Neurons that fire together wire together

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Newnes

    Newnes Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RAIN is a simple mindfulness-based method to deal with anxiety, difficult emotions and cravings when they arise

    http://www.mindful.org/tara-brach-rain-mindfulness-practice/
     
  2. onesea

    onesea Active Member

    Thanks. I practice some mindfulness but have not seen that. Very helpful.
     
  3. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thanks for your support, guys.

    So it's 123 days since I last looked at porn, and here's the ABC of my progress so far. . .

    Gym rats may snicker, but I'm up to 17 push-ups and I've been working on my arms using 10 lbs weights - and looking around for the next step upwards. I really should start going to the gym, but. . . I'm still a bit scared, to be honest. I'm trying to build up a bit of stamina first, so it doesn't feel too much like my first day at school. At least I'm exercising while I'm procrastinating. . .

    I am on an upwards emotional cycle with this (limited) exercise and my posture improvement - each help the other - and I want it to continue.

    Exercise and diet (as in improved eating, not weight loss) are my next plan of attack. Getting in shape is basically a way of managing my emotions. The good habits I've built into my life have given me a level of control over my emotions I'd never have thought possible, and has lifted my spirits in a way I'd not have believed unless I'd tried it for myself. I want to continue with this.

    I think the mistake most people make here - myself included for the longest time - is to over intellectualize the process of porn addiction. Actually, I think we talk about brain chemistry as a way of avoiding talking about emotions. (Writes the guy who named his journal after neural wiring. . .)

    As much as you intellectually want to stop watching porn, there is an emotional side of your brain that wants a quick fix. So you have to bring your fear under control and boost your self-esteem.

    My aim, then, is to exercise to the point where I feel good about my body, and to cut processed sugar out of my diet so that I don't have surging emotional highs and lows.

    And if you think quitting porn is tough, try saying no to a pile of cookies!
     
  4. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    So I'm at 139 days, and up to 23 pushups.

    I'm still working at improving my overall health, including healthier eating, exercise, self-esteem-building and meditation.

    Things have been crazy busy at home and work and I've not had chance to stop and think - my wife had surgery and, although she could get to and from the bathroom, was essentially bed-ridden the first few days. I was giving her pain meds every four hours through the night, and missed a whole lot of sleep. The children were stressed, and the way they showed that was getting very needy - and fighting. I was running between her and them, and did not have time to think about porn, or no porn, or YBR. Right now I'm getting up at 5:30am to get things sorted for the day, running to work, and coming home to cook, clean and do family activities, and fall in bed for 10pm. However, I am getting better sleep because she's tapering her meds.

    Is it a problem? Not at all. There is nothing like throwing yourself into full-time activities to take your mind off things. I had one porn thought throughout - that it would be OK to look at pics of exhibitionists, because that's just nudity not porn. It is porn, because I view it as porn. I've relapsed enough times over the years to know where that's going to lead. . . I was tired at that point, crashed out on a couch trying to read, and I think a part of my brain saw the whole porn thing as a way of getting a jolt of energy. It was more like a bum begging for change than a real strong craving.

    This has been a very stressful time for me, and I am incredibly grateful for the support of this community over the previous months - people have been carrying me for months, and, because of them, I've been able to help my wife. I feel like I've passed a test, having got through my first extended time of stress.

    I've been taking protein supplements every morning with my breakfast, and later in the day eating protein-rich foods - boiled eggs, beans on toast, etc - and I can feel muscle gain. You'd not look at me and think strongman, but these are the first steps. Next up is hand weights and my first gym visit.

    My fitness aims are 50 pushups and to have a noticeable better physique by November. That's three months.

    Working on my health, happiness and self-esteem are ways of stopping myself drifting back into porn.
     
  5. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Sweet update, getting stronger day by day!
     
  6. As a long time gym rat I can tell you that if you go to a normal health club type of gym, there are all kinds of members - from jacked steroid cases to little old ladies in walkers, and everything in between. People are generally very respectful of each other regardless of their level. And if you feel clueless about how to get started with a program or how to use equipment, perform exercises correctly or whatever, there's usually some sort of orientation package with a personal trainer available. Many resources online too. Go for it.
     
  7. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    Amen brother. Life is much better for me when I'm working on these and avoiding PMO.
     
  8. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thank you for your support - you guys are carrying me through this.

    Last night was a low – the thought of relapsing seemed sweeter than ever. I did not relapse. I was able to observe myself through the whole process – I’ve come far enough that I’m able to look on things with detachment.

    Not to whine, but my wife has had surgery and she’s bored and in pain, the children are playing me up (they are stressed about the whole thing), I’m not getting much sleep, I’m running the house and working fulltime. My wife is a great person, but she’s one of those Type A my-way-or-the-wrong-way people – our marriage works because we are quite different, but when we fight we each think the other is a weirdo. (Me: What are you stressing about now? Her: If you were more organized you wouldn’t keep losing all your stuff.) The wife accused me of not coping on Saturday, saying I was struggling to do what she did all the time – which isn’t true. It got to me. I might be feckless and lazy, but I’m a survivor. Anyway, I let myself get this seed of anger inside me.

    I was meditating last night while she was up late watching TV – I can’t go to be before her when she needs help into bed and with painkillers, and it bugs me that she goes to bed late on a Sunday night when I have work the next day. I was meditating and the urge to relapse popped into my head. I sat and thought about relapsing, and that, while it would be like a return to old friends, it would also pull me back into the abyss.

    Slept through the alarm this morning and no time for pushups.

    I can see things from her side – it’s a dismal life, too sick to leave the house, just waiting for your next meal. If there is a decent drama on TV that will take your mind off things, I’d want to watch it, too.

    I’d rather be me, running round like crazy, than her, with the choice of lying in bed or being propped up on the couch.

    It won't last forever, and it's been quite a worthwhile process – I’m learning more about myself. When I get tired I get down. My posture starts to revert to my old round-shouldered self. When I see reflections of myself I see worry in my eyes. Exercise is pretty much impossible. I’m more irritable. Actually, downright angry. I eat badly – I need sugar to get through the afternoon.

    Tiredness is the mind-killer. (HALT – hungry, angry, lonely, tired.)
     
  9. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    Hang in there brother. So proud you were able to avoid a relapse considering what is going on right now. Best of luck.
     
  10. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thank you, WRAT, I did hang on - and what a roller coaster week it's been. I worked through the lows and now I feel better about myself than I have in decades.

    You get the strongest urges to relapse right before making a transformation - the inner addict's last grasp.

    Right after posting I got eaten alive by mosquitoes while doing yard work, and came up in hives over both legs, one arm and one hand. Itched like crazy for a couple of days. The antihistamines made me feel tired and unfocused, but I worked hard on not feeling sorry for myself. That just breeds anger.

    Later in the week I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and made a speech to 200 people. I was representing work, so I had to be professional.

    Before I went on, I practiced 'power poses' - don't laugh, they made all the difference:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc

    (This is a must-see presentation. It's up there with 25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence linked in my sig. Changing your posture changes your thinking - fake it till you become it!)

    That's the theory, this it the same thinking shot in a gym to be more hands-on way of just improving your posture:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLrYIC0pV7c

    I did my power pose while I was waiting - which was basically standing tall with my hands on my hips - and walked up onto the stage, shoulders back and chest out. I was handed the mike and my throat closed - I wasn't sure that sound would come out of my mouth. I put my shoulders back and introduced myself. . . and heard myself talking. It wasn't a great speech, but I was not hiding at the side of the stage or looking at my feet. I moved around, I made eye contact, I spoke without repetition or mumbling or fumbling. Next one will be better. But this was a first step to a new me. I spoke in public, I later introduced myself to people and shook hands and did all that. (The next step will be more of a social gathering, which is harder because it's more about you; there isn't work to hide behind.)

    I'm building my confidence, my self-respect and my general level of happiness. These are all just skills - things you have to learn. There's no magic, it's just about putting The Slight Edge to work for you.
     
  11. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    That's f'ing awesome, I can't wait until you hit 6 months and 1 year totally sober, you're going to be unstoppable! I'm aiming to get to that place with you, bud.
     
  12. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    40New30 - you were there for me from the start, and you are still motivating me. When things get bad, the realization of the community here, and our accountability to each other is what carries me through.

    I feel like I'm going through some sort of pain barrier at the moment. All of a sudden I'm having urges to relapse. It’s weird how every evening I’ll start to think of a random YouTube video – which I couldn’t be bothered to watch last time I actually was relapsing. The thought comes with two whopping great lies: this video will make me happy, and that it’s not a relapse unless it’s hardcore.

    It’s not obsessive, it’s not the same video every time, but it’s a pattern all the same. Now, I like simple answers to complicated questions, so I’m going to put it down to tiredness.

    I need more sleep than I’m able to get right now, following my wife’s surgery – she goes to bed late and wakes me up through the night. Also, she’s in pain, and she’s not comfortable, and she’s bored – so she can be quite negative. I’ll come back with groceries and she’ll give me a ticking off that I got the wrong thing, or how I could have saved money going somewhere else. Earlier in the week she had an email chick fight with a relation who had been criticizing her, and demanded to know why I’d been in email contact with this woman, because congratulating her on the birth of her child in this way was siding with the wrong person. I had to tell the wife that she actually had been having the most recent contact (the bitch-fest emails were contact), that no-one could not tell me who I was and was not allowed to communicate with and that, ultimately, I can’t take sides because I think both of you are wrong.

    Went down like a lead balloon, of course, but at least she shut up making out I was weak for refusing to do her bidding.

    Every evening this week when I’ve escaped down into the basement to meditate one of the children has come down to interrupt me. She wants the windows shut, or some task done, or they have a question that they all knew the answer to. They think I’m having a ball without them and get jealous – they don’t realize that right now meditating is the only thing holding my life together.

    My wife is not a bad person, and I’m trying not to get angry – anger just breeds unhappiness. It leads to relapse. But when I get tired like this, I’m more prone to anger. And then I’ve got two of the main causes of relapse right there in front of me – always remember HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

    Having said that, I’m grateful for where I am right now in my reboot that I have the resources to be there for my wife and children. God knows I’ve been a zombie or rage-filled monster for years, so I have some making up to do.

    At the same time, I’ve learned not to be complacent. Saturday night I clicked on a news story illustrated with a nude. (I didn’t realize it was a paid external link.) On my way to close the screen I realized that she was actually ‘wearing’ her hair and some strategically placed flowers. I figured I’d be OK with that. I was wrong. Chemicals started fizzing in my brain. I closed the page, with no urge to relapse. It was a trigger averted, but I also learned that I cannot over intellectualize the self-improvement side of this (be so happy you won’t want to watch) because this porn thing is so chemically powerful, and gives such an immediate hit, that just being clever is not enough. I have to be street smart, and be more aware of what I click on. When I quit drinking I never thought I’d be OK with a light beer, so I don’t know why this is such a surprise – other than, I suppose, that you have to go out and find alcohol, whereas internet filth is now peddled as ‘news.’

    Strange week, but I feel stronger for having lived it.
     
  13. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    I've been getting urges again too, and I've gone through some periods recently of being very sleepy and sleeping more than usual. I wish you and your wife well, and I will always be here to support and to get support; this is a lifelong thing.

    The day we get cocky is the day the unconscious will attack, we're never really done even though it will feel like it most days in like a year or so.

    This is a delicate stage that we're both in, we've done really well for a long time, but there's still months to go until we can completely reclaim our brains. I definitely feel like I'm still balancing, however I also feel like a lot of the work is done too. It's a strange place to be in a way.
     
  14. ananoman

    ananoman Active Member

    I have found that my level of tiredness definitely plays into how well I can resist a relapse. When I'm tired my brain is begging for a dopamine hit and sometimes it feels so easy just to give in.
     
  15. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thanks for your support guys. The good news is that I've been feeling better about things this week.

    As much as anything, I just feel happy about getting through last week without a relapse and not having to start over at Day 1 again. I know that I'm doing things right, which includes necessary reminders not to get over-confident.

    I might think I've erased my negative 'inner voice,' but it still surfaces when I'm stressed and tired. I might think that my life is more positive and I'm happier - which is true - but I still get down from time to time, and there are still triggers all over the place, just waiting for that one moment of weakness.

    Above all, I've learned that I have to be every bit as careful over my internet consumption right now as during my first week of reboot. I am not cured. I cannot click on a 'news' item illustrated with nudes, however 'tasteful' the presentation. I am not cured.

    I think I put the cart before the horse in my last post; I had clicked on the nude story the previous weekend, that's before I had the flashbacks, so it's fair to blame much of my struggle the whole week on that one incident. That's triggers for you - they work in two ways: at first you get a rush and think how great a relapse would be, and then, over a number of days you start to feel like shit and are back to fear and anger, and start to tell yourself that a quick peek at tasteful nudity will give you a well-earned break from all this puritan stuff.

    Frankly I'm astounded at how powerful an urge it is to self-medicate using porn. I'll never ever look down on anyone here who relapses after putting a decent streak together. Especially if they are going through relationship troubles or health issues or problems at work.

    Still, last week was a battle won - and I'm stronger for it. It was something that had to happen - I can't go through life without periods of stress and triggers.
     
  16. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    "Frankly I'm astounded at how powerful an urge it is to self-medicate using porn."

    It continues to astound me after 3 years.
     
  17. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    That's just it, we can never get away from the triggers. We can never get away from bad things or bad thoughts. We just need to remember that PMO doesn't make them go away. I'm speaking to myself on your journal by the way.
     
  18. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thanks for your support guys - as ever, you are carrying me through this.

    I've made another step forwards this week. Funny how I've rebounded back from the lowest week of my reboot with two of the best to date. It's almost as if refusing to relapse (just through plain old stubbornness) has given me a boost.

    On Saturday night I had sex with my wife for the first time in literally years. When I say years, I mean years. :-[

    This is a difficult post to make, because having sex is about the most normal thing two healthy adults can do - but for me, for years, it was just a subject of shame. I didn't feel like an adult. My wife felt unwanted, and she worried that she was not good enough and not pretty enough. I knew I was torturing her, but couldn't do anything about it. I took my self hatred and anger at the world into the basement and started living there. I suggested she took a lover when the subject came up, which was really just throwing gasoline onto the flames.

    I hope this doesn't look like the guy who boasts about having sex with his wife, but for me it was the most humiliating part of my marriage tackled - something I have been unwilling and unable to do for possibly a decade.

    The most difficult part was the mental barrier I'd built up, but recently I'd been thinking the time was right to actually attempt sex. Part of my meditation practice every night is to consider porn and not porn. I had previously found I was getting intrusive porn thoughts, so by actually meditating on it as a subject (how much I've improved, how bad that stuff makes me feel, where I need to go with my reboot, etc) gave me more structure over my entire meditation. Intrusive thoughts during meditation really is your brain' s way of telling you about unfinished business, and it really helps to see it as healthy rather than a good meditation spoiled. Anyway, it was during meditation that I started to think about sex in terms of feelings and sensations (lying holding someone all warm and intimate) rather than as a visual thing, and started thinking of my wife as attractive. I was no longer obsessed with physically perfect twenty-somethings - all of a sudden, an attractive woman my own age, who was emotionally there for me, was all I wanted.

    The advice I got from everything I read about dealing with sexless marriages was just do it. I was as terrified as a guy with years of ED could be. The first time [TRIGGER WARNING] I came in her hand, and that was it for me that night. My dick was too sensitive to do anything after that, and retreated into my body like I'd been swimming in icy water. I held onto her all limp and obsessed about ED. The next morning I was able to have penetrative sex, and I felt a huge weight off my shoulders; I think we both did. I was like the guy in the advert for the blue pills singing in the shower.

    All of us on this forum have been brainwashed by porn, and worry about not being a stud and our women not being physically perfect, and all along the women in our lives only really want to be wanted by us. They would rather have us fumbling but emotionally connected. Sex in your forties is really about pair bonding.

    It was another step on the road - I'm sort of half way rewired, no longer able to think about porn in bed in order to get it up but not fully able to go on just the sight of my wife undressing. It's also a fact that nothing gives you ED like worrying about ED, and it will take me some time to get my mojo back. We did it again last night; she was sore and I finished too quickly - it was like a honeymoon, really.

    This isn't a post about sex. It's about the decision I made earlier this year to get my life back together again, starting with my self-hatred and moving on to rebuild my marriage. The most difficult part for me was doing the first 90 days of rebooting in a toxic environment - one of my own creation over the last few years.
     
  19. TDP

    TDP Member

    Great post Wabi, and soooo true. I've followed your journal but haven't yet posted. You've made tremendous progress. It's truly inspiring.
     
  20. Newman8888

    Newman8888 The wound is the place where the Light enters you

    Wabi,

    I truly appreciate your honesty. It's beautiful. This being human is no easy feat. Meeting ourselves as we are seems harder than anything. Self-hatred, of which I'm very, very familiar, comes from a place of deep, deep self-love, and self-caring. When we turn away from ourselves, there it is, the self-hatred with its many voices, both silent and loud. Thank you for being so raw, so honest, Wabi. You're beautiful.
     

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