Author Topic: Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)  (Read 366 times)

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)
« on: November 19, 2018, 09:40:53 PM »
Please read and comment if it strikes you.

The past week has been very challenging for me.  My partner of the past 11 years who I adore confronted me with my addiction and is unsure whether or not she has the strength to heal with me and to go through the process again.  I say again because this is the second time that she has confronted me a major way regarding my problem; the first was 7 years ago.  I was able to seek help then and made great progress but ultimately relapsed and picked up bad habits over time.  It kills me knowing what I have done to her because she means everything to me and I want her to be happy.  I hate what this addiction has done to me and my life.  I will go over my story as best as I can and then I hope to maintain this journal going forward.  I am also maintaining a written journal and I am trying to reduce my screen time so it is unlikely that I will update this every day but I am trying to build a structure of support and accountability around my self so that I can make a sustainable improvement in my life.

I am nearly 31 years old and have had an addiction to internet pornography since the age of 13; nearly 18 years at this point.  My addiction does not cause me any physical dysfunctions but instead has been relied on by me a mental crutch to allow myself to silence my mind.  The main triggers for me are being alone and being stressed and my line of work has put me square into those situations.  I have started the process of working with counsellors because outside of rebooting I want to make changes in my life and my thinking that will target the roots of my problems.

Due to family challenges I had to become fairly independent at a very young age, this put me into many situations where I would be alone for extended periods of time.  Adding to that, I have never really been strong socially and I have many insecurities that lead to my isolation from others and other activities.  For as long as I can remember (long before the addiction taking hold) I have always been a high achiever but I don't know what makes me do that.  I do know that I reflexively over think everything to the point of mental exhaustion and that my brain seems to always be churning and burning.  This led to me being successful at university and while I fully acknowledge that I had the addiction during that time, the network of friends and social connections I had kept the problem more in control.  Upon leaving school I immediately moved away for a job where I lived alone.  This is when the problems really took hold of my life.

My bizarre need to over achieve has been amplified in the work environment where I am lauded as being a 'star player' but I believe that has come at the cost of my mental health.  My stress levels hit their all time peak this year, I actually got to the point of tears on multiple occasions at work which has never happened to me before.  When I wake up I am thinking about work, when I am at work I don't take breaks, and when I come home (late) I obsessively think about work conversations.  My main stress reducing technique was to simply veg out and try to relax but this doesn't work and only serves to keep things bottled up.  Prior to this week I think there were only a handful of things that could get my attention away and exercise my mental strain: spending time with my partner, sexual relations with my partner, spending time with my friends, and my addiction to pornography.  I'm sure there were others but those four are the things that really jump to mind.  The first three are healthy but the last one as we know is terribly unhealthy.

My addiction to porn is much the same as other people but with some differences.  It is most definitely a compulsion that I was not in control of but it was very much a product of opportunity.  I have never stayed up late surfing for porn while my partner slept, the thought has never crossed my mind.  I much prefer maintaining company with her in most cases, non-sexual.  My addiction would rear its ugly head in two different forms: masturbating to porn in the morning before work in the bathroom and engaging in long terrible sessions when I was alone and knew that I would be alone for an extended period of time.

The first one (bathroom) is much more of a recent addition.  I would use porn for visual stimulation but the whole process would be very short (3-5 mins).  On some occasions I wouldn't even use porn when I masturbated.  I think I started this habit to cope with stress in the morning.  I say habit but this was not a daily activity, but I'm not sure how often it happened.

The second one is has been the core of my problem for 18 years.  I would get entranced when switching from tab to tab, I never finished a full video and always moved on to something new.  I didn't have a specific taste but I would say that much of what I did view was far outside of what my tastes are.  The worst activity I engaged in was escalating beyond viewing porn to communicating with strangers via email to discuss our fantasies and sex.  These communications would be very superficial from my end, no names or personal information disclosed, no face pictures shared but I did share pictures of my body and I am very ashamed of that fact.  While these communications were not the most common part of my addiction, they are by far the most damaging to my psyche and to my relationship.  I never acted on any of these email exchanges and I never met anyone in person.  I have never wanted an intimate relationship beyond the one with my partner, she provides me everything I could ever want and need from a romantic/sexual perspective.  I don't know why I engaged in these activities but it was always while being in the throws of a long porn edging session.  I am terribly sorry for my actions and want to be able to maintain my relationship but I understand why it is hard for her.

That was very challenging to type out.  There are parts of whats above that brought tears to my eyes while typing.  I am glad that I am on the path of improvement/recovery now and am committed to the process.  I had some success before with stopping but I lost focus and wasn't vigilant.  I am trying to build better strategies surrounding my triggers but what feels different for me this time is the support net I am building for myself and the mindfulness exercises that I am incorporating into my life.  I feel that by being more mindful and by finding ways to reduce my stress and refocus much of life outside of work I will find more harmony and a path that is successful.  I know that it is hard work but I am committed because I fully admit that I have an addiction to porn and that I need to change; for my sake and for the people who care about me.

Things I am doing (and counting...)
1. I have spoken to counsellors and have found that exercise to be very valuable.  I strongly encourage others to do so if they have the means.  I intend to make this a part of my ongoing recovery, not just in times of crisis.
2. I have started meditating twice daily at minimum.  The headspace app is easy to use and has pulled me out of some thought spirals.  I would have written off meditation in the past (without trying it) but it really does work as a tool to acknowledge and calm though patterns.
3. I have started a written journal.  Similar to meditation, I never would have tried this before but wow is it a powerful tool.
4. I am posting here, like I said above, I am trying to reduce my screen time considerably at the moment so I don't know how often I will update but just writing this post has been a therapeutic experience.
5. I have talked to friends.  This is the big one and has taken a lot of buildup mentally for me.  I have personally admitted to my addiction and what I have done to 4 of my friends.  This is a stress/anxiety inducing item for me but I decided that as part of my recovery I need to own my problems beyond just myself.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 05:11:23 PM by allthelights »

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2018, 09:42:13 PM »
I never added this into the post: it's day 7 currently, of what will be many more than that.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2018, 06:24:07 PM »
Day 13 is almost over and I am still completely PMO free.  I am feeling a lot more present in my day to day life and in my thinking.  I joined a yoga studio and have gone 3 times this past week (once with my partner and twice with my friend).  Yoga has been a great addition to my life so far.  It stimulates the mind and the body but is also a social connection that I want to let grow with me.

Getting out of my own head and out into the world can be challenging at times.  There are still lots of thoughts in my head that want me to stay in by myself more or to not reach out to friends but I am focusing on acknowledging that those thoughts exist and that I don't have to give in to them.  Sometimes the harder path forward is more rewarding in the end.  I value my time with friends more than I value time by myself.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2018, 06:33:29 PM »
Day 15 - Still going strong.  I haven't felt any strong urges and I haven't had to talk myself out of any situations.  My main focus has been on my mental health; I'm actively removing myself (both physically and mentally in some cases) from situations that cause me stress and I am focusing on the things that I enjoy the most.

It feels good to be into my 3rd week already.  One day at a time.

Edit_undo

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 72
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2018, 10:44:27 PM »
Hey, great job! Over two weeks already. I can relate to the mental health focuse too- recently started meditating to become more aware of myself, and yes, reduce stress. I’m not sure how much it’s helping but it’s something to try and I like it. Keep at it!

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2018, 07:32:16 PM »
The end of day 20 is closing in and I am still going strong.  I feel more clear in my head and more able to actually listen to people.  My focus on de-stressing and limiting my usage of modern conveniences is making me happy and keeping me on the right path (so far).  I'm still meditating and writing in my journal every day and I am still going to yoga.  I have also started to reconnect in more meaningful way with my partner and for that I am really grateful.  We are still taking the 'work on ourselves then work on each other' approach and I think that is a good thing for both of us.  She really is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

It hasn't been all perfect, even though I have never relapsed I have been in some pretty low pits.  I had flashbacks to porn at one point when I was very low but I focused on pushing those thoughts out and on how I don't need that to feel better or alive in any way.  I was proud of the fact that I was able to pull out of it on my own because I know that I will need to keep that skill sharp in my toolbox.  As I wrote in my journal that night "I hate those thoughts, fuck them."

Goals for this week include but are not limited to: book a counselling appointment with the therapist that I spoke to years ago, try to come up with a minimum routine schedule for yoga, try to incorporate a new form of exercise (or at least think of what I want to do), ensure that I can take next week off of work.  The work one may seem easy but that will be the first full week that I will have taken off in a row in more than two calendar years.  It frightens me in some ways to take a break but I have to learn how to acknowledge and get over the anxiety of taking breaks.

I'm looking forward to having another day free and clear tomorrow.  One day at a time.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2018, 10:20:35 PM »
Not a lot to add tonight, just wanted to post to remind myself that it has been 21 days for me; three full weeks!

Edit_undo

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 72
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2018, 11:02:27 PM »
 3 weeks in - nice job!

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018, 10:45:07 PM »
3 more days in the bank, the end of day 24 is almost here.

There have been some tough times lately, not with PMO specifically but with anxiety and sadness. Some tough but necessary conversations were had; details discussed. It's important for me to acknowledge my behaviour fully and own it. It's important for me to hear how it hurt her. She says that she is "in it" with me so that is good. I feel like myself and my relationship are both on the road to recovery. It will be a long and painful road but the journey is worth it. I know that I am committed and I know that it is through commitment that success is possible.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2018, 05:41:13 PM »
Today (day 26) is the first day that I have felt anything close to an urge to act out.  It was less of an urge and more of a heightened awareness to the situation I was in.  Essentially, I have been at home all day relaxing working on some projects and generally having a positive day but I haven't been alone.  Then as the time grew near to the point when I was going to be alone came, something inside my head started noting that fact and then the associations started to form.  It was strange because it was like I was aware of the connections my brain was making as it was making them, I never felt out of control but I felt uniquely aware.  I wrote in my journal and reinforced my convictions and then took a shower, now I am here.  I am not worried that I will act out as I feel very mentally strong at the moment.  I just thought it was important to note this in more than one location and I am curious if anyone else has felt this feeling of higher self awareness.

One day at a time, I will keep chugging along and making improvements to myself and my life.  There are more arbitrary milestones coming up soon!  I'm looking forward to spending a night with friends and my girlfriend.

Edit_undo

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 72
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2018, 10:56:31 PM »
Hey, good job telling your girlfriend about this. I waited a long time to tell my wife because I was afraid of the response. It’s painful but necessary if you want to grow as a couple and completely recover. I still feel like PMO has robbed us of true intimacy for years. It keeps you on guard, lest that one part of you is exposed to the person you want to share everything with. It’s great that she’s supportive, let this be another level of motivation for you.
And the heightened awareness- I remember that brain trick. Like so many other things, it will fade if you don’t indulge. Well done and keep at it.

thephoenix

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 61
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2018, 02:22:26 PM »
I’m in the same boat as you bro. 35 and married. I’m doing this for boTh of us. No ultimatums, no fights, no drama. I’m being proactive and doing sonething about it before I end having “the talk”. Battling my way through day 11. 10 complete.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2018, 10:08:48 PM »
28 days PMO free, 4 full weeks. I don't want to hang my hat on that too much, I'm looking forward to day 29 :)

thephoenix

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 61
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2018, 04:16:33 AM »
28 days PMO free, 4 full weeks. I don't want to hang my hat on that too much, I'm looking forward to day 29 :)

Congrats man. You are healing. You’re stronger then yesterday. Embrace today and all it brings.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2018, 05:44:53 PM »
Well my mini technology detox has been going well apparently.  I haven't been on my computer (and here as a result) for a while.  Today is day 40 (!) that I am fully PMO, MO, and O free.  There have been some ups and down along the way but I am still making progress every day.  I still find that yoga has been helping me better than anything else and daily journalling forces me to get things out of my head before the spiral and build into something bigger.

My therapist brought up a good point that I will share in the event that it helps others.  I described my habits with porn as a way to simultaneously feel alive and to numb myself and I said that I find this idea of mine confusing.  He said that every person has problems with 'too much' and 'too little' with different things in their lives; PMO is a maladaptive way to deal with both of those problems at the same time for me.  It causes my brain to stop spinning/racing (I do way too much thinking a lot of the time) and it cause my body and self to feel (I have trouble with having too little emotion).  I thought this was very helpful and i aligns with why yoga has been so great for me.  I need to continue to find better healthier ways to connect my mind and my body together.  It doesn't feel good to be adrift from yourself.

Edit_undo

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 72
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2018, 10:12:13 PM »
Hey man that’s a great update, I’m glad you are doing well.  I’m not sure I could survive a technology detox but would only benefit from it haha.
That’s an interesting concept and explanation from your therapist. Is he suggesting porn use is an attempt at finding balance or just a distraction from the imbalance?
I can relate to having too little emotion, or at least expressing too little. Part of it is me, I don’t want to rock the boat or draw attention, and that brings its own set of problems. The other part is this friggin addiction, numbed or subdued emotional response.
I’m glad you are making progress and found a path that works for you- keep at it!

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking Through
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2018, 01:20:31 PM »
Day 45 - Through most of the holidays and heading towards the new year, still going strong.

Edit_undo - He suggested that porn was a way to connect my mind and body at the same level or as you put it, finding balance.  I have problems with racing/spiralling thoughts to the point that I often am not aware of what my body is doing or how I'm actually feeling.  I think the best way to put it would be autopilot.  That constant thinking leaves me a state of higher anxiety and stress but the disconnection from my body renders me emotionally void in a lot of cases.  That is no way to live!  When I think back to the times when I was at my best re: porn I was very focused on where I was presently and what I was doing.  Things like playing sports, buying our home and renovating it, and being hyper focused on my diet, etc.  There are other things but those jump to mind.  When I think back to periods when I was at my worst there are huge gaps in my memory and in some ways it feels like the memories I have are someone else's and I am just reading about them or watching tv.

One of my focuses right now is just acknowledging when I am feeling disconnected and noting that.  Long term I'd like to have more things that keep me connected and present but for now I am happy just being more aware since I think that my mind getting away from me is one of my early trigger indicators.  Baby steps.

My partner and I are thinking about starting some couples therapy to work through some our issues together.  I think that will be a great thing for us.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 05:12:57 PM by allthelights »

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2019, 05:10:53 PM »
50 (fifty!) days clean from all PMO on what people describe as 'hardmode' around here.  In my entire life I have never gone this long without some form of sexual gratification and I didn't think that I would ever be able to.  I still feel good, I still feel strong, and I still feel like I have a purpose that is bigger than using porn.

Lately I have been going through a stretch of feeling pretty sad and down in the dumps.  I reflected on it yesterday and relived a lot of of the pain I felt when I was confronted by my partner.  I feel terrible about what I did to her and what I did to myself and something inside me says that I should continue to feel bad.  I know that I shouldn't want to feel bad and I can't let shame/despair drag me back into old ways of thinking and old habits.  Today I woke up with a purpose again.  Maybe it was the new year, maybe it was the 50 day milestone.  I have made a lot of improvements in my life with many still to go.  Day 51, here I come...

edit: I decided that a new year needed a new thread title.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 05:12:30 PM by allthelights »

Edit_undo

  • Member

  • Offline
  • **

  • 72
    • View Profile
Re: Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2019, 10:16:03 PM »

Edit_undo - He suggested that porn was a way to connect my mind and body at the same level or as you put it, finding balance.  I have problems with racing/spiralling thoughts to the point that I often am not aware of what my body is doing or how I'm actually feeling.  I think the best way to put it would be autopilot.  That constant thinking leaves me a state of higher anxiety and stress but the disconnection from my body renders me emotionally void in a lot of cases.  That is no way to live!  When I think back to the times when I was at my best re: porn I was very focused on where I was presently and what I was doing.  Things like playing sports, buying our home and renovating it, and being hyper focused on my diet, etc.  There are other things but those jump to mind.  When I think back to periods when I was at my worst there are huge gaps in my memory and in some ways it feels like the memories I have are someone else's and I am just reading about them or watching tv.

One of my focuses right now is just acknowledging when I am feeling disconnected and noting that.  Long term I'd like to have more things that keep me connected and present but for now I am happy just being more aware since I think that my mind getting away from me is one of my early trigger indicators.  Baby steps.


I can definitely relate to the autopilot feelings and emotional voids - I feel like I’m horrible at processing emotions or sometimes just at a total loss, not knowing how to react. One good part (for my job at least) it takes a lot to get me excited. Other times I wish I were more excited or had more reaction. It can come across to others as me being indifferent or not caring when that really isn’t the case at all. It’s annoying and I feel like a robot. And then dwell on things and usually get worked up about what happened or down on myself for how I handled it. Like I need time to process things and it’s a very delayed reaction. Pretty annoying. I’m with you on trying to be more aware of myself. Mindfulness and gratitude everyday. I’ve never really looked into therapy. Probably would help.
Congrats on 50 days hard mode! Or 53 by now? I’m on 3.5 weeks hard mode and starting to go batty. This is probably the second longest I’ve ever gone with any release in recent memory.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2019, 07:35:03 AM »
Finished day 60 and I feel great. I haven't felt very many cravings or compulsive thoughts for a while but I am trying to lean into them if they happen so that I can understand them better. Like my yoga instructor said "you have to embrace darkness of you want to be able to move into the light".

My partner and I start joint therapy next week, I'm really looking forward to reconnecting with her in a new way again.

allthelights

  • Member

  • Offline
  • *

  • 18
    • View Profile
Re: Old Habits Die (in) Hard(mode)
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2019, 07:06:17 PM »
Day 65 nearing completion, still successful.

Having said that, today was a challenging day. It's not that I was triggered sexually or anything like that but I did get stuck in a feeling of being down/overwhelmed for a big chunk of the day. I hate when I get like that because I feel paralyzed and not present in my body. I think a big reason for it is that I had an item on my to do list to book a work trip. I haven't traveled for work since I started this process and the thought of it is stressful because that is one of the situations in the past where my behaviours would come out in full force. I spun for a good part of the day until I booked the trip, then I steadily came back into myself and felt better as the day went on.

The main thing I did to keep me from doing to hard was to make a list of all the things I had to do, that way I could come back to that as a form of focus. I'd like to have other 'anchoring' strategies for when my mind wants to go on a trip. Anyone have any good suggestions?

The trip will be stressful but I think that I have enough tools to make it successful and I know that I am focused on my goal. I am 100% on board with staying away from PMO. I don't want it in my life and I am not willing to accept it in any form.