Learning to be myself

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

  1. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    When relapses start to build up, the pit becomes almost too deep to escape. Good job for not giving up. Recovery may be slow, but this is something I don't think is possible to rush.

    Like you I'm not happy with my job, and I've suffered through it for many years. I've finally started to look at alternatives, because if I have to spend most of my waking time at a place which makes me depressed, I need a change. That may actually be the reason I struggle so badly these days.
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  2. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Day 16

    Thanks for the support Eternity, I appreciate you checking out my journal. Yeah, the job situation can be quite problematic for some. I think if we truly despise what we do we should try to find a better path. It's hard to stay clean if you feel misaligned with your work. Part of recovery for some may involve as well a change of career path or simply finding a new place to work in. In my case I've invested a lot of resources in my current path and from a ''reasonable" perspective it makes sense to keep going. But it's the sunk cost fallacy. My problem however is that I don't have another plan right now.

    Part of recovery is defining your purpose with more clarity and for those that are "lost" in a job they dislike or a career that isn't theirs, it's probably because they still haven't figured out who they are and what they want. So they drifted in some situation that isn't really theirs. They are lost. I think this is, more or less, my case. Unless I'm being negative.

    In any case, I read over a little bit TheUnderdog's long post that Luke linked in Merton's journal and I realize that I still haven't defined any kind of "life vision" for myself. Recovery Nation, in their workshop, talks about the importance of establishing an authentic life vision in order to build the healthy foundation for real change (and recovery). I've been wanting to do that workshop for a few years now but to be honest I'm still at lesson 2, creating that life vision for oneself. Perhaps that's really part of my problem and why I am always escaping reality in fantasy. I haven't looked at life realistically and tried to make some decision about what I want to do. I refuse to choose a path because I am really scared of life's finitude.

    I've been having some strong cravings for the past 3 days. I've found myself at times entertaining the thought of relapsing again. I am procrastinating on contacting a therapist because I'm afraid to talk about these compulsions. I've been relaxed socially at times and socially anxious and feeling disconnected from others (different) at other times. When I am dealing with strong cravings I become more introverted and ashamed even if I don't relapse.
  3. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    As I've touched on in my journal, I still don't know what I want. So it's the same for me. I've had my crises because by now one is "supposed" to have one's career sorted out. Yet I don't. One week I think this is great, the next that is better. I've kinda thought of work as a necessary evil; something that must be endured. In other words, it doesn't matter what I do for a living because it's gonna suck either way. But I wonder, maybe a job can be nice? It's worth a try at least.

    Overcoming the cravings is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Having someone to talk to, even if it's a professional, could help? I honestly have no idea because I've never consulted anyone.
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  4. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Day 24

    I haven't posted too much lately because I am often under cravings and I feel that if I come write about it it will just make the urges even more prominent in my mind. I'm happy I'm 24 days clean but most days have been a battle, especially after 2 weeks. Sometimes it's been physical cravings and sometimes more like part of me debating why I should act out and enjoy it instead of depriving myself like this. The other part of me that believes I will regret it after and that it's not worth it has been able to have the last word so far. The problem is after abstaining for a while I am left with a lot of emptiness and boredom which I don't really know how to deal with. Everyday I go through the motions, try to do what needs to be done but there is seldom real joy and any kind of fulfillment. I often find myself feeling tense, stressed and wound up. I've also come down with a cold in the last few days which has made my sleeping pretty bad. I've had many nights in a row where I've slept under 6 hours and the quality hasn't been good either. I've had good moments too, though. Moments when I've felt more calm. There have been many mood swings as well, I would find myself optimistic and with some confidence only to go to some type of panic feeling and anxiety not long after. Girls, in real life, are appearing very appealing to me. I try not to look at them in a sexual way, because I'm trying more or less a "monk mode" approach. I wish I could talk to them more, but it's hard. Being unable to bridge the gap between me and real life women is what usually sends me back to PMO. I have to work on my social anxiety, on gradually improving my ability to talk with women (which is also part of social anxiety), realistically think about what I want out of my life (develop a life vision, address the big questions) and, perhaps most of all, keep trying to relax and be present in the moment.
  5. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    Many people have expressed having that feeling of emptiness after having abstained for a while so it's a very common part of getting better. I get it after a couple weeks like clockwork. I think it's just your brain trying different tricks to get you to take a hit of the drug because as we all know watching porn and jerking it is not a fulfilling pastime, certainly not to the point that one should feel "empty" without it. 24 days is great keep it up.
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  6. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot Doper, I'm gonna try to keep going. Expecting these emotions and feelings as a normal part of the process helps in not giving in I guess. In your case have you been able to get past these sensations and further down into recovery ?
  7. Caoimhín

    Caoimhín Winter's coming...

    It can be tricky negotiating with yourself! This feeling of emptiness is something I come up against as well. Because it is so vague and dark, it colours old PMO habits with the tint of pleasure or nostalgia. I've not found the solution for this but can now recognise that this feeling of emptiness is when I am most vulnerable. Dealing with it? Perhaps doing something physical, ie getting out of the house, exercise, doing a chore around the house...
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  8. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for dropping by Caiomhín. Yeah it's not always easy to deal with it. It's like going through a desert at times. I think you mention some valuable methods and they have their merit. Sometimes though our will is so low, temptation is so strong, even those are hard to do. I think another important tool that can work is simply acceptance of the present, of the incomfort (loneliness, bored, anger, pain, etc.). To accept the present, the here and now, and learn somehow to be okay with it. I know it's easier said then done though. But I think figuring this out is how to "feel the feelings" that we try to numb with PMO or other methods. Basically to somehow relax in the present moment and accept it's not comfortable, to be mindful of it.
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  9. sveltest

    sveltest Member

    I think the "empty" feeling is another symptom of the flatline

    Porn depletes dopamine which is responsible for drive and excitement and satisfaction. Its no wonder we feel low or empty when that dopamine needle is so low

    Plow through it bro. Youre about as far in as i am (around 4 weeks right). It ALWAYS gets worse before it gets better.

    Do you have a gf? Try to find a gf or a fuckfriend (they usually turn into gfs). I know easier said than done but it helps big time especially if shes kind and understanding.
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  10. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks man. Yea I am going to be 4 weeks this coming Wednesday, if all goes well (fingers crossed). Once I get past today, it should be easier to stay the course weekends are often the hardest, being alone at home and having some free time. So yea I'm gonna take your advice and keep plowing through, let's stay the course!! Things will get better. And they would most probably get harder if I go the other way.

    I guess the dopamine can explain feeling unmotivated, empty and bored after a while. Not sure I'm totally flatlining though because I often feel very horny. But I am flatlining at least mentally perhaps. I usually see the emptiness and boredom more like signs that something is missing in my life and once I remove the porn I can see it a lot clearer because I am not numb about it. And then it becomes a signal of making changes. But in the same time I guess the chemical explanation (dompamine levels, etc.) can also make me feel worst then I should (even if my life needs improvement there are things I should be grateful for as well).

    Nah I don't have a gf and neither a "fuckfriend". I wish I did but I am quite unconfident around girls. It's an area I need to work on gradually I think.
    Merton likes this.
  11. sveltest

    sveltest Member


    Yes. I know what you mean. The "emptiness" is sometimes more a result of your situation (ie. No friends or job or things to keep you busy). A quick hit of dopamine like a line or tab of speed can take that feeling go away because you feel less bored. You can get excited about stuff again.

    And about being unconfident around girls. Its amazing that we fear rejection so badly when things that could harm us physically are treated lighly, by comparison.
  12. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input Sveltest. Yeah it seems it's perhaps both a combo of purely chemical emptiness (withdrawals, flatline, dopamine depletion) and also partly situational and concrete ; in the sense that once you remove the addictive behavior, the drug of choice, the present life situation can be pretty void and there are many problems to address, to fix. All of a sudden we're trying to manage our life without the aid of the drug of choice that was helping us cope. I guess healthy recovery is about learning to at first deal with the present as it is, to accept it (which is perhaps part of what self acceptance means - accepting the life situation), and then slowly work on our situations to improve it gradually.

    *** Update of my situation :

    0 days clean

    Unfortunately I relapsed once again, last Sunday. And since then I have been binging pretty bad. I'm back in all the acting out and the compulsivity of the addiction, and the emptiness and the isolation and shame. Sunday, I was 24 days clean of PMO/MO/O and working on my 25th day. It was in the afternoon, when after having worked for a few hours I had to go work out. But at that moment I couldn't take the cravings and the tempation to act out and instead of going to work out as I had planned I relapsed. It was more of a conscious decision rather then one of those more accidental relapses (for example after a night of drinking). The obsession and fantasizing to act out had been with me for some days before the relapse on Sunday. I was white knuckling it and I had a feeling I wouldn't last too long. But I was hoping that if I keep going the urges would go down. When I went ahead and acted out on Sunday I told myself I won't be dramatic about this and assume my decision after. I told myself let's see if I can take the shame and pain after, to be calm about it. I also promised myself to enjoy it. Thing is I didn't just relapse to PMO but I went and payed for a sexual service. It's something I feel worst about then the PMO. When I got back from the place I PMOed as well. It didn't feel all that good. this after being clean for 24 days. I won't lie that the acting out part where I paid I did enjoy, but I promised myself I would enjoy it and assume my choice. But it wasn't all that amazing and after I felt shameful once again.

    Monday I was mellow and numb. I'm often calm and mellow one day after a major adrenaline surge type of relapse. It's like taking one of those calming pills. My emotional state, how my body felt inside, was a lot nicer then it had felt for the past week on the streak, when I was always feeling tense, uptight, deprived, in a state of need and fighting the urges. However, mentally I was regretting, as expected, the acting out ; and I also knew the mellowness would give place to depression and stronger regret very soon. I knew even before going to the place, before the relapse, that the regret and shame will be here. But I decided to go anyways and ''take it'', as I said earlier.

    There was a social event this week (it's done now) that was causing me some anxiety and apprehension. I'm pretty sure it played a role in my relapse Sunday. It was in my interest to be calm and in a healthy state with this event but I self sabotaged by relapsing exactly before it, on Sunday. Instead of being 25+ days clean while doing it, I was post relapse and in a state of wanting to binge more. The social event lasted 2 days, and it was kind of a survival thing to go through. I trudged along, having no choice to do it. I couldn't wait for it to be over. There was opportunity to drink and I drank a lot more then I should (because when I mess up with one vice they all make themselves stronger) because I didn't care too much anymore, and I also did some (soft) drugs. I was a mess the next day physically, hungover and tired. Once the event was over, yesterday, and I got back home, I went on a massive PMO binge. Last night, and then this morning for multiple hours. Like I said I got right back in the darkness and the isolation. I edged hours to P, I went on chat rooms trying to engage in sexually charged chats with women (which is very time consuming and takes a lot of ''work''). I PMOed I think three times last night and twice today. Sometimes only to P and sometimes while sexting and chatting. It wasn't even very satisfying. It's not really the life I wanna live. I'm back into living the double life where I need to lie if I get texts from family or acquaintances. I've sorta dissapeared from the radar. And I have some deadlines coming up next week which I am not working on. And the worst part is that the sexual and intense high, the jolt, I'm craving for when I stay sober is not even all that good anymore. It's harder and harder to attain it and it's less and less satisfactory. You can really feel how this is a progressive problem and even after abstaining for a while, very quick you find yourself to the place the addiction has progressed to. So then you have to do crazier stuff to get the same jolt. Become even more compulsive.

    So basically guys, stay away from the pit and enjoy being sober even if it's hard, even if the deprivation is difficult to take, day after day, the relapse ain't worth it ! You will very soon find yourself in the darkness you have been working hard on eliminating from your life.

    So I've binged all day and I will try not to binge more today. Hopefully start getting back on the horse. I have important stuff to take care of and if I don't then my life will unravel more. So I need to get past this relapse, accept I've messed up my 24 days streak. And keep working on beating this sickness.

    All of this being said, despite the relapse I still am motivated to fight this thing. And I am happy to have come back (a few weeks ago) to this community which, even on my 24 day streak, was a great support. Reading through many journals on here, I realize there are many a good men on here fighting a difficult problem. I wanna thank anyone who has commented on my journal since I came back here about 1 month ago. At that point I was even lower then right now, the relapses I had in January destroyed me. Right now, despite another relapse, I am more calm about it, and partly I think I have in me the capacity to still find the path.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  13. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    It's tough. Tough to resist, and tough to get back. I've been there so many times. I'm sure you can do it. Are the 24 days wasted now? I don't think so, because they were 24 days in your life that you didn't PMO.
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  14. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    Yep. It's like former heroin users say, when you first try the drug it gives you a high. After a while though, you're mainly taking it to get rid of the withdrawals. But even that doesn't really work, so just stay away from it!
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  15. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Eternity - Thanks man, appreciate the support. Although I plunged back, the 24 days were a decent effort in getting up after my relapses in January and I hope to dust myself and try again soon. I guess any day, streak or not, where we consciously don't use PMO is a step on the right path.

    @occams_razor - Yeah it seems it's like a trap, we think we will find the old pleasures there again and we only find a pale copy of it and gradually we get to the dark place quite fast when we plunge again. Not worth it, not worth it. It's only self sabotage.

    0 days clean

    My resolve was wobbly yesterday. Got off work early, came home - and binged more. Binged most of the day yesterday. Binged this morning too until about noon. Since then I'm trying to "get going in the good direction" again. I'm posting for accountability I guess. I guess I need to go back to the drawing board and see what's up with my commitment to recover. I also got some MariJay (a former addiction, more or less in control now), which isn't a good idea if I wanna stay away from the PMO.

    My counter should update back to 0 soon.
    Merton likes this.
  16. sveltest

    sveltest Member

    Maybe its because i have no libido or i only used to watch porn when i got high...but i really dont get all these relapses...like you gotta be feeling shitty enough dont you know that youre only gonna feel worse?? How do you even have the motivation to jerk off to some nasty shit.

    Im not judging...im honestly wtf at all these relapses.

    I do kinda have a libido and morning wood etc etc just not right after me and my bitch ex fight and she inevitably leaves me in a flash of anger. Then im depressed for a few days

    But cmon man

    Put your dick away
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  17. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    I can relate to a lot of this in the past. In particular the feelings of emptiness after taking away porn. The first year of sobriety was a very painful one. I was an inner child learning for the first time in a while to manage difficult emotions without any escape. While I was readjusting to a different existence, I just felt a big void that used to be filled by porn and masturbation. The good news is that the other side of that desert is a promised land of greater happiness and peace. A whole another level of existence. I have started to experience that within the last year and a half. It is very easy for me to forget how bad things were when I was acting out. I find that I have a short-term memory when it comes to emotional pain.

    You definitely have the capacity to find the path to recovery. I was in your situation once. Never stop learning and never stop trying. I am glad that you think the community is helping. Despite the valid complaints that this forum is dying out, I actually think activity is gradually picking up again, which is a really encouraging sign.
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  18. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    Is the counter an issue for you? Do you get rationalisations such as "Well you're back to Day Zero again, you may as well have another PMO"?

    You could keep counting days, but if you reset, just say "I've reset once in X number of days."

    If you reset again, then you've reset twice in X number of days, and so on.

    You can also break it down, for example if you reset twice in 20 days, you can break it down to 1 in 10.
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  19. PathToGrace

    PathToGrace New Member

    Occams, I'm not going to lie, I did have that rationalization once (well, back on day zero, so I'll just PMO today and start again tomorrow). It felt good that first day. But all the effects of PMO'ing came back (loss of libido, laziness, tiredness, social anxiety, etc.). Afterwards, it definitely did not feel worth it.

    @Thelongwayhome27, I know how discouraging it feels to have to start over - it almost feels like a life's work went down the drain! But think of it this way: just like a workout, it gets easier the more you do it. You've had much longer streaks than I have, and I envy you.
  20. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    4 days clean of PMO/MO

    Sorry that I haven't replied individually to the latest inputs in my journal. I have read them carefully and appreciate the support.

    I've taken a break from posting because I was off the wagon. I had some important mandatory deadlines in the last weeks I had to make sure I completed and I put the PMO fight on hold because there were no more ressources left in the tank. I've also visited another old habit of mine which is smoking weed. Weed and PMO have always been a dynamic duo for me, a co-addiction. I am ''clean'' from both elements, since Monday. Whenever I was high I was thinking I need to throw away the rest of the weed. But I didn't and had to go through all of it. After I was done there was a psychological pull, as expected, to get some more. I was able to resist since Tuesday. When I have weed, I use it compulsively. I was never able to use it reasonably.

    Weed, like PMO, seems to be a coping mechanism that is faulty. It was developed naturally (so to speak) during my teens, because I had anxiety (although I did not really know what anxiety is at the time). I'm happy I was never a multi-year everyday smoker but I've always had on and off patterns where I would smoke in a binge compulsive pattern for weeks (sometimes months) and then quit cold turkey and not touch it for a while. This is the first time I have returned to the habit in years. I guess it shows that I'm in a pretty low point at the moment, a hard and lonely place. I need the medication but they are not good medications. But if I'm compassionate with myself (which I think is key) I know I am hurting and, in a way, had to ''medicate''. I consider this low point to have started in November when I had a relapse after a long streak during the fall when I had positive energy and I thought I was making serious progress towards a healthier me. Falling down in November was painful and since then I've been unstable with some very dark relapses in January. In February, after my last streak (relapsed February 10th) I PMOed 32 times ; that's 32 PMO from February 10 to 28th. I think it's the most since I started keeping track in an excel sheet in 2014 when I started fighting this issue. I've PMOed so much my libido naturally finally went down and I was getting on some 2 or 3 day streaks without trying. So being 4 days clean right now has been quite easy.

    The 24 day streak I had in January and early February, when I was posting on here - was a decent effort but I felt it was white knuckling it and deep down I was quite sure I would fall. I'm still in the pit so to speak and trying to gather strength, courage and determination to truly get back on the horse and give an honest effort in becoming a healthier me. The kind of effort where you don't really count days but simply show up and work earnestly each day. The honest and sincere commitment type which, however, seems to require some secret element that is beyond simple decision. Is that element found in the pain of the pit ? Is that element what I have been searching for, amongst other things, in this descent into chaos that I've had in the last weeks ?

    What scares me though is that honest efforts if followed by relapses make for those very very painful relapses. It's not the same as when you are using or constantly relapsing (like now for me). There is less pain right now. I'm scared to get back on a serious effort to find myself relapsing in say 4 months and then having an incredible emotional roller coaster ride.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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