Recovery Journal

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

  1. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just checking in to say that all is well here. It’s been pretty smooth sailing this week, fortunately. I’ve got 41 days clean (no PMO, MO, or fantasy).

    I’ve continued to benefit this week from the SAA literature even though I’m not religious and don’t have a higher power. Their emphasis on a higher power in their 12 steps notwithstanding, they’ve got some great literature on sex/porn addiction.

    I’ve also been trying to get out of my comfort zone and build a more exciting life. I’ve read here and elsewhere that addicts need to enjoy recovery and need to try to build sober lives that they are excited about. So I suggested to my wife that we get out of town for a long hike this weekend. She loves hiking but I have hitherto been relatively ambivalent about hiking and we don’t hike that much. She’s thrilled that I suggested it and I’m excited for the change of pace and opportunity to connect to something new.

    One day at a time.
  2. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just checking in here since it’s been a while. I’m 51 days clean (no MO, PMO, fantasy) and feeling good. I haven’t had any significant issues so far but I know that I have to remain vigilant. I know there will be tests along the way. My wife is headed out of town until Friday but I feel confident that I’ll remain on course.
  3. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just checking in. I’m 55 days clean and feeling good. I’m motivated and focused. I’ve been waking up to intense erections in the middle of the might but it thankfully hasn’t led to many challenges during the day (sometimes sex dreams and strong erections during sleep can lead to temptations the next day for me).

    @path-forward mentioned that he felt anxious and depressed recently and asked if others go through the same thing during recovery. He was referring primarily to a feeling of loss that he can no longer enjoy an activity that he has historically immensely enjoyed. I thought I’d chime in.

    I definitely relate to the experience of loss. It feels like I lost a friend or something in giving up porn and masturbation. I’ve derived an incredible amount of pleasure from those activities over the years. Watching porn/fantasizing/masturbating was one of my favorite pastimes for decades—if I’m honest, it’s hard to think of many things I enjoyed more. So it’s definitely depressing to give it up.

    But I take comfort from the fact that I felt the same way when I gave up cigarettes and alcohol. It was like I lost a food friend. It was difficult to imagine a life without it. But over time of course, your brain changes and it’s no longer that important and then, eventually, not important at all. I’m not to that point with porn but I definitely don’t see it as a loss in the way that I did in the early days. It slowly gets easier.

    I’ve also struggled with some physical issues related to withdrawal . For the first 7 or 8 weeks after I stopped porn and masturbation, I slept horribly, typically getting at most six hours of sleep, usually waking up at 4:00AM. I’ve also been dealing with some chronic muscle twitching and regular muscle spasms that may or may not be related to PAWS. My emotions have been all over the place, ranging from excitement that I’m finally addressing this issue to depression that I’ve wasted so much time watching porn. Over the past few months, it’s become clear just how much this issue has affected my life—the secrecy, the shame, the isolation, coupled with the realization that I haven’t been as good of a husband as I would have liked to have been. And so much of it has to do with preferring porn over marital sex and intimacy. When I think about just how much excessive porn use might have affected my brain/personality over the years without my having any idea that it was as bad for me as some studies and speculation suggests that it is, I become depressed indeed.

    Add to all of this that recovery from this addiction is different from recovery from other addictions. Whereas most people are pretty open about being sober or in recovery from alcohol and other drugs, many of us feel that we can’t even freely discuss it with family or close friends, let alone anyone else. And even if we could, many people still dismiss it as not a real addiction. So this makes recovery isolating as well.

    It’s also tricky because there is virtually no scientific research on porn addiction recovery and what to expect along the way. Some people suggest that edging to porn is comparable to using cocaine in terms of the dopaminergic response, but a lot of this is just (reasonable) speculation (or at least I’ve not been able to track down actual evidence of this). But others suggest that it’s not an addiction at all. But if it’s anything like cocaine or even alcohol, we should expect pretty dramatic changes to our brains during the first couple of years of recovery, and we might reasonably expect a wide variety of changes to our emotions and personality along the way as well. But because there is very little research into the issue, we’re all in the dark in terms of what to expect. Many of us on this forum have been addicted to other substances and have been able to quit them. And I get the impression that at least some of us have a harder time kicking porn than kicking some of these other substances that are notoriously difficult to quit. So it’s reasonable to assume that our brains will undergo significant changes over the next couple of years during recovery. That would ordinarily be accompanied by a variety of mental/physical manifestations. But who knows!

    And that’s my point. Nobody really knows because there are no studies—just folks like us reporting what we’ve encountered along the way. It’s incredibly frustrating to have such little data on this very difficult mental/physical health issue and virtually no support beyond what we are able receive in these online communities.

    Sorry to go on and on, but I definitely have struggled with anxiety and depression during this process, and some of it might actually be PAWS, of course.

    It’s tough! But we’re grinding! We’re warriors here! We’re in the game and fighting the good fight. That’s all we can do right now, and we should be proud of ourselves for trying to address this very difficult and somewhat mysterious addiction given the hurdles and overall lack of support from the medical community.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2023
  4. mailboxsam

    mailboxsam Active Member

    You’re on one hell of a streak! Thanks for link to SAA green book I look forward to getting into that
    Montesquieu likes this.
  5. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    Monty. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    You’re doing amazingly well!

    keep fighting!!
    Montesquieu likes this.
  6. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Gil79 and mailboxsam like this.
  7. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just popping in for an update. All is well. 61 days without PMO/MO/fantasy. These 61 days have thankfully been fairly peaceful and smooth so far.

    I had a wet dream last night and recall vivid dreams leading up to it. It’s such a weird phenomenon at my age. Prior to a few months ago, I thought men my age simply didn’t have wet dreams any longer. But of course it turns out that we do (at least many of us do) if we don’t have an orgasm for a certain number of days. It’s pretty remarkable changing my underwear in the middle of the night—something I haven’t needed to do since I was a teenager. You learn something new every day.

    I actually don’t particularly like these vivid dreams though because they are often very intense and there is a lot of overlap between these dreams and what would ordinarily be a typical fantasy of mine. Since I try not to fantasize at all (I basically dismiss any sexual imagery that pops in my head as quickly as I can without lingering on it and opt against intentionally fantasizing), it’s a little bit of a trigger. But I’ve dealt with it ok today, helped no doubt by a busy day at work.

    Here’s to a clean weekend, fellas!
    Gil79, mailboxsam and path-forward like this.
  8. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Checking back in. Things are going well here. I’ve got 75 days clean from PMO/MO/fantasy. I’ve had some minor temptations lately but nothing I couldn’t manage. I had sex with my wife last weekend and it was some of the best sex we’ve had. I am definitely a lot more excited when we have sex when I’ve avoided PMO/MO for a while. I don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction, thankfully, but that’s not to say that regular PMO/MO hasn’t affected me in the bedroom. It certainly has, and it’s definitely noticeably much better and easier now. I don’t have to fantasize when I’m with her. Anyway, that’s a nice change.

    Things are good otherwise.

    Here’s to a clean Labor Day weekend! I hope everyone is doing well.
    Gil79, Caz, StarWarsFan and 1 other person like this.
  9. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    Monty. Great to hear all this! You are doing so well at many levels! Very happy for you!

    Keep up the amazing effort!
    Montesquieu likes this.
  10. Caz

    Caz Active Member

    Great steak and good to hear the benefits, it’s very encouraging. Keep at it.
    Montesquieu likes this.
  11. kaamos

    kaamos New Member

    Great post!! I feel identified!! In my case, one of my closests friends know about my recovery, but he´s actually unable to understand, how much suffering and frustration brings porn addiction, and all strugles on the recovery
    Montesquieu likes this.
  12. mailboxsam

    mailboxsam Active Member

    Firstly, so proud of your what you have achieved up to now, well done. Secondly, what you describe above is basically very similar to what happened to me last night.
    Montesquieu likes this.
  13. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Your lasts posts are so motivating.
    Keep posting!
    Montesquieu likes this.
  14. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks for all of the support, fellas! I appreciate it. This forum is really great.

    @kaamos yeah I hear you. It’s such an isolating addiction. I wish we all felt comfortable talking about this issue with friends the way we do when we quit smoking or alcohol or virtually anything else. But I guess we are fortunate that places like this forum exist.

    @mailboxsam It really is such a strange phenomenon having wet dreams for the first time in decades. I truly had no idea it still happens to men our age. It’s a wild world! I don’t mind it much as long as it doesn’t lead to any kind of temptation the next day, but it sometimes does due to the vivid dreams that lead up to it. But we just have to roll with it. There isn’t much we can do about it.

    Thanks again for the support, fellas. Have a great weekend!
    mailboxsam likes this.
  15. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Hey Fellas—just checking in. Things are good here. I’ve got 91 days clean from P, M, and fantasy.

    As some of you might recall, I’m in this for the long hall—I’m striving for a lifetime of abstinence from P. However, I did set an intermediate target of 180 days. Of course, that doesn’t mean I let up at 180 days. Rather, I think it’s useful to have these targets for a variety of reasons. For example, strength and frequency of cravings will tend to lessen after 6 months to a year. So if we want a lifetime of abstinence, getting to a place where cravings are few and far between and not very strong is likely required for most of us, and so I find it useful to set these short term targets even when my goal is a lifetime of abstinence.

    Anyway, I’m halfway to that goal and feeling good.

    I haven’t had too many cravings this streak. That might be due to the above-mentioned phenomenon that urges are less frequent and less intense over time. Before this 91 days, I had a four month streak and then a couple of shorter streaks. I’ve only watched porn on ~6 days since last November and only masturbated 10 times or so during this time, so it’s sensible to think that these 91 days have been a bit easier in part due to the brain changes that occurred during prior streaks that I didn’t completely nullify during the brief (albeit intense) relapses. And of course it’s also likely that I’m just better at dismissing urges quickly, which is a habit I emphasized early during this particular streak. If an urge or sexual fantasy or porn scene or whatever pops in my head, I just acknowledge it and dismiss it. Over time, they stopped popping in for the most part.

    Anyway, stay strong, fellas!
    Caz, path-forward and Mozenjo like this.
  16. Mozenjo

    Mozenjo Well-Known Member

    Wise words, Montesquieu! I'm going to refer back to this post as I continue on my own journey. Congrats on getting halfway to 180. I'm inspired to do the same.
    Montesquieu and path-forward like this.
  17. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Thanks @Mozenjo. I’m glad to hear that was useful. Good continued luck in your recovery as well.

    With respect to things getting easier over time: I read a couple of studies on internet gaming addicts (because there aren’t many studies in recovering porn addicts) and the study showed fewer and less intense cravings after one year of abstinence. My assumption (and I’m pretty confident it’s a correct assumption) is that internet gaming addiction is pretty similar to porn addiction. Any time I read a study that draws conclusions concerning internet gaming addiction or gambling addiction, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that similar findings will hold true for porn addiction given that they are behavioral addictions. Plus, it just makes sense that things get easier over time. Our brains change, our priorities change, we develop new habits, etc.

    So I strive to reach those 6 month, 1 year milestones on the assumption that it will be much easier at that point. So far my experience suggests that it’s true. At the start of this journey in November, I could barely imagine not masturbating on a regular basis and now, for the most part, I don’t think about it much. But that’s certainly wasn’t true at first. It’s getting easier, and that’s something we can all look forward to if we can just push past the temptations in the first few weeks/months. I’ve still got a long way to go but it’s encouraging that it’s getting easier.

    “Subjects’ craving responses to gaming cues decreased significantly at 1 year relative to study onset. Decreased brain responses in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lentiform nucleus were observed at 1 year relative to onset. Significant positive correlations were observed between changes in brain activities in the lentiform nucleus and changes in self-reported cravings. Dynamic causal modeling analysis showed increased ACC-lentiform connectivity at 1 year relative to study onset.”

    and this:

    “After 6 months of treatment, patients with IGD showed significant improvements in the severity of IGD, as well as in QOL (quality of life), response inhibition, and executive functioning. Additionally, a stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed a favorable prognosis for IGD patients with low working memory functioning and high executive functioning at baseline. These results provide evidence regarding longitudinal changes in QOL and cognitive function following psychiatric intervention for IGD.”
    path-forward likes this.
  18. Montesquieu

    Montesquieu Member

    Just dropping by to say all is well here. I’ve got 104 days clean.

    Fortunately, nothing too remarkable has transpired lately. Work is stressful and I’ve not been sleeping great, which never helps on the journey to overcome this addiction. But so far, all is well.

    I’ve not struggled too much with temptation. So much of life is about our habits. Porn and masturbation were (among other things) habits that I eventually became addicted to. But I feel like to some extent anyway, abstinence from them is now a new habit and that means that I simply don’t think about it too much. Whereas I used to masturbate before bed without giving it any thought, now I don’t, without giving it any thought. And that’s remarkable and gives me hope. The first few weeks, I had to deliberately remind myself that I no longer do that before bed—this thing I did at least once per day for decades and now it doesn’t cross my mind. Abstinence from porn isn’t as easy as that yet but it’s getting there.

    I know that I’m still vulnerable. Like so many on this forum have reported, when we do succumb to a relapse it often feels like the behavior was driven by a mechanism in our brain that was not responsive to reason—it’s not *us* that succumbed but some other part ourselves, and I know that part is still a big part of me. The best I can do is continue to strengthen these new habits and weaken the bad habits (and that other part of me) by not indulging in or lingering on fantasies. So far so good but I’ve got a long way to go.

    Wishing everyone a clean, tranquil weekend!
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  19. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    Monty - Was really inspiring reading your last post! And I am very happy for you. And you describe - it's really important to create a new paradigm in your life - where MO and PMO are not part of your daily routine - and most importantly - are not your "go to's" in times of adversity.

    I reached 100 days last year with a similar mindset as you currently have. But then during a time of great stress - convinced myself that PMO "in moderation" would be ok. say once every 2 or 3 weeks - like non-addicts likely do. Well - as has been written here numerous times - moderation does not work for an addict. Within about a month or two - I was back to almost daily.

    So just a warning - as you are doing so well. Stay strong if your addictive mind tries to convince you to rationalize moderation as OK.


    You need 100% sobriety to stay clean for an extended period.

    Sorry about your work stress and poor sleep - as those are tough things to deal with. But remember (and this is directed at myself!) - emotional and physical pain are part of life at times - and P is a poisonous way of combating those feeling. Only making them worse in the long term.

    Keep up the great fight! I am routing for you!
    Mozenjo likes this.
  20. Mozenjo

    Mozenjo Well-Known Member

    Monty and path-forward, both of your posts are just what I needed today. I'm not feeling urges, but reading your words just reminds me that continuing the abstinence will ingrain it as a habit, and become our new normal.

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