A Pilgrim's Progress

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Squire, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. dig deep

    dig deep must stop wasting my life on porn

    do this, add all the websites you relapsed to to your filter,you don't need to look at them again.
    Did you think about a quick MO to get the urge out of your system?
    43 days good streak,think of all the benefits you have gained you don't lose them unless you binge.
    next streak even better.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  2. Gilgamesh

    Gilgamesh Seize the day

    Sorry to hear man. The list you show is indeed a deadly combination of variables. I see a similar situation coming up for me soon (stress, home alone, milestone) and very afraid of it.

    But don't forget that relapses are also part of this recovery. Make use of this time to get closer to yourself and accept yourself no matter what. You're still doing great!
    Squire likes this.
  3. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    Hey that's a really helpful thought. I didn't think of it that way.

    I did think of that, but P & M are really closely connected for me. My goal is to be free of both; giving in to either feels like a defeat.

    @Libertad just posted about how a necessary ingredient for long-term recovery is to believe that the process will work long term. I think this is a flaw in my approach. Deep inside I can't imagine that I can actually go the rest of my life without PMO. My experience tells me I can build up streaks of days, weeks, even more than a month now, but it's hard to believe a 40-year addiction would go away and not come back.

    A couple of things can help with that -- the stories of other guys here who have gone extraordinarily long, and my own experience of increasingly long streaks.
    dig deep likes this.
  4. Bobo

    Bobo Well-Known Member

    You don't have to think of a 40 year addiction as something you need to tackle.40 year addictions don't go away they just lose their power. Squire it seems to me that you worry about the total outcome too much, just do it Hours lead to days which leads to months which leads to years, you are certainly aware of this. JUST DO IT SLOWLY!.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  5. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    @Squire I'm sorry to hear that you had a slip, but I'd like to throw two diametrically opposed positions at you, each of which I absolutely subscribe to.

    First one is that relapse is not a part of recovery. That's a mantra for failure and we don't apply that logic in just about any other aspect of their life. Dropping a baby on its head is just part of learning to raise it. Crashing into a school bus with your car is just part of becoming a better driver. I won't go into my whole diatribe here, because I've already written about it and it's still one of the most read pages on my website:

    Curious what your thoughts are on that.

    Second, is a bit of a departure from the hardline belief of this site, but I've read and heard of this in a few places. Go with me on this and I'll get there. Are you really addicted to PMO or are you just following the religion of this site? You see, I was addicted to the P, which lead to the M, which led to the O. When I removed the P, the desire to M/O (which is the same thing, I think...it's not like you're going to give up butter, but keep churning butter) absolutely dropped by 99%. It turned out, I was completely addicted to P and the M & O were just activities that went with it. Sort of like I don't eat dessert unless I have a meal. Dessert just comes with the meal. M/O just came with the porn. Over the last three years, I've probably engaged in M/O about 7-10 times. It's literally less than 1% of the time I would have if P was part of the formula and during those 7-10 times, I didn't use P...or visual stimulation of any kind.

    Do I feel guilty? Not one bit. If I went and got a cupcake right now would I feel guilty? Not one bit. I like dessert, and if I want some, I'll have some. It's just not part of my routine. M/O is not part of my routine. Here's what I was getting to...I was addicted to P. Have you truly figured out if you're addicted to P and M/O? I've read/heard about 5 guys who did an experiment. They were allowed to watch P, but not M/O. Or, they could M/O, but not with P. Three of the guys realized they were addicted to only P. One guy realized he was addicted to only M/O. One guy was addicted to both. Are you convinced, other than just by the dogma on this message board, that you are addicted to both P and M/O? I mean, let's remember, if you trace the PMO & NoFap movements, it goes back to guys on Reddit years ago challenging themselves to essentially follow the Seinfeld episode "The Contest." Not exactly kings of addiction treatment and recovery.

    Anyway, you know me. I like to throw out alternative thought processes and get reactions...
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  6. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    Then why don't you just go ahead and do it? I mean, you're justifying it saying relapse is a part of recovery and you're already future-casting with a bunch of excuses. Get it out of the way and move on with your life.


    Start the pre-lapse autopsy. You know you're heading somewhere. Stop the car. Take a left turn. If you reach your destination of relapse, you're not doing everything you can. It sounds like you have some idea of what your triggers are. It's time not just to fight your addiction, but to build a resistance to those triggers. As an alcoholic, I couldn't walk into a place serving alcohol for a while, but eventually built the strength that now I can be at a party where everyone is drinking and not touch the stuff -- although it turns out those parties tend to suck. If you're home alone, don't isolate. Find people to be around, even if it's sitting in a park. If you engage in masturbating in a park, well, this probably isn't the only board you should be on. If hitting a milestone means you've crossed a finish line (as I suspect subconsciously was part of the issue with @Squire ) and you now get to engage in the behavior, then set the finish line further, add some stipulations. Figure out how to never reach the milestone. Hell, go spend 2 seconds on PornHub. There....you messed up...reset the clock.

    You don't just relapse, you set the wheels in motion long in advance and I had this sinking feeling @Squire did that based on a message he wrote a day or two before he relapsed. I sort of take some guilt for not stepping up and screaming and yelling. I'm doing that with you. You've decided you're relapsing. Now you have to decide you're not. I truly believe that in order to get over our addictions, we don't devise a system to run from our triggers, we actually learn to face them and be stronger. I left Squire with a link of something I wrote before. I'll leave you one, too.

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  7. Libertad

    Libertad Well-Known Member

    I think one of the keys is to balance the triggers in a way that we can handle it in this Moment without a relapse. Avoiding the biggest triggers till we feel that we are strong enough to face them.
    Thats what I meant with beeing in control of personal growth. It is a kind of self love, not putting to much pressure onto oneself in the beginning. Knowing when it is time to move to bigger things and not letting the progress of others dictate the pressure or expectation you put on yourself. This was a big one for me. I go now as slow as I need to.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  8. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys for all the good thoughts. I'll reply to your comments more specifically tomorrow. I feel weird today. A part of me does not feel sorry at all for relapsing because it was fun and felt good. In fact, surprisingly enough, this is one of the least-guilty feeling relapses I've ever had. But at the very same time, I also do feel sad and tired today. Probably just the low that comes after a high or something like that. I do have a bunch of time alone tonight but don't feel like PMO or have access to any images tonight. I won't relapse tonight.
    Joshua Shea likes this.
  9. Gilgamesh

    Gilgamesh Seize the day

    @Squire and @Joshua Shea: clearly (with relapse being part of the recovery) I don't mean to say that you should just go ahead and keep relapsing. It is not a 'mantra for failure'. I don't believe in failure. What I am trying to say with this is that you should make use for this time to get closer to yourself. Be gentle to yourself and find out which are the real underlying internal causes for this behaviour that you have chosen to transform. Don't just 'move on' to a reboot of xx days, but accept that you did this. Learn to overcome guilt and shame. Keep your back straight and say: I chose to relapse because I needed fixing at that moment. The next time I will be more aware when I feel like ….. Internal factors …. in combination with being alone and ….. (external factors) and I will take these …. and these... measures. It's a long term process that has no meaning if you just focus on abstaining. Be gentle with yourself, take small steps day by day. Time is your friend in this.

    @Joshua Shea: thanks for your reply to my post and the links to your interesting website. I appreciate it.
  10. nattie

    nattie It robs your life! get rid of it!!

    I like the way you identified a really commendable quality in your wife.. go on squire.. best wishes for a good companionship with ur wife
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  11. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    I know this feeling- watch out, it's the addict thinking "Fucking eh man, that was awesome, let's partay!" I always relapsed to the point that this feeling disappeared and I just felt shit again. Usually it took 2 weeks. Listen to that sadder voice my friend, i suspect he knows the score.

    Regarding Josh's comments, relapses are a fact of life for most (all) rebooters at some point. No one was more fucking serious about quitting this addiction than me, but it took me a while (3 years or so) to figure out what my main problem was. Prior to that I had plenty of willpower, i just didn't have enough knowledge or self-knowledge. As Wabi-Sabi used to like to say, "Nothing leaves you until it has taught you what you need to know". This was very profound, and I didn't fully appreciate it at the time. Relapsing after a good period clean can teach you a lot about yourself and your addiction- as long as you're paying attention (I'm not talking about a long chain of "relapses" back to back, that is not relapsing it's just business as usual for the addiction). Pick yourself up (i know you are) dust yourself of and just keep going. You have made heaps of progress, it's been a privilege to witness your growth these last months. You got this Squire.
  12. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    Relapse CAN be a part of recovery. It doesn't HAVE to be. Maybe I'm the wrong person for this conversation because I'm relapse free from porn and alcohol from the day I quit both (so not all people relapse, despite what those who do want you to believe), but I have a theory that if someone as lazy as me who can rationalize just about anything and fights almost daily cases of the "fuck its" then just about anybody can.

    I don't disagree that the moment somebody relapses, they need to get up, dust themselves off and figure out what happened. They need encouragement and hopefully will learn what caused it so as not to happen again.

    But after spending months in 12-step groups, other support groups and a couple of rehabs, I still firmly believe relapse is not a part of recovery. Relapse is 180 degrees the opposite of recovery. The goal is to not use. Then you use. That's not part of the process. That's the process stopping.

    I also believe that the "relapse is part of recovery" mantra gives those who have yet to relapse the equivalent of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. For those who haven't relapsed, there isn't enough emphasis placed on the relapse actually being a big deal. When you know that you're going to have plenty of people to pick you up and say "It's OK" where is the danger in falling?

    Before a relapse happens, people can learn about their triggers and learn ways to cope with them, with the goal of eventual deprogramming the strength those triggers carry. You don't need to wait for a relapse to examine your decision making and constant reaction, both conscious and subconscious, to what is happening around you. This is the cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

    I remember walking into an airport about two months after I returned from rehab. It was crazy, but after checking in and going through security, my natural instinct was to go to get a drink. I had to stop and recognize that for the last 20 years, I hadn't been in airport without being in some kind of inebriated condition. Wouldn't you know, my gate was right across from a brew pub. I sat there for a few moments and let all the little triggers go off and began to rationalize getting a drink...nobody would know, I'd only have time for one or two before I took off, it's more medicinal to calm my nerves than recreational, so it's OK. Then I remembered what one of my councilors said. "Get up and go sit over there." I walked to a news stand, bought a magazine, and sat about four gates down, looking up at the bank of TV monitors for updates on my gate. Today, I could sit in that brew pub and be fine, but that's because I've made incremental progress over the last four years.

    Had I sat across from that brew pub another 30 minutes, I would have been in there. I would have had enough time to justify in my head that the huge mistake I was about to undertake was OK. I didn't have to let it go that far to have "the teaching moment" relapses are billed to be. I was able to identify what was happening and react before it happened. The wheels had started turning and that's what people need to recognize and they don't have to go all the way to the point of actual relapse to learn these lessons.

    I feel very bad for anybody who does relapse. It would crush me at this point. I hope they never have to do that again. I just think as the recovery community needs to do more to encourage people and provide tools to not relapse in the first place. Shrugging your shoulders and saying "part of the process" shouldn't be the solution.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  13. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    That's OK, and a perfectly normal reaction. You'll need a little time to process what happened and your reaction to it. Remember, this is your journey, not anybody else's. You're entitled to feel any way you want and nobody can make you feel anything you don't want. You may decide what you did was a horrible, terrible thing or you may come to the conclusion it was only ever a part of a much bigger problem and with that bigger problem starting to be tamed, this is much more manageable. It's your story. You'll get a lot of advice about what this "means" -- but it means what you want it to mean.

    I am glad you felt a lower level of guilt. That's an important part of overall recovery, whatever form that takes for you.
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  14. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    No problem, that's why I'm here.
    Back to your post yesterday though. Do you have the tools and techniques to make sure the relapse you're forecasting isn't going to happen?
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  15. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    Great discussion you guys. OK, where to begin?

    Last night I took a bunch of OTC meds to help me sleep, a bad habit, but a good night's sleep helped me wake up feeling like I have a fresh start.

    RE: relapse being a normal part of recovery or not, I don't know the answer. But I think many people have the experience in recovery of taking a few steps forward and a few steps back, and that has been my own experience. If I am totally honest, yes I do expect to relapse, as that has been so consistently my experience for so many years. However, part of my experience in the past year has been to have increasingly long streaks because of a variety of healthy things I'm doing, so I do expect my streaks to grow longer and longer until relapse is rare.

    I'm intrigued by @Joshua Shea's idea of planning the relapse, in the sense of jumping onto a porn site for 2 seconds, resetting the counter and starting the next streak. I like the original thinking. I don't want to go to any porn sites for even two seconds because that would be so high risk for me of a full-blown relapse. But it does make me think maybe without relapsing I should only allow my counter to reach 30 days and then reset to zero. Because I've already reached that goal several times and it feels very attainable. I think there is this part of me that sees myself reaching greater heights than in the past, and I'm like a cat in a tree that looks down and then gets stuck. It feels like I'm getting closer to inevitable relapse and that creates a tension that makes me want to go ahead and do it and get it over with already.

    RE: separating masturbation/orgasm from porn, several guys have suggested that at different times. I don't know whether I'm addicted to one or the other or both, or if one or the other is a "real" addiction or just a bad habit. I just know that these behaviors are interlinked in my life and are compulsive and interfere with my life, so I want to be rid of them. Morally, I think that porn is wrong. It is exploitative of the models, clicking on it, even if it's free, helps create market demand for it and draws advertising dollars to it. It fuels addictions and sexual dysfunctions of all sorts for a lot of people. It is a form of unfaithfulness to my commitments to my wife and to God. There's just nothing good about it and it has to be eradicated from my life. Masturbation is not as clear to me as a moral issue. I'm not sure that it is always wrong. But there are a lot of negatives about it. It is selfish in the sense of taking what should be an intimate moment shared with my wife and using it only for myself. The fantasies I have while I do it are inappropriate and unhelpful to my relationship with her and with God. It makes it hard for me to enjoy intercourse with her because the pressure is different from the feeling of my hand. Sometimes I feel like masturbating so I seek out an image. Other times I see an image first and then feel like masturbating. So it is hard for me to separate the two. I want to get control over both issues, as they mutually reinforce each other.

    Well today I have plenty of projects to work on. Going to focus on being productive.

    Something good about my wife:
    She has a strong sense of justice and gets morally outraged by things that are wrong, especially situations where people are getting mistreated. At the same time, she is merciful and compassionate to broken people. She is not always able to express these qualities consistently or in a way that is always helpful, but the idea is there underneath it all. I think these qualities are similar to Jesus.
  16. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking about what you said, @Bobo and interestingly enough JamesClear.com posted an article on this very subject today. He talked about having a "fixed mindset" or a "growth mindset." A fixed mindset focuses on the outcome. So that mindset focuses on losing a certain amount of weight or reaching a particular number on the counter. A growth mindset focuses on making a lifestyle change--eating healthy, exercising, making daily choices to overcome temptation. He wrote in a different post about how having a fixed mindset can lead a person to abandon their new behaviors after they reach the goal. So after training for a marathon, you stop training when the marathon is over. With the growth mindset, you keep doing the new things as a lifestyle and then you get to reap the rewards that a person of that lifestyle gets (being healthier, looking better, having more energy, etc.).

    Thanks for your observation @Bobo, I think it was spot on.
  17. Gilgamesh

    Gilgamesh Seize the day

    Yes, I don't want to take up space in Squire's journal here, but in short, the key will be to avoid fantasies no matter what. It is usually the build-up of fantasies, suspense and edging beforehand (cause they are so innocent right?) that lead to extremely high arousal and urges at the moment that I am going to be on myself, leading to PMO as soon as the opportunity is there. Further I planned an activity for the 2 weekend days. Thanks!

    How about you @Squire? How do you think you could have avoided this relapse?
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  18. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Member

    @Gilgamesh I thought I knew what edging was. Can you explain in this context?
  19. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    @Saville keeps telling me to take cold showers and I can't stand it, but that would have significantly helped me avoid this relapse. Also not taking the phone with me to the bathroom would have helped. That could be a good boundary, just always to leave the phone in another room when I'm going to the bathroom. @Bobo says to focus on the daily process instead of the end goals so much. Attaching less significance to milestones on the counter would help Maybe based on something @Joshua Shea suggested, just resetting the counter even without a relapse and starting again at 0 when I reach 30 days or whatever.

    So I think a good thing to keep in mind is what can I learn from a relapse, and I think I'm carrying away some good lessons.

    Something good about my wife:
    She's not overly sentimental. She's very practical-natured. She goes about her business and does not get overwhelmed by other people's problems or all the misfortune in the world. Sometimes I think that is kind of callous, but there is so much suffering in the world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it if we take it too much to heart. I believe she is the kind of person who could survive emergencies and handle great losses without losing herself in grief.
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  20. Squire

    Squire Well-Known Member

    Thinking more today about what @Bobo and JamesClear.com said about focusing on the process rather than giving so much attention to the end result. I'm highly goal-oriented and always have a bunch of projects going -- stuff at work, home maintenance, and self-improvement. When I'm doing stuff I try to be efficient and am thinking ahead to the next thing I'll do when this is done.

    This is a mindset so deeply engrained it would be difficult to change. And I'm not sure I even want to change that mindset, to tell the truth. I enjoy being productive and working toward goals. However, I do think it causes me not to enjoy each present moment as much as I could. It is like racing through a meal to get to dessert, instead of savoring the appetizer and main course.

    So I think I'll put at the top of my "to do" list to "practice mindfulness." I'll try today to be aware of what my body and mind are experiencing and feeling. For example, just now I noticed I'm bouncing my right leg. That is a sign of nervous tension. I made myself stop and took a couple of deep breaths to calm down. My shoulders and neck feel tense, so I'm stretching my neck as I type. Today I will pay more attention to the things my body is saying to me and take care of its legitimate needs.

    My "something good about my wife" posts are having an effect. As these have added up I am realizing I've got a pretty good thing going here. She really does have a lot of exemplary qualities. I've started complimenting her more so she'll see I notice these things about her. She has plenty of faults too, as I do, but it has not been hard to think of positive traits for these posts.

    Something good about my wife:
    She is not lazy. She works more than one job to help us cover our expenses. She doesn't expect me to be the sole provider.
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