Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Omega Man, Feb 3, 2013.
Indeed it does. You're doing great, man.
Thanks LTE. Good to hear from you. Hope things are good. I enjoy your posts on the YBOP feed.
I wanted to share this post I ran across on the YBOP blog. The entire thing is worth reading, but this chunk really spoke to me and I think might be a big key for many here:
"I refused to fight the demon, and finally realized that the demon didn’t actually exist. It was a conjuration of my subconscious self trying to justify the struggle against this addiction and trying to justify failure."
I believe once we see this mechanism of the old, wounded self trying to trap us into abandoning change, we can start to see the path more clearly. It's easy to make this process impersonal (physical addiction, biology, etc), but I have a feeling it's far more psychological than anything else.
Being a non-smoker now, I look back on my smoking habit as more of a social addiction than a physical one. Sure, there were physical cravings for nicotine. But all the real challenges to quitting were environmental or circumstantial — being at a bar, a party, around a bunch of other smokers and wanting to fit in. Fit in to my old self. Anxiety about being someone different, particularly in front of people who knew the old me.
Pornography is the same thing, only its just ourselves and the identities we shift between (or try to avoid).
Trust me, I don't doubt the physical craving aspect of the withdrawal, but I think those fade relatively quickly. As the above quoted passage suggests, it's more of a mechanism to allow us an excuse to continue our old behaviors.
My friend once wisely wondered if it was the cigarette companies who started the idea that quitting smoking was "tougher than quitting heroin" so you didn't even bother considering it. I think our wounded, inner self may be doing the same thing with the porn. It has its own "PR campaign" to keep you as a "customer" (avoiding issues you need to confront).
Anyways, been meaning to share this with everyone but my schedule has been super busy these past few weeks. It's quite amazing how healthily busy one's life can get when you aren't wasting your days jerking off to porn and you have enough dopamine naturally running through the body to anticipate reward in the future. Progress in the present requires faith in the future.
Sometimes all of it seems like learning to juggle or ride a bike: best not to think about it too much when you finally do it
Thanks OM. I'm glad to be able to contribute, over there.
Interesting observation yesterday: after getting a bunch of errands done, I got home with the intention of cleaning up the living room. I ended up cleaning up the kitchen first, as there was a pile of old mail and drawings that needed to be filed (I sketch while I eat).
Going through the mail, I realized how behind I was on a few bills. I knew it, but was avoiding them for some reason. Literally burying them with my art! My life is becoming a metaphor for itself.
During the errands, I ran into a woman at a store (employee), and had a surprisingly nice impromptu chat with her. I could feel the momentum of the exchange leading up to me asking her for her number, but I didn't do it. A bit too much anxiety, and today I was even feeling quite social and confident.
In a way, the house cleaning seemed a way to take my mind off the rumination (the replay and revision of the events, how I could have done what I wanted, realizing now these are inverted fantasies — not wishful thoughts of the future, but of revising the past; fantasy nonetheless).
Cleaning off the table meant I needed to handle those bills. I went and paid them off, one needing to go on the credit card which I aim to pay in full each month. Doing all of this made me realize how low my bank accounts are, which shouldn't be surprising but I've kind of been slacking on my bookkeeping and this year saw some significant expenses, some investments but some just spent money on the old car repairs.
Anyways, the point of all this background is to lead up to the urges to masturbate all evening after both not asking the girl for her number, and then the reality of the bills and financial situation I am in. This stress, this yank back to reality, seems to have caused stress, anxiety, fear, insecurity. I was able to observe my body, emotions and mind reach out for a mood regulator, and the standby for time immemorial is masturbation.
Seeing this correlation helped me to resist. I realized that I didn't want to masturbate, what I wanted was to escape from reality. But one of my new mental statements is that I want to stand, brace myself and face the experience of reality head-on. Seeing these correlations between avoidance and masturbation really help to steer clear. As in my previous post, I am working to rid myself of excuses like cravings, addictions and the like. At the least, my addiction is to reality avoidance rather than porn or masturbation. Maybe reality avoidance has a dopamine release…
Also, I feel as if my short but educational RV trip has somehow helped me reach a new level of calmness and strength. I think I had a lot of anxiety and apprehension about it all, and now that I've done it I see it's really the simplest thing ever! Accomplishing that goal, and getting past my anxieties seems to have helped me in many other areas of my life. Perhaps I am just on one of the upswings though.
I did have this thought in my hiatus about masturbation as an expression of self-hate, which arose spontaneously during a meditation sit a week or so ago. It'll have to wait for another post, but in brief the idea was that masturbation and PMO are a way to reinforce negative perceptions of one's self, in a way it says "I could never have this for real", and instead of pursuing a relationship or a real experience, we are subtly telling ourselves "you can't have that, why bother". We expend our libido and by extension our self-worth, sacrificing both at the altar of these manufactured pseudo-goddesses we've created.
I'm still working out the concept, and I lost the subtler details of it that arose during meditation (fellow meditators can relate to having an insight and then losing it, I am sure!). But I wanted to get it posted here. It feels like an important observation.
I play this game with myself too and am quite good at it. Just yesterday, I realised that I had not payed my property tax bill. A few minutes prior to that realisation, if you would have asked, I would have sworn to have paid it. I think that the avoidance habits are so deep, particularly with worry about finances, that I have a long way to go. In bed this morning, thinking, ruminating, I did try to accept the fact that these things exist, to breathe through any sense of panic, and to accept that dealing with problems is quite normal.
I think that this is key: observing our bodily reaction. Not trying to push the fear away but notice the equation - incident + fear = urge to self-medicate. So what if my heart is beating faster. So what if I feel confused. So what if I am fearful. Just observe that I am and leave it at that. Like you, I am trying to face directly into the face of my fears. It is not easy because sometimes the face staring back in not the enemy.
I think you may have hit on something there.
A really great observation.
Nice observations, especially "masturbation could be an expression of self hate" or "I can never have this in real" attitude being the subtext for pmoing and the "avoiding reality having a dopamine release.
On another note,
Was feeling low myself, felt that I have been heavily procrastinating, fell off the wagon with life in general. So, now I hit your collection of resources again. Am gonna hear the Kelly Mcgonigal's book again and get back on track again. Just wanted to come in here and tell you this.
Great to hear RLB. I can't recall if I added them to my Resources page, but if my journal and resources resonate with you, you may also find that looking deeper into procrastination and perfectionism might shed some light on your situation.
Once I realized I was finding — and perhaps even subconsciously cultivating — reasons to fail (at PMO and in so many other aspects of my life) so that I had excuses not to change, not to face up to reality, it all made a huge difference in my success here and in those other areas. Learning about procrastination, which for me was a symptom of the perfectionism, which in turn was a symptom of the fixed-mindset and low self-esteem — that turned things around for me.
I realized that while yes, part of this struggle is about porn, dopamine, physical cravings and urges — deep down these were all symptoms of a deeper fear of taking responsibility. Fear of fumbling that responsibility, the erroneous belief that my actions and choices had to be perfect. So instead, I crafted a maze of pitfalls that I could easily blame — both consciously and subconsciously — for my inaction and stagnation.
Once I saw through this self-delusion for what it was, it made the former struggles evaporate. Because I know there was no real struggle. It was all invented in my mind. I wasn't struggling with an insatiable desire for porn, masturbation or orgasm. Rather, I was struggling with the acceptance of responsibility for living my own life.
I finally stopped blaming the ultimate scapegoat: myself.
" I crafted a maze of pitfalls that I could easily blame"
That OM is about the most significant thing I've read on here in ages. I'm highly organized, yet I create circumstances that I know will throw me off. Your perfectionism is my claustrophobia; my worst fear, it seems, is to be unable to escape. It rears its head when I swim (what if I start struggling, and drown?), when I'm driving (what if some a**hole cuts me off, and sends me spinning off the road?), and in my personal life (what if, what if, what if?).
PMO, excessive drinking, any obsessive behaviour must be symptomatic of something we're trying to mask, or eliminate from our personalities. Unfortunately, eliminating the symptom leaves the pathology intact; one of my greatest concerns with this notion of rebooting, is that relief I'm seeking may come in some form that is more difficult to control.
I have a growing fear that I could be tempting my inner Walter White.
Good on you for learning who you are, and what was causing you to act the way you were. I can (we all can) learn from this!
that is really deep. I know blaming myself is only going to make things harder for me. I am exercising avoidance right now as far as PMO is concerned. I just have to start without blaming myself for starting my schedule (of noPMO, workout and other stuffs) time and again and failing at that. Good insights, I will not give room for my mind to impose the "life is a struggle" attitude, will just try and start and catch on with what i wanted to go on in my daily schedule then. Thanks.
Thanks SOJ. Your #thought here:
"any obsessive behaviour must be symptomatic of something we're trying to mask, or eliminate from our personalities. Unfortunately, eliminating the symptom leaves the pathology intact; one of my greatest concerns with this notion of rebooting, is that relief I'm seeking may come in some form that is more difficult to control. "
seems to be exactly what I've been experiencing. This un-layering of psychological "stuff". But rather than a difficult-to-control form, it all seems so obvious and familiar once unmasked. Which makes sense, because it's just a part of myself I've been unwilling to accept or face.
I'm not saying I've figured everything out, not in the least! I just feel like I may have peeked behind the curtain of the Great and Powerful Oz, and have seen some of the games that were being played. I'm not even sure I am right.
What does seem obvious however, is that I've constructed this Rube Goldberg machine so that I run into snags that I can feign ignorance of their origin. For me, it seems rooted in this fear of failure, and therefore of taking any chance that might result in failure. If I create a "woe is me" persona, then I always have something to blame and hide behind when I feel like it's "too scary out here".
Deep down, I don't have a problem with jerking off to internet porn — I have a problem with taking responsibility for my life, taking chances, expanding my horizons and learning more and accepting who I really am. It's easy to hide from all of that when you have "problems" and "issues" to deal with.
I'm not really sure where to head next, but i feel as if I know which paths to avoid, at the least.
Good stuff man. I really think many of these perceived struggles are just avoidance techniques. I used to get really distracted by some disturbing thoughts that would arise during meditation, until I realized it wasn't "me" but rather a last-ditch attempt by the mind/ego to distract me from some potential breakthroughs. Once I looked at them go from this perspective, I started welcoming them to some degree, and un-identified with them very quickly. Instead of being roadblocks, I started seeing them as signposts for being on the verge of something good. I see the distractions of PMO in the same light now.
Just a hello if you're ever back on your journal. Cheers!
You know, I was just thinking the other day of either dropping you a PM or even posting an update here. So odd you left me a message. I think maybe I'll get a catch-up post here soon.
Things are good overall, still choosing to not view porn. The depression still rears up but not as strongly and I'm more equipped to deal with it. I hope you and any other people reading my journal are doing well and look forward to hearing from you guys.
Wow nice to see this was updated. I miss reading your posts OM. Hope all is well.
Thanks for the reply. Things are good overall. I hope the same is true for you.
I just noticed my counter is creeping up on 2 years, crazy. Have to say that dropping the porn wasn't the magic bullet id hoped it would be at the outset, but my life is definitely improved overall as a result of steering clear. Part of me wants to attribute this to making such a monumental change to many habits I was a slave to, and finally stepping up and making real choices in my life, even when they are difficult to implement. Some times seemingly impossible to do.
The hedonic treadmill effect also plays a factor, where we assimilate the positive traits and the novelty wears off. It's easy to feel that "not much has changed" because you've accepted it as the default.
My depression hasn't gone away completely, which was one of the core factors that led me to drop the porn. But I am better equipped to deal with it, and the episodes are shorter, less often and of lesser intensity these days. Meditation has helped me to stop identifying with the depression, just as I slowly learn to stop identifying with my thoughts.
I recently started up the suggested amino acid supplements in the very interesting book The Mood Cure. It dovetails with the nutrition plan I already follow. The amino acids (which are what we want when we eat and digest protein; the amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) are what the body needs to create serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and other hormones and neurotransmitters. The author suggests the food we eat is low in these, and the supplements help the body get back up to speed (along with a healthy nutrition plan). She wants you to eventually stop taking the supplements, which was a big factor in the appeal to this approach.
I've also recently started experimenting with some masturbation. My libido has remained low this entire time, and my relationship status remains single. I felt as if denying sexual desire was unhealthy, and was never my goal in all of this. In fact, my goal was to reset that desire to not need excessive pornography to function.
Interestingly, while at time I thought my libidos was high, after getting into an M session I'd find my libido tapering off. To be honest, it became a bit of a chore to masturbate. I'd have to force myself to do it! While I did experiment with some fantasy (real women, not porn scenes), that only work some of the time. Having recently read the "No More Mr. Nice Guy" book (good, but padded), I saw how I was often not "in my body" when catering to sexual desires. The author specifically says you should masturbate while looking at yourself, as often "nice guys" tend to shun their own bodies and sexual desires. I found myself often off in my thoughts, and not even in fantasy. In a way, masturbating like this was similar to meditation, bringing the awareness back to what you are doing, not off in the thoughts and mind. Mindfulness mastirbation! The author also states that "nice guys" often have obsession with porn and masturbation. They often feel shame or em easement at expressing themselves as a sexual being, particularly in front of their mothers. Interesting.
My nutrition and fitness has been on track, although the I did drop off from exercise for a while over the winter due to a nasty cold.
Most of my healthy habits remain, although as of late I've kind of let some things slide and have had a bit of dissillusionment with the heavy duty approach I had to all of it. My life felt like a job, every day filled with check lists (literally, with my spreadsheet trackers).
And I have to be honest, I've had stray thoughts of dipping into the porn lately. Mostly out of a "the hell with all this" attitude rather than any cravings. But my experiences with plain old masturbation tell me that if I'm still not seeing increased libido there, then I have to work on that. My other goal woth dropping porn was the possible PIED, and there's no doubt that sexually suggestive imagery still works on me. That, coupled with my continual low libido is what instigated the masturbation experiments. Everything works, but the wires seem to still be crossed.
It's a bit frustrating to find myself two years out and still struggling with low libido. Part of me says "that means it wasn't the porn", but I'm not so sure I agree with that thought.
I can relate to a few things you mentioned, when I was at day 270 PMO and MO and O free, before my relapse. I was also still depressed and single and waiting for the so called superpowers.
Do you feel worthy? Worthy enough to attract a real women and have an intimate relationship with her? I ask only, because this seems to be one of my main problems, to love myself enough to accept the good things coming in my life. Is this a problem for you too?
I may indeed share the struggle with accepting good things in my life, but lately I've just had little interest in relationships when I actually start to think about what they entail. And I've done little to foster behaviors or an environment where the likelihood of a relationship happening is more likely.
To be honest, most of the time I find myself quite fully preoccupied with my hobbies and interests these days, and only in low moods or fears of future loneliness do I think about relationships. And to me, that seems a selfish and unhealthy approach to finding a mate. I mostly pine for that stuff when I am comparing myself to others at social gatherings. I don't think about it much at all when it's not right in front of my face.
But like poor diet and health, I don't want to find myself 20 years down the road full of regrets. I look back now on opportunities from the past 20 years, and definitely regret passing up some of them. But not all.
I will say that I had hoped that porn and temporary masturbation abstinence would have ramped up the libido and helped drive me to seek out relationships. But that's not really happened. I have my moments. I have some very "up" days, and find myself very social, extroverted and outgoing. Enough to know what it feels like, and to know I'm not in those mental and emotional states very often.
The biggest gain in hindsight seems to be a sense of control, of self-soveriegnty — I feel these days, in contrast to my life prior, that I can make my own decisions, stand my own ground and do my own thing with a much reduced obsession with external validation. It's not all gone, and some days and times are better than others.
I've accomplished quite a few goals over the past year as well, and the most interesting thing about doing that is how little fulfillment they really bring. the world always seems to be saying, "Good job, but what else do you have?". Maybe I'm still more hung up on that desire for external validation than I realize.
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