Bottom Lines

April 27, 2016

 

Mike, the author of the fantastic porn addiction and recovery blog Hi my name is Mike writes about what he calls “bottom lines.” “A bottom line” he writes, “is a line you draw around behaviors and daily patterns to create a buffer zone between healthy living and living in the ‘danger zone’ where you might become triggered and ultimately slip or act out.”

This tool seems very useful to me, and I decided to compile a list of the behaviors that most often lead to a slip.

  • Allowing myself to do a Google image search when I’m bored.
  • Allowing myself to do ANY kind of Internet browsing when I’m bored.
  • Allowing myself to get on the computer for any reason when I’m alone and tired, angry, hungry, stressed out or lonely. Even if I have work to do.
  • Using the computer for entertainment, unless specifically sitting down to watch a movie.
  • Reading the news for entertainment.
  • Watching TV for any reason, especially (since I don’t have a TV at home) when I’m travelling alone.
  • Allowing myself to get to a place where I’m physically depleted, especially hungry, when I can be alone with a computer.
  • Allowing paperwork to pile up at work, so that I have too much to do (and avoid doing) at the end of the day.

In large part, I notice that what comes up for me again and again is wasting time. Almost everything I do on the computer, except for work or blogging or intentional entertainment (almost always with my wife), seems to fall into the category of wasting time. It is basically procrastination, and looking at porn is procrastination par excellence: it is not just an avoidance of work, but of life itself.

My bottom line list, then, is fairly simple:

  • Do not use the computer or other electronic media for entertainment.
  • Do not use the computer for any reason (even if I have work to do), when I am alone and tired, stressed out, angry, lonely, or bored.
  • Do not allow paperwork or other bureaucratic chores to build up. If something needs to be done, do it as soon as possible.
  • Do not allow myself to get to a place of depletion. Bring snacks to work and program in appropriate breaks.

I will probably have to add to this list, but I think it’s a good start. I’m actually pretty sure that if I follow these guidelines, I can avoid a real slip entirely.

Thank you, Mike!

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Bottom Lines

Update

April 16, 2016

 

First, the diet is still going well. I allowed myself an ice cream today, but other than that I have been keeping it well and continuing to feel much better physically.

Second, I told my wife that I had slipped with the porn. That always brings relief, but I also hate it because now she has to live with it too. I guess she was living with it anyway, and better that she knows the truth.

Terrible withdrawals. Waves of depression, wishing for death, and intense craving to use again.

But also, waves of okay-ness. I haven’t been able to post because of the block on my computer. Got it sorted so that I can access the blog. That helps.

How is it that I am able to feel so much love and also be such a selfish prick?

Thanks for listening.

Update

Don’t Even Ask.

April 13, 2016

 

A shitty morning for a shitty guy. Actually a beautiful morning, crisp but sunny. Shitty leaving the house, screaming kiddo.

Also not really a shitty guy, but some shitty stuff went down.

Series of slips. I think it started Monday. Two days ago. Is that true, or was there a slip over the weekend? Something tells me maybe there was a slip on Saturday, when my wife was at a training. Maybe a brief slip then, not sure. I think there was a slip then, but I was able to “hold it together,” by which I mean lie about it by not saying anything. I was able to put it away, not let it get out of control. I think I didn’t masturbate and I was able to get mad at the porn, feel sad for the people in the pictures. Felt like a victory.

But then Monday, a choice. A palpable choice. I decided to do it. And it was a pretty major slip. Fucked up a couple of sessions with clients, not badly perhaps, but I could have given more. People pay a lot to see me, they deserve to get me at the top of my game.

Again didn’t tell my wife. Decided not to masturbate. Did Yoga. Tried to use it as a way to see porn as suffering. That worked pretty well, but Tuesday morning I woke up early, masturbated in the shower, and then was so surprised to feel an overpowering urge to look at porn again. Surprise surprise. Most of the day at work between sessions.

Asked my wife to put a block on my computer this morning. I didn’t tell her I had used, but if she asks I will.

Worst thing is the separation. Even if I can “fake it,” be cheerful and affectionate and do the stuff I need to do, I still feel completely separate from her, and that hurts a lot. The kiddo is also going through a “Momma” faze, he says Momma even when he’s asking me to pick him up. It may just be linguistic (we’ve been singing a song lately that has “Momma, Momma” in the refrain), but it also kind of hurts, like, “what about Dad?”

It may be the Universe saying “Dad’s not here and the kiddo knows it,” or it may just be me knowing that I’m not as here as I should be, and I feel guilty about it. Either way, it hurts.

Don’t Even Ask.

A WHOLE BUNCH OF EXPLATIVES

March 20, 2015

 

I seem to have lost my ability to just write about what’s going on. I find myself attempting these complicated essays, all about feminism and patriarchy and how this relates to pornography and control. I have lost the thread of just writing about my experience and it’s killing me.

It’s killing me because this wasn’t supposed to be about me showing off, or writing important essays. It was supposed to be about me processing what’s going on with me. I haven’t published an entry in two weeks because I’m working on these overblown things that I don’t even know if they’re expressing anything or not.

I’ve got to slow down.

Here’s what’s happening. I’m becoming ambitious again. My ego has gotten tied up in this thing and then I feel like I’ve got something to prove and I get all overblown.

This is supposed to be about me keeping sober and about me processing my thoughts and feelings, not about feminist theory.

Honestly, I’m not qualified to write about feminist theory, and who gives a fuck anyway. Not, I mean, about feminist theory, but about whatever I may have to say about it.

I don’t even give a fuck.

This isn’t the heart of what is going on for me.

Let’s get really simple.

I’ve been sober for over a month now.

I had a minor slip last week, but I didn’t look at porn, just some pretty Instagram pictures.

No nudity, nothing even close.

Even that threw me off for a couple of days, because of course I was looking for a real slip.

I’m tired and angry and burnt-out again. Sick of being anywhere near the downward spiral.

No one wants to read this.

What the fuck am I doing here.

A WHOLE BUNCH OF EXPLATIVES

CRYING OUT FOR CONNECTION

February 16, 2016

 

Not sure where I’m going this morning. The writing has been feeling directionless lately—it just doesn’t seem to coalesce into anything. Whether I am going to focus on fiction or something else, I am feeling the need for a specific theme, a specific direction, something that could at least be compiled into a book or a blog or something. A blog about failed attempts at keeping away from Internet porn lacks appeal somehow. As much as I like the idea of the novel, I can’t seem to write more than a page at a time, and in very scattered form. I just can’t seem to get into it.

I finally ended up having to ask my wife to put a lock on my computer. We have done this before, to regulate the porn use, and it is becoming clear that I just can’t stay away from it on my own. Of course the lock isn’t a guarantee, but it makes it next to impossible to hide my use, or to hide my search terms, etc., which is highly motivating not to use.

I just can’t control myself. Even though most of my slips have been what you might call minor, I have started to slip at work, which is just bad news all around. And I can’t control it. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

I told my wife that I wanted the block in order to stop myself from obsessing over the news, and this is partially true. But really it’s about the porn. God help me, I just don’t know what else to do.

The weather is starting to warm up a little bit. Yesterday was rainy and miserable, but at the same time there was more light in the sky than there has been. I could see it glowing through the mist, which made the day seem less oppressive.

I spent most of the morning reading over past entries, and it seems to me that the real villain here is depression as much as addiction. The two are certainly intertwined, and when I give into addiction it tends to lead to depression. But over and over again I read my entries about being in a fog, being tired, being suicidal. Depression is partly physiological and partly psychological, and I think I become more inclined towards psychological depression when I am physically exhausted. Weirdly, having a child and working full time seem to bring about that state fairly often.

But there is also grace peeking through.

Interestingly, I just decided to switch seats, and at around the same moment the sun came out, shining right on me as I write this. The sun helps me to feel better. It feels like hope, and Spring. My life is certainly a mixed pattern of light. I am not a sunshine person, but the light has always shown through. There has always been love, even if the only love I could fathom has been the love of expression. I have cried out, and there is something in that. I was trying to connect with something, and now the connection is there, more often than not. I hear others crying. I connect with their pain.

It is strange that we seem to suffer due to a lack of connection. Being embodied makes our connection imperfect at best, there is always this feeling of separation, for God, from each other. That’s what being embodied IS. And so we cry out. And the cry is for connection, and we connect in our pain. We are finding our way back to unity. We are finding our way back to Ourselves.

CRYING OUT FOR CONNECTION

ANOTHER SLIP

January 25, 2016

 

I need a place here to acknowledge a few things. I had another slip on Friday. I did not slip in the sense that I did not go to any particularly dark places with the porn, I mean I didn’t look at anything I find too deeply repugnant, but I did slip, I did look at porn, I did masturbate. I needed to write that down somewhere, and yes, I now have to move my sobriety date to Friday, January 22nd 2016.

And I didn’t tell my wife. Again. Why? Well actually because I was able to control the slip and because I didn’t look at anything that I found morally compromising. I think it messed up our chances of having sex this weekend, but it didn’t particularly mess up the way we relate to one another. I didn’t feel that I’d sold my soul to the devil. I felt shitty but I didn’t feel like a piece of shit. I am writing it down here because I have to be honest about it, but to tell her in this case might have been more damaging than helpful.

I do have to acknowledge that apparently I am still out-of-control with this… otherwise how could I have slipped again? I have a client who is looking at jail time for exposing himself in public, and no matter what he does, what he reads, no matter how much he understands his problem and the way it works he cannot stop. I told him: “you have to put as much energy into your recovery as you do into your addiction. Actually, you have to put in one percent more, in order to tip the balance. The amount of time you spend obsessing about acting out, you have to spend slightly more time obsessing about recovery. The addiction has to become the hole through which you turn your life completely inside out. It has to become your greatest gift.”

And you know what? I believe myself. I think and feel that this is true. And the day after seeing this client I looked at porn again.

Does this make me a hypocrite? Maybe. This is the real reason why this blog has to be anonymous. I know I am not a bad counselor, I know that I genuinely help a lot of people. And I also do not try to sell people a bill of goods. I don’t necessarily tell clients “I slipped last week,” but I do say things like, “when I slip…” or “I know that I am more likely to slip when…”

I would love to be the expert who can guide others through the murky waters of sexual addiction, but I am not that. I know I can help, I am both very familiar with the problem and very honest with myself. But I don’t know if I can be helped, and I don’t know if my clients can be helped. Correction: I don’t know if I can stop forever, and I don’t know if my clients can either. I am certainly better off than I was before, and I think my clients are too. But we’re all wading through the mud.

ANOTHER SLIP

TRAINWRECK

January 7, 2016

 

Yeah, Trainwreck. Me. Been sick myself, and more than that, a bunch of slips. Small cascade. Not as bad as it could be, I mean the length of the slips has been kept down to an hour or so each, but I have not been able to pull myself out of it yet. Went back to work on Monday, stayed home with the sick kiddo Tuesday morning, took yesterday off, going back to work today and I am hoping that I can get my head above water. Do a little writing, get back into my routine, get a bit of distance from the porn. I need space in order to get away from the gravitational pull. Impossible to resist, but possible to dilute it to the point where it is possible to resist.

There are a whole bunch of “whys “ involved, not sure how helpful it is to go into them. I just know that I need to get some space from the porn itself.

Again, I have opted not to tell my wife. Okay, again this is probably sketchy, but at the same time I just want to fucking deal with this myself. I know that my intention is to stop, to quell the bleeding, to cauterize the wound and to get to a place where it never has to open again.

TRAINWRECK