Thoughts on Day 38
Short summary: how I’m doing, what changed specifically and what I think contributed to my long streaks lately
It’s going well is all I really have to say these days. It feels so weird looking back to the days where I constantly thought about porn, where all I was looking forward to during work was to listen to that one file that was uploaded the day before, where I was in a constant mode of longing for escape. It’s still there, I can’t deny that, way back in my head, sometimes sending a faint echo of how I once felt. But it’s a bit like looking into the mirror and imagining the way I’ve been dressing and wearing my hair when I was 16. As long as I don’t mix up what I see with what I once was, I guess I’ll be fine.
Still, even if I feel like stepping into the outside world for the first time in years, I want to put down a few things I noticed, as small and unimportant they seem now. Some of them, most in the end I guess, are not a directly caused by PMO. They are mere consequences of what happens with me when I start to use my brain for other things than fantasizing, when my wits are used to socialize instead of chatting with random people on the net.
For instance, the way I write changed. For starters, I do write again, on a rather regular basis. When I was heavily on PMO, it was a nightmare just thinking about sitting down, and even if I fought my way to the desk I would write maybe three sentences before bringing up doubts of me not being any good at writing,nof my stories going nowhere, of nobody recognising them. Why am I even here not using my time for anything useful instead, I’d think, and then get up and ironically end up watching porn. Nowadays I still might stumble upon these doubts (everybody who is reading his own work will I’m sure) but i still get writing (or playing/composing music, applies there as well) and create. Because I enjoy doing it.
That’s probably the biggest change I’ve noticed lately. That I start enjoying things again, and that it gives me enough satisfaction to actually pursue things to earn that feeling. A few days ago I wasn’t feeling good after being out with friends, came home and thought about how to get rid of that feeling. I thought of doing what I used to do in such situations - sitting down and watching or listening to porn for two hours, probably of some girl telling me she cares about me and that I’ll be fine - and discovered that I was tempted, but ultimately knew better. Damn me, I’d just feel all the worse after, empty, drained, destroyed, lonely. So I went to bed, read a book for an hour and fell asleep while doing so. Woke up the next morning after one of the best sleeps I had in a while although it just lasted six and a half hours.
Which leads to another point. Better sleep. It’s mostly connected to getting some rest before actually sleeping, you know, let the engine rest a bit before turning the switch. Especially screens, smartphones as well as PC’s, still keep your brain and eyes busy. You are not relaxing when watching a movie with fast cuts, even though a lot of people tend to call that relaxation, do it after work to calm down, but in the end you are still feeding your brain a lot of information instead of letting it rest. That also helps me be more aware when I actually need to be. The whole system of energy distribution you could say changed , and for the better!
And that’s eventually what makes the most difference for me as a person, how I feel it changing my character. I feel less stressed and under pressure all the time, which makes me calmer (some people around me notice this and tell me from time to time, especially my girlfriend) which makes me more likely to handle difficult situations, which erases more situations where I’m possibly overwhelmed and thus prone to relapsing. It’s like the chaser effect, some snowball effect, going off, only this time in the right direction.
To put some numbers in, for those to whom this helps to put it in perspective - a few months ago I worked about 2 to 3 shifts a week in the restaurant and sometimes came home and felt all drained. The moment where something went wrong at work I couldn’t get back on track anymore, the used to fap or play video games to compensate, then fall asleep in an even worse mood.
In September, I worked 5 to 6 shifts a week, at the same time managed the personell, uploaded about one or two tracks a week to my SoundCloud, invested about 30 to 45 minutes 5 days a week to workout and still managed to meet friends, see my girlfriend regularly and organized both of our birthdays with her.
Now writing all that done I realize how much that actually sounds and how little it felt during the month.
I feel like September has been one of the most happy and satisfying months in years.
So, how did I do it? What’s different this time then the last few times I tried over the last three years?
I think it’s a culmination of several points. First of all the fact that I don’t judge myself anymore for what’s happening with me, and that helped not seeing a single relapse as a huge drawback. A mere stumbling at best, and that again helped ignoring the chaser effect. It helped building a succession of a few low streaks and building up towards the greater ones. I can see that when checking on my streaks since the beginning of the year.
The social component was important as well. A few friends know what’s going on although most of them I don’t keep updated all the time, so they know about it generally. My girlfriend though helped me as well by listening, by not judging, and by just being there, strange as it sounds. Sometimes I just needed to think about the life we seem to start building for ourselves, and my continued addiction would ruin all of that not only for me, but also for her.
But in the end, I’m doing this for myself, and I get more and more glimpses of what I could do and how I could feel when I’m free. Not, and I repeat, not that stuff about the person I could be. I was the person I wanted to be all the time, just perspective changed. That’s an important point to me, because accepting myself changed more than beating myself up and aiming for a “better version of myself”. Although that might be wat I’m doing in the end. I don’t know, it’s complicated…
Last but not least I also have to acknowledge chance, outside influences I couldn’t control. Things like my busy work schedule, like friends approaching me to go out, like heavy weather keeping me at my friend’s house instead of letting me go home. Of course I don’t know if all those things did actually prevent a relapse, but I guess the played their part to some extent. I was at this point already before and I fell to my urges. That can’t all be me, it never is, and I think it’s important to not forget this. We can adapt to our environment, but we can’t ignore it. Someone working in a strip club won’t go clean as fast as someone locked in a cell with his arms tied to the wall
I guess what I want to say is not to compare yourself too much but see other journeys as inspirations at best, as help to think a few things through and make your own journey. You won’t decide where you wanna go if you just step in the footsteps of the ones before you, looking down to trace them.
Anyway, the last big streak went on for 40 days. I’m ready to go beyond. Thanks again for reading, you played a big part in my Recovery! See ya soon.