Tearing Down the Walls, Part 2.

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Billy B., Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Hiya, Folks.

    Let me just say that it’s fantastic to see so many of you fellas lookin’ out for each other. A different bunch of blokes to last time mostly, but my cursory browsings seem to suggest most of you are just as intelligent, insightful and supportive as the previous bunch.

    Great stuff, great stuff.

    I’m hoping the old friends I made here previous have got their lives back and that that is the only reason they’re off the re-boot radar.

    This introductory post is a re-edit of my original which will give you all some background about me and update where I’ve come to, this second time around.

    I’m absolutely stoked to see this PMO-free movement rollin’, by the way, and am very excited to see the benefits that have been gained by so many individuals. I also look fwd to see (over the next decade or so) if there aren’t noticeable positive changes in modern western/global culture as a whole.

    This forum is the only one I’ve ever been involved in so, as I get back into the swing of it, please excuse me in advance if there’s an element of clumsiness to my postings.

    Apologies in advance, also, as brevity is not my strong point!

    Background

    I was 44 (just gone) my first time round and I’m 48, now. I never married or had a long-term partner and I think this is mostly because I always had issues around sex/sexuality & romance. A hyper-critical (aggressive and verbally abusive) father and emotionally unavailable mother were two main factors, I think, in my developing a negative sense of self: I’ve rarely felt truly comfortable in my own skin or worthy of belonging. Serious self esteem issues led to crime, substance abuse, long periods of unemployment and a lack of fortitude or commitment.

    I also developed a kind of addiction to the closeness and validation that came from sexual/romantic intimacy.

    Listen: I’m not crying “poor me”. I realized a decade or so back that I had always actually had a choice. I just didn’t know it for the first three-quarts of my life so was dragged all over creation by my unconscious reactions to shit. I also now know that I’m far from unique in my experience and that plenty of folks had (and have) it much worse than I ever did. These things are relative, however.

    They’re also relevant, so I continue...

    My psychological balance had always been a bit outa wack, I was emotionally volatile and I’d had a couple of nervous breakdowns (at 19 and 28, thereabouts) but it wasn’t until 2001, at age 33, that I first experienced symptoms of actual depression (big black cloud, no energy, etc). It’s interesting to note in hindsight that this was also around the time that I first had access to internet porn.

    I’d say my depression I bottomed out in around ’05 with a couple serious suicide attempts and since then I’ve been on the mend, slowly, slowly.

    Two steps forward, one back: as the saying goes.

    Mindfulness and mediation have played a major part in my (continuing) recovery/management and I recommend them to anyone. As many of you are no-doubt aware, mindfulness-based practices can be exceptionally effective in combating addiction, as can some sort of fitness regime and physical health, generally.

    Out With the Old

    Anyhow, 2011: I finally confronted what I’d come to call my ‘disposaphobia’ and had a major clear-out (I’d always been a hoarder but only noticed it when I stopped moving house every couple of years: Eight-years later I was nearly drowning in ‘stuff’). One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. For many hoarders like me, there is a deep psychological component in our attachment to ‘stuff’ and the physical space that I created in my home seems to have freed up a whole heap of psychological energy.

    Energy which I’ve been able to draw-on in confronting my other issues.

    Love-less

    I also decided around the end of 2011 to consciously step back from sex/romance. I wasn’t gettin’ a lot of action, anyway(!) but the point was that I’d been pretty-much a serial monogamist my whole life and that my self esteem was intrinsically linked to my (perceived) desirability. In essence, I was addicted to sexual/romantic attention. I finally realized that the main reason my Relationships never worked was that I was subconsciously expecting these women to somehow fill the void inside me (an impossible task!) and that it was time for me to work out how to love myself for a change.

    It was fantastic and I learned a whole lot. Similar to the big clear-out, it also freed up energy for focusing elsewhere... like on kicking my other addictions.

    I had about 2-3 years of conscious celibacy and over the last couple have dipped my toe back in. I’ve had few lil’ romances and find that I’m much, MUCH more emotionally mature around it: much less desperate for it, less likely to fall into over-attachment or, conversely, give-in to fears of commitment.

    Porn History

    I grew up pre-internet but developed an obsession with visual stimulation very, very young (the early 70’s saw an explosion of ‘flesh’ on television and in popular culture, generally). I was masturbating as young as four or five and experiencing something akin to orgasm well before I was physically mature enough to ejaculate.

    I remember having a fair amount of Catholic guilt around the whole thing as a child, then shame as a teenager (masturbation was perceived as desperate and a bit ‘gay’) then feminist guilt kicked in as a young adult.

    Try as I might, I was unable to stop.

    Eventually I decided it was normal (and common enough) that I would just accept it as a part of my sexuality. Unfortunately, this was the early nineties and Political Correctness was at it’s ugly peak so, being open and honest about porn (or even sex, oddly) was not helping me to feel any less estranged from the majority of my peers.

    Back in the closet, it went.

    My second psychological breakdown came around the age of 28. This was closely linked to my continued failure in romantic-relationships, my obsession with them (and with sex) and the odd way in which all this kind’ve hung together... or more importantly didn’t. My porn-sexuality and my Relationship-sexuality seemed, except for their obsessive nature, completely unrelated. I intuitively knew that they were deeply connected, but how, I could not see... and this gap in my understanding, the implications for my future emotional well-being, nearly sent me over the edge. As I had none of the tools necessary to even begin understanding all this stuff, I was quite mad for about three months or so, until the anxiety gradually decreased and I was able to let the idea go, somehow.

    Onto the backburner went the issue, once again.

    A few years later the internet came along.

    Having come to the (essentially true) idea that fantasy and self-gratification are healthy and normal, I found myself completely unprepared for the consequences of infinite access (if you haven’t, please do see the YourBrainOnPorn website). There is a very strong correlation between an increase in internet access and the symptoms of my depression. It had never occurred to me until very recently that the former may have actually been in anyway a contributor to the latter.

    In 2009, I read Norman Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself (another great read) and was deeply disturbed by the chapter on Internet Porn. At the time, I must’ve not been ready to confront the issue head-on, and yet, by the time time of my first reboot attempt, had become much more mindful in my consumption (at least periodically), both in regards to content and in amount of time and energy I would devote to porn. Also, in the back of my mind I knew that one day (soon) I would need to tackle the dirty beast again.

    First Time Here

    Dec 2012 the porn-portal I’d be using changed format (and I began getting security warnings). I was on the scout for something new and fortuitously stumbled across the Reboot-movement...

    Gawd F*KN Bless Ya’s!!

    In a moment of inspiration (thanks to the fellas who were sharing their journey’s here) I deleted every last scrap of porn (and porn related gear) from my computer. I even binned what was left of my hard-copy material, just for good measure.

    Then promptly shat myself!

    Luckily, I had a friend to confide in. His support and encouragement got me through the first couple days, as did continuing to read the stories and interactions here. In between I devoured everything I could at Your Brain On Porn and soon became excited and inspired.

    If somewhat frazzled.

    I decided to stay away from orgasm (and consequently masturbation) for a period because, in my case, these two are intricately linked to porn and I wanted to give myself the best chance of success. Additionally, since so many guys here had reported positive benefits in this regard, I was willing to put up with the discomfort.

    My nuts, for example, felt heavy and bloated (though thankfully there’s was no pain :- ).

    The early positive benefits then, as now (four or five days clean) seem to be purely psychological: the uncomfortable nature of withdrawal reminding me that I’m on the right track (to recovery) and that now is an opportunity to consciously focus my energies on more life-affirming activities. Over all, this makes me smile, yet my notes tell me that for the first few weeks (last time) I became restless and muddled, irritable and vaguely anxious by turns. I don’t wish to anticipate this too much (as it could well be different this time around), yet I think it prudent to be prepared for the potential eventuality.

    Sleep has never come easy for me but during the first few weeks of my original reboot it was a bloody disaster. My dreams, which had always had a tendency towards the vividly surreal, were completely over the top so that, when I did actually manage to get some sleep, I’d wake up feeling rested not at all.

    I’ve done a fair bit of research on sleep since then and these days engage sensible sleep-hygiene practices when I remember to (regular hours; exercise; very little alcohol, if at all; no internet after the early eve, etc, etc). If I notice some negative impact this time around, I’ll just have to remember that it’ll pass.

    And I’ve still never had a wet-dream (even though I remember cracking 100 days at least once back then) so I’m looking forward to the possibility of that.

    Drifting

    I seem to remember that I stopped posting here because I had completed me three months clean, felt good that I was done with it… and because one of the changes I wanted to make was to spend less time online (and make more effort towards face-to-face social interactions). It may have been because I re-lapsed and/or because I had a lot of troubles with my accommodation situation that eventually led to it becoming untenable.

    Either way, I feel quite bad that I just drifted off and didn’t actually let the folks here know what was going on (there’s a heap of posts at the end of my original journal thread where folks are like, “Where are ya! Are you okay?”).

    I have to forgive myself eventually but I will never feel like drifting off was honoring the connections we had made. If any of those people are reading this, please accept my apology.

    The slippery slope.

    I packed up my van then and hit the road. Was more-or-less homeless for a couple years but took the opportunity to travel around some, which made it slightly less painful. I was using porn again but, because I had limited data and only really accessed the internet via my phone, it was just a quick 15 mins two or three times a week and it didn’t really feel like a problem.

    What I didn’t take into account was that I was feeding the old beast and keeping myself caught in the loop so that, when I settled again (about six months ago), when I found myself with privacy, a computer, time on my hands and a whole heap of emotional and psychological pain to deal with (or to avoid!) I very quickly slipped back into the old habit of spending hours (and bloody hours!) surfing for porn.

    It was pretty ugly.

    Y’see, my best mate had suicided in November last, and I’ve never in my life had to deal with that kind of grief. I’d been more than ready to re-settle by that time (had had enough of living in a car!) and had planned to do so interstate (near this dear friend of mine… before he left us).

    I did spend some time looking for a place there… but I was reeling, a total mess, as you can probably imagine, and that was making things much more difficult than they would have been otherwise. My support network is geographically disparate but if you mapped it out, you’d see a cluster of folks that I can rely on in my hometown, which is partly why I ended up back here… even though it also contains a whole heap of ugly history for me, family baggage and really… fuck, I landed (in another dumpy place) and… gawd that was a dark six-months or so.

    Yep: full-blown depression, suicidal ideation, relative social isolation, hopelessness. I had to dig very, very deep on my resilience. I had to be patient: understanding that grief is something that takes time to work through. Yet I also had to be active in implementing strategies to help keep my head above water… to find a balance between those two approaches so that I could get through it without actually suiciding, myself… no exaggeration.

    Phew..

    Long story short I finally began to feel vaguely normal about three months ago and (gently, gently) have eased myself back into having a life again. You know: being a bit social, getting’ involved in some stuff (a community choir, some volunteering), workin’ a lil’, etc, etc.

    But yeah, the porn thing…

    I suspect it would’ve reared its’ ugly head regardless of much else ‘cause, as I mentioned, I’d been feeding it enough to keep it alive, even if I hadn’t had the opportunity to get too carried away with it.

    And this time there were some differences.

    Much faster than I would’ve expected I noticed that ‘morphing-of-sexual-tastes-to-the-more-extreme-and-bizarre’ that many of us know so well. I would get bored really, really quickly. Eventually, I wasn’t even hard most of the time, just… killin’ time: click/save/click/save… thinkin’ to myself “I’d better stop soon” … yet hours would go by and I’d still be there: click/save/click/save/click…

    Like a zombie.

    It reminded me of those folks you see in windowless rooms in front of slot machines, all grey faced and bug eyed. And I suppose it was serving the same purpose for me as it does for them: it numbs us to psychological pain.

    Addictions do have that going for them! Though of course they merely perpetuate the issue by blocking us from feeling what we need to feel. They also get in the way of us developing healthy coping strategies. But most of you already know this…

    So anyhow, I got jack of it on a number of occasions and deleted everything, vowing never to return. When that didn’t work (for very long at a time) I tried to limit my exposure to audio-files or other substitutes but it’s all the same shit in the end. I was (obviously) led back into the trap soon enough.

    Then I remembered you guys!

    I thought: “ Even if I get slightly addicted to YBR for a while (like I did last time) it’s a far, far healthier option! ”

    And, yeah, I’m feeling really quite hopeful, committed. I feel as though… you know that thing where any success is most likely preceded by a number of failures? And how those failures are actually important in that we learn something from each and every one? I feel like I’ve done my time learning how not to fail… and if not, I must be almost due a long-term success… surely…

    Wish me luck!

    Billy B.
     
  2. Nofapado

    Nofapado Active Member

    Welcome back Billy. Sorrry for you loss. And good luck with your recovery.
     
  3. bobjes

    bobjes Active Member

    Good Luck Billy B. or better 'Bon Courage' (good luck in french). It is courage I wish u!
     
  4. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Losing a bud sucks hard, Billy. Condolences!

    Yep, you're right, there are some awesome dudes here. Glad you're here too.
     
  5. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Good onya, fellas. Thanks very much for makin’ me feel welcome. :)
     
  6. Jam

    Jam Active Member

    Welcome back, from one of the new guys here.

    Sorry for the trials you've faced, but it sounds like you are headed back in the right direction and that is the key thing. I was pretty addicted to this site in the early stages (and probably still am, to some degree), but like you said, it is a healthier addiction to have and one, I think, that is easier to wean off of. This place has been a huge support to me in my reboot and I have intentionally used it to fill the void of internet porn at times. Anyway, we may be a new crew, but I suspect it will be much the same journey.
     
  7. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Hey!

    Hey, cheers for that J.

    And again, to you other fellas.

    I've been keepin' myself pretty busy (which I think is important at a time like this) but in between I've been doing some lil' bit of reading on here and a whole lot of thinkin' about what kind of approach I'm going to take. I feel it'll be less of a focus on abstention (as I'm not really craving at all, thus far, at least) and more on creating some sort of vision for the life I want to live and then to work at acting on that (lil' bit challenging a prospect but talk about filling the void!). I do hope to find the time, energy and inclination to interact here a lil' more than I have, though. On the other hand, it's springtime in my hemisphere, the days are getting longer (and warmer!) and I do wish to spend less time (physically) alone and less time in front of the computer.

    I won't disappear though!

    I hope you're all truckin' along with your reboots, learning lots, sharing, and finding the time and energy to engage healthier and more rewarding passions (I'm beginning to think that really is key to long term recovery).

    Posi-vibes all round.

    Billy B.
     
  8. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Good luck, Billy B!
     
  9. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Hey, Thanks, Fella, And good best of luck to you. :)

    Tonight presents a challenge for me, couple potential triggers.

    I’m going out to see a couple of bands which, in and of itself seems innocent enough. It’s part of my plan to get out more, to embrace life-affirming activities! However, the challenges can (and may) be as follows.

    First, there’s the potential for social anxiety and associated negative self-talk that can come from unrealistic comparisons to other people and their lives… which, is all in my head of course: I’ve got no idea about their lives, I just make stuff up to feed my addiction to self-loathing (addictions, huh?).

    Of course, I may simply go out, have a couple drinks, dance my fkn arse off and wake up feeling energized (having shook off a whole heap of crap through the sacred catharsis that is Rock n’ Roll). One of my hippy mates called it ‘Blowin’ Dust Off Yr Chakras’. :p

    Second, somebody may well pass me a joint at some stage and that’s cool, it’s all part of the fun, but if I was to come home feelin’ (emotionally) wobbly and I’m a lil’ bit stoned… well, that’s where I’ll be having to stay veeeeery present, indeed.

    Having nutted all this out here, I feel like, even if I’m drawn to it, I’m gonna be fine not to slip but, on the safe side, I’ve saved your blessed selves as my homepage and have a note on my computer that PMO will not fill the void.

    Once again, I hope you are all going well and once again I hope to find time to peruse your own stories and offer some input at some stage.

    Peace.

    Billy B.
     
  10. MrPotatoHead

    MrPotatoHead New Member

    Hey Billy - I got a lot from your post. I'm nearly 8 weeks clean, thinking that I'm on the right track. Not "cured" but moving down the right road. Your post reminded me that I can't get too comfortable. That diligence is always needed, and triggers are everywhere. Keys for me are, as you point out, focusing less on porn and more on the life I want. It was good to hear that reminder. I'm not much on mindfulness and meditation, but I'll take anything that helps me stay quit and create the life I really want for myself. I've experience many of the same things you have in terms of anxiety, a seeming inability to love myself, attaching myself too quickly and deeply to relationships thinking "this person will be the answer." The porn, the failed relationships, the anxiety - they're all tied together for me. It just took me a long time to realize that. Therapy, doing research into attachment models, willfully focusing myself on the good I do, the value I bring, and how I'm really much cooler and much more worthy of love than I give myself credit for all have helped me. The therapy especially has been helpful. I wish I hadn't waited until I was coming completely apart to start, but I guess I needed to hit that low to push me to it.

    I know I need to stay vigilant, and your post was a great reminder to me not only of the work I still have to do, but more importantly of why I'm doing the work. Thanks for sharing your story. Best of luck. We're all in this together.
     
  11. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    I appreciate your thoughts, HF, I really do, cheers.

    It’s good to be reminded there are other folks out there facing similar challenges. Not only that, but folks like you who seem to have a healthy dose of self awareness around it (not to mention the willingness to share, openly and honestly). Cheer once again.

    Chattin’ with my friend tonight, we reminded each other that… fuck, half the people in the room probably feel inadequate, in some way or t’other (even the super ‘cool’ ones who, despite having been around the block a million times, perhaps still don’t even realize that it’s their insecurity that fuels their arrogance, or whatever). Nice thing about being in an older crowd is that there’s probably more self-awareness around the place, generally. One would hope, anyhow! Certainly I’m a lot calmer, myself, and much less likely to take things personally. Also, I’m able to observe them ‘too cool for school’ types with some sort of... compassion is probably a good word, where as in the past, well yeah, I just thought they were super-confident and justified in that because they were somehow better than me. What a waste of energy that was!



    Yerp... I like the metaphor, though, about sometimes having to sink to the bottom of the pool before ya can kick off.

    I’m sure many of the folks here can relate to that. :p

    You’ve reminded me, HF, that I forgot to mention (in my back-story) about the all the professional help I’ve received over the years. I’m soooo grateful to live in a country that still has a relatively healthy social welfare system, so that I was able to get some financial assistance in that regard (self-reliance is all when and good but when someone is down for the count... I reckon we need to give 'em a hand up, personally). The best psychologist I've seen, the ones that have helped me the most, have given me tools for self-awareness, tools I can take away with me, like mindfulness techniques and (early on at least) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy... that was quite useful.

    You’ve got me curious about attachment models, though! Can you recommend some reading?

    Thadbe coooooool.

    Big ups to all.

    Billy B.

    Oh, PS: Congratulations on the eight-weeks-clean, HF: that's no mean feat! Keep your left up, though... keep your left up.
     
  12. bobjes

    bobjes Active Member

    Hope you had a good night out Billy! Yep the world is full of triggers, recognise them, smile at them and move on to the next thing that happens seems to work for me.

    Attachment theory is a model or theory that can be a good self awareness tool.

    http://www.psychalive.org/what-is-your-attachment-style/
     
  13. NCBob

    NCBob The 11th commandment: Thou shalt not peek:-)

    Hey Billy, just reading through your post - I appreciate what you've shared here :)

    You remind me of a person who is very resilient - which is a fabulous quality to have. Stay strong :)
     
  14. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Thankyou kindly, NCB, much appreciated, and good best of luck to you.

    I sooooo I hope I can find time to have a peruse of your stories (all of you blokes), soon. I suspect they'll be full of thought provoking insights and inspiration.

    Love yr tagline, by the way: Thou Shalt not Peek! ;D Gold!
     
  15. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

     
  16. Nofapado

    Nofapado Active Member

    BillyB, agree with your post that recovery is about pursuing a vision of a fuller, more enriching life, not mere abstaince. It's attraction not avoidance. Pornography is an acquaintance who steals. Recovery is finding new friends and acquaintances. Great to see you pushing your boundaries and making a better life.
     
  17. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Well said, NFD, well said. Ta.

    I spent the last few days... well, doing lots of things but when here I was reading Bobjes journal. What a legend that guy is! Not to mention the rest of you with your own encouraging and insightful contributions. I only intended to read the first page of posts (to get Bob's back story) and the last page or so to get up to speed, but it was too fascinating and inspirational to skip any of it.

    Bobjes: I will post on your Journal soon, but for now I just thankyou for sharing so honestly and completely and to congratulate you on the enormous strides you've made.

    I really, really look fwd to catchin' the stories the rest of you have shared as time goes on. I think next I'm going to (at least) browse through my own original Journal though, cause... well, it may give me some tips on what to potentially expect over the coming months. Esp how I might avoid slipping up!

    My own update

    ...will come later today or tomorrow as I have to go out this arfty for a few hours at least. S'been something of a roller coaster emotionally, and yesterday was a real challenge in many ways. Knowin' I'm linked in here though, that really helps to keep me from back-sliding, so thanks again to all of you for keeping this place alive.

    Till soon.

    Billy B.
     
  18. bobjes

    bobjes Active Member

    Billy B,

    Thanks Mate, I was quite shocked reading about myself, lol. 'Is that about me?' went through my head. I better learn to take a compliment when it comes along, like a man. Happy to be of service. Cheers.

    What kept me from back sliding:
    - is coming here, reading and writing. Whenever an urge comes along, still I just come here.
    -I also gathered a lot of support around me, friends, Doctor, therapist and psychologist.
    - A deep 'never again' came up for me and my motivation is driven by the fact that I look at giving up PMO as a life or death type situation. I have been dead (porn wraith) for far too long! Time to rise and shine. (-:
    -I was also prepared (and still am, probably even more so) to face whatever comes along.

    And now it is slowly and surprisingly turning in a journey of self actualisation...

    Keep at it, one day at the time. Hang in there brother you can do this.
     
  19. MrPotatoHead

    MrPotatoHead New Member

    Hey Billy - I saw someone else posted on attachment theory. Here are a couple additional links.

    https://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~rcfraley/attachment.htm
    http://www.psychalive.org/how-your-attachment-style-impacts-your-relationship/

    I've realized that I'm preoccupied/anxious. And this statement from the first article sums me up: "I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn't really love me or won't want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away."

    I would often use porn as a replacement for any perceived rejection or slight (I'm not even talking plain "no's" - it could be something as simple as "She didn't text me back, therefore she doesn't really want to be with me.") I won't get into the deep childhood stuff, but suffice to say that my own awareness and working with a therapist is helping me make progress. And all this stuff is tied together (for me anyway). My attachment model (needing reassurance, etc.) and not getting those needs met is a trigger for me. "Well if I can't get what I need from you, I know a bunch of girls who won't reject me." I never consciously said those thing, or even realized this is what I was doing, but it's clear to me now that I was using porn as a replacement for both intimacy and acceptance. This may not be a factor at all for others, but as we all know by now, knowing our triggers is a powerful weapon against going back to porn.

    Hope this helps. There is lots of other info out there about attachment models. Best of luck on our continued journeys!
     
  20. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Thanks, Bobjes. Much appreciated.
     

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