starting again

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by sufficio, Apr 1, 2023.

  1. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    I've used porn obsessively for decades, and this is not my first recovery; I had 3 years PM-abstinent on another forum... but I was turned off by a certain amount of misogyny, MGTOW, and magical thinking. Whether it was because I gave up the support I had there or not, I don't know; but I returned to porn use.

    My first recovery was triggered by a confrontation by my wife. In the subsequent years, I was confronted by her again a few times, but I'm a good liar, and was able to put her off and return to porn. She confronted me again in mid-March; I admitted to the porn use, and quit again.

    My last use of porn was on some date prior to March 15, and my wife confronted me on the weekend of the 11-12, but my therapist and I agreed to use a date of March 15, as it's close enough (I remember the confrontation with my wife; I don't remember the last porn use). I like using that date, because it was the date I was about at my worst; at about 2am that day, I drove to a bridge to see if there was a place to park and a place to jump. I didn't actually intend to kill myself that day, but I overplan everything. It led to several bad days thereafter; I realized that there was nothing keeping me from killing myself, and I had to make a conscious effort to stay alive, and not to keep thinking about that night on the bridge. Making that my recovery date brings back the depth to which this has brought me.

    I've been keeping a personal journal of my porn recovery (it's well over ten pages long now). I'm not going to copy all of it out here, but there are some themes that I think are going to come up repeatedly for me.

    One of them is that I'm going back to myths and stories to tell about my descent and recovery. My wife suggested I try spirituality. Religion doesn't work for me (after decades as a Catholic, and then as a Quaker, it became clear to me that traditional concepts of god don't speak to me). One of the stories that speaks to me now is Darth Vader. He "went to the dark side" and became self-obsessed. He came close to killing his own son (and DID cause a substantial wound), but when the mask was lifted, you could see he was really a weak man, barely kept alive by the suit he wore. Darth Vader is too grand a character for my drama; I'm more like the miser, who keeps his sustenance and excess for himself, and doesn't share with, or benefit from, the larger society. It's time to get out into the light and among people.

    My wife found a story of a person recovering from (I think) methamphetamine use, and compares that story to the bipolar folks: the highs are really high -- you get to live in Oz -- but you can't survive there, you have to come back to Kansas. And Kansas, this addict decided, was OK. I'm trying to get to that point, where Kansas is OK. The porn was exciting and engaging, but I can no longer afford the cost.

    My wife pointed out the saying of an addiction counselor with whom she used to work: "Those people recover who learn to enjoy recovery" (I'm sure she was less formal in her speech than I am in writing). I've got to learn to enjoy recovery.

    Thanks for letting me get started.

    Oh, nuts and bolts stuff: I'm retired, almost 68 years old, married 26 years, no kids.
    Gil79, Rudolf Geyse and mailboxsam like this.
  2. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    My wife forwarded me a link to a Ted Talk by Esther Perel on "Rethinking Infidelity". One of the things she says is that the infidelity may answer a need or desire that's not just about sex. I think one of the reasons I go to porn is to seek novelty and intensity, and finding a safer source of these might be part of my recovery.

    (It also pleases me that the computer, the tool that got me so close to porn, is now becoming a tool that aids my recovery. I made the mistake of telling my wife that, and now she's afraid I'll never reduce my computer use.)
    Rupert Pane likes this.
  3. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    I hope it's not just overconfidence (I don't feel like I've really been tested), but I feel like this recovery is different from the others; I fell like I'm going to make it this time.

    That doesn't mean I can slack off, or that I don't have to take suggestions, but with about three weeks, I feel like my intention is to stay away from PM (not O; I'm married, and O with my wife is the POINT) is solid. When I'm down, I don't feel led to PM; instead I feel led to suicide, and that hasn't happened much over these weeks (except for the dramatic one in my first post).

    Early days, of course. But the last times I was confronted, I was only interested in getting the heat off. I am interested in that now, of course, but I'm also interested in developing a better relationship with my wife. She's asked if the shame I felt was about PM being inconsistent with my values. I had a hard time responding (because of the shame!), but after living with that for a while, I can see it's actually the case.

    I have to be careful of overconfidence, and I can't allow this attitude to undermine my willingness to do the work (my wife will see to that! She'll have none of this slacking on the counseling, for example).

    But it feels good to have some right-size confidence (if this is, indeed, right-size confidence).
    Rupert Pane likes this.
  4. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Support is support, imo. Yes, sometimes on the internet we can be confronted by misogyny (some of it ugly), but I don't think it hurts us to review where our actual "beliefs" stem from. For example: I grew up believing that a man should generally be deferential to a woman, always be considerate, and always take into account what her needs might be. This led me to PMO and cheating. Does that mean being kind to women made me the way I am? No, but what it did do was subversively undercut my manhood. Because almost every man who visits this forum has lost his agency it is important reassess our values - all of them.

    I'm sorry to hear that you were contemplating suicide; that is heavy, my brother. But, from where I'm reading it sounds like you saw no way around your guilt and shame. If you didn't have to please your wife then would you have been feeling likewise on the bridge that night? This is a big subject, so I'll conclude with this. We are on our own journey. Not our that of our wives, not that of our children, and not that of our parents. In order to enjoy our recovery, imo, we have to be willing to tell everyone else to fuck off. There are no half-measures.

    I have written extensively about this, but the less the wife is involved in our recovery, the better. Women want to fix what's wrong. They want to reshape you into their vision of what a man/husband should be. This is dangerous territory for recovery. We have to make the decisions, we have to live our lives.

    Welcome to the forum.
    path-forward likes this.
  5. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    Thank you, @Saville . My wife was the reason for my appearance here, and is certainly affected by my recovery (or my failure to do so), so it seems unfair and wrong to completely leave her out, but I can also see that she's not responsible for my recovery, and might have different interests and priorities than I do. I need to think about this more (as with so many other things in this process).

    Thank you also for responding. I had been directed (by my therapist) to another forum at RebootNation, but the "new user" link was either removed or hidden (at least, I couldn't find it). I saw that this forum was also linked/recommended at YourBrainOnPorn (YBOP), and I was able to start here. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get any replies... so 1) I'm glad you did, and 2) even with no replies, it's good having some things said that there is at least the possibility that another person might read. Part of it is about being able to help someone else, but the much larger part is the need for my own self-disclosure.
    path-forward and Saville like this.
  6. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    ndy, my brother welcome,
    i heard somewhere that here is where one beggar helps another beggar find bread. i am 68 years old and too have severe depression and have thought about the unthinkable. but i believe that part of my mental state is my retirement. i have read and found that retirement is a huge change. many people, mainly men, die soon after retiring. either drink themselves to death, suicide, or just depression. i have to have a reason to get up in the morning. what happens is i start waking up later and later as the days progress. where one day i literally will not wake up. the body gets used to what we do. the reason porn works so well. i work only 3 days a week, slowly easing into retirement. and still with 4 days off i have a lot of free time. this is where porn enters the picture. i remember i used to waste hours on this filth. no more. what i do now is fill that time with constructive behaviors. you do what you like or what you have always wanted to do but had no time. i walk. i read, learning to play piano and guitar. exercise. and most important do the honey dos i didn't have time before, or so i thought. this last item has not only kept me from porn but has greatly increased my relationship with my wife on a positive note. most honeydos are things we do toghether like gardening. painting, this is the real foreplay. or maybe just what old couples do. but either way has worked very well for our 45 yr marriage. now i agree with Saville, very wise member-read his posts, this recovery is something we have to do for ourselves, when no one is looking. integrity. if i change my behavior for someone else i will just do it while they are around, whomever they may be. to thine owns elf be true, an old writer said. again now i just don't do things to fill out time. that would be a waste. i engage in activities that will promote my personal growth while helping others. on the same note don't be disappointed, as you posted, because no one replies. you are doing for yourself and own peace of mind. like Saville said fuck everyone else. anyway this has been long and im sure people are tired of my old man ramblings. hang in there and don't quit before the miracle.
    path-forward and Saville like this.
  7. path-forward

    path-forward Well-Known Member

    @notdeadyet Welcome! You have come to the right place. I am a relatively new member here (July, 2022) but quickly realized I NEEDED this forum to have any chance of conquering my demons regarding PMO. I commend you for being here. and also having a therapist help you as well.

    Everyone has their own views on how to build up resistance to the urges. But I have found this forum is incredibly valuable both for when I doing well as a source of deeper resilience and also, more importantly in a way, as a source of strong support and encouragement when you fall down to get right back up - rather then rationalizing a binge period.

    You sound like you are going through a period of "self awareness" - which I believe is crucial to better understand what drives you to self-medicate through porn usage. Good for you to make that strong effort!

    Regarding sharing this journey with your wife, I think assuming she is generally very supportive - it can overall be a healthy dynamic. But it can also be a very slippery slope - if it changes the "power dynamics" between the two of you. Make this about you doing something to make YOU a better person, friend, husband etc - rather than something you are mainly doing for her.

    I have learned to discuss my progress with my wife at a high level - with no details on relapses, day counts etc. And have made my feelings clear to my wife. And she respects my efforts and desire not to get into the weeds on my progress - as I find it overly humbling to share that with her. I want to be a strong husband for her - both by accepting my need to work on myself - and by also being a stable husband overall

    I was deeply sorry to hear of your of suicidal thoughts back in Mid march. And I was happy to hear you are under the care of a therapist, as that is what is needed if you are feeling that way at times. And while I am not remotely trained to give you support in that aspect of mental health: As a "survivor" of a sibling who took their life when I was much younger - please just understand during periods of severe emotional pain - how much pain and suffering your actions could inflict on your most beloved family members and friends. The "aftermath" of a suicide leaves the survivors with jaggedly deep scars that will never fully heal. To this day - my PMO addiction is still wrapped up with the strong feelings of sadness, trauma, and guilt regarding my sister.

    My biggest two pieces of advice:

    1. Keep journaling! Both when doing well - and more importantly - when doing badly. Force yourself to be honest about your failings - but also to push yourself to get back on the horse and keep fighting! This forum sometimes enhances my feelings of conscious - feeling bad about my relapses. But it does it in a manner that feels non-judgemental and incredibly supportive. And it pushes me to NEVER give up the fight!

    2. Work on ways to replace your time with PMO. Both when not having urges and most importantly - when you are having urges. For me - its been a focus on seeing friends more, working out, playing different sports, reading more, walking more, playing online chess, walking my dog more, etc.

    You need to work on the foundation of yourself - so that you are better equipped to battle the decades of habit of using PMO as a form of self-medication for every level of emotional pain or even simple boredom.

    NDY - you got this! Very happy to have you join the brothers here!
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  8. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    Whoa! Thanks to all who responded!

    @badger - The "honeydew" thing has come up with my wife, and your confirmation makes me think it' an even better idea. The garage is callin' me; when I get an idle, warm day, I'll put on some podcasts and get busy in there, throwing out and cleaning up.

    As for the suicide thing: I've been fighting that for decades, but this time, his attack got closer than any had ever before. I think it's telling that, with al my other anxieties, it was PM (and the fear of losing my wife) that actually got me to the bridge. This enemy is nobody to take lightly or underestimate.

    @DBA - Thanks for the info about RebootNation. My therapist recommended it to me, but I don't think he's had anybody try to start a new account in quite some time; I'll let him know that a member here said that it was "no longer in operation" for new accounts.

    @path-forward - I've seen the semicolon project about suicide stuff, and, although I am NOT a tattoo guy (I look more like a college professor from 1974), I have an appointment to get the semicolon tattoo. It's about suicide, of course, but the semicolon, to me, is about a change of direction: as the semicolon signals a change of direction in the sentence, so may it signal a change in my life. And I'm working on finding things to do other than stupid internet. This journal (and the private one that I don't post) has been good for that. And focusing on the ways I use my computer for recovery (these journals, research at the YourBrainOnPorn site, the tele-health sessions with my therapist and our couples counselor) helps to reduce my association of the computer with PM. (PM is my shorthand for "porn and masturbation".) Most days (like today), I was adding to my private journal two and three times a day. Now that this is here, I'm working in this journal, and the fact that it is open for reading and feedback from members (even if few read, and even fewer respond), is helpful.

    I've already written that I feel like the desire has been lifted. So, for this time, I'm going to put in some foundation work. There's no guarantee that the lifted desire won't come back (in fact, if precedent is any indicator, I can count on its return), so in this time of peace, it's time to build my defenses.
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  9. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    @notdeadyet, you should not be thinking about suicide. We too have had suicides in our family. And I have been suicidal as I have bipolafr mood disorder.

    The effect of suicide does indeed scar those who survive. They never forget it. In the UK you can ring the Samaritans when things get really bad and there must
    be a similar organisation in your country.

    You should be getting treatment for depression. What, apart from therapy, are you trying to get over the depression. Are you on medication of any sort and
    have you tried cognitive behaviour therapy? Are you seeing a psychiatrist (I don't mean simply therapist)?

    Of course if the suicidal thoughts come from problems with PMO rebooting will help. Addiction to PMO is not something to feel suicidal about.

    You and I have a similar counter in terms of days rebooting. Let's progress together. Keep journalling and good luck.
    mailboxsam and Saville like this.
  10. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    @DBA - For me, the suicidal thoughts have passed. I've been suicidal many times over the decades, and they never got as bad as this time... but it's passed now. I don't want meds, and I'm not of such a condition that I need to be hospitalized (I've worked as a mental health screener, and I know the criteria).

    I'm grateful for your concern, and I'd be glad for the support. Do you have a journal going? If so, where? (I should put mine in my sig...)
  11. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    @notdeadyet: Yes the suicidal thoughts may have passed but you need to do something about them. Are they simply because you feel out of control with PMO? Or are they more general? The evidence is that the SSRIs are effective in severe, but not moderate depression, and you have clearly got very depressed at times.

    I do have a journal and have kept one for years, but I'm afraid that it is not on this site. But if you start a conversation with me if you'd like to I could send you examples of the sorts of things I write when I get very down so as to help myself.
    mailboxsam likes this.
  12. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member


    My semicolon tattoo. Before I knew about the Semicolon Project, I had decided to get a semicolon tattoo, because, to me, the semicolon is a sign of a change of direction. My elimination of PM has been the biggest change of direction in my life since my decision to get married. This will be a reminder and a sign that I can't throw away.

    Then I discovered the Semicolon Project, and the meaning became doubly important. Because the founder of the Semicolon Project later died by suicide, it is especially poignant to me. You may say it's a sign that the tattoo didn't work for her... but it may be that the project gave her years of life she might not otherwise have had. Early days yet, of course, but to me, this will be a sign of my determination, and a talisman in the face of the onslaught of life.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2023
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  13. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    @DBA Thanks for your offer. right now, I'm doing well emotionally, except for sleep problems, and emotional lability (the slightest thing moves me to tears). I'm assigning both of these to early days post-PM, and to the stresses placed on my marriage.

    That said, I still feel as though the desire has been lifted. I'm using this time to redevelop the relationship with my wife, to use therapy to build a foundation against the desire if it does return, to learn to live and enjoy a life without PM.

    In an earlier post, I wrote about using PM to seek novelty and intensity, and how it might be a good idea to seek healthier ways to replace those things. My wife reminded me that before I retired, I had mentioned wanting to volunteer at a hospice, and suggested that might be a place to seek the intensity. I thought that was a great idea, and this morning I filled out the application to volunteer, and got a few friends to agree to be references. I got an email back later that morning, and I have a telephone interview tomorrow at 10am. It may be that they are desperate for volunteers, but I'm choosing to frame the speed with which this is coming together as a sign from the gods that I am to at least try this thing.

    Also, I'm in an adult ed class, and a fellow student asked for my contact info and asked me to lunch in a couple weeks (he appears to be happily married to the wife with whom he comes to class, so I don't suspect any intent other than lunch...). That kind of thing has never happened, and I'm accrediting any factors that may have led him to actually make the contact, to my improved mental health due to the changes in my life from avoiding PM.

    It's a rough ride, but there are undoubtedly benefits. I'm eager to see what comes next.
    -Luke- likes this.
  14. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    (Grrr. I can't upload a profile picture; I keep getting the "system failed; contact your administrator" message.)

    (HAH! THAT should be the worst of my problems.)
  15. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    I get the same error message!
  16. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    Good day yesterday:
    • I volunteer at a Bike Exchange, where we take donated bikes, strip them for parts and build them up, and sell them cheap. We close to the public for a few months after Christmas each year (to build up supply) and reopen in the spring. Yesterday was opening day, and it was a banger, we did 10% of last year's total business in one day. More important, we're an all-volunteer organization, and we got two new volunteers, and the regulars who were working appear to be happy. It was a good night.
    • I did the phone interview for the volunteer spot at the hospice, and the volunteer coordinator got along as if it were a good first date; we talked about all kinds of things. She's forwarded me the online trainings I need to do before I start, and thinks I can be an asset to the company. I can probably get one or two two-to-three hour placements a week.

    But I've been thinking about trying to keep my recovery going. We all say "one day at a time", but I'm trying to put in place strategies so that I can keep my memory fresh, so I won't relapse and burn the way I did prior to this most recent confrontation (I was going to say "like I did three weeks ago", but that was only the confrontation with my wife - the problem wasn't that [if anything, that as what stopped the problem], it was my lapsing back that was the problem). So I thought of myself a year from now, PM-free and in a happy relationship with my wife, and was trying to think, "OK, so what were the strategies I used in this fantasy to get here?". And I don't know yet what they are.

    Some of them might be the volunteering, and writing, and the therapy (although I doubt I'll continue the therapy for anything like a year). But what else? I think determining that is a part of my life task for now.
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  17. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    @not deadyet: Volunteering is clearly a really good strategy. It increases one's feeling of self-worth and with a history of PMO self-worth gets battered.

    Sounds like you are going all that you can do. Is the therapist helping? And do they specialise in addiction? It is true that some think that addiction to
    PMO is not real addiction, but all the evidence is that it is. The same brain circuits are affected, and as in addiction to cocaine or other drugs you need more and more to get the same buzz.

    You and I are at a similar stage. Let's keep together.

    And what about changing your name from notdeadyet? It is not a matter of suicide. Why not give yourself a more hopeful or a more neutral name?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2023
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  18. sufficio

    sufficio Active Member

    @DBA - once again, thanks for checking in; I agree, let's keep together. One of my strategies to try to keep this fresh is to keep on this board, and a familiar screenname will make it more attractive to come back.

    Speaking of screenname, you're probably right about the meanings implicit in my current screenname "notdeadyet". It was both a reference to my recent suicidal thoughts, and to the line in Monty Python and the Holy Grail from the still-living-but-unwanted person in the body cart, saying, "I'm not dead yet." But it probably has a connotation that I don't really want to maintain or disperse right now. Lemme think about it.

    The therapist specializes in process addictions, especially porn addiction; he sent me to the YBOP website, and told me to set up an account on Reboot Nation (where I couldn't set up a new account, which is why I started here after finding this linked on YBOP). I've only seen him once, and most of that session was taking the history and trying to develop some kind of rapport. It's not a perfect fit between the two of us, but it doesn't have to be. I need someone to whom to be accountable; my wife needs to know I'm doing something (there's not a lot of trust in the house right now); I need a source of information, and a voice to talk to when I have questions or frustrations. Bacon tells us that reading makes a full man, writing an exact man, and discourse a ready man, and while the writing is certainly helping with exactitude and precision, sometimes I need the readiness of conversation.

    As for PMO not being a real addiction, there are brain-chemistry and -structure differences between chemical addictions and process addictions, but I revert to The Duck Test: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, lays eggs that hatch into ducks, and hangs around with ducks, it's a duck. This addiction has caused me worse problems than my chemical dependency ever did, and in many of the same ways that the chemical dependency did. And the kinds of treatments that were effective with managing the PM years ago, when I got some recovery, were similar to the things that helped in my chemical dependency recovery, decades ago. So I don't really give a skinny rat's ass if the brain structure researchers want to quibble over whether it's an addiction like a chemical dependency or not. It worked that way for me; treatment for it worked that way for me; there's no reason to believe that the things I did back then won't work again (if I'm persistent and honest in my efforts)... so go away, researchers; write your scholarly articles about why it can't work, and let me recovery in peace.

    Today was a good day. I got out with some friends, did some chores, helped my wife tonight. That's enough.
    mailboxsam, Saville and path-forward like this.
  19. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    Hi notdeadyet, I didn't catch the reference to Monty Python but worried about your suicidal thoughts. PMO is not a reason for suicide. I had suicidal thoughts when once my wife had an affair (luckily all settled) and the idea that one's wife might leave you is indeed a reason for suicidal thoughts. But addiction can be got over. Valerie Voon has shown that indeed P causes activity in the sake circuits as drugs of addiction. So that is good enough for me.

    The main thing is to get on with your wife and find sex with her satisfying. P is a superstimulus and we get a bigger buzz from it. But we have to realise that normal sex is really satisfying. And we can only see that when we have rebooted.

    I am going for no PMO for 60 days, and then n0 more PMO ever. It is too addictive.
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  20. DBA

    DBA Active Member

    Hi notdeadyet, I have also seen a sex therapist who is a specialist in addiction once, and see him again later this month. He has been really helpful, and I feel that i just can't PMO before I see him. In other words it is a target. But I intend in fact never to PMO again. It is too addictive, like alcohol or cocaine, and just as alcoholics have to go dry so I simply can't view P ever again. So the porn blockers which are very effective remain.
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