TJ3--My Brain on Porn: A journal

Discussion in 'Ages 20-24' started by TJ3, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    A Long Introduction:

    Hello!

    My name is TJ3 and I am new to this site. I have just made another decision to give up porn, and want to embark on this journey with a community. That is why I am here.

    My story, in regards to P, is long, but here is an outline. Hopefully future posts aren't as long:

    I am an American in my 20s. My first encounter with porn was at a young age, around 11 yo. It was video and at some point I got into the habit of watching it regularly. Eventually (I am fuzzy on dates), I started secretly browsing Internet porn. It started off with simple Googled 'vanilla' things and turned into more explicit things as I got older. This continued throughout college and now.

    I am also a Christian. I mention my faith because it plays a huge role in my personal story and experiences with P and is a big factor in my wanting to quit. A few tidbits about that. I don't know whether or not masturbation is "sinful" per se, but I do believe it is natural and inevitable for young men. That means my goal is really to quit PMO, not M. During Reboot I am temporarily quitting everything, however. I also believe in abstinence. Notice that I underlined believe, because another reason I want to quit P it has led me to act out in the real world in ways that are not in line with who I want to be and what I truly believe. hopefully more about that in future posts.

    My Relationship with Porn (and other stuff)

    To sum up my experience. I've tried to quit several times before. When I first started watching video porn in my pre-teens, it was about discovery. I had no idea what was happening on the screen. It was intriguing.

    When I became more familiar with what was happening and what sex was I had moved on to Internet porn, around early teen years. At this time, Internet porn was teaching me what sex was supposed to be like, the role I was supposed to play and what I could expect. This era of porn for me was initially intriguing because I was a shy, quiet, single teen and porn allowed me to experience sex and explore sexuality. Then I went to college where I had almost complete privacy and a personal computer. I was still a virgin upon entering college. But constantly watching porn when my roommate was out, led me to want the real thing, even though on a spiritual level, I did not believe it was a good idea.

    So I began incorporating dating sites into my porn regimen. This led to a bit of an obsession with meeting people online for one night stands. There was a part of me that did not like this behavior and another part that felt it was the only chance I would have at intimacy, given I was single and not interested in a long term abstinent relationship. Somewhere down the line I created a nasty cycle of watching porn, browsing online personal ads and on very rare occasion "successfully" meeting people from the ads IRL (about twice a year out of daily practice of responding to the ads and chatting).

    Of course, this was not in line with my values as a person and Chrisitan, and it caused much distress. I tried everything I could think of to stop PMO--which in retrospect I think was causing the other behavior--quitting cold turkey, visiting online websites and communities for people wanting to quit porn, adding extensions and software to my browser to stop, prayer, etc. etc. It resulted in sleepless nights, headaches and other effects of extreme guilt and shame.

    Losing Hope

    Eventually, I gave up thinking there was anything I could do about it because the guilt was overwhelming. I stopped praying as much about it and I continued PMO, knowing in the back of my mind that I didn't want to do it, but also thinking it was beyond my control and that I just needed to accept, but not embrace, it.

    As I got older, out of college, I started to mature. The college years were a part of peeking sexual exploration. I was secretly exploring my sexuality, understanding relationships, and craving intimacy and validation, all while trying to maintain and outward degree of abstinence. I think these factors made it difficult for me to stop.

    About two months ago, I stopped frequenting online personals and seeking sexual contact. Turns out I may have literally spent hundreds of hours frequenting these sites, but have only succeeded in actually meeting people a handful a times--probably once or twice a school year. That irony disgusted me and made something click in me.

    I realized that what I was seeking in those online forums was something they appeared to provide, but really didn't: intimacy, acceptance, validation, relationship, sex. Most of the people on these sites are scam artists, catfishes, vain and vapid--and I constantly found myself at the butt of the joke that is the online 'hookup'. These sites give the illusion of real opportunity, but it's all lies.

    Returning to Battle

    That realization was enough to make me stop that behavior and also revisit my PMO behavior. I realized that when it came to sex and intimacy I was not living in the real world. Porn had created in me a delusion that I was entitled to some sort of sexual gratification and could get it on demand, and not just sex, but any kind of sex I wanted. If I was in the mood for __ type of person, I'd seek them out on the dating site.

    I continued to PMO but had a new understanding of why it was not good. But I still didn't know how to stop PMO. That was until I suddenly stumbled on YBOP. Something felt like this was an opportunity to take more control over quitting, now that my brain isn't as clouded by youthful bliss, longing and other influences.

    And here I am today. I started "rebooting" OCT. 29. Since then I have not M or PMO. My goal is to go at least three months avoiding all triggers, including M. Hopefully at some point my logical circuits begin growing stronger than my impulsive ones, and I can return to M, without PMO.

    At this point I have no desire to browse online personals--it's not a daily struggle. My goal is to get that way with PMO-- not only avoiding PMO, but not having the desire to do it at all.

    I decided to make it up and learn as I go. So far, each day I am having new epiphanies and would like to share my progress and learn from the community. I am praying this time really will be different.
     
  2. Apeman

    Apeman It means you're a baboon... And I'm not

    Welcome to the forum, TJ3! Just by being here, the odds of you quitting have gone up.

    You are right to learn as you go; indeed, it is the only way we can learn. You'll undoubtedly gain insight by reading others' journals and providing support. We're all in this together.

    Best of luck, mate!
     
  3. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Thank you Apeman. That is good to hear!!

    DAYS 1-3: Guidelines

    I started Rebooting Oct. 29. I'm still figuring out what that means, for me. Like I said in my intro, I plan on figuring this out as I go. So far, over the past couple days I have a few tips I've written for myself:

    Knowledge is power: There is a battle going on in our brains between the circuit pathways that respond to dopamine and the circuits that respond to logic. One is impulsive and instinctive and the other is cognitive and logical. Dopamine fuels the impulsive cricuit where as knowlege fuels the logical circuit. So far the Dopamine Army is ruling your body and has a super strong army. It's time to build up the knowledge army and weaken the dopamine army. Sounds simple, but it's easy to be on fire Week 1 and somehow lose that passion later on and slip into the bad habit again.

    Which brings me to the next one:

    Stay informed EVERYDAY: I think educating myself on this issue is crucial. So I read at max one or two articles about porn addiction/rebooting a day, but try not to overwhelm myself. I fear that if I stop, I will lose the fervor, weakening my Knowledge Army and giving more power to the Dopamine crew.

    Be careful what you eat: I realized that quitting porn is like dieting. The goal is to cut out the bad stuff and return to a natural, organic diet. Just like with dieting, you always have to be conscientious about what you put into your body--ALWAYS--that should never go away. The more you learn about nutrition, the less you mindlessly eat junk. You become aware of the effects of bad food and that is often enough to stop you from doing it. The same with porn, Though this is a process--a "lifestyle change"--that takes time.

    Be constantly thinking about your porn addiction: Even when you are not facing temptation. Don't wait until the beast is in your face before you start thinking about how to fight it. Always be training that Army of Knowledge to ward off the Army of Dope.

    Recognize and avoid all triggers: This includes masturbation. Even though my goal isn't to stop MOing, I think it's necessary during reboot. Masturbation and porn go together like bacon and eggs, salt and chips. One will surely lead to the other, until you lose the taste for one. Triggers are the precursors to the actual crime. It is easier to avoid them than the actual thing. Triggers can be as obvious as "Facebook stalking" friends of friends' photos or allowing myself to get bored.

    Think about your thoughts When encountering a trigger, consciously state what is happening and how you want to respond. Consciously state the possible outcomes of responding to the trigger vs. ignoring them. Try to be as emotionally detailed as possible because the brain responds to emotion and experience the best. "I am feeling ___ right now. I want to ___. But if I do, I will feel___. If I don't, I will feel___. So I will choose to ___"

    Journal daily: This keeps me accountable and involved with community. It also makes it hard for me to lie to myself and others about my progress. I also gain more knowledge from the community.

    Don't be afraid of masturbation: I am cutting out MOing for reasons above, but I find it very, very difficult to do. I have to remember that the goal is to ultimately eliminate PMO, and that MOing is not a failure. I haven't MO'ed yet and don't plan to until I reboot, but I wouldn't be surprised if I slip again TBH. And if I do, I have to be sure that it's just that--MO, not PMO or FMO (fantasy), anything to not let the Dopamine Army think it's won a battle.

    Guys, I hope this works...So far, so good. A little moody and frustrated, but we'll see. Stay tuned...
     
  4. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    DAY 4: Pornville

    It's been 4 days, but feels like a week.

    Our bodies are designed for sex and sexual stimulation. It seems, for me however, all these years of MO and PMO have trained my body to expect those things on a daily basis, and whenever it asks for them. But even though I am not doing those things anymore, my body and brain still demand it. My body wants an O, and it knows the best, most pleasurable way of getting it is through P&M.

    Today I've been having bouts of sexual urges. Part of me instinctively wants to PMO, but I tell myself no. Then my body bargains with me and wants me to just MO, and I still say no. Finally, today, my brain wanted me to visit online dating/chat sites again ( 'Okay, so you don't want porn, let's find real people, then')--even though I gave that up a couple months ago and hadn't had any desire to revisit, until I started this reboot. I also know from past experiences with trying to quit PMO that this is only my brain's way of tricking me into encountering triggers. I'll tell myself I'm just looking and before you know it, I'm MOing and PMOing.

    So I say no to that too. The urges go away, but I fear that they will try to get stronger and stronger when they return. The beast is only a little bit hungry--greedy--right now. Soon it will begin to starve and will roar louder, trying to intimidate me...so I have to be prepared.

    Epiphany: I am realizing that what my body wants (sex/sexual relief) is normal and natural, but the circuit pathways it's been using all these years to get it has been the unhealthy circuit that leads to PMO. I need to stop walking that foot path and create another path. The metaphor I am thinking of is standing in a grassy meadow in the Land of Sexual Gratification. My brain is my escort and is tugging me by the hand toward the beaten path to Pornville, but I am resisting, trying to convince it to take a new grassy path to Reality Town. But Pornville is a straight shoot and nobody visits Reality Town anymore--it's washed up. There is a shortcut to Pornville, by cutting through Online Dating Village and my brain wants to take me there, but I am on to that trick.

    I'm hoping I can convince my brain to take a new direction, but we've been taking this path so long, it's kinda impossible to imagine...this magical world of pornless, sexual gratification.
     
  5. howardhughes

    howardhughes Guest

    Good luck to you! Keep journaling, and take the time to contribute to some other journals. It helps a ton.
     
  6. Apeman

    Apeman It means you're a baboon... And I'm not

    This journal is already great! My hat is off to you, TJ3. You're applying a level of thoughtfulness to this process that is rare. You've already laid out several realizations that took me months to discover: that your addiction is trying to trick you back into porn through "just" dating sites, that all triggers are to be avoided, and that you've got to feed your brain information about this fight if you're going to keep your motivation strong.

    Wow, man. Just wow. Keep going!
     
  7. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Thanks howardhughes, will do.

    And hanks, Apeman for being so encouraging. I really appreciate it. And I'm sure others do too.

    Good to know I'm on a good track. We cal all do this!
     
  8. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Day 5: Trigger Happy


    This morning started off fine. I simply had no "horny" desires for much of the first part of the day. But this is not uncommon for me. Strong PMO and MO urges tend to come at night, after a long day of triggers (pretty people, stress, rejections, encountering insecurities, etc.), or during extreme boredom.

    By the afternoon, I met with a new friend I am still getting to know. We have what feels like some sort of mutual attraction connection, but it's pretty innocent now. Anyway, out of the blue we planned to meet up again.

    This triggered arousal. I was so excited about our growing "connection." Of course, I immediately started having, well, inappropriate thoughts fantasies about this person for the rest of the day. The fantasies started off small and short, but got longer and heavier.

    The good part is that the fantasies remained just fantasies about that person. I had no real urge to PMO or even MO! I find this fantastic because it feels that my logical side is in more control. I kept reminding myself, despite the fantasies and compulsion, about my current rebooting situation, trying not to let myself get swept away by my sexual emotions. I was fueling that logical, conscious part of the brain with knowledge--building that army. Normally I'd just let the arousal take over, a slippery slope which ultimately leads me to PMO or acting out.

    Speaking of which, when I got home, my initial urge (the dopamine-fueled impulsive circuit) was to log onto Facebook and check out photos, and "learn more" (yeah, right) about my 'new friend.' Saw right though that one and decided not to even visit their page.

    Lesson of the Day: Today I learned to fuel that logical circuit as much and as often as possible, but especially when triggers (DOPAMINE) are actively fueling the impulsive side. Have to remember it's a battle between knowledge and dopamine. When they send their army, you send yours. They're weaker when they're just trying to use a trigger, so beat them then. Triggers are easier to control.

    The day isn't over yet and I'm still having bouts of sexual urges, including the fantasies, but I am thankfully consciously aware of them--thinking about my thoughts.

    Here's to Day 6.
     
  9. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    DAY 6: Being Careful


    Day 6 and things have pretty much gone the same. I haven't had many really strong urges to PMO, just MO, but I haven't done anything.

    I'm still getting to know my triggers. Today I Google Image searched pics of a celebrity I thought was hot. No nudity or MO and the goal wasn't to lust at hot pics or use a porn alternative, but just "check them out." But I quickly realized that even harmless pics could still be using the same dopamine-fueled circuits PMO uses. So I stopped.

    It's funny how things that appear nothing like porn can cause you to PMO. I'm not sure if the images were really that threatening to my reboot or what real effect they have. But I really don't want to take the chance.

    Epiphany: From my personal reboot and reading some of the accounts here, I'm, beginning to realize that a successful reboot depends on cutting out ALL sexual activity and triggers, even real sex--I'm not in a relationship or seeking sex partners, but I'm reading about a ton of relapses that happen after attempts at sex during reboot. But that's just MHO. Something to think about in the future.

    Tomorrow will be the end of Week 1.
     
  10. Apeman

    Apeman It means you're a baboon... And I'm not

    This is incredibly important. If you cease to use the net for arousal, you will have a much easier time taking on the Challenge.
     
  11. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Thanks Apeman!

    Day 7: Week 1 Down


    Wow, I made it to Day 7 without any huge hiccups. I get aroused througout the day normally as any guy would at various things. I had a few small urges to PMO, but not enough to lose control. Except I would say these urges were a bit different and stronger than previous days. Instead of just wanting to PMO, my body was trying to remind me of what the experience was like, the mood, the lighting, that rush I get. Good thing I caught that, but I'm worried (but prepared) that they'll get stronger. Instead of waiting for that to happen, I'm using this as training for when it does--get used to thinking about my thoughts.

    I'm seeing that Knowledge truly is the best line of defense during reboot. Before, I felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I knew porn was something I shouldn't have been doing, but at some point, something would just come over me and make me PMO. After O, I'd all of a sudden feel like Dr. Jekyll again and realize the err of my ways. I now know that Mr Hyde is really dopamine, and knowledge really is its suppressor. The more I know what's actually going on, the more in control I feel. It seems so simple, yet I overlook it a lot.

    Which brings me to my next realization.

    The brain thrives on memory, but it also thrives on forgetting memories. It's really easy to forget the passion, illness, pain, happiness, etc. you felt during a particular event, several hours or days after it happens. That happened to me during my earlier attempts at quitting PMO. At some point I just lost the passion and fervor to quit and the fire just fizzled out--the dopamine regained control and I was PMOing again.

    So what I've learned this week is that Knowledge truly is power during reboot. The more you know...
     
  12. howardhughes

    howardhughes Guest

    Nice progress so far!
     
  13. iwannabefree

    iwannabefree New Member

    Hey man, 8 days is an awesome feat for staying clean! Definitely a break from the past and a good scaffolding for recovery. You are really strong man, for coming this far! It's a sign that your brain is repairing and moving back to its healthy, natural state. Keep going!!
     
  14. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Thanks, guys for the support it is really encouraging, especially after these last two days!

    Days 8 and 9 -- Did I relapse?


    Before you freak out, the answer to that question, in my opinion, is no. I wouldn't call it a relapse, that is, because I still have not PMO'd. But this is probably as close as I've come since starting the reboot. Skip to Day 9 for those juicy details...


    DAY 8
    Well, Day 8 was fine. But I started to actually miss porn. I started to realize that porn has been my main source of intimacy! That is, when I think of intimacy, my brain immediately thinks porn!

    Naturally, masturbation is supposed to be about pure fantasy and imagination--it is a natural alternative to real sex, IMO. However, all these years I've been associating masturbation with porn--a synthetic imagination booster, not real life.

    I've been substituting the synthetic for real life, mostly because, I'm realizing, I am afraid of real life (sex). For me, it's very complicated, and PMO is the easy alternative. Trying to meet real people, let alone develop a meaningful, intimate relationship with them is HAAARRD. Plus, as a Christian male, I have to think about relational purity. It's no wonder I've been hiding in porn all these years. Even though porn is no more honorable than meaningless real sex, it doesn't feel as complicated..anyway, I'm ranting..these thoughts aren't fleshed out yet.


    DAY 9--Autopilot

    Day 9 and the craving for intimacy--ANY kind of intimacy--was getting stronger.

    I felt more empowered to talk myself out of this state, but the need for intimacy got so strong, my brain started to think of different ways to get it if not from masturbation and/or porn.

    So I actually Googled "ways to meet new people."

    I described before how my battle with porn felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I'd go on autopilot browsing porn for hours as Mr. Hyde and when I'd stop, Jekyll would suddenly resurface and I'd be dismayed at what I had just done. Since starting the reboot I felt the Jekyll side taking more control.

    But that Google search was another one of Hyde's schemes. Normally I would never google such a thing, but I was feeling desperate. Before I knew it, I found myself on Hyde's autopilot again, somehow on local sex and swingers Meetup groups!

    WTF?!

    I started reading the group descriptions and upcoming events, knowing as Dr. Jekyll I had no real interest in them, but feeling impulsively as Mr. Hyde that I wanted to. Really I was getting off on the fantasy of joining the groups.

    There was no nudity, masturbation, touching myself, heavy fantasy and certainly no orgasm, just reading the group info.

    Did I relapse? I say this is the closest I've come to doing it. I literally felt my brain getting off on the dopamine and using those porn circuits again. My head felt cluttered and I almost felt a headache coming on--guess it's been a while since I really used those pathways.

    I wouldn't call it a relapse, because I didn't PMO. But it was a HUGE trigger that I failed to avoid. I returned to that autopilot Mr. Hyde mode I get into when surfing P. And that's not good

    The lesson I learned was to be careful of this trigger: longing for intimacy and immediately turning to the laptop to find it, even if it theoretically would result in real world intimacy, I need to realize it's not going to happen.

    That's hard because I don't really believe in real word sex unless in a committed married relationship. Even though I've been involved in the opposite, I am ashamed of those meaningless dirty encounters and felt over taken by other factors, including the lie of porn, I mentioned in previous posts.

    I'm not really interested in a relationship now, just the sex..so this is getting complicated, haha. I have about 11 more weeks to figure it out though and hopefully this experience will be an example of what it's NOT.
     
  15. TJ3

    TJ3 New Member

    Still hanging in there

    I haven't posted in a very long time (20 days!) because there is so much to say and little time.

    This is just a small post just to say confirm I'm 28 days in with no PMO. It feels a lot longer.

    But also, I have MO'd, but only 2-3 times, (the first was 2 weeks in, the second was about 3 weeks in, the third time came on the heels of a real experience). I have also O'd a few more times through real encounters, so haven't gone the whole 28 days w/o O'ing.

    More details to come.
     

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