Rat in the attic

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by A New Man, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Past time for an update. I have relapsed to MO two times in the last 10 days. I’ve also been fantasizing a lot, building up a specific scenario in my mind, and edging to it when I can’t sleep, which has been pretty frequently because of kids waking me up, increased alcohol and caffeine intake and the relapse itself firing up old pathways. I have no idea how much damage I have done, but crossing fingers not introducing porn will have minimized it. Of course that was part of the rationalization, “It’s not porn yet, so it’s not going to do as much damage…” We’ll see I guess.

    Relapsing after a long time clean, the contrast between pre- and post- relapse mental states is pretty fucking clear. The dopamine felt like fire in my brain. I become distracted, unable to follow conversations, detached from those around me. I even had trouble forming sentences yesterday and the day before, and it had a noticeable effect on my memory.

    I didn’t fall into the trap of hating myself and blaming others- oddly I still managed to feel connected to other people I met around the place (but not family for some reason). I think the stuff I’ve learned from Pema this last year, about ego and connection to others, have become a permanent part of my personality, which I'm happy about (struggling to find a silver lining here).

    I don’t know where this fantasy-driven relapse came from. Like I said, the holiday started strangely with flights cancelled and a 2 day drive with young kids. Everything else has been pretty predictable and easy. One thing that threw me I guess was watching my dad act out with his own addictions while we were with them, and watching my mum try to manage him. Watching parents get old is stressful and stirs up all kinds of stuff.

    I’m hoping this post marks the end of this episode. The thing I will change for the next attempt to quit will be: incorporating meditation and tonglen into my daily routine. Understanding Chodron’s ideas is not the same as putting them into practice. Doing so will give me an actual weapon (tool) for when times get tough again.

    Cheers lads. I'll come visit your journals now.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  2. dig deep

    dig deep must stop wasting my life on porn

    Having a MO every now and then is not to bad if your single but if you have a wife/gf you shouldn't do it and save your sexual energy for your women.But well done on not watching any porn:) that's the main thing because when your watching porn there's all ways more and never ending searching but what I've found with fantasy is that it get boring and loses it's excitement with out porn to add fuel to it and keep it alive,and after the fantasy dies out you'll want to MO less and less and if you do it will be to sensation for a release, at least that is what I have found so far. By not watching porn things slowly fall in to place and back to normality.
    Failed but improving likes this.
  3. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Thanks dd. I agree with you 100%, sexual energy should be reserved for partners. I am pissed about this aspect most of all.

    The MO i did this time was definitely not the healthy kind, it was a PMO substitute/coping mechanism. In the past MO-ing has always led me to PMO very quickly (within 12 hours). That didn't happen this time, which is good, but I don't think MO is something i can ever approach healthily.
  4. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    No, it isn't. I can't even let my wife beat me off, because that sets me up the same way. The addict wants you to notice your dad's behavior, the stress of travel, etc. This is one of those moments you must slap yourself back into shape so that your eyes don't start to glaze over. You've made great strides, my friend, but we are never far from the demon's grip. I have had this happen to myself, early in the year, when I MO'd four times in a row and then could no longer get an erection. It took two weeks to get back on track and I had to pull out all the stops.

    You've reached a plateau of sorts and this becomes dangerous, as we begin to coast. Do whatever you have to so that you don't slip!
  5. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Being out of your daily routine, having the travel stress, little sleep, complicated confronting situation with your parents. It would have been surprising if you wouldnt have had any difficulties. Maybe you needed this situation to happen to take you to the next level of recovery.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  6. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    It was strange- stress sort of undermined me and i forgot all the lessons i had learned. I'm home now and feel a bit more confident, but the MO relapse has definite momentum that must be consciously stopped.

    Thanks Saville. We also forget how insidious the addiction is, how powerful the draw. I'm angry about it and hopefully that will get me through these next few days.
    Saville likes this.
  7. trapped7

    trapped7 "what you resist persists"

    You have the edge because you can already see the dangers of MO and the potential quick escalation so clearly.
    If you can stay mindful and psychologically aware these next days you'll be fine, and you have shown many times in the past that you can.

    Being free from P for almost 2 years is an outstanding achievement, one that is reflected in the current state of your body and mind.
    If you continue down this same road your mind and body will thank you even more as time goes by.
    A New Man and Saville like this.
  8. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Thanks Trapped. I needed to read that this morning.
  9. trapped7

    trapped7 "what you resist persists"

    Seems you've been successful in getting through that bottleneck and came out victorious.
    If that's the case, congrats and let's keep moving forward!
  10. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Thanks trapped. Being back at home has helped a lot. It is the power of habit- the habit of pmo is hard to break, but when we develop new habits around no-fap, they also have momentum.

    Holy shit i felt bad after the last MO, 6 days ago. 2 days of severe brain fog and despair. I seriously thought I'd blown 600 days. Thankfully I am bouncing back. Relapsing after 300 days before has basically reset me back to zero, but 600 days is probably enough time for the new pathways to consolidate and create a new baseline. My mood has improved, my mind is working properly again and I'm getting good morning wood. I had forgotten how BAD addictive MO-ing makes you feel- can't believe i lived like that for so long. What a gift the reboot is.

    I really need to think more about the relapse and figure out what the hell happened.
  11. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Yep, been there. The despair is real. MO is not a benign thing.

    Great that you got back on track, though!
  12. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Thanks for sharing. In this case I wonder what the difference is with having an SO. I can understand that if you would have binged like crazy, these negative effects would occur, but it was basically one MO. What is the difference on a physiological level? Do you think that the whole build up of fantasies in the days before intensified these effects?
  13. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    @Gilgamesh The difference between SO and MO (the way I do it) is the length of the dopamine spike. My MOs start with fantasy that i build for hours. These provide the distraction I am looking for when stressed/tired or whatever. The M-ing usually starts when I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot sleep. I lie there, bored out of my mind, and continue building up the fantasy and eventually start M-ing. Again, it is about the distraction and arousal, and not the O, so this can continue for hours ("edging" is the word for it). Some nights I get back to sleep without even O-ing, other nights the O ends the session and I feel annoyed that it's over. By the end my brain has been aroused/flooded with dopamine for several hours.

    I did 4 of these MOs during my holiday. That was a lot of dopamine.

    In contrast the dopamine spike I get from SO only lasts 15-20 minutes max. Also the dopamine released is lower (less arousal), at least in the early days of the reboot. After a year or so clean SO starts to feel a lot better and the dopamine released is probably equivalent to FMO. Another difference is that after SO i get that oxytocin glow that can last for several hours which I never get from MO-ing.

    The first is addictive-level behaviour and causes cravings, the second does trigger some minor cravings (chaser) but because the dopamine spike is a lot shorter the cravings are a lot less.

    Thanks for asking- i never really analyzed it before.
  14. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Found this great resource yesterday- https://pemachodronfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/The-Essential-Pema-Study-Guide.pdf
    I'm going to start posting excerpts here.

    “We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
    Pema Chodron Start Where You Are, p. 3​

    I love this idea. It's so different from the stuff I grew up with. The "way in" to this mind set is to shut down the mental chatter that normally fills the mind (what i like, what i dislike, what i said, what i'm going to do etc) and just be in the moment. Same with interacting with people. Just approach with an open mind, without judgement or agendas, and see what arises. I always used to speak straight from my ego, to give an opinion or a related anecdote, but now i try to listen to what they are saying and usually something arises in me, not from my ego, but from a quieter place, which is kind and sometimes wise or funny. This was a surprise to me because i always thought that the voice which is my ego was who i was. Apparently not and thank god for that. And like Pema says, it is something we all have and can access.
  15. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Had SO for the first time since the relapse. I didn't have morning wood to start, but it had been a while and i felt like having sex (libido is still present, hooray) so i m-ed a bit and got hard. The sex was quick and i started to lose my erection before i O-ed. Also sensitivity was reduced. I was relieved to be able to do the deed but the loss of sensitivity is a bummer.

    Today's dose of Pema:

    “In order to feel compassion for other people, we have to feel compassion for ourselves. In particular, to care about people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean, you name it – to have compassion and to care for these people means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. In fact, our whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, we could open our hearts and allow ourselves to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind.”
    Pema Chodron When Things Fall Apart, p. 93​
  16. dig deep

    dig deep must stop wasting my life on porn

    Good one for rewiring with your wife that's how it should be, some times it will be good other times not so good but its always better than porn especially the way it will make feel for the rest of the day, like keeping you emotionally connected to your wife and feeling positive after doing it.

    I like that Pema quote, feel and be with the pain instead of hiding from it in porn.
    Saville and A New Man like this.
  17. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Thanks for explaining. I'm familiar with these fantasy/edging sessions. They feel damaging in so many ways. A quick MO would be better in such case. But, as you already said, there's often a reason for such long sessions and that is avoidance of the here and now. A quick MO only gives a quick release of tension.

    Nice quotes of Pema! I like the concept of compassion even for people that are diffiuclt to be compassionate with. For a while I have been doing meditations (exercise in book of dalai lama) in which I pictured people I liked and disliked and said 'just like me, person x wants to be happy and does not want to suffer'. I found it really interesting, and helped me at the time to deal with difficult colleagues.
  18. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    Felt crap today. I O-ed 2 days ago by SO, so this is the chaser i guess. Before the reboot i would have acted out at this point without barely registering the dip in mood, as unconsciously as scratching an itch. Becoming aware of these natural cycles is why it's so important to refrain from orgasm, at least temporarily. This afternoon i had to coach kids' sport again- it lifted my spirits. Being with the kids and feeling like i did a good job afterwards are two positive sources of dopamine.

    Here Pema talks about the sense of being on the edge of acting out and holding back-

    “When you are refraining – when you are feeling the pull of habitual thoughts and emotions but you’re not escaping by acting or speaking out – you can try this inner renunciation exercise: Notice how you feel: What does it feel like in the body to have these cravings or aggressive urges? Notice your thinking: What sort of thoughts do these feelings give birth to? Notice your actions: How do you treat yourself and other people when you feel this way?”
    Pema Chodron Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, p. 35
    Mindfulness as applied to urges. What's interesting and reassuring in a way is the similarity of the experience each time round. If it repeats, it can be mastered, or like Arnie once said "If it bleeds, we can kill it". Arnie and Pema in the same thought bubble? OK, it's time for bed.
    Saville and dig deep like this.
  19. trapped7

    trapped7 "what you resist persists"

    "If it bleeds we can kill it". Yeah, come to think of it, when the addiction strikes it is kind of like a high-tech, invisible Alien from another world chasing you down. But as Arnie so clearly demonstrated, it is possible to defeat it. I am trying again too to stay away from the temptation of acting out on all different fronts, no stimulation visually, physically and mentally. Mentally is usually the one it starts with.
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  20. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    I think the MO relapse may have been a blessing in disguise. As Saville you pointed out i had hit a plateau and not much was changing for me day to day. Since the relapse and bouncing back, i feel like i've got my mojo back. Had some very strange dreams and had a new idea for my hobby which will take it to the next level- it's a bit crazy, but hey, the genie's out of the bottle now. Perhaps it's the contrast between feeling so low after the relapse (dopamine binge) and bouncing back to a fully rebooted state of mind. Never had that before (previous relapses always involved porn and basically reset me to zero).

    I must be putting out some kind of energy- yesterday a smoking-hot twenty something came and stood quite close to me in the bookshop. She was physically the type of girl (Scarlett Johansson-ish) who in my late teens i would have overcome all my awkwardness to speak to and ask out. As it is, I moved to the next aisle and picked up a book by the Dalai Lama on Happiness. Earlier in the week an attractive thirty something woman told me "I can barely walk after my workout earlier this week" with a twinkle in her eye. I blushed and ran. Being present is a powerful tool, but it also means you're present for situations you're not prepared for (or never knew how to handle in the first place).

    In the past encounters like this would have triggered a PMO binge. Instead i came home and dug out a tree root in the front yard. Manly things.
    Gil79 and Saville like this.

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