Hiya, Folks. Let me just say that it’s fantastic to see so many of you fellas lookin’ out for each other. A different bunch of blokes to last time mostly, but my cursory browsings seem to suggest most of you are just as intelligent, insightful and supportive as the previous bunch. Great stuff, great stuff. I’m hoping the old friends I made here previous have got their lives back and that that is the only reason they’re off the re-boot radar. This introductory post is a re-edit of my original which will give you all some background about me and update where I’ve come to, this second time around. I’m absolutely stoked to see this PMO-free movement rollin’, by the way, and am very excited to see the benefits that have been gained by so many individuals. I also look fwd to see (over the next decade or so) if there aren’t noticeable positive changes in modern western/global culture as a whole. This forum is the only one I’ve ever been involved in so, as I get back into the swing of it, please excuse me in advance if there’s an element of clumsiness to my postings. Apologies in advance, also, as brevity is not my strong point! Background I was 44 (just gone) my first time round and I’m 48, now. I never married or had a long-term partner and I think this is mostly because I always had issues around sex/sexuality & romance. A hyper-critical (aggressive and verbally abusive) father and emotionally unavailable mother were two main factors, I think, in my developing a negative sense of self: I’ve rarely felt truly comfortable in my own skin or worthy of belonging. Serious self esteem issues led to crime, substance abuse, long periods of unemployment and a lack of fortitude or commitment. I also developed a kind of addiction to the closeness and validation that came from sexual/romantic intimacy. Listen: I’m not crying “poor me”. I realized a decade or so back that I had always actually had a choice. I just didn’t know it for the first three-quarts of my life so was dragged all over creation by my unconscious reactions to shit. I also now know that I’m far from unique in my experience and that plenty of folks had (and have) it much worse than I ever did. These things are relative, however. They’re also relevant, so I continue... My psychological balance had always been a bit outa wack, I was emotionally volatile and I’d had a couple of nervous breakdowns (at 19 and 28, thereabouts) but it wasn’t until 2001, at age 33, that I first experienced symptoms of actual depression (big black cloud, no energy, etc). It’s interesting to note in hindsight that this was also around the time that I first had access to internet porn. I’d say my depression I bottomed out in around ’05 with a couple serious suicide attempts and since then I’ve been on the mend, slowly, slowly. Two steps forward, one back: as the saying goes. Mindfulness and mediation have played a major part in my (continuing) recovery/management and I recommend them to anyone. As many of you are no-doubt aware, mindfulness-based practices can be exceptionally effective in combating addiction, as can some sort of fitness regime and physical health, generally. Out With the Old Anyhow, 2011: I finally confronted what I’d come to call my ‘disposaphobia’ and had a major clear-out (I’d always been a hoarder but only noticed it when I stopped moving house every couple of years: Eight-years later I was nearly drowning in ‘stuff’). One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. For many hoarders like me, there is a deep psychological component in our attachment to ‘stuff’ and the physical space that I created in my home seems to have freed up a whole heap of psychological energy. Energy which I’ve been able to draw-on in confronting my other issues. Love-less I also decided around the end of 2011 to consciously step back from sex/romance. I wasn’t gettin’ a lot of action, anyway(!) but the point was that I’d been pretty-much a serial monogamist my whole life and that my self esteem was intrinsically linked to my (perceived) desirability. In essence, I was addicted to sexual/romantic attention. I finally realized that the main reason my Relationships never worked was that I was subconsciously expecting these women to somehow fill the void inside me (an impossible task!) and that it was time for me to work out how to love myself for a change. It was fantastic and I learned a whole lot. Similar to the big clear-out, it also freed up energy for focusing elsewhere... like on kicking my other addictions. I had about 2-3 years of conscious celibacy and over the last couple have dipped my toe back in. I’ve had few lil’ romances and find that I’m much, MUCH more emotionally mature around it: much less desperate for it, less likely to fall into over-attachment or, conversely, give-in to fears of commitment. Porn History I grew up pre-internet but developed an obsession with visual stimulation very, very young (the early 70’s saw an explosion of ‘flesh’ on television and in popular culture, generally). I was masturbating as young as four or five and experiencing something akin to orgasm well before I was physically mature enough to ejaculate. I remember having a fair amount of Catholic guilt around the whole thing as a child, then shame as a teenager (masturbation was perceived as desperate and a bit ‘gay’) then feminist guilt kicked in as a young adult. Try as I might, I was unable to stop. Eventually I decided it was normal (and common enough) that I would just accept it as a part of my sexuality. Unfortunately, this was the early nineties and Political Correctness was at it’s ugly peak so, being open and honest about porn (or even sex, oddly) was not helping me to feel any less estranged from the majority of my peers. Back in the closet, it went. My second psychological breakdown came around the age of 28. This was closely linked to my continued failure in romantic-relationships, my obsession with them (and with sex) and the odd way in which all this kind’ve hung together... or more importantly didn’t. My porn-sexuality and my Relationship-sexuality seemed, except for their obsessive nature, completely unrelated. I intuitively knew that they were deeply connected, but how, I could not see... and this gap in my understanding, the implications for my future emotional well-being, nearly sent me over the edge. As I had none of the tools necessary to even begin understanding all this stuff, I was quite mad for about three months or so, until the anxiety gradually decreased and I was able to let the idea go, somehow. Onto the backburner went the issue, once again. A few years later the internet came along. Having come to the (essentially true) idea that fantasy and self-gratification are healthy and normal, I found myself completely unprepared for the consequences of infinite access (if you haven’t, please do see the YourBrainOnPorn website). There is a very strong correlation between an increase in internet access and the symptoms of my depression. It had never occurred to me until very recently that the former may have actually been in anyway a contributor to the latter. In 2009, I read Norman Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself (another great read) and was deeply disturbed by the chapter on Internet Porn. At the time, I must’ve not been ready to confront the issue head-on, and yet, by the time time of my first reboot attempt, had become much more mindful in my consumption (at least periodically), both in regards to content and in amount of time and energy I would devote to porn. Also, in the back of my mind I knew that one day (soon) I would need to tackle the dirty beast again. First Time Here Dec 2012 the porn-portal I’d be using changed format (and I began getting security warnings). I was on the scout for something new and fortuitously stumbled across the Reboot-movement... Gawd F*KN Bless Ya’s!! In a moment of inspiration (thanks to the fellas who were sharing their journey’s here) I deleted every last scrap of porn (and porn related gear) from my computer. I even binned what was left of my hard-copy material, just for good measure. Then promptly shat myself! Luckily, I had a friend to confide in. His support and encouragement got me through the first couple days, as did continuing to read the stories and interactions here. In between I devoured everything I could at Your Brain On Porn and soon became excited and inspired. If somewhat frazzled. I decided to stay away from orgasm (and consequently masturbation) for a period because, in my case, these two are intricately linked to porn and I wanted to give myself the best chance of success. Additionally, since so many guys here had reported positive benefits in this regard, I was willing to put up with the discomfort. My nuts, for example, felt heavy and bloated (though thankfully there’s was no pain :- ). The early positive benefits then, as now (four or five days clean) seem to be purely psychological: the uncomfortable nature of withdrawal reminding me that I’m on the right track (to recovery) and that now is an opportunity to consciously focus my energies on more life-affirming activities. Over all, this makes me smile, yet my notes tell me that for the first few weeks (last time) I became restless and muddled, irritable and vaguely anxious by turns. I don’t wish to anticipate this too much (as it could well be different this time around), yet I think it prudent to be prepared for the potential eventuality. Sleep has never come easy for me but during the first few weeks of my original reboot it was a bloody disaster. My dreams, which had always had a tendency towards the vividly surreal, were completely over the top so that, when I did actually manage to get some sleep, I’d wake up feeling rested not at all. I’ve done a fair bit of research on sleep since then and these days engage sensible sleep-hygiene practices when I remember to (regular hours; exercise; very little alcohol, if at all; no internet after the early eve, etc, etc). If I notice some negative impact this time around, I’ll just have to remember that it’ll pass. And I’ve still never had a wet-dream (even though I remember cracking 100 days at least once back then) so I’m looking forward to the possibility of that. Drifting I seem to remember that I stopped posting here because I had completed me three months clean, felt good that I was done with it… and because one of the changes I wanted to make was to spend less time online (and make more effort towards face-to-face social interactions). It may have been because I re-lapsed and/or because I had a lot of troubles with my accommodation situation that eventually led to it becoming untenable. Either way, I feel quite bad that I just drifted off and didn’t actually let the folks here know what was going on (there’s a heap of posts at the end of my original journal thread where folks are like, “Where are ya! Are you okay?”). I have to forgive myself eventually but I will never feel like drifting off was honoring the connections we had made. If any of those people are reading this, please accept my apology. The slippery slope. I packed up my van then and hit the road. Was more-or-less homeless for a couple years but took the opportunity to travel around some, which made it slightly less painful. I was using porn again but, because I had limited data and only really accessed the internet via my phone, it was just a quick 15 mins two or three times a week and it didn’t really feel like a problem. What I didn’t take into account was that I was feeding the old beast and keeping myself caught in the loop so that, when I settled again (about six months ago), when I found myself with privacy, a computer, time on my hands and a whole heap of emotional and psychological pain to deal with (or to avoid!) I very quickly slipped back into the old habit of spending hours (and bloody hours!) surfing for porn. It was pretty ugly. Y’see, my best mate had suicided in November last, and I’ve never in my life had to deal with that kind of grief. I’d been more than ready to re-settle by that time (had had enough of living in a car!) and had planned to do so interstate (near this dear friend of mine… before he left us). I did spend some time looking for a place there… but I was reeling, a total mess, as you can probably imagine, and that was making things much more difficult than they would have been otherwise. My support network is geographically disparate but if you mapped it out, you’d see a cluster of folks that I can rely on in my hometown, which is partly why I ended up back here… even though it also contains a whole heap of ugly history for me, family baggage and really… fuck, I landed (in another dumpy place) and… gawd that was a dark six-months or so. Yep: full-blown depression, suicidal ideation, relative social isolation, hopelessness. I had to dig very, very deep on my resilience. I had to be patient: understanding that grief is something that takes time to work through. Yet I also had to be active in implementing strategies to help keep my head above water… to find a balance between those two approaches so that I could get through it without actually suiciding, myself… no exaggeration. Phew.. Long story short I finally began to feel vaguely normal about three months ago and (gently, gently) have eased myself back into having a life again. You know: being a bit social, getting’ involved in some stuff (a community choir, some volunteering), workin’ a lil’, etc, etc. But yeah, the porn thing… I suspect it would’ve reared its’ ugly head regardless of much else ‘cause, as I mentioned, I’d been feeding it enough to keep it alive, even if I hadn’t had the opportunity to get too carried away with it. And this time there were some differences. Much faster than I would’ve expected I noticed that ‘morphing-of-sexual-tastes-to-the-more-extreme-and-bizarre’ that many of us know so well. I would get bored really, really quickly. Eventually, I wasn’t even hard most of the time, just… killin’ time: click/save/click/save… thinkin’ to myself “I’d better stop soon” … yet hours would go by and I’d still be there: click/save/click/save/click… Like a zombie. It reminded me of those folks you see in windowless rooms in front of slot machines, all grey faced and bug eyed. And I suppose it was serving the same purpose for me as it does for them: it numbs us to psychological pain. Addictions do have that going for them! Though of course they merely perpetuate the issue by blocking us from feeling what we need to feel. They also get in the way of us developing healthy coping strategies. But most of you already know this… So anyhow, I got jack of it on a number of occasions and deleted everything, vowing never to return. When that didn’t work (for very long at a time) I tried to limit my exposure to audio-files or other substitutes but it’s all the same shit in the end. I was (obviously) led back into the trap soon enough. Then I remembered you guys! I thought: “ Even if I get slightly addicted to YBR for a while (like I did last time) it’s a far, far healthier option! ” And, yeah, I’m feeling really quite hopeful, committed. I feel as though… you know that thing where any success is most likely preceded by a number of failures? And how those failures are actually important in that we learn something from each and every one? I feel like I’ve done my time learning how not to fail… and if not, I must be almost due a long-term success… surely… Wish me luck! Billy B.