As of yesterday, I have officially been sober for a whole year. For me that means no P and no M. All O’s come from intercourse with my SO, minus the occasional wet dream (which do not count against sobriety as they are not voluntary). I will break down categories of comparison, hopefully to create clear expectations for those of you who are on the path, but have not reached the one year mark yet. Keep in mind that every persons journey is unique, but these are directionally accurate expectations. Urges and temptations: Honestly, I am a bit disappointed in this category as I really hoped they would be significantly more alleviated by now. They have gotten easier to manage, and I have become more capable at dealing with them, so thats something. What I know in my core is that I have total control over whether or not I slip. I can choose not to no matter how bad the urge or temptation is. I had some realizations this past week regarding why the urges still exist... 1. Emotional and mental wounds that haven’t finished healing yet, that I always used PM to self - medicate. 2. Still working through self-hatred and fear of being known and/or intimate. Which makes me, even on a subconscious level, avoid intamacy with my beautiful wife, avoiding intamacy means test levels increase and I get more easily aroused and moody. When feeling like hiding, and also feeling aroused, the urges get stronger. 3. There is an emotional attachment that misses my old ways of PM and lust. It feels like losing an old friend or lover who always coddled you and helped you feel better, even though they weren’t a very good person or very good for you. There are still many days where I will remember some scene, fantasy or thought. Or something new will pop into my head and it feels like getting hit in the head by a 2x4. It’s difficult to not follow the following shame based distorted thinking path: I cant/shouldn’t have/am wrong for thinking that -> I am bad -> If my wife (or anyone) knew I thought that, they would surely reject me, or be extremely disappointed in me -> I need to hide this. I am not saying you should report these to your SO, because in most cases you shouldn’t so long as you have done a full disclosure already. But you should fight against the belief that you are a bad person for having a thought. Talk about it with an accountability partner or journal about it. Emotional Maturity and Stability: This is where I have made the most progress. I have had a few total emotional meltdowns (temper tantrums) and have said some really hurtful things to my SO in the process. I almost walked out on my marriage once. I learned that I was emotionally abusive, and really subtle about it. That was hard. On the positive side, I have become more kind and empathetic. I have learned how to be more open about my emotions. I have even learned how to separate my emotions from others, so that I dont take their emotions personally. I have also learned that I am just emotionally immature and have a tendency towards volatility and neuroticism, so it helps me not take my own emotions so damn seriously. Clarity of thinking: I think more clearly for sure. I make fewer small cognitive mistakes. I am more articulate in both thinking and speech and am more capable of planning and thinking through things in general. I am not going to claim this has made me into Bradley cooper in the movie “Limitless” but it has ensured that limitations to my natural cognitive ability have been removed. I joined an anonymous SA recovery group: Mine is Christian-faith based. There are excellent groups that are not. I personally believe the message of Christ has enormously positive and encouraging implications for the recovering sex addict, but I am not here to preach. The point is I never thought I would do a group. I didnt want to admit the nature of my condition. I didnt want to be one of “those people.” My problem wasnt that bad. But that was all ego. There is something freeing about being able to have a group of guys that can just be open and honest about this very topic. To remove the isolation and shame, and just be able to study, learn, grow and talk together. Our daily accountability texts also help us be more away of our emotions from the previous day, forcing us to always be mindful of the recent past in a very helpful way. Quality of my marriage: This has also seen enormous improvement. We can fight better now. We couldnt before. I avoided conflict at all costs. I harbored quiet resentments towards my wife. I blamed her for any and all of our problems. I generally saw her as the primary obstacle to my happiness. Pretty shitty, huh? Well I dont do any of that anymore. Its still tempting at times because I am still pretty immature...but I do it a lot less and am at least aware that its MY FAULT and my thoughts and emotions are MY RESPONSIBILITY and no one else’s. This has led us, despite some tough conversations, to a closer unity. Sex is better, we laugh more, fight well, and overall have a significantly better relationship. Its still really hard sometimes...because the the fallout of my behavior is still being repaired, but its better and shows tremendous promise. Quality of life: This, despite everything, has also seen huge improvement. We moved to a new state. Bought a house. Found a great church. And have started making some amazing new friendships with people whom I honestly dont know how I lived without prior. My job has gone well. Despite a slow season, I have had my best year financially by a long shot. We absolutely love where we live. Overall, life is really good. The catalyst to all this was my mistakes. It’s difficult to comprehend that my mistakes, could have led to such a better, happier, more fulfilling life. There are many days where I can only explain it by saying that “it feels like a strong and loving hand is guiding me and making my paths straight.” Closing thoughts and advice: Your addiction does not end after a year of sobriety. Year one teaches you how to control your behavior. A crucial component. Year two helps you become more emotionally aware and mature. Thats where I am now. I started feeling it become the theme a few months ago. Year three becomes about spiritual maturity and flourishing. Anyone here that knows me, knows I shoot straight and dont hand out BS. You are still going to have powerful urges after a year. Just get used to it. Those aren’t going away anytime soon. But you know that you can resist them. You just can. Thats all there is too it. And when they happen, just remind yourself that they are there because there are wound (inflicted by self, others, or both) that are still healing, and what you are craving is not PM, but an alleviation to the pain, even if you don’t consciously feel any sort of pain. Use that knowledge to focus on the long term meaningful goal, not the short term “junk food” goal that leaves you feeling shitty after. Join a group. Just do it. Don’t be an egotistical prick who thinks “I dont need that. I am not one of those people.” If that were true, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Get help. Find a psychologist or mental health counselor who understands addiction. It really helps having someone who is uninvested emotionally, and way smarter than you help organize your own chaotic mind. Find a purpose that is bigger than pleasure. Seek out meaning in your life. Live in the balanced middle of what you could be and how life could look if you were squared away and what could happen if you decided to be weak and give in to the addiction...what kind of hellish consequences would follow? Remember that you may have done some bad things. But you are not a bad person. You matter. Your feelings and emotions matter. You are not scum. You are intrinsically valuable, no matter what anyone has said or things. Operate form that place, and stay on the warpath. You have what it takes.