A year in review at 56 days

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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.

Counting days

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.

Relationships

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.

Longer term

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.

Slips

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.

Withdrawal

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.

Give back

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!

Comments

Well Said

Thank you for taking the time to get all this down for us
I like holding the thought, "I am a man who does not seek orgasm".
I am almost 2 years on this, Marnia and Gary's, road and I'm feeling like I've almost got it.
[quote]goalless giving[/quote] awesome

I've gone from thinking

I've gone from thinking about addicts as them and me to we're all the same to now thinking about orgasm driven people as them and me. It feels weird being around people in a way. I can feel that people are feeling an interesting vibe around me. They have to interact with me a little, but not much. It's not as weird a going to a party while water fasting for days, but it is a close second. It is easier to water fast than to give up orgasm. Although I didn't fast for two months so maybe not. I've still got plenty work to do as I should be exercising more. I put that aside to go a little easier on myself for a bit. I do some but not enough. If I can train myself to abstain, I can train myself to be more diligent about exercising. I did walk about 10 miles yesterday, but I need to be more discipled about aerobics and weight training. Walking doesn't count much to my self critic. This new combination of water fasting, abstaining, exercising, and hopefully getting back to less carbs should be interesting. One step at a time.

Goalless giving is the way because then one can make mutually good decisions. Sadly, I can yet find anyone wiling to do that for me at a level that comes anywhere close to matching me. I'm patient and she'll show up eventually. She's probably as frustrated with the world as I at times and so we'll know when we slam into each other.

Just keep in mind

that you may be her teacher. This planet can leave anyone limping. If all the "together" people find each other, whose gonna lend a hand to the rest of the team? Wink

Thanks for the rebooting account. I'm still confused about how long you ever actually avoided orgasm, or porn. But all that matters is that you're content with your new found balance.

I'm willing to teach, but

I'm willing to teach, but she has to be willing to learn. I don't feel that most people give equally enough. I'm ok with that, but it often leaves me feeling drained. It seems like a pretty reasonable standard to want a partner to feel like an equal partner. Maybe I've got perception issues. Or maybe my standards are honest, but high. Or both.

56 days without orgasm or porn sans that one strange bump into porn 27 days ago. That's the longest so far. The other data was an overall analysis of about nine months of baby steps. I'm content, but a bit puzzled to how to move forward from here. It feels cripplingly stable at times. I can't try certain things because they might send me backward. I can mostly just work on other issues while being social and aware.

is it you? or is it the world?

[quote]I'm willing to teach, but she has to be willing to learn. I don't feel that most people give equally enough.[/quote]
[quote]Maybe I've got perception issues. Or maybe my standards are honest, but high.[/quote]

I would like you to invite you to give an idea some consideration. And the point of the idea is not to prove a point or to be "more correct". It's simply represents a way of interacting with the world that may open you up to experience it differently. From time to time you will have thoughts which sound like, "most people....[blank]" Such as "most people aren't as conscientious as me...." "most people aren't willing to put in as much work as me..." "most people are entitled and unwilling to give..." etc.

There are two ways to relate to these statements, and one of them will inevitably be more empowering than the other:

(1) You can see these statements as factual interpretations of data you've collected through experience. And while they may vary as to their degree of real-world accuracy, their truth is undeniable based on what you've found in your own direct experience. This is the status quo and primary default for most of us, and it serves a real purpose. For example, most people I know have never offered to give me a million dollars unsolicited and out of the kindness of their hearts. So to walk around expecting such behavior would likely be a recipe for disappointment.

(2) Or you can see these statements as signposts that reflect an emotion inside of you. And you can realize that your primary way of world interaction (#1 above) fails to take into consideration that you are not a neutral, 3rd party observer of your world. While you are using the world as your "laboratory of human behavior", part of the flaws inherent in your belief formation is that you are collecting data from your experiences while unknowingly affecting that data.

You can see this all the time if you're looking for it:

- A basketball team plays their hardest and is winning by 15 at the half. As a rational coach, you would have no reason to believe that the team will lose. In fact, if the data is perfect, the team should be winning by exactly 30 points at the end of the game. Yet without making any strategic changes, something happens in the locker room and the team loses by 2 points. This phenomenon seems to happen regularly to your team. Your interpretation: "our players lack the conditioning to endure an entire game at the necessary levels." But is it the team? Or is it you?

- Theoretically, a group should be at least equal to the sum of its parts. So a 4-man group of A students should output a group project with A-level quality. But I have a friend taking his MBA that gets frustrated because every time he gets into a group, he ends up resenting that no one does their share except him and that he could just get better grades if he just didn't have to work in a team. His interpretation: "people don't really like to work hard." But is it the group? Or is it him?

==================

The beauty of #2 is not that it's more accurate. In fact, you could make plenty of arguments that #1 is far more accurate. And if you're experience is that "most people [blank]", it's probably because you're right. But the beauty of #2 is that it will change your experiences. So in your example "most people don't give equally enough", let's say that you're correct. 98% of people don't give equally enough. Well, in NYC where you live, that should leave 2% of 8 milllion, or approximately 160,000 people who DO give equally. And I'd bet that many of them are likely friends with each other. So what is it that you may be doing that seems to be repelling these people from your experience?

Or another way this works is by putting yourself in the perspective of leader/follower. People are pliable and changeable, and every interaction is an opportunity for you to use leadership to motivate them to follow you. If you want someone to give equally, what is it about your leadership style that fails to inspire them to do so?

I think you see this at some level, because you say that perhaps there's a perception gap. That's the right line of thinking to keep digging into. You have the ability to emotionally impact others. And every interaction is an opportunity to grow and strengthen that muscle. When you start getting good that that, then instead of trying to find the 2% that is equally giving...you welcome the 98% who don't and amaze people left and right as they start to follow your lead like the pied piper.

I don't reject people. I

I don't reject people. I don't assume anything about them. I do both 1 and 2. I sum them up and add them to the list of prior experiences under 1. I also continuously monitor the exchanges of energy in case I've induced them to act a certain way. Most people can be accurately summed up pretty quickly. They generally want or give and I can tell which. I have good friends where we both know that I probably give more overall, but who at times do give to me in their way. I'm ok with it in some circumstances. But my standards for a partner are higher. I'm going to spend a lot of time and energy with that person. And maybe my own batteries are a little tired of making energy out of thin air and would like to feel plugged in at the right voltage. Partnership isn't zero sum and I think I work best when it feels like we both give enough to meet each other's giving. That seems to maximize mutual energy and love. It's sort of like giving to a non-taker in the sense that the energy is internalized by another and reprocessed back. It's hard to explain, but amazing when it happens. Imagine if you used your electronic device and the battery got powered up. I aware of when this happens even for a short duration with others. Once this happens, that person is on a special list in my brain because I know it is possible with them even if it can't happen all the time.

I welcome anyone that is willing to emotionally engage. Just like when I've been part of a team, I do impact these people. I can feel it. People are very receptive to me. I do look at every interaction as an experiment and make little adjustments as I go along. At the one on one level I'm fine socially in an intellectual and emotional sense. I'm still lousy at figuring out physical elements like how to greet or say goodbye beyond a hand shake. It feels mutually awkward like the other person is expecting me to do something. Next time I feel that I'm just going to say something in the moment. Some things about my past are very hard to shake even with awareness. Not everyone wants a hug. I think I'm going to try...I feel awkwardness, how about a hug goodbye?" as this captures the moment and gives them an out if they don't want to hug. And then I know to greet them with a hug in the future.

The only thing I'd add

is that many people, when on their own, have little to give. But when they're properly nourished, they can be amazingly generous. So don't be too quick to categorize. This is where using an oracle can be helpful. It can help you find the "hidden gems," like Gary. Wink

I give people time. I'm just

I give people time. I'm just surprised they don't come round. I've got friends I didn't speak to for a while and then over time we became better friends. Maybe some of these people will still come round in the future. I'll welcome them back.

I'm still puzzled by the oracles. I plan to go to an I Ching meetup group that has been on hiatus for the holidays. The oracle is a random generated mind seed planter. The mind might hone in on something it identifies with, but that it would otherwise miss. But what if the oracle and the mind are not at all in sync? Then the mind has to turn over a bit to understand the oracle's output and perhaps in doing that finds what it is looking for after all. It's sort of like the old turbo button on computers mixed with mental soil tilling. If you consider the oracle a form of divination, then it isn't random to your mind and you're back in some form of God based world. Any more to the basics of it?

Experiment

for yourself. I started out a total atheist and "rational" thinker who thought the synchronicity concept was bunk.

These days, I think of oracles, and other ways of "listening," as piano keys that help us tune into information that is actually always available to all of us at all times. Most of us just have faulty hearing, or prefer not to hear.

The shift came as a result of experimentation over time.

I'm trying to be fair and

I'm trying to be fair and balanced. I do listen to my environment. The world has a lot to say. I can't say if I interpret it neutrally or in a way I choose. And perhaps that makes me too reactive and less able to plan in advance. Oracles are probably better for planing. One can also say if X happens it means Y and then just wait for "chance."

It would be interesting if someone could come up with a way to model and test the array of human decision making tools. I guess we'd have to understand our brains first.

that's an interesting question...

I've never had a weird reaction. But I think that's just because I've released all shame around asking for hugs. So anytime I've gotten any hesitation, I've just looked them in the eye, smiled, and said, "well...what are you waiting for? :). Hugs are great. Everyone needs more of them. And it's my security in that knowledge that makes it not weird.

But, alternatively, what if they *did* give you a weird reaction. What would your mind interpret that to mean? Is that something you're averse to? Why?

J

p.s. baby steps is a-ok. personal change is a marathon, not a sprint :)

I don't care how they react

I don't care how they react if they are ok with touch. I don't have shame about hugs. I like hugs, both giving and receiving, and I'm a good hugger. I think the clear awkwardness is worse in some ways. On the other hand, I know that not everyone wants to be hugged. I wouldn't want to be insistent on it. It sounds like you've resolved that by waiting for them to make some motion signaling they are on board and then acknowledging when they are not.

I don't think I can readily disconnect from my past. In many ways, I will always have lots of programming residue left over. I know that people unfamiliar with that will find me a bit strange at times. I don't really care, but I'm aware of it. It is easier for me to hug guys than girls and yes girls will react very weirdly if they are religious. I've not forced a hug with a religious girl, but I imagine she would back away and squirm out of it and perhaps say something too. I'm aware of the cues. For example, I was at a party where an observant girl wouldn't shake my hand and instead kept her hand close to her chest and waved. I didn't talk to her at all but new she was observant. My friend was speaking to her and later confirmed that. I usually won't even go to shake a females hand in many settings. Even females that I know are not religious, but who haven't indicated what they are comfortable with, generally won't get any touch. With some I should be more pushy and talkative to see what they are receptive too because I think they are ok with touch, but also programmed not to initiate. While it might be weird for most, it is completely normal for me to go on a date and not touch the girl at all or think about any intimacy. That is especially true in person where I'm more conscientious about thinking of her as less than human. Many girls are not used to this and it makes the interaction nice, but a bit awkward. In some ways, my habituation makes male-female interactions weird for those not from my world and maybe for those that are too. I'm not super social so my interactions and testbed are limited, but as you say, this is a marathon.