  13. positivef

    positivef Active Member

    Trying to ration time spent on porn (or the extremity of it) has always lead me back to slowly using it more and more - to full blown relapse. Also, from what I read it will make it hard to rewire your brain without abstinence.
    realness and Lowdo like this.
  14. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Hey @realness - you're doing well, especially by staying on the forum, being open and not slipping into the shame/silence cycle. I think you already know that only you can answer the question you've asked ;-)

    I can only speak about my own experience... which sadly spans decades. For me, the goal of permanently staying off PMO isn't about P being wrong - it's about the corrosive effect it has had on my life, even in small doses. And again, speaking for myself, the way that it can completely consume me, especially just when I think I have it under control.

    The truth is that, for me, there is no 'safe' amount of PMO. And as a bonus, I am so much happier without it. I still get tempted and I've still screwed up a few times since properly stopping. Being PMO-free has not solved all my problems but it is allowing me to see them and deal with them like a grown-up and without the low-level shame I felt for years.

    I hope that's helpful...
    realness, positivef and Cali like this.
  15. realness

    realness Active Member

    Thanks @Lowdo , that is helpful. And it's helpful to get feedback and comments and conversation about this. It's so great to expose this stuff to the light.

    Today the news broke that the New Yorker author and CNN guy Jeffrey Toobin was exposed to his colleagues MOing on a zoom call. It hits close to home and brings up shame and fear to me. My last relapse was last week, and I was also managing a work call while indulging. It was only an audio call though, and I was being careful to mute and go in another room as the call was drawing to a close. Still, it's a sobering thing to see people in the public get caught up in PMO, and suffer personal and professional consequences from it all. My shame, guilt and fear will pass as I remain active in this recovery. I thought very little of the risks I was taking at the time. But now I realize how easy it would be to mess up mute or get caught doing this. Another chance to examine and address my integrity and character. Thankfully for now, and hopefully for the future, I won't have to suffer such dramatically bad consequences and public exposure of my struggle with PMO.

    I've been exhausted with family life. But in a good way. We've been reveling in gorgeous fall weather and getting great family experiences like hikes, pumpkin patch visits and family pictures done. I know there is no better use of this time, and it is wonderful to spend it with family and make great memories. There is an exhaustion to it though, but my wife and I have been good about supporting each other and communicating with each other about it.

    Onwards. There's no magical solution to all of this. I have plenty of knowledge in my head. Will I be a man of action, or a man of passivity, banking on a false sense of security based on intellectualism?
    positivef and forlorn like this.
  16. realness

    realness Active Member

    Last week I relapsed on Wednesday. Relapses are bringing on more severe mental and emotional challenges for me when they happen, even though they are spaced out a bit (every week or two). Primarily, the guilt, shame and fear come back strong from August when my young (just turned 5) daughter walking in on me PMOing. Even though it was over 2 months ago. Will she remember? Will she bring it up out of the blue to my wife or in front of the whole family? Did she know what she even saw? How much did she see? What kind of failure am I as a father for this to happen? I got some good advice and perspective here on this journal back when it happened, so I will go back and re-read those comments about me being too caught up in the shame and guilt and not seeing things clearly. That I'm catastrophizing it all. One thing is for sure, the mental harm of PMO is presenting itself through this mindset. Over the last two months my struggle to process what happened has faded after each relapse and settled in a healthier place, only to be revived and intensified when I relapse. I'm seeing the good in this though. It cannot be more clear that working hard and killing my PMO addiction is the best thing I can do for my mental health, spiritual life, marriage, parenting..... everything in my life improves to some degree.

    I had strange dreams last night about my ex gf from high school. Slowly I'm processing how that relationship was unhealthy and obsessive on my end. That trauma from my childhood and the beginning of PMO played into that unhealthy obsession. I also have dreams about being left out of things. Strange stuff. As others have commented, I think dreams are a good thing and show progress, even if the content is troublesome.

    Loneliness sucks too. I have no close friends. Interactions at church are really superficial and I get the feeling that any time I press for deeper relationships it puts people off. Is it me? Or them? It is unrealistic to ever have a friendship where I can share some of my PMO fight? Are all the other guys in good shape with this and I'm the only freak?
  17. realness

    realness Active Member

    Feeling good and excited to get to two weeks in two days. I've been excited each morning to go another day without PMO, and then feeling grateful each evening and night to have celebrated another day without it. The urges have not been very strong. I can't quite control that but I'm celebrating. Perhaps it's also because it's been very obvious over the past 10 days how much it would suck to give in to PMO. Previously the urges were stronger and I would let them overpower that logic and fact. But it's been the opposite. The urges weaker and the facts more obvious of how bad it would be to PMO. I'd love to keep this going!

    The last few relapses have really led to bad mental states. Wallowing in shame or guilt, replaying relapses and other negative events in my life, etc. I'm not sure how all of this plays together and interacts. Maybe things really have played out enough that I'm slowly but surely emerging from this. Oh yeah, it's also helped that there have been almost no long stretches of time home alone that would tempt me to act out. I've also found a good coffee shop that is open and where I can work once or twice a week to fill any long stretches that come up where I would be home alone.

    One last good thing has been wonderful warm fall weather over the last two weeks. So it seems like a lot of good things have come together that makes this a good check in.

    The good weather will come crashing to an end this weekend and winter sets into the Western US. Other things will be more challenging. I'll be working on exercising the strength I'm gaining, the wisdom I have to put myself in stronger positions, and the conscious choice to avoid harming myself and my mental health.
    Rudolf Geyse likes this.
  18. badger

    badger Active Member

    2wks seems to be where i fall as well. max i have gone clean is 3wks. day 8 today. i'll keep reading these forums and never give up. thank you
    realness likes this.
  19. realness

    realness Active Member

    Thanks for checking in @badger . I'll check out your journal and cheer you on.
    Moderate and consistent urges are back today. Scrolling social media looking for a hit of something revealing. Pretty fruitless and I haven't touched myself so I'm stopping in here and then going outside. That usually changes everything for the better. Good weather will be gone this weekend. I'll cross that bridge next week and get through today. I'm proud of two weeks of no P today, but a little disappointed that the urges are back. Thankfully there isn't an opportunity to act out or binge as everyone is home.

    I'll focus on being active and being in motion. That usually adds to my strength and confidence as I accomplish things, even it's as simple as organizing a junk drawer or area of the house. Lots of fall cleanup will help too. Building on the knowledge and lessons learned. It's hard to give up completely indulging, and letting off the brakes and giving in to all my sexual desires that can be found in PMO. But I know where it will all lead. And I know what it's like to give up on my character and integrity, to tear down what little I build up each time. So... onward and upwards!
    Rudolf Geyse likes this.
  20. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Hey @realness - not to discourage you or anything but even after a year clean (previously - I think I'm currently on about 4 months right now) the urges can still bite. They're not the problem though - think of them as a warning light on the car dashboard. You don't solve them by giving in to them - you solve them by realising that something is off balance and you need to take care of yourself.

    This might be a bit controversial (and I'm definitely not qualified) but the most harmful myth for me was the idea that guys need sex. And that somehow if we're not getting it we need to do other stuff (MO or PMO) to find release... The problem with this is it keeps you in the mindset that you're denying yourself something good - that you're sacrificing something because it's wrong/sinful. This is simply not sustainable cos no-one has the willpower to keep abstaining for that long.

    For me, the only mindset that works for more than a few days is this: I'm avoiding a deeply unhealthy set of behaviours that make me unhappy and will ultimately take away everything I truly love most. I'm not denying myself - I'm affirming my best self.
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