Started Friday July 3rd

TheNorman

Active Member
My wife came upstairs and was very upset. She wanted to talk. She had found a porn site open on my laptop. I could have lied and said it was a popup but I've been lying about it, to her and myself for too long. I've been lying about a lot of stuff. I'm done with it. I feel so much clearer right now and it's only been a few days. How do I hold on to this? How worried should I be about this "high" falling away and falling back into it?
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks so much for your reply. She is incredibly hurt, and sad and angry and just about every emotion you'd expect for having someone lie to you about something for your entire relationship. She caught me early on in our relationship too and I promised her I would quit and I did try, but in hindsight I obviously didn't do nearly enough of the things I needed to for it to really be a meaningful effort. She is hurt and all that but also incredibly supportive. There is a lot of shame-cycle stuff that goes along with it as well as other things so we are both working on it together. It's been going incredibly well, and just frighteningly so well that I'm very worried that it's all going to come crashing down again.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
I definitely haven't suffered any really noticeable physical stuff yet other than some headaches but I am an emotional wreck. I just feel raw. I am dealing with a lot of religion-based shame stuff and it's hard to deal with too, because I know it's associated with addiction but it's also not an excuse for my past behaviour. I've removed myself from my biggest trigger which was being alone late at night by going to bed with my wife and reading (or sobbing and trying to figure out all this stuff about myself). I went from feeling this euphoria of coming clean with my SO and feeling this huge weight lifted off of me, followed by this incredible sadness at the pain it's causing her, and the way it hurt our relationship in the past. Resolved to not break!
 

Andrew1973

Active Member
Welcome TheNorman. You are in good company here. I hope that things are a little more settled now at home. I think you are right to flag a risk of slipping back into old behaviours after the shock and pain of the discovery naturally settles. This is perhaps the opportunity to use that catalyst to develop the motivation within for YOU to quit for YOU, and start to take the actions to build a plan of attack. Doing it just for your wife/relationship etc wont work in my experience - it's just too easy to return to the duplicitous lifestyle once all appears 'ok' on the surface.
Have a look around a few of the more active guys journals on here - I'm sure you'll soon start to identify with their journeys, and perhaps share a bit more about your own, and you'll receive the benefit of empathy, feedback and practical help. For me, being here has been a great enabler and has helped dispel that shame that you talk about and that acts as a re-enforcement to the PMO cycle. Cheers for now.
 

Joel

Active Member
welcome to the forum, norman. This all sounds like good progress, because progress is usually painful. We're here to help you push through. I think there's something very awesome waiting for us on the other side.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks guys. I hear exactly what you're saying as far as change for me vs change for my SO. It's definitely for me. It was a problem before we met, and something, along with the shame cycles, that went through phases of coping mechanism and habit. I haven't had any thoughts of relapse at all, but I also recognize that I'm still very much on high alert, and I have read some posts on here about how it's the letting your guard down that really can catch you.

I had my first therapy session last night and I have some homework. She talked about EMDR as well as group therapy. I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with either?

I have noticed how much time my mind has for being present now, and how much sex, porn, objectification, shame, checking out were such a huge part of my thought processes before.

I'm catching myself in those thoughts and trying to give myself some grace in that it's not going to stop overnight, I'm being brutally honest with my SO about those thoughts (past and present) which as you can imagine is horrifying for her to hear.

I grew up in a very religious household and that constant pressure/threat of repercussions helped me become a very good liar. Because I didn't "feel" the way they said you should I lied said I did because I was worried that it was something wrong with me. Then when I realized it was all a bunch of bullshit I lied to keep a roof over my head. Lying about anything makes lying easier to do, guilt builds up. It was an ideal breeding ground for seeking unhealthy coping mechanisms and I did seek those out too.

I'm trying to tell the truth no matter what. I'm admitting when I'm wrong, even if it's a simple as not pretending I heard what a person said and asking them to clarify or repeat what they said. At work I'm trying to admit that I don't know the answer always. It all is hard to do but also feels really good.

I'm grateful for my SO. She's been amazing in all of this. I'm grateful for this forum. I've learned a lot from reading about your journey's. I'm grateful for the ability to admit I have a problem and I know I have the strength to overcome it. I hope I can help you guys find your strength too, because it's only been a few days but I can honestly say it's been some of the hardest but most rewarding days of my life. I want truth to be my high.

Thanks for reading. Let's all keep fighting.
 

Rookie

Active Member
Greetings Norman, great to have you here. As I mentioned in one of my "journal entries", the great thing about this forum, is that we're only identified by our addiction. Aside that, we're completely anonymous. Except UKguy, we know he's from the UK...now it's to narrow it down out of the 68 million they have there, then narrowing it down to the men above 40...so he's one in about 25 million. So yea, anonymous.

Now back to this forum,  we all have different backgrounds. Myself, reformed baptist (brought up Catholic like most in my area). I do see my faith as a huge help, But not everyone has the same path to recovery.

The only part we can say for now, is post often. Use this as a diary / journal. And since you're new to the board and the reboot, try to post daily, no matter how mundane or "useless" you think it will be, just the fact that you're posting here, will be a reminder of what you're fighting for and fighting against. I have seen some people just put "day 14, nothing new to report"...but just posting that, is a reminder of what you're trying to fight.

The other part is, at the start of the battle, I found the first 30 days easy. Mostly due to the guilt, and the fear of falling again. My guard was very, very high. If you read through my first few posts,  I didn't even watch modern cartoons. I found the women were way too endowed and I would then search them out online. So, I basically cut off all internet and movies except my bible studies and quick Facebook browsing.

As far as being brutally honest with your wife, now that she knows, I would ask her, how much details she wants to hear. If she says she wants to hear it all, then oblige. Otherwise, she might just want to hear about your struggles, she might just want to hear about your victories.

I know for myself, if my wife confessed an addiction, I wouldn't want each replay...I would want a progress report, but once a week or once a month would be fine, providing there's progress and effort.

Either way, I have rambled enough, looking forward to reading the journal.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks Rookie. I definitely plan on checking in daily. I'm writing things down as they happen, have a phone group meeting that I'm going to try tonight as well as a 1-1 therapy session next week.

My SO and I are trying to be as open as possible but I do ask her if she is able to hear some of the stuff before I tell her. She lets me know if it's too much for her as you very well know it's hard to hear some of this stuff for her.

I definitely have my guard up. I've left my phone with my wife, I am working from home but on a computer in a common area so that there's no hiding what I'm looking at. My biggest trigger was being alone at night and have replaced that with being with my SO and sitting out and having a beer, or talking (still lots to talk about). We do some intimate stuff that I won't get into other than that it is purely focused on her and not me. One of the many good things that has come in my recovery is without shame and lies we feel much more connected to each other. I'm not sure if it's "playing with fire" by doing things with her that are obviously arousing but I also feel very good and strong when I don't use that as an excuse to then go and "clear the pipes" which was a mindset that would sometimes lead to watching porn. I do see some things that say avoid everything sexual in general but there is also some stuff about sexuality and shame that has also played into not being there physically for my SO the way I want to be so it's a tough balancing act.

I was raised as a Mormon, hence the handle "Norman the Mormon" is a bit of a slang term for Mormon men. I hear what you're saying about faith being good for some and not others. For me it was a huge problem. It was the very base of my foundation that didn't feel right so I lied to fit in. If you lie about the very nature of who you are in the eyes of all of your family and friends, lying about using porn or anything else you're ashamed of becomes like a reflex. "Don't get caught" became a huge part of how I processed anything. I would be in the locker room with guys talking openly about their consumption of porn and I wouldn't engage at all because even in a place where it's considered "normal" I would refuse to acknowledge my problem.

I've cried more in these past few days than I have in a long time. Being vulnerable (truly vulnerable, not using my own shame as some kind of "acting cue") has been incredibly hard. When you feel like your whole personality and thought process is built on lying, how do you know if you're ever telling the truth? It's a real roller coaster in my head. I can't go back to how it was before. It's so poisonous: the lying, the shame, the avoiding of ever really dealing with anything. My SO and I mourn the lost time but I have to remind myself about all the really great things, our kids, the good times we've shared. I am trying to look back at those and hold on to the good things, knowing that those types of good things going forward will be that much better because we will truly be enjoying them together.
 

Rookie

Active Member
This is where my faith has helped me. I was born and brought up Catholic (in this area, if you're French, you're Catholic). But then, my dad noticed the hypocrisy in the church...so he was looking for something else.

Then he found the Brethren, and that's where I was saved as well. But now, I'm a reformed Baptist. Not legalistic in the sense of no booze, no beach, no movies...but, living in the grace of God. Knowing that every single day, I'm going to fail, miserably in pleasing Him. That's why Christ had to die...for my failings.

So now, do I feel guilty when I sin, absolutely. However, I know I have an advocate.

But the first month, of coming to terms on how deep I was, man, that sucked and it was a guilt trip that just wouldn't let go. At all...I had to have many conversations with some Christians and many times on my knees praying and confessing.

I say all this not to push Christianity, but to say, that was the only way I was going to have my conscience relieved.

As far as intimacy with your wife, I wouldn't hold any thing back with her at all. It's the digital that kills, not the natural beauty.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks Rookie. In the past I would have dismissed your faith, as although not religious, I am very self-righteous and it feels very much a part of the larger picture of things about myself I am working on changing. I can say I am very happy that religion for you is a source of comfort.

I felt the guilt of sin but with no belief in god, and for me that created a real problem in my head in that I pushed so hard away from religion and yet I still felt those "sinful" feelings. I know now that those feelings weren't about sin or god or anything (at least for me). They were about honesty. Being honest with myself, being honest with others. Admitting that porn was a problem was a piece of all the stuff that kept lies as a way of protecting myself from judgements or criticism or emotions. I'm working very hard at being honest in everything I do now. Even if it makes me uncomfortable or disappoints someone or whatever...lies are just disappointment time-bombs.

My wife hit a wall last night. We fell into old patterns: Her being mad, me being defensive and avoiding talking to her about it. This time the stakes feel so much higher. I did end up talking with her and we both cried a lot but we were honest. In the past I would just say what she wanted to hear in the hopes the argument would stop. I'm trying to not do that anymore. It is exhausting, but being honest and present leaves me with that good feeling that any hard meaningful work leaves you with. I want to make that my new drive. Not some false way of rewarding my brain with emptiness.

As for being with my wife, as long as she is comfortable with it, I am going to try to keep things just about her for now. I've been selfish for so long. I'm not punishing myself for what I've done by not letting it be about me, I'm enjoying our connection and in that I'm enjoying being selfless, because in my 40's I'm finally figuring out that that's what love is. I also want stuff for me to be really me and her. Not some video I watched, or messed up fantasy I had from the past. I want to make sure it's my mind. I'm not there yet, or at least not sure I will be there when that time comes. Until then I'm going to just keep working.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Went briefly to a friends social-distance party. My wife needed me to be home at a certain time so she could go to a funeral. I didn't take my cellphone because I still don't want to have it with me when I'm by myself. I trust myself not to look at stuff but I am just trying to eliminate the possibility right now. I was very zoned-out and on my phone constantly so it's been nice to not have it, but I also had no idea what time it was as I stayed and chatted and that caused me to be late. I should have just asked someone what time it was but obviously I didn't. My wife stormed off angrily when I got home. In the past I would have made excuses/felt guilt/withdrew myself. I am waiting for her to get back so I can go through the uncomfortable feelings of being wrong and apologize again. That's something that I would have avoided in the past. I guess that's something.

I felt very tired at the end of the day yesterday. It is hard work keeping track of your thoughts and trying to be present and aware all the time. I have to remember it's better to feel worn out from doing things that are worthwhile rather than feel worn out from lying/shame/guilt.
 

J01

Active Member
Hope you were able to weather the storm concerning the lateness episode.  Sometimes in a similar situation I have used the wisdom contained in a verse from Proverbs: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  Sometimes when we don't argue back and strongly defend ourself or escalate the situation it disarms the other side.  Anyway, this new direction you are heading is going to bring improvement in your social relations and career.  Congratulations on choosing this battle and keep going and the clarity and confidence will grow. 
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks Jixu. In the past, I wouldn't argue at all because I didn't want to lose my temper with my SO as I can get pretty hostile when I'm angry, so I would just stare, which was worse in some ways because there was no communication. She came back and we talked it out and it was fine. Part of the reason I was a bit late was I don't carry my phone with my right now as it could be a trigger for looking at porn, so I really had no way of telling time other than asking my friends, and it felt rude to be so rushed, but I know now it's better to just be up-front and say "I have to be back by this time" and that's something I'm working on too. SO MANY THINGS TO WORK ON.

One of the things about my relationship with my SO is that she likes to go to bed much earlier than I had in the past. A big reason for that was I'd stay up and watch stupid shit on YouTube or surf the web and inevitably end up looking at porn. In this short amount of time I've been going to bed with her and it's been great. I've lost weight because I'm not snacking late at night, I'm hoping eventually I'll get more sleep (been having some messed-up dreams the past few nights), I'm reading a good book. It all feels nice.

Thanks for your kind words Jixu. I'm really glad I have come to this site. It really helps to know that I have other people fighting alongside me.

The thing that doesn't feel good is these "flashes" of porn. My kids show says something about nurses and I had these stills of porn flash in my head. First one and it's jarring then I get agitated it's there and then another and another all bing-bing-bing in a row and I'm finally able to flush them out by thinking of Ben Stiller in "Meet the Parents". It's just really annoying at this point to have these words or images or thoughts create these flashes in my head of porn. I worry that my brain will hold onto them forever and they'll just keep popping up as "memories". I guess it's good that I'm aware it's happening, because I sure wasn't in the past. I'm just hoping it happens less.

I also have talked with my SO about how I would see body parts of other women and that would turn up in my search that night, like a woman with a large chest or butt or whatever became fuel for that nights PMO. Sometimes it would be the top of one person and the bottom of another like some kind of porn frankenstein. I have been avoiding even going outside or looking at women in general because I don't know if I can look without my brain automatically sexualizing them. I was exposed to my first porn magazine when I was 8 years old. I worry that my brain will never be able to just see people for themselves and not just T&A.

Off to floss my teeth. Trying to turn one of my fantasies into my dentist being amazed at how great my teeth look at my next check-up. Like I said, lots of work to be done. Just gotta keep going.
 

Andrew1973

Active Member
TheNorman said:
The thing that doesn't feel good is these "flashes" of porn. My kids show says something about nurses and I had these stills of porn flash in my head. First one and it's jarring then I get agitated it's there and then another and another all bing-bing-bing in a row and I'm finally able to flush them out by thinking of Ben Stiller in "Meet the Parents". It's just really annoying at this point to have these words or images or thoughts create these flashes in my head of porn. I worry that my brain will hold onto them forever and they'll just keep popping up as "memories". I guess it's good that I'm aware it's happening, because I sure wasn't in the past. I'm just hoping it happens less.
I think it will happen less TheNorman, but at the same time, as a human you are a sexual being and it would be unnatural for urges to go away in totality - for me, the key is what those urges then lead to - if it's objectifying or PMO, then clearly that's unhelpful for you. If it's just an appreciation of beauty, or even a physical reaction to some degree (elevated heart rate, little bit of excitement in the brain) that doesn't spiral out of control then I'd suggest that's normal. What's great is that you have a new awareness of this whole process and can therefore mindfully explore those urges. Remember the saying 'what you resist, just persists', so don't beat yourself up and obsess around stopping the thoughts - just observe them in a non judgemental way, and let any desires to do what you don't want to do, just pass - I can guarantee you they will. Good luck and have a good week.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks so much UKGuy, I agree, the fact that they are jarring means they're not just accepted thoughts which is better than before. I think I'm still dealing with shame/self forgiveness stuff that makes it harder to accept my progress. Even though I know being aware is better, it's still helpful to hear it on here.

I had a much better night last night. Slept better and still memorable vivid dreams but they involved a large family dinner and then dancing so that has helped my head this morning not scramble trying to figure stuff out as much. I'm extremely busy with work this week which means the only time I have to step away from work is to check in here or help my wife and kids. This is all hard work but the amount of time I've gained from not flipping to Reddit or sports or take forever in the bathroom or whatever is huge. Just need to keep filling that newfound time with worthwhile things.

I have another therapy session tomorrow which I'm excited for instead of terrified so that's a good sign too.

Thanks again. Let's all make this a good week.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Well the brain is certainly not firing on all cylinders just yet as my therapy session isn't until tomorrow. I also had a brief phone consultation with a different therapist about EMDR and/or brainspotting. I will have to read more about it but it's something my therapist recommended I look into, and I'm not in any position to ignore advice from mental health professionals. My wife also got some books for me from the library that I will start to read once they've passed the covid quarantine time. I don't know if I'm slipping into being less aware of my thoughts again or if I'm just having less "flashes" but I feel like there has been less. Being incredibly busy helps with that though.

I spoke to my wife about some stuff in relation to my parents. I know a lot of my shame-cycle stems from my upbringing but at the same time I find myself downplaying it because it wasn't overly abusive or malicious. At the end of the day it's not about how other people see what my childhood was like though. I lived it. I know what things were good about it and I know what things have caused incredible pain then and continue to cause now. I know now that I used PMO for a lot of reasons, but avoidance of reality is high on that list. It's weird...for me right now, PMO isn't even a thought, flashes of porn are jarring and confusing but they're not making me want to seek it out at all. Right now I'm in this stage of trying to figure out where all that stuff ends and where I begin. I'm going to keep looking for that line and keep my guard up about the porn stuff.

It's getting "late" for me so I'm heading to bed. Before, I'd be up until 1-2 AM, watching whatever on the internet, surfing around aimlessly, ending up on PMO, maybe going back to other stuff for another hour or so. Since July 3rd I've been going to bed early and reading. I'm not saying I'll never be on the internet again but it's a lot easier to avoid porn when both your hands are holding pages.
 

TheNorman

Active Member
I had my second therapy session. Man what a freight train of information to think about. Being raised the way I was, with the parents I have, and then finding porn at a very early age before I even knew what any of it was about: All worked very well at keeping me from addressing my problems with porn, or even really seeing it as a problem.

It turns out a large part of my addiction was using it as a coping mechanism but it's all rooted in hormones and insecurity and curiosity. It started when I was a kid. Seeing these images that made me feel so funny and strange and excited. Then you're a teen and your hormones are firing like crazy and you're pimply and awkward and nobody would want to touch you that way and you "take matters into your own hands" and you do it A LOT. Then it becomes a habit. But it's not like when you put your keys on the hook or something like that. It's a habit that is being pounded into your brain through chemicals and hormones and excitement and release and shame and guilt and promises to never do it again except the shame that makes you feel bad is the bad feeling you try to escape with PMO and the cycle goes on and on.

I'm almost at two weeks. I've had no major physical withdrawal symptoms, no real strong urges or thoughts of using PMO. I've been so busy dealing with all these unhealthy patterns I let my mind fall into, some from before there's any memories of anything else. I'm going to be a better person for this. I already AM a better person for this. I'm going to fight for this. Authentic me. No shortcuts. No excuses. No more lies. Hard fucking work. Let's keep working.
 

Andrew1973

Active Member
Sounds like you have a really good therapist there TheNorman. I really admire the resolve in your last paragraph - it's a real declaration of intent that will stand you in good stead for the journey ahead. And what a great realisation that you are already a better person for this. Bravo my friend!
 

TheNorman

Active Member
Thanks so much for your reply UKGuy. I am so grateful for the help I'm getting from her. She had a lot of nice things to say about you lot here and I would agree. Seeing others struggle through the same thing and keep fighting really helps.

I spoke with 3 therapists over the last couple days about taking me on with the potential for EMDR work as well. It's going to cost a pretty penny but what is more important than my brain?! I liked the vibe from 2/3 and I think I will have decided on door #2. My wife and I just watched Brene Brown's thing on Netflix about vulnerability. I teared up a lot during it because of how much of it hit home. I can definitely say that wouldn't have been the case before I started on this journey. My whole side of my teeth/upper jaw really ached today and I'm not sure if that's a physical side-affect finally rearing it's ugly head or if it's my newfound dedication to flossing...either way it doesn't matter. I'm still going to floss everyday and not PMO so my jaw can ache all it wants.

I'm working on a project for work where I normally would have reached out constantly for guidance/opinions because of the fear of fucking it up or looking like I was incompetent or weak (like I said, I watched Brene Brown). I'm almost done it without any of that but now I'm scared for when I present it tomorrow. It's funny; I kind of hope they have a lot to say about it because either way I'm proud of myself for working hard on it and taking some risks. If the feedback is great, then goddamn it'll feel good to have put myself out there. If the feedback is more critical, then I'm going to listen, not be defensive and learn from it. Not hiding. Not holding back. Wish me luck!
 
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