Wow - how could I let it get so far? Getting out from under - I hope and pray.

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by sisyphus, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Jeez, where to story is typical in some ways and not so in others, it seems to me.

    Hi, my name is "Sisyphus" and I am a porn addict. I've been consuming and "using" 2d or video porn since I was a teenager. I'm 58 now. Yes, 58. God, that sounds pathetic, but there it is. I am what you might consider a "high functioning" addicitive personality, but I am an addict in every sense of the word.

    I have a pretty good life by any standard, but until recently, and particularly for the past few years, I have enjoyed it less and less as the stresses of life have driven me deeper and deeper into The Dark Place. I have a fantastic, rewarding and secure career that gives me a top 1% lifestyle. I have hobbies that have somehow stayed a little bit alive through my descent into the pit where I currently find myself. I have had the great fortune to be able to travel the world in the past ten years as well. I have a 28 year marriage to a pretty damned incredible and beautiful woman who I have not yet told about my problem. She's aware that I have viewed pron in the past but has no idea how bad my problem was. I'm going to have to tell her soon and I have no idea how she's going to react. Right now I have no clue how I'm going to approach that. We've been through a lot of tough times together and have always been there for each other, including the death of a child and skirting the very edge of bankruptcy for several years back in the 90's. I've had ups and downs in my career related to anger management issues that I've been able to cope with and she has stood by me even though the uncertainty about our future these issues caused created enormous stresses for her as well.

    Right now, I'm feeling a lot of anxiety about talking with her. A lot. This is even more stressful for me than dealing with the beginnings of cold turkey time. I know I need to come clean, but how to bring it up is a daunting problem. The small silver lining is that that stress doesn't make me want to run to my computer or into the bathroom to PMO. It just worries and scares the living @#$%^&* out of me.

    On the plus side, there have already been some positive things. I have just completed my first week PMO free. Nuked all of my hidden gmail accounts and deleted 400 GB, yes GB, of collected nastiness from my computer. Yesterday was the only day where I had really felt the need to rub one out and that lasted for a couple hours. I concentrated particularly hard on my work and got re-immersed in that and it eventually passed. Lots of anxiety associated with that for a while. The compulsion felt pretty strong for a while and it took significant effort to redirect my thoughts into something constructive, but it did pass. I haven't done anything with Willy except pee and it feels...strange. Not bad, but weird. It's funny how much of our day to day concept of our maleness is tied to using that particular appendage. Not surprising, I suppose, as that's how we are wired.

    I had been so focused on getting my daily fixes (anywhere from 1-4 times a day) that I couldn't see anything ahead of me but my next session. It made me withdrawn, short-tempered and empty. The anhedonia was incredibly intense. Life did not exist outside of my hard drive and the web. I was chronically sleep-deprived, getting no more than 5 or 6 hours a night, when I need at least 7 to be at my best. My wife has noticed this in the sense that she says I'm not appropriately thankful for how great my life is, that I don't have a proper appreciation for how good I have it. And she's right.

    The biggest positive change I've noticed in the past week is in how I'm already seeing a change in how I look at my wife, hence the anxiety about telling her. I was so far into my hole that everything I did outside of PMO was an imposition. I inwardly begrudged the time I spent doing things with her. We didn't do a lot of things together. We argued a LOT. I felt like she was constantly nagging me and I used that as an excuse to withdraw from her. If we weren't close any more, then it was naturally understandable that I would get release from stress and tension from porn. After all, a guy has needs, right? Any road, I am already feeling that I'm starting to reconnect with her and just generally feel closer, beginning to appreciate her again. That feels really wonderful.

    Right now it's like I've just started opening up my eyes after being unconscious for a long time. I realize that as down as I feel right now about myself and the predicament I find myself in, I still love this woman. A lot. I my mind, I'm already feeling closer and more connected to her in the past week than I have in a long time. So I am scared, really scared about what will happen when I tell her. I agonize about how I can bring it up and not have it blow up in my face.

    I came to myself a week ago when I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling a million miles away from everything. I got the thought in my head that our marriage was over and I didn't love her anymore. This cycled into a circle of obsessive thoughts and I ended up having a full blown panic attack lying in bed, actually trembling with the intensity of the distress I felt. It was the most miserable feeling in the world. I was nearly suicidal. And I prayed. I prayed like I never have in my adult life. I don't think it helped. I lay awake the rest of the night, from 3 am until 6, when I had to get up and go to work. That's when I first admitted to myself that I was in trouble and that I literally wasn't going to survive if I didn't change.

    I've had a fair amount of time to reflect on how I got here and I have made some tentative conclusions. I'm going to be starting therapy next week, because the thrice-blessed Underdog is a good and wise man. I have acknowledged that I have symptoms of an underlying problem. My porn addiction is a RESPONSE to something else in my life that is out of balance and I'm going to dig until I root that out. I am pretty damned sure that I have pure obsessive OCD, with lots of the classic unwanted thoughts and many of the mental rituals that such folks create to deal with those thoughts. I think in retrospect that if true, this underlying issue made me ESPECIALLY vulnerable to falling into some type of addictive behavior pattern. In my case, this was porn. Throw into that an unhealthy dose of self-esteem issues and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Based on the reading I've done so far, I think that I'll need to be careful about trying too hard to hang my hat on this explanation, but it has the ring of truth to it, at least for me. Why I believe this to be true is too involved to get into right now, but that is one of the reasons I'm going to be seeing a therapist next week. Outside objectivity is super-important at this stage.

    The other good thing I seem to notice now is the way that having to resist impulse one day at a time has focused me into the present. Folks with OCD tend to be worriers and have trouble living in the here and now. Just focusing on getting through each day without thinking about tomorrow is challenging but has the secondary benefit of living more in the moment and being mindful in the zen sense of the word. I think this in turn helps to make you appreciate that each PMO-free day is a GIFT and not simply an empty cell in a spreadsheet. When you can start appreciating that, I think that gets you closer to reconnecting with simple everyday pleasures that get washed out by the addiction. From what I can see, that's when you really begin recovery and rebuilding your life.

    So, I'm in a strange place right now. Happy that it's been relatively easy (so far) to turn my back on PMO. VERY frightened about how much damage I've done to my relationship with my wife. Relieved that I've started to confront my problems. Simultaneously feeling like I'm getting some control back in my life but at the same time feeling very vulnerable about the ultimate consequences of my actions. Filled with self loathing for the bad things I've done to myself and how I drained all the vitality and joy out of my life and how I've damaged my soul, wondering if anything can really be the same again. Glad to at least have some semblance of a plan to get back on my feet.

    My short term goals: establish a two-pronged approach to deal with my addiction. (1) To be mindful of my thoughts and actions and how they relate to and feed into my addiction. To stay in the here and now every day, from waking to sleep. Do what it takes minute by minute and hour by hour to get by during the beginning times. (2) Attack the underlying neurobiology of the problem. Recognize the need to fix my brain. Deal with the dopamine - consciously remind myself that I have to HEAL. Do things that promote/accelerate healing of my fried circuits, like regular exercise and weight loss.

    My long term objectives:

    1. Learn to live in the present and enjoy each day - to STOP WORRYING ABOUT EVERYTHING
    2. Become mindful of the vulnerabilities that come with my OCD problem with unwanted thoughts and to learn to accept them and put them in proper perspective.
    3. Reestablish my relationship with my wife and to appreciate her in the way she so richly deserves.
    4. Re-establish and grow my personal spirituality.
    5. Give back to those around me. Find a rewarding venue to volunteer in and to help others.
    6. Rekindle my passion for creativity and develop my hobby-related talents to the utmost.
    7. To make myself available to other members of this community as I make my journey and to be there to provide support and encouragement to my fellow-afflicted when they need it.

    At this point, I'd be very grateful for any comments or advice in general, but also for several specific questions:

    1. Guys who are married - if your spouse was unaware of your difficulties, how did you approach her?

    2. Have any of you tried to address the neurochemistry of the addiction with supplements during the early phase of abstinence? Specifically, does anyone have any experience with 5-HTP or GABA? I've been taking melatonin as a sleep aid, which is somewhat helpful, but nothing beyond that. Please understand clearly that I am not using these as a crutch or an excuse not to acquire the mental discipline and changed outlook that is the foundation of recovery. I see potential to accelerate healing of circuitry with these. From that comes better sleep, then better health, then generally increased well being, more ordinary day to day pleasure, etc. etc. Looking to start a good positive feedback cycle by doing this.

    3. Assuming that talking with The Boss doesn't blow up in my face, how should I handle intimacy over the short term? I definitely have issues with PIED, but have also noted that in the past when I've been away from the net and my stash for long periods (e.g., a week or more with no PMO) like on vacation, I can perform fairly well. In any event, I certain can see where my reconnecting emotionally with my wife is going to lead to desire again. Also, I think that my reconnecting over the past week has been noticed by her and is obviously welcome. That is probably in turn going to get her more interested in being intimate again as well. I think up 'til now, she's attributed my waning libido to getting older. What's the best way to handle this issue as I heal?

    That about covers it for now, I think. Sorry this ran on so long. It wasn't my intent to become the Dostoyevsky of the porn-damaged, but this kind of took on a life of its own as I started writing. Thanks for listening!

    I am very, very glad I stumbled across this place. It's an island of sanity and calm that is very badly needed. Bless those who contribute, share and advise here.

  2. Lightning Man

    Lightning Man New Member

    Welcome, Sisyphus. It's time to step away from the stone entirely.
  3. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Thanks, LM! Glad to have found this community. I really need this. in some ways, erasing my hard drive was easier than admitting I needed help for a serious problem. Funny how even in the depths of our problems, we let self-image and stereotypes of how we ought to be as guys get in the way of what really needs to be done. Hope I'm finally going down the right road.

  4. MwC

    MwC Member

    Strong story, and you attack it head on. You have obviously been successful in business, and you can leverage those strengths to resolve this issue! Your porn abuse seems similar to mine, but I did not develop PIED (at least not with my wife). I just quit, and it has lasted for 90 days.

    My wife did know about the porn and strangely never saw it as a problem. I guess she is (with good reason) very confident and it was never seen as competition. I told her I quit, and explained briefly why, and some of the science behind it. BUT I did in a playful way. A good line could be: "If I seem even more crazy about you than usual is because I decided to quit porn. I seen this video about PIED on the net, and do not want that to happen to me" I would not go into the details of the frequency, the addiction and the stuff you have been watching. It is in the past and will only hurt her. Still she can react in many ways... but she will certainly feel good about the changes you goals (when achieved) will bring to your relation and her life.

    Good luck mate!!!
  5. ejb65

    ejb65 Member

    Some guys have told wife others have not i think it depends on your situation. For me I told my wife day 2 but this was because at least part of my porn use was because my wife's lack of interest in sex. So I have 2 problems, get off porn, and get wife interested in sex. We had some pretty emotional encounters and i think she really got it when i cried uncontrollable for half an hour saying how badly not have sex the last few years hurt me.

    Some guys her have good relationships with their wives sexual and otherwise choose to just reboot with the help of the group here.
    Also if you wife already feels hurt by your porn use then that is something you will need to deal with together too.

    Acknowledging the problem and starting positive change is half the battle so we all want to encourage you here.
  6. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Well, I did it last night. We had a long, long talk, up 'til 2:30 in the morning. I laid it out for her and explained how I got into the predicament and what I was doing.

    She's with me, says I've got a problem I need to solve and that she'll support my efforts. Bouncing all day between relief, elation and depression. Can't ever remember a time when I've been so emotionally labile. I'm really glad I was honest with her. It was the first time in a long while and while it was embarrassing and humiliating, it was definitely the right thing to do. Starting to remember again why I married her in the first place.

    Five more hours and day 8 is complete. Not having extended periods of anxiety or need to M, but sorts of flashes which are uncomfortably intense. Holding out okay at the moment. I'm deliberately minimizing my online time and trying to occupy myself. Did shopping and cooking today, went for a 3 hour drive in the countryside with the wife. Had a few brief periods where I felt like...normal. Trying hard to not force myself to try and hang on and clutch at those times and tell myself that there will be more of them as time goes by. Also going to give the wife a link to the site.

    Feeling lucky, anxious, jittery and unworthy all at the same time. Hard to ride on the surface of those emotions and not wallow, which I think would set me up for a relapse.

    Thanks for listening and all the advice. It's appreciated.

  7. Abc

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

    sisyphus - glad to have you here, and welcome to YBOP :)

    We have a few things in common - being 58 is one of them...

    Sounds like you've made some good plans going out of the gate to address this issue - excellent effort on your part :)

    This is an interesting and challenging journey my friend - I've had more resets on my counter than I would have ever imagined going into this. And still have grown plenty along the way.

    Ride loosely in the saddle, and enjoy the ride!
  8. Mozenjo

    Mozenjo Well-Known Member

    Welcome Sisyphus. It really sounds like you're approaching your recovery in a very healthy way. Telling your wife was an act of courage, and I'm sure, of faith in your marriage. Well done. Since you say she noticed how your porn habit had changed your behavior over time, it may have come as a relief to her hearing your story, as it no doubt connected some dots for her. I sincerely hope your relationship heals as a result.

    I've read journals of some others who've dealt with OCD, but I haven't mentioned my experience with it in my journal yet. I too have suffered from it, and I know how distressing it can be. In the great book "The Brain That Changes Itself", which I highly recommend, there is some discussion of the causes and treatments in one of the chapters, and he mentions the method of self-treatment that worked wonders for me years before: be aware of the symptoms when they arrive, and tell yourself that it's just a certain part of your brain in a heightened state (which is true), and watch it as an outside observer would. It will pass much more quickly.

    It's the very same technique that can be so effective in riding out a wave of porn cravings.

    Keep checking in. Writing about your experience helps you congeal your thoughts about what's going on in your recovery, and you'll receive so much great feedback from the great bunch of guys here.
  9. Sidd

    Sidd Guest

    Welcome. You have made a good decision to come here and your first post was very open and that approach always helps. Keep posting and reading.
  10. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Thanks, guys!

    Having my wife "in my corner" so to speak is huge.
    She's been honest with me as well, saying that right now, she's handling it okay, but she's also reserving the right to be angry later as she processes everything. She explicitly didn't make any promises about how pissed she might be in the end, so if this ends up hurting the relationship over time, well...I guess I'll just have to accept that open-endedness.
    Right now, it means the world that she's here for me. That's when you know how lucky you are. Going forward, I'm just going to have to live with the uncertainty about how this may affect her long-term. To use the retail metaphor, I damaged it, so I have to buy it. One way or the other, that belongs to me now.

    Thinking about all of this over the weekend and reading some of the journals on the site has led me to a couple of tentative conclusions:

    1. If your partner can be there to support you, then you have a huge advantage. Ultimately, all secrets are bad for relationships.

    2. It's great if your partner is prepared to support and help you, but that dynamic of the relationship is just about YOU. I think that there is often a component of selfishness as well as escapism that contributes to falling into The Pit. While the struggle is intensely personal and completely internal, reconnecting with your S.O. is very big. Being a presence again in the relationship, recognizing that there's another person who has to heal is important. Having that kind of outward-directedness where you're now thinking about another person's needs gets you back into the real world in a pretty positive way. That does a couple things, I believe. It puts something into your daily existence above and beyond the necessary busy-ness you need to make it through each day. It also gives hope that there is something good waiting for you as you come out of the shadows.

    The void inside you when you quit is just huge. The strength of that emptyness is like a black hole. I know I'm going to need to be busy 16 hours a day for a long while. Fortunately, The Boss is creating the honey-do list to end all lists for me and I'm going to stick with that for now. The next big step is seeing a therapist on Friday.

    Bless this site and all who populate it.

  11. ejb65

    ejb65 Member

    Hey good for you S. I tried and just share my experience rather than saying what i think "you should do" so it is great you have have that decision and it worked out for you. I know it is a tough one as some guys wives are not that supportive for various reason. Anyway I sense you are on your way.

    It is going to be hard, there will be relapses, but it is a journey is well worth taking and the prize can be be much better relationship with your yourself, your wife and your friends. I have particularly found a couple i people i have messaged with over the last month have helped me to understand things better and helped me deal with problems as they occur.
  12. Syd

    Syd New Member

    Hey Sisyphus, you may have grabbed the best nickname on the forum. Welcome! Great honest and open couple of initial posts, and that mindset should serve you well.

    1. Count me among those who don't plan to share this issue with my wife, but that is terrific to hear you've done so and gotten good results. Whatever works!

    2. Haven't tried any supplements specifically related to quitting PMO, but have been more vigilant about taking fish oil, which I was taking anyway. If you read through the various journals, you'll see a lot of talk about melatonin. I take it on occasion, but had some wacky, scary dreams the last time, so I'm trying to avoid it. For me, regular exercise is darn close to a panacea as far as sleeping well and feeling good about myself.

    3. Give yourself time on PIED, but I believe your comment about doing OK when away from P or on vacation indicates you'll experience improvement fairly quickly. That's been my experience, anyway.

    Again, welcome to the crew and good luck on your journey!
  13. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Thanks guys! Five more hours to day 11. Gonna watch some MNF with the wife. I don't have a dog in that particular fight, but just looking to relax and hopefully not trigger too much :). I'm starting to see that the mindfulness concept is a good thing to hold onto. Going to sign off now. I'm trying really hard to cut down my web time in general as part of rebooting. TTFN!
  14. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Had a really bad time for a while last evening. I've been dealing with The Craving reasonably well during the day - it's an irritating itch that I won't let myself scratch. I try to stay busy and focused and practice mindfulness, reminding myself that what I'm feeling is to be expected and that it will pass. I find something/anything to engage my mind and get on with putting one foot in front of the other. But fro a while yesterday evening, man the intensity of the desire to PMO was breathtaking. It was a real ball-your-fists and clench your teeth period. I was in such obvious distress my wife noticed it. There was no trigger I could discern and I wasn't flashing on any images or remembered scenes from previous (ahem) activities. All of a sudden it was just there.

    We talked about it and I found it difficult to explain. She's been supportive, but I'm not sure to what extent she understands how deep this sh*t is. There's definitely an undercurrent of anger and disgust that she's trying to keep in check, I suspect, and that worries me. Well, not much I can do about it. I got me here and I have to live with it. Just trying to be as engaged with her as I can manage. I need to be careful about finding the balance between re-engaging/rebuilding with her and not leaning on her too heavily when I have bad patches. It's tough.

    Every day I slog through this swamp, I gain more respect for the guys who are making it happen and picking themselves ups after every slip. Keeps me inspired and motivated. I hope I can measure up.

  15. Lightning Man

    Lightning Man New Member

    What happened to you, Sisyphus, is why I believe there is a biological component to this. If it's a biological withdrawal (at least partly), then illogical mental reactions make sense. There was no reason for me to feel suicidal those few days I did. It had to be biological. Remember, we're playing around with brain chemistry here, the control center for the entire human body.
  16. Stupd Idiot

    Stupd Idiot New Member

    For the last 9 months sine I have stopped MO, I have gone through tremendous feelings of depression that I have nerve had before. I guess I have been going through a flatline that is 9 months and counting. I was a steady internet PMO for 10 years.
  17. Mr. Torrence

    Mr. Torrence New Member

    In response to your questions:

    1. I have chosen to not tell my wife and to battle this myself and with the help of this forum. I'm far too ashamed to tell her. I'm not sure there is a right or wrong decision regarding this, just personal choices of how to proceed.

    2. I've not tried either 5-HTP or GABA. I'm attempting my own method of addressing the neurochemistry which is through exercise-induced release of endorphins. I've put myself on a training program cycling 4 days a week and running/lifting 2 days. I've found this to be beneficial in a multitude of ways. The post-exercise endorphins have proven to be a nice quenching of the dopamine cravings and there is no better way to encourage effective sleep than to be physically exhausted. This obviously doesn't cover all the other health benefits (some of which directly relate to sexual health).

    3. Regarding intimacy over the short term? All I can do is tell you my strategy. I don't engage my wife in sex. I DO engage her in affectionate behavior. I make the conscientious effort to listen to her, send her kind emails through the day, rub her back, hug her and hold her hand. If she engages me in sex, I reciprocate but direct the entire session to focus on her - and not me. I've had enough time obsessing over my genitalia. I use the whole bag of tricks to maximize her experience - and minimize the focus of those methods being based on typical intercourse. This reduces the stress on your "penile performance" and lets you engage in less selfish love-making.
  18. ejb65

    ejb65 Member

    I found the urge surfing techniques helpful but difficult at first. Also the slight edge approach to small changes "that are easy to do and easy not to" I found useful. Also found it helpful to think of happiness as a combination of pleasure and purpose and rate activities on a scale of 1 to 10 for both pleasure and purpose to help figure out what I should be doing and not doing. -)
    It is great to experiment with different techniques to figure out what works as everyone is different.
    Take care.
  19. sisyphus

    sisyphus New Member

    Had an interesting experience today while exercising, not sure what to make of it. My primary physical activity is swimming. Bad back and knees don't allow anything like running - I need to do low impact stuff for my calorie burning and cardio.

    In any event, I am about 5 or 10 minutes into my session and hitting a pretty good groove. I'm feeling a bit of that general well-being going and feel in tune with my body in a good way. Then it hits me - big time flashbacks to some of my old favorite "stuff" I used to watch. I've had these from time to time over the past 10 days or so at unpredictable times, mostly an annoyance. I try to concentrate on my activities at hand and my mindfulness and can usually dispose of them with no more than moderate difficulty.

    But this time, holy crap. Even when I was concentrating like mad on my technique, counting my strokes/kicks and breathing, those images kept popping back into my head with more and more intrusiveness. I really battled to get them out of my mind, but they popped back quickly and with more intensity each time. I ended up pushing myself extra hard and eventually stuffed the nasty buggers back in their dark box, but it was HARD. Really, really hard.

    Most of the time when I exercise these days, I end up feeling mentally refreshed when m workout is done. You know, feeling virtuous, purposeful and in control, but this shook me quite a bit, since for the most part I've felt like I was keeping The Monster at arms length lately. The strength and intensity with which the thoughts kept popping back into my head was pretty alarming.

    I'm wondering if that experience was just one of those early-reboot random craving type things, or if somehow I'm actually triggering something with the exercise-induced endorphin release. Has anyone else experienced anything similar when working out?

  20. Mr. Torrence

    Mr. Torrence New Member

    I do experience these....and have not associated them with any particular activity per se, but rather when my mind is open. I consider these to be delirium tremens in their finest....(the DTs).

    Related to your question, I have experienced them while working out....and usually that is when I'm running an easy pace, or doing an LSD bike ride (Long Slow Distance). I attribute those workouts almost to meditation, because I'm not at threshold, and am probably in heart rate zone of high 2 or low not exerting myself tremendously....and the mind kind of wanders. Especially on an LSD ride which can be 3+ hours. And I've noticed for me - if I allow my mind to wander, the DTs can attack. Just as you've described, I will have flashbacks of particular images of particular niche things that really used to get me going.

    So...what to do? When they hit me while working out, I either do as you did....increase the intensity level of my workout until I'm in physical pain....(HR zone of 4 or 5)....but this won't always work. You cannot always be a state of catabolism with training. So my other method is that I've started listening to audiobooks on my LSD rides. It keeps my mind focused on something. This is obviously harder underwater. But it sounds like you've already identified that you've got to get your mind busy working on something else...

    Stay strong. This fight is worth it.

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