stepbystep's journal

stepbystep

Active Member
Coming back to report that I struggled today as well and spent a lot of time on social media (instagram and tiktok), resulting in watching triggering stuff. I'm not proud of it but I did stop myself and did not watch porn. My mind was in a blur, I was very vulnerable and considered seriously accessing porn. Fortunately, I reached out to my sponsor / accountability partner immediately and that helped reduce the urges.

Why am I having these urges? What are the underlying causes? I'm not entirely sure, but here are some of my thoughts:
1. This didn't happen overnight, and I've been slowly accessing more triggering material through social media in the last month.
2. My work has become more stressful in the past month. Fantasizing and using social media has been a way for me cope and get my mind off the stress.
3. I've stopped working my recovery. I used to do something daily and that hasn't happened recently. Plus, I've stopped chatting with my sponsor / accountability partner often.
4. I've been "okay" with middle circling such as fantasy and triggering stuff on social media, but I think this has happened slowly over time as I've spent more time doing so and accessing more triggering things.

What am I going to do about it?
1. Obviously, cut down social media. I'm going to add some restrictions on my phone for instagram and have it password enforced. And, avoid social media on the computer while working, when I'm most vulnerable. Instead, when stressed, I'll get up and go for short walk.
2. Find healthy ways to cope with my stress. Do more exercise and more deep breathing during the day.
3. Do 10-15 mins of daily recovery work. Chat with my sponsor/accountability partner daily.
4. Observe my social media use. Track how much time I'm spending and how often.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
I've had lots of ups and downs in the last few weeks. Some days were good and others weren't. Today was one of those not so great days, where I've been middle circling so much that I searched for porn. I stopped though before viewing and reached out to my sponsor / accountability partner for a chat. Some underlying reasons were: 1) feeling guilty of not spending time with family, 2) not effectively using my time, 3) wanting to work but not able to, and 4) putting myself in danger zones by middle circling on social media (tiktok and youtube). Obviously, I'm disappointed, but I am still in the right place and haven't relapsed. And, I'm working hard to get back on track.

Here are some action steps that I'm taking:
1. Work recovery every morning and night for a few minutes
2. Password protect apps on my phone
3. Reward myself throughout the day after I've done some good work

Doing my three circles of behavior - I got this idea/template from Orbiter's journal.
OUTER CIRCLE
Morning Meditation - Evening Exercise - Eating Healthy - Yard Work/Gardening - Proactive about Work Around the House - Spending Time with Family - Spending Time with Friends - Rewarding Myself Throughout the Day and Week - Praying
MIDDLE CIRCLE
Fantasy Especially at Night - Dwelling on Past Failures - Escaping Work by Using Social Media (Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram, Reddit)
INNER CIRCLE (RELAPSE)
Porn - Masturbation
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Sorry for your recent struggles, SBS. In a strange sense, you're exhibiting what a healthy person would... For some reason you're in a place of sadness or stress where the mind is reaching for a sense of normalcy, a sense of equanimity. This is healthy and normal. What is not normal are perhaps the incorrect things we reach for to get back to that place. The outer circle things listed are great 'replacement habits'.

Wishing you success!
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Thank you Phineas and EW for the encouragement.

I'll keep this post short. Today was a much better day. I focused on recreation and rejuvenation and those were exactly what I needed. I felt freedom from porn, enjoyed the day, and was productive generally. I'm hoping for the same for the rest of the weekend and looking for a good start to the work week.

Wishing you all well.
 

Orbiter

Well-Known Member
I think it's easy to under-estimate how important it is to go out, live life and take a break from not only pornography but recovery as well. I think it's easy to get tunnel vision and in moments of difficulty in this journey, over-compensate by becoming hyper fixated on recovery itself. Good job focusing on recreation and rejuvenation. It sounds like it's set you up well for the coming week.

Keep up the great work!
 

stepbystep

Active Member
This week I passed a big milestone: six months free of porn!

What has changed?
  • I spend much more time on healthy activities and recreation. These days most of my weekday evenings and weekends are filled with activities I enjoy. That’s things like spending time with family, friends, exercising, yard work, etc. One surprising thing for me was I had less time for work than when I actively engaged in porn. The difference was porn gave me a huge immediate dopamine rush that got over in a 30 min session, but healthy activities gave me smaller amounts of dopamine over an extended time. The latter is much more fulfilling.
  • I enjoy sex in real life a lot more. I’m now focused on connection, playfulness, warmth, and how my partner feels. Before, I used to think about porn and self-pleasure while having sex. Now, I’m present with my partner and share a close bond.
  • I sleep better at night. Porn used to mess with my sleep as it fueled my anxiety. It went against my values and that internal conflict did not allow me to rest calmly.
What hasn’t changed?
  • I’m still vulnerable. While I’m convinced that it gets easier with time, it was still not easy to overcome triggers even after months away from porn. I had some close calls as recently as a few days ago with P-subs and MO. I even considered “resetting” my day count, but decided to be gentle and consider it a slip up if it happens again. These close calls have happened several times in the past six months. The key for me was to stop, reach out for help, and keep myself busy for a few days. I’ve been actively addicted to this stuff for 20 years; I can’t expect it to simply go away in a matter of months.
  • I still have insecurities. My anxieties about not being productive at work and worries about what others think continue to be there. I’ve found alternative, healthier ways to manage them, but I still struggle on a day-to-day basis. Now, I do household chores or journal when I’m not not feeling great emotionally
If I get to the 1 year mark, I’ll be sure to post in detail about the things I did that worked for me. Hope all of you are having a restful weekend.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Well, my stretch didn't last too long after my 6 month free post. I didn't break my inner circle as I had done in the past, but I did search for porn, avoided looking at it, and searched again. And, I did this for an hour. I stopped, realized my stupidity, and called my sponsor / accountability partner. Obviously I engaged in problematic behavior. I was testing the very edge of my inner circle behavior while not clearly breaking it. As a result, I'm reseting my day count. I landed on porn websites and though I didn't watch it intentionally, I peeked. So, I'm counting this as using porn, and I'm updating my three circles of behavior. It's quite a bit more strict, but I'd like to test this out and see how it goes.

OUTER CIRCLE
Meditation - Exercise - Eating Healthy - Yard Work/Gardening - Household Work - Spending Time with Family - Spending Time with Friends - Healthy Work Breaks - Praying
MIDDLE CIRCLE
Dwelling on Past Failures - Mindlessly Browsing Social Media (Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram, Reddit) - Dwelling on What Others Think of Me
INNER CIRCLE (RELAPSE)
Fantasy - Masturbation - Intentionally Searching for Porn or Triggering Material - Porn

My next goal is to do something really uncomfortable to make progress in my recovery. I'll post about this next time.
 
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Phineas 808

Respected Member
Believing in you, SBS! I like your identifying the potential in degrees of various behaviors. Good work on focusing and 'working the problem' for solutions, instead of 'driving blind'.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Believing in you, SBS! I like your identifying the potential in degrees of various behaviors. Good work on focusing and 'working the problem' for solutions, instead of 'driving blind'.

Thanks Phineas for the support as always. I'm going through a real tough week, and hope I can bounce back from my struggles.
 

stepbystep

Active Member
It's been a while since I posted. I'll be making this post very short as I have limited time right now. July hasn't been a great month for me. I've slipped up a few times to PMO. I'm glad the slips have been short (not engaging in porn for long periods of time), and I gotten right back to recovery. I also got really sick but I was able to manage that well without burying the pain and using PMO.

I've been chatting accountability partners and working on recovery almost daily during this time. Now, I'm at about 9 days PMO-free. I'm expecting this week to be challenging, as it's around this day count that it gets really hard for me.
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Good resilience, step-by-step! I like that you're consistent in getting up and going for it, even after a lapse! I like that recovery is a priority for you, and that you have channels and outlets to help.

Glad you're feeling better, too!
 
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