Learning to be myself

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Thelongwayhome27, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Trust me dude. I've been in the gutter an incredible amount of times. Yes, at that point you give yourself a pat in the back.

    There is nothing better you can do.

    Beating yourself up when you're in the gutter, when you have messed up does not help at all with anything. You can make dramatic and passionate vows to yourself or others, you can write a 10 page letter to yourself, you can go out in the streets screaming "I will never PMO again", you can even go post publicly on FB "I'm the dirtiest human alive I have failed myself again, I will never PMO again I promise you all". Or further punish or humiliate yourself. All this is hurting yourself more. All this is incredible anger. All this will make everything worst. All this is the addiction.

    If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. ...... Yes I am quoting the Bible lol.

    I've seen people here write how they ate they're semen when they lapsed. WTF ? Or how they promise to pay this amount of money if they slip again. This is all waging a war against yourself. This is not the correct path to health. Health does not grow from an unhealthy and violent manner.

    You break the cycle of addiction by breaking the toxic shame when you relapse. Then abstention is way easier handeld. Yes abstention has it's place but it's essentiel the motivation for abstention comes from LOVE and not from FEAR or SHAME. A streak has to happen as a simple by product of a healthier life. One must not even pay a lot of attention to it. When one reaches this mindset a slip is nothing. He truly brushes up and keeps going in his healthy life. On the other hand when one is fighting the addiction because of shame and fear and bullies himself into a great streak, then when he loses that streak he will hurt himself so bad. I doubt that's you because I am convinced you have done so many good things in your life besides the abstention. I'm sure in your case your current streak is clearly a by product of your life improvements.

    A streak has to grow like a flower on your balcony, placed in a sunny spot, that grows while you're busy going to work everyday. And that you take a look at from time to time and enjoy without too much pride or fear. It must not grow as a plant in a pot while you sit obsessively next to it, sweating with effort and grinding your teeth with urgency and seriousness and dedication, watching it every second only thinking about this plant.

    All this is not a lesson for whoever has reached long term stability. I am sure that person has naturally integrated this approach. This is a lesson for those, like me, who have kept in the purge relapse purge relapse cycle for a long time (the "serial relapsers"). The ones who know they commit very honestly to stopping and still find themselves using again after some time for various reasons. It's a very difficult emotion to deal with and puzzle to crack but the key is this : these people are stuck in this pattern because they're effort at quitting are drivent from fear and self shame. The very problems which have brought on the addiction in they're lives are now perpetuated through the battle of breaking the addiction. They are trying to shame themselves out of the addiction when toxic shame is the soil on which they grew this addiction.

    At the moment you pat yourself on the back after you PMOed, it's not the addiction. It's the beginning of health. Sure it maye take a long long long time to undo the addiction. But that's how it begins.

    If I catch my lil bro stuffing himself with cake for the 99th time and I kick him around that will only increase the odds of him stuffing himself again. Actually indeed at some point it's wise to give him a pat in the back and say okay man. Do as you want. You know I don't agree. But do as you want.

    An act of Faith ! And this is how you tie all this into step 1 ... of the 12 steps. The powerlessness. You stop trying the old methods of fighting the addiction head on and you focus instead on understanding what Love is and trying to let it in. The unconditional self kindness and self forgiving.

    "Understand that I don't think stuffing yourself with the cakes will get you to where you want, know that I don't see that as a good choice, but I will not hit you if you decide to keep doing it". "I am sad for you, and it breaks my heart, but I won't hit you."

    Self honesty balances out self kindness and keeps it in check. Like you said, by being kind to myself when I slip, that does not mean I tell myself it's a good thing that I have slipped.

    Conclusion : this is all theory and is all my opinion. Everyone must follow his own instinct his own path, whatever works for him. Everyone should experiment for themselves what works and what doesn't. I am not claiming this is some absolute truth (despite the tone of the post) all I am saying is this is what I believe at this point in time and it's what, I believe, has proven to work better in practice (experimenting) in my own life for my own addiction (type and strength). When I take a more calm and loving approach it seems to foster a longer term stability and capacity to stay off the unhealthy habits then when I take a more violent all or nothing approach (which can work for some time and then usually stumbles out). Basically all I am saying is I agree with the mantra .... progress not perfection.

    I've been at this for a long time and it has taken me many approaches to understand the inner act of unconditional self support at all times (the pat in the back even if I PMO while knowing PMO was not a good thing to do) is the best way for me.

    Look at how I use to write to myself, at 27, about 5 years ago .... From my own journal on here. You can see the lack of self compassion and the self harshness. The public insulting of myself as an attempt to make myself feel better.... All the unskillful unnecessary drama. (The formatting is the original, it's not stuff I'm pointing out now). The stuff I wanna actually point out now here is the phrases where I start bashing myself calling myself a pussy and how I am such a weak person.

    Back then I was obsessed with forcing myself to beat this with an incredible all or nothing streak. Back then I was very very very hard on myself when I relapsed. My old journal was a constant repetition of this mindset.

    The value in this approach was to experiment with it and show me it doesn't work long term. There had to be a switch in paradigm. I still envy and admire a good streak but I will only get there when I stop being so proud of my own streaks or so ashamed if I lose them. I will get there when I let go of the streak approach and only focus on the current day. I am confident people who achieve long periods of stable abstinence (i.e. long streaks) have this healthy detachment from they're streak. They are proud of it and they sure should be, but it's a healthy and detached pride.

    The pat in the back and the quietly getting on with it is the best thing to do, even if it was the 99th time I binged on the cakes at midnight when everyone was asleep. In practice it's hard to do this. But the more you come at the addiction from a place of love and kindness and patience instead of a bullying place of shame and fear and dare I say of too much urgency, the easier it becomes to give yourself an undramatic pat on the back and keep on going. And ironically the less I shall find myself binging on those cakes past midnight secretly.

    I didn't expect to write such a long response. I told myself I will answer in a few phrases .... :oops:

    But this stuff hits me deep. Because I know how much I tried to stop this.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
    -Luke-, nuclpow, cjm and 1 other person like this.
  2. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    Firstly, I wanna say that I think I have been misunderstood a little bit. Secondly, I want to clarify that I'm not positioning myself to tell anybody what to do ever or thinking I know best what's good for anyone. Sometimes, it can be thought provoking to play the devil's advocate for a little while :). Also, I just about managed to make sense of the concept of self-love as I practice it myself. Furthermore, I'm following your journal for a while now but I haven't read it from the beginning so I'm only familiar with the recent storyline. I suspected that the whole positive/negative self-talk is a big personal topic for you, as you pointed out by yourself in your last post. Big surprise, this is also something that I have been dealing with in the past and sometimes still do. I used to throw in the towel too early many times in the past because I set standards for myself sometimes that I couldn't meet but which I also wouldn't set for anybody else but myself. I failed many times and then insulted myself. For the most part, that's in the past luckily.

    Back to topic and I try to make this as short as possible: What I meant by "don't let yourself get away so easily when you relapse" is not that you should eat your ejaculate next time as a punishment (wtf...) or do other weird stuff but rather continue to take a close look at the relapse and find sustainable ways to prevent it that work for you personally. I kept relapsing hopelessly for 3 years after being clean for ~120 days. And I didn't beat myself up for it once because, as you've pointed out correctly, that is not a working solution. It's not the case that I'm preaching water but drinking wine. And in hindsight, I suspect that perhaps I wasn't ready for a pmo free life because I was a picture of misery emotionally. Interestingly, becoming pmo-free fixed my depression but hasn't been directly caused by it. Totally weird.

    What worked for me personally was to create a new mindset which coincidentally happened directly after a relapse as I didn't plan to do it. I had sort of an aha-moment, where I took a step back, tried to look at my situation from an outside perspective, confronted myself with 'if this, than that facts' (if you continue to binge drink once in a while, you will relapse at least twice the next day while being hungover; if you continue to relapse, you will not recover from PIED; if you can't recover from PIED, you won't be able to have sex; if you won't be able to have sex, you won't be in a healthy relationship ever; if you won't be able to maintain a healthy relationship, you won't be able to raise a family; and so on and so forth). And that mindset fueled me to improve a lot of other things eventually that had been lacking the past three years like my diet, my food intake in general, no more alcohol, more social interaction, less screen time, (...). I'm sharing it, because it worked for personally. Might not be your solution, or the solution for anybody else. The Underdog wrote about creating a life vision for yourself. While I don't have it mapped out decidedly, I have a few things that I want to have in my life eventually, and of these "things" is a long term relationship with a loving partner. Ideally, I would like to have at least two kids. But that's about it, when it comes to family goals. Before I conclude, I'd like to add, that I've also took a closer look at the 40+ journals after said relapse in the beginning of the year and I really took my time to read some of their journals where 'older' men write about the pain, the divorces, family problems, the misery, the financial chaos, health issues, etc. porn has caused. Where the PMO-Lifestyle made them end up in life. The PMO-Lifestyle will take a huge toll on you. It already has (at least in my case as I haven't had any sex or meaningful relationships with women in my twenties, but that's a different story...). And if you don't manage to fix it, you will probably end up looking back at some point in your life thinking, man I effed up big time. I threw my life away. So much wasted potential. So many wasted opportunities. Because that's a fact. At least in my case. And that's why I'm writing in your journal because I hope, you can extract something from it. I read a lot because I don't want to make all the mistakes that have already been done by another rebooting fella. Sort of like a tribe or a pack of rats if you will :D.

    Urgency panic mode
    being aware of facts implementing drastic measures
    recognizing how PMO has affected you negatively dwelling in the past
    not letting yourself getting away so easily negative self talk

    I hope, I did a better job this time, trying to explain what I meant with my first message. You'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure of it!

    Take care!
    -Luke-, TrueSelf and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  3. NewHorizon

    NewHorizon Member

    TLWH27, you have always been engaged in my journal, since day 1, (thus in my recovery) even though i have been very absent from other people's journals. Thank you. Let this message act as a reminder that I should participate in other people's journal.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  4. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Doubts and negativity these last days

    These last days I’ve been feeling some doubts about my current progress in fixing things in my life. I am doing well on living a healthy lifestyle, but I am stagnating on the more real and concrete element of the “stuff I need to do” (administrative, financial, organizing my place). I am also stagnating on taking up challenges that take me out of my comfort zone (for example joining some kind of a club of interest). This lack of real action is making me question my healthy lifestyle as just a form of denial.

    Faced with these feelings, I think it would be unwise to use this negativity as justification to drop down even lower and quit the healthy habits. But they are a sign I need to see how I can improve my approach in order to do more and “talk less”.

    The healthy habits bring me to a certain level but if I don’t take further action it creates a feeling of stagnation and then I often go back down. As I recognize this pattern, it’s important for me, right now, to not beat myself up about the good stuff I been doing, but to try harder to do more. Or to say it better, to fine tune my approach. To keep doing what works but realistically look at what doesn't, and try to improve it.

    Another alcohol binge and commitment to stop drinking

    I had an alcohol binge relapse this last Friday. I have taken the decision and commitment to not have another drop of alcohol for the next month. If I go out I will have non alcoholic beer. It’s time I implement this simple habit that can only make things better. After this initial month I will evaluate if I keep going with no alcohol. I think it would be a good idea for me to quit alcohol completely for 1 year. But right now I’m going start with this month 1.

    It’s good that despite the alcohol binge I did not go down even further. I did not relapse to P, despite feeling very bad yesterday. I did MO twice though, to fantasy that is quite fetishistic (not exactly the vanilla realistic healthy sex type).

    Defining myself further as an individual - exploring and developing my interests

    I have never really developed my interests. I always had a certain inclination towards artistic expression. I enjoy literature a lot and love watching “good” movies. I also think I could explore drawing or painting and creative writing. Unfortunately, as I was a lost teen, I never “found myself” at that critical age. I’m thinking that if I manage to somehow reconnect with myself more here, to try to develop some authentic inner passions, I will become a healthier person. I have read a lot more self help lately and spiritual literature, but I have stopped reading classic literature as I thought it was less well invested time.... Maybe I should get back to this latter one. I saw a movie a few days ago and it was about a bunch of youngsters (late teens, early 20s) back in the 70s. The main character was trying to become a painter and I was amazed by how much of an inner world he had and how much he was trying to develop it. His social connections came as a result of being himself and trying to discover who he is. He wasn’t actively pursuing social stuff. But it came naturally. I think I should try to do more of this. However, it’s true this is harder done in your 30s then when you’re in your teens or early 20s. But I can still think about this and explore it. I just see how I dont' have much of a rich inner life. I'm always looking for stimulation (social being one of them too). Despite my potential, right now I lack a bit of depth. So I can see how I can explore developing more depth as a person.


    Right now, I am somewhere over a month of no P and that is good. It’s a good start for fixing my life. I’m going to keep allowing myself to MO when I feel too horny but will try to keep it under 3 times a week. Also I will do my best to keep it with realistic imagination or only touch sensation.


    I have talked a lot about self kindness, self support and a lot of spiritual type of inner work (feel your emotions, be present, process the pain, stuff like that). Now I don't think this is complete BS. And I do think self compassion, having inner self support is so damn important. But I need to find a way to mix self support with pushing myself a bit more. Yes I have done good efforts, and I need not forget I am trying, but I have to be careful not to use self help and spirituality as a crutch as a way to not take further action.

    @Pete McVries - Thank you Pete. Thanks for taking out the time to write such a balanced response. I think I completely agree with you. I keep talking about self compassion because I feel that if it's missing the rest doesn't work or is built for nothing. But I can imagine how self compassion alone has no meaning if there is not concrete action taken on top of it. I would like to reply a bit better but I have nothing further to say on this matter. I simply agree and my task is now to try to incorporate these elements in my life. To talk a bit less, do a bit more.

    @NewHorizon - Thank you man. Appreciate it.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  5. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Just want to say that I've immensily enjoyed reading your entries both here and on other journals. Intuitively I feel the path of self kindness and self compassion is the only sustainable road to recovery, so I feel heartened seeing you come to the same conclusion.

    Just don't push yourself too hard. God knows you and I, and all the guys here, have been pushing ourselves way beyond our limits. For years.

    I think you're a very clever and generous man and I hope you'll free yourself of this monstrous addiction so that you can start enjoying life for all that you deserve.
    Merton and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  6. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Bezoechow - Thank you for your kind words and the support !

    I hope I'm slowly going in the right direction and that despite future setbacks I'll know how to keep coming back to my good path.

    The pushing yes ... I think it's all about slowly developing the self support and self acceptance to find that right level of push.

    I've pushed myself too hard at times (I think...) and it has backfired (too much stress). It's finding that right level of doing, of pushing the comfort zones, of accepting the uncertainty of life (big problem for me I think), it's troubles. Of pushing when needed and of surrendering a bit when needed as well. To know which is the right "medication" at the right time.

    I also do think, like you, that developing self acceptance (learning what it actually means and practicing it on a daily basis) and developing a profound sense of self worth is perhaps the holy grail to improving one's life. I think the action part is slowly built on that, but it needs to have it's place to. It's just that without some self worth underneath, the doing part alone looses it's momentum or doesn't produce the inner peace and balance we are seeking.

    So yes the right mix of self acceptance and action taking. That's what I'm trying to work on right now. And hopefully foster more stability and resilience. And a will to keep trying. Keep fine tuning things. And also to appreciate what is here now already...
  7. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Mood swings (last week mostly)
    I've had some rather intense mood swings the last week. One day I was elated, euphoric and (overly)optimistic about recovering and "fixing my problems" and then right the next day I had some kind of panic attack right in the middle of the afternoon (I'm more at home these days). One particular episode was quite intensive and I had to lie down on my couch to wait for the episode to pass. At that moment I was lucky to remember two things which I think are worth noting : 1) it's good to not fight it and just let the fear be, to let it happen. This way I take the focus off my racing mind (which creates the panic) and process the "emotional storm". 2) Often times when I get through a panic moment without numbing it, when I go through it, I then have some moments of deep calm and serenity where all my "wits" come back to me, all the clarity. It's like a nice summer evening that is tranquil after the storm is gone. Remembering such stuff during a moment of anxiety makes it easier to relax and go with it.

    I'll add that with mood swings comes a very strong variation of my picture of the world : when in a very good mood I see the Universe as benevolent and wanting to help me out ; I then feel kindness and love for most people. When I go into panic mode, I see the world as very dangerous and coming after me. I become suspicious of everyone.

    Also when anxious I often get more fetishistic type of sexual urges (I only want sex as interaction with women). When calm and stable I can appreciate a woman's beauty but it's not overly sexual. There is a sexual element but it feels healthy. Balanced. And I feel romantic inclination and need for intimacy that goes beyond just sex. Therefore this is an indication how clearly my urges are, in part, a way to cope with my anxiety and my feelings of uncertainty.

    Healthy daily routine

    Been keeping it up pretty well. Except sleep has been a bit messy the last days but nothing too bad. Exercise, eating pretty well, not too much coffee, meditating daily (twice per day), journal on paper, going to bed and waking up at reasonable hours. All this is essential but must not be done in an OCD manner either, it's not the end if I miss one thing here or there. Of all of these I think sleep is no.1. A healthy routine is the foundation for a healthy life and healthy sleep is the foundation of healthy living.

    Getting things done (stuff to do that needs to be done)

    Still a lot of problems here. I've made some advancements last week (especially Monday) but then not much since. I feel like I've been making some progress with my internal issues (hence perhaps also why I had some mood swings of ups and downs) but this strong focus on fixing myself psychologically is getting in the way of the calmness and feeling grounded that is needed so I do the things I need to do. What's worst is that if I don't address these things, my psychological state isn't helped. So, in regards to this element, I am still not finding that middle ground of doing things. So far though I haven't let the negativity from not getting things done to justify letting go of a healthy routine. But I need to find a way to do more :confused:... really.

    Interests and hobbies – developing my personal depth – nourishing solitary time
    Haven't advanced here much either. Started reading Letter to Father (Kafka). I have a list of fiction books I wanna read after. The next one is a (Teen!) romance (you've herd me ;)) and I can't wait to start it! Been exploring drawing and coloring as well (I think I have talent). Had some moments of "wow this is the path" (or at least could have been...), then next day not much to follow with it. Again, focusing a lot on my psychological problems is getting in the way even of doing this. Last week I went for a stroll, by myself, to a big library. I browsed many books and there were so many I'd like to read. Genuinely interested in them. When I was there it hit me quite clearly how important it is to find the room to explore my interests (as I have written on here and I'm following this up here to say I'm not doing it enough but wanna keep trying).

    Alcohol commitment to not drink
    Had a social outing last weekend and didn't drink at all ! I had moments of social anxiety. I'm proud I didn't drink. There was some good work done here. Don't have time (or too lazy) to go in details here but realized how much improving my social anxiety has to do with improving my reaction to whatever happens, including to when I (inevitably) make mistakes and think I look foolish or weak or dumb or like a "looser". I can't control being perfect socially. Yes I am often socially awkward (and this will keep happening!) because I am nervous in situations but by gaining control over my own reaction (less shame, more understanding, inner supportive voice) I will slowly make these "faux-pas" have less of an impact over me ; in time they won't drag me down in sadness/anger/shame but I will brush them off and keep going with the event. If I do this with consistence, in time I will actually be less afraid, less nervous and will actually have less moments of social awkwardness. That's why stopping the crutch of alcohol is good for a guy like me. Not only is it a good ally in staying off P or other vices such as weed smoking - but it also makes the learning process of becoming more comfortable socially quicker - by making me stay with my shyness instead of using the "cool party guy" character who gets drunk to be cool and fun... :confused: Some guys on here have pointed out stopping the alcohol is a good practical step for me and they have helped me take this decision (I'm going for a month total sober right now - and I will see if I extend the "contract") - a decision I too knew can most probably give me back (positive) a lot more then it asks of me (the fun and liquid confidence I'm sacrificing).

    Relaxing (in a healthy natural way)
    I don't do enough of this. For me relaxing is time spent alone. I don't have a SO, with whom I am perfectly relax and most my buddies I feel not totally relaxed around. So for me I have to have positive alone time. When I should not have stuff to do but neither over focus on my self help. As mentioned this is taking up a lot (self help obsession) - and sometimes I need to let go - and this is where I should develop my hobbies and interests in quiet and nourishing solitude. When I reach such moments (of grace) man it feels nice. It's rare. But it feels nice. I feel like I really reconnect with who I really am. It's like finding the inner garden. Developing this place will make me remember who I am when I socialize. Relaxing is essential. Charging up the batteries. Social work is important - but it often takes a lot from me - so I have to schedule some alone time every now and then and try to let go of fixing myself in those quiet evenings. Basically the good dose of "getting things done" with the good one of "relax" and with the good one of "improving my social life" should be the ticket. But each one of these elements is important I think.

    Assertiveness problem
    Some event in my life, recently (happening now), has reminded me big time how I am not assertive. Assertiveness is one of the things I'm not satisfied with myself in life. And that I have a lot of trouble accepting. Basically, I've avoided saying something, manifesting myself, and things have become more messed up until I was forced to go with circumstances, circumstances that I wanted different. But now it's too late to speak up, or I'm too scared to do it. Damn. This is really making me angry these days and it's hard to accept such stuff. I keep talking about self compassion and acceptance - but when stuff like this happens I get angry and ashamed. What I have to do is to analyze what went wrong as rationally as possible and learn. See what I could have controlled for things to go differently.


    Last thing.. I have thought a lot lately about the necessity to disclose things from our past when we want to let go of addictions. I feel it's an essential element in making peace with ourselves and with our past. I think the first person we need to be honest is towards ourselves. Every time I get "clean days" going for me, there starts to be a part of me pretending I never did many things that I have. As long as I act this way, put this default mask back on - first for me - and then in front of others - I will relapse again. I think so. What needs to be done is coming to terms with the past. From that space - one knows how much he needs to tell another person depending on the context. How much in order for the relationship to be real. And thus not let the double life come back in. Even on here - when I'm down in the dumps I am ready to share much more then when I'm doing well. When I'm doing well it's like "hey maybe I can get away with it" (subconsciously).

    Still on the wagon regarding P. I am happy about this. Haven't MOed in a week. Since after my last alcohol binge. I think I'm gonna MO soon. I'm getting pretty horny lately. Except for moments of anxiety when I had some more fetishistic fantasy urges, fantasy has been very stable lately.

    I've often thought, lately, how I want a GF. At times, when in decent mood, feel I'm getting closer to this possibility. I have to keep a level head though.

    Building a healthy life is like building a house. It's not done in one day. The foundation is important. I need to know why I'm building it. I need to have some skill, some patience. Some understanding. And to correct it if I put some bricks at the wrong place again. Patience... And the stuff of the old house that used to stand there needs to be cleaned up, sorted out. Some parts can be adapted to the new house.

    You're only as healthy as you feel - Travis Bickle
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  8. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Awesome post. I hope the Kafka letter will give you insight into how to deal with your father. When I hear about others' struggle with their fathers I think: just talk to your father. But when I think about my own situation I don't. I think tjat means I should. I have the same struggles as you with being assertive. Maybe telling our fathers how we feel (without dependence on their reaction) is a major step in becoming more assertive.

    About the hobbies: I bought a wood carving knife (and safety glove!). Got a lot of birch wood from the garden. Started wood carving. Just 20 minutes in the evening. It is really cool and relaxing to do.
  9. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    This is all very interesting for me. Anxiety was never my issue unlike anger or sadness, so it's fascinating that it does come up so strongly for you. These mood swings are I think a sign of recovery. Without P and alcohol your anxiety can finally come to the surface and signal its distress. The more you succeed in tolerating and accepting that feeling the more it will become an ally, a helpful guard to keep you from harm.

    I'm convinced we need dopamine to sleep. Without we won't feel tired, we can't focus on resting and we lack the will power to simply lay down and let it happen. So while sleep is very important, it seems to be a feature of our recovery that it gets hard to come by. Like you say, probably best not to dwell on it too much.

    This is the tricky part for me too, and the greatest danger to my sobriety. Honestly, and I know you won't like to hear this, I believe it's our addiction talking when we're thinking things have to be done. Our healthy mind is wisely focussing on recovery but even so my experience has been that it will also turn its attention to pressing external matters when necessary. So when you feel like working on your psychological issues, it's probably best to do just that. Trust yourself, your ego or intuition or whatever you'd like to call it, to get to it when you need to. Easier said than done, I know.

    A familiar feeling for me! I've been wondering if I could've become a concert pianist if things had gone differently. On the other hand, there's nothing stopping me from being a pianist, even if it's a tall order to make a living of it. Like you, I've had days where all I wanted to do was play and weeks where my mind was differently occupied. As dopamine returns I've found more time and energy to devote to my hobbies.

    I wonder if anxiety and alcohol abuse are linked, as I've had no problem with alcohol or anxiety myself. Alcohol is a sedative drug with a similar effect to antianxiety drugs so I can imagine it could be used in the same way. So I think it's a great decision to stop with alcohol! Choices like these show how hard you're working on getting better and that you're making real progress.

    This is were our problems converge the most. Assertiveness is a huge issue for me. To act assertive I've found that we need to be connected with our anger, and if we don't that anger will just remain, come back up later at inopportune moments or in the worst case cause us to relapse into P. Whenever I allow myself to feel angry and be assertive I've noticed that it was all much less difficult than I thought. Lately I've for example allowed myself to be angry at my neighbour who was playing loud music with a lot of bass at night. It woke me up and when I would otherwise just go on my pc and binge on P, this time I sent him an app asking to turn down the music. To my utter surprise he replied with "sry" and apologetically lowered the sound to an acceptable level. More than that, he continued to do so the next couple of nights! A small step for a man, but a big victory for me :D

    I believe this is utterly vital. The ghosts of our past are keeping us hostage, and while it might've been for good reason at the time that is probably not the case any more. The more we avoid dealing with the past the more power we give it.

    You've done well this week TLH. Making serious progress. Keep up the good work!
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  10. NewHorizon

    NewHorizon Member

    I feel ya on the panic attacks man. I had them every day for a month, it's settling now. They are quite debilitating. It's like we're doomed or becoming crazy. For me it's ruminating over stuff that brings them in the picture. I decided to take a medication to stop the flow. It helps. I was afraid all this time to take it, but they exist for a reason. It's a tool.

    Quite frankly I never know what to write on people's threads, I read your entries and I cant remember shit. I feel like a self centered prick. I need to improve my listening skills.

    You seem to be quite the analytical type, maybe I'm mistaken. I know I am too and it can go sideways quick. May I suggest trying to let go of some of your standards? What about : you're already enough? What are you running after trying to improve so much? Everybody has a double life. Everybody wears a mask. Most dont even realize. People will go far and beyond to hide their flaws, to themselves first, then to us. You're ok dude I think, for what it's worth. We have one life to live. I'm basically saying yolo but it'd make me feel too damn dumb. Your analytical stuff seems like a way to postpone your life. Thoughts are nothing. It's all about doing. Why am I being a bit arrogant, I dont know, maybe that's who I am. It makes me look like an idiot when I dont know what I'm talking about. But I dont give a shit right now.:p

    QUOTE="Thelongwayhome27, post: 698406, member: 13552"]of accepting the uncertainty of life[/QUOTE]

    Have you discussed this with a professionnal?
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  11. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Gil79 - Thanks. Letter to father is an interesting read. I relate to many things he describes in there. The dynamic of the over critical father who ends up hurting his son's self esteem and then, ironically, criticizes him for not being "strong" is relatable to me and Kafka explains it well. I'm just not sure if sometimes he doesn't go to far into helpless victim-hood.
    Communicating what we feel back to our fathers is important I suppose and can help but it's perhaps not always possible. It depends how much we want it (how much we wanna forgive or mend things) and also how much the other person is open to it (takes 2 to tango!). I also relate to what you say about being independent of the reaction the dad would have - I have this problem too - I always look for his "stamp" in the end. I think I was addicted to this for a long time (and still kind of am) - I had to go validate my ideas by him and when he didn't it gave me anxiety cause I wasn't sure about my idea... hence the co-dependence.
    And ... Nice to hear about the wood carving knife you got! Great on you to allow yourself the time to do this in your current busy life with the kids. Inspires me to keep looking for my own hobbies. No matter how busy we get we gotta find some time for ourselves here and there. Maybe you can keep exploring this wood carving and one day you can share it with your kids when they grow up. Or maybe you'll find something else. I also think doing activities with our hands (don't mean MO though) has something special that maybe reading or watching a movie does not offer.

    @Bezoechow - Thank you for your detailed response ! I appreciate your valuable feedback.

    Yes I very much agree. I think this is what's underneath the various self-medications I've been using over the years. It's very uncomfortable and scary at times but just knowing it's anxiety often calms me down.
    I really agree with the part I bolded out. Going through the feeling, staying with it, instead of running away from it (more or less subtly). That's how we process the feeling, and we learn we are stronger then we think. In the end it's all about learning how to pilot our bodies and all the energies running through it. A "flaw" can become a "strength" if one understands it.

    I would think alcohol is clearly linked with anxiety. It's both an upper (at first) and a sedative (after more drinking). It gives you an opiate rush at first making you feel euphoric, good about yourself and more relaxed. Most people have some form of social anxiety (it's just not out of control) and I think that's why alcohol is the drug per choice, the social lubricant. Problem is, when one advances in his "relationship" with alcohol it gives him less and less of the "good" and asks more and more in return. And to make things worst, when alcohol leaves the blood it gives you a strong dose of anxiety. Clearly not a long term solution.

    Thanks so much ! I'm happy I made this decision and think it's a great step forward. I have to thank the people on here who advised me this, reading my journal entries.

    Yes agreed here too. I honestly think sleep is the most important thing to function - addict or not. Everything else is then built on that. In the same time we must not get OCD about sleep, otherwise it screws it up... Taking a relaxed approach to it, yet remembering to get those valuable sleep nights.

    This is very very very tricky indeed! It's that whole push but don't push too hard. I have to agree that if we feel we need to focus on the recover and the self help it's good to do so and it sure is better then for example being back in the addiction, acting out. But I also have a bit of trouble trusting myself when it comes to taking care of the external day to day stuff that needs to be done. I have to force myself consciously a bit. It's like a good habit that I need to build. If I don't take care of them, at all, it becomes difficult not to fall in negativity. Also, when I do take care of business I feel very good about myself after (but in a healthy way, not like an artificial boost). But yes going too far and doing things out of too much self pressure or external pressure, you become a "robot" doing stuff and in my experience this can fire back. Healthy relaxation is a must and must be scheduled...

    I think an important part to remember is that hobbies are habits and it takes time to develop that world, that universe. Just like we developed our PMO worlds (we were very dedicated and constant there!). We can't expect to grow a hobby over night, but if we keep showing our system how this "feeds the good wolf" - then we'll do it more and more and it will be a healthy brick in the house we are building. But yes developing hobbies is appearing to me like a key element right now. Developing and nourishing an inner life - personal depth - in a way that is real to us. Done well it tends to the spirit and makes us grow. Exploration. It's like a form of spiritual practice I would even say (in my opinion). It's letting go of immediate instant gratification and finding more subtle and deep forms of fulfillment. Maybe I'm romanticizing it a bit.

    Yes, standing up for myself is something I hope I can improve on. I think it has something to do with my general social anxiety problem. But sometimes I can be socially comfortable and still lack assertiveness all of a sudden. For now I guess I need to accept where I am regarding this point. I can easily beat myself up over it because I feel some shame about not being more assertive or being able to defend my needs, myself. Using the anger sounds like an option but I would guess I must not go overboard with it and over react. Well done with the neighbor example. I sometimes show such nerve myself but it's more the exception then the norm. But I suspect I don't notice many times I'm assertive and let the times I'm not get to me a lot more (focusing on what I'm not doing well yet ; inner critic). In any case, when I feel I fail myself in this regard (assertiveness) the P binge becomes very enticing. It's like a way to get back some control in a "fantasy world".

    Being more assertive is a sure way to improve self esteem. I'll have to keep working on this chapter while accepting where I'm at as well.

    Thanks a lot for the support !

    @NewHorizon - Thanks for the words of encouragement. Those panic attacks, ups and downs and especially the racing mind is scary and uncomfortable. But the more we go through them the more we understand them and remember it's only anxiety.

    I see what you mean and I agree that obsession with self improving can become a hindrance and a trap. Thing is as humans though we always strive to grow. Even saying we need to let go of trying to improve is still a way to try to grow ... and become better at living. It's not necessarily to become "more valuable" (in an ego sense that X is "superior" to Y) it's just about heightening our capacity for joy. Reaching a state of more balance I would say.

    Not specifically. I've talked about my anxiety and mood swings but not how the uncertainty of life gets me into thinking warps. I'll address it perhaps.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
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  12. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I try to see it as striving to find a better balance. But if the search for this balance becomes itself a source of instability then I have to reassess it's place. My goal is to have better balance so that I can enjoy whatever my life brings my way. So that I can take chances, be more comfortable in this life. So it's really about having more capacity to enjoy life rather then becoming "greater" (more value then now). In one word, gaining in personal freedom.

    It needs a smart approach because yes it can turn into an obsession that makes it impossible to enjoy the present (feeling broken as you say) but I've also experienced the other end of the spectrum when I let go of all responsibility for my well being and just chose whatever was fun at the moment and I ended up finding myself in shitty places (some of my 20s were spent this way). For example making wrong choices, living in unhealthy ways. After a while this brings you down and you're well being sucks. It's not that you're a "loser" (although some can see it this way) it's just that your choices bring you to a place where you're not really in a position to enjoy your life too much.

    I used to draw a lot as a kid too. I want to try to build up this habit once more. There are many YT videos on it which is cool. My only fear is that I won't find the place to turn such ideas into reality. My life is going to get steadily more busy these months and I know how draining that is. Taking care of real life stuff (making money, job, paying bills) and also social outings (some to practice social ease and staying in touch, some more out of obligation and fear of saying no) leave little precious time for deepening my inner life with hobbies and interests. I'm scared that with life getting more busy and demanding I'm gonna forget insights and clarity.
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  13. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I think this is very well said. We simply must make time for stuff like this. We easily neglect it indeed. Society doesn't really push too much the idea of finding your own hobbies and interests cause then you are less of a consumer. You find fulfillment within more then by shopping and getting stuff...

    By telling yourself you'll do drawing for 20 mins a day, that really makes it a habit instead of a dreamy thing you should do. I'll see if I can pick one hobby to put a bit of time in daily. If I do this I'll try to remember to write about it in my journal here.

    Yes :) Well I think we agree and are on the same page. It's about finding a middle road. You wanna take responsibility to put yourself in the position to enjoy this life more but you don't wanna become a self improvement zombie running around the city slapping his chest and power handshaking people while also taking some cocaine in the bathrooms of restaurants. :D:D Or something like that...

    I'll just say this in my experience with ACT therapy I see that focusing on the commitment part A LOT automatically brings a perspective of what I'm lacking and has the tricky effect of getting me slowly depressed (this happened to me a few weeks ago - I wrote about it on here - when I had made a list of challenges, and I was not able to do them - I got frustrated, depressed and was close to throwing the baby with the bathwater (PMO urges were up, getting drunk became an interesting idea and so on) - what saved me was actually seing how this pattern was unfolding and actually realizing I was in an okay place (already) even if I was not doing all those challenges. On the other hand focusing more on real acceptance has this funny effect of spontaneously making me do things, taking (small) chances, naturally.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  14. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    I have this problem as well because I'm a master of procrastination. Once I start doing a task whether it be a hobby or unpleasant work, I can do it for hours straight. For me, the problem is simply planning things and then doing them on time. Recently I started using Evernote and it helps me planning work and hobbies. I'll start slow but I gathered all tasks that need to be done from several to do lists (...:rolleyes:...) and allocated them with boxes that can be ticked on the different days of the week. I will be occupied for a while :D. But instead of just outsourcing the things that need to be done, I set a concrete date when to do them. We'll see how it works, but I'm confident that completing all the tasks will be easier for me this way. I won't be doing more than three tasks per day so that I overwhelm myself and on some days, I'm only going to do one task if it is a bigger one. Hopefully, planning and completing tasks will become a habit, so that it'll take less and less effort to do the damn deeds ;)

    Maybe that is something, you can look into?
  15. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Yes! This is for me what it's all about. I just want to enjoy living again as I remember I used to do as a kid before I got sick with this mental illness. And by god I'm four weeks in and it's already happening. I don't care about "being my best self" or always being positive or having lots of friends or money or standing. Just give me back the joy of living!
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  16. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Pete McVries - Thanks for the reply :D

    I think my main problem is starting the task. But planning is probably something I can improve as well. Especially what you say about adding clear time frames. I will take a look at Evernote but I will admit that I am more attracted to a physical agenda. However I too scatter my "to do" lists on too many pieces of paper and it's important to have it all centered in one place, digital or paper. Putting a realistic time frame should also help with not being too perfectionist but getting it done with a good enough quality. I hope your new method with Evernote will help you out in tackling all your tasks !

    I think this is important indeed. Better be realistic and do something then plan too much and feel disappointed or even discouraged. I guess this is where the planning can help out in finding the realistic level. I guess some self honesty and being objective is necessary here.

    I know I have wrote this before but getting some things done that really need to be done is a good way to keep the stress away and as such to keep the urges for addiction away. I agree with you that it's a habit that needs to be built over time. There is just that catch 22 trap of also being aware when we are worn out (from doing) because then too the urges can come (well for me they can surely come when I do a whole lot - not sure if it's the stress of doing things or if it's also some kind of misplaced "you deserve reward now, go get some strong dopamine shot").

    I'm on the same page as you that doing things (even the unlikable stuff) is part of the puzzle and you are motivating me to find the right level for me to do things. Last year, in the fall, I had reached some good balance regarding PMO and drinking (I'll be honest I was moderating, not completely off) - but I had procrastinated really bad on some important deadlines and the pressure got really bad ... and I fell back into bad behavior binges (both alcohol and broke my PMO limits) and also into a pretty bad state of despair and depression. So yes, procrastination must be addressed.

    Keep going !! :D


    @Bezoechow - Yes totally. This is also what I am looking for. A calm stable and sustainable joy of existence. Not too high, not too low. I'm happy to hear you are feeling better since the last 4 weeks. The fact that you are writing here sincerely, that you are seing a therapist, have addressed this issue with your study coach and also doing group therapy shows you are committed to getting healthier. In case you will face setbacks I hope you find your way back to clarity and what you feel is best for you. Just for this your journal will serve, as you can always come back and read what you wrote with a certain distance.


    Sure :) ! I was thinking about how ACT has 2 dimensions : acceptance and commitment. Which can seem a bit paradoxical. And I was thinking about this in relation to our discussion regarding how self improvement can become, at times, itself a problem.

    The classic cliché "self-improvement" notion falls more on the "commitment" part of the ACT equation.

    I've thought about this in relation to my experiences lately. I've done some self acceptance work and also acceptance of my current situation - and I've also lived healthily pretty consistently (and, in truth, had less incoming sources of stress during the last months). This brought me to a certain level of peace. However when I placed focus on what I feel I am lacking and tried to put some pressure to get those things, and then I found I was too scared to do them (e.g. asking a specific girl out) I then felt frustrated and the acceptance (I had worked on) was challenged, eroded. So focusing on "what I need to do" and failing at it sent me into negativity.
    In that negativity I was tempted to stop my healthy routines I had observed lately (I had the thought "what for ?"). I then woke up to the idea that I was setting myself challenges to high for now. When I came back to a more peaceful state (I was lucky to have dealt with my negativity in healthy ways such as reflection and feeling the feelings instead of numbing it) I actually caught myself, in the better mood, taking small challenges here and there. I also caught myself being more compassionate with myself when I made small social blunders. So that got me thinking it's the acceptance that then brings on, more naturally, the doing rather then the forced doing that brings on the acceptance.

    This contradicts however what I wrote above (to Pete) regarding pushing myself to get things done.... So many paradoxes.

    But to resolve this ... maybe acceptance guides us in finding the right level of doing. Lack of self acceptance (of us or our situation) pushes us to try doing more then what we can (maybe cause we compare ourselves with a norm). Right level of self acceptance brings a decent mood which fosters motivation and we do things to our own level. But I won't deny that doing things clearly helps with motivation, being positive and self acceptance as well.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  17. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    This is admittedly from a long time ago but I was sort of perversely happy to read that you had googled nude ancient statues. I cannot tell you how many times I have been aroused by nudity in 1500s painting in documentaries or some kind of tribal National Geographic stuff since starting recovery. Beforehand I don’t know if I would have even noticed this nudity.
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  18. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Once again I am replying to a months old post here. I think this is really the crux of our problem. When we exit the pit for real, we understand that we are sick addicts, that we have no control over what we are doing, that we are mindless zombies going from binge to binge and not really living lives. This I would call the “manipulation” motivation. No one wants to live a life of a porn automaton. This is enough to get me out of the pit. But before I have this perspective, I just binge one time after another, because all I am thinking is “I know it’s bad for me but it feels so good.” This motivation is not helpful at all in the pit, since it leads to white knuckling, or just restraining ourselves for a few days. The only thing that seems to work for me is this manipulation motivation.

    Unfortunately, after we get out of the pit and remain there long enough, since we are no longer living the lives of porn automatons, we do not relate very well to this type of motivation (amnesia sets in). We need a different type of motivation, which comes more from a cost-benefit analysis (porns cons outweigh the pros). This motivation does not work in the pit, but is needed on the streak.

    Once we relapse we forget that we have become porn automatons and start up the cost benefit analysis, which doesn’t work. Therefore we languish in the pit, binging and resting and fighting until we realize again we are porn automatons and leave the pit once again to begin the cycle.
  19. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I agree. It's really about getting a clearer perspective on the whole thing.

    Motivation that is based on over shaming oneself doesn't last too long in my experience. And on top of that when one relapses when fired by such a motivation he will binge a lot more when down there. Cause he's got a lot more negative feelings to cope with (which is what the addiction was there for anyways).

    I think it's really about finding some kind of objective perspective on the whole thing and making to oneself clear the reason why it's better not to indulge then to do so. It's also about not pretending you're someone else once you get some clean days in your pocket and some distance form the last acting out episode. I'm very much still working on this, but I think really this is what can help me "not forget", because like you I agree it's the amnesia that sets in gradually that often makes me go back down.

    It sure seems like a puzzle to solve this whole thing.

    The more the motivation is rational, the more it will make sense not to give in no matter what day you are on. It will make sense, then, not to give in even if you just slipped and lost a streak. I think people who manage to string long periods of abstinence and then when they slip they don't go hard on themselves and come back to the good path soon enough find the right type of motivation. On the other hand people who put so much emotional attachment on a sober stretch and then when they slip the dissapear from here or binge for 6 months, well that means they're approach was unhealthy.

    Right now I haven't used P for over a month. And I'm thinking about going to a SAA group actually. Not that long ago, if I had stayed off P for over 30 days I was amazed by my streak and I was very afraid to lose it ; in the same time I was pretending as if I never did all the stuff I did, like I was repressing it (hence loss of humbleness, hence amnesia). I think my current approach is a sign I'm actually taking a more mature approach to this whole thing. This being said I have this nagging feeling I'm gonna slip again. Damn.

    Another good thing to remember is that the more we walk the good path and show ourselves how this good path is better - the more we will build the motivation to come back to it, even if we falter. It's like we're slowly teaching a dog it's better to go right, even though for a long time he was conditioned to go left and keeps trying to go back there.

    I think coming to terms with whatever our P and sexual compulsive acting out history is about, is essential. Coming to terms with ourselves. Understanding it and neither over shaming but neither ignoring it. How this is done, I'm hoping I'm working on it now, but it seems to be a journey. But once it's achieved, one can then place his history in the proper perspective and the motivation to not enter the addiction becomes more rational and sustainable. From this balance and owning the past (honesty with oneself) one also gages how much he needs or has to tell about it to other people. He is not hiding anymore (which will send him to relapse) nor is he over punishing himself (thinking he is more guilty then he is is).

    Owning (instead of repressing) the addiction is the way out. I think and hope at least.

    Finally it's so important to look at what we have to potentially gain from staying off it (and here the reasons must be personal, it isn't one size fits all) rather then to focus on why "PMO is bad or wrong". I think by being understanding of the function P provided, and then seeing how in the end what it tries to accomplish (safety, love, joy) can be done in a much better way if I put my mind to it (build a healthy life). This motivation is more sustainable as well. Especially if you focus on building this healthier life and start tasting some fruits of how indeed it's better. Then if you fall and taste the old fruits of the addiction, you'll see how, yep the other path is better. No shame - let's just keep going that way. Better idea.

    Lol. Yes, nudity is a big turn on for me. I guess it is for many, but I always felt I was even more turned on by it then the average person. I remember that "statues episode", how they triggered me that one time. Being on a month off P at that moment, they gave me a jolt and a rush because they triggered some fantasies. I think even if I wasn't on a streak they may have had a certain effect (but not as strong) and I would have gone to P sooner or later. It's nice to see how staying away from the over stimulation of P can make things become more arousing.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  20. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Living for your post above. There is a lot to ponder in it. In particular you're phrase above made me think. And I still need to consider this. I think this phrase holds a lot of truth to it that may help me further. You make me wanna pick up my "Happiness trap" book and work on it, I know you talked of it before. I have it around and check out some pages in it, but now I'm working with The 6 pillars of Self esteem.

    I think we are on the same page though about acceptance and the potential problems with the notion of self improvement. I also am careful with that term. And I also really agree that "our perspectives and how we call these things affects how we feel about them" (your quote).

    I think for a long time I didn't exactly understand what self acceptance means and acceptance in general, or I was confused about it's meaning. Therefore I could not make progress, or unlock the issue. I thought self acceptance meant I could not, in the same time, want something else which was a paradox. For example I told myself how can I really accept I am socially awkward at times when in truth I wanted to be good socially. Or how can I tell myself I accept I'm not very confident around girls when in truth I wanted to be a confident guy around them ? Well, now I would say that to accept these things does not mean I don't, in the same time, recognize my ambitions and goals to get better at such matters. Acceptance is realizing many things in the current state of things are out of our control and are learned reactions. It's as out of our control as the fact that we can't fly. I won't beat myself up cause I can't fly right ? But I beat myself up cause I got (and still do) nervous around girls, or because I made social blunders. And in truth many of these occurrences are natural reactions in me I don't have that much control over. I cannot change over night and be super confident around girls just with will power. The only path is to totally accept wherever I am at right now and work with that. The more I observe how certain reactions are natural in me and not that much in my control (they are learned responses which take time to change) the more I can stop unwittingly (unfairly) beat myself up about them. The more I accept they are there, the more I can observer them and work on them. Acceptance means there is no more unnecessary self bashing.

    What you resists persists. This works very well with problems such as social anxiety.

    Hopefully I can manage to not forget such stuff. Because it's easy to fall back in older patterns of self rejection of self blaming of strong inner criticism.

    For a long time I was so ashamed of when I was socially anxious. I thought it was shameful. This happened even before I knew what "social anxiety" was. I was having the effects but didn't know what it is. But there was shame right off the start when I had it. And I think it amplified it a lot. It was then kind of a snowball effect. I was so rejecting of it. I was too young to know that it was by accepting it that I could start working with it.

    I may have said this before but I think that through acceptance what we perceive as a "flaw" can be turned into a "strength", over time. Through rejection and disowning a "flaw" intensifies or manifests in other unhelpful ways in us.
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