Shame, relapse, repeat

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by MissingSelfCompassion, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 1
    Shame says, "again."

    I've looked at porn since early teens. Sears catalog, stolen glances at adult mags, HBO late night, music videos, VHS, internet videos, erotic stories, and finally porn games/visual novels.

    I seem to gravitate towards porn to avoid my low self worth. Stress, fear, anger, it all piles onto shame and I run to PMO.

    I've stopped after confessing to my spouse for a few weeks and even a couple of months. I end up relapsing and the cycle continues. Recently, I started keeping track on a calendar so my spouse could see. It felt like a great so until I failed a day. We talked it over, she was hurt, but we got through it. My shame ate that up and I stopped for 3 weeks. Again, based on shame for the most part.

    Sure there can be gratitude towards myself and shame at the same time. However, the shame is so dangerous as it leads South that familiar path.

    I'm working on self-compassion and trying to reset my brain when it comes to me and my worth. It's hard work. Nobody is perfect, but I can always use a reminder and a community that knows what I'm going through. Thanks for listening. I'm going to go cry now.
  2. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Hey, bro'. Shame is useless, the same as guilt. Being ashamed because we lack life skills doesn't seem appropriate. There is lots of great information in the journals here.

    I wouldn't confess to your wife anymore. This is dumping your problem in her lap and, as you've already observed, is not good for the marriage. Come here and write about your issues. There's lots of support on this forum.

  3. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    Bingo! Lots of help here. I would second that idea of not involving wife. Respect is a fragile web. Welcome aboard. Read journals read and read lots of info here and you will see your not alone.
  4. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Thanks to you both. I've been thinking of joining a local men's group to find some people to talk to, but I thought I'd try an actual place like this where the people share my struggle.

    I really appreciate the positive responses. Thank you.
  5. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Welcome! Well done for posting here - as Bobo and Saville have already said, this is absolutely the right place to be. You're not the only one who's struggling - I know the shame game pretty well myself - but there is so much wisdom and support in these threads. Whatever happens, just keep coming here to discuss, unpack and heal.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  6. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 2

    It was a long night.
    After coming here, I spend some time talking to a therapist. I realized all the work I've been doing in the past year or two to heal. I would tell people that I'm working on my mental health right now to save face about not working. In truth, it turns out that this has been a full time job and I'm tired. I'm not doing a lot for fun. I'm not recharging my batteries. After the conversation with the therapist and sharing here, I was spent, but also full of thoughts and I couldn't relax. This would be the normal time I would run to PMO.

    I picked up a self-help book someone lent me at 10pm. I read a chapter in bed. The urges were still there. I wanted to run away and avoid these urges and thoughts. So, I picked up a fiction book instead. I went to the living room, sat in a chair and read until about 4am. I grabbed my laptop at some point to remind myself of some characters in the book series. I somewhat worried that it was a veiled excuse to jump to PMO. However, I thought of coming here instead. Instead, I got lost in the book again. So it was a victory.

    Because of the late night, I didn't workout in the morning, something I've been trying to get back into a routine. Shame was awake and ready to criticize me. Yet, I went the compassion route, "I was up late. It was difficult. And, that's okay." I'm writing today's journal from a cafe. A strategy that's worked before, getting away from the desktop computer where I spent time looking at porn and playing porn games. There's much I feel the need to confess here. Though, I believe that's shame again talking to me. Like I want to make some effort to self-sabotage and tell you the horrible things I've done in order to push you away. Thanks for listening.

    I like the advice that many have given so far. I lurked a few days before trying to journal. Reading some of the stories served my shame, I began to think this may be hopeless. I was latching onto the idea of how many times others rebooted. I read the thread about the drop in participation here, focusing on how people may get frustrated and leave after they get 90 days in and relapse. So, I jumped in and started to tell my story because I believe there's some healing when you write something out and get the conversation out of your head. I can see the shame for what it is a bit easier. When I get in a better head space, I'll go back and read some more journals. Please, take care of yourselves.
    nuclpow, Mad Dog, Lowdo and 1 other person like this.
  7. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Urges are a natural biological response. You can't stop them from occurring altogether, however the more you choose not to act on them the more their power over you diminishes. Currently I am using a distraction technique to overcome urges. I briefly acknowledge the thought and then switch my attention to something else. Maybe you could try this simple technique?

    Try not to let shame sabotage your recovery efforts. I know it's a vicious cycle, but the more you stay away from PMO the better you will start to feel about yourself and the shame will start to lift away. It won't happen overnight, but if you continue to take actions that promote wellbeing you will build momentum and start to value yourself again. Even the small things can make a difference, taking better care of your appearance, carrying on with your morning workouts. Repetition is the mother of skill, as they say :)

    Good call on seeing a therapist too.
  8. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    There are some long-term rebooters here, but they aren't really serious about getting healthy. Their journals say the same things, over and over again. However, there are lots of journals here with great advice. Many men have overcome this addiction and gone onto awesome lives.

    I think I wrote in that thread about low forum participation. Basically, it's up to us here not to let it happen. The more we all post the better the forum is. Having new blood like yourself is a great boost, as well. :)

    You're doing great! Looking forward to hearing more of your story and watching your important journey unfold.
  9. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 3

    I slept well, got up and worked out. I took the spouse to work so that I can have the car to go to a group this afternoon. So, I grabbed the dog and took her to an off leash park. I think something I noticed in prior reboots was the daily fantasies fade after a bit. At the park, my imagination wanted to run away with ideas of a quickie with another owner. I can somewhat remember when I was further along in recovery before that these fantasies became less and less. I remember meeting them with compassion, it's only natural and biological to desire sex. That strategy seems to work well with me before. All that shame is so toxic, but telling myself to stop fantasizing pushes me back into shame. Compassion works, when I have the mindfulness to do it.

    Thanks for the reminder to look at the whole picture of the forum, Saville. I think that's what I was hinting to yesterday, I knew I was only seeing what I wanted in order to reinforce the idea that I would fail.

    My day is halfway over and I'm a bit anxious because of a job opportunity and some networking. I'm taking a break from the event to sit here and write this. Perhaps it is escape, but on the plus side I'm not alone right now. I've got to head to my group now. I've rarely talked about my addiction in the group. Another shame demon, I suppose. Off I go.
  10. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Yes, it really does. We have to have compassion for our younger selves, the young men who just didn't learn the skills to deal with life head-on. We had poor role models. The great news is all that can change! :)
  11. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 4

    I was started reading Bobo's journal today. Seeing his adventure with a younger attractive woman reminded me of how hard it is to accept my addiction. Before I admitted to anyone that I had a problem, I suspected that I did. As many here have mentioned, there's a number of underlying things that sent me down the path of addiction. In denial, and in a dark state of self-sabotage, I had an affair a few years ago. Somehow the affair became proof that I didn't have an addiction problem. I didn't suffer ED because of PMO. Nope, it worked just fine. The married woman seemed to be dealing with similar demons and our affair was only of a sexual nature. It didn't last long. I confessed to my spouse and sent myself to the hospital because I lost the will the live.

    I hope that I'm not sharing this out of shame. It was a recent discovery for me that the affair pushed some of the buttons of PMO. I watched that sort of P, so of course I was excited living the fantasy. Who knows, maybe the recent relapse and then discussion of it, which helped me find this new bit of information, was a good thing. Another piece to the puzzle. Another small understanding of why I'm here now.

    My partner and I haven't had sex in over 2 years now. It's complicated because it is quite painful for her. She's been to doctors, but it's a difficult subject because of the shame she carries around the issue. That's her baggage and she has to deal with it on her own. For my part, I'm terrified. Will she think of my affair if we try again? Instant E loss. Will I hurt her? Instant E loss. No, it feels safer here in limbo. And yet, it's like I'm punishing myself. I don't deserve sex. The shame is strong.

    At the same time, like I've been reading in journals here, I may not exactly know what sex is. I've been with PMO since middle school. I don't exactly have the best track record to create a loving and sexual marriage, I suppose.
    Saville likes this.
  12. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    I didn't go to hospital, but I do understand the devastation of the spirit that takes place. I cried for three weeks solid, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat (too bad the weight came back) and never thought I'd be well again. But, the human spirit is indefatigable. :)

    I cheated on my wife twice...because, I'm glutton for punishment. :oops:o_O Wife and I didn't have sex for over two years, the same as you. However, when I discovered this place, along with forgoing PMO, I decided I was going to get back to banging the wife. After a couple of months clean, and while we were on holiday, I began making overtures of the sexual kind. I even went so far as to bring some lube, because she was as dry as the Sahara down there. I've written about all this in my journal. I began hugging the wife more, giving her more pecks, complimenting her, etc, and so when I came onto her a little on holiday she was reasonably receptive. This was after us both basically hating each other for a long time. The fact that I was able to even contemplate the nasty with her is huge, because the thought of porking her was like doing my sister. :eek: The lube didn't work, but then I read about coconut oil and suggested we try that. Bingo! I had to go slow at first, because nothing had been up that way for awhile. Now we have sex once-a-week on average and this is after having an almost sexless marriage for 20 years. We have to be bold. The pay off is huge.
  13. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    I know about this. Sexless for over 25 years! Yes have to be bold. When I started with Heather I wasn't sure and I was really insecure about sex, hadn't done the deed for what seemed like forever. Now pmo seems so strange ( even though it still haunts me somewhat). Piv sex is now normal not pmo. Yes, payoff is huge and "ass" is , as Tony the Tiger would say "GREAT!":D
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  14. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 5

    Weekends are tough, but not in fighting urges. They're draining. Again, I imagine this is my shame, or the deeper feeling that I'm not enough. That missing self-worth has me dropping everything for others. Namely the partner doesn't work on the weekend. So, I don't really plan to do much on the weekend for fear that it will interfere with her plans. I know this isn't ideal. Yet, every weekend I seem to replay this. Then, when Monday comes around, I run to PMO to escape all the expectations of the weekend.

    Those expectations are not those of my spouse, but mine. I project them onto her and others. I'm sure this is something learned, from childhood. I just haven't found a way to escape it. Honestly, I start wondering if PMO has conditioned me to believe the only time I am being myself, fulfilling my needs is when I'm alone with PMO. Okay, that's probably shame that has conditioned me to think this way. I bet some of you know this feeling though, right? Play the part of human in society, go home, close the door, and PMO. Yeah, I suppose that's the familiar shame narrative telling me I am a monster and I must hide it away in society and not talk about it. Kudos to religion for telling society that anything sexual and our bodies are shameful. That's done a real job on many of us, this guilt and shame.

    So, I'm here journaling, fighting the urge to prove myself to my partner. The feeling that I'm a loser and I have to do the laundry, clean the house, or show her in some other way that I have worth is difficult to deal with. In truth, those are the things I want to prove to myself. Her being here is a way for me to project and believe I am seeing myself as a loser through her eyes. On Monday when she goes to work and I am left alone with my depression the temptation to PMO for that escape and dopamine will be high. Being alone on Monday means I also have no one to project onto and is probably why I feel like I'm being myself.

    I have to be careful with these thoughts. Writing them out like this I can see the desire to isolate. That leads to a pretty dark outcome for me. I'll just have to do my best and keep reaching out. I'll keep journaling.
  15. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    Hmm--- you have to prove yourself to YOU none else my brother ! Your'e not a loser only become one when you let others determine your worth OR you think of yourself as one to escape the reality that you must change
    It's not going to be easy but it is going to happen. If I may, we have got to stop the "I am worthless" crap ! You're NOT PERIOD!We all deal with this, it's one of the things pmo leaves you with. It will happen, it will change --- believe you me !
  16. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Day 6

    @Bobo Thank you for the reminder. It really touched me.

    I've been trying to wrap my head around my physical health lately. It can be another Shame Trap for me. Like, "Hey things are going okay, so what else can I beat myself up for?" At the same time, physical health is important. A good sign is that I'm telling myself as I write this that I have been doing a decent job working out in the last 2 weeks. So good for some compassionate thought coming into my head. The real issue is the fear that I am replacing PMO with junk food.

    Moving from one addiction to another or replacing a vice with another is quite common. As discussed in Libertad's journal not too long ago, PMO seems like a reward at times. So, moving from that to junk food has a similar notion for me. "Hey, that was a tough psychiatry appointment, I'm having half a tray of brownies. Oh, that discussion with my spouse about our relationship was nerve wracking. I'm going to eat all the ice cream." It works as PMO as well because at the time, it's so great. Afterwards, it's nothing but regret.

    Yet, there's a voice in my head saying, "This isn't PMO, it's not alcohol, or cocaine, calm down." First, I've always had a sweet tooth. Second, that is most likely why I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. See all the Shame buttons being pushed here?

    Again, I realize this is a choice. I am the one in charge. I cannot project onto society, my partner, or anyone else. I'm the one who can buy crate of peanut butter M&Ms, or grab the celery. Sigh. Damn, that's a horrible choice.

    I find myself reaching for, or at least believing that compassion is the way through this. Yelling at myself, or telling myself to be tough and not go for the sweets is the toxic bullshit that has brought me to this place in my life."Of course, many people would choose the chocolate over the celery, @MissingSelfCompassion . You made a mistake. You're human. It's okay. I love you and I'm here for you. I'll protect you." It's not an easy task, self-compassion. Some days I'm great at it. Some days, I'm not. I suppose I should muster up some compassion for that thought as well.
    nuclpow and Saville like this.
  17. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    That IS a horrible choice. People who tell someone to eat celery sticks are fucking morons! :D

    Yes, compassion is all important. We must be gentle with ourselves, more often then not.
  18. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    EXCUSE ME !!!! Celery sticks are very good for your health!!!!Hmmmm---- what color M&M's?:D
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  19. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Fighting the desire to shout my PMO last night to the world. This is how I've always tried to motivate myself. This is how my mother tried to correct my behavior as a child, and I witnessed her parents do it to her as an adult.

    Speaking of the past, I've been using porn longer than not. Yes, I have control of myself, but this is a 30 year old habit. The addictions counselor called it "ego fatigue." It's a biological thing, running out of will.

    Last night I lost sight of what I control, this moment. I was thinking of the stressful week, taxes will be due soon which means admitting how little I worked last year. The spouse and I have a trip next week and she's paying for it. All of those thoughts are future worries. I wasn't present last night.

    So, today I have to attempt to be here and now. I have to forgive myself for last night. That means accepting it and having compassion. This is really hard. I just want to use it to shame myself as my mother taught me. This is hard.
    nuclpow likes this.
  20. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    Yes, a habit that we have been adhering to for a very long time. Dosen't matter though you can change it. Hard-- yes! You are more capable and stronger than you think. Whining or complaining is not going to help you. You have a forum here that knows what you go through but you need to do it. The hell with relatives and their actions in the past! It's you now and none care as much as you do if you get better. You can do it just do it!We all go through trials and we are here for each other but mostly we are here for ourselves to get better. Rock on bro!
    Libertad and Saville like this.

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