Journey Into the Desert

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Antonius, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Hello all, I’m writing a journal here, following in the footsteps of a dear friend who also posts on this site. The problems I face:
    1. I’m addicted to pornography
    2. I’m a Catholic and believe that pornography damages my relationship with God
    3. I have two young daughters who I never want to experience any aspect of anything remotely related to the world of pornography
    4. I’m married to a wife who isn’t interested in sex due to a few factors; I used to be unfaithful to her before marriage and she acknowledged and accepted the situation (we were still sexually active during that time), but I feel that my activity slowly destroyed the intimacy we once shared – another factor is that we have one child who is eleven months old and another who is under three, and our living situation would make intimacy difficult (in addition to my wife’s lack of sexual interest following childbirth)
    5. I have been faithful since my daughters were born, which means I haven’t had sex in almost three years. Until now I’ve rationalized using pornography as a means to curb any possibility that I might be unfaithful again

    I don’t want to write a whole autobiography in my first post, but those are the broad strokes of where I am now. By writing this journal I hope to find support from people with the same addiction as I do, get advice, and also to hold myself accountable. I go to confession regularly about my addiction and receive support there, but even little things like seeing my streak of days abstaining from pornography use increasing can help me in my journey.

    Christ went to the desert for forty days and was tempted by the devil. I think it will take a lot longer until things are right between my wife and I, so I need all the help I can get for my time in the wilderness.
  2. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Welcome Antonius! I can definitely relate to your items 1,3. I can also relate to some of your item 4. My wife is interested in sex, but I am to a large degree not. It is me who is trying to fix the problem in our case. Is your wife aware of your addiction?

    I have gotten a lot of help by reading some of the journals here and getting advice for dealing with urges. My experience is that if you can train yourself to get through urges (distract yourself until the chemicals die down, for example) for a couple of weeks, things get a lot easier. Best of luck!
    Antonius likes this.
  3. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 1

    I decided to set a few ground rules for myself to help me manage a couple of my major triggers:
    1. No electronic devices in the bathroom
    2. If my wife has to leave the house, and I am left alone, I have to give myself a project to accomplish, such as cleaning something outside the regular housework routine, paying bills, those kinds of simple projects. After I’ve finished, if she’s still not back, I have to leave the house, even if it’s just to take a walk in the nearby park.

    Unfortunately, I’m plagued by sexual dreams, and these countermeasures don’t do much to alleviate the effects these dreams have on me. Even though I’m only on day 1, I had a dream last night. I woke up and did yoga, then made breakfast, and I’m doing ok so far in managing urges this morning.

    I’m also trying to cut down on the use of electronic devices for entertainment. Having to use a computer or iPad/iPhone for work is unavoidable, but outside of that, there are better ways I could use my free time, as little as it is these days. The way they lead me to compulsively check every little thought that springs to mind, skimming through songs or videos and quickly moving on to the next impulse in my brain can’t be healthy for me, and must have a negative effect on my self-control.

    @Merton - thank you for the encouragement! Your journal is a source of inspiration for me!
    Merton likes this.
  4. Londoner

    Londoner Well-Known Member

    Welcome and good luck on your journey!
    Antonius likes this.
  5. Neilk

    Neilk Member

    Welcome just started my journey 10 days in tomorrow with a battle that consumed nearly half my life
    Antonius and Merton like this.
  6. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    @Londoner - Thank you for the welcome and the support!

    @Neilk - 10 days! That’s a great start. Thank you for the welcome.
    Neilk likes this.
  7. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 2

    No sexual dreams last night, so that was nice. I actually dreamt that I was sitting in a car with a friend as we successfully jumped over a large chasm, providing us a shortcut to whatever destination we were traveling.

    I woke up this morning at 5:40, abided by my ground rule not to bring any technology with me into the toilet, and then got at it for the day. I did yoga for the third day in a row, made breakfast and did 15-20 minutes of daily study. The rest of the morning I spent reading. Even on my walk to work, I decided not to listen to any podcasts or music, and just to let myself relax and not worry about focusing on anything in particular. Feeling like I had conquered the morning, I got to work and noticed that I was wearing neither deodorant, nor a belt. Reasons to stay humble.
    Merton likes this.
  8. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

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  9. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 3
    I had two sexual dreams last night - I woke up after the first one, went to the bathroom and then back to bed, and it’s like my mind just hit the play button to resume things where they had left off. Maybe I didn’t actually wake up and only dreamed about going to the bathroom.

    Waking up and feeling unsteady, I stuck to my ground rules, got out of the bathroom quickly after draining the dragon, did some housework, made breakfast and did yoga. Yoga for legs, to be specific. Care to make a prediction on how they went? Prediction...prediction? Pain...

    I’ve been reading a lot now that I don’t allow myself time to waste with technology. I’ve started noticing that I’ve much less interest in YouTube channels and podcasts that I used to shovel into my eyes and ears in an effort to cram the most amount of media possible into any free moments I had. The break has been so refreshing.

    There is a lot more I’d like to write and share, stuff I’ve been thinking, reading, and changes I’ve tried making in my life over the past year, but I’ll keep things short today. I’m going out this morning with a friend to relax and talk.
    Merton likes this.
  10. Neilk

    Neilk Member

    You got this ! Ive found that if you get over the first days maybe even to a week your cravings diminish. Its like nicotine withdrawal. As long as you stay course and avoid things that trigger you as well as think of the bigger picture of why you want to quit you will go far. Ive been addicted for far to long to this crap. Im going to beat this fucking habbit thats crippled me.
    Antonius likes this.
  11. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 4
    No dreams that I can remember, but I woke up feeling a bit unbalanced. Today has been a cheat day, by which I mean I slept in and my wife cooked breakfast. I’ll do some yoga after writing this and try to get some work done around the house.

    Yesterday was a bit rough because my mind was having flashbacks to a lot of sexual encounters I’ve had in the past. I suppose you could say I have an extensive mental library of experiences, something that I’m not proud of since I’ve tried turning my life around. I don’t beat myself up over what I’ve done, nothing like that, but my past can really bite me in the rear from time to time. Thinking about writing about my feelings in this journal actually helped me cope.

    @Neilk - Thank you for the encouragement! Let’s fight this thing together!
    Neilk likes this.
  12. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    I’ve been reading Saint Augustine’s Confessions and would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with addiction. I love Augustine because he is so easy to relate to. He’s famous for saying, “God, give me chastity and temperance, just not now.” How often do we feel like that? I just want to be the best version of myself, but not quite yet. Let me wallow a bit more in my disfunctions.

    Confessions is the first real autobiography. When you read an autobiography today, you take it for granted that people will write about their inner thoughts and motivations surrounding the timeline of events in their lives. That style started with Augustine. Before him, people just wrote about how awesome they were.

    So why do I recommend Confessions so much to members on this board? It’s because Augustine spent the first half of his life trying to fight his uncontrollable lust. He writes a great deal about a war going on inside him. He goes on a great deal about his intellectual and moral evolution regarding his attempts to improve himself. I’m only about halfway through the book, but I just read this passage this morning and I think it will resonate with a lot of people here:

    So I was sick and suffering horrendously, accusing myself more fiercely (or excessively more fiercely) than usual and turning and churning in my chain until the last tiny trace of it still holding me could be entirely torn off; but for now it held me nevertheless. And within my secret self you stood over me, Master, with your cruel mercy, stepping up the lashing of terror and shame, so that I wouldn’t stop trying. If I did stop, that single, tiny, wispy chain that remained wouldn’t be broken; instead, its soundness would be renewed, and it would bind me more sturdily.

    I was saying to myself inwardly, “Okay, right now, I’m letting it happen, right now I’m letting it happen.” Even as I spoke I was already starting to enter into the resolve. I was already—almost—acting, and yet I wasn’t acting. However, I didn’t fall back into my former state, but was standing firm, right on the edge, and catching my breath. And once again I tried, and I was a little closer to being there, and then a little closer still, and I was almost—almost—touching and grasping it; but I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t touching and grasping it.

    I was hanging back from dying to death and living for life. For me, what was worse was stronger, because it was deeply inculcated, than what was better, because I wasn’t habituated to the latter. The nearer to me that moment moved at which I was to become something different, the more it struck terror into my heart. But it didn’t strike me back or turn me to the side, it just left me dangling there.

    The chain he is speaking of is his lust. He spends some time before this passage writing about having two wills inside him, one that wants to get better, and one that wants to keep engaging in sin, and how he didn’t understand how you can want to get better but simultaneously not want to get better. Anyways, even if you’re not a Catholic, or even religious, you can get a lot out of Augustine’s writing. He had to reboot and break his addiction, just the same as we do. If he could win his fight, so can we.
  13. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 5
    No problems with dreams last night. While I can definitely feel urges while I’m out in public, they’re nothing unmanageable. I went to mass yesterday and was really looking forward to confession, but there was a baptism taking place so no luck there. I’ll have to wait until next week. Hopefully I can go and tell my confessor priest that I’m almost two weeks free of PMO.

    I had a thought today about how conditioned we are to think the way we live is normal. Having a house, comfort, kids, material goods — that’s what we’re “supposed to” have in our lives, and if we don’t have those things, somehow we’re being deprived of what any reasonable person would expect. Concomitant to that is all the other stuff — the junk, that society throws at us: porn, Netflix, so much food surrounding us that we gorge ourselves until we’re fat slobs or have unnatural blocks of muscle hanging off our arms, clothes, popular music, cars, conspicuous consumption. I heard a story about an Auschwitz survivor today and I thought of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in place of a fellow inmate in a concentration camp. We think of that today, and our natural reaction is to think how horrible that is, because life isn’t supposed to be that way. Those people were living in some kind of aberrant reality. But who is to say that what they experienced is abnormal? Why do we simply expect life to be easy and comfortable? What is the teleos of having a big house, or a nice car?

    I thought about trying to quit PMO, and how my efforts won’t work if they’re just piecemeal; just trying to cut porn out of my life won’t work if everything else stays the same and I expect the same, banal comfort that society presents as the “normal” way to live. Just wanting not to consume one form of garbage in an otherwise completely materialistic society won’t stick for me because doing so doesn’t make sense. Quitting porn but not quitting the other garbage seems arbitrary. I thought about those people in gulags or concentration camps, and how the only thing they could keep from their previous lives was their relationship with God. If that relationship is my teleos, my purpose for living, then giving up porn seems natural, even joyful, along with getting rid of all the other junk with it.
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  14. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Active Member

    Well done on being 5 days clean man!

    I can hear you about these reflections on modern society. We get "freedom" to choose but is it really freedom when we are devoured by unhealthy consumerism and marketing designed to subtly influence us in the direction of the dollar making of the upper scales ? In theory it's freedom indeed because we don't have to consume porn, we don't have to eat unhealthily, we don't have to binge watch Netflix all day, we don't have to always buy and buy more. But in reality are we disciplined enough to forge our own path through the many unhealthy ways that are possible ? Maybe it's possible but it's rare and hard I think.
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  15. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Thank you, @Thelongwayhome27 ! What you wrote reminds me of something a theologian who greatly influenced my decision to become a Christian wrote - namely, our idea of freedom in society today is a completely nihilistic consumerism. The classical idea of freedom that existed before it was the freedom from any impediments that kept you from developing into the best version of yourself, freedom from that which restricted you from fulfilling your purpose of creation. The idea that life is purposeless and can be anything we want it to be is one that is deliberately pushed and marketed ubiquitously as the modern mythology around which and by which our society functions. It’s where we get crap like XtrEMe Doritos and Reebok’s “It’s your world.” Now you can go on Amazon and buy some Tibetan prayer flags or a copy of the Tao, maybe a little zen sand garden, and suddenly you’re more in touch with the mystical forces of the cosmos, that is, until next week when you get a yoga mat and go vegetarian for a few weeks. Ideas and beliefs that people bled for and died for over centuries, you can now take part in when they’re delivered, next day service, to your door! Thanks Prime! Keep buying crap, because, remember - life is purposeless and it’s up to you to define what it is, until you decide to redefine it (just make sure you have enough money in your debit account first).
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  16. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 6
    Relatively minor sexual dreams last night. More concerning is when I have romantic dreams about someone from the past. I know it is just my mind acting out, but you wake up with these old mental patterns firing and it takes a while for them to die down.

    Today I have to work late, so I go into work later in the day, allowing me to sleep in. I woke up, made breakfast for everyone, took one of my daughers to school, then came home, studied, did yoga, and ironed all my work shirts. Ho-hum stuff, but I don't mind that. I've been reading a lot recently and have been in a good mood, overall.
    Merton likes this.
  17. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Active Member

    Yeah I totally agree. Well written as well.

    Sounds like you're doing well right now, reading your last entry (Day 6).
    Antonius likes this.
  18. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Congrats on a week! It takes me some time to recover from sexual dreams. If they happen in the middle of the night, I try to count until I fall back asleep. If they happen right before waking up for the last time, I have to immediately get started getting ready. Then they seem to go away after a few minutes.
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  19. Antonius

    Antonius Member

    Day 7/8

    I think my counter is a bit off, so I should actually be on day 8 now. Anyways, 8 days! In the past year or so, it’s been difficult to stay clean this long. I had major, major sexual dreams last night just before I woke up. I worked late last night and had to wake up early today for work, so luckily I had no room to even think about funny business. I was in a rush all morning, which was a blessing.

    It brings up a very real predicament that I’m thinking about now - I sleep in the same bed as my older daughter, and I don’t even want to imagine busting a load in my underwear due to a dream while she’s sleeping nearby. That is a horrible, horrible I’m not quite sure what can be done. Do I double-bag it and risk my wife asking me why I’m wearing two pairs of underwear? I guess I can wear really thick sweatpants and just be hot. I do the laundry in my house, so it’s not like I have to worry about anyone discovering my soiled clothes. Anyways, if anyone has some advice, I’m all ears.
  20. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Active Member

    Hey man there is no shame in WD (in my opinion). It's totally natural.

    Here's my 2 cents. I wouldn't worry about this much. WD doesnt' happen often (at least in my case) and if it does it's not THAT bad there is some quantity but it's not like a liter lol. I wouldn't wear 2 pairs of boxers lol. At worst if you're really worried wear like one pair of PJ pants or boxers and under that some normal briefs. And if your wife asks about the double boxers isn't it an option to tell her the truth about the WD possibility and being uncomfortable with that possibility given the fact your kid is also in the same bed ?

    Is there any way to find a solution to have your daughter sleep in a different bed ?
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