The Gumption Report

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Strength And Light, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Gumption: The ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a particular situation, and to do it with energy and determination.

    This is my second or third "official" journal of my recovery, depending on how you want to measure. I recently completed a full year without watching pornography and without masturbating. I had an uncountable number of instances of viewing Psubs like Instagram, Facebook, etc..., especially early on in reboot before I learned to recognize how difficult Psubs can make recovery.

    At the very end of my year of abstinence, I finally disclosed my secret addiction (PMO and cybersex) to my wife and to my closest lifelong friend. Before that, my NoFap journals had been my only "disclosure".

    Typically, when I talk about "recovery", I am speaking about recovering my sense of well-being. I sometimes even use "recovery" as a generic term that includes discovery as well. To me, "recovery" includes many areas of my life that extend even beyond the problems associated around PMO. This includes health (mental and physical), fitness, intimacy, career and finance, communication, spirituality, etc...

    Here's a very limited list of the tools I've incorporated in my recovery:

    traditional talk therapy
    EMDR
    EFT
    CBT
    stretching (have not done any formal yoga however)
    NoFap (journaling, reading and interacting on countless other journals)
    FitBit
    yourbrainonporn.com
    countless web articles
    fine art
    body-weight exercises and other high-intensity athletic training
    meditation (unguided)
    books ("When Panic Attacks", "Feeling Good", "Wherever You Go, There You Are")

    I'm sure there are many other tools that I've used that are slipping my mind at the moment. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, it's just what I can easily recall right now.

    At it's heart of hearts, I believe in hindsight that my addiction issues with PMO (as well as drugs/cigarettes and other addictions earlier in my life) have been based on deep-intimacy issues and my attempts to avoid the emotional risk that type of intimacy poses. This likely stems from beliefs I formed around my father's suicide when I was 2, and the many events that rippled from that.

    As I continue to dig deeper into myself and my past, it's become clear to me that I had developed a belief that I was somehow unlovable in being my true self. Like many (all?) people with variations of sexual addiction, I had confused love and sex, often compulsively seeking out to be sexually desired, when it was in fact a desire to be loved in my rawest, most vulnerable form that I most desperately wanted.

    It's only now, after I have completely revealed myself humbled, vastly flawed and with a new understanding of emotional maturity to my closest loved ones, that I have begun to properly learn to receive that unconditional love and not to run from it or seek it from improper sources.

    I realize that the way these words are falling over the page sounds very much like some type of robotic response I've been programmed to recite in some rehabilitation clinic somewhere. Don't be fooled - I'm not under any false spell. These are in fact my real thoughts, beliefs and observations. I take recovery very seriously.

    I plan to use this journal to record my path through a second year of abstinence, which will undoubtedly contain certain new challenges that were not logistically present during Year 1. Thankfully however, I have already done a lot of heavy lifting concerning addiction in my life. If you are in an early stage of reboot or curious about how I arrived to where I am today in recovery, feel free to read through my previous journals or any of the other fantastic and inspiring journals here on the site.


    I think this is enough of an introduction for this journal. I look forward to seeing what this upcoming year has in store for me, and I'll do my best to record what I find most relevant to this journal.

    You are a worthy and lovable human being, equal in these measures to every person on this planet - I promise you. Just wanted to use this space to clarify or remind you. Thanks for reading.


     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  2. EL.B

    EL.B Fapstronaut

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    Yo me your words don't sound like a robotic response - they sound like they are from the heart.
    Summarising your conclusions so far around where you issues arise from is really helpful - many of you comments about yourself give me new directions in which to think about my own situation. Thank you, and cheers to a great year two.
     
  3. Sam_ba

    Sam_ba Fapstronaut

    Congrat's for continuing the path towards thyself.
    Congrats for beautiful accomplishment and sharing
    How is it going with MRs SL? How is she digesting the stuff? Sometimes one can conscioustly try to make it alright for a time but then the more deeper layers of unconsciouss stuff arise and unveil another story that comes in concussion with our own.

    IME the last 6 months have been much harder than going from 6 months to 1.5 year. Maybe I am less motivated. Maybe it is just a conjunction of factors.. Maybe I am touching deeper stuff but there is clearly no end to this path. I wonder how @Alexander and other team keep motivated and fresh for this stuff?

    I am actually taking a lot refuge in the forum because I feel quite insecure. Meditation seems dry in comparison to the wonderful sharings I receive here.

    I wish you wonderful moments of intimacy and vulnerability with your family
    I wish u peace
    We stay together
     
  4. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Thanks @EL.B. Congrats on 40 days without P or M. That's a great accomplishment and from what I've seen 40-60 days is right around where things start to ease up a bit and abstinence becomes somewhat easier to achieve. I hope you are getting some relief and healing. Glad you're here!
     
  5. Applehead

    Applehead Fapstronaut

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    Congrats on the new journal. Also let me agree that your words sound deeply heartfelt. Here's to more recovery time!
     
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  6. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    I suppose I'll kick off this new journal by backtracking to some questions and concepts @Sam_ba posed in my last journal that I never got around to answering before I went on vacation.

    I'm pretty sure I haven't been very clear about this. I'm not speaking per se about termination of addiction, I'm talking about termination of rehabilitation/recovery. I'm not very interested in traditional or formal stages of addiction recovery, where I'm at within those parameters, or hammering out definitions and hard guidelines for any of this. I'm more or less taking what I've experienced from physical injury recovery, what I've experienced from quitting drugs and cigarettes, and combining those with what I've read about addiction recovery to form a sort of abstract idea about what my future concerning PMO will likely evolve to. The idea must stay abstract in order for me to remain flexible, but it does involve the concept that I will not require recovery from PMO addiction for the rest of my life.

    To sort of bring our differences about this closer together, let me put it this way: If we PMO when conditions are set as you say (I don't disagree with this at all), then my recovery involves learning to control conditions within my environment so that PMO-conditions don't occur, and learning to create healthy sub-environments for when PMO-conditions cannot be controlled or eliminated within my "natural" environment. The latter could be considered "healthy escapes" for when conditions for PMO are ripe and time is needed to resolve those conditions. I've been learning these skills throughout my reboot, but there is still much more I can learn, practice, experiment and put to real-world use.

    At some point, I will have enough skill acquired to manage the conditions in my life so that I'm no longer seeking out recovery, and the time/energy I currently spend on recovery will naturally be consumed in some other healthy manner. This is what I mean by termination of recovery. It is not some hard line that is reached where all recovery work is abandoned. It's actually quite the opposite. It's a very blurred transfer where recovery work is replaced by other work that continues to unravel greater well-being for myself and the people in my environment.

    I'm still not sure I've explained this right, but this will hopefully ease some confusion.

    To me, sexual anorexia is a condition of disorder in the sexual process in which healthy sex is available but has become feared because of factors such as misbeliefs, strict religious upbringing, miscommunication or absence of communication, power struggles, fears of intimacy risks, etc... I have experienced much panic when sex or sexual topics come up when I'm with my wife because I had been keeping my PMO addiction secret. I avoided sex and sex topics altogether, which created a behavior of trying to starve real-life sex out of my life in an effort to not be "discovered" as an addict (and thus unlovable). There was an interrupted hunger in my normal sexual desire, which is where the term anorexia comes from. You may not have experienced this in your particular struggle with PMO, so I don't think this is a universal symptom of all fapstronauts, but it's definitely something I've gone through and something other users here have reported.

    I absolutely did, at least for maybe 2-4 years, use cybersex in place of sex in my life. My cybersex life was where I expressed all of my intimacy, while I withheld it completely in my "real" life. In looking back, I can see that I did this with the intention (subconscious at the time) of presenting a falsified, flaw-free version of myself online in effort to experience being loved (I confused desired with loved at the time), because I believed that I would be abandoned if I revealed my true flawed self to my wife. In my real life I was worried about things like premature ejaculation, a reliance on alcohol, the emotional sharing that accompanies sexual intimacy, etc... and felt for a time like I was using some type of workaround to these problems with cybersex. I felt a false sense of control over these factors that I didn't have in the real world. I was so afraid of being "revealed" and thus shamed and abandoned that at the time I was willing to concede that cybersex (which in my case was more cyber-intimacy than cybersex, often courting and cyber "dating" for weeks or months before cyber "sex" occurred) would be my only sexual outlet since real-life sex would destroy my life.

    I don't expect you to understand this, because all of this behavior was based on a cascading series of misbeliefs that led me further and further from any real logic. It was in many ways a sexual Ponzi scheme. The anonymity of the internet allowed me to completely cut off each person before I needed to reveal my real self. Then I would just find another person. I was completely numbing my emotions through obsessive PMO, so I had absolutely no empathy or sympathy for the women on the receiving end of my lies. I felt very much like I was operating in a vacuum with no real-life consequences, which is of course dead wrong. I was indeed hurting actual people, my wife and myself included at the top of the list. Describing this now is horrifying to me and seems almost unbelievable that I was that far "gone". It's difficult to even describe how I got from Point A to Point B.

    Yes, I did use sex as an escape prior to my cybersex days. Since I had sexual desire confused with unconditional love, sex was a reward or goal that temporarily relieved me of feelings of being unworthy or unlovable. Since sex doesn't actually resolve those negative feelings, I would become confused after receiving that reward/goal. I would begin to think the sex needed to be dirtier, more extreme, that this would somehow prove how desirable (lovable) I really was. I was chasing a dragon - there just wasn't a way that I could resolve my inner dilemma and I didn't even realize I had the dilemma.

    Yes, this makes sense. I don't have much to add here. I don't think that I'm subscribed to any big concepts that might be leading me astray or wasting my energy, but perhaps you have picked up on something that I'm not aware of? I am probably not doing a skillful job of communicating the sense of caution that I operate with, so it may appear from an outside perspective that my approach might be reckless or leaning on fragile concepts. I continue to stay flexible or "soft" as you term it, and I think this is generally the best approach. I have no idealized concept of the amount of sex in a "normal" relationship or even what "normal" is. I am a person so I volunteer to be normal. I have as much right to that label as anyone else.

    I had planned on responding to your newest post in this journal, but I'll save that for another day. I've covered much territory for today. Thanks Sam as always for following so closely and showing concerns in all the right areas. You are a great friendstronaut and I value you. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  7. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

    I'm going to try to fill in what's transpired since The Big Reveal until now, and hopefully this will answer @Sam_ba's recent questions about Mrs S&L.

    So the day after I revealed to my wife about my PMO/cybersex addiction I had a day off of work to get ready for vacation. I had to run to a few stores for some last-minute items. I was still a little bit in shock about the reveal, and the dialog in my head was not good to say the least. I was disgusted at myself and really sad for my wife and for my life. When I was out in public, I was very surprised to be almost magnetically drawn to check out women. It didn't matter if they were attractive or not, it was fucking weird. After all I had just been through with my wife, it was like being slapped across the face repeatedly to experience what felt like a loss of control over ogling. Several times I almost muttered to myself, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME." I felt like a big phony for confessing to my wife that I was working on this aspect of myself and felt very good about where I was at with it. It wasn't until the next day that this compulsion to check women out had subsided that I realized it had only been a reaction to the painfully negative dialog that had been running in my head. The day after The Big Reveal was the lowest I've felt as a person since I started reboot, and as a former addict, what naturally occurred to me to compensate for this terrible negativity was ogling. So even though it felt shockingly like a step backward, it was actually a step forward because I didn't reward the behavior by P or M or O. I was able to reach such an incredibly low point without dipping into addictive behavior, so in the future if I find myself in a situation that creates such a negative mindset, I will be even less likely to be so "noticey" in public. It's worth mentioning that I wasn't actively roaming around trying to check women out, it was more like I was out trying to get my shopping done and women's body parts were highlighted with some magic aura that made them more noticeable than other ordinary things in my field of vision. I imagine this is from years of training my response to stress and negativity to be PMO. It took a day or two for me to fully understand this whole concept - at first I was sickened by it.

    That second night, shortly before bed, my wife asked me, "So have you slept with anyone else?" I answered no and she did the Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm thing and looked deep into my eyes, prying for the truth. I answered no again and said something (I don't remember exactly what) that helped give good indication that I wasn't lying to her. I think she already knew that I hadn't slept with anyone, but wanted to clarify while the discussion was still warm. I think she was satisfied that I wasn't lying.

    The following day we left for vacation, which included her parents, cousin and his family. The vacation was pretty nice, although I had some rocky moments. On one of the days I was getting really overwhelmed with being at the mercy of so many people's preferences for schedule, eating, leisure, etc... I always tend to struggle when I've socialized too many days in a row without some sort of alone space/time to recover, and it showed up a bit on one of the days. I got very quiet and had some mental wrestling for a few hours. I did some meditation that night and got back on track.

    Speaking of which, when we left for vacation, I got very lax about both my good and bad habits. I'll explain. While on vacation, I didn't do any formal exercising, no meditation (until the time mentioned above), I ate whatever appealed to me, etc... I also checked and scrolled FB and Instagram often, which is something I haven't been doing much of recently. I wasn't scrolling for racy content or anything, but scrolling to fill time is a poor habit and I think it spills out into my life.

    My wife and I were in a shared condo with her parents, and we had separate twin beds to sleep on with our daughter sleeping in a play-pen between the beds, so there wasn't any chances for romance, which was probably ok, because we both still needed some time to digest The Big Reveal. Mostly things were pretty normal between us, which is good because we have a nice normal.

    Since we got back from vacation, my wife and I have been pretty good. She's got a lot going on with her job, and I'm supporting her while she deals with that. I find myself doing and saying things that are helpful for her without any pre-meditation. On Sunday I cooked breakfast. She likes to cook so I wasn't lessening any burden for her, but as we were getting our morning started, I was in a better position than her to cook since she hadn't showered yet so I just up and started cooking. On Monday night we started impromptu square dancing around the living room after I kept jokingly singing some weird song we heard on a country-western movie the night before. Last night I mentioned to her that on my drive home that I had been thinking about her, about how impressive it is that she deals with so much family and work drama and has a special ability to deal with all that without becoming part of the problem. This wasn't something I premeditated telling her. It wasn't like I felt pressure to doll out kindness because of The Big Reveal or because I'm practicing sharing my feelings. It just occurred to me that I had been thinking of her on my drive and I mentioned it to her. She seemed genuinely thankful that I mentioned it and that makes me feel really good. To be honest, I feel as good about that as I do about the last time we had sex. It occurs to me that connection is what gives a lasting good feeling; not orgasm.

    Beyond that, we haven't really had any further discussion about PMO or anything related. I don't think that my wife is suppressing anything, but it's likely that we'll both have more to amend concerning this. I don't feel vastly farther along in recovery or anything because of The Big Reveal, but I am glad that I finally did it. Mostly I am disappointed that I allowed myself to get so deep into trouble that it became such a monumental event in my life and such a disruption to my relationship with my wife. Disappointment is a step up from self-hatred, guilt and shame. I think it was a day or two after The Big Reveal that my wife asked how I was doing with everything we had recently talked about. I told her that I was still pretty angry and sad that I'd done such a poor job in dealing with all of this, but that these negative feelings aren't likely to last - I won't be holding on to them since they won't continue to serve me or us. She understood and seemed to echo the same sentiment concerning processing things herself.

    Our neighbors had their new baby on Monday night, so they'll be coming home soon and I think this will be a nice natural way to re-spark our efforts toward baby #2. After so many years desperately seeking porn-type sex, it seems strange to say this, but I'm not dying to fuck. I'm starting to see and understand connection vs sex, intimacy vs sex, love vs sex. I still really enjoy intercourse, don't get me wrong, but the compulsivity toward it is starting to fade, and my more natural intuition around it is beginning to emerge.

    More texting today with my old friend. This is good. He's reading some popular self-help book called "You're A Badass". I looked it up and found the quote that I used to head this journal entry. I read the reviews and I'm lukewarm about the book but I might buy it anyway since it looks to be a more "fun" reiteration of the typical self-help stuff I usually ingest.

    That's more than enough for now.
     
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  8. Sam_ba

    Sam_ba Fapstronaut

    Thank you for your replies.
    Thanks for allowing me to understand better
    In a few words I would like to say that you are (both) admirable, wonderful amazing, great astonishing, inspiring, awesome, spectacular brilliant, cool increfible divine extraordinary dynamite, enjoyable, excellent, fabulous, fantastic,, incredible, magnificent, marvelous, miraculous, outstanding,, phenomenal, remarkable, sensational, and I stopped at s.

    We are maybe noti from the same planet or the same Galaxy but this does not prevent me from seeing your remarkable qualities.

    With all what you have done the rest of the reboot should be piece of cake

    I thank you again for sharing this incredible testimony of love patience wisdom and courage.

    Happy to have you at my side
     
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  9. EL.B

    EL.B Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for another insightful and educational post @Strength And Light

    I had a day out in the park with my GF and was really "noticey" . I chatted to my GF about it which helped alleviate some of my guilt and bewilderment. Having read you post i'll now be mindful of when it happens - have i been feeling low or stressed, or had alcohol the night before.

    I totally get what you mean about connection being important. I love those moments when you totally "get" someone, empathise and respond in harmony with them. Its beautiful; after all, "Connection is the opposite of addiction" as suggested by Johann Hari at the end of his TED talk :)
     
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  10. Krtvdw

    Krtvdw Fapstronaut

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    "It occurs to me that connection is what gives a lasting good feeling; not orgasm."

    Jeepers this is such a word of truth S&L! You have a real way with words and I enjoy reading your posts everytime! Seems like things are going well and I wish you so much more success in this journey!
     
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  11. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    "Just cuz you feel it, doesn't mean it's real."

    This morning I googled "narcissistic injury" after watching last night's Vice News Today episode when a female songwriter referenced the term in one of her songs. I'd read about the term before but couldn't quite remember what exactly it meant, so I clicked around for a bit. This then led me to read up about Object Relations Theory, which I was unfamiliar with. I read some very technical psychology articles about it that I won't bore you with, but I will link this article which relates Object Relations to BPD. Just for the record, I've never been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but I relate to enough of the BPD characteristics that I usually get something out of articles about it.

    In reading that article, it occurred to me that for the first time in my life, it seems I am on the other side of the troubling issues I have suffered concerning human relationships. It was either as I was going to sleep after The Big Reveal, or sometime during the morning after, that I had a mental image of spitting on my dad's grave. I was fucking furious that his decision to commit suicide had abetted me developing into an addict. This was the first time in my life I have ever felt actual anger toward him. In reading today about Object Relations Theory, I now understand why, and I understand the significance of the anger finally arriving. With ORT, it's been classically noted that abused or neglected children almost always feel a perverse loyalty toward the abusive parent (bad objects) and a duty to protect the abuser. The children reject efforts of help from external people (good objects) because they distrust the motives and expect that at any moment these good objects will become bad and abuse/neglect like their parent(s) did. Without getting too deep and wordy about this, this creates a whole set of poor developmental characteristics, including a strong tendency to "split" objects (people) and see them as either good or bad, when in fact all people are mixtures of good and bad qualities. This "splitting" behavior is done by the child to protect themselves from a reality in which primary care is dangerous, which would indicate that life itself is overwhelmingly dangerous.

    So when I became so angry I envisioned spitting on my dad's grave, this was in fact my first encounter with remerging an image of my dad that I had "split" 40 years ago. I am no longer dividing him as "good", which was something I did as a small child in order to protect my view of reality. I haven't flipped my stance and now view him as "bad", I just finally have merged the two qualities and see both sides. This is significant because that behavior of "splitting" objects (people) into either good or bad has some very negative consequences. This is why I can experience tremendous suffering from something incredibly insignificant like when my wife asks me to put less toothpaste on my daughter's toothbrush - I immediately see my wife as "bad" and a danger to abandon me like my dad did. This is why many of the SO's on this website have terrible difficulty leaving men who habitually use prostitutes and refuse to make any changes. The SO's use this splitting behavior and see their partners as "good", because splitting doesn't allow a mixture of good and bad to be seen simultaneously, in which the SO would see that their partner is good because they may keep a job or have certain favorable character traits, but bad because they are violating the SO's trust on a regular basis. It's incredibly hard to justify leaving a good person, but much easier to justify leaving a person with some good qualities but who also has some very bad ones that outweigh their good ones.

    With all of that said, I think this is why I felt so good after this happened:
    If you read back through my journal, I've often talked about how I had an irrational distain sometimes toward my wife. Understanding this splitting behavior now sheds light on that. I was simply flipping how I saw my wife from good to bad - I was never able to view her as a simultaneous mixture of both. It's a lot easier to justify cybersex when you're married to a "bad" person who you believe is going to abandon you. Everyone has a bad day now and again, but if my wife had a bad day, I would perceive her as a bad person and a danger to me, which would trigger me toward escape behaviors. On the backside of The Big Reveal I've begun to think of my wife in more realistic terms concerning character and intention. This allowed me to fully appreciate her in a more healthy way and to be able to communicate that to her. This is difficult to explain. The Big Reveal essentially disproved all of my she's-going-to-abandon-me theories, which was a major source of fuel for my discomfort and addiction behavior.

    I've gone on too much about this for now. What I really wanted to mention today was something else about addiction:

    Last night I was walking my dog around the neighborhood. A few streets away, someone had their garage door open and I could see on the walls of their garage was some expensive sports memorabilia. A thought occurred to me that I could easily steal the memorabilia. Obviously I didn't steal it, for a number of moral reasons and criminal consequences. But I did recognize the opportunity for stealing. Does the thought occurring to me that I could steal if I chose to make me a thief? Of course not. It's just a thought that occurs. Sometimes when I sit in the hellish Southern California traffic, not moving an inch, I look at the shoulder on the freeway and it occurs to me that I could zoom over and drive on the shoulder the remaining miles to work. I don't actually do it, that would be illegal and would have consequences that I recognize and submit to. So, does the thought of driving on the shoulder make me a reckless driver? No, it's just a thought that occurs.

    So let's relate this to PMO. There's a widespread belief I've seen on mentioned numerous times in NoFap journals that once you're an addict, you're always an addict. I think this is both false and unnecessarily distressing. I can imagine that believing that might lead to one throwing their palms up and relapsing in a what-the-fuck-does-it-matter fashion. I wonder about this belief's contribution to the chronically-relapsing condition of some fellow fapstronauts. Fighting PMO becomes just a case of bailing water on a chronically sinking ship. I haven't masturbated or watched porn for over a year. Yes, sometimes it does occur to me that P or M might be nice, but I don't do it because I don't want the moral, physical, emotional or psychological consequences. So am I a PMO addict? Certainly I was at one time because I literally could not control myself from using PMO.

    According to common belief, yes, I am still an addict. I think there is some value in challenging that belief. I recognize some danger in it too. Plenty of people have relapsed and cited that "they got too cocky" and "thought they were cured". I'm not sure one way or the other if I'm an addict or not an addict or if I'm a former addict or an addict in recovery. But I know from what I've learned in CBT that there are 2 cognitive distortions in play with the addict-for-life camp:

    1) Labeling. Labeling distorts behavior, which is moment-to-moment, and applies it to the whole person. The guy who grabbed your taxi is a "jerk, which implies that he always runs around causing suffering to other people. This distorts that he's really just a guy like you who happened to be in a hurry because he was late to meet his boss about an important work project. When we use labeling on others and ourselves, the distortions cause negative emotional suffering. To eliminate this, you label the behavior and not the person. This might be a slight technicality to think of myself as a person who a year ago used addiction behavior vs I'm an addict for life, but IMO the latter has a negative consequence and is awfully presumptious (which reminds me of another cognitive distortion: Fortune Telling)

    2) Emotional Reasoning. To me this is the fuel for the addict-for-life belief. We gain some abstinence, then we recognize an opportunity for PMO. I feel horny to PMO so this proves I'm an addict and will never have control of myself. Feeling an urge or thinking about P or M is not a behavior. Watching porn or masturbating is a behavior.

    What I'm getting at is that thinking about wanting to PMO and feeling like you want to PMO doesn't make you an addict. Of course obsessively thinking about something to the point where you can no longer function and causes interruption of your daily life falls under the addiction or OCD category - I'm not discounting that.

    It probably seems like I'm lobbying hard to disprove the addict-for-life theory, or that I'm desperate to shun a label of "addict" for myself or even that I'm in a denial, but I'm really not. What I'm saying is that you are bailing water on a chronically sinking ship for the rest of your life.....until you resolve the hole where the water is gushing in. After that you are just another ship on the high seas trying to steer yourself away from another hole like everyone else.

    Hopefully this post isn't insensitive to anyone with a firm-held belief that serves them properly. I'm more or less trying to express some thoughts of mine that have been bouncing around my head. I continue to exercise caution about leaning on any belief or theory too hard. It's beneficial to stay flexible and open.

    More
    than
    enough
    for
    t
    o
    d
    a
    y
    .

    Geesh.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  12. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    I'm doing a rare nighttime journal entry. My wife is out of town and I've spent the last few hours since my daughter went to bed working on a freelance project. Earlier in reboot I would really struggle when my wife was out of town. I've made huge progress on this and continue to cement in solid, healthy behavior. After I finish this journal entry I will go to bed since I have a big day tomorrow. It seems each big struggle has something similar to a half-life. When I began reboot, the first time my wife went out of town I nearly relapsed. It totally caught be by surprise at the time. The next time she went out of town I was sort of dreading it because it was so difficult the first time. But it wasn't nearly as bad, it was about 50% or less of the strength of urge as the first time. The next time she went out of town after that I was about 50% less urged than the time before, and so on and so on. If I had relapsed on that first time and rewarded myself with PMO, you can be sure I would have been 100% urged the next time. When you are an addict and looking to break the cycle, it seems it's either keep the cycle going via a PMO reward, or break the cycle into a half-life by paying a penalty. Reward vs penalty. The "penalty" is having to go through some type of withdrawal - you "give up" (pay) something that you don't want to. I don't think you can break the cycle into a half-life without paying a penalty. The good news is that paying a penalty sounds bad but it's really not. It's more like cleaning your house, getting an aching tooth pulled or paying an outstanding debt. It has an instantaneous uplifting result on your well-being, even though you perceived it beforehand as completely undesirable. Go through this process enough and "completely undesirable" breaks down to a half-life of "pretty uncomfortable". Keep going and "pretty uncomfortable" halves into "fairly tolerable", which halves into "mostly unnoticeable", then "undetectable", then "who cares?". Tonight it was "mostly unnoticeable" for me.

    I didn't really finish out my post above from earlier today because I got burned out on writing at the time. I was trying to explain that in the future, with continued abstinence, the urge to PMO will likely not be any stronger than the urge to steal shit from my neighbor's garage or cut all the traffic to work by driving on the freeway shoulder. Opportunities will always exist, so in that sense urges will always exist (as opportunities). The opportunity to steal from my neighbor has no magnetic pull on me, it's just a recognized set of actions to choose from. I get the feeling that some fapstronauts have an idealized goal that eliminating addiction means getting to a point when there are no longer any urges whatsoever. But urges cannot be completely eliminated, because at their shrunken, smallest size, they are just opportunities. You can position yourself in ways to have fewer opportunities, but they can't be eliminated from life altogether. You actually WANT opportunities, because every opportunity is a chance to continue choose the Right option, which leads to greater well-being and away from suffering and damage. Did I enhance my well-being by choosing not to burglarize my neighbor's garage? Not in a measurable way, but yes. It's just that I'm not in any sort of practice of stealing things and never have been, so the half-life effect on an already-microscopic urge to steal is undetectable in my well-being.

    I've been just throwing words all over my journal lately, flinging theories and thoughts even though many of them are not fully thought out yet. There's a reason for this. I'm noticing more and more how interconnected all the journals are. We each seem to extract certain phrases or concepts or inspiration or attitudes from each other's journals and reapply them in our own lives, which we then redeliver via our own journals, which are read by others who extract more concepts and inspiration, etc... It occurred to me that this is similar to open source code software. NoFap Alexander created the first set of code for a simple functioning program. Years of people open journaling has evolved the program to a higher and most advanced and effective level. Each one of us has a chance to add something that may help someone else. I realize that I'm a person who has experienced some degree of success using much of what I've read on NoFap, but also have thoughts and concepts of my own that may or may not have contributed to my abstinence. I might as well try to dump it all out in the open in the case that any of it can be validated or disproved, used in some new way or altered to fit a completely different intention.

    I think I've successfully purged myself of a lot of loose thoughts and half-theories. I'm not satisfied with the content of what I've written but I'm satisfied with the attempt. Goodnight.
     
  13. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Tired today but things are running pretty smoothly. Got up at 5am to get ready for work meetings and get my daughter to day care. Wife is still out of town but sent a sweet text when she woke up this morning. Pitched a big change at work that I've been brainstorming for months and it was well received. I seem to be operating with a lot of calm, thoughtful strength. A Friday morning with my wife out of town used to mean that I'd only gotten maybe 45 mins of sleep after being up all night in a PMO trance. In work meetings I tried to talk as little as possible since my mind was either totally empty, or full of disgust and fear. Times have changed.

    Short entry today. This is nice after some lengthy noodling in my last few posts. Hope everyone is finding their groove and making progress. Thanks @Sam_ba, @EL.B and @Krtvdw for all the support. Anything you may feel about me, is only because you recognize these qualities from yourself, so please apply just as much loving spirit to yourselves, you certainly deserve it!
     
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  14. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    For about a week now my brain seems to be doing some type of healing, very similar to early reboot. A physical thing, not so much a cognitive thing. One night for a few seconds I was seeing light sparkles like the ones that precede a migraine, but then they just stopped and no migraine came. I think my brain is finally getting a chance to "reshuffle" or re-evaluate things since The Big Reveal. It's a good thing but there's some discomfort during the process. My journaling last week seemed sort of aimless or meandering, and I think this is indicitive of the vast territory my mind is wandering in order to resituate things. It's as though The Big Reveal was a type of psychological surgery, and I'm in the process of healing from it. It's great for progress but a bit uncomfortable in the short term. I'm not feeling 100% awesome, but I'm encouraged and optimistic, which helps neutralize the temporarily discomfort.

    My wife and I are doing really great - better than ever I think.
     
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  15. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Recovery is the weirdest thing. When I think about it, I've been using M or P or alcohol or drugs or cigarettes or work or whatever to cope with life, or to cope with my own issues about life for about 30 years. So now that I have finally removed those things, I really don't know if what I'm experiencing is just life, or withdrawal, or emotions that are unfamiliar to me, or what. On Saturday I woke up with a type of tension within me, and it seemed to be emanating from my brain. It was almost like the sort of uncomfortable electric body "buzz" that happens before a job interview or before you have to give a performance. It's akin to anxiety but I was very mindful of my thoughts and there were no anxious thoughts that I could detect. I noticed in talking to my father-in-law on Saturday night that I was almost reverting to my pre-reboot social behavior. I would be sharing a story with him and end it sharply followed by a moment of awkward silence and I'd look away. This used to be how I interacted with people all the time, like I didn't want the conversation to continue so I'd go quiet and hope it would just go away. But with my father-in-law on Saturday night I wasn't hoping the conversation would go away - I was enjoying it. I managed to push through the awkwardness and keep things moving along even though I was feeling weird, and it was a nice conversation regardless.

    On Sunday all the weird unexplained tension was gone. Just like that. I was back to the new normal and there was really no cognitive explanation that I can uncover. I'm just making a wild, stabbing guess here, but it sort of seems like The Big Reveal was a large psychological "event" in my brain, an event which even though was a tremendous step forward toward my overall progress, caused some short-term distress (certainly in a cognitive sense since I spent quite awhile feeling terrible about myself afterward). That short-term distress kind of mimicked a relapse in the sense that my brain has felt similar to how it did in early reboot - I experienced some sparkles of light like I do in pre-migraine, I've had to "re-learn" the art of social interaction, and I've had to readjust behavior around checking out women in public and in zoning out to social media again.

    All of that sounds distressing right? Well it is, but there also seems to be new progress as well. Learning about Object Relations Theory has been really eye-opening for me, in that I'm consciously starting to understand and view other people as mixtures of good and bad (usually people are mostly good) rather than viewing them as only good or only bad at any given time. This has been tremendously relieving for me. As an example, in the past if my wife were to, say, double check how I've strapped our daughter into her car seat, I would immediately react with distain and believe my wife doesn't trust me, she thinks I'm incapable, she doesn't care about me or my well-being, etc... This is a terrible way to view my wife, as though she's a cold, distrusting asshole who must be faking her love for me - I was viewing her as a strictly "bad" object according to the theory of Object Relations. These feelings of distain would only then be relieved or invalidated by an outward act from her that somehow "proved" her love for me. I would feel inwardly angry and unloved/unlovable until the next time she told me some specific reason she loved me, or until I got some type of special praise from her, or until we had sex or I got some type of physical affirmation from her. When one of those things happened, the distain would be flipped and I would feel incredibly loved and would marvel at the miraculous fortune of having someone so special in my life. I was viewing her as a strictly "good" object according to the theory of Object Relations. So now, when my wife does something like double-check the way I've buckled our daughter's seatbelt and I reach for that distain, I remind myself that she is a good person, that everyone is a mixture of good/bad. This conscious reminder immediately mows down the distain. There's no dwelling for hours or angry outburst. It's like pouring baking soda on a grease fire.

    And this new practice of reminding myself that people are a mixture of good/bad has spilled over to the way I view myself, which I think is helping me be more comfortable about sex again. In my reboot up until now, I've been making every effort to rid myself of addiction around P, which includes ogling, fantasy, etc...Part of that effort included me "tightening up" tremendously around anything to do with sex and/or attractive women. If I noticed an attractive women at the beach I would experience disappointment and it was a reminder that I was an addict (bad object). If I lingered for a second on a lingerie ad in a magazine I was a bad object. If I had a thought that sex with my wife might be nice, I would search for the stressor in my life or the flaw in my thinking that was causing such an addict thought. My approach to ridding myself of PMO addiction was air-tight, but it assumed fully that I was a bad person. It didn't allow any space to view myself as a mixture of good/bad. Certainly not every thought about sex is bad or caused by addiction, and noticing someone as attractive is not always a sign of addiction or that I'm a bad person. So lately when I notice someone attractive I've been consciously reminding myself that I'm not a bad person, that I'm a mixture like everyone else. And now I've noticed that when my wife and I do what would normally be a routine hug/kiss, I'm completely open to a deeper kiss, the type that leads to sex. I'm not just open to it, I am leading us to it. It's not a pre-meditated thing either, it's completely organic.

    Of course the enormous part of why I'm now more comfortable with sex is that I opened up to my wife and she knows who I am and this hasn't stopped her from loving me. Duh. The Object Relations Theory stuff is just how my mind chose to record and process this big step. Not sure I can explain this.

    I read an article about how some testing was done on people who had become blind at some point in their adult lives after having had normal sight. They were taught to read braille using their fingertips. The regions of their brain that received and processed the braille from their fingertips was the same region of the brain that had been used to receive and process sight from their eyes. This was very unexpected and gave medical science a look into how "plastic" and adaptable the brain really is. This got me thinking that I'm sort of doing this same test, but backwards. I learned to cope with stress via sources like M, P, alcohol, drugs, work, etc...so my brain set itself up to functionally rely on those things, just as the brains in that test had done with the fingertips and braille. It was done out of what was a necessity for me at the time, because I didn't fully understand any other way. But now, I'm teaching my brain to unlearn using braille, and to see again with my own eyes. I'm learning to cope with life using connection and intimacy with people, which are really my "eyes".

    I'm starting to see.
     
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  16. ItsNeverTooLate

    ItsNeverTooLate Fapstronaut

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    I'm sure she was thankful. It's always nice to be appreciated. Even if you know in your heart that you are good at something, it's nice to be acknowledged. Especially by a loved one. And especially just because. :D

    I read these and a possibility struck me. Could it be that your neural pathways are still in repair despite your cognitive brain understanding what needs to be done? Construction is almost complete on the new road but the work signs are still up. You have trained yourself to divert little stressful moments and find healthier outlets (meditation, communication, refocusing, etc.) but when The Big Reveal came it seemed like your brain was at a crossroads. Go the old, short road with no speed limit, albeit with pot holes and no guard rails or the new, longer road at 35mph. After fumbling through a few pot holes it was like your brain said, "Hey, you know the bridge is out at the end of the road? By the way, the other road may be longer and slower, but it's a heck of a lot smoother and won't leave you in an abyss."

    Stress puts you in that fight/flight mode. Good job coming back and fighting!

    Congrats! She deserves it as much as you do! I'm glad for both of you that you have found your happiness! Keep it up! :)
     
  17. EL.B

    EL.B Fapstronaut

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    Inspiration. You are an inspiration, @Strength And Light.

    (I've just started a positive psychology course and this came up as an often missed positive emotion, and i then thought of you as someone inspirational. )
     
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  18. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    This post was just brilliant and perfectly timed. My progress since the big reveal has been almost up one day, down the next, up one day, down the next, etc... Not so much up and down as in happy, sad, happy, sad, but more like confident, full of doubts, confident, full of doubts.... The days with doubts are because there's a lot of "weirdness" in my brain - I'm on an unfamiliar path. This causes me to slow way down, pay attention and scrutinize every detail of what's going on in my mind and in my life. I start to wonder if I'm somehow going crazy. Because I've been through this so much in early reboot, I've been telling myself that this is just my brain healing from addiction, and this gives me optimism. Then more brain weirdness and doubts. Then optimism. Doubts. Optimism.

    Your post hit me after a day of doubts, and it helped remind me that I'm not somehow going crazy, that this neural pathway process is not just a made up story I tell myself to mask the reality that I'm going crazy. Your analogy is spot on. I will add that over the last 3-4 days, I've been reading and watching TED Talks (I'd never watched any before) and educating myself or in some cases reminding myself of things about this new path that I'm on and it's giving me great confidence and inspiration that I've made the right choice. You could say that I'm installing guardrails and planting landscaping along the new path so that I feel more safe, can travel without as much caution, and enjoy the beauty of this road a lot more.

    Thank you for the umpteenth time for helping me. You act so selflessly and from some of my new understanding, acting selflessly is a good path to inner peace. Your calming good nature is contagious, so I hope to be a ripple of it that spreads even further out. You are awesome! :)
     
  19. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Peace Pilgrim

    A few weeks ago, by some 6-degrees-of-seperation coincidence, I happened upon a bit of information about Peace Pilgrim. Since the source of the information was a professional athlete that I look up to and not some self-help article, I was particularly intrigued. So I googled and found http://www.peacepilgrim.org/. I was very quickly reminded of my mother, who has outwardly worked for peace for many years. The website has a link where you can request a free book, so sent in my request, thinking the book might be a nice curiosity for me, and something cool I can give to my mom when I'm done with it - a type of inspiration for her.

    The book arrived and last night I started to read an included booklet that accompanied it called "Steps To Inner Peace", written by Peace Pilgrim. I was reading something she'd written about how the way to inner peace is being of service to others. As I was reading this, a memory of mine popped up:

    In 2002, I had just moved to a tiny studio apartment in the bustling downtown area of a major Southern California city. At the time, I was a desperate alcoholic and had been for years. My work schedule was quite different, and I had a random weekday off with nothing to do and I didn't really know anyone in the city that wasn't working on this day. Being in the cycle of alcoholism at the time, I walked to a bar a few blocks from my house and starting drinking. My logic during times like that was that I had a free day to "throw away", that yes I was probably an alcoholic but that I was single and responsible with my job, bills, etc..., so the negative effects of my alcoholism were confined to me. It was me who paid for it in hangovers, missed opportunities for social events when hungover or too drunk to meet up with people, etc... My problem was my problem.

    So I was in this dark bar during a beautiful California day, drinking alone. All day. I have no idea how much I drank, but at that time it wasn't unusual for me to spend $100 on myself at a bar on any given day/night. At a certain point, I was so drunk I wanted to go home and pass out. I'll guess this was about 3pm in the afternoon.

    On my walk home, I was staggering drunk and seeing double. I was really, truly in a state like the Coachella flip-flop guy. When I was about 30 feet from the front door of my building, the door flung open and a guy marched out to the top of the stairs clutching a woman by her arm. He screamed, "YOU FUCKING BITCH!!" and flung her around so that she trampled down the stairs and landed at the bottom, laying barefoot on her side. She was sobbing and sat up and yelled back, "You fucking asshole!" I could sense the urgency of stepping in to make sure this woman got to safety. My initial thought was to confront the guy, but when I looked up at him standing at the top of the stairs, I was seeing double and I was struggling to keep my balance just standing there. I wobbled in place trying to regain some bit of sense so I could call myself to action, but I was too far gone. Then he yelled down to me.
    "What the fuck are you looking at!?"
    Obvious fighting words. This guy was puffed up from anger, surging in the high of violent physical release and I was in no condition to challenge that. So what did I do? I said nothing. I staggered slowly up the stairs, went into my apartment and collapsed into a drunken pile of worthlessness. I never saw the guy or the woman again, and moved into a different apartment a few months later.

    I've reflected on that memory a few times over the years, and I've often speculated that my inaction was upsetting to me because my ego had been challenged or broken - a narcissistic injury, or that I'd missed an opportunity to be a hero in some woman's eyes, which might have landed me a chance to be desired (my classic issue of course). But when I was reading the Peace Pilgrim booklet last night, I looked at it differently. I missed the opportunity to be of service to others. I wasn't able to help the woman to safety. I wasn't able to confront this guy and circumvent a rage of violence. I didn't stop the possible spread of this woman's negative opinion of men. I didn't stop the possible spread of this man's opinion that he can continue this type of behavior without a challenge. Because of my inaction, this woman may go on to make poor life choices based on the validation that men are not only violent, but that they are careless and cold. Because of my inaction, this man may have gone on to further violence against other people. The ripple of possibilities is endless.

    I'm not saying that I'm responsible for this guy's behavior or this woman's suffering. But I'm saying that I was wrong about my addiction. My alcoholism was not contained to only myself - it effects everyone that I can be of service to, which just so happens to be anyone in the world at any given time.

    In realizing this last night, something else occurred to me. Being of sober mind in order to be of service to any given person at any given time gives my life a purpose that I wasn't aware of. When I hear or read someone talk about overcoming addiction by finding a meaning or purpose in their life, I assumed this was done by having a sudden epiphany to become an EMT or a social worker or suddenly finding religion or something along those lines. I didn't realize I would be able to find meaning and purpose in my life without changing anything except eliminating addiction itself.

    Amazing progress. Just amazing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  20. EL.B

    EL.B Fapstronaut

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    This is an interesting thought. Addiction itself has an opportunity cost but that this cost might not be seen or understood until you have come through the to the other side of the addiction. "You have to first lose your mind to find it".

    It sounds like you might have a 'Strength' in Service - ie, one of you underlying behaviours is that you enjoy and gain energy from helping people? For me it's a core strength of mine.
     
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