A Pilgrim's Progress

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

  1. JustOneDayAtATime

    JustOneDayAtATime New Member

    Thanks, Squire, for listening to what I had to say. I really appreciate it.

    I wanted to preface what I had to say with something to the effect that I wasn’t disagreeing, or agreeing for that matter, with anything anyone else had said. I just wanted to share something from my past. When you’ve made mistakes in your life (and by mistakes I mean mistakes in general, not just ones associated with the subject of this forum) you sometimes don’t know anyone who knew you when something significant happened in your life. So you’re not able to turn to them and say, "Remember when . . . " . I have some good friends now in my life, but they’re not such close friends that I’d be sure they’d really be interested in this story from my past. I’m not talking badly of my current friends. It’s possible, for instance, that they have their own stories and don’t share them with me for the same reasons I haven’t. Well that’s something to think about and suggests to me a way forward, for me to be a better friend.

    From time to time I have greatly enjoyed meditating. The practice has dried out for me over the past few years and I don’t find it as helpful. I find it difficult to do anything short of wholeheartedly. Though perhaps you’re right, and maybe I should just find time to meditate. Even five minutes now and then is probably better than nothing.

    When I was younger, I was very open to religious ideas. Even when I was apart from God, I felt His absence and my separation from Him, and so when someone asked me whether I was right with God, I would shake my head. Now it has been many years since I have felt this way. So if you were to ask me now, it would be apparent to me what was being asked, but it would not seem to me to be (like it had been in the past) a provocation. It is not clear to me that I have hardened my heart or that the way I now approach hypotheticals (like the question of whether God exists) is very different now.

    Apart from watching pornography, the apparent morality of my life is now not so very different from churchgoing folks, and so if I were convinced of the truth of this or that religion, I would not find it so very difficult to live in the way they do. For the first 25 years of my life I was a churchgoer and believer, and actually I enjoy their conversation and company. But now, I couldn’t do it in good conscience. It would be like living a lie now.

    In your reply to me you wrote that your goal is a faith that is more centered on the person of Jesus. Is this a search for the historical Jesus:


    Or something different?
  2. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    Hi JODAT,

    Has anyone ever told you you are quite a good writer? Your style is so well-educated but readable. Just an excellent communicator.

    I don't have a lot of friends from earlier in my life either but that has to do with kind of a weird thing in my personality that I generally seem to remember negative things from the past more than positive things and I try to erase my memories of earlier period of my life, often by leaving behind the people I knew at that time. I know that is very sad. It is hard for me to explain. I just don't like memories and connections from the past.

    Honestly everybody keeps suggesting meditating but I don't like it. Maybe just running away from myself. What I really like is self-hypnosis though. I listen to relaxation audios snagged from youtube and find them immensely helpful to overcome anxiety, ease stress, and improve my confidence.

    If having a discussion about faith is of interest to you, it's something I am processing and would also enjoy. We could do that on a private message thread if that feels more comfortable. I find myself feeling alienated from some kinds of Christian subcultures that can seem ignorant, political, or exploitative. I don't want to judge other people's religious experience, but it just doesn't seem right for me. So I've been trying to think through who Jesus was, what he really taught, and what it would be like to follow him in a really simple and sincere way.

    I guess that sounds in some ways like the quest for the historical Jesus but that's not so much the direction I'm going. I'm not really questioning the biblical picture of Jesus and trying to dissect that. It's more a trying to separate out what it really means to follow Jesus from ideas like being politically conservative or being part of a church culture that is not very tolerant of diverse cultures or that just sees being a Christian in terms of belonging to an institution, attending meetings, and giving money. I don't want to go around saying or thinking uneducated things about science and other people's cultures.

    I'm not explaining this very well.
  3. GreyHeron

    GreyHeron Member

    Hi Squire, Very interesting that you are puzzling over the basis of truly living out faith. I am very disheartened, judgemental perhaps, by many of the models I see for faith. I have responsibility within my church but have not been a regular worshipper for years. I do not feel that this is helpful to the church or my faith. I would change congregation but that would challenge me to make real alterations in my life. Where I am I can take my time and evaluate why I am making a decision, but that gives me the freedom to prevaricate.
    I struggle with concepts like those expressed in the example given by JODAAT, I believe that Jesus would have laid out a challenge but not to have compelled equally Jesus would have convicted without crushing JODAAT.

    I feel that if I have not already I am close to offending someone.

    Fly well
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  4. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    I don't find anything offensive about what you said. I think everyone has their own experiences and it is helpful to hear how others have processed issues related to spirituality even if they have come to different conclusions.

    I tend to be more judgmental of people who are more religiously conservative and more accepting of those who are more free-thinking or are following completely different faith paths. A part of this I think is judging my parents and the way I was raised and using that to blame for my current struggles. So in my case a part of it is scapegoating. But it has really come to a head for me in the past couple of years as I've seen people of my religious heritage not really standing up in society for the things that we believe as followers of Jesus. So I'm offended by the hypocrisy and wanting to bypass religious leaders and institutions that are not really representing Jesus very well.

    I made it 6 days before a relapse. That's one day more than my last streak. These are baby steps but I'll take it. And today I get up and start again.
  5. Guy_Stewart

    Guy_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I LOVED the discussion here, man. Thanks for commenting on my thread. I'll be back.
    Squire likes this.
  6. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    Hey guys just checking in, this evening I find myself a bit bored and all of a sudden feeling a rush of temptation but I just can't bear to report another relapse to you guys and decided to jump on here and make a post instead. Kind of short-circuit this automatic behavior I fall into before it gets rolling.

    I'm really tired of porn you guys. I mean really. Really. REALLY. Tired. of. it. I mean really. It is just the same thing again and again. There's only so much people can do and after a while it is just getting old. So we escalate to more and more extreme and weird stuff but in the end it never satisfies. So sick of this rigamarole.

    At this point in my life, my actual sexual desire is just not that great anyway, so when I relapse it's especially frustrating to me, because I know at this point it is sheerly out of habit. Like a person who doesn't even like the taste of alcohol anymore but keeps drinking anyway because of the addiction and the lifestyle that's built around it.

    So here's the thing--there are just too many good things I want to add to my life for me to waste time on porn, something I don't even like or want very much. Something that makes me feel bad about myself for looking at it, and makes me compare my body and sexual prowess unfavorably to others. A totally unrealistic image that is designed to leave me unsatisfied and wanting more. I don't have time for that.

    So I'm 2 days into my latest streak and I'm just not going to let myself fall this early in. I can do this. I can do better than this. So I'm going to find something more productive to do and have a good report for you tomorrow.
  7. JustOneDayAtATime

    JustOneDayAtATime New Member

    Thanks for your response, GreyHeron. I appreciate you providing your thoughts on the matter.

    I think it is important that we take disagreements seriously, while still caring about each other and being courteous in the way we explain ourselves - which is the way you have written. It is easy to take the view that there are many roads to Rome, and that it doesn't really matter which way we go. I think it does matter, and if someone asks for my opinion about the truth or otherwise of this or that proposition, as a general rule I will try to be honest and straightforward about what my views are.

    I made an exception for myself when my wife was dying of cancer. She believed in and reached out to people who were to me, at best simply ignorant, and at times, little more than grasping charlatans. I could have told her again and again what I thought of her beliefs and these people, but I thought it was better to say nothing. I remember early on in her illness, she told me that it was possible that what she wanted was my love and support, and she didn't want to hear that I disagreed with what she believed and the way she was acting. In the circumstances, it was the right thing to do, I think.

    In your response you have written that Jesus would have acted in a certain way. To be frank, I find it difficult to believe that Jesus really speaks to anyone, to let them know what he would suggest we do in this or that situation. If I really had an opportunity to speak directly with him, I wouldn't waste my time with him about my sordid little problem. Instead, I'd ask him about something of real importance, like what we should do about the global economy or global warming.

    Anyhow best wishes to one and all.
  8. newlifebalance

    newlifebalance New Member

    Hi Squire,

    So your basic cause of relapse is boredom ? You do it even your sexual desire isnt high ?
    Do you have interesting hobbies to release this energy on that ?

    My reason for PMO was a high libido which i must spend on smth, then it becomes a habit but i've still high urge to O.
    Anyway, when someone starts to PMO, it all starts with curiosity, releasing sexual tension.
    Then, all of a sudden you realize that this....... "activity" can fix you problems about stress, anxiety or boredom (you have all categories under your finger so you can't be bored with pmo).
    You do it when you're alone, when you're sad, happy etc.
    When i started to nofap, i started lookin for things that can substitute that. The simplest thing which can release tension related to PMO is just sex with a girl.
    But it's just a example, there's a lot different activities to be free of tension - gym, hobbies, even suplements can ease this feeling in some way.
    But i found that real sex is more satisfying - you releasing tension without potential threats to cheatin you brain. Maybe it's prozaic method but it worked for me.
  9. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    I have two main triggers: anxiety and boredom.

    It seems to me at the root of the anxiety is a conflict-ridden and overly strict household growing up, with no affirmation from my father. I think this has been a significant factor in my homosexual inclinations. I desire acceptance and affirmation from men that was lacking from my father. I also feel anxiety because of an overly controlling mother. So because my wife also has a strong personality, sometimes when I spend time with her it increases that feeling. So our sex life is very complicated for me. It generally does not relieve my temptation toward PMO, but on the contrary can make the conditions that tempt me toward it even worse. However, I've been doing a good job managing anxiety with self-hypnosis and have noticed both a decrease in my desire for PMO and a reduction in my homosexual feelings.

    Boredom is also a trigger for me though, and I think it is the biggest one now. So when I am between tasks or just feel tired and unmotivated, I tend to turn to PMO the way a person might mindlessly eat a snack or flip through channels on t.v. I have plenty of projects and things to work on but sometimes when I'm tired I don't even want to do those things, I want to just do what I've always done before.

    Feeling pretty good today, glad I didn't give in yesterday.
  10. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    We all seem to wish for acceptance from one parent or the other. It's can be very hard to get to the bottom of some of our beliefs/motivations. I try not to over analyze things now. For instance, I can still sometimes look at other women and think "mmm, yum, I'd like a slice of that." The difference is now I don't have to act on it, because I know that's my addiction talking, or rather, the me that was a product of however I was brought up and how I lived. I try, each day, to move a bit further down the road to self-acceptance.

    Our addict, imo, creates the scenario whereby we feel bored and tired. Plus, we've all been living a lie, which is fatiguing to the max, not to mention the price our adrenals pay from our constant fapping. The further we get away from P the more we see the lie and how it has shaped so much of our thinking and our actions. One of my favorite quotes from the bible is: let the dead bury the dead. Jesus didn't say "follow me, but keep at your old job, if you like, and don't forget people's birthdays." What the statement says (to me anyway) is that we must, with our whole heart, leave behind all the old bullshit. There's no going back, there's no toying with the old stuff; anything other than that is continuing the lie. We're all in or all out. There is no middle ground.

    Talking about the reasons for why we do something is, imo, colossal rationalization. In other words, we are trying to make our lack of intention look prettier.

    Edit: I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else. I'm P free, but have many other obstacles to overcome.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  11. JustOneDayAtATime

    JustOneDayAtATime New Member

    All the articles I've read suggest that it's useful to think about triggers in the way that you are doing. So well done. Thinking about your reflections, I think the one thing that really pushes me into using pornography is often more a matter of routine than an emotional state. That's not to say that feeling anxious and bored does not incline me towards it a lot more than other states of mind. But for me it seems that the way I organised my life and thought about it seems to have predisposed me towards pornography and to have helped maintain my dependence on it.

    For me, pornography was how I rewarded myself for anything good I had done during the week at work or for family and friends. This was the precious "me time" in my life. It was a time I did just what I wanted, without regard to anyone else's needs and wishes. God help anyone who intruded when I considered that it was my time for pornography. Inwardly I would be thinking, "Get the hell out of the house. Just leave me to have some fun." And outwardly, my mood would darken and I'd be unpleasant to be around until they got the hint to "give me some space".

    And so I think part of the solution for me is to realise that having some time to myself is absolutely fair enough and no-one is suggesting that this is an unreasonable desire. And since I've begun to break free of this compulsion to watch pornography, I've been enjoying other activities much more than I did before (e.g. reading, music and exercise). They don't provide an immediate buzz in the way that pornography does, but afterwards, when I've finished them, I feel great.

    I love sitting here now in the computer room with the door open. I don't have to worry about someone walking in on me, watching all the filth I used to watch. Everything feels so good and proper. The way I'm thinking now, if breaking free of this compulsion is all I accomplish in 2018, then I'll be very happy with myself.
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  12. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    Yes, I can see where that is often true. But I've found it useful to identify the triggering situations and consider how to plan for those. So when I realized that anxiety was such a big trigger for me, it got me motivated to work intensely on the issue of anxiety, and I actually feel like I have a pretty good handle on that now. Actually a pretty amazing transformation in about 6 mo. time. Now turning my attention to boredom as another major trigger, I'm going to work on organizing my time better, including leisure time, so I have enough variety to what I'm doing that I don't get so bored.

    Glad to be back up to 4 days somehow already today. I have been staying busy and the time seems to go quickly. I will make it to 7 days this week.
  13. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    I watched a movie called "Thanks for Sharing" - it is a Hollywood production about people in a 12-step program for sex addiction. It has some things in it that may be triggering so watch with care. But I found it to be really good. It gives me mixed emotions. I feel sorry for some of the people in the movie and glad that I don't do the things they do. But I also feel sad that I do other things that are just as bad. It is sad to me that they all are good and funny and interesting people who have people in their lives who love them and enjoy being with them, but at the same time they feel such a compulsion to act out fantasies that separate them from the people they love. It also made me see what it must be like for other people who are trying to be in relationship with addicts. And I feel jealous that they have a circle of friends who understand who they can call and share with. But when I think about being part of a group like that, I also feel like I wouldn't like being that enmeshed with other people and their problems, or having them so intimately involved in my life. So far I have not been able to find a 12-step program for sex addiction that I feel comfortable joining. I'm just not sure I want to be part of that whole recovery lifestyle. Maybe I'm just making excuses. It just seems like a huge commitment to meetings and things.
  14. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Where I was going with my last post was that warring on too many fronts can easily pull us back. You seem to be at war about having sexual feelings toward men, while at the same time you are at the early days of recovery. Perhaps I'm just a simple guy and am only able to handle one thing at a time and I don't say this facetiously. Some people have more of a capacity to do things than me and I'm honest about that. What has worked for me is just to not PMO and not to fap. Everything else seems to sort itself out when I keep it to something singular.

    Woot, 5 days, bro'. :)
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  15. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    Well, I feel kind of despondent. I've had the flu and am just really tired of winter. Just want to sleep all the time. Valentines Day is coming up and I have no idea what to do for my wife. It feels very artificial to me. Right now I'm not into anything that requires any output of thought or energy.
  16. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    Hey 6 days! It kinda snuck up on me. I'll make it to a week for sure now. That makes me feel happy. I can get through today.
  17. JustOneDayAtATime

    JustOneDayAtATime New Member

    Yes, Saville, I agree with this suggestion. I have been thinking that if the only thing I make real progress with this year is "this" (looking about here) then I shall be very pleased with myself. Of course, I still make an effort with everything else (e.g. work, family, reading, losing weight, exercise and such), but the real challenge, the area of improvement is this. I think I would be overwhelmed if I tried lots of difficult things all at once. I've tried to become perfect all at once, and it has always resulted in failure within the matter of a few days. One thing at a time, mindfully.
  18. JustOneDayAtATime

    JustOneDayAtATime New Member

    When I was giving up smoking I used to think if I can just get through a single day, I'll be free of this. I don't have the same feeling that I'm really free of this, but still 18 days, that's good.
  19. Squire

    Squire Active Member

    18 days is fantastic! Congratulations!

    I made it to 7 days today, been a while since I did that. My next goal is 10 days.

    I agree with what you guys are saying about working on one thing at a time, but found for many years that trying to work just on PMO was a dead end for me. I just wasn't making any progress. When I shifted focus to working on anxiety and found some things that worked, that made a noteable improvement in my quality of life and I started being able to have longer streaks of no-PMO. Sometimes I think we need to work on something "easier" than PMO to get some momentum going.
  20. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    It's all tied into each other. However, whatever works! And, right now, things are working great for you. :)

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