My journey in finding self-acceptance and inner peace

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

  1. 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.
    Merton and Professor Chaos like this.
  2. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Well-Known 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.

  3. 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.
  4. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member


    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.

    Thelongwayhome27 and Merton like this.
  5. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member


    Just a quick update regarding what has been happening lately. This time there is not a great deal to add as I have posted a few times earlier in the month going into the key issues that have been on my mind. I have had a sober month, and it has been good quality sobriety too. I have managed to stay clear from triggering material in TV programmes and films and have kept a tight reign on what my eyes get up to when I am in the city. The 'running commentary' method in particular is working a treat. The one exception to that was when I was on holiday earlier on in the week. On one particular day, when we decided to go to the swimming pool, I was surrounded by women in swimwear, some of it was very skimpy. I exercised the 3 second rule, not allowing my eyes to linger but when you are in a situation like that, your eyes will automatically find a target, you have to work hard on shifting them away. I found my eyes returning to women several times, but by and large the three second rule was observed and I have to remember the difficulty of being in those circumstances in the first place to know that I did well. The cravings to masturbate to porn have been biting the last few days. With my revised strategy, I am currently staying strong, but I always have to remember that I can only stay sober a day at a time.

    I have had a fantastic holiday away for a few days in another city with my mum. It was much needed and I am feeling reasonably well rested. I have got a few more days off before I am back to work next week, which I am using to get back into the swing of my routine while continuing to take it easy. The city I visited was stunning and one of the benefits of the holiday was being able to spend some good quality time with my mum. As I have shared before in this journal, I have had some resentments towards my parents which occasionally surface in my mind. While I understand how they came to be, I have felt that I am unjustified in possessing them and have wanted to release them. I think they have derived from the fear of being unlovable. At home, we don't tend to spend that much time together as a family like we used to when I was growing up. I feel that relationship that the relationship with my mum is significantly closer as a result of the time we spent together. I wonder whether the resentments were merely the product of not spending much time with my parents in recent years. We tend to lead separate lives at home, although I occasionally get a chat in. My social life generally is in good condition, but I think that family life is something that I could work on more, and notably, its a factor the effects of which I have underestimated on my well being.

    I started this week feeling socially anxious about spending time with mum on the first day of the holiday. One thing I felt helped enormously was me sharing with her these feelings honestly, and my belief that it was the fear of rejection not being lovable behind them. For the subsequent days, my anxiety around her was virtually non-existent and I could enjoy the holiday.

    I have had persistent insecurities regarding my career situation and whether or not I will meet someone, particularly in the aftermath of not deciding to take that job in Wales. I am working on practising the art of surrender. To some extent I can do my bit to make these things happen but I am also not in control of the opportunities that may come my way. I am certainly no less of a person for the situation that I am currently in. My sense of worth, love and value as a human being is independent of any material factors in my life.

    I am probably not going to post another update until the end of September so that I can stay focused on other things. I have a busy month ahead including a speech competition that I will be competing in. Until then I wish everyone a peaceful and sober month. :)
  6. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Have a great and sober September Freedom !

    Autumn is a beautiful season. Let's both work hard and remember to look at the colors :)
  7. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Hey freedom. I just finished reading your journal, through initial problems to your massive current recovery. Since I have spent several days now with your writing, I now feel like you are a character in some great novel and would like to give back to you for all the help you have given me. I guess this is impossible, and the most I can do is to write you this note.

    I have struggled recently with being part of an SAA group because of the large number of religious people involved and the fact that the discussion can so often focus on related topics that I cannot relate to. From the suggestion of other forum members I checked out your journal to get some help in this area. I am inspired to give it a more serious effort to be an active member of the group (get a sponsor, etc.) Thanks for that. I hope you continue to do well.
  8. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Hi Merton,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post here. It means a lot to me. I am glad that you have taken something away from reading my journal.

    I think 12 step meetings can vary as it depends on the mixture of personalities and backgrounds that make up a meeting. However, an SAA meeting true to form is always inclusive and friendly. Everybody in the room is equal -it doesn't matter what your background is. At my local meeting, we are very much a broad church with our own concepts of a higher power. You don't have to be religious to work the steps. Our differing backgrounds does not affect our view towards each other, fellowship and support are open to all. I am not particularly religious myself. I am still very much on the fence when it comes to God. However, I do find praying to something helpful (I'm not sure what my higher power is!) . I have no doubt that I would never have been able to get some serious recovery behind me if it wasn't for the love and support of the fellowship. I am particularly reminded of that today when the cravings have been persistently strong to act out. You have to be committed to working the programme if you want to get the results, and yes that does involve getting a sponsor. I can honestly say that the only people I have seen to the meetings that have not made progress is because part of them is holding back from working the programme.

    Give it a fair trial to see if the meetings are right for you. Usually I recommend attending at least 6 meetings.

    People talk about the 12 steps being religious but its key concepts are perfectly rational and are grounded in modern psychology. That's why it is pretty common for sex therapists to recommend their clients to go to meetings.

    I would be interested to know how you get on. Keep in touch :)
    Merton and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  9. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member


    It has been a sober month, and over two since I had the slip. I feel that I am now well and truly back on the wagon. It has been good solid sobriety too. I have been very strict with myself in avoiding any TV programmes and films that might contain sexually triggering content, which has undoubtedly helped. I have also decided that online dating is too risky for me even if I stick to the classic dating sites like While I don't intentionally go on them to get a hit, I always find that I cannot guarantee my addiction not turning it into a trigger situation. My addiction like a shadow is always with me wherever I go looking for opportunities to act out. It is all too easy to slip intro a trance and objectify women's profile pictures. I have therefore decided for sure this time that I am going to allow my subscription to run out and find a way to meet women in real life. It is not as though I have made any serious progress with it after all. My time hasn't been entirely wasted with it. If anything, it was an exercise in going beyond my comfort zone, doing something that I was frightened of, and that could only be a good thing.

    It was a post on that reinforced my doubts about the potentially unhelpful effect this can have on my addiction. Ironically, as I was trying to get more guidance from recovery community online on the issue, I found myself in a tricky situation. When I typed in on google, I clicked on a website that had its description as a Nofap thread. It actually turned out to be an adult dating website. As I attempted to close the window from the 'warning this site is for adults only screen' in panic, a hardcore porn GIF appeared on the screen with some text asking me whether I really wanted to close it. I practised the 3 second rule, looked away and closed the window. Needless to say, it was a triggering experience as it was the most explicit material I have seen for about 3 and a half years. I coped with the circumstances the best I could. I didn't go looking for it so I haven't crossed any boundaries as far as I have concerned. It wasn't my fault.

    September was a very intensive month at work when I was doing a string of 6 and 7 day weeks. This wasn't good for my recovery, but I didn't have much of a choice., as a colleague left in the season a few months ago. I found the imbalance in my life triggering and would usually encounter strong cravings to act out when I eventually would have a day off. I kept working my programme, though, and that I managed to make it though to the other side sober is a testimony to its power. Over this time, I noticed an improvement on the anxiety front. Firstly, working at a busy event has always been a cause for anxiety, but it was significantly reduced this year compared to the last two years. I have also found in the past that working 6 day weeks tough, but in both cases I was able to reach a place of resignation where I had given up trying to control so many factors. It has been the closest place I have managed to get to in practising surrender.

    I've been busy with public speaking. A few weeks a go I entered my first ever TM contests and was awarded 2nd place at both. It was a major milestone in my speaking journey. A few months I was asked to speak at the opening of a new club, which I am due to do next week. That I am even contemplating this is a sign of how far I have come. However, I would like to work on relaxing a bit more in preparing for a speech. The process of putting together and performing a speech is an incredibly intensive experience owing to my perfectionism. Coming 2nd place in the contests was a good outcome in that respect, because, it helps me to realise that no matter how hard I try, I cannot control the audience's opinion of me. I think it will come with a bit of practice.
    -Luke- likes this.
  10. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    A theme that I have been revisiting lately is my sexual anorexia. Any form of sexual expression and indulgence is an anxiety inducing experience for me. This is because over years of addiction I have learnt to associate my sexuality with fear and pain. In recovery, the prevailing question has been, in the absence of a relationship, it is possible to give expression to my sexuality in a way that doesn't reinforce my addiction? At the beginning of the year, I experimented with getting in contact with my sexuality again after a strict period of abstinence. As noted in my journal, I practised mindful masturbation and sexual transmutation meditation. I put a stop to both not long afterwards as I found myself in more triggering situations and feared that I would later on relapse. I felt that there was something to the concept of sexual transmutation as I have noticed that I am a lot more productive when I haven't had an orgasm in a while. For the sake of my sobriety for the time being, I concluded that I would just have to accept that I would naturally channel my sexual energies into other purposes without the need for meditation that would require me to emotionally touch my sexual feelings.

    While it was understandable why I felt this at the time, I ended up avoiding the issue of sexual anorexia, kicking the ball down to unknown later time where I would have to confront the issue in a real relationship. The problem is for those of us who are long term single is that we end up starving ourselves completely sexually in order to stay sober. You either risk sexual over indulgence by masturbating and looking at triggering images, or you follow a strict regime to keep on top of triggers in order to stay sober, repressing sexuality in the process. One inescapable notion that I haven't been able to put to rest, is that sex is a biological need that needs to be acknowledged in some way for our health. To date, I just haven't found a way to find a way of doing this that works for me in recovery. Whenever I touch my sexual feelings,I encounter a wall of anxiety. I built that wall to provide protection, but sexual feelings have a legitimate right to exist, it is the expression of them that is at fault.

    So I am starting to wonder whether I can be more comfortable with my sexuality by practising sexual transmutation meditation and also spending more time naked. Looking back at the beginning of the year, I don't think it was the meditation that was leading me to a relapse situation, but the masturbation and the fact that many of the websites I was doing my research on had non-pornographic triggering images on them. Another potential benefit is that is commonly believed that you can reap the full benefits of sexual transmuting only through meditation and energy work. Simply having the intention of channelling sexual energy into a productive outcome and bringing love into the universe, doesn't feel enough, you need to come in contact with those sexual feelings. I wonder if I sit with those feelings long enough that I can teach myself how to relax with them. As well as assisting personal productivity, it may also integrate my repressed sexual feelings into my mind and help me to feel more balanced. I have been feeling pretty good over the past few days as a result of these changes. I have also noticed that cravings to act out have significantly diminished. I will report back here my long term observations.

    The worry I still have is that, because I have been unable to rewire to real women, that any attempt to give my sexuality expression risks reinforcing the addictive pathways in the brain. I don't know enough about brain science to be able to answer that question. Alternatively, in doing these exercises that stay away well away from artificial sexual imagery, I may find that I will be rewiring the brain in a healthy way. If anyone has any theories regarding my question, I am all ears.
  11. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    I've come to the same conclusion about online dating recently. Even though I denied it at the beginning, I found myself using the website more and more in a similar way as porn websites (with porn websites I don't necessarily mean hardcore porn, but websites to satisfy the addictive part of my brain). Clicking from profile to profile, multiple tabs open, sometimes fantasizing a bit. I'm sure that contributed to my last relapse. So like you, I stopped using it.

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your journal entries. A lot of good thoughts that I couldn't express nearly as well.
  12. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks for commenting, Luke. I was always mindful of when the addictive side of the brain would come out of its box on and would generally make sure to keep it in check. All it takes for a particular vulnerable moment in any of the trigger situations like Hungry,Angry, Lonely and Tired for it to be gateway to accessing more triggering material. I just don't want to take that risk. I'm quite dissapointed at how I wasn't really able to get anywhere with online dating, as I feel that I have a lot to offer as a person, but from what I gather I am far from alone. Few women were interesting in chatting,and the one time that I did manage to get someone to reply to my messages, the conversation was a bit one sided and stopped randomly when I didn't get a reply to my post. To be fair, there weren't that many profiles on Match and I suspect the website is losing out to the free apps like Tinder and Bumble. The latter two, especially with their focus on swiping, is far too triggering for me. I had hoped that there would be more people like myself who were seriously interested in finding a relationship on Match.

    I do worry about my generation. It is easy to romanticise 'the good old days', but I am convinced that there were more opportunities to meet people before our technology saturated age. You used to be able to have conversations on public transport for example, now a lot of people have got their heads stuck in their smartphones, and don't express much of an interest in the people around them. Many are looking for love and sex on apps like Tinder instead of meeting people in the real world. Relationships are becoming less personal. Is it any wonder why there are more single people than ever before? Maybe this is just an exaggeration born from my anxiety that I may never find someone. However, I do envy the simplicity of human relationships in my grandparents generation.

    Thank you for the kind words
  13. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    I know what you mean. On the site I used you have three options to get in touch. First, you can write a message, second, you can click a Like-Button and third, you can play a little game, where five pairs of pictures are shown to both sides and you are supposed to click on the picture you like better. That apparently is considered a way to tell how good two people “match”. Options 2 and 3 are really superficial and trivial, but around 90% of the women chose one of these two options (I suppose it’s the same or even worse with men). Very few make an effort to write a message, even if it’s just a short one.

    I hope that you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for.
  14. Lakaf

    Lakaf Active Member

  15. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Hi Lakaf, My sobriety is more complex than as indicated in the counter. I am about 3.5 years free of hardcore porn. Until about 3 months ago I was free from all kinds of porn, but slipped when peeking at topless and nude imagery. To make it clear, that was 3 months ago when I had my slip. I now feel that I am firmly back on the wagon. I haven't figured out how to delete my counter yet and I try to limit the amount of time I spend on this forum for reasons I have already stated in this journal.

    To answer your question, you have to keep renewing your motivation on a regular basis. For me, I have to do it everyday by reading recovery stories and by staying in contact with members of SAA-a 12 step fellowship for sex addicts. When I feel tempted to act out, I text one of my SAA friends. If the cravings are really strong, then I have to make sure to call someone. Occasionally, I also look at my recovery statements, which are a series of points that I have written down reminding me why I have chosen to remain free from porn. When I have these deeper motivational sessions, I combine them with a recovery story or two along with a motivational video on Youtube. I really like the Rise and Shine running video in particular, it gets me in the mood every time. I hope that this helps.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  16. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member


    It has been another sober month. The sexual transmutation meditation experiment didn't last for more more than two weeks. While I felt that embracing my sexuality was a step forward, I found practising the microcosmic orbit meditation just made me feel more anxious than usual. I also felt that I had trapped energy in my chest and head. In the Taoist tradition, it actually is a highly complex practice and people have been known to hurt themselves when they are not ready for it or have not received proper instruction from a teacher.

    I decided to put on hold the naked yoga too as I found that I was getting in to middle circle behaviour and didn't want to do anything to exacerbate the situation. Instead, I have decided to start taking up Qigong. Since the beginning of last month, I have been attending classes in my nearest city. As I have shared before, I definitely think that there is something to energy healing. I am hoping that Qigong in the long run will help me channel my sexual energy, possibly paving the way for more advanced practices like the microcosmic orbit. Also ,clear out blockages and in doing so may or not help with my anxiety and depression. For the time being, I am noticing that its making me feel very relaxed within myself. It has allowed me to release pockets of tension in the body in a way that no other practice has allowed me to do before.

    One unexpected consequence of practising daily Qigong is that I have noticed my sexual energy going through the roof. It has been quite problematic at times, as I have been very sensitive to triggers. Due to me attending meetings and an evening shift this week, I have had to walk past a strip of night clubs in order to get to the train station. The revealing and provocative outfits that women wear can drive me mad. The worst was one woman who wore a very skimpy playboy bunny outfit as she revealed her curvy figure walking down the road on Halloween night. I suspect that she was probably a worker from one of the clubs. The image has stuck in my head for days afterwards and was a cause for insomnia that night. In general, thoughts of porn flashbacks and sexual fantasy have been very intrusive lately. There was once a time I used to criticise myself for having them, but I now know that I am powerless over these thoughts and I can't stop them from entering my head. The only power I have is not to feed them and act on them. When there is an appropriate moment, I might speak to my Qigong teacher about sexuality, but it feels too early in our relationship to bring up such a tricky topic.

    One thing is for sure, the combination of anything sexual with the computer is a toxic one for me. In order to learn more about Qigong and sexuality to help my current situation, I consulted the internet but quickly found that this gave me an addictive buzz that saw me wasting a few hours last week. Simply the talk about sex was enough. It is simply too risky, especially when there can be triggering images involved. For the future, I have to be just as strict with how I am using the computer when I first set out on my journey.

    On another topic, public speaking is going well. Shortly after making my last post, I was invited as a key note speaker to the first meeting of a new club that is forming in another town. I was very nervous performing it to begin with, but was able to relax a bit more as I gathered momentum. The speech went down extremely well and it was a great confidence booster.

    While I am good at pushing myself out of my comfort zone in some ways, in others I stagnate, and this perhaps contributes to why I continue to have low self confidence. One thing that I have found more stressful than expected was becoming a first time driver. I now have a car and have been going out for practice sessions with a family member. I am making progress, but I find myself being sensitive to the slightest criticism. After one session, I had despairing levels of anxiety after experiencing a tirade of criticism from him. It represents how much my self esteem depends on validation from other people.I can spend so much time trying to control what other people think of me or fearing it, that I am convinced that this is predominant theme behind my anxiety. While my self-help toolkit has helped me to feel more relaxed and has boosted my confidence, the cycle of approval is one fundamentally that I find difficult to escape from. I have recently had technical problems with the car, which was a further cause of stress as I wasn't expecting to so early into my ownership of it. Actually, it has reminded me that being a car owner brings a lot of responsibility and my perfectionism has made it seem overwhelming. However, by pushing through the anxiety and gradually taking steps to deal with the situation, I went some way to alleviate it.

    Learning things around other people is definitely a trigger of anxiety for me. It probably goes all the way back to primary school when I feared being branded as stupid from my teachers and fellow students. To tackle this, I am making a renewed effort to spend more of my spare time engaging in productive activities that I know boost confidence, and could also potentially build faith in my ability to learn new things. I am cutting down the amount of TV I watch, and curbing procrastination even more. One trick that has helped has been to stop eating in front of the computer. Another is that I have to have my spare time planned out, especially if there are multiple jobs that I want to work on. I read a post from the semen retention reddit thread that stated that you have to produce more than you consume if you want to make a success of this lifestyle, and I think that's bang on. I notice that I am much more fulfilled if I feel that I have worked for it. When I did a double shift on Saturday at work, I felt peaceful, which is one of the numerous reminders that I have that contentment doesn't equate to doing nothing.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  17. stillinflatline97

    stillinflatline97 New Member

    Hey Servitude, i came across your story. Its great you have been clean for so long and are doing things to keep improving! I myself am somehow stuck in flatline/withdrawal. In the last 2.5 years i have relapsed a handfull of times and had a bit of sex but had many 5 month hardmode streaks. I have some questions for you if you don't mind!
    - Did you/do you experience lack of emotions? Numbness, depression social anxiety and so on?
    - Do you feel like life was somehow better before your addiction?
    - Did you notice benefits in the initial stage of Nofap?
    - Do you sometimes get "windows" of good days where you feel benefits? Maybe just a good day once in a while?

    Im trying to find out if we are in the same boat. Since this flatline i have felt so bad, insane social anxiety and no emotions or energy to connect with other beings. Since my life was somehow better before my addiction and i felt really good benefits in the initial stage before the flatline hit, i have hope on recovering as i have read several 2.5-3 year flatline stories where people start getting good days and snapping out of it.
  18. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Hi Stillinflatline, thanks for your post. I have been meaning to write an update in this journal for a while in which I have planned to shed some light on the questions you have asked me, but I will answer them now. Life has been full on for the past few months.

    Before I do, I want to point out that your addiction recovery journey in specific relation to abstinence is quite different to mine. My recovery is complex. For about three years, I was abstaining from porn hardmode (no MO as well as no sex). At the beginning of the last year, for reasons given earlier in my journal, I became open to the idea that complete sexual abstinence might have been creating me problems so I decided cautiously to engage in a mindful masturbation practice. I did this on and off roughly at the rate of once every few months for the duration of 2019. In the first half of the year, I felt that I opened up a can of worms and the ambivalence I felt about what was healthy sexual behaviour for me and what wasn't combined with complacency resulted in me in engaging in progressively triggering behaviour. By triggering, I mean being careless with sexually charged media like celebrity pics on newspaper outlets, sex scenes in films and reading sexual health related articles online. This would only happen on occasion but I had to hold myself back several times over that period to stop myself relapsing altogether. In July, last year, i went through a very stressful episode and had a slip when I peeked at some nude softcore images. I didn't see any full frontal nudity, but I had finally crossed the line I had set for myself. I counted it as a relapse to stop myself from falling further. It worked and in the six months since I have managed to contain that lone slip and currently my recovery is in a strong place again. The key point is that in over three and a half years I have not touched hardcore porn or given myself a free reign to fully engage myself with artificial sexual content.

    If we accept that the addiction might be behind your symptoms then relapsing every 5 months or so will have definitely held you back. However, I am not sure whether I really believe in this narrative based on my experience, so lets not make much of a point of it. I am not sure that the flatline even exists. Yes, I do suffer of both generalised anxiety disorder,social anxiety disorder and depression, but I have no evidence that this is directly the result of addiction. These are all separate issues in themselves and are common for addicts of all kinds to experience in recovery. For some, they go way back and we resorted to sex to escape from these emotions.

    To be honest, I can't really remember what life was like before my addiction because i was 14 when I think it started, and I am now 27. It was a long time ago, and my life was very different then. In many ways, I live a much more fulfilling life now, its just back then many of the mental health issues that I am coping with now hadn't developed.

    Whenever I am abstinent from masturbation for a few months, like when I am now, I notice a boost in energy and concentration, I also feel a little more confident and more interested in people. However, this in no way makes my mental health issues go away. The truth is that there are no easy fixes. All the progress I have made has been from trying various self help techniques, attending therapy and making the effort to know myself. I also push myself out of my comfort zone regularly. If anxiety is a spectrum, then I have been able to make its intensity weaker by trying the things I have described in my journal, but it hasn't cured me of the condition. I don't expect to be cured. However, a realistic expectation I have is that I can carry on making discoveries that will reduce its intensity and make me more happy, Abstaining from masturbation just makes it easier for me to do this.

    For me good days and bad days are all part of the natural ebb and flow of life. Sometimes this difference is made more intense my a mental health condition, but its not something that we can escape from altogether.

    I have had two experiences that stop me from dismissing the idea all together that my brain continues to heal from the 'damage' caused by years of acting out. One is whenever I orgasm from MO, it feels empty and there is no significant pleasure in it. I also feel seriously depleted after climaxing. For most men, some energetic loss is natural, but I can be really affected by it. Another thing is that my mental health has taken a turn for the worst over the past few months and I can't satisfactorily put my finger on why. The sexual anorexic in me wants to blame it on MO, but I have no clear evidence to show that this is the case. I am back on hard mode because I feel that it gives me more stability, but whether I have yet to establish whether this is a placebo or a genuine phenomena I am experiencing.

    I hope that this helps :)
    jack91, -Luke- and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  19. stillinflatline97

    stillinflatline97 New Member

    Thank you for your reply! I guess the questions i really would like you to answer is that if you got any benefits before the flatline hit? I saw your journal you felt better after 3 weeks and felt more confident, which is very typical before post acute withdrawal set in after about 30 days. Im not saying you are not right, im just saying that i have never seen a guy do hard mode for 3.5 years without benefits from semen retention and staying off porn. But again it would probably be too long for it to be flatline/PAWS. Anyways, the numbness of emotions, unable to laugh/cry, fall in love, whatever. Do you experience that?
    I guess its a fear of mine that im in the same category as you because i remember i had depression episodes as a child and was very shy. However i could feel emotions, i was good at making friends, i could fall in love, and life was more rewarding than what i currently go through. I have learned so much from this addiction and recovery that if i could just get the brain i had when i was young, i could control it now and make it a great life.
  20. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Good to hear from you, FFS. And thanks for your update.

    I like stories like yours the most (I’m not sure if regard your own story as a success story – for me it is). It’s down to earth, realistic and thoughtful. Not like the “I didn’t fap for 2 days and now I’m a super hero” stories you’ll see at reddit/nofap.

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