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A year into recovery

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12 months ago I was about to go on a Recovery Intensive with Paula.  I had been exposed to porn from the age of 9 or 10, struggled with compulsive masturbation since puberty, compulsively watched internet pornography wasting hours most weeks and started visiting sex workers over the previous 4 years.  

9 months previous to going on the course I began to come to my senses - that I needed help and that the road I was on was leading me down into greater risk and ultimately destruction.  I came across Paula and went into counselling in January.  She was keen for me to go onto the intensive course but I wasn't ready, and to be honest a bit sceptical.  

The counselling was helpful, but the residential intensive was life-changing.  On it I got to the point of desperation, committing myself to doing whatever it takes to get free from this destructive addiction - even to the point of deciding to tell my wife who had no knowledge of what I was up it.  The course empowered me to make different choices.

I could write so much about the journey over the last year.  It has been incredibly difficult and challenging - at the same time it has felt good, so good - to be doing the right thing, living in honesty, being out of the bubble and being emotionally present to my wife.  It is possible, if you are desperate, to escape the slavery of this addiction - but you can't do it on your own.

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Hello PJ,

Thank you for your honesty and courage in posting here. I really appreciate hearing from someone who is further down the path than me and would hugely benefit from you sharing your experiences through your past year of recovery - the highs, the lows and important lessons you learned.

I can relate to many things you touch on here - being inside the porn bubble and definitely about not doing it alone. Without a doubt, that has been the single most important part of my recovery so far. Not just in doing Paula's recovery course and having a framework around addiction and understanding what I need to do but also - critically - becoming open and honest with other guys in the same boat and being able to empathise and support each other through the feelings we all struggle with. I tried for over ten years to deal with things on my own and I know I can't do that. It just doesn't work for me. I can't go it alone. I need other people and there are many other people like us out there as well as professionals who want to help.

It's a brave thing to do to open up and disclose to your wife. I know first hand that puts huge strain on a relationship and I think all partners need help as well to cope with it. It's a life changing revelation for both sides.

I wish you the very best in continuing your recovery and hope greatly you can share more of your experiences.


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Hi, yes, I am now 2 years and a month into recovery and slip free (other than a minor slip at 9 months).  Paula tells me that after two years one's recovery is well established.  I feel great!  

Other than my wife, SAA has worked very well for me as an additional support.  I would recommend something like that to everyone.

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A partner on this forum once asked what advice I could give to help him recover.  This was my answer - I hope it is helpful.  Please remember though every situation and every person is different.   I can talk from my own experience and perhaps draw out some essentials?  

1. I reached rock bottom.  I decided that the road I was on lead to destruction.  I wanted find a way out.  Your husband is the only one who can decide this.  It is up to him.  He has to be desperate to get out of addiction.  On my course, which I will tell your about, Paula said, 'your recovery has to be more important than your marriage' - I took that to mean it had to be more important than anything and everything.  It makes sense - if you don't recover, you won't have a marriage (in normal circumstances), and if you do, then you might have a marriage.

2. I contacted Paula and had some counselling.  That was good but she really sees the intensive recovery as the most effective therapy, and I now see why.  In fact, just a few weeks before my intensive I saw two sex workers despite something like 8-10 sessions with Paula.  Since the intensive I haven't looked at porn, seen a sex worker etc etc.  I would make sure he/you get specialist counselling from Paula or one of her associates.

3 I did her 5 day recovery.  It was amazing - I had wanted to recover before, but on the course I finally had the tools to recover and I made the decision that I would recover at all costs.   I also decided to tell my wife of 20 years.   Her courses are advertised on her website.  

4. I told my wife some weeks later - it was awful.  It was a strange path we then took - I was feeling a whole load better because I was beginning to recover into a vaguely normal person, she was devastated, and that is an understatement.  She had specialist counselling with one of Paula's associates and went on the partners course a few months later.

5 My wife was amazing for a number of reasons.  Firstly she didn't pretend it wasn't important.  She didn't collude in any way.  Many partners of addicts are 'co-dependents' which means they collude and compensate.  My wife didn't.  If she could have done she would have thrown me out of house for some time but for various reasons that wasn't possible, but she did kick me out of the bedroom.  In other words she asserted boundaries, and I needed them.  You need to be uncompromising with him.  To do otherwise won't do him any favours.  

6 Your husband will only recover if he is honest, brutally honest with himself and with you.  Eventually I came to tell some of my friends and my employer - they were all great but I could have lost my job (I didn't and that was a miracle).  i did this to recover my integrity - to become the same person on the outside as the inside.  I would be very surprised if your husband wasn't also addicted to porn.  He needs to be honest about this - indeed about everything.  Paula/her associates can help him and you to go through a full disclosure of everything and that is important for you both.  

7. This addiction isn't about sex and it isn't about you or your sex life.  It is about deeper stuff in your husbands mind/soul, pain etc. that it is eased by the sex.  It could have sought solace in alcohol, drugs or gambling it.  It is important for you to hear that.  It isn't about you or your sex life.

8. I abstained from masturbation/sex etc for 90 days (recommended by people in this line of business).  When I told Clare, she then asserted a 90 day period of abstinence.  Addicts think they can't live without their hit, but the truth is they can, they won't die.  They refer to this 90 days as a reboot - it worked very effectively for me.  It was like a system reboot.  Weird.

9.  I have continued in my recovery using a local Sex Addicts Anonymous group (SAA) - this is recommended after an intensive recovery course although Paula now runs post course groups too now.

9 I am 2.5 years in - I haven't masturbated, looked at porn or visited a sex worker since.  For me, intrigue is a big enemy - they talk about it quite a lot in SAA.   I still have cravings, and sometimes I watch stuff on terrestrial tv that comes close to porn but haven't gone any further.    I have discovered that I need to pursue serenity as much as anything else. (c.f. serenity prayer of the 12 step movement), if I do that then my cravings diminish.

I hope that helps. 

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