How Shall We Escape?

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...?" - Hebrews 2:3a.

This text has much significance to me. The patriarch Joseph fled and escaped from Potiphar's wife, who was sexually aggressive. Potiphar's wife represents pornography and the porn industry. Joseph represents our ability to flee and escape PMO.

(Gen 39:7-12; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2Tim 2:22; 1Jn 5:21).

My Story

I am a man in his early 50's. I am finding freedom and victory over sexually addictive behaviors. Though the fight is decades old, I have found what works and what doesn't work for me.

I grew up in a loveless home, where emotional and sometimes physical abuse occurred. As a child, I found pornography on the playground in the 4th or 5th grade, and took it home as a keepsake. My neighborhood friend also had a stash.

I ran away from home at age 13, kicked out at 16, and grew up on the streets. I was the victim of trauma as a runaway, which commpacted shame based thinking.

I became a Christian at age 18, but struggled with masturbation for years. I was in a legalistic and spiritually abusive church for 9 years. I found freedom for a limited time (1990-91).

When I began to date my wife, shame based behaviors resurfaced and escalated. These struggles included pornography and masturbation. Getting married didn't end the struggle, as I created a double-life. I also had an obsession with prostitutes (ended in 1994) and going to video porn stores (ended 2003). As my struggles morphed, I became more secretive with T.V., home computer, and later the iPhone.

While trying different things to quit, I learned more about my addiction. I had different degrees of success (Desert Stream 2006), though often shame would drag me back down. My legalistic mindset led to a lot of white-knuckling approaches.

I embraced the radical grace of God in 2013, and it began to undo my shame, a major driver of the addiction.

I also joined Reboot Nation under a different name (2014-16), and accomplished long streaks without pmo or m/o. I deleted my RN account, having hit my goals. I also didn't want to identify with these behaviors any longer.

I had hit 116 days without porn at least two different times. I even hit over 300 days, close to a year (March 2019 - March 2020) without going to porn sites!

But then the pandemic happened! I retired from a 22 year career (ending a close friendship) at the same time. Needless to say, I turned back to old habits of pmo 1-2x a week. This was due to unhealthy habits with social media: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Since June of 2020 I've been counting days again, at least until I can break this habit. First, my best didn't go past 24 days (July 2020), and I would average 8 days more or less without looking at porn.

I finally dealt with my social media use, and the relationship with my iPhone in general. This has so far given me 34 days free! This latest streak was significant, because I'm no longer using p-subs with social media, or edging! I'm yielding a more 'honest-reboot', a true and clean abstinence, one I can feel good about.

My Purpose in this Forum

First to help myself. This journal will help me to stay accountable to myself, and to focus on my current goals to end this habit. After reaching my goal of 120 days, I'll just live my life with new and better habits, without P, M/O.

Second, to help others with what's working for me. I plan to post often, and help out on other's journals and topics.

All are welcome to my journal! No matter your beliefs or non-beliefs, I just hope to help you in your own struggles.

My Approach

All my successes have been without porn filters or blockers, and accountability partners. We can also break this habit without first trying to heal the past, though our head will be a lot clearer to do that once we're free.

My approach does not embrace the disease model of addiction or 12-Step programs. But if this helps you, I won't knock it! We can help each other, despite our differences in approach.

First- My approach is spiritual using various disciplines. This will include prayer, reading Scripture, etc... But I have learned the hard way not to be legalistic with yourself, as that only strengthens the habit.

I've found the most victory and success under grace, radical grace. This is to believe that, no matter what, you're forgiven of all your sins: past, present and future. And that you're loved and saved, even before you were born.

Second- I use mindfulness. It's about being in the present moment. Instead of fighting urges head on, I use awareness, focusing on the breath as I dismiss urges nonjudgmentally. I repeat this for every wave of urges that come.

Third- I use the science of habit-change. We may retrain the brain (neuroplasticity) away from these learned habits. This is more empowering to me than the disease model of addiction. We have the means of change in our hands, as we take back power from unwanted behaviors or pornography.

My Plan Executed

My plan is to abstain from acting out to P/MO for 120 days. Afterward, I'll have retrained myself toward different behaviors and habits for life's circumstances. More important, how to not react to old cues or stimuli that used to fuel the habit.

Why this number? 120 is very spiritual (Gen 6:3; Acts 1:15; 2:1-4).

Also, it takes 90 days to promote habit change, and deal with the neural chemicals released during P/MO:

DeltaFos B: 6-8 weeks (42-56 days, or between 1 month, 2 weeks to 2 months).

Hypofrontality: 8 weeks (56 days, or close to 2 months).

120 days = 15 x 8 (counting from 11/6/20, with completion dates):


1. 8 days: 11/14/20

2. 16 days: 11/22/20

3. 24 days: 11/30/20

4. 32 days: 12/8/20




5. 40 days: 12/16/20

6. 48 days: 12/24/20

7. 56 days: 1/1/21

8. 64 days: 1/9/21




9. 72 days: 1/17/21

10. 80 days: 1/25/21

11. 88 days: 2/2/21

12. 96 days: 2/10/21




13. 104 days: 2/18/21

14. 112 days: 2/26/21

15. 120 days: 3/6/21

Goal Completed!

Blessings.
 
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Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Progress Tracker

This post is to track my further progress beyond the 120 days accomplished above.

Streaks (since rejoining RN):

--> November 6, 2020 to March 25, 2021 were 139 days without P, PMO, MO, and with minimal edging and p-subs.

--> March 25, 2021 to May 17, 2021 were 53 days with no P or PMO (including April 13, 2021 to May 17, 2021, 35 days without MO).

--> May 17, 2021 to May 20, 2021 were 2 days without P/MO.

--> May 20, 2021 to June 3, 2021 were 14 days without P, PMO, or MO.

Probationary Lapse Strategy:

In the event of a lapse (after hitting a goal 120 or 90 days), I will go on as if no lapse occurred, albeit with extra vigilance.

But if another episode occurs within 30 days of a previous lapse, that will serve as a threshold toward counting days, and I will institute an abstinence challenge.



30 Day Probationary: 3/25/21 > 4/13/21 = 19

Lapse: 0 Ending: 0

Result: 0



Abstinence Challenge:

I will abstain from P, PMO, MO for 90 days, counted as 9 x 10 = 90 (counting from 6/03/21, to end on 9/01/21).

1. 10 days: 4/23/21, X (5/20), 5/30/21, 6/13/21

2. 20 days: 5/3/21, X (6/3)

3. 30 days: 5/13/21



4. 40 days: X (5/17)

5. 50 days:

6. 60 days:



7. 70 days:

8. 80 days:

9. 90 days:

Porn Free Summer!

(Summer = 6/20/21 - 9/22/21, or 93 days)



Current Progress:

Days Currently Abstinent: (since P, PMO, or MO) = 13+

Challenge Complete: 1/9

Streaks Since 11/6/20: 139 [P, MO], 53 [19 > MO, 35 > PMO], 2 [P], 14 [Px2, PMO]
 
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Cosmo

Active Member
Phineas/Leon - Welcome back! I know we crossed paths back in 2014. It's always a pleasure to welcome back a fellow returned traveler like myself!

Sorry the welcome is coming a bit late. Had I not just come off a recent relapse and used just about all of my available energy to resist the after effects, I surely would have reached out a lot sooner.

To your credit, though, you see to be doing quite well. With 34 days behind you and a more 'honest-reboot' that you feel good about, you seem like you're in a good place mentally and emotionally. I'm especially intrigued by the notion of cues vs triggers, and how each of these assumes the amount of power (or control) that we give to it. Definitely food for thought.

Keep plugging away, friend. You're making great progress here!
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Overview for Perspective:

Without focus:

It was probably 4x or 8x a month (1x to 2x a week)!

Before Reboot Nation:

Between June 19, 2020 and November 6, 2020 are 140 days with 12x episodes (12/140 = 8.57 < 91.43).

After Rejoining:

Between November 6, 2020 and May 17, 2021 are 192 days with 3x episodes (3/192 = 1.56 < 98.44).

Current Progress:

Comparing June 19, 2020 to 5/17/21 = 7.01% improvement, or 3x in 6 months (1x every 2 months) compared to 12x in 4 months (3x each month)!
 
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Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Extra-focus Post

A place for when extra vigilance is needed, when weak or tempted.

Statements:


In true recovery (active) as opposed to recoveryism of the disease-model of addiction (passive), you are:

  • active, involved, self-directed—the opposite of the passive vision that you are suffering from a disease you can’t control;
  • outward- and forward-looking—rather than focusing on yourself as a trauma victim (Maté) or biological aberration (Volkow);
  • purpose driven—you are pursuing values and goals, rather than concentrating on trying not to do something;
  • positive—you believe the best about yourself and your life; you don’t see yourself as a disabled or deficient human being;
  • valuable—you believe that you and your life have a meaning to be fulfilled for the benefit of yourself and others and the world.

Links:

16 Principals of Recovery


Self-Judgment Against Ambivalence

What is a Successful Recovery Effort?

Signatures:

Urges may come and go, but free-won't is forever!


Progress Tracker
 
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Gabe Deem

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Welcome back Phineas!

I like your approach and purpose. The saying "helping others, helps ourselves" has certainly proven true for me.

I have also been trying to kick a severe social media addiction that has gotten out of hand during Covid lockdowns, wishing you the best with it.

Congrats on your streaks of success. You've done it before, you can do it again. 

Hoping the best for you as you execute the plan. Discipline = Freedom.

Much love



 
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Thank you so much, Gabe Deem! I am certainly honored for you coming by my journal!

Indeed, these lockdowns are not normal, albeit necessary (?). But they are definitely a challenge. That's exactly what helped fuel the reemergence of my habits.

Social media has been the 'jump off point' for me into my old habits, as well. But, changing the habits surrounding the unwanted habits, has definitely helped.

Much love to you as well!

 

J01

Active Member
Hi Phineas-good idea to begin a new restart.  Looks like you already have the tools and experience to make a good run.  Looking forward to hearing of your progress as you implement your plan.  Take care!
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Thanks, jixu!

Yes! Having the necessary tools is one thing, but doing all within our power to have and maintain focus is equally necessary. This is where this journal, and you guys come in.

I look back on 2014-16, and wonder where my focus went. Somewhere it lapsed into complacency? I do know that our continued habits can't take for granted things in our environment that may coax us back to sleep.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Important Links to Previous Posts!

As mentioned above, I had a previous account here on Reboot Nation, and my user name was 'Leon'. While I deleted my original journal ('The End of All Flesh'), I do have several posts still here on RN, that may be helpful to others as well as myself.

Note: I cannot edit these former posts, as they're in 'guest' mode, so the writing is what it is. Also, the links within these posts may or may not work.

Enjoy!

From 2014:

Keep Your Heart with All Diligence

Predator or Protector?

From 2015:

Advice After 100 Days!

10 Tips for a Successful Reboot or Recovery!

Goodbye to Fantasy...

Ten Principles of Recovery


From 2016:

Model for Real Habit Change

We're Here to Support Each Other, Right?


From 2020:

Triggers or Cues?

The Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO

Are We Escaping or Just Avoiding PMO?



From 2021:

60 Days In

16 Principles of Recovery

120 Days Free!


~~~

I'll update this list if I discover any other posts I may have overlooked.

I'll create a separate post in the future with other helpful links.

P.S. I would modify something from one of the posts (Model for Real Habit Change) thus:

Addiction: trigger/cue > urge + repetitious response = stronger habit/addiction.

Freedom: trigger/cue > urge + repetitious non-response, or a different response = habit change.

Peace.
 
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Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Today I hit my goal of 16 days free of p and m/o! This is 2/15 toward my overall goal of 120 days free from unwanted behaviors.

While 16 days may not seem much, these 16 are by no means 'technical' or 'legalistic', but are days without any misuse of social media or T.V. toward p-subs, without any edging or m/o.

Lust in public? That remains ever a challenge, but I seek to be mindful about it. If I catch myself wanting to take what is a natural attraction into a lingering lustful glance, I'll redirect it away by acknowledging that only God is beautiful (absolutely), and/or remember that she is a person, someone's daughter, wife, etc...

So while I seek to cautiously celebrate this victory, celebration is certainly called for. We ought to celebrate even the smallest of victories.

The question I want to keep before me now is, Am I being serious about this habit-change? Or, am I simply going to be a serial relapser? For relapse, is there a re to my lapse? There was after a 34 day stint (before rejoining RN), when I lapsed (hard) on 10/31, and again 6 days later, 11/6 there was a re to my lapse, and hence, potentially a relapse. This isn't being unduly harsh on myself, but a question of how serious am I? After being a decades old issue, if I want real change, I have to be dead-dog serious.

I feel real good, though. And it's because I don't have a bunch of compromises muddying up the water, but am finding what is really helping me right now. I remember hitting various goals before, and yes, 'technically' I didn't p/mo, but maybe I had some p-sub activity, maybe I was 'white-knuckling' because of what I really wanted to be doing? What I'm after here is real habit-change, so I can be pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family.

Grateful to be here. 
 

Joel

Active Member
Congrats on the milestone, Phineus. Your self awareness, seriousness and dedication to beating this is definitely apparent in your posts.

Compromises and gateways definitely muddy the water as it keeps those old links alive. Perfectionism can be dangerous too, remember to be forgiving to yourself if there's some kind of slip. This is a decades old habit tied into us and recovery isn't linear.

when tempted, perhaps lean into this other person want to be through action; eg what does pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family look like? Maybe you could come up with some actions that personify these things and do them when you feel you've stumbled a couple of steps in the wrong direction.

Enjoy the celebration. Onward!
 

stepbystep

Active Member
Congrats Phineas! You're giving me inspiration to follow your footsteps. How do you handle the situation when you have a trigger? Trying to come up with a good plan now. (Actually looking through your links -- I think it has some great material I plan to go through in the next few days)
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Compromises and gateways definitely muddy the water as it keeps those old links alive. Perfectionism can be dangerous too, remember to be forgiving to yourself if there's some kind of slip. This is a decades old habit tied into us and recovery isn't linear.

Thank you, Joel! Your replies are certainly encouraging!

I do hear you. I've been more or less  dealing with quitting these habits since at least 2003, and with a men's group in 2006.
I joined Reboot Nation in 2014-16, and saw good streaks and real habit change. And even more recently, before the pandemic, I had almost a year without pmo (March 2019 - March 2020).

So if I sound like a crazy person with his knife to his own throat, as it were, it's only to give me the serious focus that I need to not just waltz into something that's only going to be superfluous to my usual habit-patterns, without making real change.

But I certainly know this nonlinear approach you speak of, lol... In fact, the amount of success I've had is as a result of learning (and still learning) the grace of God, and in being merciful to myself should a slip or lapse occur. In fact, my whole approach, even with it's 'dead-dog seriousness' is all within the context of grace, and undergirded by mercy.

when tempted, perhaps lean into this other person want to be through action; eg what does pure and fruitful in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and be a real person to my family look like? Maybe you could come up with some actions that personify these things and do them when you feel you've stumbled a couple of steps in the wrong direction.

This is excellent toward the concept of not so much fighting the old habits as in building the new. What does this look like? Indeed, visualizing oneself, how we hope to be, or the future we want, is so very important.

And how you're meaning it is as a weapon to be used in the heat of the moment, to navigate away from acting on our urges. I like that. And I've had to tell myself before in the midst of an episode, "You're a better man than this!" Or, I try to think about how crappy I would feel the next day if carried out, or how good I'll feel, how toward my new self I'd feel if I didn't carry my urges out.

Thank you, and blessings.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
stepbystep said:
Congrats Phineas! You're giving me inspiration to follow your footsteps. How do you handle the situation when you have a trigger? Trying to come up with a good plan now. (Actually looking through your links -- I think it has some great material I plan to go through in the next few days)

Thank you, sbs! Welcome to my journal!

What others call 'triggers' I prefer to call 'cues', because trigger seems disempowering to me, like it takes power out of your hands, and makes the habit or addiction more powerful. We have to shift power from the external cues or triggers, or pmo, to the internal ability to wait out urges, and let them pass.

So, if a cue causes urges to rise in me, I'll mindfully become aware of it. I'll even stop at that moment (like your stepping outside of yourself) and check my pulse-rate, and notice how shallow your breathing has become. Be non-judgmental toward yourself, for the thoughts and urges you're having. See the urges as outside of you, or as mere thought, powerless to make you do anything. Now just breathe slower, deeper, and more methodical. Stay in this awareness, and watch the urge go on by. Check your pulse again, and you can feel that it slowed down, and your breathing is more relaxed. You can even become expectant that another urge may come, but same thing, just be mindful of it, and slow your breathing down. Focus on your breath, and let the urge pass.

This is all in my A.W.A.R.E. acronym:

A.W.A.R.E.

A - Acceptance. Be accepting, even welcoming of the anxious feelings, urges or fantasies;

W- Watchful. Watch as an outside observer without judgment, with compassion and understanding.

A- Act. Take action on these feelings, in terms of breathing deep, staying calm in the moment.

R- Repeat. Repeat steps 1-3, until the feeling passes.

E- Expect. Know that these feelings of anxiety, triggers, or urges will come, but have an expectancy that you will handle them successfully.


Yes, I have some good stuff in those links above, and they're things that have certainly helped me make progress. I may provide some other links to other helpful tools in the near future.
 

Cosmo

Active Member
A.W.A.R.E.

A - Acceptance. Be accepting, even welcoming of the anxious feelings, urges or fantasies;

W- Watchful. Watch as an outside observer without judgment, with compassion and understanding.

A- Act. Take action on these feelings, in terms of breathing deep, staying calm in the moment.

R- Repeat. Repeat steps 1-3, until the feeling passes.

E- Expect. Know that these feelings of anxiety, triggers, or urges will come, but have an expectancy that you will handle them successfully.

Hi Phineas - I like the simple mindfulness approach of your AWARE strategy. It can be difficult to think clearly if we allow ourselves to be pulled in by the noisy, obsessive chatter in our heads, which is why a simple strategy like yours is probably best. Thanks for sharing this with the board. I'm sure many will benefit from it!
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
LetItGoAlready said:
Hi Phineas - I like the simple mindfulness approach of your AWARE strategy. It can be difficult to think clearly if we allow ourselves to be pulled in by the noisy, obsessive chatter in our heads, which is why a simple strategy like yours is probably best. Thanks for sharing this with the board. I'm sure many will benefit from it!

Thank you, brother! Definitely, and I?ve had my own personal success with it. I discovered it in a book on anxiety disorders (such as OCD or phobias).

The importance of not being drawn into the story of one?s own urges, and how we usually reason with it, or fight against it (fight or flight), cannot be overstated.

Being the outside observer of your own story, with whatever cues, and the urges that may follow, is so important. Simply not responding to the urges, breathing through them, is the point where we begin to change ourselves.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Helpful Links to Websites and Posts!

Here are several links that I find helpful, toward keeping sharp and focused.

Note: Several links deal with other issues not related to P/MO, but are listed due to their cross-over applicability.

External Links

Overcoming Temptation With Grace

How to Overcome Sexual Temptation

Understanding Lust and Sexual Pursuits

Fourteen Weapons for Overcoming Lust

Admiration is not Lust

The "Porn is NOT an Option" Mindset

Fight the New Drug

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction


Other Addictions with Crossover applicability

Brain Over Binge Basics (ebook)

10 Big Ideas About Ending Habits and Addictions

The Abstinence Violation Effect (or AVE)


Inspiring Journals:

Omega Man: Journal

Wanking Since Woodstock

SMS (Saving My Soul)

Making Recovery #1 Priority


I'll add to this list as I find worthy sites, posts, or journals. Stay tuned!

 
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Tonight I'm copying over into a new notebook all my passwords for a myriad of website accounts (non-p). And I saw my account for Pinterest, and I knew that they were to delete it officially after I deleted it online.

I checked it to see if they did. They did delete it officially. I thought to myself, 'What will I do if they didn't delete it? Find a way to keep it? or make sure it's deleted?'

I deleted it after acting out around October 31st, 2020, as a necessary action to become serious about quitting PMO. My behaviors around social media, including Pinterest (which one could use to access actual- but crappy p-sites), even if somewhat harmless or benign, would often lead to using them as p-subs which would eventually lead to full on PMO sessions or episodes.

I've since changed my behaviors around social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc...), but deleted Pinterest on which I had some helpful, even self-help boards. But in all honesty, I rarely visited those helpful boards... I used that site for strictly nefarious purposes...

So, how much thought did I give to this? Surprisingly not much. Once I knew it was gone, there was no remorse. It made me feel that my abstinence is real, that I'm going for a new me, a changed me. It's time after all these years- I deserve this, my wife and family deserves me to be more fully present, more real.
 

Joel

Active Member
Sounds good, Phineus! Seems like such a small tweak. But this habit change was a huge gamechanger in my recovery.
 
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