Many thanks for this site Marnia it is an incredible resource and much of what I've resonates with me.
I'd really like to blog about my progress if you could enable me to do so.
So here's where I'm at. I would appreciate any thoughts or comments. This is a long post, but I've a lot to get off my chest so apologies in advance. I am seeing a therapist, but want to journal my progress and thought this site would be an excellent way to do this. Apologies, this post may be fairly crude at points.
I'm married to a wonderful woman who I love with all my heart. I'm over 30 and work from home which is pretty hard going and no doubt fuels some of my problems. I'm a friendly person and not your typical 'lad'. I've a good bunch of mates, but they're all in different places. I like sports and get around running a couple of times a week and play on a few sports teams. Never to any elite standard, more for recreation and fitness.
Growing up, looking back I've been fairly introverted and not very confident in myself, though this does wax and wane. At school I was a bit of a geek (still am), but always tried to fit in with the cool crowd without really managing it. I compensated by attention seeking behaviour. This usually backfired. I didn't really get a good core friendship group until 16ish. I played rugby at school, but didn't have much confidence in myself or my ability despite playing for the school and a local club. I usually too shy to join in the 'banter'.
My parents were and are very loving on the one hand, but on the other did not provide the most stable environment in other respects. There were shouting arguments literally every night with my father being very aggressive, throwing plates and threatening violence against my mother to the point where she would be trembling in the corner. He used to hit her my mother has told me, but I can't consciously remember any instance of this happening. My mother had affairs and although I don't remember much, there were times we were taken as children to her 'friend's' house for the weekend.
I certainly remember my mum conditioning certain male characteristics in me. If I was caught fighting it, it wasn't a telling off, it was more 'you're not that sort of person'. I remember having certain articles pointed out such as the danger of giving kids toy guns as it makes them too violent (perhaps true, but I also think war role play is natural in boys). I liked the fantasy warhammer stuff, but because it was 'fantasy' I had to physically stamp on my carefully painted figures. I was bullied sometimes but my mothers advice was 'turn the other cheek' rather than defend myself. Can't really remember my Dad's take on this.
Growing up I was fairly depressed and although I didn't realise at the time, I engaged in a lot of obsessional thinking regarding myself. My mind would ruminate over negative thoughts and often play out negative events. I was also obsessed/ anxious about death and my mothers teachings on Christ's second coming/ the end of days. Thoughts about this would sometimes border on the obsessional.
I have an unclear memory of potential abuse that I am attempting to reconcile. I remember one night being unable to sleep because I was obsessively thinking about death. I was so freaked out I had to go into my parents bedroom. After some reassurance we settled down to sleep. I think I was around 10 at the time. I have a very clear memory of my dad asking me to lie in a certain way (on my side). I remember not being comfortable (with it and literally) and him insisting that I 'lie like this' with him behind me. I remember it being uncomfortable and painful. I am not 100% sure on anything else. Separately I remembered a time I was in bed with my parents and my father trying to get frisky with my mother with her saying "no stop it, its painful". Was that the same night? Did my father act out his frustrations on me? Was it simply his hip bone or something more?
At best I feel this completely overstepped the personal boundaries I had created at that stage in my life. At worst my father may have rubbed himself against me.
I know enough about false memories to not force anything to come through, but it is confusing nonetheless.
Growing up I had my first sexual experiences (excluding the above) quite young - Pre pubescent. This was with a girl down the road. General fooling around and fairly innocent fun, though I do remember what I think must have been an orgasm which weirded me out because I had no idea what it was at the time and I was too young to even ejaculate. Overall though I remember these being exciting, fun experiences, especially playing with her breasts.
I then grew up a bit remember a growing interest in girls including Pamella Anderson, the other girls on bay watch and some of the gladiator women, especially Jet. We also found a porn mag in the woods once which kept me entertained growing up.
There was an older girl down the road who you might describe as voluptuous who I developed fantasies over. She used to baby sit and we used to 'hug' a lot. One day while hugging things escalated and we kissed with some fondling. I remember it being tremendously exciting and naughty because she was older and the babysitter.
She stayed over one night and invited me up to the attic room I got up there and she was naked under her t shirt. I was incredibly excited/ nervous about this but there was a level of shame because the floor boards were wafer thin and my parents were directly below. We started fooling around and I came in my pants. I was immediately shamed and embarrassed by this and this certainly could have had some sort of impact on me.
Moving through school and college I had a few girlfriends with the usual increase in sexual fondling with age etc. All good fun, however, I was still very nervous of girls touching me in case I lost control or they thought my penis was too small. I suffered premature ejaculation in many of these early sexual experiences, fairly normalish, but I never acknowledged it or laughed about it. Most of the time I hid it because it would often happen while clothed (furthering my shame). Foreplay with my first GF was amazing her blow jobs felt unreal and when she was playing with me I had no anxiety about 'lasting'.
When it came to our first time having sex, I orgasmed fairly quickly, but instead of going with it, I found I was still hard so didn't say anything and just carried on until I orgasmed again. Great - I found a cheat way to have sex and not have to admit to prematurely ejaculating. With this girl I would nearly always orgasm twice.
With my next girlfriend, it was the same pattern, except I noticed I couldn't orgasm a second time all the time so would some times fake an orgasm until she came. After a while I couldn't keep hard after prematurely ejaculating so sometimes would flop. It got to the point sometimes where I would avoid sex for this reason.
When I met my wife we managed to work through this and mostly break the cycle and for the first time in my life I was really enjoying 'normal sex'. My performance anxiety has waxed and waned depending generally on my confidence levels at that point in time. When I'm feeling really good I just concentrate on the pleasure and it feels fantastic. When I'm down or anxious I can't enjoy it because I'm too focused on not cumming too quickly - which generally becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
There have been a few one night stands before I met my wife which generally followed the pattern above.
Masturbation & porn:
I remember masturbating from a very young age. So young that I couldn't even ejaculate. Growing up, I couldn't tell you the frequency of this. I do remember masturbating a lot at the time of my first GF in an attempt to desensitise myself from PE. This continued through uni where I discovered internet porn. I would sometimes spend hours trawling through certain sites and I think I have probably masturbated nearly every day since the age of 15. I wouldn't say the porn escalated to anything particularly brutal at this stage. I didn't have a personal computer so would have to 'store' the images/ videos for later. This strangely stayed with me even when working from home with access to free porn sites. I rarely jack off directly to the porn, but rather store it then act on it elsewhere.
I have gone through phases of banning myself from porn (for reasonable lengths of time, but have usually come back to it). I went through a period of not masturbating though I found I had a couple of wet dreams which freaked me out so went back to it.
So I think my addiction is more masturbation than porn, though porn certainly has been a daily ritual sometimes. Often this is down to boredom and habit rather than desire. Aside from periods when I’ve been very physically active.
I’m currently 7 days without porn and 5 days without orgasm. See below for porn escalation
Sexual identity and HOCD (Homosexual OCD):
Over the years I had fears of being gay. This has varied from childish micky taking to one friend pretty much accusing me of being gay in front of other friends. I believe this may also have been related to him speaking to my ex who I sometimes avoided sex with.
Its not been persistent, but I laughed it off to start with but it increasingly became a fear. I would often obsess about the question of whether I was gay or not. I would ruminate, finding instances for (shyness etc) but managing to keep my fears manageable. It has increasingly knocked my confidence and I have become very conscious of myself. In all of this I had never been attracted to men or watched gay porn etc, but the thought was always there – What if? What if I’m repressing something?
I wouldn’t say I was homophobic, it was more about what it meant about my identity – What did these people know about me that I couldn’t see in myself? Did they know me better than I know myself. That my future is so uncertain because deep down there is something within me that I am denying. In fact I now have a much greater understanding of human sexuality than I ever have. It’s more about what it means for me and my identity, my future, my sense of self, that others are right and I’m wrong. I dream of having kids with my wife and settling down, getting a dog etc. The fear is that this dream won’t be realised.
OCD has been called the doubting disease, well that has fitted me to a T.
About 6 weeks ago, these fears reached a crescendo. My anxiety reached new levels. Partly as we are not looking to truly settle, buy a house and have kids. My fear was ‘shit what if I’m that guy, that guy you read about who comes out gay after 10 years of marriage’.
I engaged in what has been recognised as some classic HOCD behaviour – Checking coming out stories, reading ‘are you gay articles’. I watched some gay porn to ‘test’ myself and tried to masturbate while thinking about a male. I was so anxious these tests were pretty redundant.
I had a tremendous nervous energy around this time and didn’t know what to do with it. I masturbated to straight porn more than ever to ‘prove’ and ‘check’ then moved to lesbian porn for fear that it was only the guys turning me on. After a period of this, I freaked because I found myself going flaccid while masturbating to female fantasies and even lesbian porn. Obviously anxiety was playing a part but I worried it meant something else. I abstained for a few days and found things came back to normally but I was still a ball of nervous energy so I masturbated around three times a day and ended up back to the flaccidity.
Sex with my wife has been mixed, mainly because of there being so much anxiety in me “what if I can’t stay hard, what does that mean?” I found it hard to relax even more than normal.
I started getting anxiety ‘spikes’ when I saw other men, especially good looking guys or effeminate guys. Did I find him attractive? Do I look like that guy? Is that what I look like to other people?
This has become incredibly confusing because I read lots of websites about sexuality about exploring things. I didn’t want to let my mind consider certain sexual acts with men, because I found it disgusting then I read about other men who found it disgusting at first then started to like it. Right now If I think about a homosexual act, I wouldn’t say it turns me on, but because I thought about it so much, it no longer grosses me out.
What freaked me out the most was reading a bi-sexual forum which seems to be stacked full of men exploring their same sex attractions. For most of these guys it seems they always knew about them. For some though, it hit them out of the blue in later life (Which led to further fears).
In theory I am open to the possibility of bi-sexuality, but what really concerned me was ‘scratching an itch’ (if it is an itch I’ve got) and it developing into something I can’t control.
In many ways that website is the complete antithesis of this site. Lots of uncontrolled desires, lots of wanting to act out and fantasizing, lots of porn masturbation and some web camming. A lot of these men talk of very strong urges to meet up with other men.
The general advice is to take your time in discovering yourself, but reading between the lines, a lot of these guys seem to end up at least fantasising about it, some obsessively. There appears to be a fine line between exploring this vs denying and a fear of scratching an itch, an itch that may not even be there. Can you get to the point where anxiety focuses your attention so much that homosexual thoughts become appealing? Or if so, is this a sign that you may have been pre-disposed to like it in the first place so should explore.
I’m at a very confused place where this could be attraction, on the other hand it could be anxiety messing with reward patterns. This is definitely anxiety rather than pleasure led at the moment.
In some ways this is my deepest fear and its very hard to get to grips with. The ultimate success appears to be being able to accept the ambiguity of never knowing 100% if you are gay or straight. In other words being able to think about it without becoming anxious because either way anxiety is not going to help you address this.
Where I’m at right now:
I’m seeing a therapist, but as she’s more of a counsellor I’m looking for someone with specific CBT training for the anxiety.
I spoke about all of this with my wife recently and while she was shocked, she has been very supportive. I have not divulged the masturbation part of this.
I have felt straight all my life apart from the fear of being gay. We have recently started looking at houses which sparked my anxiety of getting to the bottom of this. Whatever the outcome I can’t live my life like this anymore. I can’t live with this level of anxiety.
My libido is flat at the moment as I think I’ve completely shut it down. I’ve also not been masturbating for around 7 days now and am committed to completely abstaining from porn and have even discussed no sex with my wife for 30 days which may be extended. We are going to engage in many of the bonding behaviours suggested here.
I’m looking into getting out of the house more and many of the practical suggestions found on this site.
With your permission I’d like to start blogging with my progress. Thanks for reading.