Fighting For Love

Hello everyone, welcome to my reboot journal. This will be fairly different from the journals that other recovering porn addicts have created, so I'll establish what this one will be like.

I believe that there is a positive correlation between the openness I have with expressing my thoughts and experiences of my recovery and my life as a whole, and the helpfulness that it conveys to others. Due in part to this mentality, I plan on eventually sharing this journal with the outside world. This will make my journal more public than usual, so please keep that in mind when posting in it. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts more privately, please feel free to DM me. I will strive to be honest and introspective (maybe sometimes a bit too honest) with my entries, I am willing to put myself under the microscope for the sake of those who read this journal. Giving a copious amount of insight into the life of a porn addict (among other distinguishing factors), letting other people know that they are not alone in these struggles and that healing is possible, etc., it will all be worth it.

This is the 2nd reboot journal that I've written, the first one began last July as a successful attempt to invest more effort into fighting this addiction. I ended the journal last month once I concluded that it didn't meet my standards for something that I'd suggest for other people to read. This new journal will be significantly more cohesive, among less central improvements. This will lead to my entries often being long reads (especially these early ones), so thank you in advance for your patience.

This journal will focus on more than just porn addiction, but I'll make sure to give that subject an adequate amount of attention. Rebooting isn't just about living a porn-free life, it also involves making a variety of other self-improvements along with it. Covering those other goals of mine will be a common form of non-porn discussion for me, especially during periods of time in which the details of my porn recovery are more redundant and less worrisome. These periods took up a large portion of my old journal, and I expect them to do the same with this one. Relationships and sex will be a common topic among these, but that's to be expected at least to an extent.

I'll edit my entries after posting them if I think of any improvements (mainly refining the grammar and adding more details). These edits will still represent how I thought/was at the time of the original entry (ex: If I set a goal in an entry, the outcome of my efforts towards that goal will be revealed in a later entry as opposed to being edited into the entry that introduced the goal).

Before I begin recapping my history with porn, I'd like to mention that I have mild forms of the following: Asperger syndrome, Tourette's, and (even more mildly) OCD. I don't shape my identity around these things or anything like that, I'm just bringing them up as partial explanations for my thoughts and behaviors and etc. that I'll cover throughout this journal.

My pornography usage began when I was 12, with me Google Imaging softcore pictures of clothed women. Sometimes real women, sometimes illustrations of fictional characters. I probably did this mostly out of natural sexual curiosity, but there was definitely an aspect of peer pressure to seek out sexually-pleasing content (this pressure strengthened from middle school to high school later on). If I saw anything too explicit I would typically scroll away due to feeling overwhelmed. I'm aware that images this tame are considered by many people to not actually be "porn"; but me and some other members of these communities consider porn to have a more broad classification that generally includes all content intended to create sexual arousal, even if it is relatively not very explicit. And speaking of having a sexual response to this content, I should mention that I hadn't started masturbating yet. That wouldn't happen until I was...18! I made some failed attempts to figure out a way to do so comfortably before then, I guess that I must've just accepted that it wasn't for me at those times. There were a few obstacles in the way of this discovery: My OCD, the fact that I'm circumsized, my strong sense of touch, my lack of awareness of how the enjoyment from the act is meant to be exponential throughout the session, and my general lack of awareness for a wide variety of aspects of life (especially social/developmental things). This unique facet of my story proves how powerful porn is; I didn't even need physical sensation in order to become invested. To get back to the beginning: I did this on a laptop that I shared with the rest of my family, this was my only form of Internet access in my home at the time. Eventually I was caught, and my parents talked to me about it. They were understanding rather than mad, their message was centered around how this habit of mine could escalate and harm me. The main point that I remember them bringing up was that I was conditioning myself to objectify women, which of course I was.

But I didn't fully embrace their warning, and thus the next chapter of my porn use began when I was 13. This was the age at which me and my siblings gained permission to use Facebook. I had a theory that porn found on Facebook pages would be harder for my parents to notice as opposed to material found with search engines, so I started looking for anything that I could find. It was difficult to find content involving real women, almost all of the content that I discovered was hentai. I continued to do this until I received my first private form of Internet for my 15th birthday: A Nintendo 2DS. I was given my first cell phone a year earlier, but I had never bothered to use its Internet browser since the model was old even for the time considering that it was a hand-me-down (years later I tested out its Internet capabilities and found out that it actually could be used for porn). Later 2DS/3DS models banned all NSFW content in their Internet browser unless a small fee was paid, mine didn't have this obstacle and my parents trusted me enough to not bother using the Parental Controls function. They continued to discourage me from viewing porn, obviously I didn't listen. This Internet browser had some limitations though, the main one being that videos and GIFs couldn't be played. So I gravitated mostly towards pornographic comics, western and eastern.

I got my first job during the summer before senior year in high school, and with some of that money I bought a laptop for myself. This new milestone in terms of Internet capability sparked new interest for figuring out masturbation and thus "getting more" out of porn. I waited a few months until my family was done hosting an exchange student before I took action, out of fear of the chance of something awkward happening. After discovering and completing a method that I was satisfied with, I started to view things differently...
 
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In my pre-masturbation days, I generally had a relatively low sex drive. I was attracted to some of my female peers, but these feelings were more romantic than lustful. If any of my attempts to form relationships had been successful, I'm not even sure how sex would've entered the equation (if at all). I felt a disconnect from the porn that I was viewing (my interest in which might've been stronger than my thoughts about real sex) and the girls that I knew, especially since plenty of the content that I was consuming was illustrations as opposed to real women. So because I thought of sex as the porn that I was viewing, that polluted this developmental phase of my life. And being a socially awkward teen, sex was an intimidating topic. But once I began watching videos of real women and getting physical sexual satisfaction from it, my desire for sexual experiences escalated quite a bit. I started to look back on past moments/eras of my life and would theorize on how I could've made different decisions that may have led to sexual experiences (and relationships as a whole, but thoughts of sex were taking priority at the time). I thought about how I should've taken better care of myself, how I should've been more outgoing, the girls who may have been interested in me but I was unable to pick up on it or my priorities were "misplaced", etc.. This created bitterness and regret inside of me, which coincided with other social aspects of high school finally starting to be understandable. But at this point I was just a few months from graduating high school and thus being cast into a new environment, which compounded those negative feelings. Contrary to this; in this time period there was a girl that I was crushing on who I had the sort of "innocent" feelings for that I had for other girls years earlier (mainly due to her own innocent nature), but I was rejected once again.

The summer in between high school and community college was when I finally got a smartphone, which became the final main vessel for my porn habit. I made a few other attempts to form a relationship after high school, but those were not successful either. I don't blame any of these women from any of these time periods for their judgement, especially since I wasn't loving myself so expecting them to love/like me was misprioritized. Also, I don't obsess over my rejections like some other guys do, but they are relevant enough to be mentioned here. Before I continue, there are 2 important things to cover that occurred during middle/high school and shortly afterwards. Firstly, my interest and excitement for porn/sex mixed with my Asperger's/Tourette's to result in occasional instances of behavior that I'm sure made people a bit uncomfortable (mainly saying things that were inappropriate given the circumstance), I apologize to everyone who was ever affected by that. Unfortunately, the other grouping of wrongdoings that I committed involving sex are not as excusable. When I was 18/19 and blinded by lust, prioritizing sex over humanity, I had 3 instances of trying to emotionally manipulate a female friend my age (a different one each time) into having sex with me in a singular spontaneous moment. The 2nd instance of this was arguably morally not that bad, and the woman that it involved later told me that she doesn't hold it against me, but I still think that what I did was wrong. The other 2 instances of this behavior were a really shitty thing for me to do though, I can pinpoint several toxic mentalities fueled by porn and our sexual culture that were going on in my head at the time (not as excuses, as explanations and acknowledgments): Entitlement, taking friendships for granted, ignoring the humanity aspects of sex, objectification, shame in being a virgin, the delusional self-centered belief that women want to have sex with you more than they actually do, etc.. I've apologized to all 3 of them, but I'd like to do so again via this post. I promise that I feel terrible for what I did, and that I will assist in the discouragement of those mentalities in our society.

The frequency of my porn use escalated, remaining in the range of 1-3 times per day 4-7 days per week but generally gravitating towards the higher numbers. I needed to explore more outlandish categories in order to feel aroused enough to complete each session, sessions that at this point (if not sooner) were compulsive. For a long time by this point I had been using porn as a form of stress relief and procrastination, ignoring or oblivious to the fact that my porn consumption was worsening my problems. Procrastination might be my strongest flaw, even to this day. And porn wasn't my only method of doing so, like many other young men I had(/have?) a problem with video games and Internet usage in general. I felt a sense of hyperfixation for some of this stuff, which made it difficult to care about practical things like schoolwork. I ended up dropping out of community college in the beginning of my 2nd semester, but I got a potentially long-term job 2 years later, so luckily my decision didn't screw me over too badly.

Speaking of Internet usage, the website that I used the most may have actually been more harmful to me than porn, a multi-topic forum that I started to browse when I was 15. It has some sections dedicated to porn (personally I didn't use them very much), so I will refer to it by a codename to avoid triggering anyone: PurpleSquare. I could spend quite a lot of time discussing this site, but I can summarize it with this: It is infectiously negative. I let it corrupt my impressionable young brain, and to this day 5.5 months after leaving it I still feel traces of its influence. The lack of respect for self-empowerment that I had because of it was a major factor in my lack of self-care, the sheer amount of time that I lived in this way created a cycle of hopelessness. As a general note, I know that I can't just blame everything on my conditions and external factors and etc.; I'm bringing these sorts of things up because I want to know why I made the perplexing decisions that I did. I definitely could've made more of my life, and I know that I have the opportunity to do so now in the present.

Two more bad habits that I had were picking at my skin and picking at my fingernails with my other fingernails. The former was something that I started doing when I was 14/15, also as a form of procrastination and stress relief. This proved to be addicting, and my physical appearance suffered because of it. I was given products for skin care treatment, but I stopped using them out of my twisted love for ravaging my skin. This foolish behavior has left me with scars that I feel self-conscious about, and my body still presents me with opportunities to relapse on my no-skin-picking goal to this day. The fingernail habit, like so many other things, is also used for stress relief and procrastination. There is a clear pattern of escaping pain and responsibilities here, deceptive cycles of destructive behavior. I started picking at my fingernails a very long time ago as a way to avoid having them shortened by a nail clipper, but it eventually became about picking at them until they were nearly unpickable due to their diminished length.
 
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I can think of a variety of ways in which my viewing of porn has harmed me. I may sound like I'm whining with the following paragraphs, but providing examples of porn's consequences is essential for the sake of all of its past present and future consumers, and highlighting my own will help to explain my own story.

A contender for the most frustrating harm is body insecurity, which I can trace back to some of the pornographic comics that I looked at early on in my porn-consuming life. The women in these comics would have large curves, and the men would have very large penises (sometimes impossibly so). I continued to seek out this sort of material in other forms throughout the years. Not only did this give me a confining view on women's bodies, this made me feel self-conscious about the size of my own penis. The funny things about this are that based on data and online discussions that I've read mine is actually slightly above average, the vast majority of women would be satisfied with it (especially in the context of a relationship as opposed to a hookup), the importance of penis size is severely exaggerated culturally, there are many other factors that have a stronger impact towards the quality of sex, and sometimes penises are actually uncomfortably large depending on the woman's personal anatomy and pain-level preferences (and they don't need to be absurdly large to be that way). But I still spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about this, and even to this day it still has an irritatingly large presence in my mind. That time could've been spent analyzing things about myself that have an actual impact on my appeal, things that could be improved upon for the sake of my health and my relationship prospects and etc.. I chose not to lean very far into that, and here I am now, with a case of skinnyfat and a lack of practical skills.

Brain fog and other cognitive shortcomings were also notable consequences of my porn use. I am certain that my mental capabilities were dulled in a way positively correlated to the frequency of my porn use. In hindsight, this might have been a reason why I was relatively content with the fast food job that I had for 15 months after graduating high school for longer than one would expect, a job that didn't require very much brainpower. I wasn't living up to my full potential, and I remember feeling like I was becoming dumber and less interested in most real-world things while doing so.

As I mentioned earlier, porn conditioned me to view people in an objectifying way. In hindsight, the amount of dehumanization that I committed with my thoughts scares me. Evaluating people based on something as easily observable as their looks was one of many examples of me taking the easy shallow brainless road, the more difficult but rewarding thought-provoking humane road in this case being the consideration of the sum of the person's being.

I also mentioned earlier that I was struggling to become physically aroused by porn that used to satisfy me. This is very strong evidence that I could've experienced Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction if I ever had any sexual experiences. Obviously that would've been pretty bad, especially since I might've not been able to figure out that porn was the cause.

The compulsion to masturbate to porn would occasionally get in the way of other responsibilities, sometimes going further than my typical cases of procrastination. I specifically remember skipping a practice session of the marching band that I'm a member of because I got the urge shortly before it was time to leave the house.

I used to think that I might be bisexual, and my confusion on the matter caused me stress. These thoughts can be explained in part by my porn use, mainly by these 2 points: Sexualizing women so much that your sexualization of men also begins to increase, and becoming so starved for intimacy that your loneliness begins to override your sexual orientation (also you can feel alienated from the opposite sex if your confidence with them becomes weak enough). Shortly after I began my 1st journal I became comfortable with my heterosexuality, similar to how I became more attracted to tamer sources of attraction like pretty weather reporters and more repelled by some of the types of things that I used to like looking at. This might be a bit less understandable than the other consequences of consuming porn that I've brought up, but I've seen a notable amount of other members of these recovery communities discuss a similar form of it as part of their own stories. And I know that young people can feel sexually confused anyways, but porn's influence on it is unhealthy.

Because of the sheer amount of dopamine that I was getting from porn (and from a lesser extent my other forms of escapism), I became more irritable and (like I said before) less invested in the real-world. I've never been evaluated, but I feel like I probably had depression for a lengthy period of time (and I still might, but maybe not as strongly). I was isolating myself with the selfish fantasies of porn and the hateful attitudes of PurpleSquare and the virtual worlds of games, it was not a pretty place.

The previous paragraph reminds me of another mentality that I picked up from PurpleSquare. There was quite a lot of gatekeeping on that site, and that process usually involved trying to keep out people who "have a life". There was one especially toxic subcommunity in particular who's members pretty much competed to be as much of a loser as possible. Instead of doing the logical thing and distancing myself from these Internet strangers who didn't actually care about my well-being and choosing to form stronger connections with real people, I began to subconsciously try to fit in with them. I remember earlier in my time on PurpleSquare thinking something along the lines of "I need to make sure that I don't become this sort of person", that goal must've been forgotten at some point. I began to view my shortcomings with a strange and unhealthy mixture of self-pity and pride. I obsessed over my complete lack of dating/relationship/sexual experience, making it a part of my identity and tying it to whatever my age was at the time. I had kissed a few girls before, but as far as I remember it was always via a spin-the-bottle game and thus not as meaningful. It got to the point where I felt detached from the idea of this status changing. There were a few random disconnected moments in my adulthood where I interacted with a woman and felt like she might be interested in me, but I never acted upon these conclusions. I haven't "made a move" on a woman since I was 19, I turned 22 two months ago. I've noticed that I have a subconscious gravitation towards upholding my status quo, and this is a prime example of that. And there are some things that I'm paranoid about regarding this topic: "What if I do something immoral like I did with those female friends of mine in the past?" (this especially applies to "making moves"),"How many women out there would be OK with a guy who has zero dating/sexual experience?", "What if I'm unable to form a healthy connection with them due to a myriad of possible reasons?", "What if my desire to be in a relationship overrides my sense of judgement for choosing a partner that suits me?", etc.. But on a more optimistic note, I'm glad that I'll be entering into my first relationship with the better ideals that I've gained in recent times, especially in terms of sex. And the strength of my belief in those negative perspectives varies, I feel like the "normal" level is more optimistic than the way in which I worded them. I'm aware that whatever my current mood is can affect my written portrayal of things, but this current approach still seems like the best option considering how jumbled the old journal was. This one isn't perfect either, but it never will be and that's OK :).
 
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I began to view my porn usage as a problem worth adressing at some point in the spring or summer of 2020. I was able to observe and attribute to porn some of the things mentioned in the previous post, and I remembered reading some posts on PurpleSquare about porn addiction and/or unwanted attraction to certain types of porn. This coincided with a growing desire to find something greater than myself to be a part of, so I looked up "anti-porn organizations". The first group that I came across was Fight The New Drug, and I ended up becoming a big supporter of it (eventually becoming a financial contributor via buying some merch and joining their Fighter Club program). To clarify; they aren't "anti-porn" in the sense that they want to ban the currently legal forms of it, their main goal is education and they are explicitly non-legislative and non-religious. I gradually listened to all of their podcast episodes and checked out some of their other content, discovering more knowledge about the harms of porn not only to the consumer but also to the people featured in it. That was something that I had given an inhumanely low amount of consideration towards before. But even with all of these revelations, I was unable to build up much of a sobriety streak.

My brain has put more effort into devising excuses for relapsing on porn than it has for any other purpose in my entire life (or at least it feels that way at its worst), and there were 2 specific reoccurring ones that it presented to me during this time period. The first was that as long as I was aware of porn's harms it was ok to use it, obviously that doesn't make them go away so that was a lackluster excuse. The second one was that abstaining from porn wasn't immediately solving all of my problems so it wasn't worth it. Remember how I mentioned earlier that rebooting involves fulfilling a variety of self-improvement goals? The other problems in my life felt too overwhelming to address at the time. In terms of my healing not being immediate, that "problem" was exaggerated in my perspective due to my expectation of instant gratification that was built up by years of porn and the other forms of escapism.

One previously unmentioned need for improvement in my life is my driving situation. I've never had a Driver's License, and the amount of procrastination that I've committed on this issue is ridiculous. I had a Driving Test scheduled twice when I was 18 but I had to miss both, after that I stopped putting much effort into the whole thing. I don't need a license as much as most other people, especially since I bought a new bicycle a few months ago, but I should definitely make this a priority again. I haven't practiced driving in over a year now, and my fears surrounding it have escalated now that I care more about my life and thus am more afraid of death. But I feel like if I achieve this goal then things will generally be easier, and I'll be able to try out online dating. Maybe my fears involving that endeavor (and becoming more of an adult as a whole) are subconsciously contributing to this procrastination...

An issue that I have with achieving things in general is my habit of daydreaming. I spend plenty of time imagining how awesome my life could be if I actually fulfilled all of my goals, especially the activism ones that I'll discuss later. Doing this is enough to satisfy my mind, which amounts to no progress being made in reality. To relate this to porn addiction, I feel like this has some similarities with how our brains interpret masturbating to porn as mating with a real woman. But sometimes the daydreaming is about neutral or even negative things, and those negative scenarios are often too outlandish to be worth having any worries about. Overall it feels like I'm mentally writing future fanfiction of my life as opposed to focusing on and improving the canon storyline.

I tried regressing the porn that I was consuming to be as softcore as possible, but that was obviously not the most optimal solution, and it eventually failed anyways once I went back to the more explicit stuff. I also tried masturbating without porn (something that I hardly ever did earlier in life), but without the incentives to avoid porn that I would later accumulate this strategy also resulted in me going back to porn.

One day at work last year I got an email from FTND about an upcoming event called the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation 2021 Online Global Summit. It would be an event dedicated to educating, strategizing, organizing and etc. in order to combat various forms of sexual exploitation, including pornography. I spontaneously signed up for it and made a small donation. Doing so made me more invested in solving my porn use issue, which would help explain why I spontaneously began my old reboot journal after a porn masturbation session 9 days before the event started. This event and the creation of my journal would prove to be pivotal...
 
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For at least a few years, I would try to view notable (usually for worse) moments in my life as a time to make a major effort to change things for the better. Birthdays, getting a bad grade, school/calendar years changing, a variety of things. This never came into fruition, and was often not even close. But creating that first journal and attending the CESE event have made strong cases for themselves. I'll start with the event, since it happened within a much smaller time frame (5 days).

This gave me the sense of greater purpose that I was looking for. My understanding and empathy for the variety of issues that were covered increased, especially prostitution which I was mostly in the dark about. I'm very relieved that I've never visited a prostitute or went to a strip club or used a camming site (but admittedly if I had come across an opportunity to do those things I may have taken it). And of course I learned more about the exploitative aspects of porn; I may have relapsed since then (spoilers) but I will NEVER be like I once was now that I know these things. Did you know that some "solo" pictures of women are actually a byproduct of them being trafficked? I would recommend to everyone reading this to attend the online version of the 2022 CESE Summit if there is one and you are able to, there will be an in-person version in Washington D.C. too like there was pre-COVID which I plan on attending. [EDIT: Here's the link to the online event, this year it's September 13th-17th https://endsexualexploitation.org/cese-summit-2022/]

I met plenty of amazing people, and I'm currently in a group text with about 30 of them. The event was composed mainly of pre-recorded presentations and topical group discussions via video-call, I attended almost as many of those discussions as I could. This event was an excellent start to my sobriety journey (it began on my Day 9), especially since I was able to bring up my efforts to quit in appropriate context during the small and casual nighttime meetings and received support from everyone. There was one person in particular who had a major impact on me, enough to get her own paragraphs :LOL:

I will respect the privacy of everyone who I discuss during the course of my journal, so I'll be referring to her as "Sunny". I came across her account on the event software website in the Icebreaker section, and she stood out to me as someone who was relatable compared to the other attendants: A young person who didn't have a career that involved combatting sexual exploitation. She also attended the nighttime meetings, and we got along very well. It turned out that she's even more relatable to me than I thought: She's also a supporter of FTND, and she has her own porn addiction that she's a few (3 or 4 if I'm remembering correctly) years sober from. We developed a sort of accountability partner friendship that we continued beyond the end of the event, messaging each other every few days or so (which eventually became a bit more frequent) and talking about not only sexual exploitation topics but other things as well. Obviously one of us has progressed significantly further in their sobriety than the other, but she is only human and still capable of relapsing. She's aware of this and is grateful for my support, fortunately she has remained sober in all of my time knowing her :). Her stellar qualities as a human being combined with the compassion that she has shown me and the stars-aligning way in which we met still seems a bit surreal to me, I'm extremely lucky to have met her and I dearly hope that I don't somehow damage our friendship in the future.

It doesn't surprise anyone to hear that I developed feelings for her, does it? I appreciated the connection that we already had, but I was optimistic about it developing into some sort of romantic relationship, even though she lives across the country from me. These feelings lasted until I saw a social media post with a picture of her and her boyfriend in it, several weeks after meeting her. Naturally I was disappointed by this, but I quickly made a successful effort to be reasonable about things. The following day I made a list of positive aspects of the existence of their relationship and my revelation of it. I concluded that the "situation" was actually a net positive for me, and obviously the relationship is for her and him too. My once romantic feelings for her have evolved into a stronger but still healthy friendship, and I had a personal development that made the transition smoother: One reason for my romantic interest in her was that the context in which we met, our ability to open up to each other so soon, and our understanding of each other's struggles were all fortunate exceptions to how I expect meeting other women will be. But my fears regarding the harms of the lack of these things have weakened, and I generally feel more confident in regards to women than I did when I started this journey (but I still have plenty of progress to be made in that regard, as evident by other entries).

Eventually I became a part of Sunny's online friend group, and that has been a great experience so far. I've gotten to know her boyfriend better, I feel like he is a great guy and that they deserve each other. But there is a self-committed issue involved: I've been using activities relating to the group as a form of procrastination. They want me to succeed with my journey too, I can't let them down.
 
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My old reboot journal was the first personal journal of any kind that I had ever created. The concept of doing so initially felt "pretentious" and "self-indulgent" to me (mainly because of my PurpleSquare-induced cynical conditioning), but once I started writing entries the helpfulness of doing so weakened those doubts. Shortly after starting the journal I formed an accountability partnership with another journal-keeper. He seemed like a wonderful person and it was a great experience, but unfortunately he disappeared about a month later, and I'm paranoid about his well-being due to it being so sudden. The best thing that I can do is remind myself to make the most of the time that I have, something that should be at the forefront of my mind but never has been for very long. EDIT 4/8/2022: He got back to me a few days ago and is doing OK. He's now once again on the path of recovery.

My old journal had a loose structure. I would bring up various details of my recovery at various intervals, details that I would often forget to actively think about and make note of. These included morning wood quality, cognitive abilities, the content of my erotic dreams, cravings for porn and/or masturbation, overall energy level, how I viewed other people, sex drive, and optimism/pessimism for my recovery.

I added the anti-skin/fingernail-picking goal on Day 2 of the journal, starting a commitment early on to have a thorough well-rounded reboot. The secondary goal that many other rebooters begin immediately but I didn't was abstinence from masturbation, which I didn't really attempt until 5 weeks had passed. I was intimidated by the prospect of doing so, and I believed that attempting it would actually be a net negative in my case. The impact of masturbation on a reboot varies depending on the person, and for a minority of people it seems to be generally helpful if done sparingly. I'm still not 100% sure about how good or bad it is for me, but as of right now I feel like I should try abstaining from it as long as I can. One of the main issues that I have with it is that many of the thoughts that go through my head during sessions are pornographic or porn-inspired. And if I'm not thinking about women from porn, who am I thinking about? I've gotten better at conjuring women from scratch mentally, but I still worry about having sexual thoughts in these lustful moments about women who I don't want to sexualize. Another issue is that the urge to do it is compulsive and mood-based. On a more positive note; I'm now able to get more satisfaction out of the physical sensation itself, and my increased ability to masturbate to completion without a visual aid is overall a good sign of progress.

My longest masturbation-abstinence streak of this journey was 30 full days long, October 31st-November 29th, and yes I'm aware of how ironic those dates are. I ended it when I felt like I was going to resort to relapsing on porn out of a crazed sense of lust, fortunately it ended up working. I would be willing to do that again if needed, but my other relapses on this goal generally haven't been as justified.

I made an observation regarding my efforts to stop masturbating about 2 weeks after those efforts began: Under those rules, my only possible methods of sexual pleasure would be nocturnal emissions and actual sexual activity. Nocturnal emissions are great and have made some positive contributions to my recovery, but they can only do so much. I became worried that without the access to the sexual pleasure that masturbation provides, I might end up trying to selfishly "use" women for that purpose. This hasn't been a problem in reality yet since I haven't "made moves" on any women during the entirety of this reboot, but I'll be cautious of it in the future when it's relevant.
 
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forestwater

Member
Good luck with your reboot! You're right that the "rewire" part of the reboot can be tricky; on the one hand, it is hugely helpful to be able to rewire with a real MPS (member of preferred sex). On the other hand, the whole "men using women for their own sexual gratification" thing is a big problem in society at large, and it's especially prevalent in porn. It's important not to go from one form of sexual objectification to another. Anyway, all the best to you.
 

canguro

Active Member
Hey man, I didn't read through your whole journal as it is a lot of text and I am not very active any more on the forum, but it looks like your doing good! How long till you watched porn the last time? I really hope you are able to get rid of this bloody pest for good. You are a good guy and I really appreciate that you are active against sexual exploitation.
 
Hey man, I didn't read through your whole journal as it is a lot of text and I am not very active any more on the forum, but it looks like your doing good! How long till you watched porn the last time? I really hope you are able to get rid of this bloody pest for good. You are a good guy and I really appreciate that you are active against sexual exploitation.
The last relapse was October 4th, so tomorrow will be Day 100 of sobriety 😄. I have that date and others in my Signature, so I'm guessing that your browser doesn't display Signatures. But thank you and everyone else for the encouragement!
 
I apologize for the glacial pace that this journal has been going. I've been struggling with unproductive use of my free time, and I'm now certain that I have a general Internet addiction mixed with a bit of a gaming addiction. I can summarize it like this: I'm trying to consume as much content as possible the vast majority of the time. This has caused a variety of problems, the most obvious ones being less sleep and little to no progress on my action-based goals. Fixing these bad habits will be a far greater challenge than the last 3 months of my porn abstainment has been, but it absolutely needs to be done
 
Hobbies are a critical part of rebooting, I'll share my own in order to help explain who I am and as suggestions for other rebooters looking for options.

I love music, listening to and practicing. I listen to a wide variety of stuff, but I tend to gravitate towards songs "with a good message". Currently I've been exploring outsider music. As for practicing, I played percussion throughout 4th-12th grade and play it in the marching band that I joined in 2017 [5/5/2022 EDIT: I'm not participating in it this year]. I also play independently at home for fun, my favorite instruments being my cajon and my drum set. My drum set has an interesting role in my reboot: It was dissembled and put away for space reasons that existed for a brief period of time a while ago, but I never bothered to set it back up until I needed to practice on it to help my brother with a school project 2 or 3 months ago. After that long hiatus I rediscovered how fun it was, enjoyment that I was able to properly embrace without the brain-frying dopamine-based influences of porn and PurpleSquare. I also own several other instruments including some non-percussion ones, the one that I play the most is the harmonica which I bought recently.

Every once in a while I'll get an idea for a random creativity project thing, and occasionally I'll actually put some effort into it. I've been admitting to some flaws of mine so far in this journal and I'll keep doing it in the future, but a positive aspect of mine that I feel confident in stating is that I'm a creative person. The most recent example of one these projects is creating a hypothetical political party semi-joking and semi-seriously. The idea originated from my wish for a "Not a Piece of Shit Party" which evolved into the more objective "Can't be Bought off Party", now for the next branches of evolution I'm trying to spell out insults with the first letter of positive characteristics. I might work on that some more after posting this entry.

I loved reading books when I was younger, especially before and in the earlier days of my porn use before my dopamine receptors were as messed up. I was fond of nonfiction, realistic fiction, and not-so realistic fiction; mostly traditional books but a little bit of manga, graphic novels, and comic books too, and with a healthy portion of Calvin and Hobbes. I'm trying to get back into books, and I own a backlog of several books that I've never read, but even this far into my recovery it's difficult to focus and immerse myself into them. I trust that if I can moderate my Internet usage and gaming, my brain will recalibrate and things will get easier.

Besides things that involve rebooting and/or other sexual exploitation topics, my most productive use of the Internet is probably listening to the news program Breaking Points. I've been keeping up with them for the past 2 months. They're the first and only news program that I've discovered that I trust enough to keep up with, their presence in my life makes me feel more "complete" as an adult and as a member of society (I know that consuming news can be unhealthy for many people, but the quality of their show makes it a net positive for me personally). I'm shouting them out by name because they deserve it :)

I played tennis in middle/high school, and I played pickleball in my town's league when I was 17/18 until the fear of rolling my ankle (which happened a few times) overtook my desire to play. I plan on rejoining the league this spring when the sessions start up again.

Another hobby that I will resume in the spring is bicycling, which I started to do frequently after buying that new bike of mine. It was a great help for my reboot when it was in choppy waters, fortunately things got easier shortly before the biking weather went away.

I typically hang out with my local friend group in-person once or twice a month. We used to mostly just go shopping which I thought was boring and unnecessary and etc. but lately we've branched out more, including bowling which was fun.

In terms of video games; I'll play a full-fledged game every once in a while, but the main game that I play is a web browser one called Pokémon Showdown. I've been playing it for over 4 years now, and it seems pretty cohesive with how my brain works. But I need to be careful with it, considering how much time I can spend on it.

I bought a gym membership last September, but my attendance has been lackluster more often than not. I have a weekly session with a trainer, and that has been a tremendous help, but I struggle to motivate myself to go independently. I've heard from plenty of sources and individuals that exercise is a huge asset for rebooting and living a healthy life in general, so I'm going to persevere through this Path of Least Resistance mentality that my mind keeps resorting to. The main reason for my spotty attendance is inner weakness, but there's a handful of other factors too, one of them being this: Being in the presence of women can make me feel frustrated with my lack of relationship/sexual experience, and the disconnect that still hasn't been fully healed. Obviously it's ridiculously entitled to think things along the lines of "I deserve your intimacy", I know better than to believe those things. What I'm thinking in those moments is more like "Wow, I've really been missing out on this key part of life". And yeah that's mainly due to my own poor choices, but that doesn't mean that I should disregard these feelings. So instead of viewing this in a negative perspective, I should instead draw inspiration from it. And obviously I need to become more comfortable around women in order to become romantically involved with them. Also; I'm aware that there is much more to these women than their physical appearance, and I value those other attributes, but obviously those things aren't as discernable when you're not exchanging words with them. Another factor is the way in which the physical difficulty of the exercises sometimes feels like a metaphorical representation of my struggles in this journey as a whole and all of the things that I still want to accomplish (which can feel overwhelming when assembled together). The problem of my physique being shitty is especially apparent during this. So again, the solution is to combat the Path of Least Resistance mentality
 
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I made a relatively exciting breakthrough yesterday: I read through all of my state's Driver's Manual in order to prepare myself for the permit test that I will set up soon. This may sound like an easy task, but it was admittedly a bit of a struggle for me. Every time that I attempted to read it ever since I needed to retake the test due to turning 21, my mind would try its damnedest to direct my thoughts towards something else. There are a few possible reasons as to why it did this, but regardless I still consider the sheer stubbornness of it bizarre. Those reasons include:
  • I had built this "challenge" up in my head for so long
  • Thinking about driving led me to thinking about my relative failure with that aspect of life which made me think about my other shortcomings which made me want to distract myself
  • I tried to absorb 100% of the substance of the material which made things more tedious, and
  • My fears regarding driving kept surfacing
I was able to persevere this time thanks to a conversation that I had with Sunny earlier that day, a conversation that helped me figure out more optimal ways to set goals. I've been given and read plenty of advice before that was similar to what she told me, and this recent conversation had parallels with others that we've previously had, but in this instance I actively tried harder to fully absorb the advice. Recently I noticed that I have a problem with "in one ear, out the other", considering the magnitude of my shortcomings despite how much support I've received in my life overall (and also considering other specific instances of the problem occurring). I feel like that has more to do with my internal choices rather than external factors. So I wasn't going to waste her time like that, I need to accomplish these things not only to make her happy but also of course for my own sake.

I have 2 more goals that I'd like to act out next, in addition to continuing my driving-related goals. I plan on writing a new journal entry every day, and going to the gym Sunday+Tuesday+Wednesday+Thursday+Saturday every week that I can. I still have plenty of material to write about, including recapping the era of my 1st journal, discussing overarching things that pertain to me, giving my thoughts on relevant topics from a societal perspective as opposed to a personal one, and recounting the details of my day like a more standard journal. The gym schedule was something that I thought of today and works surprisingly well for me, I can make Wednesday another rest day when necessary but I feel up to the challenge.
 
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I forgot to write this post before midnight passed (which means that I already failed my goal), but I'll write an entry for "today" regardless. This principle of doing what's best for you even if it doesn't give you points with your goals and streaks is an important one to have as a rebooter. A common example of not doing this is binging on days that you relapse, since it doesn't change the day counter. A person's level of recovery is more nuanced than that number, and if you exploit that loophole your progress suffers much more than it would've if you had immediately rebounded from that initial relapse instead.


One of the many cultural harms of pornography is the fetishization of characteristics that are not naturally sexual. This objectifies people for things that should be negligible, things that are often beyond their control. Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between genuine preferences and this phenomenon, but it's clear to me that porn can easily influence its consumers to cross the line. Race is a prominent example of this, and one that I have some personal experience with.

Like many other porn consumers, I would occasionally search for content by race. I watched quite a bit of Japanese material throughout the video years, and in the last few months of my pre-journal days I often sought out material involving black women. There are more differences between Japanese and western porn besides ethnicity, and I liked some of those other differences too, but the ethnic factor was definitely involved with my gravitation towards that content. When it wasn't lewd selfies, the content that I was consuming involving black women typically involved white men; which was a reversal of the pornographic comics that had intrigued me the most beginning several years earlier.

I feel like I naturally have a slightly stronger attraction towards both black women and Japanese women compared to the attractions held by the average white guy of my age group, but I need to stay vigilant with making sure that these attractions are for healthy reasons. I will never be one of those guys who claims that he has "jungle/yellow fever" and then tries to hook up with a woman specifically for her race. And it's not just porn that can cause these dehumanizing attitudes, other pieces of societal bullshit (like racial stereotypes perpetuated in other mediums besides porn) are capable of doing it as well.
 
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Yesterday's gym session was especially successful. The earlier part that involved my trainer was productive and yielded clear progress, and I had an eye-opening experience in the later part while I was working out independently: I was able to channel my sexual frustration into going further with the exercises. In those moments I felt more alive, like I was on the naturally correct path. I've had similar workout experiences before, but this one felt like the start of something big. But don't get me wrong, I won't go too primal and behave inhumanely. This is about breaking free of my zombified mentalities while still retaining my values.

I'm going to go to bed right after I post this, and I have a suspicion that I'll have a relapse nightmare again. These have been notably common for me for the last few months, manifesting in multiple forms. The most common scenario is me masturbating to porn in scarily accurate detail. There was also an instance of being in some sort of store surrounded by pornographic material, and another instance of watching a porn scene from the point-of-view of the guy (who I could tell wasn't me because of his skin tone (I've watched a lot of POV videos before, so that probably influenced that particular dream)). I wake up believing that I actually did relapse, but my fears fade when reality begins to settle in. Obviously this phenomenon of being fooled occurs with many others types of dreams too, so this isn't something that's too worrisome (but it's still noteworthy).
 
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Another post-midnight post for today. I feel like this journal so far has been a bit too professional to be an accurate reflection of me, so today's post will mainly be a repost of an old and eccentric entry. But first some context:

I implied earlier that I consider the fight against sexual exploitation to be a greater purpose in my life, and the main way in which I'd like to contribute to that fight is through creating music. Unfortunately my singing voice isn't good enough for releasing anything with it (in my opinion), but I feel like my rapping abilities are passable. I like writing songs, and I feel like I have some genuine talent in that area. So even if the music itself sounds mediocre, the messages will prevail. I really want to release my first song before this year's CESE Summit in 6 months or so; the song will broadly cover many of pornography's harms (while some of my hypothetical later-released songs will be more specific).

I wrote a few poems/pseudo-poems in my old journal, streams of consciousness that seemed profound to me in the moment. They weren't intended to be viewed or critiqued as a final and professional product, rather as a spontaneous form of expression. I promise that my actual projects will be magnitudes better. Here's my favorite of the bunch, the only edit being a spelling correction:

Turning twenty-two tomorrow
This will be the year
I promise you all

Youth is wasted on the young
And my waste is toxic
It's less dangerous now but it still kills hummingbirds upon ingestion
That doesn't fly with me
I'm only gonna go forward now
Towards the fruits of life
I like dried black mission figs
I'm on some missions of my own
I'm staying hydrated
I want to get my feet wet in foreign waters
There are plenty of fish in the sea
Surely there are some out there who would like me
I'll probably have my fair share of capsizes
I'll likely get a fishing hook or 3 stuck in my shoulder
And I just might have a tussle with a martial artist jellyfish
But it'll all be worth it once I find her
Where is she right now? I wonder
The Falkland Islands? Lesotho?
I know where I am:

In a pivotal time of my life
Made a pivot for the better when I came here over 3 months ago
I'm pivoting with the same foot now
Don't worry ref
Eerie ghosts of behaviors past
Stop biting me in my fucking ass
You should take a fucking class
On history, cuz I'm leaving you in the fucking past
I already said past
In this song's past
And 21 will be my past by the time I finish this thing
Cuz it will be past midnight
So I need to wrap this up soon
Or else the very first line will be incorrect
I'm not going back to edit it
That would mess with the artistic integrity or something in my view
Art can be weird
I'm weird
I'm an artist
I'm an autist
But only mildly
I probably overexaggerated my presence on the spectrum in earlier entries
You know what isn't mild?
The improvements that I'll make in my life
Just enough spice
Don't wanna join a cult or something of that nature
I have meaning in my life without catapulting my free will away
Willpower is free
You just need to do some digging for it
I hope I excavate evidence of aliens
Because I want laziness to be alien to me
Maslow the Martian built the hierarchy pyramid of needs
Ever since I became interested in forming romantic relationships I've been struggling with Level 3
OH FUCK it's 5 till the AM
I can once again remind you people of my loneliness another day
But those days are numbered
Because I'll find a woman
And accomplish so much more

I promise you
 
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I have continued to live in the world of my head, writing my entries there, not having to sit down and struggle to put things into words. But writing these entries properly is worth it, and I can't let the tangled nature of my thoughts distract me from that.

I had 2 temptations this week caused by my liking of reading Wikipedia articles. The first instance was on Monday (1/31) when I was researching a singer whose most popular song I came across via the YouTube Music algorithm. The cover image of her article had cleavage in it, and the introduction to the article mentioned the fact that she had posed nude for Playboy. The old me would've been ecstatic by all of this, especially considering how attractive she is/was, but fortunately the modern me was able to close out of the page immediately and avoid exploring it any further. The 2nd Wikipedia incident occurred on Saturday, on the home page of the site. I was typing something random in, and for a split-second I saw a suggestion that was sexually explicit, and the accompanying picture was very pornographic. Again I refrained from taking that sort of path. These were more reminders that porn can be stumbled upon just about anywhere in the adult world, and that we need to be prepared to resist the urges. (EDIT: If you use Wikipedia to relapse after reading this that'll be an epic fail, so don't do it!)

I had a nocturnal emission that night, but I wasn't fond of what triggered it. Instead of being something that actually resembled real personal intimate 1st-person sex, the erotic dream focused on a giant orgy viewed from above and panning like drone footage. Needless to say I prefer the first type of dream, and I appreciate the ones that I occasionally get.

I developed an unhealthy habit relatively recently that is kind of sort of almost half-cheating on the spirit of my porn abstinence. It's very reasonable for someone to look for covers of songs that they like, having an appreciation for those songs but wanting to hear performances that are fresh to them. My problem is that when I've been doing this lately I've been specifically clicking on videos made by women who I find attractive. I view this as a relatively innocent but still worrisome example of void-filling. Keeping track of the streak of my abstinence from this would be silly, but I will say that I've been "sober" since at least Saturday so that's nice.

I've been watching old and critically-acclaimed movies lately, the most impactful one to me so far has been One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I sort of self-inserted as the Billy Bibbit character. I share some physical characteristics with him, but there were more nuanced things that made me feel the connection as well, mainly his isolation. When McMurphy found out that Billy (and most of the other characters) were there voluntarily and told him that as a young man he should be in the outside world living life and romancing (that's my personal way of cleanly paraphrasing it and applying it to my own aspirations anyways), that really hit me. But I'm not suicidal like he was, and my stuttering is only like 3% as bad, and I have plenty of other advantages over him. Most importantly I'm not being held down by other people like he was, as I've said before I have a plethora of support. I am holding myself captive, bound by habit and weakness and fear. And the fact that I tried to self-insert as a mental patient is telling of my self-destructive and genuinely cringeworthy subconscious desire to feel special via the inability to succeed in society. Am I proving that point even further due to having already brought it up in a different form in an earlier entry? The levels of self-awareness can make things confusing.

I had a difficult time falling asleep that night. I thought some more about these topics, and remembered an article that I had seen shared on PurpleSquare when it was newly written (among other similar articles and pieces of media): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...ple-find-a-sex-buddy-for-lockdown-coronavirus
This part was what really stood out to me:
"In an opinion piece written in the Het Parool newspaper, Linda Duits, a journalist specialising in gender issues, squarely criticised the RIVM, arguing that sex was a human right.

“Proximity and physical contact are not a luxury, they are basic needs,” Duits wrote. “If we have learned anything from the Aids epidemic, it is that not having sex is not an option.”
"

That's just somebody's hyperbolic opinion, but reading it still really irked me at the time. And after rethinking about it, I think that I've figured something out: I've been subconsciously expecting a solution to this intimacy problem of mine to appear without much effort needed on my end due to how it is viewed in society (especially by people like her). Obviously that's a naïve and entitled way of considering it, and it's not like much more important societal matters are fully addressed anyways. Porn's disgustingly self-centered portrayal of sexuality has clearly not fully left me if I'm going to continue viewing this as a problem for someone else to fix rather than myself.

Speaking of more serious problems, I want to concretely establish that I'm aware that the struggles of others are often more severe and less controllable than my own. Let's start with my own story: Even in the limited scope of it there were other people who were harmed to some degree by my actions. Branching out from that into sexual exploitation and porn-related things as a whole, there are so many ways in which other people have suffered more than I have, here's just a few of them: I've never been genuinely sexually harassed or assaulted, I've never had any sexual photos/videos of myself shared nonconsensualy, I've never paid financially for porn (except for 2 erotic PC games, which was a lot cheaper than something like the cost of cam girl addiction), I've never had to deal with PIED with a partner, and overall my porn addiction seems to be less severe than that of the majority of rebooters. And obviously there are so many other issues in the world that don't involve sex, including ones that are a matter of life and death. Relative to most of the world, I live a very privileged life. So for me to complain about these problems that are minute in the grand scheme of things, problems that are relatively very easy to solve, that can easily reach the point of absurdity.
 
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D

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I agree that you have to be on yours toes while using the internet. Good job. Regarding your half cheating thing with music covers, I would watch out for that, too. I have developed and quickly abandoned similiar coping mechanism like browsing news sites and youtube thumbnails. Our brain releases hormones when finding new potential partners and images. Ultimatly, the only solution is to try to abstain from the internet as a whole as much as possible and focus on real life activities.
 
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