Journals > Ages 40 and up

See them grow up

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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  :)

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.

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.

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.


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!



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