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Phil

New Here, My Story

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Hi.  I've read through some of the stories here and it's so sad reading what these addictions can do to people's lives.  Thanks so much to the wonderful people who have started this service.  I am hoping that by posting my story it will help me understand my situation better and, a trouble shared is a trouble halved as they say.  If there is any way I can help others I'd like to.

I have used porn since around the age of 12, graduating from borrowing my Dad's magazines (they were never hidden away but they would always go back in the same position as I would have been so embarrassed) to buying my own , then of course the internet.  I have never seen it as an addiction or really a problem, more something I do, whether in or out of a relationship.  It's a great stress buster, an escape from reality, though I have done it whether reality has been good or bad..  Some here have said it has made them view women as sex objects.  I have never seen it that way, I have the greatest respect for women and deplore violence of any kind.  The only porn I like is that where the woman is clearly enjoying it, preferably home made rather than because she is being paid.  I could never pay for sex.  I can use up to 6 times a day but unlike others have never found it to cause problems with sex with my long term partner other than perhaps wishing for certain things she may not be into.  I feel however that those are desires naturally in me rather than brought about by what I view.

I think loneliness has a lot to do with it. I have lots of 'friends' but nobody close other than my partner of many years, not even family.   She has known I have used porn but we don't really discuss it. Porn doesn't interest her.  I sometimes wish it did.   Our sex life is good and frequent so why I have to do anything else is something I have never really understood, I just have strong urges to do so.  These urges come whenever I am alone.  I am a nice person who would never want to hurt anybody and anybody knowing me would probably be shocked.

I work on my own as a plumber and I know it's wrong but if the house is empty I will sometimes use my phone.  I have always seen this as harmless although I'm sure the owners would be horrified.  It is simply because that is where I happen to be alone in private and the urge takes over..  I would never violate their property in any way and am very respectful, I wouldn't even sit in a chair and certainly not a bed, it's just a thing between me and what I am viewing.   This brings me to my current worry which is eating me up.  I am convinced a customer heard me recently.  I thought the house was empty but I'm now doubtful it was.  I feel so ashamed.  I am so terrified this will be all over town and could destroy everything, all for a stupid ten minutes in my tea break.  Can you imagine what other clients will think, knowing they have left me in their home in the past?  All sorts of scenarios would go through their heads, all wrong but of course the imagination will run riot.  Now, every time I see somebody I wonder if they know.  I am becoming paranoid and it's eating me up.  I'm getting panic attacks and it's horrible.  I'm praying I was wrong.   A word of advice if anybody else does this.  Stop now, the heartache isn't worth it.

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Hello Phil,

I think you're very brave and honest coming here and laying out your fears. Not a lot of guys do that and wait until things really explode or they get caught before they try to make a change. Thinking through the consequences and what you can lose can be a very powerful motivator and I think it's a kindness to yourself to be thinking like that. It's a courageous thing to ask for help because it's not easy to do yet really vital to living a happier life. You're definitely not alone with these struggles.

I can connect a lot with your background, growing up and not seeing porn as a problem. I have a similar story about how I got started and the guys I know do also. I would use pornography and masturbation to self-sooth when times were difficult or I was stressed, anxious or all sorts of stuff. Often though, in the moment I'd find it hard to recognise and identify those feelings. And directly, like you,  I didn't suffer from ED or other problems you hear about. So there wasn't outwardly anything that really was "wrong" - at least on the surface... For me, the issue was more around feeling compelled to look at porn and not being comfortable with that or really even feeling in control of myself. That was the root of it. I didn't want to feel pulled in the way I did/do to porn, not being in charge of my thoughts and body. After being clean for some time, I started to realise the more subtle effects it had on how I viewed women (and how women viewed me). I am/was also a "nice guy" (a whole topic there!) and would have great trouble crossing the boundary from my head fantasies into reality that would stop me. But other guys are different though, that's just me.

Another thing you touch on is not feeling like porn is a bad or outright negative thing in your life. There is no moral judgement here - whether porn is good or bad, helps peoples sex lives or ruins them, or whatever, is neither here nor there to me. All I know is that I personally cannot handle it sensibly and it is very detrimental to my mental state if I start looking at it and masturbating to it even more so. I think of it rather like gambling or alcohol - some people can pick it up and put it down at will but for others it creates a huge problems. It's my relationship with porn that I know is a bad thing for me, not porn itself. I just need to stay away from it to keep my life and mental state in good order.

I think the hiding of the behaviour is tough too and can easily lead to shame. I thought for a long time, I was the only person who had this problem and in many ways I didn't want to think of it any other way. It's that feeling that I was constantly having to hide part of myself from everyone, even my wife and closest friends. And that plays heavily into the feelings of loneliness that you astutely talk about. You sound like a very sensitive guy who is aware of the effects and has thought about it - I wasn't so savvy and I had to get my head buried in a lot deeper for a lot longer. I've heard addictions even being referred to as "diseases of loneliness" and for me this is something that resonates strongly. I know when I used to use porn, I would isolate myself from friends and family to a huge degree, physically and emotionally. Trying to rebuild intimate and honest relationships with people has been part of recovery for me and that's much easier when you don't feel like you have hide part of yourself, particularly bits which you may feel vulnerable sharing. But equally finding safe people to open to is a tricky thing too - that's where I think help groups were very beneficial to me personally.

To me, you're treating your experience with nearly being caught in the right way - as a wake up call. The consequences are terrifying but it doesn't have to be like that and you can change and be different.

I'd like to encourage you to spend some time understanding things better and more background. Then you can hopefully identify where you are and how to take it further to get help:

Paula runs group sessions which I found a good way of working through this. There are also other groups like SLAA too which are worth checking out. Similarly you might want to consider one-on-one therapy with a counsellor to help answer some questions and work through it. Whatever works - there's no hard and fast right or wrong here, it's just about you getting to a better place and knowing there is help out there.

It's really important to remember you're not alone and do not have to work through this on your own. In fact, I would go so far to say as one of the biggest causes of failure for me was to try and do it all alone (and nearly everyone tries it this way too so don't feel bad about that). I can tell you from personal experience that is both a depressing and fruitless path that I dearly hope you don't have to experience.

Thank you again for sharing your experiences here and being brave enough to write it all out - I know it's not easy and I really hope things can improve for you.

Peace.

 

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Thanks Rob for your detailed reply.  It does help a lot just sharing this with people who understand.  I need to give a lot more thought to how to proceed from here and your advice will be invaluable.  I'm sorry you had such a tough time.  It's funny, why is such shame attached to something so many of us do?  All to do with societal norms I guess, a whole other story!

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Hello Phil,

I hope this can be a safe place for you to share those thoughts. They are not easy to get out but personally I've found it important and helpful to do so. Otherwise that stuff just all stays bottled up until it blows up.

I'm not sure that everyone attaches shame to watching pornography or masturbation. I suppose it depends very much on the relationship someone has with it. For me, it was more about feeling very much out of control and being secretive about it. I think it's that which then created the sense of shame inside me. I was stuck inside a vicious cycle. The point where I believe societal attitudes complement that is around the privacy people tend to have over their sex lives and sexual behaviour because these are very deeply intimate and personal things. For me it was very much about that hidden and secretive behaviour, and sex is a great way of doing that because unlike say alcohol or drugs, it naturally all occurs behind closed doors. People don't question something which is expected to stay very hidden. Yet in my case, this lead to a breakdown of personal integrity also as my online behaviour would be very much at odds with my character and ideals.

Peace

 

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