Merton's reboot log

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

  1. JD1981

    JD1981 Member

    Glad to hear your getting back to it Dude. I hope SMART works out for you, I’ve never heard of it. I’m anxious to find out more about it and good on you for pushing onward.
     
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  2. Intothewild89

    Intothewild89 Active Member

    Hey Merton. Sorry to hear about the most recent binge/relapse cycle. I'm in the middle of one of those myself currently. Actually binged for a good 2 hours earlier this afternoon. Started getting dizzy spells and symptoms of low dopamine (difficulty concentrating, hard time reading, brain fog, etc) and decided to come back here for a bit of journal reading. Glad I did.

    You know we've gone back and forth over the past year trying to find the "golden" blocking method. You've done some of this with your phone, and I've gone to lengths to try and eliminate porn from any and all devices in my home. I've put in DAYS worth of research into this. And for what? I binged for hours earlier today. TODAY.

    I've come to the realization a few weeks ago that blockers in any form are completely useless. You've said it yourself, we will turn it into a game, and then eventually, the thrill of trying to crack the blocker becomes an addiction in itself. I've caught myself on occasion feeling that rush simply by trying to bypass my locks. That's when I knew they were worthless.

    This was when I really uncovered my addiction for what it was. It's at this point where we need to really get down to the root of it all, to finally realize why we are doing it. For me, my two main motivators are boredom and my premature ejaculation issues. I get a thrill watching other men pleasure women in ways that I cannot, and then fantasize my wife doing this things with these very same men. The real way out would be to stop this addiction, let my neurochemistry come back into balance, and watch my PE issues get progressively better. I know I have both low dopamine and serotonin. I know I have a brain disease. I know I used to have no issues with PE before my addiction started giving me cravings, before the delta-fos-b started accumulating and throwing my brain levels off.

    But it's like I can tell myself this time and time again, and STILL I'll binge after 5-7 days of abstinence. Why?! This is the answer I need to find. I have a feeling you need to find this answer as well. The blockers are all first level stuff we CANNOT bother ourselves with any longer. We need to get 99 levels deep on this issue. Only then will we find a reason for not using porn. Let's start this streak off with a stable mind and future ambitions. I'd like to experience the holiday season this year with no anxiety or brain fog, and feel good for the first time in 4 years. Have a coffee and not let it give me anxiety because I'm in active withdrawal from porn. I want to get back to the real ME, which hasn't been present since my late twenties. We can do it Merton!
     
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  3. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Day 2: I have gotten a bit behind on the journal since I was quite busy again today. However I’ll be pretty free tomorrow and can make a better entry and respond to the comments. I’ll just say for now that I was quite motivated by the SMART recovery video. It seems to combine some of my favorite and most successful practical methods with the deeper life changing methods that are also very necessary. I’ll try to link to the video tomorrow.

    ...

    Actually there’s a little more time now so I’ll write some more.

    @JD1981 thanks for the support man! I will definitely write some about SMART.

    @Intothewild89 i cannot agree with you enough on all that you wrote. I have actually come to realize that my obsessive attention to blockers is a strong indication of negative progress. In other words once I start to get overly concerned with blocking I can tell that I am heading into the pit if I don’t change course. I am sure you have the same thoughts as me. I’ll just illustrate a little of my thinking over the week around the time I relapsed, and you can see the strong confusion. I was very worried because my current screen time settings involve turning off everything on the phon from 10 pm to 630 am. I have actually tried pretty hard, but without factory resetting my phone, it seems to be impossible to access the internet through what is left (wallet, find my phone, messages) without them opening safari. But safari is blocked by screen time. This is good for those hours. However when the phone is not blocked (other hours), if I only have limit adult sites on, then I can access porn through various Russian websites. This is bad. So I installed covenant eyes, which puts in a vpn. This blocks a ridiculously large number of sites. However I unfortunately found that if I set my CE settings in a particular way, I can find porn through safari. This prompts me to disallow safari. However if you do this, then back at night time, when you access safari through wallet, it is no longer blocked. This means I need to keep safari. But then CE is pointless unless I change the password and give it to my wife. Then unfortunately you can request a password reset. To avoid this, as you have written in the past, I need to create a separate gmail account and have the password sent there. This account needs to be password protected as well so I either give this to my wife or send it into the future (30 days) through futureme.org.

    Anyway my point here is that this long stream of basically chess moves seems to happen in my brain without me even realizing it is so extreme! This is what I mean by confusion. And don’t get me started on the computer blocking situation (as I know you know about). Once I notice myself thinking these things and becoming overly stressed, it is a huge red flag that something is wrong. I am only addressing the practical issues instead of deeper issues.

    One nice thing about SMART recovery is that it seems to address all the aspects of recovery that seem essential: practical matters, thinking patterns, and underlying emotional issues. I feel that in the past couple of years I have never addressed all of them at the same time. Lately in particular I have not addressed thinking patterns.

    Anyway I’ll post more tomorrow!

    @Bezoechow thanks for the comments! You’re right about MO. I think it is a tricky business for some of us. I actually felt much better after doing it. I have not completely ruled it out but for the moment will try to go without it.

    @NewStart19 thanks man! This is a great part of the forum that we can learn so much and have some (virtual) connection. I think the CBT stuff is very important for people who are obsessive and I have not been implementing it enough. I am very hopeful for the future though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  4. Intothewild89

    Intothewild89 Active Member

    Man, listening to you go on about CE, finding browsers in hidden apps, etc. was mind boggling! It isn’t so foreign to me though because I’ve done the exact same thing in the past. I think at my lowest point, I got my downstairs computer bricked somehow because I set the administrator password to something I couldn’t know, then futureme.org it to myself 2 months later. Only problem was when a video game my kids play needed an update, and I couldn’t update it because I didn’t have the administrator password. They couldn’t play the game for 2 months over their summer vacation. I felt like complete shit and it was all because of my stupid, idiotic porn addiction. Sad.

    Yeah so I’m the master of said chess game ;) won’t lose me there. Boredom just kills me. I know so many people that have started or continue to use drugs because they were simply bored with their lives. I’ve been thinking of starting karate. My kids already do it and if I sign up I’ll have to commit 3 nights a week to it. That’s a lot of time to be around other adults during class and have to talk to people. If I sign up for it, my family would never let me quit. I would be forced into quitting my porn addiction since these people would obviously know something is up when I’m having anxiety attacks and extreme brain fog/depersonalization all the time (I usually just drop my kids off and wait in the car and read so I don’t have to talk to anyone). Plus it would be free since my kids already do it.

    Yeah, I might do this. It might save my life.
     
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  5. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Day 3: quick update tonight. Things are going well. I am curious about how anyone feels about the following recovery video:



    It has really helped me in the last couple of days to feel more safe and confident, and to get the motivation back. There is a lot there, in several different categories, but it seems to mix together many of the approaches I’ve seen, addressing things that other programs leave out.
     
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  6. TrueSelf

    TrueSelf Active Member

    Regarding blockers. Matt from PFR has talked about how before high speed internet there was much more built in "friction" in accessing to porn. One would actually have to leave the house to go and procure it. If you wanted a magazine you had to ask a clerk for the one you wanted behind the counter. If you wanted a video you had to go into a back room at a video store and quickly make a selection while hoping to not see anyone you knew after emerging from the curtained off area. Back when I was around 18/19 I procured porn both of these ways a handful of times and it was not fun. It was stressful and I kind of had to psych myself up to do. Sometimes it just wasn't worth it and I went without. This actually helped to regulate my porn use a bit.

    Nowadays of course there is absolutely none of this "friction". I think that blockers/rules can be valuable to try to self impose some of this missing friction. If you can have something in place so that it's more of a pain to get to porn than I think that can be helpful.
     
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  7. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    I'm gonna jump into the blocker discussion too if you don't mind. I have never really used blockers for porn to the extent that I thought they could keep me away from porn. First of all because I think blockers limit my freedom and I prefer to learn to be able to to deal with porn if that's an option (which luckily it is for me). But another reason is that I don't think blockers work that way. I think blockers can be a useful tool to build up a barricade between you and porn. Blockers when I used them gave me time and options to reconsider watching porn. I don't think you need a complicated blocker for that: to me it was always just that little nudge that made me aware that I was going to do something I really don't want to be doing. Let's be honest: even if you would be able to completely block your desktop, your laptop and your cellphone, there will always be other options to get to porn. And because of that I think there's all the more reason to look at that first reason I mentioned: if you can't rely on blockers to keep you away from porn you will have to learn to deal with porn. With what you described in yesterday's post it seems that you are leaning way more on blockers than they can handle. It seems that you want something out of them that they can't provide. And perhaps you even make yourself believe that that is exactly what they can provide. And when you take things that far blockers actually become an obstacle in your recovery and that's really a pity ofcourse.
     
  8. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    Personally I don't think that's what would be happening. I'm a big fan of CBT's (particularly ACT) and I think exposure is a great way to deal with a whole lot of problems. The types of exposure that I know of are exposure to situations you have difficulties with and cue exposure. With the first type I would rather think that you would go about exposing yourself to the difficult situations or emotions that you try to get away from by watching porn in the first place. In the second case: porn is not really a cue. A cue is more like a circumstance that you really relate to porn. For example, to me being home alone has always been a cue to watch porn and therefore exposure could mean learning to dissassociate being home alone with porn. And besides that, these exposure are often very gradual, so even if watching porn would be part of your therapy (which once again I would not find very likely) it probably wouldn't mean that during the first session your therapist would put you in front of a computer showing hardcore porn. And neither on the second or third sessions. After all, these therapist's main duty is to guide you in learning to deal with your issues and they are schooled in what they do:)
     
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  9. TrueSelf

    TrueSelf Active Member

    I just watched the video. It definitely had some good ideas. One things I really related to is the idea that once I have some time away from porn I start to forget how it affects me. It starts to not seem to bad or too big of a deal. I start to think maybe I could "manage" my use of porn. Of course this never works out. I am interested in learning more about the technique mentioned in the video to create a reminder of the negative impacts.

    Another thought that the presenter mentions is the idea of at least experiencing what life is like living clean for a couple years. At that point you actually have a real idea of what you would be giving up for a temporary high. Again this really resonated with me. I really don't know what it is like to live clean for a substantial length of time as an adult. It would be really interesting to find out.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
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  10. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    I think I agree with what both of you said about blockers. On the one hand, they do provide some friction between me and acting out. On the other hand it is extremely easy to let them get out of control. And it happens very very slowly, so that I don't realize it. It is quite difficult to strike a happy medium. If I have no blocker at all, then my internet is unfiltered, and my mind says things like "it would be so easy to look at porn.'' This leads me to get some small amount of blocking, so it at least takes some effort to do it. Once this happens, and if I have a relapse, I make the blocker tighter, by updating it to be more strict. After each relapse it gets more strict, and then eventually I find myself looking for complicated ways to block. This type of thinking usually happens when I am in the midst of relapsing or recovering from it, but when I am several days away from a relapse, I do not worry about the blocking anymore. The main reason I typed the complicated thinking in the entry a few days ago was to illustrate what typically happens with my thinking (pretty much automatically) when I allow the blocking to get out of control. It was actually intended to show how blocking can be bad for me.

    One other point I wanted to make is that I seem to be most comfortable with some minimal amount of blocking, so I try to keep it at that level. Covenant Eyes is pretty good for this.
     
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  11. Intothewild89

    Intothewild89 Active Member

    When we take away the blockers, we are left face to face with our self and our addiction. I do agree that they can be useful to distance yourself from said temptations, to keep you on track and to gently remind you to stay away from the source of your super-normal stimulus. I think this works with people who aren't as addicted as we are. I think if you try and go this route and it hasn't been working for 3+ years (like myself), then this is a dead end road and it isn't worth pursuing any longer. The only way i'm ever truly going to get over porn is by making myself not want it anymore. Remember, the addict doesn't have to quit, the addict has to WANT to quit. Simple phrase, but it gets to the very heart of whatever is controlling your mind/life at the given moment. We get out when we don't want/need it anymore. We get out when we realize we want to feel BETTER more than feeling HIGH. This takes time figuring out WHY you're getting high off porn. What is missing in your life that makes you turn to this behavior and subsequently put up with handling the consequences? You're trading a stable mind for something that gives nothing but pain in return. It makes no sense when we look at it that way. When we finally have a reason to NOT want to be in pain, we will finally end the addiction. Something is keeping us from it though, and it's not porn. Sure, we are using the porn to feel that way, but it's because we're lacking something else in our lives. When we replace those high feelings with something we value more, it works itself out. Very recently I've finally begun to understand this. I tell myself, "you could feel amazing all the time, or you can continue to feel horrible all the time for no reason". It really was about self improvement all this time.
     
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  12. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Day 2: I had another slip up a couple of days ago. It occurred when I was tempted by the lingerie ad that arrived in the mail several days ago. In the moment I decided to look and it sent me down the rabbit hole.

    Since then I have once again rediscovered how useful the journals are here. In the past few months I have been listening to one episode of porn free radio per day but in the last couple of days I have replaced this with reading journals here. I have mostly done with the journal of @Freedom from Servitude It is extremely inspiring and, as someone (possibly @Thelongwayhome27 ) mentioned, there is a good bit about 12 steps.

    I have also been talking to people in the 12 step group, being honest about my experience and reservations. This has seemed to help.

    Yesterday I had a large urge at the office and immediately did 10 push ups. This actually helped a lot and got be back on track.

    @Intothewild89 i agree with pretty much everything you wrote. The real change has to come from within. For me (and probably most people here) there seem to be many interlocking issues bringing about the addiction. A big one is self improvement and the quest to get a life I want. Another is mental obsession. Another is isolation and connection with others. I feel like this forum and the 12 step group, along with my attempts at hanging out with others, have helped a lot in the social area. This has been a major improvement. What I still struggle with is the “life I want” category. Professionally, things are good and things are good with my family. I think the life I want will have to involve being more honest and assertive with others, and not simply people pleasing all the time, being bowled over by stronger personalities. The other part of the addiction game, the mental obsessions, seems to require a more practical approach, and I think I’ve started to make some headway there. This involves watching my thoughts and some CBT training. This has really helped my outlook on my wife and my sex life. (Very very slowly improving.)

    Anyway there seem to be many aspects and in the past I have typically only focused on one at a time. For example, The blockers get out of control when I only focus on the practical. The blockers vanish when I only focus on life improvement. It feels to me like there should be a balance, working on all three aspects.

    Anyway we are all trying and learning. I have in particular really been learning by reading on this site (more than any of the other resources I’ve been using) so I will really try to keep it up.
     
  13. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Journals on here have helped me many times. Many times the right journal came to give me some much needed inspiration and courage at the right time. I think what attracted me to this forum initially were the journals on here. It really gives you courage when you see the long fights some people chronicled honestly. Especially if the person has made progress since his earlier entries or reached serious balance/stability. It gives hope, courage, tips/insights and shows us we are not alone in our struggles.
     
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  14. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Member

    @Living

    Yea you are right. I jumped to an extreme there. Part of that is because I heard of some recovery approaches that use extinction training with porn websites (YBOP Revised and Updated Edition), though Wilson does note that this is risky. I, so far at least, have been using exposure and response prevention with some of the weaker cues of my addiction (e.g. glancing at women in public and avoiding sexual thoughts or thinking other non-sexual thoughts about them) and with a lot of my OCD fears (which may overlap with this addiction because they both deal with emotions that are at times overwhelming for me). But can pornographic/sexualized images really not be considered triggers? I feel like the line there is blurry as the act of sexual excitement is really the stimulation of our penis with/without porn that aligns with our natural sexual proclivities. Porn conditions us to be turned on by more and more types of pornographic/sexualized content that we weren't initially interested in. So, if you weren't originally interested in "mature" women but were conditioned to be aroused by them through porn, a nude image of a mature woman (which before porn wouldn't turn you on, might even turn you off) would trigger you to have urges because of the association you have created between sexual excitement and the memories you have of mature women portrayed in a pornographic or sexualized manner. Please excuse me if I am totally off or splitting hairs here, but it is something that has come across my mind before.
     
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  15. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    I don't really see porn as a cue in itself, or at least not as an important one. I can imagine that it is a cue for example when you are in a work environment where people find it normal to send their co-workers porn pictures. But I personally don't really get into contact with porn unless I particularly go and search for that and in that case it is beyond being a cue. To me a situation like being home alone or being stressed out is so much more of a serious cue and therefore it makes more sense to learn to deal with that. And while I do believe it's essential to learn to deal with porn itself I think it's often more effective to work on the environment. Porn is the final step, but if I can deal with the problem a few steps before that (for example by opening the curtains right after I get out of bed when I'm home alone) it just becomes a whole lot easier.
     
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  16. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    I think I am on day 3 today. I have not updated in a few days. I will just give a brief idea of where things are at the moment.

    After relapsing from 23 or so days, I have a hell of a time getting out of the pit. After reading several journals on here and refamiliarizing myself with the struggle, I see that this is completely common. Of course I know it happens to me all the time, the recovery, relapse, binge cycle.

    Anyway I have come to understand a little more about how recovery is working for me. As I have written on the journal of @Thelongwayhome27 I realized that I need different types of motivation in different stages of recovery. When I am in the pit, I need to realize that my life is in disarray, that porn is a prison, and that although it seems like it is extremely pleasurable, it is actually slavery and my life is NOT normal. This provides me with the motivation to really give it a strong try. As time goes on, this motivation does not work so well anymore because amnesia sets in, and I need a longer scale motivation, which may come from a cost-benefit analysis of, say, SMART recovery. One of my main problems is not having the correct motivation in the correct stages, and therefore sitting in the pit for far too long. When I say I am sitting in the pit, it is not that I am not trying! I am terrified all day that I will relapse, and I avoid everything, obsessing about recovery. The problem is that this does not work. It only seems to work to have a perspective shift from "I need to keep myself away from porn because I cannot control myself and it is so good" to "porn is a prison and I hate my life on porn.''

    This sort of thinking actually seems to line up very well with the 12 steps. The first is to recognize that you are powerless. I guess this is my version of powerlessness. I cannot control myself and furthermore porn addiction is a prison. Next I need to understand that I cannot recover by myself. Boy is this true. If I rely on my own thinking, I will just continue to relapse over and over. This is quite clear. So I need to rely on things outside of myself. It seems that my own motivation can get me out of the pit, but I cannot stay there without some external help (books, forums, videos, calling people in the program, going to meetings, cost benefit analysis).

    So I think I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that there is a lot of wisdom in the 12 steps. It takes me a long time to understand these things. I think this is partly because I think all the time and get confused. But it is also greatly due to the fact that I do not like to accept orders from other people without explanation. One of the main tenets of the group is to do what you are told and don't think. In other words, "simple program for complicated people.'' I can actually see the value in this (although I doubt I will ever not think about it), and I can also see more the value in the saying "focus on the solution and not the problem.'' Maybe I'll talk about that one day.

    I am getting a lot out of reading journals here and making comments on months old posts. You guys have a huge amount of wisdom to pass on, through struggles and successes. Thanks!!!

    Also thanks to everyone for commenting and keeping up the interesting conversations here. It is extremely helpful.

    I think I will start attending two SAA meetings per week (one on Wednesday, and then I need to pick another one). I suppose I should also get a sponsor, although I really resist that. Maybe I resist it because it somehow means that I am firmly lodged in the program. I have been attending a meeting per week since June or so, but I guess I'm starting to buy more into the philosophy and see that it could be very helpful. If I don't get a sponsor, it is probably quite a waste. I talked to another "fellow" last week and he said he attended for 3.5 years without "working the steps" or getting a sponsor and his life was a mess. Now he has been doing "90x90," which means that you attend a meeting a day for 90 days (apparently working on the steps, etc. for 2 hours counts as a meeting too) and got a sponsor and things are going way better. I guess you just cannot trust yourself and need to listen to the wisdom of others. I have also been moving more in this direction after reading the journal of @Freedom from Servitude (thanks @Thelongwayhome27 ).
     
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  17. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Going to meetings is a great step. It'll be hard! But you're really doing all you can and there will come a point that your addict brain will give up against your determination. In my experience we need a lot of proof before we're ready to flip the switch. The meetings can be a source of that final push. Good luck, I'll be looking forward to reading about it.
     
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  18. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Your analysis of your current situation seems to me quite sincere, mature and lucid. Regarding the 12 steps and SAA, you're being skeptical of it while exploring it. That's a sign you're taking it seriously, you're not just blindly jumping on that train. You're making sure you agree with it and understand it before proceeding. This may take more time but it may also be a more successful approach. Many people can jump on a program, accept everything and try to say everything that is expected of them and it may not work long term (could be just an initial emotional type of motivation that then looses it's momentum).

    I've also spent a lot of time analyzing and trying to understand my commitment to stopping sexual compulsion. It boggled my mind to no end how I could want so much to stop and a few days later to act out again. Or how the very thing that gave me shame turned me on so badly a few days after (jolt of adrenaline to my body and rush of excitement). So not that I can add much more but I relate to your current analyzing of what's going on. And I think you figure out very well how we have different types of motivations at different moments of the "cycle".

    I also agree this may not be done alone. When we try hard and keep faltering we may recognize we need some help. This is smarter then beating ourselves up. Asking for help isn't easy though. And the fact that we need help does not mean we need to blindly follow what another person is saying. That's why I also don't like a program that would say don't think and just do. So let's keep asking and looking for help while also trusting the part of us that is healthy and rational. That part is still here even if we act out and are addicts. That's the part that will help us find the solutions.
     
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  19. Doper

    Doper Member

    The pit.....
    One of the definitions of "pit" is: a place or situation of futility, misery, or degradation

    Doesn't every one of those words perfectly sum it up.
    Once one gets on any decent length of streak, you've gotta cherish that streak and remind yourself that one little slip up and BACK IN THE PIT YOU GO SCUM!!!.....Possibly for months. Inconceivable as it may be at the time.
     
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  20. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Day 11: since I posted last I have been reading a lot of journals. They are quite good. I also feel very different on this run than I have let in a long time. I think one way to sum it up is: in previous runs I have actually wanted to relapse but have avoided it or tried to prevent it. On this run I actually seem not to want to relapse. I can see this in many examples. When I see someone who is very triggering, I would normally think “that is very hot and I want to look but I can’t.” Now I think “that is hot but if I look too much I will go back to the porn prison and I do not want that!” This change in mentality came about after remembering the main message of the Allen Carr stop smoking book: we don’t like cigarettes (or whatever the drug is) nearly as much as we think we do. The great feelings we get are mostly relief from withdrawals and they keep us in the addictive cycle.

    To keep myself on track I have been reading journals each day and reading the SMART recovery book. That book is crammed full of great techniques and an overall complete program for addiction recovery. Also I’ve been attending 1-2 SAA meetings per week and talking to someone in the program on the phone or by text each day.

    I am also realizing, as the SMART recovery book states, that I have this false idea that I am not supposed to feel any discomfort. I think in previous runs I have given in pretty much as soon as it became uncomfortable. This made it so that most of the run was flatline. This time I have been uncomfortable for a few days now. However I keep remembering that I don’t want to go back to the prison. This has been keeping the ship steered in the right direction.

    @Bezoechow @Thelongwayhome27 @Doper thanks Guys for the support. I agree that the meetings are probably a good step. Also now that you mentioned it, the pit is a pretty good name for the relapse zone. Keep up the fight!
     

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