Time to heal

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by forlorn, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Yeah definitely. After day 90 simply comes day 91 and we have to keep working at it and so on. The reward comes slowly but surely in time, in a much more subtle and diffused way. At least, that's what I think.

    Glad to hear you are doing well ! Inspiring post !
    -Luke- likes this.
  2. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks Bobo, Thelongwayhome27 & Wild Bill, for your encouragement and advice.

    I had a unsettled day yesterday, my mind was consumed by negativity and uncertainty. I was catastrophising a mistake I made at work even though it wasn't really a big deal - and I had a bunch of doubts about my ability to perform sexually. It's tough to change patterns of thinking that have become ingrained through repeated behaviours. Decades of self inflicted mental torture (telling myself "I'm a weirdo, I'm good for nothing") reinforced by years of (voluntary) psychological sexual humiliation at the hands of women online telling me I'm a "fucking pathetic loser, a freak, not a real man" etc. It will take time to heal from this shit, mentally. To create new pathways and convince myself I'm a man who is worthy and capable of having healthy sexual relationships. Despite yesterdays negativity, I still have a steely determination to rise above this mediocre situation I'm in, to challenge my limiting beliefs with rational thoughts and to find out who I really am.
  3. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    To a certain extent, I feel that distraction is carrying me through the final third of this 90 day reboot. A series of little obsessions, whether it be getting lost in a book, watching a show or geekily researching potential purchases. That being said, all these distractions are better than the alternative and crucially it's giving my brain a break from the high levels of dopamine it has become accustomed to. Although I still have days where I'm plagued by anxiety and self doubt, this has been the cleanest reboot attempt I've had to date. Over the last 74 days I've had a career change, I've done some work on trauma and self forgiveness, I've started to get more honest with myself and I'm working on building healthier habits. There's a long way to go but today I feel positive and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
    positivef and UK Don like this.
  4. UK Don

    UK Don Member

    Great that you feel positive. The fact you consider it a very clean reboot is fantastic, I think a clean reboot is the only true reboot. With the obsessions you mention, I don't think that's a problem as long as you are always mindful of them, by which I mean ensuring they do not escalate to anything pmo related at all. Keep it up!
    positivef and forlorn like this.
  5. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks @UK Don for the support. Yes, I'll try to remain mindful of these little distractions and not allow myself to fall into the trap of obsessing over the 'wrong' things (I've done plenty of that over the years).

    My emotions have been stable over the last week with a couple of notable exceptions. One evening my wife was working late and I briefly felt paranoid about her whereabouts. That same evening I sent a message on a WhatsApp group I'm in and became increasingly anxious when I didn’t receive a reply to the question I’d asked. I suppose I momentarily felt rejected and I wondered if the group perceived my question as being a bit silly. On reflection, there was no need to feel anxious over these things. This afternoon I got really angry - partly at myself for showing a lack of restraint by eating lots of sugary food (I’m exercising regularly but feel as if undoing the hard work by eating junk food) and secondly by a frustrating work problem which took me a LONG time to resolve.

    Still working on shifting my motivation from being ego-based to being pride-based. Doing the right thing, even when nobody’s watching, taking pride in myself and my actions. Ego needs praise. Healthy pride needs no external praise which is why it doesn’t hold you back. I think to a certain extent I put my identity in the hands of other people. I wonder if my wife decided to leave me would I crumble, lose faith and return to a life of miserable addiction? Quite possibly. But I am working on changing, on taking responsibility, on building pride and being more honest with myself. I need to do this for me rather than to ‘look good’ in front of my wife and others.

    For the first time in years I actually finished a book (I’ve started reading a few in the past but always given up after a few chapters). It’s a minor accomplishment, but hopefully it represents a slight change in my mindset.
  6. positivef

    positivef Member

    That's great. I got (for me) a lot of reading done last year. But this year very little.
  7. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Just checking in with a brief update.

    Lately I'm becoming more aware of my emotional patterns and general behaviours, both positive and negative. I feel so much more sociable when I'm not using porn, I'm interacting a whole lot more both in person and via phone.

    Realised I sometimes get annoyed when I don't get my way over certain things. Also think I can come across a little needy at times, i.e. wanting attention from people.

    However even with these negative aspects of my character I've identified opportunities for emotional growth and maturity. I have to accept that things won't always go my way. Being needy isn't an attractive quality, I should listen more and give people space.
  8. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    When I got home from work I checked a social media site and briefly browsed an adult profile, I saw she had posted new content. One of my 'go to' genres. There was no noticeable build up to this trigger, it just kind of happened out the blue, or so it seems. It may have happened in a split second but I rationalised a little peek. Tempting though it was to look further and perhaps even make contact I decided to log out and walk away. It's left me feeling a little confused and it goes to show how vulnerable I still am. I have to take this as a warning that I need to remain active in recovery. One thing that helped me in the moment was to 'play through the tape'. I've discussed this method previously in my journal but will repost below as a reminder to myself.

    **Adopting long-term thinking**

    Lets say you carry on with your addiction. You get your temporary fix, what happens then? What about tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? When faced with irrational thoughts and cravings you need to constantly be asking yourself the question “What happens after?”. Sure, you can give in and “have a quick look” at a profile, but what happens next? Are you likely to close the profile and go do something else with your day or is it likely to lead to more browsing, more involvement until eventually you are hooked again? What happens when the sexual excitement is over? Will you just want to do it again and again?

    By using the technique of “playing the tape through” you can quickly come to see that acting out simply isn’t worth it, because there never is such a thing as “one last time”.

    Walking away was the sensible thing to do, if I had allowed it to turn into a relapse, I'd feel miserable, angry and helpless.
    positivef and Merton like this.
  9. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this reminder about playing the tape. Amazing work on 87.
  10. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Merton for checking in on me.

    Ever since yesterday's trigger I have felt a little jittery. This morning my concentration and confidence were affected. But hey, this was never going to be easy.

    Nevertheless I am determined to learn a valuable lesson here - I cannot allow complacency to creep in and I must remain active in recovery. So today I began working on something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I have started to put together a list of 'values' in order to remind myself where I stand on boundaries and what it means to me to be doing the right thing. I've jotted this list down on my phone so it's with me at all times and so I can review frequently. The idea is to use these values to derive meaning and fulfilment in life - and to use them as a basis for decision making, rather than basing my decisions on emotions (i.e. whatever feels good at the time). Emotions are often skewed and irrational, but values give us a stable foundation from which to make healthy decisions.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
    positivef likes this.
  11. TheNightfly

    TheNightfly Member

    I have been clean since 12/32/2019. I may have a handle on PMO but I guess I am waiting for that amazing transformation. Reading this makes me realize I need to better myself instead of just acting like I am in a hospital recovering.
    positivef and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  12. axebattler

    axebattler Member Staff Member


    But seriously, if you're clean since 2019, that's cool man. Keep up the good work.
    Thelongwayhome27 and TheNightfly like this.
  13. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    The uneasy feeling has now passed.

    Been working on strengthening my values and this will be my focus for the next few weeks. The values I wish to develop include respect for self, respect for others, self improvement, pride and honesty. For the honesty part I like to think about people I know such as certain family members, especially those I have a lot of respect for. I try to visualise my interactions with them. I want to be the person they believe me to be.

    I think sometimes we can fall into the trap of seeing recovery as an 'event', with a distinct beginning and end. However seeing recovery this way isn't necessarily the best method for long term change. As you rightly say, we must work on bettering ourselves. I'm approaching 90 days of abstinence but there's a lot of real work still to be done - rebuilding intimacy, emotional management and continually striving towards personal improvement.
    positivef and Mad Dog like this.
  14. positivef

    positivef Member

    Thanks for description the 'full tape method', it's useful to conflict between emotions and reason or values. I find the addiction isn't a emotion but a bad way to deal with emotions.
    forlorn likes this.
  15. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    The weekend was stressful due to an incident among the wider family. It was interesting to observe how others handled the stress - some argued, some cried while others remained level headed. It took me a little out of my comfort zone, disrupted my routine and sleep, leaving me feeling tired and low at the start of the week.

    It occurred to me this morning that I need to work harder on enjoying life - i.e. learning how to be happier / more content. Often my mind wanders and I think "I cannot wait for it to be the weekend" - this mindset needs to change and I ought to become more appreciative of the present, and of life in general. Not entirely sure how to go about this yet.

    Yeah, we have become conditioned to dealing with uncomfortable emotions through our addictions. This is why I am now trying to shift towards making decisions based on 'values' rather than on emotions. Changes like this won't happen overnight so I am attempting to review my values (such as self respect) as often as possible - to memorise and reflect on them so they become part of my automatic thinking.
    positivef likes this.
  16. NCBob

    NCBob The 11th commandment: Thou shalt not peek:-)

    I find that I make my best decisions after I have expressed/processed my emotions, forlorn. It is on the other side of my emotions which gives me the clarity that I need to make choices I feel good about. I've discovered that some of my values are different than I originally thought when I was younger, simply by working through my emotional baggage. Sometimes, the values we have actually are borrowed from others, including our parents, educators, etc., and are in place simply because of emotions we've not worked through yet. When I grew up, holding our emotional cards close to our vest was valued highly in my family, as in being emotionally strong. At this point in my life, open, honest, and transparent emotional expression is something I value highly, which is a 180 degree turn from what I grew up with. Make sense?
    TheNightfly and positivef like this.
  17. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Hi @NCBob yes, that makes sense - our values can evolve over time. And I can see why in your circumstances, especially with your father being the way he was, you may not have been encouraged to be emotionally expressive.

    Not only can our values evolve, but they can also erode, especially when addiction takes hold. But this can be reversed providing we are persistent and determined enough - some of the values I'm trying to adopt aren't fully ingrained yet which is why I need to work on it day after day - these are the nuts and bolts of recovery IMO. Learning not to seek immediate gratification but instead to make choices based on a solid foundation of values. I remember that well known sticky thread from the Underdog saying that people aren't doing enough to change the way they think, or to change the way they view the world, sex and women. I don't want to fall into that trap. I've got a decent clean streak under my belt (pun intended) but it's sure as hell taken me a long time to get here. I started this journal in November 2018, it's now February 2020. Before that I had another journal elsewhere that I started in 2014. But anyway, that's just the abstinence part - dealing with the chemical withdrawal of the dopamine. Now I have to work on changing the way I think in order to create lasting change. And of course I have to work towards repairing the damage of a sexless marriage.
  18. TheNightfly

    TheNightfly Member

    I have a sexless marriage and I have no idea when I will have sex. It’s kind of heavy to think I can’t PMO but then again you can’t have sex, even if you want to. Kind of between a rock and a hard place. I am 2 months in so I hope my eyes will be opened and I will gain some wisdom.
    forlorn likes this.
  19. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Sorry for my directness (blame it on my nationality;)), but it is striking to me that you use 'have to' twice instead of 'want to'. Is this really in agreement with what you really want?
  20. positivef

    positivef Member

    I like your idea of focusing on values and trying to get closer to them with in thinking and living.
  21. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Interesting that you picked up on my choice of words.

    It was written in haste, partly to remind myself of the direction I'm going in. But is it in agreement with what I really want? It's a challenging question. I have to admit, to an extent, I'm doing this because of the expectations of my family and because it's what society says is normal - a man is supposed to meet a woman and get married. A husband and wife are supposed to have a sexual relationship. I guess I just went along with all of this and hoped things would work out. Now that I'm in this situation, I believe I ought to try and make it work. My wife once told me she resents me because we can't have sex. That was 10 years ago and we've barely spoken about it since. It's painful for me to even write about it but maybe it's necessary in order to be brutally honest about my current situation.

    And in terms of 'wanting to' v 'having to' change the way I think - at this point in my life, I genuinely desire a life away from compulsive sexual behaviour. There's a quote from Gandhi which says:

    "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

    With my use of P, I could feel the gap between what I was thinking, saying and doing becoming wider and more conflicted. I no longer want to live like that.
    UK Don, Gil79 and positivef like this.
  22. positivef

    positivef Member

    Definitely, porn pushes you to delve into things you can not justify. Like two personalities in one head. Then all the shame and hiding and covering up, that's not something I will miss.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
    Merton likes this.

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