Journals > Ages 30-39

A Better Tomorrow

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NewStart04:
Hey there fellow rebooters,

I am a 31-year-old male who has been suffering from porn addiction since a very young age. I first started looking at internet porn when I was ten (circa 1998) and got hooked on it soon after. As I entered my mid-teens, I underwent a big change in my life, and, because of this, I was able to completely stop looking at porn and masturbating. Unfortunately, I fell back into the habit a year later. I can still remember that day. I was walking back home from the bus stop after school when the thought, "hey, you want to masturbate?", popped into my head. After getting back home, I wound up masturbating in the shower, and while this didn't immediately lead to me looking at porn, things quickly snowballed, and I found myself heavily looking at porn again soon after.

At that time, resources like this website, YBOP, Your Brain Rebalanced, and Addicted to Internet Porn were not available. I really wish they had been, but I also know it doesn't do much good sitting around regretting the past.

Now while I had wanted to quit ever since I fell back into the habit at 16, I was never able to go the distance when I tried, and this made me both jaded and exhausted. There was even a period for a few years when I gave up on the thought of quitting entirely. After that, I had various attempts here and there, but they all proved unsuccessful as well.

Fast-forward to 2015, and I am now 27 years old. Some difficulties I was experiencing in life then made me look at myself to see what about it was problematic, and one of the problems I flagged was my frequent and unhealthy porn use. This got me to start poking around online, and I came across some videos of Gabe Deem on The Reboot Nation's YouTube channel. It opened my eyes to the addictive nature of porn, and this was a fantastic realization because, before that point, every time I tried to fight my porn habits, I would always have a voice in the back of my head saying, "no matter how long you try to abstain, the distress you feel from doing so will never go away" and "all men are just naturally horny, so there's nothing you can do about it." The magnitude of this realization notwithstanding, I have still been struggling with recovery over these past four years, and recovery itself has become more difficult due to the countless relapses I’ve had. This is in spite of the fact that I became more informed, first with Noah Church's book Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn (and his YouTube channel Noah B.E. Church), and later with Gary Wilson's website and book Your Brain on Porn.

Now take into account that I had various difficulties in my past and developed other destructive habits along the way, so I can't chalk up all my problems to porn use. I have come to terms with some of the trauma from my past and have done away with some of my other destructive habits, but these changes have not been enough to release me from the clutches of this addiction, at least so far.

Now I know this doesn’t provide you with a complete picture of who I am, my struggles, my failures, my efforts and my achievements, so if any of you are interested in learning more about me and my history, please feel free to ask in this topic or via message. But I have a tendency to ramble, so I'd like to get on to the meat of this topic.

As mentioned at the beginning, I am a 31-year-old male. I live alone in a foreign country, have no familial ties, the few friends I have live in different countries, I lack any prominent work skills and specialized knowledge, don't have much of a career, my savings are limited, I suffer from poor physical health (damaged joints, multiple GI problems, tissue loss on penile shaft due to years of unchecked aggressive masturbation), I suffer from mental health problems (OCD, ADHD, and talk to myself when I am alone), poor cognition (brain fog, verbal fluency), anxiety, depression, and low emotional intelligence, among other things.

I know we all have our own problems, and I am not trying to wallow in despair. I am just trying to give you all some idea of what I am going through.

I am currently on the cusp of a big change in my life. My current contract is about to end, so I am now looking for another job, but I don’t have much time to find one. To make matters worse, I am only allowed to stay in my current country of residence if a company sponsors my work visa. This is extremely stressful for me.

But you know what? As extremely painful as this all is, I am putting in, for me at the very least, some solid effort in facing the situation before me without running away from it. Instead of getting overwhelmed by anxiety and running away from my problems, I am doing the following: a.) I am currently on my fifth day of no PMO on hard mode, which is indeed quite short, but it’s amazing to me that I haven’t relapsed with all the stress engulfing me each day, b.) I have decreased the amount of time that I talk to myself (a habit that I’ve had since I was 14) over the past two weeks, with the last few days being close to virtually free of self-talk, c.) I used to have problems with substance abuse, all of which I was able to quit (1 year or more, depending on the substance), except for caffeine, which I have been off of completely for about 2.5 weeks now, d.) I have been able to maintain my daily schedule of work, cooking, chores, etc., without letting it all morph into a chaotic, unregulated mess, e.) I am staying strong with my 20 minutes a day of insight meditation (the Waking Up app has been great for this), a habit which I started developing at the beginning of this year, f.) I am slowly dealing with my OCD by thoroughly going through a treatment book (though I am putting this on hold until things settle down and I find a job, I don’t want to rush through it), g.) I am more proactively and considerately interacting with others (currently just my coworkers since I don’t know anyone else out here and job-hunting is not giving me any time to go out there and meet new people at the moment) g.) I am trying to respect sleep more, even if I don’t sleep well, by not staying up too late, and h.) I plan on reaching out to my family soon (after almost five years of no contact).

I am still really scared (embarrassing though it is to admit it), wracked by anxiety, and I feel like I am being tossed about by the waves, but I also feel like I may have realized something that I had been blind to all these years. By exposing myself to this incredibly overwhelming fear and anxiety, I will, in time, be able to habituate myself to this feeling and live more comfortably with it. And, by changing how I respond to this fear, i.e. by not resorting to porn, fantasy, substance use, talking to myself or obsessing over negative emotions, past mistakes and missed opportunities, I can become increasingly able to live a life where I don’t feel some form of misery, emptiness or anxiety most of my waking hours, but instead feel happy and positive overall.

For your reference, I am including a list of my top 5 streaks below (not including the year I quit when I was 15-16):

1.) 8 weeks (early 2018) *Was still fantasizing
2.) 6 weeks (mid 2017) *Was still fantasizing, started looking at porn again during week 4 and masturbating without climaxing during week 5
3.) 5 weeks (late 2012)
4.) 5 weeks (late 2011) *Was having sex and orgasming multiple times a week, so I wasn’t giving my brain any recovery time
5.) 4 weeks, 6 days (relapsed June 13, 2019) *Looked at porn on four separate occasions, fantasizing present

Sorry for the essay length introductory post. I understand we are all busy and have our own problems, but, to anyone who does read this topic and follow my journal posts, I hope that you will wish me success and send some goodwill my way. It would really mean a lot to me, and I am going to work on doing my best to become a better, stronger human being, regardless of how my future turns out. I hope that I can one day serve as someone others can look to, along with Gabe Deem, Noah Church, and the many others who have overcome this disease, as an example of successful recovery.

NewStart04:
July 31, 2019 - Day 1

Urges: Nothing too strong. I nipped any that appeared in the bud.

Emotions: I was snubbed multiple times by a colleague today, so that obviously had a negative impact on my mood. Thankfully, I was able to remain civil and friendly, both toward her and others, which was a relief. I felt some anxiety throughout the day, but that was due to some physical pain that surprise-attacked me at work and concerns over job-hunting. Some of these feelings carried over after work, but I think I was able to tolerate them and successfully complete what I wanted to do for the day.

Cognition: Thinking was a little slow, with some haziness at work. Verbal fluency was a bit dampened, but overall I was ok.

Pain: Moderately deep, aching pain today. Noticeable but not dominating.

NewStart04:
August 1, 2019 - Day 2

Urges: Thankfully nothing too bad today. The few urges I did have were quickly nipped in the bud. I did have one incident of urges flaring up, but I didn’t indulge, not even for a moment, and that really helped. Two days down…I know the journey is long and it can and will get a lot worse, but I refuse to die an addict.

Emotions: I felt moderate anxiety and fear (health-related) throughout the day, but it got a little better after work. Some feelings of incompetence, worthlessness and depression were peppered throughout the day as well.

Cognition: Verbal fluency was quite poor in both languages. Thinking was moderately slow, a little confusion was present, focus was ok, thoughts were pretty hazy, forgetfulness was bad but not terrible.

Pain: Some aching in my penis. Noticeable throughout the day, but no severe pangs.

NewStart04:
August 2, 2019 - Day 3

Urges: Lucked out again today because I didn’t have too many noticeable urges. Anything that popped up was immediately nipped in the bud. This has got to mean that I have some big ones in store for me sometime soon, but for now I am just going to count my lucky stars.

Emotions: Elevated anxiety, some worthlessness and a bit of depression. Felt a bit of irritation from an incident that occurred after work as well.

Cognition: Verbal fluency was downright terrible in both languages. All members of the brain fog ensemble where in town today: slow thinking, difficulty focusing, confusion, forgetfulness, and hazy thoughts.

Pain: Felt some aches here and there throughout the daytime, and then felt some more pronounced ones accompanied by a little burning during the evening.

NewStart04:
August 3, 2019  - Day 4

Urges: The first round of heavier urges hit today. Thankfully, they were only moderate ones, but I think part of this was due to the fact that I did an amazing job of not giving them even a second of indulgence once I was aware that they were occurring in consciousness. I think most of them emerged during periods of staggering emotional distress, which may hint at how much I have been using this addiction as a way to cope with intense emotions, like anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. Sitting alone with these emotions without any escape was pretty painful, but it is undeniable how helpful it was to go that route instead of giving the urges power.

Emotions: Waves of various emotions throughout the day: anxiety, fear, worthlessness, helplessness. As mentioned above, I did my best to endure them without avoidance and go about my daily tasks. I think I did a bit of mental reassurance after I got back home for work, but I took them head-on for the most part.

Cognition: Same as yesterday. Terrible verbal fluency in both languages, and full blown brain fog (slow thinking, difficulty focusing, confusion, forgetfulness, and hazy thoughts).

Pain: Penis pain not too noticeable today, which is quite welcome. I hope this continues.

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