stepbystep's journal

Orbiter

Well-Known Member
One thing that's one my mind in the last day is my powerlessness and unmanageability in my life because of my addiction. This doesn't seem like a very positive statement, and it's seems to be counter to the positive attitude that may allow change to happen.

But, the reality is that this attitude really changes everything. Truly believing this powerlessness means that I have no option but to ask for help. If I could do this all by myself, I wouldn't post on this forum and look for support. I know I cannot completely rely on my beliefs because they have led me to go back to my addictive behavior over and over and over for a decade. This means I need to work through my beliefs and get feedback from others so that I can slowly change myself.

If I slip up, I want to learn from it. I cannot beat myself up. I can learn, get help, work recovery, and keep persevering.

I think the feeling of powerlessness comes from strings of repeated relapses which, ironically, often triggers strings of repeated relapses. The AVE effect that Phineas often speaks of comes to mind. You're right in that a slip up is just a slip up. I guess it's there is clearly things that we all still need to learn for our journey and elements of our life that we need to change & grow in.

Resilience & patience will see us through and, after all, giving up is not really an option right?
 

stepbystep

Active Member
The AVE effect that Phineas often speaks of comes to mind.

thanks Orbiter for your thoughts! Actually I'm not very familiar with the AVE effect. Could you or Phineas explain that?

I had a good, productive weekend and spent time with family. Little things make a big difference. I was able to take care of a lot of house chores, without the anxiety of having slipped up to PMO. I was able to get good sleep and exercise. I wasn't perfect, but was able to simply live.

I took the 1st of the 12 steps and shared it with my sponsor last weekend. It was relief to share my past behavior with someone. I'm hopeful that things will get better over time.
 

Orbiter

Well-Known Member
Here is the article from Phineas' journal re the 'Abstinence Violation Effect' or AVE


Sounds like the weekend went well. It can be a powerful and confronting thing talking to someone about things like past behaviour, experiences etc. It is worthwhile though and can lead to both an increased connection with others and unburden ourselves from the considerable amount of shame that us PMO addicts often seem to carry around with us.

Keep up the great work!
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Here is the article from Phineas' journal re the 'Abstinence Violation Effect' or AVE


Thanks, this is very insightful! What I learned here is rather than beating ourselves up after a relapse, we should learn to cope with slip ups more healthily. The best way to avoid a relapse is:
- Identify and avoid all triggers, including individuals, places, movies, tv shows
- Have a plan and develop ways to avoid an unhealthy situation (e.g., reach out to someone when I start middle circling compulsively on youtube, go for a walk, etc)
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Today is been filled with urges because of two reasons: I'm feeling pain from a headache (withdrawals?), and I'm feeling insecure after speaking at meetings at work.

Pain is part of very healthy life. Porn is not. I am finding healthy ways to manage my pain: deep breathing, going for a walk, listening to music, drink some tea. I will do these things now.

About speaking in meetings, I always struggle with when to speak and if do, feel bad afterwards that I may have spoken out of turn or said something not relevant or said something only about what I care about. The feeling bad makes me feel urges.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Almost slipped up. Started searching for p and then realized how stupid that is. I stopped but I know I will be vulnerable all day. I can't focus. I'm just constantly getting urges.
 

Orbiter

Well-Known Member
Almost slipped up. Started searching for p and then realized how stupid that is. I stopped but I know I will be vulnerable all day. I can't focus. I'm just constantly getting urges.

Keep up the great work Step! You can do this. All you have to do is make it through today.
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Good job, SBS, in stopping the searching..., and I know that urges will come, but practice dismissing them. Breathe through them until each one passes, without judgment. When the next urge comes, repeat. Don't forget to just observe nonjudmentally, and breathe deep through until it passes. Watch it like it was a movie, but with compassion.

You are not the addiction.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Thanks Phineas and Orbiter for dropping by as always. I've not been very good with updating here, but I have been busy with life and recovery work. I did relapse later in the day on June 4 unfortunately. It was very tough to get through.

I have been experimenting with MO again, simply because I feel my libido and sexual tension is unbearable after about 7 days. The weird thing is that when I try abstinence, I stay away longer, but go back to worse porn than if I had tried not to abstain. It's as if it escalates the more and more I abstain, and then, I'm hit with a very strong urge that makes me go back to porn.

But, I've been very careful about how I would MO. Mornings only. If I feel really horny during the day, I'd have to wait for the next day. It's been working well so far, but I still feel anxious after MO.

I'll be experimenting for another week or two, and then make a decision about what's right for me. Sexuality is just so complex. I wish it were simpler.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
It’s a been a really long time since I posted here, but I have been working my recovery, mostly through the 12 steps. I can say that I have progressed and my relapses are further and further apart. Most recently I went about 19 days PMO-free. Yesterday I went back to porn however. I wasn’t enough for my to just keep my distance from PMO. It’s not just external triggers that make me go back. I realize I need to address the underlying reasons I keep going back. Here are some of those reasons:

- Escaping from work, especially hard work. This is something I noticed yesterday. During the work day, I had some work to do but didn’t want to do it. My escape was to go to porn. When I didn’t use porn, I usually escaped by watching some sports on YouTube. But that doesn’t solve the problem. The best thing to do is to actually focus on the work I want to escape.
- Worrying about not speaking up in social or work settings or worrying about what I said if I did. This is mainly because of my fear that I may not say the right things or that I may not be perfect or that I may hurt someone. The fears are not appropriate most of the times and the best course is to speak up and not be afraid. And, when I do, if I screw up badly, apologize and don’t worry. Or if there’s no need to apologize, accept the past.

There’s probably a lot more like the above but these are a good start.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
It's been even longer since I posted last, but I'll be more regular here by posting weekly from now on. I’ll be catching up on a few journals of friends here.

Overall, I've been making progress in recovery in the last few months. I had a stretch of about 40 days with no porn, the longest I’ve gone in the last few years, so it’s been positive. Some of the things I’ve been doing include meeting a therapist every few weeks, working a 12 steps-based program daily, chatting with a sponsor / recovery partner several times a week, and installing a porn blocker for my phone that my wife has the password to. It hasn’t been perfect though (sometimes I’ve used MO without P and vice versa), but I’ve learned to look at recovery as not linear. The most important thing is that I’ve been feeling a lot better about myself generally. I’ve also been exercising more and socializing more. More to share soon...
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
...but I’ve learned to look at recovery as not linear. The most important thing is that I’ve been feeling a lot better about myself generally.

Good to see you, sbs! This point is so important, as many who have an all-or-nothing, or a 'black-and-white' view of recovery are often too hard on themselves when they lapse, and due to the feelings of shame and failure, only strengthen the bad habits.

Recovery is everything, not just quitting the unwanted behaviors, but also loving ourselves. Sounds like you're doing great!
 

stepbystep

Active Member
The past week or two has been good for me overall, and I've been PMO free for 15 days. I do get urges every few days, but have not followed those thought patterns.

One thing that has been especially is messaging a recovery partner (or for me, a sponsor) prior to middle circling. For me, middle circling includes scrolling through social media or searching for p-subs. I used to reach out after middle circling but before using PMO, but found that it's much better to reach before middle circling! That stops the porn relapse cycle earlier and has kept me out of the danger zone.

The second thing is replacing with healthy behaviors. I'm exercising more, spending time with family, and working on my spiritual side. These have kept me busy most of the time.

Finally, affirmations have been helping me replace unhealthy ways to cope situations. For example, whenever I want to escape some work or get down on my self, I repeat a phrase like "I do not waste time. I do not escape work" or "I have a high self-esteem" or "I am always on time." That usually gets me to do the right thing.

Wishing everyone well during this holiday season.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Today I'm 31 days free from PMO, and I'm very very grateful for that. This is the first time I've come this far in terms of completely avoiding porn since I joined this forum about 2.5 years ago. A lot has changed since then. I've gone from focusing on simply staying away from porn to addressing the real issues behind the addiction. Some of the issues include escaping from work, feeling bad (even though I didn't need to!) when speaking in social or professional settings, and middle circling. Still, I know I have a long way to go and I'm not free from this addiction and probably never will be 100%. The more I stay away, the more my brain gets re-wired and I have a better chance of staying away.

Here are some reminders of why I can't PMO (an exercise from a book I'm reading called "The Porn Trap"):
- I can't PMO and be someone who is honest and trustworthy because PMO requires me to be secretive and lie about what I'm doing.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who keeps my word and follows through with my commitments because PMO takes away a lot of time away from my usual activities and routines.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who loves with my heart as well as sexual desire because PMO makes me objectify, fantasize, and not value romance.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who is a positive role model in the community and for my family because PMO makes me have low self-esteem and low confidence.
 
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GeminiMan

Active Member
Today I'm 31 days free from PMO, and I'm very very grateful for that. This is the first time I've come this far in terms of avoiding porn since I joined this forum about 2.5 years ago. A lot has changed since then. I've gone from focusing on simply staying away from porn to addressing the real issues behind the addiction. Some of the issues include escaping from work, feeling bad (even though I didn't need to!) when speaking in social or professional settings, and middle circling. Still, I know I have a long way to go and I'm not free from this addiction and probably never will be 100%. The more I stay away, the more my brain gets re-wired and I have a better chance of staying away.

Here are some reminders of why I can't PMO (an exercise from a book I'm reading called "The Porn Trap"):
- I can't PMO and be someone who is honest and trustworthy because PMO requires me to be secretive and lie about what I'm doing.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who keeps my word and follows through with my commitments because PMO takes away a lot of time away from my usual activities and routines.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who loves with my heart as well as sexual desire because PMO makes me objectify, fantasize, and not value romance.
- I can't use PMO and be someone who is a positive role model in the community and for my family because PMO makes me have low self-esteem and low confidence.
@stepbystep - you are making some progress that is good . I also joined reboot nation about 3 years ago . I am nowhere close to 31 days of sobriety. I make it 5 days sober and then I go wus. That’s pretty much my story . I wish you great success in your sobriety journey . I will lookup to you in terms of progress like a benchmark from now . I will think “if he could do it so can I “

good work buddy keep going
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Thanks man_in_30s_rebootingnow and EW!

Overall this week has been great as I've been enjoying time with family that's visiting during the holidays. But, I've also had struggles and I middle lined yesterday by searching for triggering images. Fortunately, the blocker saved me. I reached out to a recovery partner a few minutes into this, and exercised afterwards. That short-circuited the cycle and I stayed away from porn.

Later, I woke up in the middle of the night. Fantasy felt like a good idea so I engaged in it for a few minutes and before I knew it MO'd. I felt terrible and had trouble sleeping. I could have jumped out of bed as soon as I recognized myself fantasizing and read a book; this would have completely changed the course of the night. The good thing is I did not beat myself up and recognized the most important thing was I stayed away from porn. Recovery is not perfect. It's not linear. It's a good reminder that it can take only a split second to go back. It's day 37 P-free and day 0 MO-free today.

I used to prescribe to the belief that a porn blocker is not needed for me, and the main problem is that I need to stop looking for porn. But, I now believe a porn blocker is necessary for me. Yes, I can get around it, but it sometimes gives me the time I desperately need to prevent a full blown relapse.

One thing that is crucial for me to stay porn free is turning away from sexual proactive images I'm now surrounded by: TV shows, movies, ads, you name it. I'm reminding myself that any time I encounter this, I turn away immediately. If I see something triggering in a movie, I close my eyes or get up to go to the bathroom. If I'm fantasizing in the middle of the night, I get up and read a book for some time. If I see an attractive person that triggers me, I avoid them if possible.
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Good job, SBS, not taking the middle circle behaviors too far. This illustrates what you've been saying in your journal lately, that it's not linear, nor is the process black-and-white.

As far as avoiding this or that, definitely, you don't want to set yourself up for failure. You don't want to feed practices that lead to P, PMO. But understand that, even if you did encounter this or that image, this or that attractive person, those external stimuli can't control you. You, you alone are ultimately in control. Like you said, you have the ability to disable your p-blockers. The fact that you didn't last night says alot, that you're stonger than you know.

Rooting for you, and grateful for all your progess.
 
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