Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Squire, Apr 27, 2018.
For me this is moving slowly. If I'm raking leaves I do it in an unhurried way. I got out with the intention of raking slowly. Tidying up the yard is a secondary concern.
Don't you think your over complicating things just keep it simple don't PMO/MO and the rest will follow, even over time. That's what I'm trying to do, I'm done with to much thinking and planning, but give it a go if you think it will help you or you will never know,as long as you keep on trying that's all that matters.
I don't want be negative, because you're entitled to any life you want, but clearly this isn't working for you if you're going on 30 years and sitting at 0 days.
It sounds like you don't have a habit, you have an addiction. Those are in the same neighborhood, but different things. You have a logical, measured approach to dealing with things that I applaud, but if it's not working for you, you need to blow it the hell up and try something radically different, or go back to things you tried 20 years ago.
Have you ever heard of a "pre-lapse"? It's a term used to describe what happens even before obvious triggers send you into acting out behavior. I don't know what specifically triggers you, but there is a series of decisions that are made in advance to make the conditions for a trigger happening more likely. Maybe you're sitting down to watch a movie on cable and you can't find one you like, so you flip around and one of the channels is showing something sexy, so you stay with it. Twenty minutes in there's a sex scene and you think, "Trigger!" and you can't help it go down that road. Well, it wasn't the sex scene that did it. It was flipping around to find something to watch. It was not knowing and sticking to what you were going to watch. Why did you sit down to watch TV in the first place? If you can go and analyze behavior and make changes before triggers happen, you may find dealing with your issues easier because you end up removing many of the triggers from your life.
Doing it for yourself is crucial and why I have absolutely no doubt you are getting healthy. I'm quick to call people when they're rationalizing or thinking too much, but I think what you've got going on here is good. The more we write, on the journals of others, as well, the more we understand. It's amazing how many times I've written to someone, thinking it's information for them, and all of a sudden I understand something I didn't before.
We are all learning together!
Despite some of the negativity on this thread I think your 'roadmap' is a good idea. The reason I like it, is because you're actively looking to tackle the 'nuts and bolts' of your behaviour, i.e. by changing the daily habits that lead to poor decision making. Those who say "you're over complicating things" and things like "give up PMO and the rest will follow" no doubt have good intentions but these kind of addictions need to be tackled on many different fronts. Simply hoping to give up PMO is never going to be enough. I know from my own efforts that trying to quit PMO and reading the occasional recovery based article isn't getting me anywhere. We have to continually revise our strategies and put our efforts into creating a better life.
One thing I heard is that our triggers are biologically hardwired therefore they're not going away any time soon. I like the fact that you have an response plan to tackle them when they arise. You could even add things to it such as trying breathing exercises or calling someone on the phone - whatever it takes to interrupt the pattern. I look forward to seeing your progress.
At what point does a habit become an addiction and what are the differences in your mind?
It's a bit ironic, because I read a lot of the posts on this board and think there is far more victim mentality here than I've ever heard in rehab or any group counseling. I'm not say you do, but so many of these people who are sitting at Day 2 for the 1,000th time don't want to call it an addiction. I have a feeling those people don't want to admit they have a disease that removes certain aspects of choice from their habit. That doesn't make them victims, it's their already-existing victim mentality that does. I'm at four years sober from alcohol and porn, and I've never once seen myself as a victim, but I was only able to truly enter recovery when I faced the truth: I was an addict.
I'm not going to go deep into the science of it, but addiction isn't cured with free will. If it was, there would be no addicts. Addiction is a brain disease. Sure, in the very beginning it was a choice, but so is smoking for people who get lung cancer or eating greasy food for people who develop heart disease. Many of our diseases and conditions are brought upon by poor choices. With addiction, especially porn addiction, most are using to deal with stress and anxiety on the surface and unresolved trauma at a deeper level. That stuff needs to be dealt with as much, or even more, than the porn. For myself, I found that once I started facing hard truths, dropped the stories I wanted to tell myself and realized the answer wasn't in a book of inspirational quotes, recovery came much more organically.
Anyway, that's more directed at everything I see here than you individually. Admitting you have an addiction doesn't make you a victim. Doing nothing about it just makes you a victim of your own hubris.
That's because it's the internet. It is easy to come here and post. Not so easy to get off one's ass and attend a meeting. In my case there are no meetings in my small town and so this forum was a life-line when I needed it. Yeah, a lot of defeated people here and many who just want their boners back. However, I'm witnessing great changes in some people, the one's who really want it. Most people unfortunately just don't want to get healed, which leads to your next quote.
The narratives that shaped us as men started when we were practically in-utero or even before. Recognizing that our narratives are skewed is huge. I agree that from there our recovery proceeds in an organic way.
For me this meant doing small tasks, which I've mentioned so many times here. Sweep the garage floor or even just half of it. Wash one window. Hang the picture my wife had been nagging me about. Little tasks.
Without really trying number one becomes number two, just like a bowel movement. I would go to sweep half the garage floor and end up doing it all, for example.
If I have a job to do like raking leaves, I go out with the idea that I'm only going to fill one or two bags. I know the entire yard has to get done, but there's no pressure to do it all in one go. I speak affirmations as I work. "Gee, I'm lucky to be getting some easy exercise. Bending over is so good for me." Even when I don't feel like saying that, I do. Again, I'll often fill more bags than intended. An important key is: Move Slowly!
I slipped with a few MO's. Yes, important to get back on track and not beat yourself up about the slip. See the slip for what it is: a spirit of misery. Move on to joy.
See: Move Slowly. Our stamina is built through the minutiae of the everyday things. Mundane tasks, the kind most of us hate, are where the gold is. It's like starting with the 5lbs weights at the gym. Feels like nothing, but do fifty and the stamina begins to increase.
I come from a very science side of things with this. There are easily detectable deteriorations with medical scanners that take place in a brain when it is addicted to anything. Even with turning your life completely around, they will never return to where they were. So you've altered your brain permanently. Depending on where you are with your addiction, you may have totally blown out your dopamine receptors. In therapy right now, we're looking at that as a reason I have a hard time being "up" for anything. I need such intense stimulation now to feel excited or happy that it rarely happens....and I'm four years sober.
So I would say that I have to live with the effects of addiction the rest of my life. The triggers have greatly dissipated and my attention now is on helping others, but I know that just based on data of people who think they're "cured" who return to their addictive vice, 85% of the time, they end up worse than where they were. I don't like those odds. I feel like I could look at porn or masturbate in a healthy way for a few months. I bet I could drink like a "normal person" for a year...but then I know it would all go downhill, so I don't do either of those things, and I'm vigilant not to take on new addictions.
The mind plays tricks when you reach a certain point away from addiction that it does with most things in your life. It begins to look at it with nostalgia, erasing the bad and having you only remember the good. It's a trick. I remember far more times I enjoyed porn or alcohol than times it went bad. It's just the way the brain works and I have to remind myself the reality it wants to remember is not the reality that was.
If you're into books about habit, I'm sure you've read this one, but The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg did as much for my recovery as anything put out by the nice people at AA or SAA.
Just a suggestion, @Squire but perhaps you could ask a moderator to have this interesting thread moved to Pornography Addiction and that way the entire forum would benefit, and also be able voice their opinions.
Four years sober is awesome!
I do take issue with the "very" science side of things. Science is just science and is not made more so by being very. I'm being a bit cheeky here, but the brain is a mystery still and there are things that neither scans, nor tests, can quantify. I heard a scientist say we are a collection of biological imperatives and that there is no such a thing as an individual, yet he also admitted that science doesn't have a clue why we have a conscious mind. So, while I agree that we have depressed the dopamine receptors and done harm to ourselves, I do not agree that we cannot rescue our feelings again.
I found that doing small things now gives me great satisfaction. Music still opens me up like nothing else can. I recently discovered the immense beauty of Beethoven String Quartets; a dopamine healer if ever there was one. Four years is a good amount of time, but is not that long when you consider that your inauthentic self was shaped from the time you were born, just as all of us were. We have all been held under water and our just now learning to use our lungs again.
I had a bunch of tests done on my heart in my early twenties. One of the things the cardiologist discovered was that one of the chambers of my heart fires itself closed from an unknown area. Most people's hearts fire in exactly them same location, which causes the valve to close. In my case, the heart rewired itself, because that other part wasn't working. Hearts and minds can rewire, reroute, reestablish, and that is also science. There is what we can quantify by our limited tests and there are those things which prove there is a lot we don't know.
Anyway, you may be right. But, I do know that I am feeling more happiness than I ever have. I have suffered a brain injury, low-level depression, and been an addict, yet small amounts of joy are beginning to invade through the facade that was me. I hope I will feel yet more, but I don't just hope, every day I act as though it's a great day. I am all about concrete action.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than you have dreamt of in your philosophy." Shakespeare
"Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Einstein
Well, you can turn your back on science if you want, or you can take is at the best provable set of facts we have right now. I choose the latter. I understand that we don't know far more than we know, and I think that will always be the case because the moment something is figured out, it only leads to more questions. I'll assume the smart people who study brains and have shown a lot of scans over the years have it right. I think you may be confusing the nucleus accumbens, which controls the release of dopamine and the amygdala, which regulates emotions. The nucleus accumbens actually gets physically damaged during long-term addiction. The amygdala doesn't get physically damaged. That is more where our conditioned response to addiction happens, and like any conditioned response, it can be changed.
I know there are miracles and things we can't explain and spontaneous healing and remission. Thank God those things happen, and I don't care if we ever can explain them (although hopefully we do as it may have answers to helping more people) because some things don't need an explanation. However, in the 99% of the cases that are explainable, I tend to hedge my bets on what to expect. Probably the same reason I don't play the lottery.
LOL Not turning my back on science, just not relying on it for all the answers. When I read about PMO being a chemical thing I completely understood that and it was a game changer. Plus, here in the over 40 sections we are forging relationships as we extend ourselves toward one another. Along with tough love has to go hope. I'm a pragmatic person now that I'm free of P. I hate rationalization, I hate excuse making. I've called many people out on this board. A couple of times I was told to take my pragmatism and shove it up my ass. However, words have power. And, if we put out into the world that our dopamine receptors are blown then that can be defeating to men who are already defeated. In other words, if my receptors are blown and I'm not going to ever feel passion again then perhaps I'll just keep on PMO'ing. There is a book by Dr. Bernard Lown called "The Lost Art of Healing." Dr. Lown invented the defibrillator. In the book there is a chapter called Words that Heal, Words that Harm. I'm going off of memory here, so it be a slightly different title, but it's close enough. Words matter!
We've already won the lottery; we were born.
Joshua Shea, we may not see eye to eye on how to approach things, but you are an important voice to the board. Keep on posting brother.
I also find that I have a sliding scale of tolerance that I need to work on and at one of the far ends is people who are addicts who can't even get to the point of denying they're an addict. It's one thing to be an addict, know it, and deny it. I think it frustrates me because I see myself in them because while I was an alcoholic who denied it for 20 years, I genuinely did not know porn addiction existed, so I couldn't deny it. I just find that far too often boards like these are little more than places for guys to come cry in their beer who aren't actually looking for answers or solutions.
I don't think it's wrong to tell people their physical truth. I think to ignore it is putting your head in the sand. But I also think it does come with caveats, like the fact that mental and spiritual health does play a huge role in your demeanor. I mean, it kind of sucks coming to the realization my receptors are shot, but they were shot 4 years ago when I started on this path of recovery. It didn't stop me. You wouldn't tell a diabetic not to take care of the condition because you're worried they're defeated. These men need mental health help because they're trying to address a symptom of a larger problem. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know. I'm hoping this will sink it with somebody reading our exchange.
You want to know crazy? I've interviewed Dr. Lown three times. Last time was about six years ago, when he turned 90, for the magazine I ran. A bridge was dedicated in his honor in my town 10 or 11 years ago, where he did a lot of work in the hospital and community, that's about 3 minutes from my house.
And all respect back at you, second cousin.
I've found this is true, too. I also feel the most impatient with those who remind me of myself. Posting on the journals of other guys here has taught me a lot.
It might sink in with me, too. The one thing I've really been aware of, particularly this last year of sobriety, is that a lot of what I think I know, I don't. I'm trying to be open to those voices that before I would have automatically rejected. I was dishonest with myself for such a long time that even staring at the truth makes me want to rework the narrative.
This is awesome! I heard him interviewed on a radio program, maybe NPR, and I ran right out and bought his book.
I believe there is a difference between not taking your problems seriously or not understanding your problems and prefering to approach your problem in terms of habit and behaviour. Sure, part of the people that are sitting at Day 2 for the 1,000th time might be calling it a habit, but there are also a lot of people in that same situation that refer to their problems in terms of addiction. The label you put on it is not the problem. I'm not a fan of using addiction terminology, but that does not mean I don't take my problems seriously. I am very aware of my problems and they don't change by the way I label them.
My problem with using addiction terminology is the same that in fact a lot of scientists and medical professionals have with using the disease model of addiction. You speak of science, but there really is no scientific consensus about addiction being a disease. Yes, we do see anomolies in the brains of addicts, but does this makes it a disease? In the end it all comes down not to hard facts, but to terminology. So it might be a disease, but it might also not be one. But my problem is not with whether or not it as a disease, but what that believe results in. When you start to approach it as a disease you take away a big part of probably your biggest tool in recovery: volition. If you want to recover you have to have make steps over and over again. If you have a hard time you have to continue making steps. If you fall down flat on your face you have to get back up and continue making steps. You need willpower for that, you have to believe that by making steps you can make a difference. If you believe that a disease is making the choices for you, there is the risk of addiction becoming an excuse. Whether or not addiction is a disease, scientific articles show that believing in the disease model of addiction is one of the main predictors for a relapse.* And some researchers even go as far as claiming that it only becomes a disease when you believe it to be a disease. And I think that is what you see on this forum a lot. This forum promotes the disease model of addiction and that might very well explain why so many people have more difficulty quiting than others. And on top of that: 99% of us are self-proclaimed addicts, so some caution should be taken into account.
It's very good to see that you went four years without alcohol and porn. Obviously seeing it as a disease helped you with that or it at least made you take your problems more seriously. I'm not saying that the disease model of addiction will lead to relapses in every person. What might not work for one, might work differently or very well for another. Not everybody will use addiction as an excuse. But my point is that you can take your problems just as seriously if you approach it as a really bad habit, in terms of behaviour and neural pathways. And if that approach decreases your risks of relapsing and increases your chances of learning to deal with your problems then I see no reason why anyone would chose to view their problems in terms of addiction.
Miller et al 1996, What predicts relapse? Prospective testing of antecedent models
Lewis 2015, The biology of desire. Why addiction is not a disease
Pickard 2017, Responsibilty without blame for addiction
Well, there actually is. You'll hear dissenting voices louder, especially if you agree with them, and because it's the anomaly, not the norm, that gets more attention. Take a look at the flat earthers or climate change....I can provide you with scientists who will say the earth is flat and climate change is not provable. They are wrong. Our best factual data states that the earth is round, climate change is real and addiction fits the disease model. I think it's OK to constantly question, that's what science is about. But questioning can not be confused with reaching conclusions. I urge people to always consider the dissenter's narrative and motivations. If I needed to keep tenure and get funding at my university, I might say some questionable things as well. I mean, it's not like I put my book in my sig file for my health. I'm hoping it sells books. We all have narratives and motivations.
This again goes to best provable science, and with what we know now and the consensus, yes, the way the anomalies are presented make it seem quite obvious that addiction has the degenerative effects of most brain diseases. If you choose to listen to those who don't believe it, that's fine, but you're probably incorrect. We live in a world where people are confusing what's outwardly provable with what's personally desirable. I wish it wasn't a disease, too. And it took me a long time to accept the fact it was...years. But the proof is there, even if I don't like it.
That may be true for you, but that's like saying if I have heart disease there's not point in changing my diet...I'm a goner. Sure there are risks of excuses. People are weak and lazy. They don't need addiction or disease for that.
I disagree and agree. I feel like I'm vastly in the minority on this forum who believe that most of the issues we face are about addiction or that addiction is a disease. I think most people on here are treating symptoms to a bigger problem because they can't admit they are an addict. But, yes, most people self-diagnose, just as they do with bipolar, migraines, back problems and a host of other medial conditions. I hope most of them actually know the criteria for addiction and aren't self-proclaiming to use it as a scapegoat excuse, because it's not. A diagnosis of addiction, in my opinion, is a good thing, because it sets a certain path to take toward recovery.
It had nothing to do with it. It was only about two years ago that I finally came around. I don't really care about it being a disease. I'm just bothered when people don't accept the best, most widely accepted science we have at a given time.
It sounds like there are certainly labels that make you personally squeamish and that's fine. I have some in my life, too. Habit, addiction, compulsion, bad hobby, uncontrollable weakness....call it whatever you want. My point is that regardless of the label, you don't actually control what's happening inside of you.
You know, I was actually hesitant to make that post. I have been in enough discussions on the internet to know that very often they aren't worth the effort. Although I think we are probably more on the same page than it might seem, we also have a very different perspective on things. I think that responding to your response to me will only lead to a yes/no-discussion that's really not going anywhere and hence I will refrain from that. I wrote that post because I was one of those people Squire meant in the post where he talked about habits and because to me it seemed you completely missed the point of why one should use the word habit instead of addiction. I thought it would be good to explain where that was coming from. Having explained that I don't think there is any further need to go on with this discussion for me. I made my point clear and I stand by that point. I believe other people are intelligent enough to make up their own minds, whether they agree with your view or mine.
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