I am eleven days into an attempted reboot. I've been wanting to start a journal since day two (the first day I learned that there was actually a community of people trying to kick this thing), but time and circumstances kept me from it, not least of which was that I was too tired and too afraid to put myself in front of a computer at night when nobody else was around so I could write. But here I am after four nights of insomnia, finally writing. I'm sorry this post will probably be long, since I've been thinking about it for ten days now. So first, how did I get here? I turned 50 last year, so perhaps that milestone has something to do with it. I've been married about fifteen years, have two kids (8 and 6)--one girl, one boy, and I love my family dearly. My life is pretty good. I've got a stable job that I enjoy and that supports a solid middle class lifestyle. My health is good, maybe even excellent, at least for my age. I've had my share of hard times, too, but generally I don't have a lot to complain about. Except, of course, that I am addicted to porn. I was no older than five, I think, when I got into visually-cued M. It was kid's cartoons--Daphne from Scooby Do, Veronica and Sabrina from Archies, and Josie and the Pussycats. Kinda strange to think about something seemingly so innocent as the start of my addiction, but I really think it's part of it. I did M a lot from that point on, adjusting the visual cues as I grew up, shifting from cartoons to real actresses like Emma Peel from the original Avengers, Catwoman, Batgirl, and even Batman and Robin in original Batman TV show (guys stopped turning me on after I reach adolescence), Wonder Woman, etc. Eventually a friend found his mom's stash of Playboy, prompting me to find my dad's own collection of Playboy and Penthouse. Not long after my older brother got the very first issue of Hustler, I hit adolescence, and that was it, I pretty much became a chronic masturbator. From that point on I MO'd pretty much daily, with or without porn. Obviously I prefered having porn, but almost any image of an attractive woman would do, even if the image was just my own memory of a cute girl I had seen that day. I never had my own porn stash pre-internet, though, even as an adult. I grew up without much money and to this day have a hard time spending money on stuff I can't justify (I've probably spent less than 50 dollars on porn in my whole life--if you don't count lost time and productivity, of course). But it didn't seem that actual porn was all that necessary--women dress provocatively enough and there are enough images of near-naked women on TV, in magazines, billboards, junk mail advertisements, etc. that I co uld always find something to get off with. Things went on like this all the way to my early to mid 30s. Then a good friend of mine got a subscription to Penthouse (which was now publishing pictures of actual penetration), which he would lend me. Around the same time the internet happened. And that's when it got bad. I know Gary's Ted talk and slide lecture draw a distinction between high speed internet porn and pre-highspeed porn, and I do understand what he means by that, but honestly even dialup access was pretty bad for me. I started spending hours and hours looking at and downloading porn. Sure, I hated waiting for the pictures to download, but that didn't stop me from spending hours doing it. Even with dialup I was anxious for my new wife to go to sleep or leave the house so I could PMO myself into oblivion. Of course, it got worse with highspeed--just so much easier to access. It didn't take me long to realize that this was actually a problem. I was involved in a drug policy group when I first got internet, so I was aware of issues of addiction, so it didn't take me too long to put two and two together to realize that I was addicted. I tried quitting and just couldn't do it. Sure, I could go a week or two without, but I craved it. And inevitably the moment would come when I'd find myself in front of a computer PMO'ing even as my logical brain was yelling STOP, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! One time I almost cried as I helplessly watched myself relapse. I felt totally disconnected from myself, as though I was just a ghost lurking over some once dear friend who no longer knew or cared that I existed. Totally demoralizing. Which, of course, just made the relapse that much more intense. Okay, so what prompted this reboot. I've been trying to kick this thing for a long time. I have done many one week stints without--these were usually just breaks taken without an actual intent to quit. I also have done maybe a dozen three to four week stints without. These were full scale, God, I hope I can kick this thing attempts, but I have always relapsed. I have tried a number of techniques. I tried religion--I was raised an atheist and have mostly been an agnostic, but I decided that if there was a religious power strong enough to help me kick this thing, then I would become a convert. My prayers to Jesus went unanswered. Hindu prayers and yoga also failed. Buddhist meditation seemed promising for about a week, then stopped helping. I also tried fining myself--tossing dollar bills into cactus bushes everytime I relapsed as an incentive to stop. When this failed, I upped it to five dollar bills, then ten. I just couldn't bring myself to drop twenties and fifties, so I gave up on this tactic too. Two times I was able to stop for a month on behalf of my children, but even that failed eventually. The suicide of my best friend stopped me for about a month one year, and the suicide of my brother stopped me for about a month another year, but that tragic magic wore off too. I also tried bribing myself with cannabis. I made a deal with myself that I would not PMO on any day I got high. This actually worked for a while, but my problem was that I just couldn't get high every day of my life. I'm one of those people who only enjoys pot when I do it occassionally. After a few days in a row I feel burnt out and want to stop. After three weeks of it (longest stretch in my life of daily pot-smoking), I was miserable, so I stopped. And immediately relapsed. Now I'm ten days into another attempt. I'm a bit more hopeful than in the past because I discovered YBOP and understand my situation a little better and also know now that there are a lot of people struggling with this and many people who have succeeded. Still, I've failed at this enough times to be pessimistic. But I desperately want to succeed. It's always so soul-deadening, but this last time has felt so much more so. Two weeks ago I found myself hiding with my tablet in my bedroom closet in the middle of night PMO'ing while my 6 year old son slept in the room on the other side of the door. We had a guest in our guest room, so I couldn't go to my usual spot, and this was the only place left to me (my son and I sleep in the same room, but different beds, because my wife and I both snore loudly, so this is the only way we can both get a good night's sleep). At one point, I thought I heard my son wake up, which broke the trance, and the horror of my situation sunk in. Would he notice the light coming from under the closet door? Would he come to investigate? What would I tell him? How would I explain? Eventually I realized that he was still asleep, so I finished up (yeah, even at that point, I felt compelled to finish) and went to sleep. But the next morning I woke up and decided this has to stop. How would I face my kids if they discovered me? What if my 8 year old daughter (who sleeps in my wife's room) woke up one night and found me PMO'ing in the guest room? How could I face her? The thought is almost too awful to bear. This is not the life I want to live. This is not who I want to be. So that morning I did a search for how to overcome porn addiction. I was not optimistic. I expected to find only Christian websites filled with a lot of moral ideology that I don't agree with and didn't think I could stomach. Instead I found YBOP, and suddenly I was hopeful. The first three days were pretty easy. I felt like a burden had been lifted off of me as I went around my business those first days. I smoked cannabis to kill the craving, which worked just fine, but by day four I was burnt out and tired of that, so I stopped. I found these forums and read a bunch, which got me through the next couple of days. I felt physically drained with headaches and lethargy for the next couple of days. I'm not sure if that was PMO withdrawals, tiredness from three days in a row of being stoned, or fighting a cold from my kids, but that was a miserable three days. That finally went away, and now it's been four nights in a row of insomnia. Don't know if the insomnia is part of withdrawals, or if it's the nagging need to start writing this journal, but I decided to get up and start writing. So here I am.