Broken 30 days at last! - A reflection on the experience and what is to come

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by PursuingBetterment, Nov 12, 2020.

  1. Hello to everyone who is a part of this very important community. As the title of this post suggests, I've finally made it over the 30-day hump and I wanted both to share and keep record of my thoughts at the current point in time (37 days porn free).

    Firstly, the road to success has been very long indeed. I first got serious about NoFap back in March 2018 when I first signed up to this forum and soon after found myself an accountability partner. My initial streak wasn't too bad, lasting around 20 or so days until I let my AP down and relapsed. This marked the beginning of a period of undermining the very concept of accountability, something which it has taken me a long time to understand and overcome.

    I am here now, at 37 days, having had over the past year a multitude of streaks falling within the 7 - 28 day range. What I'd like to do here is try and identify how and why I've managed to finally break the 30 day mark. After all, in the words of Santayana, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    1. What's different now?

    Do I have superpowers? Can I walk through walls and shoot jellybeans out my eyeballs? No. I'm essentially the same person I was 37 days ago. What I do have however is my time, and what more sacred thing could one possibly want for than their time?

    Over the past month I have experienced a slow return of control alongside the gradual development of a tremendous sense of urgency, contrasted with a gradual reduction in feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Looking back, I can recall how dirty I felt, especially around women. A simple "hello" or a casual conversation in passing felt conspicuous in the sense that I would be "found out" and that my deep, dark secret would somehow be read through my very skin. A couple of weeks ago I listened to an interview with a specialist in sexual behaviour who made the point that beyond the inherent damage that porn does, the very sense that it is something to be ashamed of is destructive in and of itself. She suggested that perhaps the bigger problem was not whether or not an individual consumed porn but rather whether or not he or she felt it was something to feel ashamed of. In other words, it's perception that matters. I have given this some thought and I believe that this is partially true. What it fails to consider however it that regardless of what you think of porn, very few people would agree that watching porn is either a wholesome and valuable use or time or a pleasant way of recuperating after a hard day. Even when I tried to convince myself that my habit wasn't bad and repeated mantras in my head like "everyone watches porn, it's normal", my fixation on it did not go away. Porn enters the mind like a fish hook. It slips in effortlessly but getting it out again is a slow, difficult and messy process.

    I have undoubtedly found more time in my days over the past month and I am often presented with a strange sense of discomfort at not knowing what to do, now that I choose to no longer reach for the old vice and crutch that is watching porn.

    TL;DR: The difference now is that I have my time back and I have my mind back. My "free time" is free by default and I have vastly more mental space to dedicate to whatever task I choose, whether it's learning something new, reading a book, working out or watching a movie. I have regained a fundamental sense of control over my life and it effects everything that I do.

    2. How have I gotten to where I am now?

    This is probably the more difficult question to answer but I'll give it a go.

    I think the biggest change which has allowed me to finally surpass the 30-day wall (and it really has felt like a wall to me for the longest time) was actually reading a book on Neuroplasticity (linked below for those who are interested). It has a section on various addictions including addiction to porn and it has made me realise that the things we do are not merely fleeting experiences. Rather they are etched into our brains physically through the building of connections between neurons. I developed this image of my mind as a giant ski field, every activity which I had spent a significant amount of time doing representing a large, long gash in the snow. If I were to ski from the top of the field, my skis would be drawn towards slight gashes and divots, eventually and inevitably being pulled towards the valleys or oft-travelled routes. These routes could represent many things, but in my visual representation of my mind I discovered a vast valley right down the middle of the ski field, polished to a silky sheen through many years or regular use. And that vast valley was the valley of porn, drawing me in with salacious inevitability.

    My particular visualisation might not make a great deal of sense to others but for me it was quite profound. It shifted my view of porn from being a regrettable waste of time to being an inherently and physically destructive behaviour, carving out great highways in my limited mental faculty which were now dedicated to an unhealthy and meaningless activity. I realised that recovery from porn would be a slow process which would require consistent work over time. My mind was full of divots, gashes and crevasses which would have to be filled in and eventually carved out again only with something meaningful at the end like a satisfying career, an important relationship or a coveted skill as opposed to a giant billboard of a naked woman.

    I am where I am now because I have come to understand my addiction to porn within a broader framework. And it terrifies me. Through watching porn I have gradually made myself into someone I do not wish to be and the way up and out will be long and challenging. This has driven me to continue to 37 days and I am quite confident it will continue to motivate me further.

    3. What lies ahead?

    One thing I have done which is a little unconventional (and differs from my nuke and pave approach in the past) is I have kept a collection of my favourite porn encrypted and compressed upon itself three times and sitting on an external hard drive. I chose this approach because I realised that by deleting all my porn and taking other defensive measures (e.g. custom DNS servers, website-blocking etc.) I essentially allowed myself to forget that I am a porn addict. I am now and I likely will be for the rest of my life. Therefore, in the past, I would simply relapse in a moment of weakness and perpetuate the same sickening cycle of meaninglessly coveting something of no true value. My approach now is different. If I want porn, I have it. It's not right in front of me because that would be too tempting but it's there if I want it. It's there as a necessary reminder of my past and a reminder of where I have come from. It helps me to steer in the opposite direction because it reminds me of what I don't want. I may delete it at some stage but only if and when I am confident that I have made real progress in my recovery.

    My current goal is another 30 days just like my first 30 days. I'm hoping it will get although I'm not expecting it to. I'm not looking for anything or waiting for something to change. I'm merely enjoying the slow process of regaining myself, regaining my innocence and a fullness of life. I'm enjoying being able to focus on things and being able to interact in a guilt-free way. More than all of that, I'm out with a snow-blower filling in a long and wide valley while at the same time building new paths which lead to healthier values and more meaningful outcomes.

    I hope that these ideas are helpful to someone and, if not, this will serve as a record and point of reference for me which is what it's really about.

    Here's the book I mentioned. I would encourage anyone fighting this battle to read it as it has really helped me. It's also just an interesting book:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/570172.The_Brain_that_Changes_Itself

    Peace out

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    UPDATE: Now at 44 days no porn, I have decided to take the next step and cut out masturbation too, hence my day counter is reset to reflect that. None the less, I made it to 44 days and it's time to go further with a tougher challenge!

    Once I pass 30 days of "no porn, no masturbation" I will update this thread again with another reflection so that I can continue to track my changes and progress over time.

    PursuingBetterment
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
  2. Hatman

    Hatman New Fapstronaut

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    Excellent post. Very helpful. Stay strong.
     
  3. Esteguy

    Esteguy New Fapstronaut

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    Congratulations on 30+ days!... I'm a newbie and at about 20 days myself...We both want to be better! so we have to push forward and not go backward. Your post was very honest and enlightening. All the best brother. Stay strong and stay connected!
     
    Mal oon likes this.
  4. Viking83

    Viking83 Fapstronaut

    Hi,

    Thank you for this post. I will read the book about neuroplasticity that you mentioned.

    Good luck on the next 30 days!
     
  5. mythdunk

    mythdunk Fapstronaut

    Very useful guidance for someone still in the very early days of a streak. I will try to put your thoughts into practice. I am trying to get back into reading and watching good movies in the evenings which kind of went out of the window as porn became more prevalent in my life. Sadly I am still struggling to regain my concentration and enjoyment levels from my books and movies but I am hoping this will return.
     
  6. Well done and good on you. The idea of keeping P (albeit encrypted and difficult to access) is indeed an interesting one.

    Its obviously working and similar perhaps to a ex-smoker carrying cigarettes on himself, but never lighting them. I've seen that work too.

    Just don't create that locked-up P into a Forbidden Fruit in a Virtual Garden of Eden..
     
  7. "Just don't create that locked-up P into a Forbidden Fruit in a Virtual Garden of Eden.."

    You raise an interesting point there mate. The difference for us however is that we've long since left that "Virtual garden of Eden" and with that we've lost our innocence and gained the capacity to make choices.

    I hope that it will continue to work well for me as it has so far. I've been tempted a couple of times to take a look although I have not. I think perhaps it helps that I know precisely what is in there and, from experience, precisely how I'll feel about it if I give in. Perhaps it's more a case of "keep your friends close but your enemies closer". If I keep P close to me then at some level I retain a certain level of control over it. It's definitely a tricky balance to strike though for sure!
     
  8. Well put! Its an unorthadox one, but i like it.

    I ready somewhere that the main Dopamine rush is in the hunting, not the killing.

    Hence many users will have several Icognito Browser tabs open, hunting the perfect image.

    Having your favourite Virtual Harem under lock-n-key means you know where they are - and won't go finding them on the internet with all is other offering.

    Like the Ski-Field vision too BTW.
     
  9. I think you're right there about the hunt vs the kill. I wouldn't necessarily endorse my approach to others but it has worked for me so far and I knew that I needed to try something different. It's easy to get moralistic about these things (and there's quite a lot of that on this forum) but I'm a practical guy; I'm after solutions even if they aren't the prettiest.
     
  10. MichaelGuadalupe

    MichaelGuadalupe Fapstronaut

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  11. Asgardian36

    Asgardian36 Fapstronaut

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    Great Success story bro! i am happy for you! I hope you make it through 60, 90, 120 and 180 and beyond!
    Thanks for the reccomendation...check out z-library, i can say its legit.
     

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