My journey in finding self-acceptance and inner peace

Discussion in 'Ages 25-29' started by Freedom from Servitude, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. jack91

    jack91 Find your way throuh Staff Member

    It baffles me how you always keep your promises. If you make a promise "check in once a month" you do so. You have such a selfcontrol. I wonder whether you are addict at all. Probably not. Just proves people with good self control can get addicted to porn. Its special addiction. It didnt cause inner warnings in you like drugs would have. Thats why anyone can get hooked
     
  2. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks, Pete. Did you ever go to that SAA meeting, by the way? I'm interested to know how you got on.
     
  3. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Oh, believe me I have issues with self control, just as much as the next man. For example, I masturbated yesterday morning when I hadn't planned to. As I have written in my journal before, I have also struggled with procrastination in the past. As I get longer in sobriety and persevere with my goals, I notice that my self control is getting stronger. That said, I think self-control is overrated as a faculty on this journey. It is something that we all need, but I think other components to recovery like strategy is far more important. A recovering addict cannot rely on self control alone to conquer this addiction. If for example, they continually ignore trigger situations, eventually they will inevitably fail. Having the right strategy in place can make a progression towards change much easier in my experience. I think a person with relatively weak self-control can make good progress in multiple aspects of life if they have a good strategy in place.
     
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  4. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    31/03/2019

    As promised, I am returning to check in and post an update in my journal. I decided to reduce the number of times that I log in and comment on this forum to about once a month as I found that I was procrastinating here a lot. As such, this forum was a distraction away from other activities that I could be doing. I also was spending a lot of time by my computer, at a time that I was struggling with triggering behaviour. In SAA we would call this middle circle behaviour. I would find myself pushing the limits of what was acceptable, the last time I found myself looking at non-nude images of a glamour model on Instagram. It was all highly triggering stuff that nearly pushed me over the edge. I was very close to relapsing, and so reducing the number instances of procrastination was part of the emergency measures I put in place to bring the situation under control again. I have done really well in re-establishing stability again within the last month. I had a solid month of avoiding crisis situations. A big part of this success has been a return to a no-nonsense approach towards trigger situations.

    There was one case which was challenging that involved me coming close to watching a porn related documentary. There have been a few porn related documentaries on TV lately, looking into the ugly side the of the industry. I started to watch one of them, but I quickly realised it was my addiction trying to play tricks in the hope that it would get a fix in the form of a triggering scene, and closed the window before I found myself in deep water. Even if it was for a moment, the proximity to that documentary created a lot of cravings for a few days afterwards. Furthermore, I inadvertently created trouble for myself yesterday morning when I masturbated. Again, it was done in the usual mindful way, but it created similar cravings afterwards to go and look for porn. I am going to eliminate masturbation indefinitely, at least until I can find a partner to re-wire with. Because I have never been with a woman, my theory is that my sexuality by default is wired to crave porn, and masturbation is closely connected with the days of acting out. I am not entirely sure whether there is a way for me to masturbate currently while safeguarding my recovery from porn, but I have concluded that, as every time I have done it so far I have come close to relapsing, its simply not worth the risk. On balance, as far as the addiction is concerned, it has been a good month where a great degree of stability has been restored. I'm now two years nine months no porn.

    The SAA group is coming along very nicely. Every member, along with the other meetings in my city, is now part of a Whatsapp group. This has proven to be a wonderful avenue of support outside of the meetings. Everybody has been enthusiastic in posting in it on a regular basis and helping each other. We are now talking about merging the two meetings in the city to form a combined group, which would see us closely working together. Although, I am pleased that SAA is moving in a positive direction, I found the demands of the service position I fulfil a bit too much within the past few months. I had to sort out administratively the decision of our group to leave SA and join SAA, and there was a lot of work to do with that. As ever, whenever you deal with people, and am trying to make decisions relating to the whole group, seldom are things straight forward. There is always someone who will disagree, and as a democratic group, I feel obliged always to do my best to make sure everyone is on board. I have been doing this position for a bit too long now while the group has taken a while to establish itself. I would like to step down and let someone else take over so that I can dedicate more time to life goals. SAA business has, at times, been a distraction away from other things like my quest to move on with my career. It is equally important though that personalities are not allowed to dominate 12 step meetings.

    My mood has generally been good. I am a lot calmer these days, which I attribute to a mixture of personal development, exposure therapy, addiction recovery and health supplements. For example, I believe that magnesium supplements have been helping with my sleep quality and in reducing anxiety and depression. I've been in a good place in my mood despite being very busy with work for the last few weeks, which is a really encouraging sign. I haven't been feeling overwhelmed.

    I'm still enjoying Toastmasters. Not too long ago, I performed another speech and even chaired the meeting for the first time. Now, that was a major milestone. I'll be doing a new duty for the first time, this week, and I have got another speech planned for the meeting after, which will be my ninth. We all had lovely social around a meal a few weeks ago, which I really enjoyed. I am feeling quite friendly with a lot of the club members, and always look forward to the meetings.

    I have been stepping up the reading lately too. I recently finished 'How to Raise your Self-Esteem' by Nathaniel Branden, which I found to be a good read. I have nearly completed 'Psycho- cybernetics' by Maxwell Maltz. I have found it a fascinating read. The results of the methodology remain to be seen, but undoubtedly, its one of the best personal development books that I have read, despite its age.

    I have also been proactive with online dating. I have messaged quite a few profiles now, after overcoming strong reluctance to do so. Although the profiles I messaged had quite a lot of things in common with me, I have found that nobody seems to be interested in chatting so far. I'm on Match.com, and the way the website works is that the recipient of the message can decline the invitation to chat before they have even read the message. I've been told though not to take it personally, as men tend to outnumber women on dating sites, and women receive a lot messages from men. Despite being quite social, it seems to be really difficult for me to meet women my age.

    That pretty much sums up this month. I will check in again at the end of April to let you know how I am doing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  5. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Good to hear you are doing well. I imagine that after staying away from both PMO and MO ("hardmode") for over 2 years and a half, a return to MO is a tricky thing to navigate. It's almost like learning how to MO without this being an activity which sends one towards PMO. Perhaps to learn this is possible perhaps not (depending on the individual). Also, perhaps it takes a while to settle into it, that is at first it will be more dangerous and the more one does it with decent control, and gains trust in his ability to do it without fearing it will lead back to P, the more it becomes normal and less dangerous. But then one must decide if it's worth taking this risk at this point. Or maybe it doesn't take a while to settle into it and it will always be dangerous and as such better to stay away from... many possibilities lol. Not trying to give advice here to you lol just thought I would post my musings on this element of adding MO back. Because masturbation without P has been a frequent interrogation in my own recovery efforts. Especially since I am single and have a lot to work on regarding connecting with women.

    It's really cool that you are taking on a lot of responsibilities with your SAA (former SA) group, even if at this point it seems like it's getting in the way of other things you want to accomplish. I'm sure this role has helped you in gaining confidence in yourself and showcasing elements of your competency as an individual.

    The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden is one of the next books I wanna read. I really have hopes it will help me a lot in my difficulties.
     
  6. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Active Member

    Unfortunately, I haven't gone yet. But it's still something I want to do in the near future. The thing is, I confided three friends of mine and my brother, plus I go to a therapist so there are several people I can talk to about the whole PMO shenanigans ;).
     
  7. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks, Thelongwayhome, you have neatly summarised some of the dilemmas that have circulated in my head since I decided to give masturbation a try again. I'm not saying that it is impossible to find a way of masturbating without relapsing, but after having too many near misses, I feel that it is like playing with fire for me. I have been extremely lucky not to relapse. I also miss not having the extra energy around after I have masturbated. If I focus on rewiring with a woman, my mind will at least have a better idea of what natural sex is. In the event of a sexual relationship anyway, masturbation would be redundant, depending of course whether or not that would be on the cards. However, I am not looking for a relationship with the specific purpose to have sex, there is much more to human sexuality than intercourse. Above all else, I am looking for a friend. If sex happens, that's great, but my addicted mind needs to realise that it isn't the be all and end all of a relationship, and not the reason for my existence.

    Even if a relationship doesn't happen soon, I am happy to go long periods of time without masturbation as I have proved before. From what I have learned over the past few months, I feel that I can honour my sexuality in other ways, through caressing the body, mindfully being aware of sexual feelings, celebrating a sexual identity, and harnessing the power of sexual transmutation. Crucially, the lesson that I have learnt is that my sexuality is something that exists and has to be worked with. I am not going back to repressing my sexuality again.

    My service position hasn't been to obstructive. The only time that this was a problem was back in January where I didn't have much on with work. The extra time was ideal for job hunting, and while not wasted, much of it went in to navigating the split from SA. My services positions have helped a lot with my confidence, and they have also helped keep me sober too, which I am really grateful for.

    I recommend reading The Six Pillars of Self Esteem first, an excellent book which provides an introduction to Branden's understanding of self esteem. I believe that because it is quite an old book, you can find a free copy online somewhere. After that, take a look at How to Raise your Self Esteem, which has focus on how to go about boosting your opinion of yourself. Check out PsycoCybernetics too , it is a great book. (credit to Johnny Bravo for bringing it to my attention)
     
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  8. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Accountability from family and friends is great. In my experience, though, they are often unwilling (quite understandably) to provide the constant source of support that being part of a fellowship can. It helps too to connect with people who understand the same issues that you have and to be able to learn from them. For example, whenever I experience cravings to indulge in sexual fantasy or look at porn, I always send a text or make a phone call to someone in the SAA community. Reaching out like this can really kill the obsession. It is the backbone of the 12 step approach to recovery. When I have struggled in the past, it is because I have ignored warning signs, and have not reached out in response to them. Often family members are unwilling to be on the other end of the phone like that. Sometimes, it can be damaging to a relationship sharing with them honestly your experience with addiction. Before I got involved with 12 step groups, I shared with my mum the troubles I was having with this addiction, and while her response was positive at the time, I sometimes sense that she would rather that I hadn't bothered her with this knowledge. I somewhat feel that we have been less close since then. It was when I first got involved with SA, that I realised that the level of support that I was seeking could never have been provided by family and friends. I owe so much in my recovery to the fellowship. I undoubtedly would have relapsed so many times over if it wasn't for their support.

    I know that I keep banging on about it on this forum, but that is because I honestly believe that it is lifeline to many recovering addicts that have suffered so much. I've seen many recovering addicts make serious progress upon attending meetings. I would encourage you to attend a meeting soon. Often, the first meeting seems a bit alien, but persevere for a few meetings and see how you get on.
     
  9. jack91

    jack91 Find your way throuh Staff Member

    Yes support groups are the best. Some addicts there fear it labels them and thus fear to go. They should not. You never should fear your past mistakes while you try to correct them. One thing in groups that is good is that you hear how different people are and struggles they face. You dont hear it from anywhere else. And havent met a story that was "too much" for me. No matter what struggles you had its okay with me. Everyone is welcome. And second thing to mention about is the virginity, this has to be core worry within modernhikikomori'es. In my belief someone can be virgin their whole life but porn addicted recovering addicts should rewire least a bit to change brain perspective about how you wiev sex, to change brain to chase partner and know what is to be near them. And when thats done id recommend being near girls and get them to laugh or otherwise make them respect you. One interesting article i read about is american youth doesnt have sex anymore they just, regrettably i assume pmo.
     
  10. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    2 years 11 months no PMO

    This is my first post in two months. I have been meaning to update my journal earlier, but I have been extremely busy with life lately and haven't had the time. I have been busy in a good way. Some of it has been work, and I have been doing 6 day weeks in some cases, plus the odd evening shift here and there. The work though hasn't felt too demanding as I largely enjoy my jobs owing to the great people I have the good fortune to work with. I have also been doing lots of great social activities too, particularly meeting up with friends from my TM group outside the club for socials. It has been a very productive two months and I am convinced that cutting out masturbation again has given me extra energy to keep on going. Nevertheless, there is a general sense that I am trying to do too much at the moment and that something has to give eventually.

    Generally, I am feeling ok these days, though I have my moments where I feel empty and more anxious than usual. Life can be even good sometimes. It's a massive step up from where I was this time last year, when I felt that most of the time I was struggling to get through the day. Gradually, I feel as though I am getting into a place of surrender where I can accept the natural ups and downs that life entails without trying to escape from them. I hope that this provides encouragement to any recovering addict, that if they are willing to put in the work, they will see the results.

    On the whole, I have been in a place of relative stability when it comes to the addiction. I have done well to stay away from triggering material or middle circle behaviour as we call it in SAA. However, I unintentionally made a mistake by installing Tinder on my phone at the recommendation of a friend. He has had some success dating women using the app, and suggested that I should give it a go. What I hadn't expected was the level of triggering and raunchy images on there. It was simply too much for me and I couldn't handle it. Twice in the last week I found myself swiping too much. The other night, in particular I found myself seriously triggered and on the verge of acting out and tempted to look for porn. I had to delete the app. It was a shame, as Tinder actually has given me the most progress I have made with online dating so far. I actually found someone who seemed reasonably normal on there, and willing to chat. I was in such a tricky situation earlier on in the week, though, that there was no way I could carry on using it safely without risking my sobriety. On the plus side, I have saved myself a fair bit of time as the app is an inefficient way of finding someone compatible, you have to sift through a lot of profiles to find someone you are interested in, and most don't give you a lot of information to go by in their personal profiles. The lesson learned is the one that I have been reminded of time and time again, I cannot handle temptation. On the whole, though, things continue to go well on the sobriety front and I feel that I have established a greater sense of stability.

    I am still a member of Match.com, but I am going to allow my subscription to expire within the next month. There aren't many members in my area at all and I still haven't had success chatting with anybody on it yet. The best approach for me in the future will be to see if I can meet someone in a real life situation. I'm entertaining the idea of giving meet ups a go.

    The SAA group and TM are going swimmingly. They continue to provide great social opportunities outside of the meetings. I am widely considered to be one of the club veterans now at TM and am becoming a confident speaker. Most recently, the conference was held in my local city for the first in a very long time. The atmosphere was ecstatic and I left the venue feeling very inspired, excited by all the possibilities of who I could become if I stayed with TM. I have already made a great deal of progress since I started three years ago, and I wonder where I will be if I continue to practice my public speaking for as long as ten years, as some of the keynote speakers have.

    I am now taking a more passive role in my local SAA group. In a very promising development in our history, the service positions have been almost entirely filled by new blood, which means that in the first time since we started the group, I have no role to play. On the one hand, I am delighted at this because this means that the group has a future independent of specific personalities being present. On the other hand, it has actually proven to be a good growth experience, as I have felt quite uncomfortable not having any power in the baby that I helped to grow. It is good for me to let other people run with the group for my control freak tendencies! Another key change is that we have now merged with another meeting into a single group to make it easier to run. This has the added bonus of providing more candidates for service positions in the future, and allows us to pool resources to work together better. We're now like one big recovery community in the city, which is a great situation to be in given that there were no support groups for recovering sex addicts over two years ago in the area.

    There is a lot that I can write about. I have been fitting in some EFT again, tapping on limiting beliefs and emotionally difficult experiences that may be propping up low self-esteem. Again, my self esteem is a hell of a lot better than it used to be- this is largely the form that my anxiety takes, but occasionally it is to do with other areas too- but there are moments like yesterday when it continues to flare up. I went to an open day for a trainee programme that I am applying for, and the social awkwardness together with nagging doubts about my ability to do the work was somewhat of a nuisance that still can affect the quality of my life. Sometimes I wonder whether my life is as good as it is every going to get at the moment and I am being perfectionist in my thinking, but then I remind myself that I can do no harm in experimenting with different approaches to see whether they can make a further difference. I am certain that EFT helps, particularly when an emotional knot forms and I need to break an obsession in my head to move on.

    On the topic of traditional Chinese medicine, a guest speaker at another club I went as a guest to, gave a fascinating talk on how energy medicine changed his life. He was so inspired by his experience that he decided to change careers and go into it himself, where he helps clients. To the non-initiated and those not familiar with the concept, it would have seemed a bit wacky. There were parts of the talk that needed a bit more exposition, in my opinion. but it did bring out my interest in the area as well as confirm my belief that there may be something to energy medicine. In addition to EFT, I am also experimenting with some yin yoga to strengthen kidney chi. Many of my lingering symptoms like bladder problems (poor urine flow), anxiety and depression, are connected with kidney chi deficiency. This is a condition according to TCM that often arises as a result of too much sexual activity. Some have posted about it on here, and there is a sizeable thread on the Nofap forum about overcoming these symptoms from this perspective. I am approaching this viewpoint with a bit of scepticism, but again, can do harm by giving it a go.

    I'll leave it there for the time being, and will aim to post again in a months time
     
  11. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Active Member

    Hey Mate,

    Really enjoyed reading about your journey. I sounds very similar to mine (we even titled our blogs similarly) Certainly looking to Buddhism and trying to find a path to peace. I know in my experience, online dating and Tinder were a total bust. Those things allow you to get your hopes up and feed into fantasies that can ultimately be your undoing. You've also made me realize I'm on here procrastinating from something I should be doing. Hope to get to a similar place where porn is no longer part of my life. It sounds like you are doing the right thing with going out and meeting people.

    My advice would be to do things that you like and meet people through that. A buddy of mine met his beautiful wife while he was dressed as an Orc at a LARPing evening. I meet my wife at an art classes. Follow those passions with all the new drive you are getting from this sort of work. Be honest and straight forward with any potential partner. Judging from the level of self reflection in your writing, you would be an absolute catch for the right person. You have no idea how many women are crying out for men who are honest, kind and gentle.

    Keep it up and steer clear of any thumbnails. They call it 'click-bait' for a reason. Don't take the bait and fall into the trap. That's pretty much how all my major relapses happen. Your addiction never comes at you with a hammer, it comes at you with chisel, trying to chip away at your defenses.

    All the best. Be happy. :)

    PC.
     
  12. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member


    Thanks for posting, Professor Chaos, there is some golden wisdom here. I think that you are right, that it is best to meet women the old fashioned way, and once that things start to calm down a little on the career front, that is something that I will look into doing more. Thank you also for the kind words. It is always nice to have positive feedback to help combat persistent thoughts that I am not enough and I am unlovable because i have not found a partner.

    You are also right about relapses happening through the back door. It only takes one trigger situation badly handled, be it walking down a street with scantily clad women not being able to control my eyes or watching a drama with a steamy sex scene in it to cause the situation to escalate. I am fortunately at the stage of my recovery now where a relapse is very unlikely to happen in the future by running towards a porn site. Relapses happen, as I have come very close on occasion to seeing, though negligence and the addiction being sly.

    I'll post an update in the journal shortly. I have a job interview coming up, the second one within a few weeks, which is my priority at the moment, but I just wanted to respond to your message in gratitude.
     
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  13. Nuwanda

    Nuwanda Member

    Just read through the last couple entries in your journal. You are obviously a very nice and articulate guy. The love you spread here is fantastic. Keep it going man, you are doing great things here!
     
  14. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thank you for your post and the kind words, Nuwanda. A lot has happened since I last properly posted in this journal, including a tumultuous last two weeks. I will post again when I get a moment on my next days off. Its always nice to know that people are benefiting from reading your journal, so thank you for sharing :)
     
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  15. Nuwanda

    Nuwanda Member

    Hey man, dont sweat it. There forum will be here when you need it! I hope everything is fine.
     
  16. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    05/08/2019

    Time to write a long overdue post in my journal. The last two months have been very eventful. On the career front, I have had two job interviews each with a successful outcome. The first was for a job that I already do, only it is a position with a contract with guaranteed regular hours, which makes the winter period less precarious for me. The second interview was for this long awaited traineeship position that I applied for last year but narrowly missed the boat after discovering it too late.

    The combined experience was extremely taxing and it left me feeling exhausted. I had also been doing several 6 and 7 days weeks at work in the run up to the interviews. When I was given an interview at such short notice for the traineeship in Wales, I faced a lot of pressure to get everything prepared for the three day trip that it would entail for the week after. Because of the short notice of the interview, I couldn't book any time off and so had to go on my days off after completing a full week at work. The trip involved a long 9 hour journey to the destination, staying overnight with a friend, attending the interview the next day and travelling back 9 hours the next day before going straight into work again. Although the interview went well and I got offered the traineeship, I went subsequently went through an emotional crisis. Combined with the stress of having to prepare and travel to the interview off the back of an intensive period at work, I found it impossible at the time to make a decision as to whether to accept the job. I had thought that I needed some rest to gain clarity on the matter. Regardless, my health continued to suffer over the next few days, I was feeling suicidally anxious, my appetite was going and I was feeling weak all of the time. My anxiety hadn't been this bad for a very long time. Instead of simply dismissing these feelings as natural nerves that all people get when contemplating a big lifestyle change, I had started to wonder whether my mind was trying to tell me something.

    I ultimately decided to turn down the offer of a traineeship. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make as I feel it is an excellent opportunity. This needs to be put in context. It is only a temporary annual position with no guaranteed job at the end of the year.. Indeed none of last years cohort have been given the opportunity to stay on. Regardless of my feelings about moving away, the career prospects were not outstanding and it would have entailed throwing away two solid jobs in the hope that I might progress my career. When I first applied for it, there was a possibility of living with a friend from school, which would have made the idea more palatable. However he was not offered a position after completing his traineeship, and so I would have been out there alone. In combination, with the fact that there is small aging community in this place, with next to no social life, no SAA meeting and no TM meeting, it would have been extremely difficult to replace the social network I have here. However, I know that I wouldn’t have been happy being so far away from my friends and family. For many that wouldn’t be a problem, but my particular history with mental illness means that it would have been a very unpleasant if not destructive experience. I would have just been counting down the number of days for when I could go home.

    At the time, I found it unusual in that I wasn't in the least bit excited about the job. A friend of mine from the fellowship very helpfully asked me how I ‘felt’ about the situation and it occurred to me that I didn’t really want to take up the trainee position, I just feared that another opportunity wouldn’t come up. So, I decided to go with my gut feeling, however faint it was at the time. There is still a nagging doubt that it is the right decision- my mind never likes to run away from a challenge-but it is also an opportunity to practice something that I am not always good at which is listening to myself. As I have had to continually push myself out of my comfort zone in order to survive and build a life I hope for, I find that it is obstructive to think within limits. However, I am reminded in situations like these that I have a condition and that means I have to sometimes work with it. I have learned to hide it extremely well and it doesn't come out as often as it used to, but I have and continue to struggle with it. In my good moments, I can even forget what it is like. However, I feel somewhat that within the past year, I have managed to create a fragile peace within myself, and my friends (including my fellow Toasties) and family have played a big part in that.
     
  17. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    05/08/2019 continued

    Having two interview successes within a short space of time should have felt like a triumph. It resembles the most progress that I had made on the career front for a while. However the combined journey I had taken over the past few months had pushed me to my absolute limits. I was exhausted, tired and broken by the end of it. I pushed myself too far in hindsight. Severe anxiety is always a killer for my cravings to act out, and when my emotions calmed, that's when the addiction pounced.

    On the last working day before my weekend, I had strong cravings triggered by women wearing very little on an extremely hot day. These persevered into the next day. I reached out to an SAA fellow and found that it helped, as it always does, and the cravings were pushed to the background for the time being. At several points afterwards, I found myself drifting on the computer, but reigned it in. Then, when I couldn't find a book I was looking for on Amazon, I typed it in on google. For some reason an irrelevant photography website came up in the results. My addiction in the veil of curiosity, prompted me to click on the link in the hope that I might find something NSFW. Although I stayed clear of the nude section, I started browsing bikini and underwear artistic photography. At that point I entered the procrastination trance, I kept on clicking and couldn't muster the motivation to get out of my seat. I then couldn't resist the temptation to type in NSFW in on Google, which despite the use of web blockers, still yields triggering content. I looked at progressively triggering images over the space of two hours, eventually finding some nude images of women. Finally, I had a glimpse of a nipple and I ejaculated without even touching myself.

    Although I didn't give my addiction a free reign- I didn't see any full frontal nudity and look at hardcore porn or depictions of sex, I crossed the line that I set for myself and I am calling it a relapse. I have had to see it as a relapse in order to understand the gravity of the situation that I found myself in and take immediate action in order to stop myself from falling further. It has been two weeks since then and so far I have managed to isolate the relapse. It is when a situation is analysed like this that it can be seen that recovery is like a clockwork mechanism. All it takes is for a few cogs to be out of place for a relapse to happen sometimes. I have had several near misses over the past few years and was able to avoid a relapse outcome because several lines of defence were in place to stop it from happening. In this particular case, some of these were missing. I pushed myself too far for one, was lonely in the house while my parents were away on holiday, and ignored a number of other triggers too. Every so often I have found it is also necessary to reconnect with a source of motivation as to why you want to stay sober. As I have shared before, motivation is like a castle wall, and when you do battle it needs to be topped up/ repaired otherwise the enemy is going to break in. If I had just reviewed some of my recovery statements, who knows, that might have been the final 1% I could have needed to defy temptation and close the browser. So after three years and a month, I lost my sobriety. I found it very difficult at first to acknowledge that, and I had to drag my feet in order to go to an SAA meeting that evening.

    However, I have concluded so far that it is not so much the relapse itself that is destructive but my attitude towards it. Ever since I discovered Your Brain On Porn when I was at university, I became convinced that the harmful physiological effects that addiction can have on people was the reason for me struggling. I blamed the addiction for the fact that I was struggling to keep up with my work at university, I blamed it for the fact that I was socially anxious and found it difficult to make conversation with others, and I blamed it on my escalating anxiety and depression. Since then the inner hypochondriac uses Nofap motivational stories as 'proof' that my addiction means that I cannot do things in my life. That I have to be physiologically 'healed' before things can happen. With low self esteem issues at its core, my anxious mind points at a bogey man to untruthfully explain why I can't do something or I am having a difficulty and reality is not matching up to my vision of perfection. Logically, in my three years of recovery, I have had no such proof that this is the case. All the brilliant progress I have made has been because of the hard work that I have put in various areas of my life. Being free from porn only means that I am no long wasting time and that I grow as I learn to live with my emotions maturely. For this reason, I am going to focus on reading recovery stories only from SAA literature from now on, which I find are much more nuanced and overall are more insightful into the true nature of this addiction. I am still doing excellent things and that relapse hasn't stopped that. I continue to spend plenty of time with friends and family, I have been doing tours at work for the first time, which would have terrrified me to begin with. I am also fully committed to my growth as a public speaker and I am currently puting together a speech for a club contest next month. I choose to see the current situation as a brilliant opportuntiy to dispel myths, fears and limiting beliefs. I am creating a spirit of recovery that was much stronger than before, and without all of the near misses I had prior to the relapse. This is going to be a blip on an other wise outstanding period of growth in my life over the past 3 years.
     
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  18. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Active Member

    You have great courage to come on here and talk about what happened. It is both sobering and an excellent reminder to not be complacent. You sound like you have tapped into some deeper truth about yourself. Using the magical 'cure' from PMO to wish away all the harmful parts of your life. We love to wait for this idea that we will be 'ready' for the next chapter in our lives. We are never ready. Life never asks us if we ready. Life just happens. What's important how you respond to it. You have responded to this development in your life with grace, honesty and compassion. I admire how kind you are being to yourself . I identify which what you said about building up of stress then finding yourself in a procrastination trace. That's an excellent way to describe it.

    My biggest recent take-away has been that I think too much. Too much thought and too much analysis. As someone once said analysis is paralysis. By calming down my mind and not thinking so much I find that I am able to handle life head on. Hang in there brother. We are all in this together. I have the weekend to myself at the moment and I need to be mindful that I am home alone and in front of the computer. Coming on here and reading your story is inspiring and thought provoking. Thank you so much for sharing. Keep healing.

    PC.
     
  19. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thank you, Professor Chaos. At the end of the day, I can only be sober one day at a time. I have to remind myself regularly that I have an illness that will drag me down if I give it an opportunity. You are right, I did get complacent. I had far too many near misses this past year where I found myself in triggering situations. Each of these progressively inched my way towards a relapse. I failed to adhere to a working strategy that would keep my sobriety water tight. While the relapse happened because I had pushed myself too far in the short term, without a change of strategy I would have continued to run in to trouble. The truth is each one of those near misses in the past could have been a relapse situation.

    I am feeling very tired today as it has been a challenging week with public speaking opportunities. The feelings are similar to the situation I was in a few weeks ago. However, my reviewed strategy is stopping me from falling prey to powerful temptation to act out. I'm doing well so far and am at nearly three weeks since the slip.
     
  20. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    13/08/2019

    My amended strategy is as follows after my slip three weeks ago. This involves everything that I have been doing plus the following:

    Review a portion of SAA literature daily-
    I have been currently reading the success stories at the back of the Green book and this has helped renew the spirit of recovery on a daily basis.

    Always attend an SAA meeting during the week, only missing one in exceptional circumstances. It seems that whenever I have missed meetings in the past, trouble soon follows with triggering behaviour. I had missed two prior to my relapse three weeks ago.

    Make a daily call to a recovering addict , even if I only just get through to voicemail

    Always plan the next day the evening before to avoid a situation where I am drifting and wondering what to do. This is particularly important on a day off where I have lots of free time by the computer. These plans also need to be realistic with buffer time taken into account in case something unexpected happens. Realistic plans regularly fulfilled have the potential to boost my confidence, general self esteem and faith in my overall ability to manage life. All plans will finish with a daily review, allowing me to assess what has worked and what hasn't and put forward suggestions for improvement.

    On top of all of the other activities like public speaking and making the effort to see friends that push myself out of my comfort zone, make a regular commitment on my days off to develop new skills or expand on existing ones in order to boost self esteem. I will also keep up a regular reading habit as this makes me feel empowered. I will also participate for the first time in the TM club contest mid September which would mark a powerful milestone in my public speaking journey, communicating to my psyche the extent of my abilities as a public speaker.

    Keep up my new exercise routine in the mornings. For the last three weeks I have been getting up at 6.30 which allows just enough time to fit in a warm up yin yoga routine followed by a series of strength building exercises recommended by a physiotherapist. Over the years, I have found that the only way I can reliably keep an exercise going is by doing it early in the morning when my willpower is at its strongest. I have been feeling great so far, and the earlier start hasn't had a major limiting impact on my energy levels as I feared it would.

    Be extremely careful of visual triggers. One aspect of my strategy prior to relapse that wasn't working so well were my attempts to keep my eyes off women in the streets. Traditionally my strategy involved saying a prayer to my higher power, 'eye bouncing away' from the trigger, anchoring my awareness in my feet and reaching out to an SAA fellow. Surely, they all help, but I found my ability to keep my eyes off women at times was at best shaky. Sometimes I would find myself in a tug of war, wrestling with cravings to objectify women. Occasionally, this would also be the case with advertisements. However, I have got one technique that has been working really well which I call 'the running commentary'. It essentially involves described verbally in my head (non-sexual) scenes that are happening in my environment, eg. a crow flying to land on a lawn or a red mini driving down the road. The description seems to occupy my attention long enough for the trigger in question to pass. Naturally, the goal should be to avoid as many trigger situations as possible, but when I have got to get to work, this is not always possible. If I can, I will also take a less busier route when I am walking in the city.

    To add to that, is the importance of avoiding triggering scenes in TV dramas, documentaries and films. When I have been exposed to them, particularly if my motivations for watching them were mixed in the first place, my mind can obsess about them for hours afterwards. This can lead me into deep water with my addiction to porn. I can't always avoid these triggers, but what I must avoid is the addiction wanting to look at these scenes as substitute for porn. Because it is not obvious acting out behaviour, I have been blind to it in the past. To maintain awareness of the temptation that these programmes may have on me, I remind myself of its danger through a daily prayer to a higher power in my list of behaviours that I surrender to it. There has been a lot of triggering documentaries on British TV lately in relation to the sex and porn industry, so being mindful of this behaviour couldn't be more crucial.

    All of this unfortunately involves a strict observance of physical and mental celibacy. There is a credible danger of me becoming a sexual anorexic, if indeed I am not one already. As I have shared before in my journal, I don't think celibacy is a healthy long term solution, particularly for a young man such as myself. That's where the need to find a real life partner comes in, which so far seems to be easily said than done.

    Overall, I feel that I am on the right path to safeguarding my recovery for now. I'm going away for a few days on holiday next week which will be a much welcome and needed rest. The last time I went away was January so it has been a while. Life has been full on since.



     
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