Hey everyone, I just wanted to introduce myself as I finally joined this forum. I'm a 37 year old male. I have been enjoying many helpful posts here for a long time and decided to be brave and join the community to give back to others who are struggling on this path. I've been fighting this battle for years after becoming aware of it thanks to YBOP and the Reddit NoFap community with varying levels of success. I know for sure that this is the path...every time I "get clean" my life goes in a very positive direction and I make progress as a human being in my relationships and personal life goals etc. But my god is it difficult! Currently I am sitting at about 2 weeks on "Hard Mode" and haven't "O'd" since the end of 2017 after my life completely fell apart into a destructive pattern largely fueled by this horrible addiction. I'm suffering through the most massive mood swings I've seen throughout this entire journey. Yesterday I cried several times for the silliest of reasons. While it makes me feel crazy as fuck, after all the years of numbness and desensitization I do understand that it is a good sign to be able to feel so deeply. Today I feel pretty great, but yesterday was one of the gloomiest days I've had in many years. I think it may have been the most "weepy" day I have had since early childhood when the nerves are pure and raw. At times, I feel unstable and almost at the point of reaching out for medication to help deal with the depression/anxiety, but for now am choosing to utilize meditation, exercise and playing music as outlets to help deal with it. I want this to be a natural healing if at all possible, utilizing tools that are readily available and sustainable for life. My addiction started at a very young age. I was a very sexual kid for whatever reason and always experimented with my peers, long before puberty set in. When I discovered masturbation I wasn't even able to orgasm yet. I remember being surprised when ejaculation started happening at the end. I think I've been addicted to the "edging" feeling for as long as I can remember, honestly. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been digging deep into my memory and realizing how long and how strong the PMO habit has impacted my life. I had a traumatic childhood and I am now realizing how much I turned to the dopamine rush of PMO to handle my emotional pain. I missed out on every opportunity that junior high and high school had to offer me due to the brain fog and artificial reward system payoff I was hooked on. There is no profit in regret but I am certainly looking back on my life and seeing the true depth of the damage this addiction has caused in my life and it is inspiring me to fight with all I've got to get over this. Usually around the Mardi Gras/Easter season, I give up something for the tradition of "Lent" which is the 40 day period between Fat Tuesday and Easter Sunday. It signifies the period of Jesus' life when he went into the desert to be alone and was tempted by Satan. Today I have been reading about the Temptation of Christ and have been inspired. I don't mean to be preachy because I'm not really a devout Christian myself, but that story is worth checking out as I believe all of us can relate to the allegory of temptation. The Wikipedia page has an interesting breakdown with an analysis of what springs from the mind, soul and heart, for good and for ill. This struggle we are in is indeed a spiritual battle. It's not about a particular religion, of course, but it is about reclaiming our souls and our minds from the grips of a dark force that came into our lives during a time of weakness and offered us a temptation and a false sense of security and happiness. Of course we all know it is truly a road of shame, isolation, misery and despair...a false idol. Just think of it..we have been somehow fooled into PRETENDING to have sex, when there are real-life willing partners everywhere. I have turned down so many potential lovers due to this addiction and its aftermath. It really makes me cringe when I think about it. Once upon a time it was because of the unconscious addiction, but somewhere it changed into a fear that I couldn't perform. The first time I had PIED I was mortified. I had a gorgeous young college girl in my bed and I couldn't do anything for her. I had to come up with a lie explaining "why" this was happening and then did everything I could to get rid of her because of my embarrassment and shame. This scenario caused a cycle of anxiety and aversion that's been going on for far too long. Occasionally a lover will creep past my defenses and make her way into my life and my bed but never for long because my psychological defenses and fucked up reward system eventually causes me to drive them away. The most successful relationships I have had over the past 10 years were the ones where I was honest with my partner about my "issue" although I never have been able to confess the *cause* of the issue. My deal now is RADICAL HONESTY. With myself, with you the community, and with my friends and partners. Not that I'm going to go tell everyone about this issue but I am working on being honest about the peripheral issues such as the depression, social anxiety and general anxiety that causes people to be confused and hurt by my behavior. There was a time not too long ago when I wasn't even consciously aware I had those issues because I was constantly high on my own dopamine dope and oblivious to my behavior and how I interacted with the outside world. NO MORE. With this Lent journey, I have not only gone Hard Mode but also put down any other substance that causes a dopamine hit. No pot, no diet sodas, no sugar, very limited caffeine intake, no fast food. I am replacing these things with positive habits - meditation, exercise, clean eating, good sleep, time with friends and family. I believe that through this journey we are reclaiming our Mind, our Soul, and our Heart from the darkness and the darkness will fight to keep them. I am newly dedicated to chasing truth, beauty and goodness in this world, and am focusing my attention on science, art and religion to help me find it. OF THE Mind, Soul, and Heart (respectively) Divine Virtues: faith (mind), hope (soul), and love (heart) human capacity: thoughts, wishes, and feelings Philosophy: logic, aesthetics, and ethics Ideal: truth, beauty, and goodness field: science, art and religion FAULTS: PRIDE of life, LUST of eyes, LUST of body Human Virtues: PRUDENCE, SELF CONTROL, COURAGE I am so very grateful to all of you and everyone across this larger community online who has shared their wisdom and their stories. My addict brain has tried to convince me that you all are crazy and deluded and that there's "nothing wrong" with spending a life in a dark room masturbating to images of strangers having sex. I know that is a lie from the dark side and that this is the battle of my life for my very soul. I walked into this struggle as a hurting little boy who didn't know any better, I discovered the addiction as a man-child who was essentially a walking dead zombie of repressed pain, and I am going to walk away from this struggle as a self confident MAN full of love, joy and peace, patience, kindness goodness and faith, gentleness and self-control. The fruits of the spirit as they say. I have seen the promised land, and this train is bound for glory. 2018 is the year to get clear. Apologies to anyone sensitive to religious dogma talk...but there is wisdom in many places if you open your eyes. I take it wherever I can find it. Buddhism...Taoism...Christianity...New Age philosophy...Reddit forums Much love you guys. I look forward to being a participant in this community and sharing my journey with you all as you share yours with me!