Author Topic: See them grow up  (Read 19661 times)

workinprogressUK

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See them grow up
« on: January 18, 2017, 10:36:35 AM »
I'm a mid-forties, married, professional, father of two from the UK. I lead an outwardly successful life but I’ve been hamstrung since puberty by very low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and a sense that somehow I just don’t fit in. I’ve learned over time that it’s some form of arrogance to consider myself especially different, but like many addicts, I grew up feeling like I was uniquely unpleasant and unworthy of love or respect. The way I self-soothed through a lonely adolescence was through porn. Given that this was in the days before the current, porn-saturated, wild-west enabled by high-speed internet, my M.O. was mostly through self-generated fantasy. I spent the vast majority of my teen years living in a hazy bubble of degrading, masochistic fantasies. I withdrew into my fantasies and away from the world, thriving on porn-induced dopamine hits that I had no understanding of. Porn became more and more dominant in my brain, and my social life, hobbies and friendships withered as the neural pathways that carried my fantasies became the only ones I exercised.

I won’t bore you with the details about how my tastes evolved to become more bizarre and how things moved from brain-baked fantasy, to broadband-enabled imagery, and on from there to a whole new realm of physical acting out and sex addiction beyond porn. But life got out of control, characterised by losing at least one job, a couple of trips to the Emergency Ward, physical assaults being perpetrated against me and, eventually, my wife finding out. That was my rock bottom. Seeing my partner of 23 years lying on the floor, sobbing hysterically and blaming herself for the way that I had betrayed her put everything in perspective, and I resolved to live a porn-free life and try to get back in control.

I attended a 1-week, intensive, residential, recovery course here in the UK, which I still value as a life-changing event. Exiting the course, I put in place all of the “first level” protections you know well, like a K9 web filter, a new mobile phone account, cancelling my mobile broadband contract, destroying my collection and deleting all my web accounts. I also worked hard on the, much more tricky, “second level” issues like my self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy; I changed job to a company where I would be less isolated, I took a course to become a qualified ski instructor and started to teach kids how to ski in my weekends, I invested in organising weekends away with friends I had not been in touch with for ages, I tried to rebuild things with my wife and I hired an expensive counsellor.

The withdrawal symptoms ravaged me for the initial months and relations with my wife were very slow to recover. Trust is still sketchy now. But I leaned on trusted friends, support networks and coping strategies, such that triggers eventually became less regular, and I became increasingly comfortable as a non-porn-user. That was three years and eight months ago. I managed two and a half years clean, before a brief relapse into porn and physically acting out about 12 months back. You see, I never managed to clean-up all my underlying issues and to some extent I just developed other, unhealthy, coping strategies for feelings of deep anxiety and inadequacy. About two and a half years ago I felt threatened at a party by a bunch of guys, so I drunkenly punched one in the face, narrowly avoiding being arrested. Twelve months later a similar thing happened, only this time I faced prosecution and was given a formal police caution. This year, 2017, was supposed to be my “year of not fucking things up”. But I picked up a serious knee injury just before Christmas, which has stopped me from playing the sports that have been so important in my recovery. My work situation, having been very rewarding for three years, suddenly became unstable. My wife lost her job, and the nagging doubts about whether I was happy in our relationship re-surfaced. I responded by checking-out, logging-on and have found myself for the last two weeks to be increasingly consumed by my old porn habit, and increasingly neglectful of my real-world obligations to myself, my wife, my colleagues, my friends and especially to my two beautiful kids, who I dearly wish more than anything else to see grow up. It has been incredible how quickly the old desires came to dominate my every waking moment again. Unbelievable! And i let it happen through arrogance and complacency.

There’s a good likelihood that my wife will find out that I’ve relapsed. I’ve made an indiscretion that I expect her to discover, which will likely see me expelled from the family home. If that happens, I’ll have nobody but myself to blame. But regardless of whether that happens or not, the behaviours have to stop. I have to get control of my brain and my soul back. So today is my first day resisting the urge for porn and masturbation. I feel cold, anxious, fidgety and unfocused, but at least I’m not using. I know I can do this. I have done it before and I am a lot less addicted to sex and porn than I was last time I rebooted in 2013. So please wish me luck and strength!

I’m off now to delete that one last email address I was thinking of holding on to  :)

Penitent

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2017, 12:59:35 PM »
Those easily-discovered "indiscretions" may not be indiscretions but may be seeking punishment. It's something we can do to ourselves. We loathe what we do, so we loathe ourselves for doing it. Thus, we engineer ways to be harmed by doing it.

Onthejourney

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2017, 01:06:07 PM »
Hey wanted to let you know I am cheering for you.  You've had success once, and I know it can be yours again.  Whatever you did back then to go so far, return to that.

TK-421

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2017, 04:22:05 PM »
Welcome to the forum. I'm sure you'll find lots of support and resources here. I'm also sure that your previous work will be helpful for you on your journey towards recovery. This really is a journey of a few steps forward and one or two backwards. The addictive voice doesn't win until you give up and stop seeking ways to fortify your defences and have a better understanding of yourself and your behaviours.

I encourage you to check in regularly,  post in your journal and offer your support and insights to others.

Wishing you well.

TK-421
I never use porn or masturbate Now.  I am in charge of my life.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 07:13:57 AM »
Thanks, guys, for your replies and your support. It really is appreciated!

Well... I'm back on my horse. Not yet managing a trot and far from leaping elegantly over fences. But me and my brain are managing a steady walk together and I haven't been bucked-off. So I'll celebrate that victory (mini fist pump) and then get back to my processes (as the athletes say) and grind through the day. I'm also grinding through my teeth, which is causing a nice, sharp, pain behind my eyes, and I'm shivering. Everything is going pretty much as you would expect  :)

I have a business trip to London this afternoon and evening, which will be a challenge. Bright lights, big city and a gazillion triggers. I've cancelled my overnight hotel and will get myself home instead. I'll concentrate on NOT scanning my environment - stay private in my own space and don't go looking for trouble. I've downloaded some new music to soothe the ragged beast. I will NOT buy a wifi pass on the train and I WILL hit the gym before I head down to the station. I will get through the day and I'll arrive on Friday in recovery, rather than in practice. Wish me luck!

Thanks,
WIP

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2017, 09:24:24 AM »
Well, I got through Thursday's trip to London and I've arrived on Friday in recovery. For that I'm grateful. Very glad that I traveled home last night instead of staying away. So glad to remember that "environmental scanning" is to be avoided. Head down. A phrase sprang to mind that I recalled from an old SA associate; "the first look is on God". i'm not much of a God person, but that one stopped me feeling too guilty for just "seeing" attractive things, but reinforced that it's not OK to look again and wallow in it  ;)

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 05:04:45 AM »
Made it through the weekend without relapsing, for which I'm grateful. Primary emotion today is sadness that I'm back here. Have to look at my own arrogance and complacency for that. 700+ days of sobriety, then a bunch of time kidding myself that i was living clean, when the reality was that I was flirting around the edges and walking out onto ever-thinner ice, . Well.... the ice broke. Back to the beginning; a large portion of humble pie and a side dish of guilt and the shame. Need to get through that self-pity; not going to help. I remember somebody writing....

"If you're not working on your recovery, you;re working on your relapse".

I stopped working on recovery and filling my brain with positive, "real world" sources of pleasure and relaxation. And that left a vacuum into which the insidious little bastard of sexual compulsion sneaked back in. Writing this has helped me re-focus. Confident that I will make it through the Monday Blues and hopefully things will still be in one piece tomorrow.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 03:26:33 AM »
Still here and clean. Lot's of triggers but I've built the firewall and I'm strong. Big project arrived at work yesterday, which caused stress, especially because I go into hospital tomorrow for surgery, with the outcome not clear. Need to focus on a compact list of priorities today, because things will get sketchy if I spread myself too thin.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2017, 01:39:06 AM »
Wednesday. Still feeling strong. Triggers are minimal, despite going to hospital later today for surgery.

Firstbigstep

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2017, 06:59:21 AM »
Well done on fighting the battle. It is a tough fight but you know you can do this.

Hope your surgery goes well.

Looking forward to hearing from you on the otherside.
I'm here to help and be helped, support and be supported.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2017, 09:46:30 AM »
Thank you FirstBigStep. Thursday and I'm still in recovery. No lapses.
Surgery yesterday had a disappointing outcome, but at least I weigh less today, having lost a cruciate ligament and half of my medial meniscus. That was a lot worse than the prognosis. Silver lining is that I don't have to endure 4 weeks non weight bearing, without driving or flying, so a lot less stress and anxiety to manage as I fight the relapse. Then back in for a cruciate graft in March and then 9 months of rehab. Hmmmmm.... that doesn't read so well  :-\ But never mind. It is what it is and the dopamine and adrenaline of sport are integral to my addiction recovery, so injuries have to be too.
A few little triggers, lying on the sofa without much to do, but nothing that couldn't be diverted. I'm smiling. We fight on  ;D



Firstbigstep

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2017, 09:55:02 AM »
Hey, Workinprogress!

All that time you'll have to do the important things in life!

Sorry to hear of your surgical outcomes - far from ideal, I guess, but it gives you time to plan what you will do with your rehab time.

I don't know what to suggest as a dopamine trigger for that period if you can't do sport (and obviously won't be doing the old PMO routine!) If anything comes to mind, I'll let you know.

Good luck with your recovery and your reboot.
I'm here to help and be helped, support and be supported.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2017, 09:56:24 AM »
Going to get back in the gym tomorrow and SMASH IT  >:( :D

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2017, 06:06:26 AM »
Friday. Keeping it on the straight and narrow. Trying to keep mind and body positively occupied, without yet being able to drive or work out until this evening. I'm sure there's some saying to describe how "sitting on your arse all day with nothing to do is likely to drive you off your head". One day at a time. I'll win today.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2017, 04:47:47 AM »
Monday. Made it through the weekend OK. Tempted to relapse a couple of times but I've fought through that. Fighting triggers today too. It's humbling me to attempt two rehabs in parallel. That's motivating the weak part of my brain to run for cover and hide in some soothing and comforting old P. Because I cannot run away and hide from the pain and instability in my knee, because having to physically hobble about the place wincing, especially after forcing myself through a strengthening session at the gym, is more immediate. That takes away a lot of my energy to fight the addiction. And I have another 9-12 months of fixing the knee, including at least one more major surgery. But in the bigger picture, the addiction fight is the biggie and I need to save more energy for that one. It;s going to be a very uncomfortable day, I think, but I'm going to use the tools and techniques and get myself through it. Good luck to all in your battles today  ;).

clean-n-sober

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2017, 11:48:05 AM »
workinprogress,

I read your journal and just wanted to wish you the best of luck in rehabilitating both your knee and your mind. I agree that the latter of the two may pose the greater challenge. We've all been there. I'm just getting started after PMo'ing "just one last time" before coming here and creating an account at RN

It's evident from your words that you love your family and want to be the best you can for them. I would say that given your history of sobriety from PMO that you have a pretty good foundation to start anew. I agree with you that there are always underlying issues that pull us back into the self soothing escapism that is PMO. We've conditioned ourselves with a coping mechanism that, on the surface,
can be dismissed as antidote for feeling horny, but that I believe speaks to much deeper needs. These are difficult things to "flesh out", at least for me. I'm wishing you much progress.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2017, 04:16:55 AM »
Thanks clean-n-sober. Your support is a real encouragement.
Yesterday was a really tough day. Toughest so far. But I managed to keep my day free from P at the expense of having a really ineffective day at work. Small price to pay in the bigger scheme of things. Not yet using the techniques I've been taught to make the fight a little easier. Really should have RUN yesterday rather than staying in front of a laptop that was a constant source of stress. REMOVING myself from the source of temptation makes it a lot easier to UNDISTORT my thinking and NEVER FORGET the pain I caused in the past to myself and those who care for me.
Today's going to be a better day. I know that. Best wishes to all those of you who are struggling.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2017, 04:19:10 AM »
Wednesday marks two weeks PMO-free and the first day since my operation that I don't feel miserable and foggy. That's good news, but I'm kind of stuck in feeling pissed at myself for having been ineffective in the last few days. I guess I had a general anaesthetic 6 days ago, and that often results in a hangover. Feels like my internal "operating system" is only back into balance today. So today I'm going to try to do better than just coping. Time to step it up. Execute on a couple of recovery tasks. Take the fight to the enemy  >:(  ;D

Firstbigstep

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2017, 05:31:06 AM »
My father had a saying...

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present"

Let your lost days go. You've just had surgery, you're recovering from that and rebooting your brain - give yourself a bit of a break!

Look at the positives - you are still PMO clean, you've battled through another day when the easy thing to do was wallow in the porn induced sludge. You didn't do that, you're another day nearer to beinf rid of your habit.

All strength to you on this path.
I'm here to help and be helped, support and be supported.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2017, 03:52:17 AM »
Thanks FbS. The gift of behaving like the person i always wanted to be is one i'm grateful for. Long may that continue! Thursday. Things are improving. I have company today, which is always a bonus. And I am away tonight with work, which has typically been a PMO trigger. I've downloaded a new brain-shrinkery book to occupy my mind with constructive stuff on the journey, and I've arranged a dinner with colleagues and a client, rather than skulking in the hotel on my own. Expecting a struggle but one that I'm confident I'll win. Thanks for reading!

Firstbigstep

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2017, 06:20:31 AM »
Your work situation sounds a lot like mine.

A lot of solo time, a lot of time away, lots of nights in hotel rooms. Working with people I don't necessarily know or like.

And days like today, where I've down time in the day time,  were always my porn time. Another struggle but one I intend to beat.
I'm here to help and be helped, support and be supported.

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2017, 02:15:05 AM »
Sounds very similar indeed, Firstbigstep. I'll confess to having stolen a living from numerous employers who paid me good money for days lost in a fog of P. Work stress in its various form is still my biggest trigger. Getting clean allowed me to get my career back on track and super-charged my earnings. That wasn't the reason for doing it, but it was certainly a welcome side-benefit!

Well... here I am on Friday morning, still clean, despite a totally sleepless night. No P, M or O for a couple of weeks. Not sure what caused the insomnia  ???. No demons and no white knuckles. Maybe just one of those things.

Wishing you all a safe and productive Friday  ;)

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2017, 08:28:51 AM »
Navigated the weekend without any slips. A few practical things helped;
1. Not booting my laptop. Booting-up for vanilla reasons can be one of those SIDs for me (Seemingly Innocuous Decisions... couldn't remember the name for them in an earlier post) that I sometimes make that present unnecessary risks
2. Letting myself be convinced to go socialise at my local rugby club on Saturday. They might be idiots, but they're my idiots  ;D

workinprogressUK

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2017, 05:07:03 AM »
Made it through Monday. Making it through Tuesday. Just. Not feeling particularly strung out, but cognitive distortion in my amoral old limbic system is reminding me how enjoyable my old acting out behaviours used to be. There were times when I was a practicing addict that i did hate what i was doing and hated myself for doing it. But there were plenty of other times when it gave me a massive buzz. Reading back through some notes today, I'm reminded that 80-90% of my brain function happens in the limbic system, and that Chimp brain is always looking for the fastest, easiest, lowest-effort way to feel safe and soothed. So if the 80-90% of my brain that get's first bite at every decision is telling me that P feels good and everything else is boring or too painful, then it can't come as any surprise that it's a constant struggle. Right now my Chimp isn't screaming for a fix but it is trying to cajole me back to one. That's just brain chemistry, right? Can't be avoided. So according to my notes from last reboot, I need to fully engage my conscious, human, brain so that i don't leave any big gaps for my compulsions to back-fill.
Wish me luck!

Firstbigstep

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Re: See them grow up
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2017, 05:12:25 AM »
Good luck today and every day!

Keep the chimp under control, or he'll run riot again.

It is a long hard fight we're all in.
I'm here to help and be helped, support and be supported.