Author Topic: Bringing it around full circle  (Read 5828 times)

UKGuy

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2020, 06:37:38 AM »
So often we focus on the negative things in life without looking back and reflecting, with gratitude, about the progress we’ve made as people. There are two unifying qualities about our being here together - 1) the obvious addiction to PMO, but more importantly 2) the realisation of that fact and determination to do better for ourselves and those around us. So often we can get caught up in the regrets regarding slips, the self loathing, but here, it’s great to read an authentic and uplifting account of how a much more important facet of your life has developed as you’ve gone about life’s journey, and not just the narrower PMO journey (which after all is only one aspect of our being). Happy anniversary and well done on your growth and ability to appreciate it and those who have helped you get there LIGA.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2020, 06:45:41 PM »
Quote
it’s great to read an authentic and uplifting account of how a much more important facet of your life has developed as you’ve gone about life’s journey, and not just the narrower PMO journey

Thanks, UKGuy.  I really appreciate your thoughtful post. I agree, it's easy to lose our perspective. We become so focused on how we're doing in recovery that we end up putting a lot of emphasis on this one very narrow measure of our progress: our days clean from PMO. It never hurts to pull the focus back once in awhile to remind ourselves that there's a lot more to life than this one aspect, as you said. And when we consider the people who've traveled life's journey alongside us, we can also be reminded that there's a lot to be thankful for.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 02:14:56 AM by LetItGoAlready »

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2020, 07:30:24 PM »
Day 21... It feels like a contradiction to be counting days after just writing that days clean is a narrow measure of our overall progress - but whatever. I'm just going to let that thought go.

Today I listened to Matt Dobschuetz's (aka The Dobber's) podcast, and it was about being "all in." He went on to describe the many people in his private coaching practice who weren't "all in" because they seemed to be holding something back. Some people didn't show up to meetings. Others made excuses for why they couldn't commit fully to their recovery. And others left a "back door" for themselves that they could easily exploit when the going got tough.

This got me to thinking about my own recovery of late. Am I really "all in" right now? I feel pretty good about my reboot this time, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I'm not even sure what being "all in" feels like. Does a person who's "all in" possess an unwavering certainty about their recovery because they are doing everything possible to prevent a relapse? And when do they decide that they're "all in" exactly? Does it just suddenly hit them one day like a Newtonian apple? "Fuck it. I'm all in!" Or is it something that dawns on them more gradually, like, when you were learning to ride a bike as a kid and slowly mastered the mechanics of it over time?

For me, the answers to these questions are not crystal clear. So, I'm going to turn the question over to all of the fine gentlemen of RN. What does it mean to you to be "all in," and how do you know when you are?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 11:53:11 AM by LetItGoAlready »

UKGuy

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2020, 03:22:20 AM »
This is a good question LIGA. Reflecting on my past my high points of 'all in' have been after a lengthy period of relapse where my shame has heightened and my quality of life (usually through lack of sleep, grumpiness with SO/kids etc) has diminished to such a point that I am helpless and have to forcibly change. There might have been a near miss or fear of being found out thrown in there for good measure. At those points, my motivation is high as I'm still very connected to the feeling of failure, shame and despair - and I want to get as far away from those feeling as fast as I can. That usually heralds the start of a 'streak', but the challenge I find is that with the passage of time, those feelings of revulsion diminish, the lure of PMO starts to build, often facilitated by emotional triggers, and I find myself less 'all in' than I was. Time can give rise to complacency. Complacency gives rise to relapse.
Part of my plan in restarting after my recent slip is designed to overcome this. I can't testify to its effectiveness yet, but logically it made sense to me. I am committing to 20 minutes meditation each morning that I split into 4 x 5 min sections:
1) Getting grounded - observing my breath and bodily sensations
2) Observing my thoughts, feelings, moods non judgementally - noting that they are not me - especially highlighting any trigger thoughts/emotions.
3) Reminding myself why I have chosen this journey (Trying to maintain the reasons why I was 'all in' at the forefront of my mind). In short those reasons are to be whole, to not cause pain, to fulfil my potential
4) Feeling grateful for my success yesterday and the help I have received from others to achieve it (you guys feature highly there), connecting with my inner 'self' and the knowledge of what is 'right' for me (and we all know that if we do that, the answer is never PMO), recommitting for the next 24 hours.

Like I say, it's a new approach - 2 days in, so far, so good - but it was designed with the very goal of trying to remain all in at all times. Will keep you posted as to its effectiveness. Cheers.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2020, 01:57:04 PM »
Hi UKGuy,

Quote
At those points, my motivation is high as I'm still very connected to the feeling of failure, shame and despair - and I want to get as far away from those feeling as fast as I can. That usually heralds the start of a 'streak', but the challenge I find is that with the passage of time, those feelings of revulsion diminish, the lure of PMO starts to build, often facilitated by emotional triggers, and I find myself less 'all in' than I was. Time can give rise to complacency. Complacency gives rise to relapse.

I loved your thoughts here on being "all in." As you said, it's very much something you feel in the moment, usually after a hard fall back to PMO. And while it can certainly sustain a person for a period of time, the motivation will eventually flame out on its own. It always does...At least for me it does.

I think where I'm getting hung up is with the idea that maybe there's some magical formula that drives some people to succeed where other people fail. I guess there really is no magical formula to being "all in," though. It's just a momentary push to get us going again, and then we're back to figuring out how we stay in the fight with only occasional bursts of motivation and all the other shit that falls in between.

I have to say, your daily recovery plan is so much more grounded and realistic than any plan I've ever come up with, and I like that it's not overly goal-oriented. It literally takes it one day at at a time. Thanks for sharing that!


LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2020, 01:57:26 PM »
Day 1. Yes, as painful as it is for me to admit this to all of you, I'm back at Day 1.  I finally gave in yesterday, but it's not as if there weren't any warning signs. While out in public, I've been allowing my gaze to linger a little longer than I should have, a very potent trigger for me. And there were other signs, too. I chose to ignore all of them and relapsed to P.

Even when I knew that I could pull back from looking at P at any time and tried to reason with myself that it wasn't worth it, that I would pay for my sins in shame and disappointment, that it could take me days or even weeks to recover my momentum, etc., I went ahead and did it anyway. Basically, I sped through every checkpoint I had set up for myself and left a wreckage of gates and guardhouses behind me.

I'm not feeling a lot of love for myself at the moment, but if there's one thing I know, it's that the worst thing I could do right now is retreat into isolation. So, here I am, trying to get back on the horse or the wagon or whatever stupid equestrian metaphor seems appropriate here, and holding myself publicly accountable.

On the bright side, I did make it 24 days without P or M. It's the best streak I've had in awhile, so it wasn't a complete failure. Hopefully I can build on that momentum in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

TheNorman

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2020, 04:11:44 PM »
I've said it before as have many others (probably much more eloquently than me): If you succumb to PMO every 25 days that's still 48 total better days than before right?
You saw the signs before your fall, now you can see them from further away and pump the brakes or pull back on the reins or dig in your spurs or some other horse metaphor.

As for your gaze, I think it was Leonidas who said it best in regards to looking: "First looks on god" meaning there are attractive people and it's normal to see them and appreciate that, but it's that second look that isn't about appreciation anymore, it's about objectification and that's the look that gets your chimp brain going. In early days I avoided seeing anyone at all but now I'm quite comfortable around people because if I see someone I don't react like I'm doing something wrong just by seeing them because that's not realistic or sustainable, I just see them at a glance and move on. It actually becomes easier the more times you do it because (for me) it feels very empowering.

UKGuy

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2020, 11:51:00 AM »
Hey LIGA, I feel for you my friend. My experience last week was identical in terms of 'the wreckage of gates and guardhouses'.
Norman is bang on - focus on the success over the past 3.5 weeks, not the one day of 'failure'. The success isn't just about what you didn't do in that time, it's about what you did do, and I can tell you that your presence here since you joined has been valuable and is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I don't think you need any advice from me, but I am pleased to report that my new daily routine seems to be keeping me really grounded, so as you choose which horse metaphor is right for your restart (loved that one Norm!), it's an approach that might be worth a try. I think the key benefit is that it's binary - you either do the meditation every day of you don't. If you do, it keeps you grounded, grateful and recommitted each day. If you don't, then...well, that's the power of choice!
Whatever you decide, we're all here behind you! Take care.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2020, 08:00:52 PM »
TheNorman,

Thanks for putting things into perspective. Perspective is exactly what I need right now. I'm trying not to do what I always do when this happens and look at the events of the last few days through the lens of perfectionism. Yes, from the outside, after many years of trying, 24 days seems like a pretty puny streak. Believe me, I could spend days pummeling myself for not even making it a month without slipping. But on the other hand, I did feel like the streak was pretty strong for most of those 24 days, in part because of the healthy habits and boundaries I put in place this time. So that's progress.

As for objectification and second looks, I have a lot of work to do in that area. I've been rationalizing to myself that a look here or there isn't going to hurt, but it's a "gateway" to P for sure. I think recognizing it as a type of edging behavior is a good place to start for now. But in addition to that, I really need to challenge those thoughts that are giving me permission to look and maintain an awareness of them.

UKGuy,

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success isn't just about what you didn't do in that time, it's about what you did do, and I can tell you that your presence here since you joined has been valuable and is greatly appreciated.


I liked your thoughts on measuring success during a reboot. You do have to take what works and leave the rest behind. Also wanted to say how much I appreciate your thoughtful contributions to this community.  The feeling is definitely mutual.

Quote
I don't think you need any advice from me

 
I'm far from having any kind of mastery over this addiction, so any recommendations for tools to help pull myself from the "wreckage" are appreciated! I do think meditation has been hugely beneficial in helping me to reframe my thoughts, so I see the value in incorporating it into my daily routine. I probably need to spend less time on guided mediation and more time building mindfulness around my reasons for being on this journey and my commitment to continue. I really like that about your new plan, so I'm going to be thinking in the days ahead about what I can do to reconnect with my motivation.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2020, 06:52:16 PM by LetItGoAlready »

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2020, 08:04:17 PM »
Quick update on my status since I haven't check in awhile. I'm just starting to pull out of a nosedive that carried me through weekend. In fact, I can't even assign a number to today because I was up until the wee hours of this morning acting out to P. So I guess it's Day 0 for me.

My plan for the time being is to come here and check in as often as possible - at least once a day if I can - so I can stay accountable.

Be well, everyone.

UKGuy

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2020, 10:58:56 AM »
Sounds like a catalyst to 'all in' LIGA? Hope so - let me know if you want any more info on the meditation - happy to share my discoveries so far and explore solutions together.
Take care and be kind to yourself.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #36 on: September 16, 2020, 11:45:10 PM »
Quote
Sounds like a catalyst to 'all in' LIGA? Hope so

Thanks, UKGuy. I wish I could know for certain that I'm on the upswing, but it still feels like I'm on shaky ground at the moment. I had a busy day at work yesterday and today, which is creating some stress.  No matter how much time and effort I put into my daily practice in the morning, it all seems to unravel by the evening when I finally have a moment to myself. I'd say there's almost a sense of entitlement to it, like I've earned the right to act out after a hard day at work. It's a trap I've set for myself many times before, but one I know I can avoid simply by retraining my focus and not chasing the thought too far down the rabbit hole.

Quote
let me know if you want any more info on the meditation - happy to share my discoveries so far and explore solutions together.

I am interested in expanding my meditation practice, and I may very well reach out to you for ideas. I've been implementing some of your strategies in the mornings, including reflecting back on my journey and reaffirming my commitment for the rest of the day. I thank you for those ideas because I think my routine has grown a bit stale!

workinprogressUK

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #37 on: September 17, 2020, 06:19:53 AM »
it all seems to unravel by the evening when I finally have a moment to myself. I'd say there's almost a sense of entitlement to it, like I've earned the right to act out after a hard day at work. It's a trap I've set for myself many times before, but one I know I can avoid simply by retraining my focus and not chasing the thought too far down the rabbit hole.

Isn't that internal "justification" a really common cognitive distortion, LIGA? I'm probably using the wrong terms, but I think it's something a lot of us have to work on.... I certainly do! That inner voice that tells me I deserve some sort of treat or reward every time I do something healthy or hard. I think Leonidas writes about it a fair bit, too. Ties in to things like willpower depletion and how winning one internal, emotional, battle often prompts us to let go on another? Maybe it's as simple as finding yourself another reward?

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2020, 10:30:58 PM »
Hi WIP,

Quote
Isn't that internal "justification" a really common cognitive distortion, LIGA?

Certainly seems to be a common theme with folks here. I really wish that my little reptile brain could see the deception from a mile away and know not to fall for it again, but this darned meatball in my head is precisely what got me into this mess in the first place. I'm still learning how to detach from those thoughts and not buy into them. It's a hell of a lot easier to do when you catch the thought early vs trying to detach from a thought that has gained considerable momentum and has pulled in your libido for support!

Quote
Maybe it's as simple as finding yourself another reward?

I'm sure you're right about that, WIP. It probably is as simple as finding another reward. Unfortunately, all of my other rewards for good behavior at the moment have some sort of addictive-compulsive aspect to them: watching TV, playing video games, sugary treats, etc. There's clearly room for improvement.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2020, 05:31:04 PM by LetItGoAlready »

3rdprecept

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2020, 11:06:26 PM »
Hey LIGA

I'm new to this forum but not new to recovery from various addictions. PMO has been with me since my earliest memories.  I've recovered from narcotics addiction 12 years ago.  The thing that I learned about relapse in Narcotics Anonymous is that hard drugs can and will kill you. Most addicts in NA at their lowest hoped to OD and die, but as long as there is breath there is hope.

I have 4 days off PMO. I'm hurting and in pain physically and emotionally. I learned to stop using hard drugs one day at a time and at times I had to hold on to my recovery breath by breath.

I don't want to PMO today even though my brain and body is screaming that it needs to. Slowly I will heal and learn to live without PMO and the pain it causes.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2020, 11:16:47 PM by 3rdprecept »
I’ve tried to quit 1000 times...all I need to do is stop myself for today. Moment by moment if I have to.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #40 on: September 21, 2020, 11:17:10 PM »
Day 1. It's taken me 11 days to right the ship since my last relapse. Just another tragic reminder of how much I give up when I decide to give in.

This time I came up with a plan. And the plan is pretty simple: If I ever find myself in a situation where I'm "edging" towards relapse, rather than keeping it to myself and allowing it to fester in secret, I'm just going to come here and let everyone know that I'm struggling.

What I realized is that I'm not doing myself any favors when I allow myself to cross the line with other seemingly more benign behaviors but have no accountability. Take objectifying, for example, which is something I find myself doing often whenever I'm out in public. Every time I do it, I know that I'm playing with fire, yet I allow myself to do it anyway. Why? Because it's a "back door" that I've kept open simply by not being accountable.  I tell myself "Well, it's not porn, so there's no harm in looking." But here's the thing: It is porn. I mean, it's not porn to my rational brain, but to my dopamine receptors, it's porn. So I need to be accountable.

Anyway, I hope to change all that by choosing to come clean in that moment rather than waiting until a day, or three days, or a week later when I finally decide to act out to porn. Too early to tell if this is going to be the big break in my recovery that will propel me into new, uncharted days-clean territory, but as always, I remain hopeful.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 12:40:06 AM by LetItGoAlready »

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2020, 11:43:01 PM »
Hi 3rdprecept.

Quote
The thing that I learned about relapse in Narcotics Anonymous is that hard drugs can and will kill you. Most addicts in NA at their lowest hoped to OD and die, but as long as there is breath there is hope.

Thanks for dropping in on my journal. I think there is a perception that the stakes are not as high with PMO addiction as with other addictions. But most of us have given up a lot to shame, secrecy, and isolation. For some people, it has cost them their marriage, their job, friendships, relationships... the list goes on. It may not take away your breath, but it can sure as hell take away all of the joy in your life and everything you care about.

Don't lose hope. The journey ahead is hard but not impossible. This is a great place to learn, share your struggles, and be supported by other people who are trying to heal themselves and move on from this addiction.

Good luck to you, friend.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 12:48:02 AM by LetItGoAlready »

UKGuy

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #42 on: September 22, 2020, 06:50:27 AM »
Anyway, I hope to change all that by choosing to come clean in that moment rather than waiting until a day, or three days, or a week later when I finally decide to act out to porn. Too early to tell if this is going to be the big break in my recovery that will propel me into new, uncharted days-clean territory, but as always, I remain hopeful.
I think this is a great step LIGA. It's like the decision about when to call the fire brigade - a) when you first notice the flames in your kitchen, or b) when you are surveying the smoking embers of your house!
Really glad you're back in the game, and have got a clear improvement to your plan.
Cheers my friend,
UKG

3rdprecept

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #43 on: September 23, 2020, 11:56:34 AM »
Hello LetItGo.

I'm finding it very helpful to post on other's journals. I'm still figuring out how to navigate and review posts.

Speaking personally about relapse and recovery.  The withdraws involved with PMO is just as brutal and the disease is so insidious that relapse I find is much harder to resist.  I have 6 days and I'm committed to making this change and know that it is only by taking things one day at a time and moment by moment that I can heal and see my brain chemistry change.

I don't want to slip and unleash the beast because a know a binge and losing control is inevitable.  For me right now it might not be life or death for fear of and OD on narcotics....but it is life or death in terms of living free from the obsessive death grip of PMO and being free of the reward circuit malfunction that goes with it. 

Everyday the support from all of you is critical to our mutual success.
I’ve tried to quit 1000 times...all I need to do is stop myself for today. Moment by moment if I have to.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #44 on: September 23, 2020, 04:45:42 PM »
UKGuy - Thanks. It's good to be back journaling again. I kind of fell into a funk there for awhile, because I realized that there was a gaping hole in my defense, a hole that I had given myself permission to ignore. The fact that I've been doing things in secret and not making myself accountable has made me vulnerable to bargaining and minimizing. Bargaining with my conscience that what I was doing was okay because it wasn't P, M, or O, and minimizing the effect that it was having on me. My hope is that by daylighting some of these behaviors, I can stop this cycle of self-dealing and deception because they will no longer be secrets. Also, to use your analogy, it will save me the trouble of having to rebuild the whole house because I've allowed the fire to burn out of control. I have to admit, rebuilding every couple of months is starting to feel pretty tedious.

3rd - I appreciate your support and wish you continuing success at keeping "the beast" at bay. If the beast tries to sell you a quick fix in exchange for its freedom (and it will try everything, believe me), don't take the deal. I say this as one who just took that deal and lost 11 days to a series of binges and half-hearted reboots. It's definitely not worth it.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2020, 07:30:36 PM by LetItGoAlready »

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #45 on: September 23, 2020, 08:02:09 PM »
Day 3. I meant to check in yesterday, but there was a weird glitch with the website last night, so I decided to skip it and pack it in early instead. In keeping with my new approach of daylighting suspect non-PMO behaviors, I have three recent behaviors that I'd like to expose.

First, I stayed up later than I should have on Monday night. I consider this to be a Level 1 infraction because whether or not it's an issue is very much dependent on what I'm doing and my frame of mind. Under some circumstances, it's okay, but under others, like, when I'm feeling triggered for example, it isn't. Fortunately, this time around, it wasn't a big deal because I was on RN reading other people's journals and was not feeling at all triggered. On the other hand, it could have been a big deal if my frame of mind had changed, which isn't out of the realm of possibility when I'm up late and everyone else has gone to sleep. That's why I think it's probably best that I don't get into the habit of staying up late unless it's absolutely necessary. Why tempt fate?

The second behavior I'd like to out is not really an infraction at all because it was mostly involuntary. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday from an erotic dream and in my half conscious state continued to fantasize. I wasn't really aware that I was fantasizing at first, but as soon as I was, I stopped chasing the thoughts and shifted my attention to something else. The episode ended there.

Finally, my eyes wandered a bit when I was out in public today, but I was really trying not to objectify the women I was looking it.  I'd give myself a B- for effort, so there's room for improvement, but it was not my worst performance in light of recent events.

TheNorman

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #46 on: September 23, 2020, 08:28:27 PM »
You gave yourself a B- for effort on the ogling but overall your post gets an A for self-awareness. Mindfulness is key to exposing weaknesses and you are picking up on them which is huge! Keep it up LIGA!

3rdprecept

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2020, 08:34:45 PM »
So good to hear your self reflection and awareness of triggers and slippery ground.  So much I can identify with here from dreams to wandering eyes launching into fantasy/obsession.

This path is littered with mental landmines. Stay positive.

I’ve tried to quit 1000 times...all I need to do is stop myself for today. Moment by moment if I have to.

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #48 on: September 24, 2020, 10:51:00 PM »
Quote
You gave yourself a B- for effort on the ogling but overall your post gets an A for self-awareness.

Norm - You're a generous grader, sir, but I'll take it. Thank you!

Quote
So much I can identify with here from dreams to wandering eyes launching into fantasy/obsession.

3rd -  I guess it's all novel stimuli to the brain. It will use any weakness to its advantage...even when we're sleeping. Tricky bugger!
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 11:13:52 PM by LetItGoAlready »

LetItGoAlready

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Re: Bringing it around full circle
« Reply #49 on: September 24, 2020, 11:08:59 PM »
Day 4. More erotic dreams again last night, which left me feeling unsettled this morning, but I don't think I crossed any lines. Otherwise, I'm happy to report a better day in terms of keeping my lustful urges in check. I'm hoping that trend will continue as I coast into the weekend.

Be well, all.