Recovery Journal

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

  1. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    @1MoreLookAway thanks man!

    Yeah as I mention in my first post, I’ve been half-heartedly trying to give up porn for years now but in all of those years (and not until around November of last year), I didn’t realize that porn is actually bad for one’s brain and causes a wide variety of changes to one’s neurotransmitters that can lead to anxiety, depression, etc. Reading about the damage that behavioral addictions can cause to one’s brain was really eye opening and was the main catalyst for my renewed efforts to quit. Looking at it in hindsight, there have always been plenty of reasons for me to quit but it wasn’t until I really began reading about the mental/brain health dangers over the last few months that everything coalesced. It’s really a shame that there isn’t more public awareness of this issue and how harmful it can be.
  2. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    Welcome @Montesquieu Great start! Keep posting. It def helps keep you disciplined. And always push yourself to share both your victories and defeats. It's a much healthier way to get past the tough times. And reminds you - you are never alone in your journey to conquer your addiction. Your brothers are all here to support you
  3. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks, @path-forward! I really appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed reading your journal, by the way. You’ve done some excellent work as well. Keep it up! Let’s finish the year strong! Think about how good it will feel to have six more months of sobriety behind us as we approach the end of the year and reflect on our goals for 2024.
    path-forward likes this.
  4. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    Thanks very much for your gracious and supportive response. It's much appreciated! And yes, 6 more months of staying clean for 2023 is a great objective. I'm with you on that one!
    Montesquieu likes this.
  5. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just checking in. All good here. 12 days in the books without MO or PMO or fantasy, and my wife is out of town, which always makes things more difficult but I’ve been laser focused because I knew it would be tough.

    I think my previous long streaks have helped even though they ended in a relapse. I’ve developed better habits during those streaks even though they ended in setback. I’ve also learned from each occasion. Though I’ve relapsed a couple of times, since December 2022, I’ve only masturbated about 10 times and only watched porn on ~10 days—10 days out of 200 or so. Historically, I would have masturbated every day and watched porn on most of those days. So, all things considered, it’s a good seven months even taking the relapses into account. This doesn’t excuse them, of course, and I’m striving to do better, but it’s important to celebrate and acknowledge one’s improvements, and I can definitely tell that the new behavioral patterns that I’ve developed are starting to feel like the new normal. But I’ve still got a long way to go.

    I didn’t sign up but I encountered the Fortify program this morning. It looks useful, but it looks like it’s app based. I’m not crazy about the idea of having a porn cessation app on my phone though I will if I think it would help. Anyone use it?
  6. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Congrats on double digits brother ;)
    That you've accomplished wasn't fluke or chance, you laid the groundwork, you were laser focused well before your wife went away and that's smart, as they say better to plan for a crisis than to live one.

    Keep on crushing it! One day at a time, enjoy the summer and like you're saying 6 months by Xmas is a little better than not bad ;)

    For once you'll go into the new year without need for resolutions :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
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  7. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for the encouragement. @1MoreLookAway! I really appreciate it. Approaching the new year with the plan to continue on as is certainly sounds appealing compared to planning for a behavior overhaul. :)
  8. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Now that's certainly true, and you still have time for that how've you been getting on lately? Remember we're always building for the future, and whatever effort we make today will help us tomorrow.

    My personal dream is to be 3 months clean by Xmas, I've been 3 months clean many times but never heading into a new year with more than 2wks clean.

    Just imagine waking up on Xmas nearly/6 months sober, how much will your life have changed by then? How many things do you need to change now to make that happen? (I direct this at myself too).

    Keep building
    mailboxsam likes this.
  9. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Hey @1MoreLookAway—thanks for your post and encouragement. It’s a helpful reminder of my goal. I think there is something about the end of the year and the holidays in November and December and time spent with family and friends and the cold weather and so on that really does serve as a motivator if we can keep it front of mind. As you say, it’s really useful to reflect on that time and imagine how good it will feel when we succeed and how frustrating it would be if we were restarting yet again during those weeks.

    Things are good here. I’m 16 days clean and feeling pretty good. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of just dismissing any sexual images or whatever that pop up in my brain. I’m trying to “urge surf” and allow the thoughts to just pass through like so many other random thoughts that pass through my brain.

    I’m also starting to take cold showers again. I think those were helping me more than I knew. And I’ve also been meditating every day for 15 minutes. I’m also trying to focus on the fact that things will get easier after a significant amount of time passes (like a year), with fewer cravings and less intense cravings. It won’t be like this all the time. In short, I’m doing about everything I know of aside from seeing an addiction therapist, which would probably be the next step if I relapsed again.

    The main thing that needs to change for me is that I need to be unwavering in the view that I’m an addict and I can’t watch for just a few minute every now and again. I tend to lose sight or become unconvinced that I’m an addict. I’m pretty new to that realization and it hasn’t fully sunk in but I’m doing everything I can to remain mindful of it.

    Also just trying to keep it simple. Just don’t PMO, and enjoy everything else in life. Seems like it should be doable!

    Good luck on your 3 month goal! I’m hoping you get your six months as well! Might as well, right?

    thanks again for your support!
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  10. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Your damn right 6 months is the aim but I definitely know I need to do more. I just recently slid back down from being a day behind you, so I'd say, dont ever consider it. You're really missing out on nothing, I promise you.

    It's funny before reading your entry meditation was on my mind up until the day I fell, I can say delaying it was to my detriment. Equally, you doing it just shows these little things make a huge difference, and are not insignificant at all. Thanks for mentioning it, it reminds me that I really need to be urgent about this.

    I have to say I really look up to those who do cold showers I'm going to be restarting those from tomorrow. Summoning the will to do that is courageous, the few times I've done it I felt a strong roar. In a way I think cold showers are more cost effective and water conserving as average time of such a shower is always far shorter than the "comfortable" warm shower. Maybe that's a didactic for all life's woes, what's quick, easy and free, pays less across all metrics than what we suffer for.

    In an uncanny way you're living up to your name, "separating powers", knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you might say creating your own personal constitution ;)

    Even though it would be easy to be down in the doldrums for me, I always take inspiration from seeing so many of you guys as advance on your goals. You're doing great I'll be heading to six months with you, well...half a month behind you but nonetheless let's keep locking in on that goal.

    Wishing you a wonderful midweek ;)
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  11. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Keep it up, @1MoreLookAway! You’ve got this!

    Yeah I agree these little things do add up. Meditation (as strange as it seems) is really good for your brain and neuroplasticity. I don’t fully understand it but there a lot of scientific evidence that it helps your brain in all kinds of ways. The last thing I read on it is that it can increase gray matter in the frontal lobes, which is a perfect fit for folks struggling with addiction.

    And cold showers! Man those are great. Talk about a morning boost! I leave a freezing 5 minute shower focused and alive and ready. In some ways it feels like a drug, but it’s good for you. It’s one of life’s loopholes: feels great and is great for you. It also helps me practice sitting through discomfort every day, which is also useful as we kick a PMO habit.

    Stay strong and have a nice weekend!
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  12. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Interesting you mention neuroplasticity, you're probably already familiar with Norman Doidge's masterpiece 'The Brain that changes itself' which confirms what you're saying.

    Thanks for your warmth brother, I clock in at 5 days tomorrow, and your posts on meditation and cold showers have made it clear how much effortless quitting is.

    I did the cold shower, and it was intense but the cold doesn't hold a candle to the winter cold showers those one have me all :eek: forgetting I even have thoughts beyond "get me out of here".

    Since the restart I've added in limiting internet use, there's a trick with smart phones where you can block internet from each app, so you can turn on/off supply to say WhatsApp, whilst keeping your main net on. As today's p is essentially an Internet addiction and I do notice cravings of wanting to be online and do multiple things at once eg multiple YouTube tabs and article reading on Wikipedia. This wkend though I allowed myself some YT, but next week I want to cut it out, some unexplainable good things have been happening since quitting the next.

    How are you keeping Monty??? You're nearing that 1 month now :cool: so long as your cravings are getting quieter, that's all that matters. Oh and that you're enjoying the outdoors, I hope the weather where you are is giving you plenty of reasons for an outing or 10.

    I have done thank you, I hope next week seals off a good month clean for you. I'll be back next weekend, not 100 % sure when your month falls exactly, but please know I'm celebrating you, and I know the wife will return wondering is this my Monty? And you'll get your tlc time again and rewire yet even more deeply :cool::rolleyes:
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  13. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for the kind words and support, @1MoreLookAway! I really appreciate it.

    I’m doing well. I’ve got 23 days of no MO/PMO in the books and it feels good. I’ve got four week and 30 day milestones coming up, which is motivating. My intermediate goals of 6 months and 1 year remain but I think those goals are useful mainly because they allow us to see progress and also because as I’ve said before, I think it’s important to reach these intermediate goals in order for our brains (working memory/executive control) to repair in ways that make lasting recovery possible. At any rate, I’m still chugging along.

    I’ve been reading some of the sex addicts anonymous literature and have found it surprisingly helpful and motivating. Here’s their “green book” or main text. They’ve also got a literature section that contains some helpful texts. I realize a lot of people have strong opinions about the various groups, but I was surprised at how thorough and helpful some of the readings are. I especially like how they discuss that sex addition is unique, just like some of us have observed. We still want to be sexual and still have urges (unlike, say, someone who kicked cigarettes a year ago) and need to figure out healthy, non-addictive ways of fulfilling them. They talk about how sobriety is a bit different for each sex addict. Some behaviors are completely off limits and others are borderline and others are completely fine and we have to define what those are. It’s what a lot of us are working through in our journals here.

    I haven’t read Doidge’s book but I did buy it and intend to read it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Yeah cold showers in winter are definitely a completely different animal! I actually started taking them in the winter and they are definitely a lot easier right now. I’ll take it! They are still tough enough!

    Looks like you’ve got a nice streak going as well, right? A little over a week? It sometimes doesn’t feel like much but it goes by fast. Hang in there brother and thanks for checking in! You’ve got this!
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  14. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    I should clarify my above post about SAA. I found the section on “defining abstinence” most helpful, as I think that’s especially challenging for our addiction. The section on inner circle, middle circle, and outer circle behaviors was useful reading for me because defining behaviors that are part of my addiction or which lead to a relapse and those that aren’t takes some time and thought to figure out. I read a bit about the steps but if you don’t have a higher power, it’s pretty hard to make sense of many of them. Still, I’ll take the good, helpful stuff and leave the less helpful stuff alone.
  15. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Hey Monty, excellent progress! I've made the mental note that next Tuesday will be your big 30, and a well earned one given how observant and experimental you are.

    I resonate with intermediate goals, focusing too much on the destination steals joy that can be had in the present. I have pretty much the same goals, 20 days, 4 weeks, 30 days, 45 days, 60, 90, 100, 120 and the rest, 120 as I've not been there for nearly a decade and I'm frankly quite sad it's taken me this long to open my eyes a little, but there'll be time to feel grateful once I surpass it :cool:;)

    SA sounds like a great addition to recovery, if one is comfortable in that setting. That's very true what you mention about the strangeness of our addiction, we must stop the supranormal stimuli, without turning off the sexual valve for good and it's certainly a see-saw that can easily go from one extreme to another. I like to think through some extent we must have gone through similar stages, the hermit mode, once we first ever experience the "superpowers" and have that paranoia of not wanting to lose it.

    Then we realise "boys will be boys", and hormones don't abate, so we need to keep our intimacy with the wife/partner. Also, there's that fight we make between our addiction, ourselves and the internet. Am I really that guy who watches X genre of p, for X amount of hours? Writing this, I appreciate how far all addicts come as the relapses are progresses, fortresses, no house can be built without labour, no building materials, pillars, and oftentimes a house is not appreciated until times of war provoke instability, inflation, rationing etc. Kind of like our present age.

    So long as you keep hitting your targets that's all that counts. I think the 6 month mark means soooo much to me, I believe because when I hit 120 in 2014 then relapsed it was 2 weeks before Xmas. I remember that winter was better than any summer. I guess I've always found great pleasure in winter, where everybody seems miserable, it's nice to smile, for you guys with wives/partners not a bad excuse to snuggle up, drink warm beverages and read together or just getting warm making love.

    I knew you'd have Doidge's book in your bookcase. I'd also not be surprised if you have Marnia Robinson's Cupid's Poisoned Arrow. I've only read 100 pgs of it and I need to re-read. She was the late Gary Wilson's wife. I reckon you'd love it as a science and freethinker as your namesake suggests ;)

    Marnia's book speaks of Karezza (caressing), a slow sensual form of lovemaking involving touching, brushing, eye contact, slow movements during intimacy. In a way, it's like a sexual meditation, but the conclusions she makes in the book is that frequency of O's, too many in a short time can have adverse effects on intimacy leading to more arguments, and disrupt relational harmony, as it involves energies too. The book is not anti-O, in a logical way, we men tend to forget how powerful a release is, as men are at times derogatorily called "sperm donors" but that sperms intention before contraception was to inseminate and reproduce. Men also determine the baby's gender, with our chromosomes, so I read that book and related. A release is nice but sometimes, and maybe just me but one too many provokes an uncanny desire to move away from my partner.

    Like you said, we must all define what sobriety looks like.

    In terms of higher power, if you might not be spiritual perhaps a way to think of it is your higher self or 'essence' as the New Age folks call it, that part that only wants good for you, and that whispers reason to you, that tells you "we don't crave porn, we crave sexual intimacy or just a conversation amongst our peers". OTOH, the base self that hates any reflection on consequences, like some kind of demonic being that tries to make your body it's vessel, not unlike a virus, if you prefer.

    Thanks for sharing the green book, I hope to begin reading once I tick off more books off the list. ;) The cold showers are so cool just for today I switched to warm, but one thing I noticed is it's the thought of the cold that scares me, it's too late for me to renege once the water hits. I can see why it could prevent relapse, it helps us see how subtle our thoughts are.

    I hope Tuesday you have some plans to treat yourself, maybe the whole week make that point to remember how far you've come and to celebrate yourself, as @path-forward wrote in his, and I'm paraphrasing, that it's common to berate ourselves in addiction, why not celebrate ourselves in sobriety? :cool::cool:

    Have a good 30, tomorrow I'll enjoy my 10 days, and you're right the days always move quick irrespective of us. Thanks for your warm support Monty, I hope it's the first of many milestones before 6 months for you.

    Have a wonderful weekend @Montesquieu
    1MLA ;)
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  16. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    It’s good to hear from you, @1MoreLookAway. I hope you are doing well. I appreciate your posts and support.

    Yeah I think the toughest part of my journey in this process has been to come to terms with the fact that I’m addicted (it took me several years to come to that conclusion; I used to dismiss the idea pretty quickly) and then to figure out what that means given that sexual impulses don’t relent (though we can certainly take an active part in lessening their impact; we don’t have to pay attention to every sexual impulse that emerges). It’s quite a bit different from other addictions in that way. Like I said, I quit cigarettes and it was definitely difficult but it’s much more straightforward in that you simply cannot smoke and then at some point you don’t have the urge to smoke. Quitting porn is fairly straightforward conceptually but for many of us, we also have to limit or completely avoid masturbation as well and to a large extent we have to limit/avoid fantasy in general. It isn’t just porn. It’s hypersexuality—excessive preoccupation with sex. Anyway, yeah it’s a doozy! It’s definitely a lot harder for me than quitting cigarettes (though I only smoked for a few years and I’ve been hypersexual all my life I guess).

    I think that’s a helpful way to think of s higher power. It’s one’s better self, one’s reasonable self versus one’s more animalistic self. Thanks for that suggestion.

    I believe you can get the six months this time. Write regularly in your journal and remain mindful of all the reasons you are quitting and think about how good you will feel at six months and beyond and what kind of great porn-free life you want to lead going forward. You’ve got this, man!

    I also agree we need to celebrate our successes more. I beat myself up for days after a relapse. It makes sense to celebrate for days after overcoming challenges and meeting milestones as well. Great point!

    Thanks again for checking in! Have a great week!
  17. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Hey Monty I just wanted to be the first in wishing you a happy 30 days of sobriety. I always prefer what sounds more numerous, 30 better than saying 1 month, 913 days is better than saying 30 months, it captures your consistency.

    Your presence on YBR has been really great and watching your journey, your calm and collectedness has marked the joy of companionship along the road, often solitary one of addicts.

    Many thanks for your warmth and the votes of confidence, I will be most glad of all to be close to you in days, the approximation in an uncanny way accurately captures how we follow in the footsteps of those we admire most.

    I've heard cigarettes although difficult at the beginning gets easier. I visited a locksmith back in 2022 and he told me he quit after beginning smoking at 11, he was 58, so imagine the addiction! He'd been clean several years and said it wasn't daunting and he felt he outgrew it. In any case, neutralising cigarettes will have served you so well, it's one less distraction or itch to scratch. One more artificial fire exit that you no longer need to walk through to get out of the cul-de-sac that only our minds create.

    Sexual desire like you imply is definitely a bigger challenge, given it is something innate, natural, and something we need to keep in balance. Sex and sexual feeling of all shades, is one of the great joys of life, at its best it's an enjoyable pilgrimage, where souls or complementary natures converse and establish themselves. I might be sentimental but the term 'making love' wins over 'having sex'.

    I feel you've done superbly so far, and always remember what you think is trivial, will build you up for the more challenging moments further ahead.

    I hope it's just the first tick of the checklist for you ✅✔️

    Have a wonderful day, be sure to celebrate it's been wonderful reading your success and I hope a lot more awaits you. ;):cool:
    Montesquieu likes this.
  18. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for the congratulations, @1MoreLookAway! It’s always great to have a decent streak going.

    Some things I’ve noticed during this particular streak is that I’m not dreaming about porn scenes. That’s a welcome relief. I’ve found that intense sex dreams can result in some temptations in subsequent days. Those dreams usually accompany the first couple of weeks but they haven’t happened this time. Hopefully it’s the accumulated effects of my recovery efforts during which I’ve chained together some pretty long streaks. But we’ll see.

    Posting in this forum and reading other guys’ journals has also been helpful, as has the encouragement from others in recovery like yourself. I’m feeling pretty confident and focused on my recovery goals right now and am hoping I can continue to harness this motivation.

    I definitely agree with your point about sexual desire. I’ve been trying to refocus my sexual energy on my marital relations, whether via sex or just cuddling and things like that.

    Congratulations on your 10 days as well! And thanks for checking in.
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  19. 1MoreLookAway

    1MoreLookAway Member

    Time flies, at my moment of writing you'd be on 33, today is my 16th, I kind of wish 16 could mean being 16 again, or at least feeling it. But my promise is to not bring up numbers anymore, well maybe only on the halfway to 90 and 90 itself and possibly the sweet 6mths at Xmas, where our biggest gift will be the sobriety we gave ourselves when we first started out in the trenches. Thereafter, I suppose it needs to become our life.

    We've hit multiple months before but we never protected it the way we always knew we could. Everyone knows don't eat too much sugar, keep good company, don't stay out too late, don't lead people on, but we do things with no awareness, and cultivating that is why life in sobriety is an interminable meditation.

    I think the wife will notice these changes and will appreciate you, don't ever let let up. Women don't always understand the visceral love a man has, and less his means of expression but the most beautiful grace of femininity that I love is their need for connection. Perhaps that's where as men, we can correct our flaws in seeking this too, maybe too much of our communicating connection in the past might well have been too pornified.

    How are the cold showers and meditation going, you still doing them? I've retained meditation, and like I told you previously, so much respect for people that do cold showers, definitely a skill I'd like to cultivate myself.

    The dreams come and go, and like you said it's nice they're very tame. I make it a rule to journal the dream, I still don't have one here but in my personal one. I guess just documenting helps me to 'bury it in my journal', eulogise it and keep it from being resurrected in my mind. The kinds of dreams are always telling, mine haven't been overtly sexual, but I've felt acute pangs of shame, it's more for me the psychological aspect of this temptation.

    I hope SA and the community vibe keeps adding layers of fortification to your recovery. I'm really excited for when we're approaching 3 months and I've more belief than ever that we're achieving it Monty.

    Have a blessed weekend :)
  20. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Hey @1MoreLookAway! Thanks for checking in! Yep, 34 and 18 days now! Congratulations on your sobriety!

    I’m also excited for the upcoming milestones—3 months, 6 months, and beyond. But you’re right. It needs to become a way of life. That idea was really difficult for me to get my head around initially but it’s easier and easier as time goes by. We develop new habits, find healthier ways of channeling our urges or frustrations or whatever, and I think just as importantly, our brains change in ways that lead to fewer and weaker urges to watch. It’s starting to feel like a way of life to me now. I realize I’m an addict and admitting that and understanding it was a big step for me.

    Like you, I also have more confidence that I’ll achieve these sobriety goals. It feels different this time. But as they say, no matter how far you travel and no matter how smooth the ride, the ditch is always at the same spot and so we must remain vigilant.

    Yeah what’s up with the shame dreams? I have them too sometimes, but not too bad lately, thankfully.

    Congrats on working meditation into your routine. I think these sorts of rituals, whether it’s morning exercise, cold exposure, meditation, and so on are very useful. It’s helpful to replace unhealthy obsessions with these healthy rituals and hobbies.

    Keep up the good work! It will be worth it!

    Cheers, and have a good week!


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