Journal of learningOrder

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by learningOrder, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Hey all,

    P had been a part of the background of my life for almost as long as I can remember. For most of my life it was in the background - a bit of exposure here and there... Until some unknown time in the past 15 years (post high speed internet) when I realized I had a problem.

    But looking back I believe that the messages I got from my mother about women and relationships that messed with my head the most. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I don't have much recollection of them being together. I lived with my mom who came out to me as a lesbian - which I was fine with. I felt awkward and a little embarrassed because I was a kid but that's just the experience of being young.

    The thing was that she filled my head with such a slanted view of relationships that I grew up with a fairly unhealthy perspective on sex and romance. If I was watching television and a man said "that girl is so hot", my mom would go off the handle on how horrible that was and ask why it always has to be about appearances. Except that appearances are part of attraction - especially for teenagers... So there was a weird kind of repression that started to take form.

    What's more, I became hyper-sensitive to treating girls respectfully. Although respect is important, I was trained to put girls on a pedestal... That they had all the power in the relationship when it comes to sexuality. Actually, in all aspects -- but it occurs to me that a lot of that was actually rooted in sexuality. I internalized that it was not okay to make sexual advances on women. Not good. This made it so that I felt I had to wait for the woman to make an advance and could only throw out indirect signals about sexuality.

    Very unhealthy communication. And I had a lot of shame around sex and attraction. I didn't feel that it was 'okay' to just find someone physically attractive.

    If I was dating someone, I'd worship them on a pedestal... Which isn't only unhealthy - but it also kind of took away their humanity. It was more about MY IDEA of them rather on who they actually are.

    I was also clueless about how to actually flirt with girls that I would be terrified that it wouldn't last... And become overly clingy (In all honesty I don't think I'd worked out most of this until I had been with my wife for over ten years).

    So when internet came along, it wasn't long before I was downloading P on my 56k modem (very slowly). But for the most part any harm being caused was still pretty superficial. i got married, had kids and generally had a decent normal life with the regular ups and downs. P was around, but it was still mostly in the background.

    I'm actually not 100% certain when things started to deteriorate so much. At some point the P sessions became more frequent... And much longer. I realized I was spending 4+ hours a night looking for the perfect picture or video. And when I found that unbelievable clip? If there was one, there must be more so I'd better start looking...

    One day I did some calculations and realized just how many hours of my life this habit was eating. I knew something was wrong and started looking online for help. It felt (still feels) like a cancer that eats resources in my life. I'm thankful more than I can ever articulate that I found this forum... And shortly after that YBOP. What a relief to have some answers and have some hope that I won't always be silently suffering in shame.

    It was both relief and a great sadness to realize the addiction. After a couple duds I found a therapist who specializes in addiction - and who just started to focus P addiction (although the DSM4 doesn't recognize this as an actual addiction. Got to love modern medicine). That therapist moved away and since then I've been fighting on my own. With mixed results.

    -- ^ I've added the above after it was originally written to give a bit of introduction. ^ --

    I had another journal but put it down for a while and now that it's been a long time since I read or wrote in it, I thought I'd start fresh now that I fall into the 40+ category.

    I've got through cycles of being quite successful at living without P (80 days at the best span) - but at this juncture I'm at a low point and could use some support.

    At the moment I've been using almost every day and it is really taking a toll on my emotional well being. As well as my sleep. And my joints ache from sitting in one position for so long. The addiction is a cancer in my life that eats my resources and sucks the joy out of otherwise happy situations.

    To begin with - I need to begin by simply getting through a bit of time not using/reinforcing the habit. Usually if I can get through a few days I can find a groove where I'm not craving (except for surprise triggers). So I'm setting out to stop for about 4 or 5 days, even if it is 'white knuckling' my way through for the time being.

    Thank you for listening - by simply being there, you help me more than you know.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  2. jeffmotley

    jeffmotley Member

    Thanks for sharing your story. I too go through cycles of living without P and then I get into almost a daily "fix" for a period of time. Good on you for going 80 days without. If it's your goal, then I'm sure you can do it again. Keep at it. I'm encouraged to read that it can be done.
  3. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Thanks for the comment!

    The 80 days was a coordinated effort with my wife (and therapist) - no O of any type, and no peeking at all. It was a weird experience with both positives and negatives, although I'm glad to have done it.

    Since then things have deteriorated a bit... But I'm back on the wagon and....

    DAY 1 has been successful.

    Meager as it is, it is a start. For now I'm content to simply abstain, but ultimately I'm aiming for better than that. To abstain implies that there is something that you want that you are intentionally not engaging with. I aim to be healed to the point where it isn't really abstinence because I'm not abstaining --> it's simply not part of my life. But for now I am quite happy with one day of victory.
  4. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    There was so much that I wanted to put down on the page - but when I sit down to write it seems to evaporate.

    The last set of relapses that I had were long - at least a couple hours of looking and tracking down images... A certain variety that all have a similar look... And when I tried to go to sleep those images were burned into my mind. The effect reminded me of playing too much Tetris when I was younger and seeing the blocks drop even when I wasn't playing. Not only that, but I'd find myself thinking of keywords - variations on terms that might uncover some new images the next time I got to a computer. This is addiction and it feels quite disturbing.

    So far today has been going well - and I believe I am on track for day two to be successful.

    Lately I've been needing to work from home a great deal and that is definitely not ideal. The last couple days that I've worked from home I've remained abstinent but the situation makes relapse an ever constant threat.
  5. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Hmm.... I just tried to install K9 but there's an issue.

    Actually, I DID install K9 but it's not actually going to do anything to deter the unwanted behavior: I mostly surf for images or youtube vids of suggestive stuff that wouldn't be filtered out.

    The stuff I'm drawn to wouldn't actually be considered P to most people --> just suggestive images but very rarely anything with actual nudity or sexual content. Don't be fooled though... It is exactly as addictive and destructive as anything else.

    I guess I'll try to find a second piece of software that will block keywords from an image search. Anyone have any suggestions?
  6. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    I found a plugin for Firefox that will block out keywords - this is a good addition. I know that it's easy to use another browser but it's a good first line of defense for my main browser.

    Two days of success - half way to my first goal! Woohoo!

    Unfortunately I'm working from home again today. My mindset is this: avoiding P is my #1 priority today. Anything else that gets accomplished is just bonus.
  7. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    My goodness, I am a ball of nerves today. Work is not going well - but it's mostly withdrawal I'm guessing. Very unpleasant.

    Normally this would be prime PMO time but that's not an option... So here I am just sitting with the gnawing anxiety.
  8. jeffmotley

    jeffmotley Member

    I'm sorry you're experiencing the anxiety. Hope you are feeling better with time.
  9. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Thank you - I appreciate the note tremendously. Yesterday was rough.

    My day job isn't going very well and it kind of fills me a bit of dread. It's usually okay when I can go in to the office but the disconnect of working from home leaves me almost perpetually out of the loop (and it's not an environment that is good at communication to begin with).

    Another potential factor in the anxiety yesterday was that I used a different brand of vitamin supplement. I know that seems kinda far fetched but I take 5htp and there was a brand that had made me anxious the last couple times I tried it. I figured I'd give it another shot but perhaps that was a mistake.

    But in the end yesterday was successful. And the additional Firefox filter did an excellent job stopping accidental triggers. Even an innocent image of a pretty girl can get me into the wrong mindset so a bit of extra protection is welcomed. That brings me to 75% of the way to my first goal and I'm pretty confident that I'll make it through. Then the question is how big to make the next goal. Should it be small and attainable - 2 or 3 days... Or should it be slightly larger than the last, making it more worthwhile? As my last therapist used to say "it's easier to stay sober than get sober" - so ultimately for the time being I'm just buying time until I'm not at acute risk of relapse all the time.

    I'm still on edge today but not nearly as much as yesterday. I'd forgotten how emotional the quitting process is. You'd think it would be burned into my memory by now.
  10. jeffmotley

    jeffmotley Member

    So true! easier to stay sober than to get sober. When I get into a multi-day binge like the one I just went through recently, it's hard to stop.... and then when I make the decision to stop, I'm good on day 1 and day 2 of sobriety but day 3 is when I start to miss it again and find myself riding the waves of craving. It takes real effort to do things to get my mind off temptation to act on the craving....
    I can relate to what the therapist said and I like it -- it's easier to stay sober than to get sober. I don't know if I'll ever completely live a life without thinking about P but I believe that if I can stay away from it for an extended period of time, then the intense cravings will diminish.
  11. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Yes! - there's a kind of momentum both for the good and the bad.

    Today I was feeling super negative - a mixture of feeling sad and angry. I'm sure I was a pleasure to be around. I felt like I had some physical symtoms of withdrawal - nausua and headache. Is that even possible?

    Still - it's better than the anxiety of yesterday.
  12. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Today I reached my first goal - 4 days. Baby steps.

    The last two days were emotionally difficult but I wasn't really having cravings too badly. Today I'm in more of a stable mood but I've got the compulsion to look at P. I can almost imagine my body going "wtf - this isn't the deal we had..."

    Just need to keep working it.
  13. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Day 5 and I'm a mess.

    My car died - the engine is ruined and I'm falling apart. In a different state of mind I could just choose a course of action and move along.

    In my current state I'm finding myself both blaming myself in an unhealthy way... But also questioning my direction in life in general. Emotionally unspindling.

    Withdrwal is proving painful.
  14. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    I've now been clean a week and seem to be pulling out of the negative mood.

    Last night I found myself in a great mood for a few hours and a blast goofing around with my kids.

    Later in the evening I got into a bit of a minor argument with my wife. But rather than avoiding confrontation or being overly apologetic or being an a$$hole --> I kindly pointed out the issues at hand. I wasn't mean but I didn't let her off the hook.

    That night I had been doing some work in the later evening time and when my wife said she was going to bed I felt that tug of wanting to do "something to unwind". A video game or movie perhaps... Maybe play guitar. But I knew on some level that my mind was trying to trick me into looking at P. I went to bed. I didn't sleep well, but I still won that small battle.

    This morning I woke in great mood. It was glorious!

    Unfortunately while I was out earlier today I saw one of my triggers IRL - and that puts me squarely at risk as I work from home this afternoon.
  15. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    I am aware that I am at major risk or relapsing today as I've felt a strong compulsion to look at P this afternoon.

    Here is what has been keeping me clean so far today: I am terrified of looking at even one suggestive image. One peek is all it takes to undo all the effort expended this week - and I'd likely sink lower. One peek usually leads to PMO within 24 hours... and within a couple days I'd be as deep as I started. Likely more.

    My last therapist used to say that all the while that you're sober - the addiction is off doing push ups in the corner. I used to kind of write that off - but several times I've fallen deeper after a span of sobriety than I started. Now the idea feels genuinely threatening.
  16. Zippy

    Zippy Member

    :) Good one. You've done the hardest part, keep it up!
  17. Arizona

    Arizona All answers can be found within

    Hey buddy,

    Life will always have it's ups and downs.

    Find what it is you're escaping from. All addictions are escapes from something that one prefers to avoid over seeing and/or dealing with.

    It's the most difficult road to dissolving an addiction, but the only effective one. All others are poor substitutes.
  18. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    Hi Arizona,

    Thanks for commenting - and I couldn't agree more.

    I've been in therapy a fair amount and uncovered some of the base issues. Unfortunately it's not always so clear what we're supposed to be uncovering.

    Perhaps it's the other way around - that I need to remove the fantasy world in order to look straight at those issues.
  19. learningOrder

    learningOrder Member

    I've never thought of myself as a person with very much 'willpower' although others frequently view me that way. The the ways in which I appear to be disciplined usually have to do with a genuine interest rather than an intention of success.

    As an example: I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and can play some really fast and complicated stuff - I shred. Other players often comment on the discipline it must have obtained such a level of technique... But the truth is that there has been no discipline involved whatsoever. I simply like learning difficult things on guitar. It's fun. And most other skills that I excel at were gained in a similar way.

    The process of disengaging with P has been different. Even though I am aware of the many benefits of a P-free lifestyle, there is a strong compulsion to fold. It is difficult for me.

    In a flash my mind can switch gears from feeling contented to an intense P craving. In those moments it is hard to remember why I stopped looking at P at all. The limbic system wants to take over and the frontal lobe wants to shut off. The two parts of my mind are literally fighting each other for control.

    It is these moments that I need to have a list of the whys to strengthen the will to abstain - but also perhaps another focus or outlet for the drive. I know many people here run or do exercise... I feel that I need a "cool down" routine as well and I doubt that exercise would ACTUALLY be done in my case.

    I will ponder some ideas for a cool down ritual.
  20. onesea

    onesea Active Member


    Just read your journal. How you got started is similar to my journey.

    I'm not always sure willpower is the answer. Maybe there has a be a lot of self-knowledge first and then a person can think about better strategies for constructive living. That takes a lot of work and awareness. Things can start to get better not just from willpower but from the knowledge you gain and the awareness of your triggers, your actions and your brain's habits.

    It will be difficult for you and never compares to something like playing the guitar. Would you should ascribe to is to channel all that longing for P into a longing for doing something like playing the guitar even better. Hard to do but it comes with times and effort.

    Find what works for you. Exercise works for many. Meditation and prayer are other ways. Writing, playing an instrument and doing art are good roads to travel to heal from all this.

    From what I read in this short time, you are asking all the right questions and noticing the right things.


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