Recovery Journal

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Montesquieu, Jun 23, 2023.

  1. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    My story reads like everyone else’s. I’ve masturbated more or less daily since I was a teenager. I began watching online porn around 2001 or so and never looked back. I never saw it as a problem until the past few years, when I began to binge more and more frequently and noticed that I had a hard time just watching for a few minutes. Even then I didn’t really view it as unhealthy, in large part because so many news resources on the issue chalked it up to high libido. I tended to regard it as one the loopholes in life—a tremendous amount of pleasure with no real downside. But of course I was sorely mistaken. I began to realize that I had a problem with excessive viewing and began to think it was hurting my overall quality of life but, again, because I didn’t see it as an addiction and because porn use seems so common among males, I had a hard time remaining committed. However, in November of 2022, I began to see more and more references to porn addiction and began doing more research. When you actually do the research, it becomes quite clear that one can indeed become addicted to porn. I also began to see more references to the relationship between porn and social anxiety, depression, unhappiness, poor marital quality, low libido, and so on. And I was finally motivated to make a serious effort to quit. My first streak was four months without masturbation and porn and I thought it was easy. In the past when I tried (half-heartedly) to quit, I would often double down on masturbation in an attempt to suppress the urges to watch, but I found it actually much easier to refrain when I wasn’t masturbating while fantasizing (not surprising in hindsight!) One day I masturbated and then a couple of days later relapsed over the course of a couple of days. I went another two months and relapsed again. What I’ve realized is that I need some accountability and support to take the next step. My goal is of course never to watch again, but my intermediate goal is six months; and then 12 months, etc. My hope is to post some updates more or less frequently as the weeks go by. I’ve got a mere 5 days right now and feeling pretty motivated.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  2. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    My main obstacle tends to be that after a few months of abstinence from porn, I will tend to begin to think that I can just watch from time to time and just for a few minutes—I tend to downplay the extent to which this is an addiction. And then I will predictably proceed to binge for hours and then, predictably, feel ashamed and disappointed and anxious, depressed, etc. It is difficult for me to sustain the belief that I’m addicted and that I can’t just watch for a few minutes a couple of times per week, again in large part because porn is so commonly watched and because there are a lot of naysayers out there. It’s like I have to relearn the lesson every time.

    I also think that porn addiction is uniquely challenging because we continue to experience sexual urges. They do not go away like, say, an urge to smoke (I used to be a smoker but was able to quit). I never think about cigarettes anymore but if smoking were a natural drive, I certainly would, which would make smoking that much harder to quit. So, given that the urges keep on coming and porn satisfies sexual urges in a unique way (novel, etc) it can be hard to figure out how to deal with urges that I have historically satisfied with porn and masturbation. I am married and we do have sex, but as any married man can attest, marital sex isn’t always the most exciting thing in the world.

    So those tend to be my main challenges—I tend to downplay the extent to which porn is a problem and struggle to deal with the onslaught of urges. I suppose that’s probably everyone’s problem but that’s why I’m here.

    By the way, my wife is not aware of this problem. We’re a pretty liberal couple and she knows I (historically) watch porn and knows I (historically) masturbate (she does too) but I’ve not told her (or anyone) that I’ve struggled with this issue. I’ve only fairly recently begun to regard it as an issue. I’d like to tell her one day of course but am hoping to get a better handle on it before I do. Of course that’s easier said than done. I know there are multiple perspectives on this. I do understand the reasons why it would be good to tell her. But I’m also pretty new to the realization that this is an addiction, so I will continue to keep an open mind on how to approach that. It would certainly help my recovery but maybe at the cost it to my marital quality, etc. We’ll see. I’d like to get a year or so behind before I approach it.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  3. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Doesn't get more liberal or French than Montesquieu, welcome brother!

    5 days is a great opening, I oft-repeat anyone who can weather the first week, can keep clean for life. You've gone months clean, so you know this already.

    With regards to telling the wife, I personally wouldn't no matter how liberal/"open-minded" she claims to be, she will think that as it's an "addiction" that you really do prefer other women to her. With that hypothesis, she'll try to corroborate supporting evidence eg, whenever she feels rejected, it will somehow be your and the porns fault. For a woman, it can become like a 'get out of jail card' to blame the man for any disagreement. And being an addict, an unsupportive partner would propagate not thwart the addiction.

    In any case, you alone know your wife better than anyone else and I admit I have a conservative bias on that one. OTOH, there's 2 men I saw here who did share it with their supporting wives and it worked superbly for them and certainly helped them a great deal, that their accountability partner was so close and understanding and both were extremely successful. I leave you their 2 journals below:

    The first is more liberal, the other conservative/religious, but if you're like me cognitive dissonance is brilliant and everyone in life has a lesson to teach us ;)

    Whenever I'd have an urge writing here, particularly commenting on journals helps get me out my mind, and I view it kind of like an affirmation to myself as to why I don't want to go back.
    Rupert Pane likes this.
  4. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Ha ha! Ain’t that the truth?

    I agree. I think this is a pretty powerful insight. I goes days—incredible days filled with joy—without even thinking about it. So it can’t be too important, and that shows that one certainly doesn’t need it. Sometimes I feel like my life would be impoverished without satisfying some of those urges but the opposite is true.

    Yeah I’ve tended to agree. The only reason that I think it might be useful is that it would certainly make me more accountable and probably would make it easier to stop completely. But I’ve had some success already and would rather just kick this thing and not need to ever mention it, because it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it doesn’t cause some problems in our relationship even though she is open minded. That’s the plan right now. We have a very good relationship (perhaps surprisingly given this post) and I just want to make it even better.

    Thanks for posting! Cheers!
    path-forward likes this.
  5. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    no wife is going to compare to the wild, beautiful, sexy, lustful, dirty,horny pictures we see on the screen. that is fake. my wife is real. we always want something more exciting than we have, a bigger house, a Lamborghini, a new set of suits, 600 dollar shoes, a he-man body. we are never satisfied with what we have, until we are. this takes work. gratitude is a mainstay of my recovery program. if i look at what i have now, i have way more than most people. i have a house, food, a job, healthy kids. my health. many people don't have that.
    this addiction is an addiction that tells us we don't have an addiction. the urges will come and go. it's what i do when i have the urges-get busy. have a plan. do something. action is the best antidote for porn. do something for someone else. it takes a lot of work. it is simple, but not easy. just don't watch-but how do i do that. write. everyday. i write and notice when i fell to porn, what was i doing or not doing. then when that trigger comes up, i know what it means. do something. action. my addiction is an escape from pain. when i write i feel. what am i feeling. what is hurting me? what is causing me pain? most times it's our childhood trauma. i need to deal with that in a constructive manner. thinking it away will not work. i am not a doctor/psychiatrist. but this is working for me. boredom is one of my big triggers. anyway welcome my brother. hang in there. 5 days is better than no days. don't quit before the miracle.
  6. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Another conservative/religious guy who told his wife everything is Matt Dobschuetz, the guy from porn free radio. He talked about this a lot on his podcast and it seems that there were pretty hard times in his marriage, but it brought them closer together.

    But I'm more on your side on this although I am not married. I think I would tell my wife if it was a huge problem, like full-blown PIED. In that case I don't see a scenario were you can just play it down if you can't get an erection with your wife. But if it's a good marriage to begin with and the porn use isn't leading to big problems that affect both sides, I probably wouldn't take the risk.

    Oh, and welcome to the forum @Montesquieu.
  7. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for the helpful words, @badger. There’s a lot of insight there. I love the quote “don’t quit before the miracle.” Just heard it the other day, actually. Cheers!
  8. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for your feedback, @-Luke-! Yeah I’m lucky in that I don’t have erectile dysfunction. I have definitely noticed a bit improvement in my performance during my last four month abstinence streak, though. I was a lot more enthusiastic for sex and the sex was definitely a lot better and more exciting. As it should be. That’s even more reason to quit. I had no idea how much regular masturbation (even without porn) was affecting my sex drive and erection quality. In hindsight that seems silly but I think I looked at it as something like brushing one’s teeth or something. Thanks again for the warm welcome.
  9. StarWarsFan

    StarWarsFan Active Member

    First of all, welcome to the forum. As to telling the wife, I can share my opinion/experience on the matter.

    I ended up developing full on PIED and it impacted our sex life to the tune of us rarely having sex, maybe 1-2x's a year for a good while. I would turn her down, which blows my mind even thinking about that. After the realization that it was porn induced, which admittedly took longer than I like to admit, I went clean for about 10 days before trying to have sex again. I tried too hard, pardon the pun, to reintroduce sex back regularly. She thought my problems were due to stress and getting older but was admittedly worried about frequency and why it dropped off so much. I don't regret telling her, either. She knew that I watched P and masturbated just not the extent and how much/often I did. She took it well enough and supported me but it was only such that we could regain a sex life again. She was going through the "meno" and stuff was changing for her also. We worked through it well enough and have sex 1-2 times a week now, which is awesome.
    mailboxsam and path-forward like this.
  10. Mozenjo

    Mozenjo Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Montesquieu. Yes, lots of wisdom from the fellas above and elsewhere on the forum. I think your statement about masturbation (with or without porn) speaks volumes. I would say most of us got to the point years ago where it was indeed like brushing our teeth. For decades, I certainly thought it was normal to MO every day. It's not. Especially to pixels. So we baked this habit into our brains a long time ago. I remember two of my friends in high school told me they didn't understand why guys look at pictures. They were apparently content to either abstain entirely from M altogether, or at least to do so sans pictures. A rare breed, maybe, but I'm sure they were better off for it. We've spent countless hours looking at pictures. More than a lifetime's worth. So we don't need any more of them. They belong in the past.

    You did a four month streak without M or P. That's something to be proud of, and to build from. You can obviously do it again! There are many here who have made it their new normal, and I'm one who is inspired by their stories, as I know it is possible, and totally worth the effort.
  11. DBA

    DBA Active Member


    I have told both my wife (we are long married) and my adult son (who like me has severe bipolar mood disorder and also became addicted,
    in his case to alcohol). I feel that having covered up for so long it is a relief that I can feel accountable to them.

    My son even gave me a gold coloured coin with 3 months recovery on it when I reached 90 days.

    My recovery partner on this site has also told his wife.

    I am not saying that it is appropriate for all married guys to do this. I am only saying that there are circumstances in which it can be done.
    and I have found it helpful.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  12. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for for sharing, @StarWarsFan. I appreciate it.

    It sounds like we are in a similar situation. She knows I masturbate and (used to) watch porn, but doesn’t know the extent of it. Our sex life has never been great and now I realize that’s pretty much always been because I masturbate and watched porn as my primary release. I didn’t realize the extent to which regular masturbation was affecting my drive. I always regarded it as a healthy, trivial release. When I didn’t MO or PMO for four months, I was way more excited to have sex and my performance was much better. And so I need to accept responsibility for the fact that our poor sex life is my fault.

    So I think the main reason she’d be upset is that I was clearly hiding some important facts about my life from her but also negatively affecting our sex life. Since I’ve only recently begun to address the issue with everything I’ve got, I’m hoping to become a better man and put it in the past and maybe broach the subject when I’m in a better place. But we’ll see. I certainly do see the value in telling her.
    StarWarsFan likes this.
  13. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for your post, @Mozenjo.

    I was actually shocked to learn fairly recently that daily or near daily masturbation is excessive in men. I think the average was something like one to three times per week. My habit went on for decades without much thought. It was only recently when I read some stuff on YBOP that I learned how excessive my habit was, and also that it causes neurochemical changes in the brain that last well beyond the release. Relatedly, I was pretty shocked to read that viewing porn also affects the brain in what seems to be a pretty dramatic and lasting way. Of course I knew that it would affect my brain but I didn’t know that the changes lasted and persisted and can lead to grey matter loss and larger amygdala volumes and more circulating cortisol and a dysregulated stress system. It’s crazy to read that shit. Reading about the brain effects has certainly played a very significant role in my recent redoubling of efforts. Fortunately, it appears that many of the brain changes can unravel with abstinence. They unravel in meth and alcohol addicts. It stands to reason that they do in behavioral addictions as well. Here’s hoping.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  14. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for sharing that, @DBA.

    That’s great! It must be a tremendous motivator knowing that they are checking in on you and cheering for you.

    I can certainly imagine that it would be helpful. I feel like after we got through the first month or so, our relationship would be better for it, and I’d have an easier time avoiding relapses too. Thanks again from sharing.
  15. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    6 days clean. My wife is out of town for a couple of weeks. I was worried I’d struggle but so far I’ve doubled down my efforts and all is well.

    6 days headed to 6 months (intermediate milestone). That will take me to the end of the year. Let’s close it out strong!
    mailboxsam likes this.
  16. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Hey @Montesquieu

  17. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks @1MoreLookAway! Yeah, especially this early in a streak, I was worried that I’d cave early and often but I feel good. But in some ways the fact that it’s so early in a streak is helpful since I know just how bad I feel when I do cave and the difference in my quality of life is quite apparent right now (was miserable last weekend but feel great this weekend). Here’s to another clean week.
  18. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    7 days clean. One week feels like nothing compared to some of my previous streaks but it always starts with a day. The days pile up fast.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  19. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    I encountered a useful quote the other day:

    “Addiction is about giving up everything for one thing. Recovery is about giving up one thing for everything.”

    That’s certainly true. We do give up everything. When I have historically watched porn, *everything* in my life is worse. I’m a worse husband, a worse friend, I’m depressed, socially anxious, more irritable, a worse employee, and of course I’m less intelligent—my actual brain suffers (working memory, P300 latencies, grey matter declines). There are so many reasons to remain abstinent from PMO.
    mailboxsam, forlorn, -Luke- and 2 others like this.
  20. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    @Montesquieu excellent realisation, and all of it is true! I find for me the mental parts are the main drive, living with p equates to living with dementia, when you get so preoccupied with satisfying insatiable desires, you get unrooted from reality.

    I looked below the waist today and the obvious sign of flatline is there, but I couldn't care less, I just want my brain to heal.

    You're closing in on double digits;) I'd bet you'll end up writing a philosophical treatise by the time you're at 60 days :eek::rolleyes:

    Well done thus far man!

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