Hello, I'm a porn addict.

12 posts in this topic

Posted

Hello, 
(this is probably going to be a long post as it's the first time I've ever posted anything like this in such detail, so please bear with me)

I'm a 44 year old man from the UK whose life has been  dominated and defined so far by looking at, collecting and masturbating to pornographic images of naked women.
It has taken me a long time to realise that I can't recover from this alone; I've always kidded myself that my own will power, rationality and lately being more proactive and reading and following the exercises in The Kick start pdf were enough. But they're not. I have been scared to reach out to this forum, but the alternative is much worse: the effect this has already had on my own well-being and happiness,  my relationship with my wife whom I adore,  and my career/ achievements in life generally.

One of my clearest early memories is that when I was maybe about 6 or 7 (unclear on that) I accidentally found a rolled up magazine that was sticking out of a  pocket of my dads coat hanging in a wardrobe. The image visible was of an old Nasa spacecraft; that's what caught my eye, as I was space /sci-fi mad (still am).
As I opened the magazine a saw that there was a naked pin up-picture (evidently this was a magazine that contained "real" articles as well as pictures of naked women, hence the spacecraft). Anyway, I distinctly remember my much elder sister's and mum's reactions to me pulling out this magazine: alarm and panic and unwittingly making a big fuss of stopping me from looking further. This in hindsight was the wrong way to react - I was intrigued - perhaps as much by the dramatic reaction of my family as by the naked picture I glimpsed. Am I not blaming my family for what followed however. It was my choice to seek out that magazine again. Later on I did just that, and found my dad's other magazines badly hidden in a bottom drawer in his bedroom.

Ever since then I looked at my dads magazines, then collected images of naked women in the form of "page 3 girls" cut of the old newspapers my Dad had bought, then as soon as I was old enough to buy them, magazines and later digitally. I have always sought porn as an escape from, well anything really! The normal challenges of daily life I suppose. 
Since my early teens and into my twenties I knew it was wrong, but my willpower has always been very poor; guilt over porn only makes my self-esteem worse, which hinders me from achieving in life and makes my self esteem lower, which hinders my progress in life, so I turn to porn...etc. It's a vicious circle.

Since my early twenties I have gone through phases of collecting magazine/images, then feeling awful about it and throwing them away...only to get back on the merry-go-round and collect again. 

Several years ago I met my wife, who is from a Northern European country. She is an amazing woman and my soulmate, we love each other very much but she has no idea about my problem. She is a gentle sensitive, demure soul, who is not comfortable with the depiction of sexuality in most film and TV media, who certainly doesn't like pornography, who would not understand my situation and who would be devastated if she knew of my problem. She'd never trust me ever again. Therefore i have to protect her from my this. I am of course, at the risk of sounding selfish, so afraid of losing her.  
When it comes down to it; I don't actually LIKE the idea of porn either, the misogyny and objectification of women is at complete odds with the other aspects of my nature. I am a kind sensitive person who in many ways cannot equate or reconcile this addiction with my own values and beliefs. That is good I suppose, for it helps me fight, for I know how wrong and not healthy for me this is, but it has it's barbs in me. 

When I moved here to my wife's country three years ago I made a huge effort; I got rid of all my pornography and managed to stay away from it for seven weeks. For me, that is a long time. I didn't know about these (Paula Hall.co.uk) resources then, and my resolve gradually ebbed away. Since then I saw a counsellor. Their advice helped for a while but I have gone through the merry-go-round-like cycle of addiction so manytimes. I'd found that in trying to quit this on my own, I last a couple of weeks and then soon succumb to those familiar triggers, exacerbated by my own insecurities and low self esteem.

Last year we got married. If it wasn't for my addiction, I feel I would be able to face the challenges of finding regular work and getting on and forward in my new life here.  I am a creative and talented individual; and I'm lucky enough to have had interesting jobs in a semi-creative/creative field. But I know that if it wasn't for this stone around my neck I could really focus better and achieve so much more. My priorities have changed; I now owe it not only to myself but to my wonderful wife to pull my weight so to speak in my duties as a husband and a productive human being. That cannot happen fully and effectively all the while that this poisonous predilection is controlling me. I know I have a problem, and I want to really fight it. 

To that end at the end of last year I started facing up to the problem more seriously and proactively. I downloaded The Kickstart PDF and have followed the exercises in it. Unfortunately my financial situation precludes me from getting any services I would have to pay for, for the time being. Joining this forum in January was another step, but it's taken me until now to have the courage to admit to myself, come here and tell you all: I can't do it alone, I need support. 

23 days ago I started the latest of many re-boot attempts. I fully accept that my neural reward pathway is VERY strongly established from approximately 28 years' worth of porn use, but I did find that I was understanding these addictive mechanisms more easily and I felt I was making progress. By day 16 I felt very strong and positive. Then the next day my sub-concious guard must've been down for I made a slip, I looked at an image of a topless model. Every  day since then the slips have got incrementally worse, despite that fact that I can feel the progress I'd made up to that point. On the plus side, at no point ever before in my life had I felt the neural pathway ebbing away as distinctly as during that 16 days. That means the techniques WORK, and that the more you try the easier it gets, even if very gradually. But at the same time, the triggers are real, the old habits die hard, so that by today, day 23 I had had what I would describe as a relpase. I collected some images and acted out again. 
Whereas before whenever this happened I would feel so despondent that I would start counting the recovery days again from 1, Now I am continuing to count the days because I've realised that the road to success is paved with failure, it's not about either winning or failing at the first attempt. Yes, I feel disappointed with myself but I refuse to wallow in self-pity as I would've done before, as I've learned so much already, even though I know I still need help.
Consider me reaching out in this way as a way of affirming that. I've stumbled, but i'm getting up, dusting myself down and continuing forward.
I would urge anyone in a similar situation to do the same, reach out. It's worth it, you'll feel better. 

Thanks for reading this, and apologies again for the length of this post. But as I indicated earlier, it's taken me about 28 years to get to this day! 
The journey continues......

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hello,

There's a lot in your post to explore, many topics and a lot of common themes I think you'll find we all share. I could connect with a lot of experiences you describe. I can also appreciate you wanting to get it all out and how that flows. Thank you for having the courage to do that.

Firstly I'd like to challenge one of the ideas you have about this being due to some personal failing or particular a lack of willpower. It isn't, it's an addiction. I went through a very similar process to you and it is common with many addicts, whereby I thought that I wasn't strong enough or couldn't stop. That I lacked the "willpower" to stop. But the truth was that I was going about it the wrong way. Sadly by trying to do it all my own, little did I realise I was repeating the same mistakes that nearly all addicts make. So it's great you are trying something different with the Kick Start. For me, a key insight was realising that the things I'd tried in the past hadn't worked and I needed to try something different, otherwise I'd stay trapped in this cycle forever. The problems you mention like poor self-esteem and fighting yourself and your own beliefs for me were and are definitely related. I underestimated exactly the scale of how my porn use was actively creating those kinds of problems. But the good news is that you can handle it.

Disclosing to your wife or a partner is always a big decision and event that will have a severe impact on the relationship. Because as you say, there is a violation of trust going on. Different partners react in different ways and there is a strong fear of abandonment. Those are serious and real fears. If and when you want to do this, then know that there are ways you can prepare for it and particularly with professional help or disclosure in a therapeutic environment. Personally the rear stopped me for many years along with my own rationalisations that it wasn't hurting anyone etc etc. So I think it's positive that you can recognise the damage this causes in a relationship - I found that difficult to do for many years. The only real way you can protect your wife from this is to stop completely and take the time and effort to really crack this and recover to become a whole man without porn or sex being used as a crutch in your life. It is entirely about you my friend. That is obviously much easier said than done but it can be done and you will do it. The benefits on the other side are life-changing and incredible. It can open up new ways of how you approach life and regard people.

I would strongly encourage you to invest more time in yourself. That is the best investment you can ever make. This forum does not have high use but there are good resources here. Paula's real life courses are not cheap but gave me access to something invaluable as well as all the course material, discussion, exercises etc. - real world time and connection with other guys with the same struggles and at different stages of recovery. There are other groups like SLAA who do this too but not in the same way. But don't let that put you off - experiment and find what works for you.

There are other websites too: yourbrainonporn and rebootnation.org (Gabe Deem). Several other sites too. Reboot Nation has a much more widely populated forum but at all levels.

Mostly I want you to know you are not alone at all. There are many guys out there in a similar position and many many more worse who don't even realise porn is a problem and ruining their lives in subtle ways. You have made that big leap already. Your next steps are to tool up and get fully equipped to tackle it. I'm actually very excited for you and what lies ahead!!

A key step is every time you slip or fall back, firstly to stop asap - 5 minutes is better than 5 hours. Then spend the time over the next couple of days to really work out why and what happened but then most important - what you will do differently next time to not get in that situation again. It's easy to think short term here but often the "decision" to act out for me maybe happened hours or even days before. So nipping it in the bud needs careful though early on. You'll continue to have slips and make mistakes - don't ever be disheartened by that, it's natural and normal. The key is you always learn from your mistakes and do something different next time. The hardest failure of all is one you already did before. The main thing is you always keep forward momentum and never punish yourself for working at stopping. Instead of just counting the days, perhaps you can also count the lessons learned about yourself? Each lesson is like a "level up" of your self power which is amplified most of all when you can then later use that lesson in real life to do something different and better.

Please keep posting.

Peace.

 

 

-2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hello everyone. 
Hello Rob, thanks so much for your advice and support. Rob, what can I say except:

Thank you. 

I'm a bit lost for words at this moment. 

(several minutes later)

You make some excellent points that I will think over and process, it's great advice and so simple when one hears it said by someone else; but I've been in the eye of the storm of my own self-loathing for so long that I had trouble accepting and realising the wisdom of what you'd said. Please excuse me if I don't answer specifically each point you've  made, but know that I have read and will re-read your post carefully and follow all your advice.

I have a lot of work that this addiction is taking time away from, I am job-huntiong and studying for a degree at the moment, so that itself is a source of motivation to spend my time more wisely.

 Since posting on Tuesday I had a slip, I looked at P and acted out (BTW for me that only ever means masturbation),  so I really feel in danger at the moment of falling behind of the small amount of mental progress I feel I have already made.

The over-ridng feeling I've had for the last 24 hours is that I've seen all the images I'll ever want to see, I'm sick of novelty, I'm sick of the drudgery of going through the motions of being a slave to the addiction, of being on the merry go round. It feels like the desire to stop is strong, and the excitement gained by P has waned, all that's left is the seeking of an escape from my day- to day-responsibilities.  I know i'm in the regret phase, and I don't want to move to the phase where I prepare and  to act again. 

Despite knowing that, this morning before I came to this forum and read your reply I had another slip in the sense that I wasted 2 hours looking at and collecting images. However I just wasn't turned on. Despite the fact that I kept looking I didn't get an erection, despite trying to (I hope that was not too much info. I am aware of the rule about describing acting out behaviours. Please anyone, feel free to say If I describe too much. Still new to this). Anyway, I stopped, didn't masturbate and deleted the imagery.

Despite what you say Rob, it's hard not to feel like I failed in the sense that I looked at P, but I will try and take heart from what you say, I definitely need to read all the support material and research on this whole sexual addiction issue, and reread the kickstart PDF and do it's exercises again, so that I can hopefully come to know such insights as truth to me.
 The more down this recovery journey I go the the better I'm getting at listening to my instincts and motives. I can see better than ever what I stand to lose by letting this addiction win and contrasting it with what I stand to gain my truly becoming free of it.  I know I'm still in danger, but maybe one could say I've learnt something from this particular latest mistake: To not just listen to my instincts, but act on them, use the strategies, R.U.N. for example.

Anyway, I should go and concentrate on my other tasks and positive work right now, but thanks again. Really, thanks. I can't tell you how positive it feels to finally be conversing with people who understand and who are going through / have been though similar experiences. You know what? I do feel a bit excited about the future!

I will keep posting.

As you say, peace. 
 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hello,

I'm glad it was useful for you.

One of the hardest things I found personally was that I thought I was alone and the only person in the world who had this "dirty little secret"

I cannot post links here (humiliatingly I am incapable of driving a smartphone) but please search on Google for "Terry Crews Dirty Little Secret" and you will see what I mean.

But actually, there are quite a few guys out there who recognise this and the drag it has on their lives. So you are very much not alone.

It's good that you are learning stuff like RUN. Putting that into practice is key. Yes, you need to act. Again the course goes into more detail about that as does Paula's book (plug). The book in fact gives a lot of structure and areas to think about with recovery. I think particularly in helping you understand why exactly you feel draw to porn and the root issues you face personally.

When I first started out, I used to think there was some magic answer to it that was being held back from me. If only I knew or somebody told me what. But actually it has been about better understanding myself, self-honesty and going through all that learning process. It takes time and perseverance. It is also easy to suffer setbacks, feel despairing and then go back to old behaviour. (Which then makes you feel even worse about yourself etc.).

Don't be hard on yourself when you slip. That doesn't help you. It doesn't mean it's OK though either. So it's about finding the balance and for me that is about learning and doing things differently. Often I see a lot of guys who are far harsher on themselves than they would be on anyone else. Why? Because deep down, I wouldn't like part of myself etc. 

It's really positive that you can be honest if/when you do slip up. Because if you're not then it's very easy to slip back into the bigger mental problem of rationalising it to yourself that it's OK or "not a big deal" - it's your health and life so it is a big deal. Us porn addicts are master liars and concealers - not only to others but to ourselves. So the first part of coming clean is about being honest with yourself, which you are doing. So keep it up.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I have lived with a similar problem from exactly the same age but in addition and due to the fact money wasnt an issue as my life went on it led me to use prostitutes as that gave me an extra buzz!  Sadly it led to my 20 year marriage breakdown so i am now divorced and im finally searching for help on this.  Reading about other people in similar situations does help for me as im sure it does for you.  

 

Keep positive and be happy!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Good luck on your journey, Tortoise... and to you, 10. The addictive behaviour is a tough thing to fight but you're taking the right steps. Hopefully at the same time as resisting the damaging, compulsive, behaviours, you can find time to look at some of the underlying issues that may be causing you to self-soothe through sex and porn use.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Thanks Rob, Workinprogress and 10. I agree, I get strength from knowing there's other out there struggling and fighting on. 
So many good points as before. I would really like to respond to them all right now, but I am super busy with a work/studying project the deadline for which is Monday. Yikes! The good thing about that is that for the last 6 days, (inc. today) I have been clean. Yes. 

The 5 days previous to that, different story. 1 slip every day of those 5 days. But as you say Rob and 10 positivity is the key. I fell, but i got back up, dusted myself down and am carrying on while trying to live for each day and stay busy!

So much more to say, but must go and study. I just wanted to check in. Also because I am alone in the house right now, so if this was a day when I was not on my guard, force of habit and that devious neural reward pathway would be working away at my rationale, trying to get me to slip. But today, it ain't gonna happen.  :) And beacuse of that, tomorrow will be easier.

I hope this doesn't come across as selfish that I have not offered either discussion or words of advice or support directly to the three of you, but instead have talked about me solely. This is simply becasue it's quicker for me to speak about my situation, as I know it so well :) so I hope that in lieu of proper discussion from me, what I've said helps in some way. I'm tired from insufficient sleep, so I fear I would ramble and make not as much sense as you guys deserve to see. 

Stay strong, we are not alone! 

 

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

What a good post! I found myself nodding to a lot of the points (how fantastic to feel that at least one other person is going through what you're going through).

I'm in the process of being divorced by my wife. Three years ago she found out about my nasty internet habit, which had been going on for at least 15 years. I sought psychotherapy, which was absolutely useless: the two people I went to didn't appear to have any relevant experience or empathy for my situation (which my current psychotherapist, who is very good, described as bog-standard). I started going to SAA meetings, and whilst it was a bit reliant on the Higher Power for my comfort, I found the generosity and concern shown by others who went there was truly humbling. I attended for about four months, before I felt that I was strong enough to survive on my own. Two and a half years later, she tells me she's divorcing me for what she discovered in the first place. We never explicitly talked about it (story of our marriage) but I assumed that if we got that far, she was willing to stand by me. It turned out not. She had trouble believing I'd been sober in the intervening period (I had - she just assumed I'd lie, which wasn't unreasonable. My addiction seems to carry that nasty habit with it) although I had. We're still living together as we can't sell the house with our two teenage children.

After that, it didn't take long for me to slip back into bad habits, and although three times I deleted anything I might have collected, I still gave in to the temptation. Finally I was outed again, and I have COMPLETELY alienated my daughter (who had warned me that we were through if I did that stuff again), my wife thinks I am disgusting and has no sympathy. It's only my son who flips between complete hostility and being tenderly concerned.

I am unusual in that since I developed a prostate condition fifteen years ago, I have been unable to get an erection without external stimuli. Initially this was magazines, then, of course, the Internet. As my stiffy problem got worse and worse, it took more and more extreme sources (and conversations) to get off. Thing is, unlike most people, I don't get a hardon and then think "I need to masturbate" - I have usually had a session because I was bored. I think my libido had a part in this, but it was nothing like when I was younger (I'm in my early 60s). My new psychotherapist suggested that I simply go celibate, which was a bit of a shock, but why not? If I don't have an erection which needs attention, why not concentrate on techniques and strategies (remapping the brain) to make sure I don't do it again?

I'm shortly about to move into a one-bed flat, and I'm terrified that if I have no policing, I'll get into worse and permanent trouble. I had to finish a new six month relationship this morning, which was really hard and I absolutely doted on her, and I saw her as my way out of this (she has no idea about my sex problems, and no we hadn't had sex yet - Viagra seems to have some effect) and my psychotherapist told me unequivocally to end it, as the relationship was built on a lie, so I have done.

I'm feeling pretty low at the moment, but a little better for unloading. I'm sorry if I've rather hijacked this thread

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hi AtWitsEnd,

You are NOT alone! And when you said...

"...unlike most people, I don't get a hardon and then think "I need to masturbate" - I have usually had a session because I was bored."

.....let me tell you, you are definitely NOT the only one who does this. I use P and masturbation as an escape from everyday situations I think I can't handle, so it is very common for me to seek out the feeling of getting aroused, having a hard-on etc, without having those thoughts "naturally"; I would see porn as a "quick-fix" way to get to that place of escape. I still do when I slip. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would say this. We understand here on this forum. 


I also worry about self-disciplne. I am alone in the house often while my wife is out, and the opportunity based triggers are very real.
Have you read The Kick Start pdf and the other resources here and on the Paula hall site? If not please check them out, and look at the courses available. I think you will find parallels between the advice given and your situation.   
On Monday Tuesday and today I slipped. Before that I was 13 days clean, and before that, another period of being clean, punctuated with slips. But I want to move on, as we all do. The point is, I realise now that I can, that while a slip is not what one wants, that it is part of recovery. Trying to learn from one's mistakes. If you have not yet, please read Rob's answer to my first post, above. He makes some excellent points and has good insights (and puts in more eloquently than I could :) ). As do 10 and Workinprogress

Indeed, all of the repiles and other posts here have have many truths and insights in them that I can relate to my situation and use, to fight on. So I'm sure, and I hope that is true for you AtWitsEnd. 
To those of you who have shared already, Workinprogress, 10 and Rob, thanks again for having the courage to share and offer your thoughts. And to anyone else reading this going through anything similar, we are NOT alone. You are not alone.

And you're not hijacking the thread, you're reaching out. Please post more often! 

Take care everyone, keep fighting! :)

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Hi all, to those who've replied and those who haven't.

Just checking in. I hope everyone is well and looking after themselves.

This is not a long post as I have SO much work to do and deadlines soon. But I need to post because things have been difficult. I have l slipped 8 times in the last 7 days. looking at P and masturbating.

One of my triggers is stress and trying to escape from tasks I think are hard. I have ADD tendencies  too, which doesn't help.

 
Rob, 10, Atwitsend, Workinprogress, it's not that I've ignored your advice and insights; I know those things as true for me and my particular situation. It's just this damn addiction, will power and the falling back into easy familiar patterns. The neural pathway re-establishing itself?

Anyway, in a nutshell, I am NOT giving up. This is a journey, and I've come so far and altough I have a hell of a long way to go, I know I'm learning something about myself and how this whole thing "works within me,"  for want of a better term. Anyway,  point is, I really am in this deep, and I have a lot of "baggage" I'm bringing to my own personal table. But I am determined to keep trying. I AM going to beat this somehow, so I hope that sentiment can also bring some strength and hope to someone else too.

Keep fighting. Stay positive :)    

Edited by Tortoise
adding names of other posters, so that all feel included.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Tortoise

i suspect everyone who reads this forum finds themselves nodding to what you write. My God, it's difficult isn't it?! I do find a lot of comfort and support from people like you and those I meet at the Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings I go to, and I am genuinely in awe of the superhuman efforts people go to in order to break the cycle.

I find myself in a post-traumatic stage of being absolutely disinterested in porn, particularly the dangerous sort as a result of a very nasty shock not so long. Like a lot of people on here I am in the process of losing everything - wife, children, home, friends - and I just don't think about any form of porn, I'm sure as a result of what's happened in the last few months. I'd be naive however, to believe that the poison is out of my system for good, and I'm trying hard to set up a framework to protect me for the rest of my life, and to avoid falling. There doesn't seem to be much to look forward to and I find myself Googling far away places to live out my remaining days completely separated from those I've hurt so badly. The system will have to grind me down first, which seems likely. In my lucid moments, I wonder how I can have been so self-centred and damaged those I love so badly. I don't think of myself as a bad person, and yet the fallout is absolutely horrendous for them. How is it possible we allow ourselves to cause so much damage?!?!

Anyway, still encouraged by posts like yours, Tortoise. Keep up the good fight!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hi AtWitsEnd, 

Thanks for your comments. I'm generally humbled also by the willpower of people who are fighting this and the efforts they go to.

My biggest challenge at the moment is willpower. I know the logic and the common sense, but it's just within a heartbeat that I can weaken and go online and get some images and act out. The time it takes is not long, but the mental fallout and stress lingers, and weakens my resolve, causing me to slip again later.

I feeling disappointed with myself and just tired to be back at this stage again, but I take heart from your words of support and those of others, it really does help to know we're not alone. 

So, here's to moving on. I think we act in a way that has the effect of being self-centered and  damaging those we care about not out of a wilful desire to hurt, not out of spite, but because we have an addiction. Years ago, we sought comfort in something that seemed innocuous, almost seen as a rite of passage for young men. Something in the subconconscous gets comfort from it. The brain gets used to getting it's reward of Dopamine (or whatever), as we use P to escape from our own particular difficulties.

The process we have to face now is a tricky one but not impossible; to force that change by abstinence. To concentrate hard on other things, to avoid the familiar habits and situations that lead us back to that old trap. There's a part of our subconscious  that we're having to rebuild, to reverse engineer based on what we now know, think and feel.


I'm sorry if all this is over-simplified or ill-informed, but I think each of us who has really thought long and hard about this (and we all have I'm sure, that's why we're here), have our own personal take on it, we know the common sense approach. It's just super bloody hard when that comes up against our instinctive addict side that has been neurally programmed for years, in many cases.

There is no easy answer, it's just a hard slog, but the main thing is that we know it's a problem and we're trying. AtWitsEnd, it's great that you're going to meetings and getting real face to face contact with people who know what it's like and who are fighting too. Keep it up! :)

When I started writing this post I was quite despondent, I have fallen off the wagon a lot in the last few days, and the latest time was just before I wrote this. But the very process of reading the other posts and writing has helped. I feel a bit better. I know it's worth carrying on this process of abstaining and rebooting the brain.  I hope it's helped you. All of you, whoever you are, whatever your own personal stories are, and whatever stage you're at.

Once again, apologies if this all seems a bit impulsive and badly thought out....I'm just getting it out there. :)

Take care everyone. You're not alone.   

   

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now