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How Shall We Escape?

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Phineas 808:
"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 close 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. We can also break this habit without first trying to heal the past, though our head will be a lot clearer to do that once we're free. 

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 as I dismiss urges nonjudgmentally. I 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:

DeltaFos B: 6-8 weeks (42-56 days, or between 1 month, 2 weeks to 2 months).

Hypofrontality: 8 weeks (56 days, or close to 2 months).

120 days = 15 x 8 (counting from 11/6/20, with completion dates):


1. 8 days: 11/14/20.

2. 16 days: 11/22/20.

3. 24 days: 11/30/20.

4. 32 days: 12/8/20.


5. 40 days: 12/16/20.

6. 48 days: 12/24/20.

7. 56 days: 1/1/21.

8. 64 days: 1/9/21.


9. 72 days: 1/17/21.

10. 80 days: 1/25/21.

11. 88 days: 2/2/21.

12. 96 days: 2/10/21.


13. 104 days: 2/18/21.

14. 112 days: 2/26/21.

15. 120 days:

Blessings.

Phineas 808:
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.

LetItGoAlready:
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:
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.   

Phineas 808:
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. 

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