Author Topic: How Shall We Escape?  (Read 275 times)

Phineas 808

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How Shall We Escape?
« on: November 17, 2020, 03:56:32 PM »
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...?" - Hebrews 2:3a.

This text has much significance to me. The patriarch Joseph fled and escaped from Potiphar's wife, who was sexually aggressive. Potiphar's wife represents pornography and the porn industry. Joseph represents our ability to flee and escape PMO.

(Gen 39:7-12; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2Tim 2:22; 1Jn 5:21).

My Story

I am a man in his early 50's. I am finding freedom and victory over sexually addictive behaviors. Though the fight is decades old, I have found what works and what doesn't work for me.

I grew up in a loveless home, where emotional and sometimes physical abuse occurred. As a child, I found pornography on the playground in the 4th or 5th grade, and took it home as a keepsake. My neighborhood friend also had a stash.

I ran away from home at age 13, kicked out at 16, and grew up on the streets. I was the victim of trauma as a runaway, which commpacted shame based thinking.

I became a Christian at age 18, but struggled with masturbation for years. I was in a legalistic and spiritually abusive church for 9 years. I found freedom for a limited time (1990-91).

When I began to date my wife, shame based behaviors resurfaced and escalated. These struggles included pornography and masturbation. Getting married didn't end the struggle, as I created a double-life. I also had an obsession with prostitutes (ended in 1994) and going to video porn stores (ended 2003). As my struggles morphed, I became more secretive with T.V., home computer, and later the iPhone.

While trying different things to quit, I learned more about my addiction. I had different degrees of success, though often shame would drag me back down. My legalistic mindset led to a lot of white-knuckling approaches.

I embraced the radical grace of God in 2013, and it began to undo my shame, a major driver of the addiction.

I also joined Reboot Nation under a different name (2014-16), and accomplished long streaks without pmo or m/o. I deleted my RN account, having hit my goals. I also didn't want to identify with these behaviors any longer.

I had hit 116 days without porn at least two different times. I even hit over 300 days, close to a year (March 2019 - March 2020) without going to porn sites!

But then the pandemic happened! I retired from a 22 year career (ending a friendship) at the same time. Needless to say, I turned back to old habits of pmo 1-2x a week. This was due to unhealthy habits with social media: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Since June of 2020 I've been counting days again, at least until I can break this habit. First, my best didn't go past 24 days (July 2020), and I would average 8 days more or less without looking at porn.

I finally dealt with my social media use, and the relationship with my iPhone in general. This has so far given me 34 days free! This latest streak was significant, because I'm no longer using p-subs with social media, or edging! I'm yielding a more 'honest-reboot', a true and clean abstinence, one I can feel good about.

My Purpose in this Forum

First to help myself. This journal will help me to stay accountable to myself, and to focus on my current goals to end this habit. After reaching my goal of 120 days, I'll just live my life with new and better habits, without P, M/O. 

Second, to help others with what's working for me. I plan to post often, and help out on other's journals and topics.

All are welcome to my journal! No matter your beliefs or non-beliefs, I just hope to help you in your own struggles.

My Approach

All my successes have been without porn filters or blockers, and accountability partners. And, while important, to break this habit without first trying to heal the past. 

My approach does not embrace the disease model of addiction or 12-Step programs. But if this helps you, I won't knock it! We can help each other, despite our differences in approach.

First- My approach is spiritual using various disciplines. This will include prayer, reading Scripture, etc... But I have learned the hard way not to be legalistic with yourself, as that only strengthens the habit.

I've found the most victory and success under grace, radical grace. This is to believe that, no matter what, you're forgiven of all your sins: past, present and future. And that you're loved and saved, even before you were born.

Second- I use mindfulness. It's about being in the present moment. Instead of fighting urges head on, I use awareness, focusing on the breath. Simply watch the urges go on by. We repeat this for every wave of urges that come.

Third- I use the science of habit-change. We may retrain the brain (neuroplasticity) away from these learned habits. This is more empowering to me than the disease model of addiction. We have the means of change in our hands, as we take back power from unwanted behaviors or pornography.

My Plan Executed

My plan is to abstain from acting out to P/MO for 120 days. Afterward, I'll have retrained myself toward different behaviors and habits for life's circumstances. More important, how to not react to old cues or stimuli that used to fuel the habit.

Why this number? 120 is very spiritual (Gen 6:3; Acts 1:15; 2:1-4). Also, it takes 90 days to promote habit change, and deal with the neural chemicals released during P/MO.

120 days = 15 x 8 (counting from 11/6/20):

1. 8 days: Completed on 11/14/20.

2. 16 days: Completed on 11/22/20.

3. 24 days:

4. 32 days:

5. 40 days:

6. 48 days:

7. 56 days:

8. 64 days:

9. 72 days:

10. 80 days:

11. 88 days:

12. 96 days:

13. 104 days:

14. 112 days:

15. 120 days:

Blessings.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 11:35:56 AM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2020, 11:51:39 AM »
Nothing to really report, other that I've been watching Dexter a lot lately, and there are scenes in there which occasionally show nudity or compromising situations.

This is a good opportunity for me to exercise control, and look away, or go do something else while that scene plays out.

This is my approach, to take a cue- not on purpose, but as happens in our daily life, and use it to control..., or better, to not respond to it. That's when real habit change occurs.

This is our power. How we react to cues:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

― Viktor E. Frankl

This is the difference between 'triggers' and 'cues'. The concept of triggers is that it takes away your power, and sets off a series of events that end up with using or performing whatever addictive substance or behavior. Cues are different, because they acknowledge that, 'Yes' things cause a reaction in us, stimulate us to use or behave according to our addiction. But the difference is that we still have control, we always have control over whatever our cues are.

I challenge any here to think about their stimuli differently, that 'No'- you're not triggered that you must now use. Rather, you were 'cued' by something, but you always have the power to say, 'No', and act differently than you did before.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 11:54:30 AM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2020, 01:17:52 PM »
Phineas/Leon - Welcome back! I know we crossed paths back in 2014. It's always a pleasure to welcome back a fellow returned traveler like myself!

Sorry the welcome is coming a bit late. Had I not just come off a recent relapse and used just about all of my available energy to resist the after effects, I surely would have reached out a lot sooner.

To your credit, though, you see to be doing quite well. With 34 days behind you and a more 'honest-reboot' that you feel good about, you seem like you're in a good place mentally and emotionally. I'm especially intrigued by the notion of cues vs triggers, and how each of these assumes the amount of power (or control) that we give to it. Definitely food for thought.

Keep plugging away, friend. You're making great progress here!

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2020, 04:55:48 PM »
Thank you, LetItGo! I am so appreciative that you replied and came to my journal!

Honestly, it was a little disheartening that no one welcomed me or commented on my journal on the day I started it...

It was certainly fitting that it was a fellow rebooter from back in the day (Cosmo) who did!

Yes, generally I feel in a good headspace, but I wish to proceed with caution. It's a 'catch-22', because it's not about giving this thing too much power, but at the same time, to foolishly proceed with a haughty or prideful attitude (or one could say complacent), than a fall is just one click away...

But you're apt to key in on the cue versus trigger differentiation. I have certainly found this true in my experience. I know, too, that we all too often empower our addiction, porn, unwanted behaviors more- and we end up disempowering ourselves in the process.

Taking back power is all about reversing this!

So grateful you reached back, brother! I hope to be of help in anyway I can in your own journey.   
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2020, 06:37:37 PM »
Had a dream last night that I was using, not anything that was actual porn, but some kind of p-sub. It was convincing enough to awake this morning and second guess myself whether I had actually did that..., but no.

I'm grateful that my rearranged relationship with my iPhone (having recognized my unhealthy habits, particularly around social media) is helping me stay focused.

One area of concern, and helped to trip me up recently (earlier this month), was the memories of porn. There is a particular video, 2 hours long, that I've determined to get through... I haven't watched the whole thing, but I know exactly where I left off, and would probably return to it, if I continue my use.

This is not easy to write, but I want to put this on the table so as to call it out, so I don't return to it soooo conveniently.

Blessings, all. 
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 06:40:08 PM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Gabe Deem

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2020, 11:25:26 AM »
Welcome back Phineas!

I like your approach and purpose. The saying "helping others, helps ourselves" has certainly proven true for me.

I have also been trying to kick a severe social media addiction that has gotten out of hand during Covid lockdowns, wishing you the best with it.

Congrats on your streaks of success. You've done it before, you can do it again. 

Hoping the best for you as you execute the plan. Discipline = Freedom.

Much love



 
Twitter and Instagram @gabedeem. Please consider supporting Reboot Nation on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gabedeem

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2020, 01:23:14 PM »
Thank you so much, Gabe Deem! I am certainly honored for you coming by my journal!

Indeed, these lockdowns are not normal, albeit necessary (?). But they are definitely a challenge. That's exactly what helped fuel the reemergence of my habits.

Social media has been the 'jump off point' for me into my old habits, as well. But, changing the habits surrounding the unwanted habits, has definitely helped.

Much love to you as well, brother!

** I edited my initial post of this journal **

I promise it will be an easier read  ;)

My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

jixu

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2020, 07:17:58 AM »
Hi Phineas-good idea to begin a new restart.  Looks like you already have the tools and experience to make a good run.  Looking forward to hearing of your progress as you implement your plan.  Take care!

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2020, 11:41:07 AM »
Thanks, jixu!

Yes! Having the necessary tools is one thing, but doing all within our power to have and maintain focus is equally necessary. This is where this journal, and you guys come in.

I look back on 2014-16, and wonder where my focus went. Somewhere it lapsed into complacency? I do know that our continued habits can't take for granted things in our environment that may coax us back to sleep.
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2020, 12:58:40 PM »
Important Links to Previous Posts!

As mentioned above, I had a previous account here on Reboot Nation, and my user name was 'Leon'. While my journal ('The End of All Flesh') was deleted, I do have several posts still here on RN, that may be helpful to others as well as myself.

Note: I cannot edit these former posts, as they're in 'guest' mode, so the writing is what it is. Also, the links within these posts may or may not work.

Enjoy!

From 2014:

Keep Your Heart with All Diligence

Predator or Protector?

From 2015:

Advice After 100 Days!

10 Tips for a Successful Reboot or Recovery!

Goodbye to Fantasy...

Ten Principles of Recovery


From 2016:

Model for Real Habit Change

We're Here to Support Each Other, Right?

~~~

I'll update this list if I discover any other posts I may have overlooked.

I'll create a separate post in the future with other helpful links.

P.S. I would modify something from one of the posts (Model for Real Habit Change) thus:

Addiction: trigger/cue > urge + repetitious response = stronger habit/addiction.

Freedom: trigger/cue > urge + repetitious non-response, or a different response = habit change.

Peace.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 01:13:14 PM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 11:53:46 AM »
Today I hit my goal of 16 days free of p and m/o! This is 2/15 toward my overall goal of 120 days free from unwanted behaviors.

While 16 days may not seem much, these 16 are by no means 'technical' or 'legalistic', but are days without any misuse of social media or T.V. toward p-subs, without any edging or m/o.

Lust in public? That remains ever a challenge, but I seek to be mindful about it. If I catch myself wanting to take what is a natural attraction into a lingering lustful glance, I'll redirect it away by acknowledging that only God is beautiful (absolutely), and/or remember that she is a person, someone's daughter, wife, etc...

So while I seek to cautiously celebrate this victory, celebration is certainly called for. We ought to celebrate even the smallest of victories.

The question I want to keep before me now is, Am I being serious about this habit-change? Or, am I simply going to be a serial relapser? For relapse, is there a re to my lapse? There was after a 34 day stint (before rejoining RN), when I lapsed (hard) on 10/31, and again 6 days later, 11/6 there was a re to my lapse, and hence, potentially a relapse. This isn't being unduly harsh on myself, but a question of how serious am I? After being a decades old issue, if I want real change, I have to be dead-dog serious.

I feel real good, though. And it's because I don't have a bunch of compromises muddying up the water, but am finding what is really helping me right now. I remember hitting various goals before, and yes, 'technically' I didn't p/mo, but maybe I had some p-sub activity, maybe I was 'white-knuckling' because of what I really wanted to be doing? What I'm after here is real habit-change, so I can be pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family.

Grateful to be here. 
« Last Edit: Today at 12:55:54 PM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Joel

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #11 on: Today at 08:53:19 AM »
Congrats on the milestone, Phineus. Your self awareness, seriousness and dedication to beating this is definitely apparent in your posts.

Compromises and gateways definitely muddy the water as it keeps those old links alive. Perfectionism can be dangerous too, remember to be forgiving to yourself if there's some kind of slip. This is a decades old habit tied into us and recovery isn't linear.

when tempted, perhaps lean into this other person want to be through action; eg what does pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family look like? Maybe you could come up with some actions that personify these things and do them when you feel you've stumbled a couple of steps in the wrong direction.

Enjoy the celebration. Onward!

stepbystep

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #12 on: Today at 11:13:19 AM »
Congrats Phineas! You're giving me inspiration to follow your footsteps. How do you handle the situation when you have a trigger? Trying to come up with a good plan now. (Actually looking through your links -- I think it has some great material I plan to go through in the next few days)
« Last Edit: Today at 11:16:37 AM by stepbystep »
In recovery since December 2012. Porn-free since October 2020.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #13 on: Today at 01:17:47 PM »
Quote
Compromises and gateways definitely muddy the water as it keeps those old links alive. Perfectionism can be dangerous too, remember to be forgiving to yourself if there's some kind of slip. This is a decades old habit tied into us and recovery isn't linear.


Thank you, Joel! Your replies are certainly encouraging!

I do hear you. I've been more or less  dealing with quitting these habits since at least 2003, and with a men's group in 2006.
I joined Reboot Nation in 2014-16, and saw good streaks and real habit change. And even more recently, before the pandemic, I had almost a year without pmo (March 2019 - March 2020).

So if I sound like a crazy person with his knife to his own throat, as it were, it's only to give me the serious focus that I need to not just waltz into something that's only going to be superfluous to my usual habit-patterns, without making real change.

But I certainly know this nonlinear approach you speak of, lol... In fact, the amount of success I've had is as a result of learning (and still learning) the grace of God, and in being merciful to myself should a slip or lapse occur. In fact, my whole approach, even with it's 'dead-dog seriousness' is all within the context of grace, and undergirded by mercy.

Quote
when tempted, perhaps lean into this other person want to be through action; eg what does pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family look like? Maybe you could come up with some actions that personify these things and do them when you feel you've stumbled a couple of steps in the wrong direction.

This is excellent toward the concept of not so much fighting the old habits as in building the new. What does this look like? Indeed, visualizing oneself, how we hope to be, or the future we want, is so very important.

And how you're meaning it is as a weapon to be used in the heat of the moment, to navigate away from acting on our urges. I like that. And I've had to tell myself before in the midst of an episode, "You're a better man than this!" Or, I try to think about how crappy I would feel the next day if carried out, or how good I'll feel, how toward my new self I'd feel if I didn't carry my urges out.

Thank you, and blessings.
« Last Edit: Today at 01:20:01 PM by Phineas 808 »
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

Phineas 808

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #14 on: Today at 01:36:32 PM »
Congrats Phineas! You're giving me inspiration to follow your footsteps. How do you handle the situation when you have a trigger? Trying to come up with a good plan now. (Actually looking through your links -- I think it has some great material I plan to go through in the next few days)

Thank you, sbs! Welcome to my journal!

What others call 'triggers' I prefer to call 'cues', because trigger seems disempowering to me, like it takes power out of your hands, and makes the habit or addiction more powerful. We have to shift power from the external cues or triggers, or pmo, to the internal ability to wait out urges, and let them pass.

So, if a cue causes urges to rise in me, I'll mindfully become aware of it. I'll even stop at that moment (like your stepping outside of yourself) and check my pulse-rate, and notice how shallow your breathing has become. Be non-judgmental toward yourself, for the thoughts and urges you're having. See the urges as outside of you, or as mere thought, powerless to make you do anything. Now just breathe slower, deeper, and more methodical. Stay in this awareness, and watch the urge go on by. Check your pulse again, and you can feel that it slowed down, and your breathing is more relaxed. You can even become expectant that another urge may come, but same thing, just be mindful of it, and slow your breathing down. Focus on your breath, and let the urge pass.

This is all in my A.W.A.R.E. acronym:

A.W.A.R.E.

A - Acceptance. Be accepting, even welcoming of the anxious feelings, urges or fantasies;

W- Watchful. Watch as an outside observer without judgment, with compassion and understanding.

A- Act. Take action on these feelings, in terms of breathing deep, staying calm in the moment.

R- Repeat. Repeat steps 1-3, until the feeling passes.

E- Expect. Know that these feelings of anxiety, triggers, or urges will come, but have an expectancy that you will handle them successfully.


Yes, I have some good stuff in those links above, and they're things that have certainly helped me make progress. I may provide some other links to other helpful tools in the near future.
My abstinence is currently at 16+days.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: How Shall We Escape?
« Reply #15 on: Today at 02:37:03 PM »
Quote
A.W.A.R.E.

A - Acceptance. Be accepting, even welcoming of the anxious feelings, urges or fantasies;

W- Watchful. Watch as an outside observer without judgment, with compassion and understanding.

A- Act. Take action on these feelings, in terms of breathing deep, staying calm in the moment.

R- Repeat. Repeat steps 1-3, until the feeling passes.

E- Expect. Know that these feelings of anxiety, triggers, or urges will come, but have an expectancy that you will handle them successfully.

Hi Phineas - I like the simple mindfulness approach of your AWARE strategy. It can be difficult to think clearly if we allow ourselves to be pulled in by the noisy, obsessive chatter in our heads, which is why a simple strategy like yours is probably best. Thanks for sharing this with the board. I'm sure many will benefit from it!