By the time I realized that I had a serious problem with pornography I was spending around 40 hours a week, an equivalent of a full time job, watching porn. My personal relationship was almost ruined, and I was a psychological mess.
1. My girlfriend kept complaining
My first major breakthrough happened because my girlfriend kept on complaining that something was different about me. I remember that I used to get angry with her, thinking that she didn’t realize how good she had it. I would think that all men cheated, and I was just watching porn.
As I progressed farther into my addiction, I couldn’t help but notice a series of negative events that began to take place in my life. I was struggling to keep up with school, I was always late and tired, I was always down, and it felt like the only true thing that I enjoyed in life was pornography. When I watched it I was happy… Everyday life would just annoy me with its inconveniences… I knew that I wanted to have a good job and a family, but getting there was just too hard.
One day I was watching pornography in my car, when I realized that I was late for my test. I closed my laptop and ran off. When I came back I found my car broken into, and my laptop gone. That evening my friend and I went to a strip club to help me feel better. My friend soon got tired and wanted to go home, but I couldn’t get myself to walk away. Observing the consequences of my actions and my inability to walk away, forced me to suspect that may be there was something was wrong with me after all.
I do not remember how I came to find out about the work of Dr. Carness, but I remember that I went to my school library trying to check out a book by Dr. Carness called, “Out of the shadows”(Sponsored Link). The book was already checked out, and I got another book by the same author titled, “Don’t Call It Love”(Sponsored Link). I remember reading this book, and realizing that I could connect with almost every story.
I reviewed all of the things that I did as a teenager. How I choose to cope with my daily struggles, and that sex and pornography were the only places where I could find comfort. After reading this book, I knew I had a problem. Shortly after confessed my discovery to my girlfriend. She was terrified, but decided to stay with me and to support me through my recovery. This was my first major breakthrough.
2. Feed the Right Wolf
Just a few years before I discovered that I had sex addiction I was able to quit smoking. I’ve quit cold turkey and decided to use the same approach once again. I tried using my will power for a while, and the longest period of sobriety I was able to achieve was 2 weeks. After that I would slip every time, tell myself that I did it anyway might as well enjoy it, and indulge in long periods of acting out.
I finally had enough after about a year of trying and failing. I remember my last two slip ups before my second major breakthrough. By then I was seeing a therapist and had an internet filter installed on my laptop. The filter did little to stop my behaviors since I knew the password, and would turn it off when I wanted to act out. One night, after 3-4 hour of pornography watching I went to relieve myself, saw my red face in the mirror, and began to cry saying that I was sorry… I cried for a while, and then went to watch more porn to make myself feel better. I repeated this cycle two more times before I was able to cry myself to sleep.
Right around that time, I friend of mine sent me a documentary that concluded with a story that an old Cherokee told to his grand son.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
About two days after this I was spending a weekend at my mother’s house, where I’ve spent another 5-6 hours watching pornography, using my sister’s laptop, while my grandmother was next door. That is when I finally had enough. I realized that I really had to do something differently if I wanted to stop my behaviors. I wrote out a list of all the things that I could do to feed my right wolf.
My list included monitoring my emotions, eating healthy, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, doing daily cardio exercise, meditation, and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) techniques that I’ve learned from the book titled “Kill the Craving”(Sponsored Link). I think learning ERP techniques and making the daily practice of my preventive measures was my second major breakthrough.
Note: Since then I have shared my approach of feeding the right wolf with many others, and received a very positive response. You can view a detailed description of this approach as well as download free handout material at the following post “ERP-Break Out of your Addictive Cycle“.
3. You can’t do it alone
My approach of feeding the right wolf worked and I was able to stay sober for a month. I began noticing that I was getting sloppy on my daily practices and that I needed more of a professional help. After some research I signed up for Candeo Can program. I was in Candeo Can program for about 4 months and by that time I was able to sustain from pornography viewing for close to 5 months.
The problem, however, nested in the fact that I slowly stopped relying on healthy outlets to deal me with my daily problems. I thought that as long as I was not viewing pornography my other problems would take care of themselves, which was not the case. Soon I found myself spending all of my free time on non-sex related websites, and watching TV. Essentially I was using these media for the same purposes that I’ve used pornography before – to escape reality. Towards the end of the fourth month I began to watch a lot of rated R horror movies, because I knew I was very likely to find some nudity there, and the horror part gave me an additional jolt.
Then summer came around and I began to notice a lot of attractive women on the street. I knew that lusting after women was bad, but I used to tell to myself that it was OK to “admire their beauty”. Soon my old spiral begin to unwrap and I noticed myself slipping further and further back into my addiction.
At the same time all other areas of my life began to fall apart as well. I found myself in debt, I began to argue more with my girlfriend, and my school work was falling behind. I was so mad at Candeo Can program. They’ve “told me” that if I were to stop watching pornography my life would be back in order, I did stop, but my life was still a mess. I thought they lied to me, and I felt cheated out. (To be fair to Candeo Can program, they did warn me about all those things that were taking place, and I failed to listen to their advice). I felt powerless and began reading twelve step literature which I consider to be my third breakthrough.
4. Honesty is the best policy
The hardest part of my third breakthrough was coming clean to my girlfriend. I knew how much pain it would cause her, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I also couldn’t think of any other way. I wasn’t watching pornography, but one day I mad a leap from watching a horror movie with nudity, to finding a way around filter and googling a video that I knew would have explicit nudity in it.
After the nudity event, however, I could no longer lie to myself that I was sober, and I came clean to my girlfriend. She was crushed. She thought we were doing so well, she was so happy with the progress that she thought I was making, and all of the sadden it all was scratched. Her world was turned upside down, and I was again to blame for it. This night I took my first of the twelve steps (of sex addicts anonymous) and admitted that I was powerless over my addiction. This happened 3 month ago. And it was my fourth breakthrough.
5. More Work
Since then I went back to the drawing board, and had to re-think all the things that worked and did not work for me. I finally got myself to read the rest of the books on the pornography addiction that I’ve purchased a long time ago. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff from them, and gained some very good perspectives.
I started attending two 12 steps meeting on a regular basis. I now have friends and a lot of support in my recovery. I also learned a great value of proper journaling and how it can be beneficial to my recovery. Candeo Can taught me to journal, but I wasn’t doing it properly, “Treating Pornography Addiction” gets the credit for that.
Through proper journaling I was able to identify most of the triggers and internal lies that I was tell myself through my life. Until today I am journaling daily and keep finding new stuff that have been pre programmed into my head. I work on replacing those lies with the positive things that I do want in my life and believe in from the bottom of my heart. Journaling and attending 12 step groups was my fifth breakthrough.
Even though I was doing well, there was one thing that kept on bothering me that I did not yet have an answer to. I kept feeling that emptiness inside me, that I did not know how to fill.
I remember when I was a sophomore in high school we had an alcoholic come to give us a speech about the dangers of alcohol. She went on to say that all her life she felt shyness, unhappiness, and emptiness inside, and finally found something that could fill it – alcohol. She told us, that it was a mistake and that we shouldn’t use alcohol to fix our problems, and that it was not a solution. But she never told us what the solution was. Since then I’ve been struggling with this question- “What CAN I use to fill this emptiness inside of me?”, and couldn’t find an answer.
Having had a few alcoholics in my family, I knew that alcohol and drugs was not the solution. That is why, I believe, I turned to sex and pornography instead. I believed it was a healthy way out. It was a way out alright, but I now know that it was far from healthy.
About a month ago I accidentally bought a book on Amazon that was about 115 pages long and titled “The Practicing Mind”(Sponsored Link), I have no memory of making that decision, but it must have been due to all of the positive reviews that this book got. For some reason this simple book, has answered the big question, that I couldn’t find the answer too in other hundreds of self help books that I’ve read throughout my life. The answer was very simple, but It would probably require a separate post. For now I will say that my problems mainly came from me being focused on results and not on the process. The approach of always seeking more and more results created a feeling of emptiness and constant dissatisfaction. This was my sixth breakthrough.
7. Complete Transparency
Even with all this new gained knowledge, I still found myself falling back into all habits. I would keep on tricking myself into believing that I could “accidentally” see something exciting, and it would be OK because after all it was an “accident”. I would also tell myself that my girlfriend would never know, because these were just innocent websites, that I used for “almost” innocent purposes.
This line of thinking was happening at the subconscious level, and I was able to identify it and bring it to the surface through journaling. This knowledge helped me to take a final step that I knew I needed to take a long time ago – use of accountability software.
I taught my girlfriend how to check my web history inside the filter on my computer, and she goes through it every week now, to help me stay honest. I used a program called Covenant Eyes, I would highly recommend it to those aiming to take their recovery to the next level.
This was my seventh and final breakthrough so far. I am sure I will have more to come. But in two days I will be completely and honestly sober for five weeks, and I am very thankful for it. It is important for me to remember that the amount of time I stay sober is just a number, a simple by-product of the PROCESS of being sober that I enjoy so much – one moment at a time.
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