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.