Regaining the Will

Discussion in 'Ages 25-29' started by ComebackKid77, Apr 9, 2021.

  1. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    Hi all,
    So I had a really good streak, maybe 9 or 10 days or so. It felt like a minor miracle given everything that I've been through over the last few months. But then the last few days I've been relapsing a lot.

    So what can I learn from this?

    The first thing is that the reason I went on a good streak wasn't anything spectacular, I didn't have an epiphany, I just decided to stop doing it. I decided that relapsing was not an option, it was something that I shouldn't do, and then I was pretty stubborn with myself about not doing it. There was one morning where I felt the urge to relapse for a few hours, and I was so close to doing it several times, but I really just decided that I didn't want to do it, and then after a few hours the urge passed. What I'm really understanding is that relapsing is not some all-powerful thing that you can't break free from - your mind and body doesn't actually have any physical dependency on porn or cyber sex. Eventually the urge will pass if you don't give into it. So really relapsing comes down to that split-second decision when you decide whether or not to open up that tab on your phone. And if you really decide you don't want to do it, then you don't. As I said above: "If he [the self-claimed porn addict] decides to be a different person he can stop that routine, and if he stops that routine he will become a different person."

    The second thing I learnt is that having a short term goal or aim in mind really does help a lot, at least in the beginning. I had an event to attend last weekend and I just said to myself that if I can avoid relapsing until that event, then that would be a good progress achieved. And thats's exactly what happened. And for those days leading up to the event, I was really clear in my mind that I wasn't going to relapse. When you plan to stop relapsing in general, and have no set goal in mind, it becomes difficult to focus on what you're doing. I'm not a massive believer in counting the days, but I do think having short term goals, at least in the beginning, is useful.

    So why did I relapse again after a good streak? The first thing is that I just lost focus. I didn't have anything to aim towards anymore. The second thing is that I got cocky and thought I had cracked it, so I started getting loose with myself again. I allowed myself to have a little peek, or just go on it for a few seconds, and then immediately closed it again. I was telling myself that it didn't really count as a relapse because I didn't actually do anything but this is the wrong mindset to be in. Because once you allow yourself a little peek, then your brain tells itself that it's okay to go back for more, and then of course you end up with a 'full relapse'.

    So going forward, I need to set myself a goal. Now my goal is next Friday when I have another social event coming up. And then, after I accomplish that goal, I need to set myself another goal after that, another week or so afterwards, and after a while I will just decide that it's not worth doing anymore. But ultimately, I just need to stick to my decision that I no longer want to do this and stop eating this fucking junk food. This is what 're-gaining the will' is all about.
     
  2. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    So I had another good streak this week and then relapsed last week out of nowhere. It was the same reason as the last relapse - just completely lacked the will to not do it and made the decision to do it. But I think I still have a good understanding and grasp of my addiction - the difference is that I thought it was my decision to relapse, even though that was a bad decision to make. I don't feel out of control and powerless like I have done before. The other important thing to remember is that I don't have a dependency or physiological addiction to porn or cyber sex - I have an psychological addiction to the rush of dopamine, which porn/cybersex is filling. Importantly, recently I have been replacing my addiction to porn/cybersex with mobile game addiction, and my urges to relapse have been much less. I know that replacing one addiction with another is not the healthiest thing to do, but also it is much better to be mildly addicted to a mobile game than it is to give in to destructive urges.

    Remember - I do not have an addiction or physical dependency on porn and you don't either. We are all making choices.

    The best way I can think to explain it is this: whenever I relapse I always feel very detached from myself. I feel like it's not really me doing it, and then once I finish relapsing I go back to my 'normal life' and feel like myself again. This is a really dangerous mindset to be in. The best way to stop doing these bad habits is put myself in the driving seat and remind myself that I am always in control.

    All I'm doing is making decisions. And that's all that we're all doing.
     
  3. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    How can I change my habits when I don't seem to have the will to do so?
    How can I stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again?
    I need to regain the will to not do this thing, and focus on the good things in my life.
     
  4. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    Right okay. This is it. I know I've said this a million times before. But this is really it.

    I BELIEVE I have the strength and mental willpower to over come this. Just say no to the urges. It really is as simple as that.

    All this hype and talk about what? What for? Just because we are all too damn weak to just stop doing what we really shouldn't be doing.

    Just make a commitment and stick to it.

    And I completely fucking forever commit and vow to stop doing this shit. So that means: no more SC, no more insta, no more porn, no more virtual stimulation of any kind.

    I've got to stop looking for excuses and stop focusing on the wrong things. There are so much better things to be doing with my time.
     
  5. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    So I've already relapsed today and that makes me really fucking angry. I have been having a good day - feeling productive, motivated, and in good spirits. So there's no reason why I had to relapse, but I just chose to anyway. And now the rest of the day is ruined, because already I have to 'reset' my counter to tomorrow. Let's just make this the last time I have to do that.
     
  6. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    We all out here making choices. That's all we're doing.

    The choice to relapse is that split second decision whether or not to press that button and go on that website or not. And it's up to you in that moment to make that choice. That's all it is.
     
  7. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    So it's been a while since I've posted on here, and it's really been a rollercoaster if highs and lows in that time. Every time that I go on a streak of four or five days, I think I've cracked the whole thing, that my life is great, and that I'm never going to relapse again. And then when I inevitably relapse, I feel like my life is terrible, that I'm never going to free myself of this addiction, and that it has all gone to shit.

    The problem for me, is that there is no inbetween. There's no 'okay times', because any day that is only 'okay' inevitably becomes worse and worse and then drops into relapse and succumbing to addiction. I just really need to understand how deep-lying and permeating this addiction is, I'm basically trying to change a lifetime of behaviour, and that doesn't come easily or without hiccups. The issue is that I assume everything is going to be great all the time, and when it isn't 'great', I envitably fall into my old cycle and patterns of destruction.

    Ultimately, that's why I have this addiction. Because I just can't really deal with my emotions, and that I'm using porn and my other destructive habits as an outlet for any negative emotion or feeling. Negative emotions are fine, they are normal, and they can't just be wished or wanked away. Part of this process is just dealing with my negative emptions in a healthy way, acknowledging them, and letting them pass. This is the practice of mindfulness that I have given up but perhaps I need to go back to.

    In the meantime, it is true that relapse is simply a consequence of opportunity and negative emotions combining. I feel bad, and porn is easily accessible, so I use it. But a recovering alcoholic doesn't keep his cupboards full of booze, so I now have the strictest blockers on my phone and laptop, and I hope this can finally stop the cycle.

    But more than anything, I need to focus again on what I want my life to be, and the things that I want to accomplish, rather than what I want to stop doing. So whether this is achievements at work, finding new career opportunities, learning new skills, focusing on hobbies such as TV and reading, or just hanging out with friends. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that half of my total free time this year has been spent by wanking. Think about all the other things I could accomplish in my free time if I didn't spend so much time wanking.

    There are fewer than three weeks remaining in 2021, in what has been an awful year. But the one thing I can do is to end the year on a high, with hope that brighter times are ahead next year.
     
  8. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    Day 0 - so my new year's resolution was obviously not to masturbate or get off to cyber sex and it lasted three days. Well done me.

    Time to start focusing on the things that matter again. Today I spent 2 hours edging to completion. Think about all the other things I could have done in that time - watched a film, read 100 pages of a book, start a new TV series, started a new hobby, listened to a new couple of albums, wrote on my journal, learn a new language, started a training session to learn a new skill, or just fucking relax and do nothing. But nope, instead of doing any of those more healthy things, I decided to go back to my most destructive habit.

    Time for a change I think. Cos I'm fucking sick of this and I don't want to lose another year of my life to this.
     
  9. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    Last night I watched the film 'Shame' and boy did that hit close to home. I would highly recommend anyone on here watches it because it deals in a very graphic and vivid way the issues with sex and porn addiction. And the main character's life is fucking miserable - he is unable to form any connections with anyone, is constantly alone but he is still in a good job with his own apartment etc. I think it shows the life of a porn addict very well - porn addicts are functioning members of society but what we often lack is the ability to build and maintain longlasting or intimate relationships. The film 'Shame' depicts this very well.

    Something else I did the other day was write a version of the future for myself. A future where I kept on using sex and porn addiction and that I hadn't stopped my dangerous use of porn and cybersex. To picture this bleak and depressing future for myself, where in 3-5 years time, I'm still using porn, I've lost all my meaningful relationships, and I've made no progress at all in my life goals was truly terrifying.

    What I'm good at is looking at my past and the reasons why I might have relapsed or why I'm addicted to porn. What I'm hopeless at is stopping myself from relapsing when I get an urge, or building any kind of motivation not to do it. The issue is that when I get an urge, I always think short-term, thinking another wank can't do any harm, or telling myself tomorrow will be my first day, or that there is no long-term harm.

    What the film and writing the version of the future for myself reminded me of was just how deeply terrifying it would be to still be hooked on porn/cybersex for another few years. Is that really where I want my life to be? Is this really what I want to be thinking about and doing when I'm 30 years old? With no relationships, and still just hooked to my screen. Reminding myself of the long term consequences of my porn addiction will hopefully remind me not to do it once I get an urge.

    The final thing I've been thinking about in the last few days has been Charlie Sheen's methods of avoiding relapses. Every time he gets an urge he thinks of three things that he's done as a result of his addiction, that are so shameful that it makes him shiver. The feeling of shame from recollecting these horrific and shameful memories is so strong that any short-term cravings to indulge in the compulsion are quickly overriden by the negative feelings of shame that are associated with the consequences of relapsing.

    There are many things that I've been ashamed of over my addiction, and actually I can't pinpoint just three incidents that are the most shameful. The most shameful aspect for me, has been the continuous betrayal of the people I love, neglect of my responsibilities to work, the complete control I've let my addiction have over my life at times. Here are a few of the most poignant moments:
    • The time I was so desperate to go on my phone and cybersex that I rushed my partner out of the house and actually stood at the balcony, watched and waited for them to get into a taxi so I knew the coast was clear, then immediately relapsed
    • The time I was three hours late for a work meeting because I was stuck in a porn hole and thereafter tried to block all porn from my laptop and ended up breaking my laptop in some sort of porn-made craze
    • The time I snuck into the private room at the office at lunchtime with the sole intention of relapsing, while my colleagues were still sat there in the other room
    The most shameful incidents are those in which I really lost control of porn in my life. I've let it control my actions, my feelings towards others, my commitments, my relationships and let it control my life in a way that is definitely not at all healthy and really demonstrates how much I'm dependent on it for my actions.

    So next time I feel like relapsing, I just need to remember exactly why I shouldn't and remind myself of the deep depths of despair and helplessness I will be plummeting if I let this thing control my life for much longer.
     
  10. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    So I've just had a semi-good streak of 5 days, which is the longest I've managed in months, which in itself is pretty depressing.

    The problem I have is that almost any time I get an urge, I give into it. I think to myself that there's no point not relapsing, because the urge isn't going to go away until I relapse. This, of course, is completely nonsensical. Giving into that urge just makes it more likely that I'll get the urge to relapse again, and it's also completely untrue that the urge doesn't go away unless you do it. The last few days I've had pretty strong urges for a while, I've acknowledged them, and then they pass. This is the most important thing to remember: urges do pass.

    Even though in those few minutes where you have an urge, relapsing seems like the only and inevitable choice to make and that your brain will not be able to cope if you don't, that feeling is not permanent. If I distract myself with something else, or make it impossible for me relapse by blocking myself out of my phone, or get on with my life, the urge disappears and you're left with a feeling like: "why the fuck was I about to relapse". I'll say it again: urges do pass.

    The addiction to porn/cybersex is strong, and the brain tricks me into thinking it's necessary. The worst thing about relapsing today is that my brain was actually really happy for a while and gave me lots of dopamine, which felt really nice. But we are not just animals giving into urges, we have the mental strength and capacity to overcome them if we really want to, and we focus on the benefits of doing so.

    For now, I just want to go on a streak of one day. My problem is that after every streak of 4-5 days and then a relapse, I then end up on another bad cycle immediately. So if I just last another 24 hours I'll already be on the start of another streak, and have something to hold on to.
     
  11. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    I relapsed today after a streak of about 50 days or so. I've reunited with my boyfriend after being in a LDR for almost a year and it has been so good to focus on him again, and our love, and our life together. Luckily, when we met again, I didn't have any problems with ED and it looked like things were improving a lot. And all that time not relapsing, my brain has been so much more stable and healthy, and I'm able to focus on the things that matter.

    BUT, I did relapse today for the first time in a long time. It felt really depressing and honestly, the whole time I was relapsing I was really thinking, "this? is this what I was so hooked on for so long?". Relapsing is just not that enjoyable, and there are so many more worthy things to focus on in life than fucking porn and cybersex.

    The key thing now is to avoid a situation where I keep on relapsing. I need to stick on the straight and narrow and stay committed to my goals.
     
  12. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    In a semi-okay cycle. I've been with my boyfriend for a while, and of course that helps to avoid any relapses. But the second I get a free time on my own, there is only one thing in my mind and that is to relapse. So that just shows how hooked I am on porn.

    I have been trying to focus a lot more on Judson Brewer's mindfulness techniques to break addiction, and rather than fighting cravings, we pay attention to them and actually analyse what they feel like in your mind and in that moment.

    This is the technique he recommends:

    R - Recognize what craving feels like.

    A - Allow it to be present without pushing it away, allow it to come up, do its dance and fade away.

    I - Investigate what craving feels like in my body right now with curiosity.

    N - Note craving as it comes and goes along with tension, yearning, and tightness in the body.

    More than just with the cravings, actually paying attention and being mindful when you are relapsing helps you to break the cycle of seeking gratification by focusing on what relasping actually feels like. It feels fucking shit right? I have relapsed a few times over the last few weeks, and I felt thoroughly miserable throughout it. While I was relapsing, I tried to practise mindful techniques and pay attention to what I'm doing rather than giving into urges. Porn and cybersex is actually fucking disgusting if we only ever stopped to notice. If I pay attention to how unhappy I am when I relapse, rather than the sexual gratification, then I hope my brain will become re-wired to stop seeking it out anyway.

    I've tried everything else, so this can't do any harm.
     
    -Luke- likes this.
  13. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    I am now apart from my boyfriend for the next two weeks, so my aim is simply just to stay clean for that time.
     
  14. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    I have also read Judson Brewer's book (The Craving Mind) and it's a good read. His idea of the "compass" was very compelling to me. The more I study the topic and the more I observe myself, the more I come to the realization that we have to "lean into" the addiction instead of pushing it away. Fighting it may work for some time, but what about long-term? I think the best idea is to observe what we are feeling, why we are feeling it, accept that we are feeling it - and then find a better response than the one we used for years and decades.

    It's like you said: "I've tried everything else, so this can't do any harm."
    Many of us here and many guys who have long left the forum have tried anything else. And to be honest, the success rate of the "I just have to use my willpower und fight through" approach is nothing short of disastrous. There has to be another way.

    Take care!
     
    ComebackKid77 likes this.
  15. Kuhn

    Kuhn Member

    That's exactly right Luke. I did not read your book, but a similar conclusion can be drawn from ''atomic habits'' by james clear. Just avoiding P (and other easy dopamine activities like surfing the web, netflixing, and gaming up to a point) isn't enough. it's about replacing bad habits with good or at least acceptable ones. your willpower can only take you so far into a cold turkey streak. you need to teach your brain to be satisfied by those acceptable habits. a good example for me is playing guitar: it's easy to see why there's more of a point to playing the guitar than watching P. One has many layers and benefits (enjoying making music, playing guitar by a campfire with others, maybe impress a girl while doing so) and the other is just bland, superficial, dopamine that teaches you next to nothing and leaves you feeling worthless until you get your next shot.
     
    ComebackKid77 and Saville like this.
  16. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    Thanks for your thoughts, guys. Really nice to have some support and engagement with my posts. I have been trying to use Jud's techniques but the problem is they only work until they don't. ie. if I focus on being mindful and being 'curious' about my cravings, then they do sometimes pass. But I just as much give in as I do 'get curious' and then I relapse anyway. I don't really know what I'm doing wrong. To me, the RAIN technique also seems like a bit of a 'willpower' technique because ultimately you still have to have the willpower to think about the cravings rather than act on them.

    I am just feeling very trapped right now. By my life choices, my career, my relationships, where I am in the world. I've been in a lot of pain for such a long time.
     
    -Luke- likes this.
  17. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Yes, the mindfulness part is definitely just one piece of the puzzle, but not the whole puzzle. I haven't figured that out myself.

    Do you use any blockers? Is the computer the problem or the phone, or both?
     
  18. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    I think I'm starting to get the mindfulness thing a bit more the last few days. It's not about immediately stopping relapses, actually Dr Jud says the first few times you try, you will give in to the craving and you will relapse. But over time, I guess your mind builds a bit more resilience and stops associating relapsing with a 'good habit' or a reward and focuses on other things. It's not an immediate thing, but more like a change in your thinking. Today, for example, I wanted to relapse, but in the end actually my usual vices (porn sites, webcams etc) just didn't appeal to me. I hope this is the start of me breaking that habit loop. The trick is to keep on practising mindfulness.

    And yes, I have used blockers on my phone and laptop for a long time. But they've never worked. I have yet to find a blocker that I can't get around, even the most sophisticated ones that I've paid for. So now I've got rid of them altogether - if they've not been effective in stopping me from relapsing then what's the point? In many ways the blockers were almost like a 'game' to me, I would somehow revel in getting around them, and the fact they were there just meant that I wasn't thinking about all the other stuff (mindfulness, my overall life goals, other productive things I should focus on) because I just thought I could rely on the blockers instead.

    So for now, I'm trying without them. I really just need to change my mindset. I first started one of these blogs when I was 21 and I'm now 27. I've wasted six years of my life on this stuff and it's finally sinking into me how pathetic that is. Do I really want to be 33 and still hooked on this stuff? Enough is enough.
     
  19. ComebackKid77

    ComebackKid77 Member

    It seems like one step forward, two steps back at the moment.

    I thought I was really starting to get the mindfulness techniques, and actually used it pretty effectively yesterday to 'urge surf' and not relapse even though I was really tempted. But then just before I went to bed, I didn't have anything better to do so I relpased straight away. And I hated every second of it. And today I also relapsed almost immediately.

    But, what I think I am starting to become more conscious of, is disassociating the 'relapse' with 'reward' habit loop. Even the last two times I relapsed today, I was mindful of the fact that it was really unpleasant and not something I wanted to be doing. As Jud says, what am I actually getting out of it? When you relapse, just think, am I enjoying this? Is this a pleasurable experience? Is this something I want to repeat?

    And the answer to all those questions are no. So I'm still getting the cravings, but I hope with more and more mindfulness meditation and practice, that I can start to break the habit reward loop once and for all. The problem is that sometimes I choose to forget that relapsing is not pleasurable and leads me to hate myself, and my brain convinces itself that relapsing could be really fun, could be really good for me. Mindfulness will hopefully help me to keep on reminding myself that relapsing is not the reward I should be looking for.

    For the first time in a while, I am actually hopeful that I could be close to understanding and breaking this destructive cycle, despite the fact that I've relapsed in the last 24 hours.
     
    Rudolf Geyse likes this.
  20. Rudolf Geyse

    Rudolf Geyse Well-Known Member

    Hey @ComebackKid77 . Keep up the positivity. I think the saddest thing on the forum is when rebooters report that they can't give it up, what's the use, and we don't see them again. Keep on keeping on.

    I find the best thing for mindfulness is to write. A lot. Journal about how it's not worth it to go along with the urge. You can't keep writing it out every day without your brain waking up and choosing the right thing in the moment of the urge. Thoughts are cheap, we have thousands of thoughts every day, but if you take the time to articulate it for yourself on paper (or online) that is powerful for change.

    As far as blockers go, if you have a trusted confidant who knows you are trying to reboot, you could consider accountability software. There is a way around the blockers, yes - personally I find it is still helpful cos I want as many hurdles as possible in the moment of urging, so I leave them set up anyway and I believe this has saved my life. But you might find the accountability software harder to dodge once you've set it up. Good accountability software will let your accountability partner know when it has been disabled.
     

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