The Long Way Home

Wolfman

Member
Woooh, speak of the devil! The very next day after the last post I got really sick. It turned out to be somewhat serious as after several days my condition worsened and I went to see a doctor. I then got prescribed medicine and things started slowly picking up a few days after that, but man, it's been so draining. As if life couldn't get draining enough, this thing comes down on me and burns a week-long hole in my schedule. Of all the things, I miss exercise the most.

But oh well, these things happen. Nothing I could've done to prepare myself for it, the doctor told me. Just bad luck. Gotta just adjust my plans around such events.

Good news is that P has almost not been on my mind and certainly no PMO. So hardmode is staying strong.

I'm going to have to continue the thread in my last post another time, as I'm still recovering and my mind is a fog. Also, thing's are looking very shiny here since my last visit! Congrats to everyone on the website team and those involved for this wonderful makeover!

Hardmode: 17 days.
 

Wolfman

Member
Oooff, the past 4-5 days have been filled with urges. They come repeatedly and reveal themselves to have roots going deep in my mind. I recently reconnected with a friend who I once had a crush on (and who I still find very attractive) and this lead to a wet dream one night. Nothing you can do about that, but it sure left a frenzied chaser effect. Now I find myself looking at soft P pictures and I feel I'm sliding back into the hellscape. I haven't done anything about it and I really want to tell myself that I don't intend to, but I'm feeling like I'm possessed by something and essentially vulnerable.

I try to think rationally when the urges hit. I try to think that there's nothing there but hollowness. I try to think that this is not what I genuinely want. That my feelings mistake P and all about that as comfort, intimacy and connection, but it's none of those things. I try to think this is not who I am. I try to look at myself, my life, from the outside and seeing that pursuing P is not what "this person" (me) is supposed to be doing, since that is not how he views himself. I try to think about my posts here recently, about how it's a struggle and a challenge, and that I have to keep in mind just this, so that I can remain vigilant and alert.

I try to think that these urges and feelings are temporary. They are the dying remains of that person I left behind. These urges and feelings are blind, and though they might present themselves to be as having my best interest at heart, they really don't--they don't because I have tried their way, time and again, and it hasn't lead me anywhere but back here, here at this crossroads of desire. So I won't go down the route that just leads me back to this point, but I'll stay on course that leads me away from this stale dilemma, this whole defunct problem.

As I write these words, anger is brewing within me and taking over and that's a good thing. Might need to return here more frequently in the next few days to keep a lid on things. It really helps to write, as it functions basically like self-talk for me.

Thanks for checking in.

Hardmode 32 days (and by God tomorrow will be 33!).
 

Wolfman

Member
Theory can't win against practice. I kept looking at pictures and I even tried to get a one-night stand. Then on Sat. morning I tried to schedule something with someone but it felt so wrong. I was torn between lust--a sense of adventure and ecstasy--and all the wrong reasons behind: how it is not really what I want and nor is it about who I want to be. I cancelled it. But the lust just wouldn't go away, and I went to have a shower and MO'd. Only then did the "fever in my head" begin to subside. There wasn't any P involved explicitly, but given the looking at pictures over the past few days I honestly feel like it is just as if it was.

And then I thought that day and the days after: maybe this is too much. My studies are really intense and stressful right now and trying to do hardmode along with that may just be too much. I feel like my studies require everything from me right now, even to the point where I cannot care for myself (since I cannot care about this P issue). I thought that maybe I should relax but still keep away from PMO but give myself release now and again whenever the lust comes naturally.

But then I thought yesterday that, with respect to the ideal and practice I had set myself, nothing's changed. Yes, I fell, but in terms of doing what I set out to do, that is still there. I failed, but only so that I could learn from it. The struggle is point and what I went through is nothing that isn't in that path that was already set from a month ago. The conviction came back to me and I think the important thing is not to stay beat down but rise up and just try again. Falling is part of the reworking and transformation. I just need more time and that's fine. It's the system going through a process of learning.

On the plus side, there really is something alive in me and if it wasn't this alive it also wouldn't be this hard.

However, I think I need to work on strategies for strong chasers before they occur. This is how this all started this time around. Another thing perhaps might also be what to do once the "fever of lust" occupies my head. Some new techniques here are needed.

Hardmode: 1 day.
 

Wolfman

Member
The conviction has been dim and I've kept up looking at pictures, looking at potential services, and then yesterday I got triggered when trying to look up a name and the result gave me a bunch of P. I watched some and it felt so elating. I didn't even MO and it felt nice. Then today I sought it out myself and MO'd.

I'm out of ideas. I think I need to see a therapist but I just can't find the time right now. I have too much shit to deal with. But this doesn't help the situation, and so it spirals on. I feel stressed and tired from studies. I feel alone and like I can't really connect with anyone anymore. I feel numb going from day to day. Life is already monotone but I need to keep it this way to get done what I need to do.
 

Wolfman

Member
Almost made it to three weeks this time.

I slouched on the sofa-chair, feeling bored. The whole day had felt off, and this was okay. There's been too much going on so that an off day like today would be in its place. I went for a walk with my flatmate. It was nice to get out. Got back home, and did some cleaning around the house. But then here I was, on the sofa-chair, like many times before and the idea hit me that I should look at some ads. Then I decided I'd go to someone tomorrow and I was fired up by this plan. Then I went to MO in the shower, still excited by the ads and my plans for tomorrow.

It's safe to say, they are no longer plans. But I am back on day zero.

What was successful this time around was watching Gabe's videos and some of Universal Man's stuff. In addition, I've had quite a lot of social contact in the last few weeks which completely put my mind off P and PMO... but then comes this little moment and the world suddenly turns upside down. I'm surprised at how easy I fell this time around. The desire wasn't really that strong (compared to previously), so I don't know. I feel like I'm still very indecisive about the whole project. It's like there's nothing, life just is what it is.

This is such a lonely journey (I'm considering finding an accountability partner). I feel I can't speak to the friends I spoke to before. I fear they would just see me as nagging and needy and incompetent. But is this right? If I understand this as an addiction, which I do, then I need all the help I can get, come what judgment may.
 

yogi

Member
Hi Wolfman
You are posting to your journal after a very long time (last post was on 31st May).
The journey is as lonely as you think it gets.

Remember, addiction recovery is, for most of us, a lonely journey.
I don't know which country you are from and what your religious affiliation is, or whether you are part of any faith community.

Revealing all this to people you cannot trust can be disastrous. Society has known alcohol and recreational drug addiction for a very long time as they manifest various physical behaviours and symptoms. Porn addiction is a relatively new phenomenon not known to our parents' or grandparents' generation. Porn doesn't lead to bodily manifestations like drunkenness, unruly behaviour etc. It primarily affects your psychology and brain chemistry. You can make out who's a drug addict by just glancing at them. But even a top notch business executive with an appealing smile might be a porn addict behind the four walls of his home.

So be careful and ponder your decision to reveal this to your friends. Decide whether they are going to be of any help or not. Also examine your position in society and that of your family, whether a reveal is going to bring negative consequences.

Solution is :
1. Visit this journal regularly
2. Post your experiences regularly (if not daily then at least 3 times a week)
3. Visit others' journals. Read very carefully their life stories.
4. Read up material on the YBOP website, again and again if necessary.
5. Read self-help books. Read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. There are some books specifically dedicated to porn addiction (like Your Brain On Porn by Gary Wilson, based on which the YBOP website was constructed)

Slowly, your brain will begin to change. You will realise you are not alone. Many of us experience the same shit that you have faced.

Get an accountability partner. Already there is facility on this forum.

Do not give up and do not feel disheartened. Your whole life lies ahead.
We will overcome this together!
 

yogi

Member
I have read your previous posts.

You have read quite a lot of philosophical and religious books. Re-read them and you will get a fresh perspective.
Your yesterday's post gives an impression that you are on the verge of quitting.

Do not accept defeat!

You started in 2019 and went an entire year without PMO. Do you know that itself is a Himalayan achievement?
I have been struggling for past 7 years. Longest streak of no PMO was 1 month!

Read that again. 1 month! And till now I have not been able to replicate that streak.

Wolfman, get a fresh perspective on your life.

You write extremely well. Do YOU realise this? Have you ever given a thought to this as a career option-writing?

What exactly is your PhD topic? Is it on something that is going to enhance your career prospects? Or is it a waste of time?
Ask yourself: what is the worth of my PhD? If worthy, pursue it. If no, then give it up.

Also understand that this is not some spiritual battle. It is, at it's core, a habit. Every addiction is essentially a habit. And habits can be broken.

If you look at this as a "battle", you have already lost, even before the battle begins, because YOU look at it as a battle which cannot be won.
The porn industry doesn't.

Change your perspective. If you slip up, forgive yourself, pick up yourself and start again. Remind yourself that this is a habit to be broken, not some enemy to be vanquished.

Once again I recommend Charles Duhigg. On reading his book I had an epiphany, and this forever changed the way I looked at porn and porn addiction.

I don't want you to fall back. I want you to transform yourself. Stay strong!
 

Wolfman

Member
Hey yogi! Thanks so much for putting down your thoughts and for reading my journal. And thanks for being frank and direct. It gives me a bit of jolt, but of the kind "hey, wake up!".

I have confided to a few friends before, and the response has been mostly positive (some were just like supportive at first then meh). I just worry about bringing it up again. I know that society at large has yet to learn about the problems surrounding P (but I was happy to find at my uni's website for "wellbeing" a whole page devoted to 'porn addiction', where they listed, among many things, videos by Gary Wilson). So I am aware that I need to tread a bit carefully, which I am (which is all the more praise for the courage of those who step forward, like Gabe and Mark Queppet, who can become targets by the wrong people).

I wonder if I haven't read that book about habit already, but it might've been some years ago. I'll look it up again. (There's just so many good things to read!)

Himalayan achievement? I know! Which also gives me so much pain, because how did things slip so badly at that point, after all that's been built up? I would've thought that the PMO-induced nerves had quieted down a bit by then, but they woke up in a frenzy, stronger than ever and gave me an exhilaration so strong that I couldn't believe it was not P, but some divine majesty. Is this also just a "ploy" by the habit, trying to tempt me back in? It is the intensity of the experience then and now that has shaken my resolve. I really don't want to live life without this ecstatic experience, but then again, I also don't want to be trapped in the clutched of PMO. The fact I'm so undecided gives victory to the "enemy". But I haven't let up. Once the cat's out of the box, as they say, it can't go back in. I can't go back into pre-PMO days and nor do I want to. There's only one way about it and that is through complete self-transformation and abandonment of all things P and PMO. Though I need to think differently about this intense experience, I cannot just put it down as the delusions of a PMO-mangled brain, as that wouldn't be to do it justice. But the worst thing about it is that there is an idea that there is an experience only PMO can offer, and I categorically deny that--there's nothing special to PMO that cannot be matched in intensity and richness by life without it. Not only that, it's like an offence to reason to pursue something just for purely for a subjective experience: it's like this thought experiment where if you could push a button to give yourself instant ecstasy, would you do it? No, because you reduce yourself to just being a slave to the feeling. Human beings, our reason, is so much more than following pleasure, good feelings, good experiences, because we want ourselves to actually contribute to what is most meaningful to us, otherwise we are just passive observers, slaves to the circumstances, bending the knee to simplistic passions--we want to make our will, desires, thoughts, dreams, etc. real by making it matter in the world and this means converting what is in us into something that exists out there.

I know this rationally so well, but somehow my heart cannot follow me. Maybe this is not my heart but merely my habit.

I think the perspective that this is a habit, and just a habit, and that it needs to be broken and replaced is good, but for me it is not enough to have that. It's good to be able to disengage from PMO, but then it also has this overarching power over oneself such that calling it a mere habit seems to just make light of a situation that isn't all that light. (On the other hand, the situation may be overblown, which is part of the problem.) But given that the habit does have such deep impact on the rest of one's being and has such a powerful hold, taking things up a notch wouldn't be a bad thing but maybe a necessary one.

So I don't mean to not view it as a habit-problem, but not only as that. It is a lifestyle question, and as any lifestyle question it connects with your idea of who you are, your values, etc. These things are in essence spiritual, and I mean spiritual in the sense that they transcend merely practical and utilitarian functions (and not as something extra-mundane and religious), since--at the end of the day--what is good in life? Why do we want to do the things we do? What is life all about? What do we want to make our life about? I think PMO addiction, and likely any addiction, touches upon this sphere and, at the very least, asks us to consider what is of utmost importance to us. What is the ultimate concern? In this context, things may very well seem like a "battle" or "war", if only used as narrative devices, since it relates to 'who' we want to be and that is not a question of habit. This is why I like Universal Man's series on Sexual Self-mastery, since, although it is primarily about quitting PMO, it is more about sexual self-mastery, namely, a bigger project--and one that is not a particular habit but an overall stance towards life. Do you want to actively own your own sexuality or be subjected to it? It goes beyond PMO, which I think is a really motivating and important thing, since one of the key things in recovery is not only to fight the negative but also build the positive: sexual self-mastery is always positive-, active- and on-going: you cannot but realize the project in working towards it. So it is, again, a spiritual thing for me because it concerns the ultimate values.

But as we go forward, both perspectives are needed, I think. We need to reduce it to a habit-problem and we need to enlarge the wounds it opened up and examine them in the most important light.

I realize that I need to back to basics, since I did manage a year I should go back to "bootcamp", and so I'm re-watching a bunch of stuff. Reading pinned posts here and going through Universal Man's SSMG. I say today by the river, at a place I can put my feet down into the river, and just listened for 1,5 hours to the first three episodes. I didn't intend to listen for so long but it felt so good to be outside and to be dealing with this earnestly again that I kept on listening. I then went for a walk where I thought about what I had heard, and I thought about this post you made yogi, and just thought about what I could be doing. There are ruins of past strongholds that once kept me up, and these need to be rebuild, but also, I need to go further than I went last time. Something was still missing before that led me to the relapse and I need to identify what that was.

Thanks again yogi, your posts were really helpful in getting me thinking about this more intensely than before.

Indeed, we do not accept defeat. The fact of us being here--on this forum, writing, posting, reading, listening, educating, analysing, thinking about it--just proves that.
 

yogi

Member
You have an uncanny ability to do in-depth analysis of your thoughts and your past and future life. You are asking philosophical questions regarding the "meaning of life".
This means you have a brain much stronger than what porn can enslave.
It is the beginning of a bright life ahead, provided you channel these energies in the correct way.

Regarding the momentary ecstasy when you relapsed-fact is that the porn habit pathways never really die; they lie there dormant, waiting to be activated IF YOU ALLOW THEM TO.

There is perhaps a role of genetic make-up, what genes you inherited from your parents. Why are some people never addicted to sex/porn even if you shove it in their face? They will discard it like a tissue paper. How? They don't give importance to it because it doesn't capture their attention in the first place.

For example, my father, to be frank is not a model father whom you can look up to. He was a smoker, and would often pick up fights with my mother especially during set times (when it was time to smoke). After smoking his mood would change. My mother is a wonderful and strong person who has weathered successfully the verbal and occasional physical abuse my father would indulge in, and has raised two strong and successful kids with good values.

Yes, I have a strong sense of ethics and if you were to meet me in person you wouldn't believe that I a closeted porn addict.

You see, morality and ethics and spiritual discourse is not enough to break porn addiction, since it is at its core a habit.

Like you, even I have tried the spiritual route. But for me it did not work.

What has worked for me, after so many years, is the concept of looking at porn as a habit, and practicing modifying behaviours.

For instance, one simple habit change I have done is to stop sitting on the ergonomic chair and instead sit on a stool whenever I am using the computer. You know what? Suddenly the brain realises that I can't slouch back to expose my penis and fap, as there is no backrest! I will fall back on my head if I try.

And that itself has had such a tremendous impact. I am able to pull myself out even if I am touching my willy.

And of course, journaling daily or twice weekly means I am immediately able to shift attention from porn and allow the urge to pass away.

Hence I pointed out that you haven't journaled for an entire month, so your self-awareness transiently lapsed, allowing you to fall back on old behaviours.

PS: Have you considered a writing career? You could make a good fiction writer.
 

Wolfman

Member
Dear yogi,

I think we all have a brain and a mind much more potent and powerful than what porn can enslave, and it is not owing to the success and cunning of porn that we become conquered but in making ourselves our own worst enemies. We let porn take over these parts of us--unaware at first of the damage, perhaps seeking only thrills--and what we fall pray to is not something out there but something within us: something we've let become weakened and dysfunctional over time and the poor state of these faculties gives us a two-fold suffering. First in the manner that these parts have become crazed drug-addicts and they cry out for comfort and they "high". But, second, and perhaps more impactful, the fact that this has all happened under our supervision. Our rationality and intellect, meant to guide us and manage us well has failed us in this instance and we experience that we're not even able to take care of ourselves, becoming as helpless as the addiction mangled parts of us. But something here isn't right, because we would not suffer and we would not see this as problem were it not for other parts of us recognized this as a failure. What I mean is that if things really were bad, you wouldn't even be able to perceive them as bad. The fact we understand them as bad and ourselves as having failed already points to a sense at work within us to repair, console and restore what has fallen and broken. Like a friend who's on a bad path, we would console that friend and show him compassion, but we also wouldn't give him the very things which enabled his suffering and therewith prolong the misery: what's needed is a compassionate disciplining (perhaps that's an oxymoron?).

Well, human beings are supremely complicated creatures, and if some people manage to watch all the porn in the world without detriment, all the better for them. But we have a problem with it and that's what matters here.

I agree, ethics/spiritual view is not enough. But I also don't think the perspective of habit alone is enough in the long run. I think we need both.

You're right. I haven't journaled enough and I should make it a mandate to come here more often. My self-awareness has crumbled over the last 6 months (if not before) and it needs to be rebuilt. I'm actively putting some time every day now to reboot education.

I have been thinking of listing all the things that I find (or believe that I find) in PMO and then think of ways in which real practical changes could attend to these. So PMO for me, offers/promises:

1. Loving and caring consolation
2. Excitement and freedom in the realm of sex and sexuality
3. Blissful sensation
4. Relief from stress
5. Relief from boredom

I think no. 1 is for me what I look for the most right now, and it's obvious that, objectively, PMO couldn't be less loving and caring of me. So instead of PMO, I should look for love and care in friendships and community (and, of course, a romantic partner, but this isn't something readily available...) and build bonds with people: there I will find genuine love and care.

With regards to excitement and sexual freedom, there sure is a lot in porn: but it's all extremely superficial. You become attuned to superficial bodily qualities and disconnected from real bodies, real shapes, actual skin. And it seems like there is more imagination in porn but that's because your imagination with actual people has shrunk and been depleted severely, to the point where there is nothing happening when you're with an actual person. I know, I've had this happen to me several occasions. So, there's just as much excitement and freedom to be had in real sex, and more, though it is non-superficial. I think the response to this would just to meet women, go on dates, but take it on a real slow level, just enjoy flirting and being with another person and restore imagination in the real world.

No. 3 may be hard to find a replicate for, especially without using one's willy, but as unique as this sensation seems, it can be matched by others. I think art and beauty could be a good avenue here: music, drama, novels, etc. Or adventures outdoors, climbing a mountain, going deep into a forest, taking a road trip. Not sure I'm hitting the nail on its head here but I'll keep thinking about this one.

No. 4 can find a host of alternatives. I find particularly exercise and working out to be good, and I've kept this up for well over a year now. I recently tried to expand to 3 sessions a week, which is though but working, but recently a hiccup with covid vaccine left me a week without training. But I'm getting back to it! Other than that, just doing stupid shit, like watching films or video games can be decent relaxation when used sparingly.

Lastly, boredom can be a good thing. Just giving yourself time in the moment. Here, however, there have been pitfalls: I often relapse in moments of boredom, so I need to think about ways to sort myself out such that I don't do that. I read Phineas' thing about AWARE in another post here and I'll try to keep this one in mind.

Hardmode: 2 days.

PS. I have thought about writing--thanks for your compliments by the way!--and I have written some creative things in poetry and prose. I have been writing a longer piece that centers around the issue of PIED, porn and the modern dating world, but unfortunately I just have zero energy and time these days to work on it (owing to the PhD). I also feel I need to grow my writing abilities in order to do it justice. It's strange, because I wrote a lot on this thing when I was 3-4 months into my previous reboot. Perhaps that activity enabled me to draw out a lot of messy things within and acted as surrogate therapy.
 

yogi

Member
Well said Wolfman!

Yeah a combination of habit training and spiritual discipline might be what we are looking for. Neither works entirely on its own.

Cheering for you!
 

Ajinkya

Member
Hey wolfman , yes you have some fabulous writing skillls ,

reading your posts is always an enriching experience.

keep up the spirits, YES you CAN.
 
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