Day 30 The definition of Addiction found on google search: Addiction - The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity (no matter the consequence). I added "no matter the consequence." Because true addiction, as experienced through the addict, is being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity no matter how negatively it affects your life. You know pornography is harmful, you know it alters the function of your brain and prevents you from excelling in important areas of your life; yet you find yourself staring into the computer making ‘love’ to visual photos and videos. The dopamine hitting your neuro sensors each time causes your brain to have a mental and somewhat emotional relationship with your ‘visual reality’. This causes the negative effects that draw out your energy from reality that makes you feel detached, unmotivated and unable to love rightfully. Whoever you are reading this you fall under one of three categories; you are either addicted to pornography, a person who has recovered from pornography or you may know someone who has an addiction to pornography. Pornography is such a serious problem that I believe it is an epidemic, simply look at the billions of dollars created by the porn industry – people seek to take pills like Viagra and Cialis to combat the side effects of pornography rather than finding natural and real ways of fixing the source of their problem. Divulging in such things alters your mind, your chemical balance, your outlook on individuals, creates an unquenchable desire that can never be satisfied, it defers motivation, it stupefies your thinking into a constant fog, destroys intimacy, leaves you robbed of self-worth, ruins relationships, disables your confidence, brings a bitter guilt, hard to forgive yourself of failures, occupies your mind with a constant stream of immoral thoughts, destroys your respect for women and will prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Some or all of those will fit under the person who has used porn over a long-period of time among other things. I am turning 27 years old as of today December 11. The past two years of my life has really put my life into perspective. I am a very good looking white male 6'1" blue eyes and brown hair with a fit body. I was introduced to porn by my 6th grade friend when I slept over at his house and watched softcore on HBO. I was so intrigued by it as a young boy and enjoyed the excitement. Since this experience, I have not gone more than 2 1/2 weeks straight without PMO or MO and for a long period of time I was indulging in pornography every day. Just to briefly introduce you to my story, I am originally from Orlando, FL. I lost my virginity to a girl when I was 17 years old, I didn't have a problem with sex initially. But when I had intercourse with her after my first time I always struggled to keep an erection. I had no idea why and blamed it on made up reasons. We ended up splitting up and it hit me kind of hard. I was introduced to alcohol at the age of 18 years old in a way to escape my breakup with this girl. I would drink heavily with a few friends I made from high school which I knew liked to drink on the weekends. Throughout my experiences afterwards, I had no problem getting girls; however there were plenty of occasions where I couldn’t get an erection with at least 10+ different women. But it wasn’t consistent and sometimes I would be fine and sometimes it would be completely docile. I would become sexually active with a girl and porn would fall secondary, however it was ever present in my life, just not as prevalent. My sexual experiences with these girls were difficult, not that I would get a completely limp penis, I would just have a difficult time maintaining an erection or I would get tired and stop. There were times when I had no issue at all. So I experienced every situation on the spectrum over the space of the last 10 years. Mostly, I couldn't do multiple sex positions and was limited to missionary and sometimes be able to do doggy if I was comfortable enough with the girl. I have successfully slept with 20+ women in my life at this point even after the various failures in between. I thought I had a problem and didn't know what to do. I always thought deep down that it was probably PMO or MO but I could never go further then 2 1/2 weeks, let alone 2-3 days, abstaining. I just enjoyed it and when I would try to quit I would go out with my friends and drink and then come home and PMO because I had a loss of judgment. I ALWAYS fell back into it because either my battle of thoughts, alcohol and/or Marijuana after age 22+ or I just gave up trying to quit and indulged on a daily basis. I continued this cycle until I was 25 years old. I had undergone the first time I really tried to quit - I experimented with the process and tried to understand the effects of pornography. I still couldn't achieve the 2 1/2 weeks without MO or PMO. But I felt that I was onto something and I started to find forums much like this one about quitting and the negative accounts of porn. Let me clarify, I indulged in pornography on a daily basis but on the rare occasions when I attempted to quit or when I was sexually active I could not go longer then 2 ½ weeks ever. But things took a massive turn for the worst; I started dating a girl that turned out to be the craziest person in the world. At first she was perfect, too good to be true and an awesome girl. But then… Just to briefly describe what happened, she was a lying cheat who had no trust in me because of her own guilty conscience. One night she got so upset at me because she thought I stole her phone (she lost it) she called the cops, while I was home asleep, told them that I stole her phone (grand theft less than $500) with the addition of a crazy unreal story in which I broke it (destruction of property) preventing her from contacting the police (felony charge getting involved with a police investigation) and.. oh, then I "punched" her (domestic violence) with absolutely no evidence. So, the cops came looking for me at my place of work. My boss immediately fired me telling me he doesn’t want criminals working for him, I went to jail, got dropped from my college classes and borrowed family member's money for an attorney. When I received the police report months later I read the police report which said, "suspect appears to be lying because her story doesn't make any sense." Yet, they arrested me because of her word alone. I was only in jail for 18 hours before my wonderful mother bailed me out, I found out a few days after getting out of jail that the girl had moved in with her boss and she was secretly dating him the entire time; she kept denying it until I drove up to the guy's house finding her in the process of moving the other half of her stuff in. That’s when she blamed me for everything. (This is honestly just brushing the surface – I laugh looking back). So, needless to say after going to jail and losing my life as I knew it, I had hit a triggering point of PMO to the fullest to afford me some type of self-therapy. I started to find that this was actually making me more miserable and brought me to a horrific point. I found myself, at my worst, staring down the barrel of a loaded glock .45; I was so curious what death was like, I was fascinated and intrigued and thought I had no more purpose in this life. I sat there for 30 minutes and I finally decided that I either kill myself now and spray my brains all over my bedroom for my family members to clean up or I can recover from everything and move forward with my life. This all happened in September 2013. The charges ended up being dropped by October 2013 because of the inconsistencies in the report and my attorney was expensively good. So, in this process I came into contact with my ex's because my attorney had requested me to get character letters from girls I had dated since I am not an aggressive person at all. I started talking to the girl I lost my virginity to as mentioned above (8 years earlier). She had become a heavy alcoholic because she had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and I had just got done with nearly committing suicide so I tagged along with her. I had splurged with the PMO so much in the previous two-three months that I decided to completely give it up. I just solely wanted to have sex with this girl. At first I couldn't even have sex with her because I couldn't get a full erection. I blamed it on the alcohol but we never stopped hanging out and she just wanted to constantly attempt sex. So, sex improved slightly a week to two weeks later after our several efforts. Keep in mind I completely stopped PMO and MO because I had splurged so badly on it that it became unattractive to me. By late November (1 1/2 months without PMO) I was able to do extraordinary things in the bedroom even while extremely intoxicated. I could do any sex position and my penis would become solid hard that I impressed myself. Sex was SOOO MUCH better too; it just felt so great unlike anything pornography could ever give me. My confidence grew so much and I had so much energy that I started to go out with other girls. Since I had lost all respect for myself a few months prior I had no respect for any girls either and I found myself with a ring of 4 girls who I would have sex with whenever I wanted. I felt empowered and felt I was getting revenge on the girl who put me in this state. And these girls just became friends with benefits – 2 of which were friends and we would go out all the time together. After the new year (2014) I had a serious lack of finances. I had to find a job. I couldn't find anywhere to work in Orlando, FL where I would be making decent money. So, my father offered me to work for his adjusting firm in Maryland. I decided to move there because I had nowhere else really to go. I don’t get along with my father because the boss/father combination is hellish. But I had no choice. So, I left Orlando, FL and all the sex partners behind. I moved in with my father in the middle of January 2014. Going from Florida to Maryland in the middle of the frozen winter lead me to become isolated in my room and I began my pornography addiction right where I left off. My confidence immediately left me; In Florida I would have no problem approaching women with the confidence I had. But after I indulged in pornography again after my move to Maryland it changed it all literally overnight. I must’ve reconnected all the neuro receptors I had spent over a decade building with my pornography addiction. I still vividly remember going out in February 2014 by myself in an effort to meet someone here in Maryland. I went to this bar down the road from my new home where I had spotted 3 girls that kept making eye contact with me and were smiling. I was so ready, this was the moment, I was battling myself in my head to go talk to these girls. I just sat there.. I sat there for 10 minutes.. 20 minutes.. 30 minutes… finally I was there by myself for almost an hour. I had so many chances to go up to them and simply talk like I’ve done so many times before; but I wussed out so badly I left, got in my car and almost cried on my way home lonely and with no self-confidence. I didn’t have anyone to have sex with that helped me previously and I felt I needed a sexual release. So I was temporarily cured when I was sexually active but I fell right back into pornography when sex was taken away from me. Over the course of the next couple months I gained 40 lbs in a matter of a few months from the unresolved stress and my new found indulgences in pornography. I have continuously used pornography through this year 2014. I knew it was a problem and started to monitor my usage using my phone calendar beginning in August 2014. I tried so many different things with no avail - and finally I decided I was going to allocate certain days for porn usage. For example, I would put a check mark on the 1st of the month, then the 3rd, then the 6th, then the 10th, then the 15th, then the 21st, then the 28th.. I started to plan the days I would PMO that way I could look ahead and say - not now today isn’t my day and at the same time I was able to work into my addiction by going longer and longer between periods as time went on. It was very helpful until I reached my 2 1/2 week length, this is always my limit.. I broke down and splurged into pornography for the entire week. By weeks end I started searching and searching all over the place for help - considered every option I had. It was so insanely difficult to break it. The porn I was viewing was absolutely disgusting and when I refrained from it over a period of time my immoral thoughts would return and I felt like they were destroying me. It was a constant battle of my own thoughts all the time. It was a hideous nightmare battle with myself in which I would live every single day. I searched around online and decided to begin a fast – a fast without food and water is thought to give your spirit power over your physical body and ultimately your bodily desires. I started a fast of 24 hours without food or water. As I was nearing the end of the fast I had a very strong impression that I should continue the fast for an additional 24 hours (48 hours). I did it! It was an accomplishment for me, I felt I had achieved something and I felt so inspired and so happy afterwards – I had prayed and woke up in the middle of the night feeling a relaxing spirit come to me which brought tears to my eyes. I stopped PMO for two and half weeks and…. and I broke AGAIN... how tremendous a feeling of misery you get when you fail over and over again. I sat on my bed and felt my heart hurting, my brain foggy and my life unsuccessful. I couldn’t believe it, how did I slip back into it when I tried everything!! I decided to write down on a piece of paper the astonishing guilt and failure I was feeling which was written on November 11, 2014. I carry this piece of paper around in my wallet with me and it reads as follows: "Letter to myself When times are weak, REMEMBER! REMEMBER! Feelings After porn ---> I feel utter shame. I feel hatred towards myself; I have no energy, I'm not happy, I'm not satisfied! I'm depressed. I want to sit on my bed and do nothing. I have no motivation to excel or to be excited about anything. WHAT CAN I TELL YOU TO NOT DO IT!? YOUR CRAVING WILL GO AWAY! DON'T LET YOURSELF THINK ABOUT BAD THOUGHTS! (I wrote down a cycle in a circle and depicted the steps) Steps --> 1. Thoughts & more thoughts 2. Fighting your thoughts 3. Dabbling in softcore (viewing not so naughty pics) 4. Hardcore & jerk off 5. Immediate regret & dissatisfaction 6. Promising & committing to quitting 7. Withdrawl symptoms and energy (the cycle continues back to #1.) GOAL 1. Stop initial thoughts 2. Overcome withdrawal symptoms 3. Be motivated and energetic 4. BE SUCCESSFULL! (ON THE BACK OF THE PAPER) Breathe 10 seconds in, hold 10 seconds, breath out 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times & read the following: Why do you want to quit? Why have you struggled for 10 years? Why have things gotten worse? Why are you unhappy? (I drew a picture of me, as a stick figure, looking at a computer laptop and wrote the words "empty - alone" next to it.) What do you want? A. I want to be successful B. I want to have a successful relationship & future family C. I want to have a healthy body D. I want energy to love, care, friendliness, confidence and self-forgiveness." The most effective part of this piece of paper is looking at the steps of the pornography-regret cycle. I have gone now exactly 1 month without PMO, MO or sex! This is the longest I have gone without any sexual satisfaction since I was in 6th grade. Is my battle over? NO! There is a constant work that needs to be put forth in an effort to control step 1 - Thoughts and more thoughts. Understanding this cycle, you understand that step 1 - Thoughts and more thoughts triggers the inner battles which causes you to contemplate the next step, step 2 – fighting your thoughts, until you break down. The only way you can break the cycle is if you stay in step 7 - Withdrawal Symptoms and Energy and prevent yourself from entering the step 1. When you are attempting to quit pornography - YOU CANNOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO ENTERTAIN ANY SEXUAL THOUGHTS - this means you can't 'test' yourself, you can't halfway play with yourself edging ejaculation, you can't allow yourself to even try to think of a situation with a real girl. You have to have complete faith in yourself, the process and know that when the time truly comes for you to prove yourself, with a girl, you will follow through! Put yourself in flatline mode and if you find that those thoughts are beginning to bubble up in your head, you must transfer your thought process. If you entertain those thoughts longer than 10 seconds you will find yourself 1 minute… 5 minutes.. 10 minutes.. and then there is no turning back – you will break and your thoughts have taken control. This is the endless cycle as many of you know. At that first instant where thoughts first come in to your mind, I would say no more than 5 seconds of that thought - move, change your atmosphere, go for a walk, sing a song, call your mother or family member, read scriptures. It will be extremely difficult to do this because your brain wants to be fed dopamine that it is so used to receiving. IT WILL GET EASIER! I would say to myself as soon as I would think of an immoral thought, “To what end? To what end is this thought worth? Entertaining this will lead to my lonely PMO.” I had to refrain from facebook because simply looking at pictures could send my brain reimagining any slightly provocative photo. I didn't even allow myself to watch certain movies or play video games that could possibly trigger anything. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART to accomplish this is to understand your triggers. Because your brain - once it feels the triggering effect, there is no way to stop the downward spiral into step 2 - Fighting your thoughts. I found that a big trigger for me was alcohol, marijuana, caffeine, remaining in bed longer than I should after waking up and the worst one was trying to awaken my penis myself to “make sure everything was working and progressing.” I wanted to feel and see immediate progress but that just caused my absolute and utter failure. I finally disallowed myself to entertain any thoughts. Control your initial thoughts. Do not awaken them. That is the key, at least for me, to beating this. I have discovered many symptoms of withdrawal which I have undergone the past month which include among others: Testicular pain Energy in which i don't know what to do with Feelings become more intense flatlining for the first 3 weeks Sleepless nights Mood changes (mostly day to day) headaches (rear skull/lower neck) had this every night for a week at +3 weeks. semen would discharge during bowel movements I’m a month within my recovery and rebooting process without any Os! I have noticed such a tremendous difference in the way I think, feel and even act. I tried to take note of any significant changes. I was diagnosed with A.D.D. when I was a youngster and had a hard time applying myself to anything in my life. My work has improved 10 fold, I have signed up for classes to finish my degree I previously dropped out of, I feel so concentrated, I feel focused and I feel so confident knowing that nothing can stop me from anything. I have never felt like this before!! I have made commitments in which I will accomplish anything I put my mind to. I used to need 9-10 hours of sleep every night and I would constantly wake up in a fog. I could never get up early and would wake up miserable for no apparent reason in the mornings. I now only need 6-7 hours of sleep and I wake up energized and ready to go without any fog. I was diagnosed with thyroid disease three years ago because of an underactive thyroid which causes a host of other issues. My doctor told that there is no cure and that I would have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life. I have done bloodwork and my doctor noticed improvements and my thyroid is working normally again!!. My hair feels thicker and stronger, I have a receding hair line but my hairloss has slowed down dramatically. I believe if I continue this that I may see this get better in the coming months. You might think this next thing is a bit strange and I haven’t read anything like this, but I have never been able to sing ever before, I actually believed I was tone deaf. I was in the car singing to a song the other day and I was so shocked that my voice sounded so good!! I was hitting notes I have NEVER been able to hit without any practice or effort. Another improvement is the fact that for the past few years I noticed one of my eyes was slightly bigger than the other, almost like it was beginning to droop. A month without pornography it has gone away! My eyes are back to normal. I would assume that the right and left part of your brain’s neurochemistry is somehow harmed when it constantly receives dopamine from a fake reality. For the past week I have noticed, like before, women that have come out of the wood work – I think it might be between myself and the universe. My favorite recovery aspect I have felt lately is how I feel such love for everything. I feel love for my family, my body, my friends, my opportunities, my intelligence, my blessings and my life! I am grateful for the air I breathe and the blood in my veins!! The love in my heart! I am here, on this earth, to learn and grow! To excel to be the being God wanted me to become. Words cannot describe the happiness I feel. I cry now with the joy that has come into my life. I know for a surety, if you are struggling! Don’t stop trying!! There is a way! But just know that there is no finish line, it’s constantly enduring and protecting yourself. But as time goes on it will become easier and easier and you will become stronger for it. I know God loves you, He wants you to be happy. He misses you and cares so much for you. I pray for all those individuals seeking recovery that you may choose to overcome those thoughts that are so detrimental to recovery. Your life will be blessed for turning away from the serpents hold on you. I have only gone a month; I still have the future of trials. I have achieved so much and I WILL live my life how it’s supposed to be lived! With love! To you, fellow reader, know that happiness is your choice.