Merton's reboot log

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Merton, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    1 - Hi everyone. I am making this reboot log to try to get the addiction under control. I am looking for a supportive community, where I can be honest and report my progress without fear of criticism.

    I realized a few years ago that I have an addiction, and I started to read many books, websites, and watch many videos about addiction, strategies for healing, meditation, and other things. After having some initial streaks of lengths 100 and 50, I managed to go over a year without porn and masturbation.

    After that, I relapsed, and have had a difficult time ever since. It seems that these days I can only manage 2-3 weeks. I am not sure what happened, but I feel more addicted than I did in the past, and I am searching for new tools and new support. This is why I am starting a log on this forum.

    I am currently finishing day 1, after a relapse yesterday. I plan to post on here daily, so please give me any suggestions and help that you can think of. Although I accomplished great things in the past, I feel like I am back at ground zero, so I am open to any help.
  2. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    0 - Well, already had a reset. I will try to analyze it tomorrow. I need to keep telling myself that I will make it to 30 days.
  3. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Hi Merton,

    welcome to the board. Are your circumstances now different then during the year of abstinence? I read something on recoverynation about the power of initial motivation, maybe it applies to you:

    In any way, you know that you can do it. Looking forward to read on your progress here.
    Merton likes this.
  4. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    1- @Gilgamesh thanks so much for the message and the link. This is exactly the sort of thing I want to read. I did not even know the website recovery nation existed. It looks like a great resource. When I went through the year of abstinence, things went really well, and relations with my wife really improved. (They are not bad, but I am very averse to sex probably because of the years of pornography.) It was one of the first times I ever tried to quit. There had been a few times in the past when I abstained for a few days, and a couple when I abstained for a few weeks, but I did not know that porn could be addictive, and that substitutes (sexy videos, bikinis, etc.) could be a replacement for pornography. So I spent quite a bit of time still looking at these things; I just did not view ''actual'' pornography and did not masturbate. During the year of abstinence, I stayed away from everything. Since this year was near my first time, maybe my initial motivation was very high, and now I think about abstinence differently. I will definitely read the link you sent. Please feel free to send over anything else you think may be helpful, or that has helped you.

    Last night I masturbated to pornography before I posted my last message (titled 0-) and felt bad again. I got triggered by some video I saw on youtube and very quickly started searching for similar videos. It is amazing that this did not turn into a binge, since that happens quite often if I slip. I have had a very hard time just keeping it to one session. Usually I end up doing what I understand to be ''edging,'' which I have read is very harmful. It also makes all my muscles tense and painful the next day. Fortunately I did not have this side effect today, and after somehow forcing myself to do weight training this morning (it was brutal), I feel much better. I think I woke up today with something like a hangover.

    I started to read an online book that was linked to by a post somewhere on this website. It presents a method for quitting pornography similar to one given for quitting smoking. I found it very inspirational, and it made me ask myself some difficult questions and have some difficult thoughts:

    1. Why am I behaving the way I that I do? I get into the habit of feeling like it is normal to watch pornography every couple of weeks, although it is painful for me on many levels. I feel like it is impossible to stop. After thinking about it last night, I concluded that I have an illness. I act exactly the same way that heroin addicts do, needing to get their fix from under some bridge. (Probably they do not all use under bridges.) The reason I do these things is that I am sick.

    2. Do I like pornography? I would never want my child to get involved in pornography. This means that I detest it.

    3. One phrase this book used is that there is ''no such thing as controlled use.'' I think I have my perspective has wavered over the last couple of years. Sometimes I break down and use pornography, and other times, I abstain and look down on it. I live a double life, and I think what I have been trying to do is to have ''controlled use.''

    The goal today is to get through the rest of the day, so I can write 2- tomorrow, read more of the online book, and read the link on recoverynation.

    Another thing is that I do not know how to upload a picture. Each time I try, I get an error message.
    deepbluesea567 likes this.
  5. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    2- I made it through 2 days! Today was not so difficult during the day but got more difficult at night time. During the day if I had any thought about porn I would just tell myself that I have an addiction and it is no different than a heroin addict wanting his fix. I should also focus on the fact that if I get to a few weeks then the urges will considerably lessen.

    Tonight was worse. There were no violations, but when I was in the shower I was very tempted to masturbate. This got me very triggered and porn thoughts came up. I searched around the house for something to look at, like a silly style magazine of my wife’s. Fortunately I did not find anything. This is mostly due to the fact that in my more sane times I clear the house of problems. Eventually I stopped and said to myself: this is an urge and I need to get through it.

    It was also during this searching time (or right after) that I put a website into my phone. It was not bad actually, just google, but google is blocked on my phone. I realized a little while ago that google has tons of different web addresses (for different languages) so I can always access some version of it if I change the language, no matter what I have blocked. I think I put in “just to see if it is blocked.” Then it loaded and I said “where am I trying to go here?” I blocked that site and sat down to pay the bills.

    It is completely stupid because I do not have search engines blocked on my computer and I can easily access google. But my phone has started to be associated to searching for stuff in bed next to my sleeping wife. For this reason I have made sure it is plugged in on her side of the bed, so that if I want to use it I probably have to wake her up.

    My most difficult times seem to be at night. I get urges to masturbate while sleeping, even if I have removed access to porn. In the morning I seem to come to my senses, assuming I did not act out at night. It is very weird that I can live with these two people inside of me.

    Anyway I know that if I just simply ignore the urges or otherwise rude them out, the night stops being associated with acting out. This is why I believe that even if I want to act out and I do not actually do anything, then it is a success. I just need to put my time in through withdrawals, and as long as there is no funny business, I can try to sort out the mental state in a couple of weeks. This is partly a way for me to help myself not feel shame for searching the house for a stupid magazine, but at the same time I think it is actually true.

    This makes me think I hold myself to a standard that is perhaps too high right now. I feel inside that if I even make a small move in the wrong direction, like putting google into my phone, then, because I know my intentions were not pure, I have somehow “already lost the battle” and I am as good as reset. This is nonsense that the addict wants to tell me to get me to just go ahead and masturbate. I need to stay the course and in a few days the mental games will loosen up!

    Thanks for anyone who has read this and I hope it is helpful to hear my thoughts and story. I think the main benefit of a forum is not necessarily to get advice from others (although I will take any you have!) but simply to hear another perspective on the problem. In that way, we connect and learn to defeat it.

    Also I need to remember: “there is no such thing as controlled use.”
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  6. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    3- I managed to get some pretty good sleep last night. I had some pretty strong urges to fantasize or to masturbate, but in the end, I focused on other things and thought "there is no such thing as controlled use.'' Amazingly, it is morning and the urges are much weaker.

    I was thinking today that I have had much better success when I do not run away from the urges. If I try to distract myself without feeling the heart-pumping and confusion, then I can go for a while in a calm state, but I never get any practice dealing with urges. What seems to inevitably happen with that strategy is that I end up caving a couple of weeks later when a strong urge comes up. What I mean to say is that I am unprepared. If, instead, I face the urge and develop a method for getting through them, then I think I will be more prepared later on. I read on a post of @Joshua Shea that it could be helpful to get up and move to another location when an urge strikes. If it continues, get up and move to yet another location, and continue. I think I will try this.

    Although porn and masturbation is not where I want to go, I really do not want to view porn at work. At some point I started doing this, and it is very risky and dangerous. I have almost complete autonomy at work, and I can easily lock two doors, so that no one can come in. (At least if someone does, I can hear the first door.) This is really terrible and if I were to get caught, it would likely ruin my life. So this is really one of my main goals, to stop this behavior.

    Thanks for anyone who has read this.
  7. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Well-Known Member

    @Merton Good luck to you. It's an uphill battle, but it's not impossible to get to the top. You may have autonomy at work, but unless you own the place and all of the equipment, you can be found out, even with 12 doors. I also liked what you said about not running away from urges. Once I got a solid footing with both my porn addiction and alcoholism, I actually found that confronting triggers made me stronger, not weaker, in the long run. I could repeat myself, but I wrote all about it, if you're interested, here:
    The location thing works, and forcing yourself into public helps as well. Again, good luck. I'll be reading as long as you're writing.
    Merton likes this.
  8. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    4- Things went very well today. I have started to think more about the cycle of porn use that I have been in and how to breeak out of it. After being told countless times that my porn addiction is due to "underlying problems" that I need to resolve before even attempting to quit, I have now realized that the beginning of recovery is much more practical. The underlying problems will be dealt with when I get sufficient distance from porn. I will try to elaborate on what I mean in future posts.

    I did not have any strong urges to use today and my feeling of shame was not so high, although I have recently acted out in ways that I find shameful. I spent some good time with my family and thought a lot about recovery.

    @Joshua Shea thanks so much for the message. Unfortunately I cannot access the site you linked to because of my stupid blocker. I am going to try it on my phone. I totally agree with you about confronting triggers and urges. I will also take your advice on forcing myself into public. Also thanks for the words about the doors. I need to face the facts and realize that no matter how secure work seems, it is a TERRIBLE idea to act out there.

    Thanks for anyone who has read this. I am feeling much better today than I did just a few days ago.
    Gil79 likes this.
  9. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    5- Quick check-in tonight. Things went well this weekend and I have continued to think about the practical point of view on addiction. I'll try to write more tomorrow. I did not have any serious urges.
  10. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    6- I am in some kind of flatline right now, where there are few urges. I have learned recently that I need to face the strong urges, and not be afraid of them. They are where the majority of recovery happens. The urge-free times are just coasting, with no improvement or decline.

    I have been told for a long time that I use porn because I am not happy with my own life, that I am not assertive, and that I am escaping my life. Some of this may be true. But porn addiction is a chemical problem and I am addicted to the chemicals. The best way to get free is to face the withdrawals and get through them. Whenever I have a thought to use porn and my heart starts beating, I will force myself to abstain for 5-10 minutes. Inevitably what happens is that my desire goes down. I think this is related to the chemical release. When I have almost "authorized" myself to look at porn or to masturbate, I get a very distinct feeling: beating heart, foggy brain, often I get chills. If I do not keep thinking of things that excite me, or if I do not go and get porn or masturbate, then the chemicals die down, and I start to think more rationally in 5-10 minutes. Each time I do this, I can count it as a win.

    I think my recovery should not be measured in terms of the number of days I have not used, but instead in terms of the number of these "critical moments" I have gotten through. It is interesting that after I use porn, I feel like I am in a pit, and it is very difficult to get out. I give in to nearly every urge. I think the reason is that I am very quickly forced to face several of these critical moments in one day, and I am not prepared to get through them. It takes several hours for me to build up the tools to get through one. Once I get through one, my confidence goes up, and I feel better, ready to face the next.

    After I have not looked at porn for several days, I am less prepared for these critical moments. But I need to keep myself aware for the first several weeks, at least. I need to keep telling myself that a critical moment could come by at any time, and I need to make the right decision. The right decision is to delay: tell myself that I can look at porn, but I need to wait 10 minutes. After that 10 minutes I realize that it is the wrong thing to do.

    I did not have problems yesterday, except I got the idea to masturbate when in bed last night. I occupied my mind for a few minutes, the idea went away, and I went to bed. So I feel rested and good today instead of terrible!
    deepbluesea567 and Gil79 like this.
  11. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I think it is really important to be aware of this. It will give you weight on the right sife of the scale when you have to choose between instant gratification and long term satisfaction.
    Merton likes this.
  12. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    7- I have made it a week! No real urges to speak of. I keep thinking about how it is so important to keep the correct mental state: thinking of urges not as scary things that will force me back to the beginning, but as tools that will make me stronger. This is the key difference between making it further and looping back to the beginning.

    Our stove went out today and we had to buy a new one. I hate spending money so this was annoying. However it is not going to be a catalyst to jump back to porn. I don’t think it really could anyway since I don’t care that much. Generally the things that stress me out and give me anxiety are social. But things seem to be going relatively well there. I am mostly trying to put my personal problems on hold until I get some sufficient distance from porn (at least 30 days before I even think about them). This way I do not become confused as always: “why did I relapse? Is porn as substitute for my mother’s love and affection? Is it because I was made to feel angry as a child?” This stuff has nothing to do with it at this point and I need to just wait, and be prepared for the next critical moment.

    @Gilgamesh that is a great point. Tiredness is such a huge trigger for me. I feel so much better after a good night of sleep. When I was younger I could happily function on almost no sleep. Now it is painful to get through the day unless I have rested. And porn is the easiest way for me to lose all my energy.
  13. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Well-Known Member

    @Merton I like how you talk about facing your triggers. I always think people who run from them are just setting themselves up for failure. I have faith that in a month or two you're going to look back on this first week and realize what a short time it is compared to where you get. And you'll be much stronger for it.
    Merton likes this.
  14. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    8- I had another good day today and since it is late, I do not have so much time for an entry. But I want to say that although things have been smooth I have been trying to keep clear in my mind what to do at the time of my next challenge. When the next critical point arises I need to: (a) count to 100 if I am in bed and (b) go walk around immediately if it is daytime. If I can delay my decision about whether to act out for 5-10 minutes, j will have gotten through that critical point and then can prepare for the next one.

    Instead of sitting back and enjoying the pleasant ride, I need to keep my goal in mind. I need to remember that I have an illness, and it is very important to be prepared for the next challenge. Although it is true that I should not intentionally conjure up triggers in my mind (the triggers will always eventually find you), I cannot close my eyes to them and sit back at ease.

    @Joshua Shea thanks so much for the encouragement and your faith in me. It really means a lot! This streak feels different than the rest for many reasons. I am not hiding and lying to myself, hoping to stay “in the clear” for as long as possible. I have a sickness and it will take work to get better. But I know what to do and I will practice until I get it!
    Joshua Shea likes this.
  15. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Well-Known Member

    @Merton Admitting its a sickness that needs to be tended to and not just a weakness of character was the turning point for me. This doesn't make you blame free or responsibility free, which too many people take "sickness" to me. Lung cancer is a sickness usually brought on by years of engaging in behavior you know is detrimental. It's really about addiction. I think a lot of people don't want to admit that so they just ride the willpower train as far as they can. The funny thing about willpower is that you can only measure it by failing. It's a piece of the recovery puzzle, but I've seen almost nobody succeed long term by white-knuckling. You don't get healthy ignoring the source of the illness.
    Merton likes this.
  16. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    9- I am coming up on the double digits. Things continue to go well. I had some issues when going to sleep, and my brain wanted me to fantasize. But I calmed myself down and went to sleep after some small distraction. I was not confronted with any serious triggers. Where I work, though, there are many extremely attractive females walking around. I am being less careful about how much I look at them, since now I am focusing on not using porn. But in the future I want to get better at ogling at these women. This can be particularly bad in the gym, where many women of my specific type are.
    Joshua Shea likes this.
  17. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    10- everything is going well today. I had some misunderstanding with my wife and this led me to have quite a bit of anxiety last night. However I did not allow myself to entertain any ideas of porn.

    I have also noticed that as time is going on I am forgetting the severity of the feelings after a relapse. This seems always to happen. What I need to do to counteract this is to constantly think about exactly what I will do when a strong urge hits.

    @Joshua Shea thanks very much for your great comments. I also did not really realize that I had an illness until sometime this year. As you wrote, we should not think of it as an excuse to let ourselves off the hook. I also love what you said about not ignoring the problem. The stop smoking book I read a while ago emphasized the idea that if you are only using willpower then you can only know if you have succeeded if you either (a) go the rest of your life without smoking or (b) fail. In a way with the willpower method we are waiting to see whether we fail. Instead I need to plan and anticipate the problems, keeping an active recovery.
  18. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    11- Today was another good day. I had a brutal workout. For several hours before the workout, I am scared of doing squats. When I am doing them, and I get through all the sets, I feel like I am going through a war or something, and when they are over, I feel like the battle has ended. I still feel exhausted, but it is good.

    I did not have any serious problems today. I am trying to keep the correct mental state, that when urges come by, I will take advantage of the opportunity to practice my recovery.

    I am excited to come up on two weeks! I am also excited to get my emotions back soon.
  19. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    12- once again, it was a good day. I think the reason is that I have the correct mindset for recovery. I cannot tell you for how long I floundered around, trying my best, but under the influence of horrible advice. As my friend wrote, I thought I was going to deal with the addiction indirectly, by dealing with my personal problems first. It is completely clear to me now that it is necessary to have a detailed practical plan for dealing with urges and to solidify the forward trajectory.

    It is funny. I am definitely not a stranger to having a practical plan. But this idea eventually left me because of “helpful advice” given to me by often aggressive people on other forums. “You are not dealing with your underlying issues ...” and so on.

    As I wrote, I have seen people stress the need for a practical plan. Noah Church explains a great plan for practice on his video on YouTube. It is one in which he coaches a porn addict for 45 or so minutes. It just goes to show how confused we can get in the maze of addiction.

    All is well and two weeks are coming up soon!
  20. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    13- I am home alone this morning. Normally that would be a clear sign to act out. But instead I will get read for the day and wait for the AC man to show up.

    Sleep has markedly improved since the beginning of this streak. It is interesting that I have not tried to banish all porn thoughts from my brain. If they pop up, I just remind myself of my goals and get prepared for any critical moment that could arise.

    I have been having very strange dreams over the last couple of nights. In some of them I am laughing so much that I cannot breathe. In others there are sexual things going on. Their onset coincided with starting to have sex with my wife again. The sex has been mostly mechanical. The same sex problems are there, as always. I do not have much desire to have sex, particularly late at night when my daughter is asleep and I am tired. Normally this would send me back to PMO. I would think “things will never get better and I will need to PMO to have a sexual outlet.” However now I am putting those problems on pause until I get some distance from the last relapse. I am confident that things will improve simply from my brain healing.

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