Year in Review
Here’s a recap of my year with some ideas mixed in the hope that it is of use to someone. I’m currently at 56 days (8 weeks. . .did my subconscious plan that so exactly?) without MO and P. There was one P exception I’m not sure I should count (27 days if it matters) because it was a weird exploration into some dark mood I got into. I put this here only because I can understand how this might make less sense to someone starting out. The world does look different after sticking with this process for some time and the orgasm lenses come off.
Contrary to an earlier jesting comment I have not turned into an angel. I’m trying to find and figure out that 6-8 week shift. Maybe I’m not there yet as it takes some longer. I have no intention of stopping. I’m just going with the flow. I’m certain my penis will work if I need it to and at the moment I have no female with which to use it so it lies in wait like a fine champagne. Only it’s made out of super thin glass in the sense that if I held it a certain way I could orgasm from thought alone. Plenty of my slips have taken shockingly little effort or maybe I just discovered a more effective method. The females will have to use kid gloves on me.
I’ve been keeping unscientific, but reasonably accurate records since I initially quit P cold turkey in early April 2010. You should keep some record. Note at a minimum whether you P, M, O, something else or in between, and also any feelings you want to record. Sometimes make notes just of your feelings even if you are abstaining. It is helpful to me to see what I wrote and some of it is shockingly accurate even though I still don’t understand it.
I took the (date difference-1) over the number of days and found that on about 63% of days I was complexly PMO free. About 13% more were MO without porn or any fantasy story beyond my own head. About 16% of days I used P or P-lite which could be anything sought out as a P-substitute. There’s some inaccuracy in that, but as an approximation it will work. The numbers are a bit skewed by my latest abstinence run. I went an average of about 2.5 days between any kind of use. I only had a few intervals longer than a week and they tended to be about 20 days until this time around.
From my notes I can see different ways in which I might use porn. I know we talk about it being meds, but in a couple of instances it was literally medication because I was pretty sick when traveling and it was the only quick fix to get my mind off being sick and keep me on the move. I remember at the time thinking it was a bit weird to have this medication option in my tool belt. It did help at least for a little while. I think caveman would have used orgasm in this way. It can be a survival tool
There were also some times where it was more of an experiential thing. Use a little imagination. Those situations were locational and didn’t involve porn or any fantasy. Sort of a growth practice I guess. Whether that was a craving creeping in or not is hard to say.
Then there is transition period usage such as a new country, new term, relationship starts/stops, very stressful projects, etc. At those times it varies, but once I start it is harder to stop than the medicative and experiential.
I’m not sure how to define binge, but in most cases I did not binge. In only one case did I exceed twice in 24 hours. I think it is important to keep the binges under control. I don’t think I was as heavy a user as some here (some of your stories are heartwrenching and inspirational), but that is progress for me nevertheless. You have to make your own experiments and standards because we all start at a different place.
I think beginners should actively manage this more if they want faster results. It is ultimately not a race and one needs to learn a new way of life. Still it might be possible to jump start the process. You’ll have to let us know because I can’t be sure of my suggestions because I can’t do it over again. I’m keeping the details brief because I’ve said a lot of this before and elsewhere. I’ll respond to comments or PM to clarify.
In all cases, try not to count. You can check your notes at any point. Counting will add pressure. Plus, it is fun to get the count surprise later on and it forces you to journal at least a little because otherwise you lose the ability to know the count later. I should journal more even though I’m not noting slips.
Here is what I conclude from my data. If you’re not in a relationship, hold off. If you are, be wary of it being used as a crutch. This can set you back if you’re not careful. You need to come to grips with your life on your own without your old meds or new meds from a partner. If you’re not in a relationship, you will find better partners after this process. It will be the same in the sense that some will be more suitable than others, but the overall quality and willingness to be with you will improve. There will also be a lot less BS because you will both see more clearly who each other is.
What to abstain from?
Rebooting is tricky. I think initially abstain from all porn and don’t worry about reasonable, non-binging masturbation. Try to be fantasy free and just aware of your own body. As hard as it might seem, it is much easier to stop porn than masturbation. I went cold turkey for two months with two testings in that period. Aim for at least a month, ideally two without porn. And skip the testing. Trust that your penis will work. Your brain needs a break from porn initially to be aware of its effects.
Then you need to try the other way meaning porn without masturbation. You need to feel the effect of only porn on your mind and body. Until I happened upon this, I got stuck in a frustrating cycles. This isn’t testing so much as understanding. There is no goal with the porn. Don’t seek the porn, but don’t excessively fight the cravings. If you get to the point that you are masturbating to porn, stop and reassess what to do next. I think about 3-4 weeks of porn only is instructive once your brain is more sensitive. Try to avoid extreme porn if you can. At some point you will notice an entirely different reaction to porn and a preference for being without yourself without porn intruding on your awareness. You wouldn’t read a book in a movie theater. You’ll want to turn the super-stimulating porn off and read your body in silent awareness.
Pay attention to your own touch. This is a good sign of your brain sensitivity coming back. You’ll also notice varying sensitivity in your penis. It will feel more sensitive, especially at first, but should level out as you go along.
I think it is fine to mimic bonding behaviors in place of orgasm driven masturbation. Cupping your genitals; kissing your arm, inner wrist, or shoulder; palm on chest/heart, etc. are all good ways to let the cravings subside. They also help proactively manage sexual energy. I’m experimenting more with breathing, specific exercises like pelvic rocking, and fasting which helps a lot with breathing and mind-body awareness. All of this is untimely to be more genuine and a better partner down the road.
I don't have any answers for this yet. There is a lot of work that one can do to be a better future partner. Ultimately, without a partner one is a little limited. It might be better to have no partner than the wrong partner, at least until you have rebooted somewhat and are ready to bring a partner along for the journey.
Go easy on yourself. In the beginning, I found this easy and thought what’s the big deal. This isn’t easy in the slightest. We’re undoing years and years of societal and behavioral programing. I’m humbly aware that I could slip today and take half a year to get back to this point. I’m also aware that I’ve had good and bad periods. As long as you are learning, you are making progress. I learned as much or more from those frustrating periods as from abstinence. It isn’t a race. You need to do it right by learning what you need to at the right moment.
Early on you should review your notes. If there is negativity about slips, work on that. Slips are a positive learning experience. Deaminizing slips will slow your progress.
It varies. It sucks. It will get better with time. You just have to suffer through. There is no other way, but it is worth it. Again, go easy and remain aware as the symptoms vary and seem to mean different things. If you can do this when you’re under less stress, withdrawal will be easier. When the stress comes back, you might slip and have to start over. Withdrawal under stress seems to be the worst, but perhaps a necessary experience of life without our coping mechanism.
You can get through some of this a lot easier by working on your underlying issues and by giving back here, at some form of support group, through friends, etc. You’ve got to get out of isolation and find commonality with others to help ride out the bumps in the process.
Get Cupid and read it
I’m not just plugging Marnia’s book. You will find the portions written for other types of people (say women versus men) a tough read. But it will fill in information gaps you can’t easily get from here.
Perhaps most importantly, read the exchanges in the back of the book. Wait until you’ve been one month porn free. Go through them as if you had a partner and were following the recommended schedule. Spend time thinking about them. This will help you get out of porn fog and the goal of orgasm. It is a bedtime story and only a couple of pages each. Do it even if it makes no sense to you at the time. It will gel and strengthen your experience with yourself.
Lose the goals
Whatever your interactions with the opposite sex, try to approach it with goalless giving. In a conversation you give your time and effort to talk with this other human. A date is similar. There doesn’t have to be any goal for either person. You will get more out of the moment and rewire more foundationally. I think people should table sex for a while, especially if they are not communicating about sex enough before having sex.
I could go on, but this is much longer than I expected. That’s all folks!