Reflections on Two Years Without Porn

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Ridley, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    Greetings,

    I used to be a pretty active member of this forum. I joined in March of 2018, which is around when I quit using porn, and I haven't watched any since then. So, that means that I've been porn-free for almost two years (I can't even remember the exact date that I quit). Anyway, I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately. I've been counting my blessings and just focusing on the things that I'm thankful for in my life. Some of those things are abstract concepts like music, exercise, and my health. Some of them are people, like my close friends and family. However, one thing I'm really thankful for is this community right here. As I said, I used to be a pretty active member (I haven't posted in a long time - more about that in a bit), and I think it's safe to say that this community was instrumental in my recovery from porn. So, this post is going to cover a number of topics, but I just want to say right off the bat that I'm extremely grateful for each and every person who makes this forum happen and for all of the people who offered encouragement in the past (and for the people who challenged me and called me out on my bullshit).

    Before I really get into my wall of text here, I want to point out one particular detail that might be controversial for some users: I don't think masturbation or ejaculation is bad for me, so I allowed myself to masturbate. Please don't turn this thread into a debate over whether or not masturbation during recovery is okay. The important thing is that it was okay for me. In fact, masturbation has become a whole new beautiful thing for me now that I've quit using porn (I'll discuss more on that later). I understand that some people on this forum want to completely quit porn and masturbation altogether, and that's fine with me. Some people have even more extreme goals, like becoming completely celibate in addition to quitting porn and masturbation. Please don't judge me for my personal goals, and I won't judge you for yours. I am here to tell you that I quit porn for two years and I think my life has improved as a result, so take that how you will, I guess.

    I'll divide the post into a few different sections for readability, because I'm planning on writing a lot here:

    1. Quitting
    Sometime in mid-March of 2018, I decided I was fed-up with pornography. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I knew something felt wrong about how much I was watching porn. It was something I felt deeply ashamed of, something I kept almost 100% to myself. However, it wasn't clear to me at the time why I wanted to stop. All I knew was that I wanted to.

    This feeling of discontent reached a peak during an experience I had with psilocybin (the active component of magic mushrooms). Before I go any further, a disclaimer: to say that I advocate for the use of psilocybin would be both false and irresponsible. Psilocybin has helped me a great deal in my life, but I understand that it is not for everyone. Also, I should mention that psilocybin, by itself, is not medicine. I believe that, in order to get something useful out of a psilocybin experience, one must pay close attention to intention, mindset, and physical setting. I went into this particular experience with around 2.5 grams of dried Psilocybe Cubensis by myself. I've found that delving into a psychedelic experience alone can be a very challenging, but also very enlightening experience. When I do it, I find myself looking at my life and the choices I make from a different perspective. After I started feeling the mushrooms, I decided to watch porn and masturbate. It was a very unpleasant experience. It was almost as if I was watching myself go through it in the third person. It was as though I had walked in to someone else's room and found someone else watching porn and masturbating, but it wasn't someone else: it was me, and I felt as disgusted with myself as I would have felt with a complete stranger.

    That experience shook me up, and I knew something had to change in my life. I decided I was going to quit watching porn forever. Now, there are lots of different ways to experience porn addiction. Personally, I was what I like to call a "collector". You see, most of the rush that I got from watching porn wasn't from ejaculation or from even watching videos. The rush came from hunting and finding new material. The thing that got me the most excited was the prospect of finding a new video I hadn't seen before, downloading it, and adding it to my ever-growing collection. I had a hard drive in my closet with hundreds of hours of porn on it, which had been expanding for nearly a decade. On one night that month, I reformatted the drive, completely erasing my entire collection. It was a mostly symbolic gesture, but it was surprisingly easy. As soon as the collection was deleted, I felt this feeling of release I had never felt before. It felt like a fresh start I had never afforded myself before, and I just started laughing.

    From that point forward, it was just a matter of not watching porn again. Of course, this is far easier said than done.

    2. Staying Clean
    I soon realized that quitting porn wasn't as simple as just deleting the contents of a hard drive. One day at a time, I started to realize that quitting porn was about staying clean for the rest of my life. I started to realize how deeply ingrained this habit had become, and I started to realize that it was quite hard to stay clean. I had tried quitting many times before 2018, but I had never had any success with it. I would last no more than a week before slipping back into my old habits.

    This time, things were different, and the main reason for that is that I had finally developed the humility required to realize that I didn't have to do this all on my own. Suddenly, I wasn't alone in my recovery. I told my siblings about it, I told my girlfriend about it, and I joined this community and told other users about it. I also started seeing a therapist and talking with him about it (I know that's not an option for everyone, but it helped me a lot). Ultimately, I think this sense of community was the main thing that helped me stay clean. Being able to share my recovery with people I cared about motivated me and inspired me, and focusing on that positive outcome was far more effective at keeping me clean than focusing on the fear of slipping back into my addictive patterns.

    Through discussing with this community, I also started to realize that staying clean wasn't just a change in one behavior: it was a whole change in lifestyle. I started seeing all of the things that porn had been doing for me. It filled that space between waking life and sleeping, when I was done socializing for the day and just wanted to go to bed. I now had to start filling that space with something else - so I filled it with journaling (and, sometimes, with posting on this forum). I journal almost every day now, and I think it's a much better use of my time in bed before I fall asleep than watching porn is. When I don't journal, I usually just read a book. However, that time was the easiest void to fill. I also started to see that porn had been an emotional crutch for me. I relied on porn for comfort, for excitement, for sexual satisfaction, for validation. I had to start finding all of those things in other places. I found comfort in meditation and deep breathing. I found excitement in music and social interactions. I found sexual satisfaction in my partner (and, when we eventually broke up last year, in myself). I found validation in exercise and self-reflection. These were all habits I hadn't really built into my life, but they're all regular parts of my life now, and they're all so much healthier than porn.

    After adopting those new habits, the next order of business for me was to learn when to apply them. The answer came from focusing on my triggers. Every porn addict has triggers. For me, long drives in my car, tough days at work, or days without much social interaction were major triggers. I had to learn to identify when a trigger was happening (it's surprisingly easy to overlook), and then to immediately focus on a healthy habit (meditation, deep-breathing, exercise, journaling, calling a friend, practicing music).

    After I got pretty good at identifying and managing my triggers, I realized that I really only had one obstacle left in my way - perhaps the biggest obstacle we all face as addicts: time. It's all well and good to develop a community, to replace bad habits with healthy ones, and to identify triggers, but it's quite another thing to do it consistently for a long period of time. All I can really say about it is that, the more time you spend clean, the easier it gets to stay clean. It may not be a completely linear trajectory, but it is an upward one. In plain English, that means that you'll have good days and bad days. Some days will be harder than others, but every once in a while, you'll have a day where you look back and see how far you've come (today is one of those days for me), and you won't be able to deny that you've made progress. Knowing that I was on an upward trajectory like that by staying clean was the main thing that helped me overcome the obstacle of time. I've been clean for nearly two years now, and I never could have imagined how much better things would be when I got to this point.

    The only other thing I can say about time is to take things one day at a time. I know that's an old cliche from the 12-step philosophy of recovery, but sometimes cliches ring true nonetheless. As addicts, we always want a quick fix. Drug addicts want to put something in their bloodstream that makes them feel better immediately. Gambling addicts want to see numbers go up and down and fill them with excitement immediately. Porn addicts want to push a button to see sexual content that causes pleasurable chemical reactions in the brain. It's normal to want to feel as good as I feel now in one night rather than needing to wait two years to get to that point. First of all, you can't rush this. Time only moves one second per second, one day per day, one year per year. Second of all, the longer you do this, the more you'll realize that each and every day you spend clean is a blessing. Every day you spend clean is a gift you give to yourself.

    3. Physiological Changes After Quitting
    There were a few physiological changes I went through when quitting porn for so long. The most notable change was the re-emergence of wet dreams. I had my first wet dream when I was about 11 years old, and I only had two or three of them while going through puberty. I'm 27 now and I have more wet dreams than I've ever had before. It happens to me probably two or three times a month, especially when I haven't been masturbating very much. On the one hand, it's nice because it makes me feel like I'm going through a second bloom phase, sexually. On the other hand, it's kind of annoying because it's messy and embarrassing.

    I am also in the best shape of my life right now. However, it's important to note that this is only indirectly related to my quitting porn. The reason I'm in such good shape is because I started exercising more. However, the reason I started exercising more is because I wanted to replace porn usage with something more productive.

    4. Psychological Changes After Quitting
    I've noticed some profound psychological changes since quitting porn. I think the most noticeable change is in my patience. I mentioned this earlier, but addiction is so often about instant gratification. We press a button to see a video of people having sex and that's supposed to make us feel better immediately. I think this desire for instant gratification was permeating into other aspects of my life as well, but not as much these days. I have a greater appreciation now for slow progress.

    One big example was from last year, when I went through a breakup with someone I had been seeing for about three years. She was my best friend and I loved her deeply. I think a younger, more addicted version of myself would have responded to that situation by seeking out a new relationship immediately and trying to fill that void in my life with someone else. That's how I had dealt with that type of pain in the past, and I think that's very consistent with an addict's behavior. This time around, I had already had about a year without porn under my belt, and I knew that this, like my recovery from porn, was going to take a lot of time. I've been patient with myself. It's been about a year now since we broke up, and this is the longest I've been single since high school. It's been a time of great self-reflection and growth, and I don't know if I would have gotten to experience that if I had been focused on a quick fix for the problem.

    Another significant psychological change since quitting is a loss of shame. I used to feel so ashamed of my addiction, and the shame grew until it started to tower over other aspects of my life as well. By the time I was in my twenties, I was so ashamed of who I was that I had suppressed almost all of my creative endeavors. Quitting porn helped me realize that shame is useless. It does nothing good for you. The only thing shame does is prevent you from reaching your full potential. Shame talks you out of doing something. I'm more accepting of myself now than I ever have been before.

    5. Sexual Changes After Quitting
    Saying that my sex life improved after quitting porn would be too easy. I think it's pretty obvious that quitting porn is a good thing for your sex life, but I didn't realize how much nuance there was to it until I had actually spent a significant amount of time without porn. One of the main reasons I denied my addiction for so long was because I had what looked like a healthy sex life. I've had three different sex partners, all of them long-term, loving relationships with lots of sex. I watched porn through the entirety of the first two relationships, and through about half of the third. I was in denial for a long time about how porn was affecting my sex life because I never chose porn over sex.

    Now, telling myself "at least I never chose porn over sex" sounds like complete addict-talk to me. It's true that I never once turned down sex for porn in my life, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't an addict, and it definitely doesn't mean that porn wasn't affecting my sex life.

    Sadly, porn taught me a lot of what I know about sex. It installed all sorts of false ideas into my head about what sex was supposed to look like, what it was supposed to feel like, how intense it was supposed to be, and (especially) how long it was supposed to last. I thought sex was supposed to look clean with bright lights on. I thought that sex was best when it went on with (literal) pounding intensity throughout the entire duration - I thought that was what women wanted. I thought sex was supposed to feel like the best thing in the entire world no matter what. I thought that sex was supposed to last for about 15-30 minutes every time (that's usually how long the videos I watched were).

    After quitting porn, I have a much healthier idea of what sex is all about. I discovered that sex feels best when both you and your partner are on the same page, which means lots of communication and foreplay (things that porn don't really teach you anything about). I discovered that sex doesn't have to be intense and fast the entire time. In fact, sometimes it's best to fluctuate between intense and gentle sex. I also discovered that sex doesn't need to last for 15-30 minutes to be enjoyable. Sometimes, it can go on for much shorter than that and still be highly satisfying for both people, and sometimes it can go on for longer than that. All of these things depend on you, your partner, and how both of you are feeling at the time. All of that seems like common sense to me now, but it's amazing to think that I went through years of dating without realizing any of that. Indeed, I never chose porn over sex, but sometimes porn was still influencing me when I did have sex. That point about the duration of sex probably affected me the most. I was so anxious about lasting the correct amount of time that it would sometimes completely ruin the experience for me. One of my biggest regrets in life is all the time I spent worrying about how long I was lasting when I could have been just enjoying the sensation of making love, and I don't think I ever would have gone down that road had I not been so addicted to porn.

    Needless to say, my sex life has improved a lot. My previous girlfriend and I started communicating a lot more about sex after I quit, and we started to discover new things about each other and grow together as a couple, and it makes me sad to think that there was a time where I wasn't communicating with her as much. There might have even been times where my addiction really upset her in the bedroom (she never communicated that to me, but it's still a possibility, and that bothers me).

    Of course, she and I broke up about a year ago (not addiction related - we were growing apart in other ways), so I've also had lots of time to explore sexuality on my own without porn, which has been wonderful. As I mentioned in a disclaimer above, I personally have nothing against masturbation. I'm pleased to report that masturbation has become a completely new thing for me since quitting porn. The most noticeable change is the frequency. I hardly masturbate anymore. I really only do it when I'm in the mood for it, which I realize doesn't happen that often. I maybe do it two or three times a month these days. While I was watching porn, I would often confuse the feeling of actually being in the mood for something sexual and simply wanting that instant-gratification. It took me a long time to realize that those are actually two separate things. Being horny isn't just a desire for a quick orgasm and a rush of dopamine to the brain. Being horny is a playful feeling that is best explored slowly (and not even necessarily with the goal of ejaculation). After quitting porn, I've found that my libido actually isn't as active as I thought it was. For the longest time, I thought I was the sort of person that wanted sex every single day, and I think that was because I watched porn almost every single day (except for the days when I had sex). I've realized that I don't actually want sex every day. What I really wanted back then was a quick "good feeling" to the brain every day. Sometimes, I was lucky enough that this good feeling was real sex, but most of the time, it was satisfied by porn and masturbation.

    Nowadays, I find a quick tug to be completely unsatisfying. Masturbation is a much more exploratory and, quite frankly, spiritual experience for me now. For one matter, I no longer just touch my penis when I masturbate. I get my whole body involved. For another matter, most of the experience isn't even physical for me anymore. I spend some time meditating before I masturbate, focusing on my breathing and really trying to evaluate where I'm at and what I'm hoping to get out of the experience. Most of the time, I don't even ejaculate. I feel myself heading in more of a tantric or "karezza" direction (feel free to do your own research on these subjects - I discovered both of them in the "rebooting in a relationship" section of this forum). It's a new and exciting chapter in my life, and I'm looking forward to exploring this healthier, more spiritual sexuality with a new partner in the future.

    In summary, my sex life has greatly improved since quitting porn. I think all of my future partners will enjoy a much better version of myself now that I have committed to a life without porn.

    6. This Forum
    As I've elaborated on already, this forum was instrumental in my recovery. Having a supportive community of people who understand where I'm coming from made me feel more connected to reality. Having said that, I knew I didn't want to be here forever. After a while, I became much more self-sufficient in my recovery, and I want for you all to do the same. I think it would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world where NoFap didn't have to exist (that is - in a world where porn addiction didn't exist). I'm here to say thank you and to offer my gratitude, but I have other things I spend my time doing these days. I put a lot of time into this forum, and while it was worth every minute, I got to a point where I get so much more out of focusing on my creative projects, my work, and my relationships with other people. In a lot of ways, this is goodbye, but I never want to completely close the door on NoFap. It's nice to know that this community is here. Quitting porn is a lifelong commitment (at least, it is for me), and I know that life will change a lot as I grow older. It's nice to know that, should I find myself in a moment of weakness, this forum will still be here for me to come talk to other people about it.

    7. Closing Remarks
    My life is so much better without porn. I think I would be totally happy if I never watched it again. It's amazing how much my life has improved since quitting, and most of that improvement can't even be put into words. It simply has to be experienced. If you're struggling to quit, just remember that it's not just about quitting porn: it's about changing your lifestyle. Also remember that you don't have to do this alone, and that you only have to take it one day at a time. Every day you spend clean is a blessing in your life.

    I hope this provides some hope for people who are still struggling with this horrible addiction. If you had any doubts about it, I promise you that your life will start improving as soon as you quit. You might not be able to see the progress until you're far into it, and I guess that requires a certain amount of faith on your part, but I hope you get to experience the joy of waking up one day and realizing how far you've come.

    Good luck, fapstronauts!
    -Ridley
     
  2. Kligor

    Kligor Fapstronaut

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    Congrats buddy you did big job!Keep going,all the best :)
     
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  3. gingeralan

    gingeralan Fapstronaut

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    Love this, worth the read
     
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  4. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    I'm glad it helped :)
     
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  5. quit@porn

    [email protected] Fapstronaut

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    Great post highly inspiring.... Thanks ridley....
     
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  6. Biswajyoti

    Biswajyoti Fapstronaut

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    amazing post...thanks for sharing your story...
     
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  7. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    I'm glad it helped, guys. Never give up on yourself. You can live a life without porn :)
     
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  8. filmit57

    filmit57 Fapstronaut

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    Are you still going through withdrawals if not how long after you quit porn did it go away? I’m 1 year hardmode and still in withdrawals
     
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  9. This is really encouraging, thank you. Keep up the amazing journey.
     
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  10. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Thanks @Ridley that was a beautiful post. There's lots in it I could have written myself (albeit less eloquently) but also new stuff to think about. Recovery is amazing.
     
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  11. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    I never really experienced withdrawals too badly, personally. I definitely experienced urges to go back to porn many times, which is similar in a way, I guess. The urges have mostly gone away. These days, I hardly ever experience urges to watch porn. It's just not something that's on my mind very frequently anymore. When I do experience urges (which still happens occasionally), I'm much more aware of it and I just fall back on one of my healthy activities. I hope that helps answer your question.

    Everyone experiences this addiction differently, but remember what I said about time. You will heal, and whatever withdrawals you might be experiencing will subside eventually. Don't give up on yourself. You've gone a year on hardmode, and that's no small accomplishment. Keep up the great work, and I'm sure you will notice improvement :)
     
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  12. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    Recovery is amazing! It's like giving yourself a completely fresh start. All the best to you!
     
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  13. filmit57

    filmit57 Fapstronaut

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    What improvements did you receive so far compared to yourself while you were using porn
     
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  14. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    I think if you read sections 3, 4, and 5 from my original post, you'll find the answer to that question.

    I think the most noticeable improvements are the obvious ones: I feel less ashamed of myself, I have more time for other things, and I don't regularly have strong urges to watch porn anymore. Those are really the main benefits. To sum up, I think I'm just much happier with who I am now that porn is out of the picture.
     
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  15. filmit57

    filmit57 Fapstronaut

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    I ask because your benefits don’t relate to most of the hard addicts including myself. l here more about improved clarity, motivation, more interest in the little things, less anxiety and depression, improved libido just to name a few
     
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  16. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    I don't find the distinction between addicts and "hard addicts" to be particularly useful. We're all fighting our own personal battles and all of us are affected by this addiction differently. I told my story here, and I definitely think quitting porn has improved my life. Having said that, I
    It's just my experience, and I don't expect everyone to have the same results that I do. If you want me to speak about the particular benefits you mentioned here, I'd be happy to do so.

    Clarity: clarity comes and goes for me in life. It's often something I achieve through meditation or spending time out in nature. Life gets complicated sometimes, and it's easy to get confused every once in a while as things change. I don't think quitting porn gave me more clarity per se, but I remember the moment I described in section 1 of my OP where I finally realized I wanted to quit as a moment of great clarity.

    Motivation: I'm not sure if you read my writing about the psychological improvements in my OP, but I definitely noticed a change in motivation when I quit porn. I don't think I used that word specifically, but the sentiment is there. I think I described it as improved patience, which I think is tied together with motivation in the context of getting over an addiction. When I was in the depths of addiction, I was motivated by instant gratification and quick pleasure. Now that I've been clean for a substantial amount of time, I find myself motivated by more long-term goals and I've gained a new appreciation for slow, nonlinear progress. In other words, I'm a lot more patient.

    Interest in the little things: personally, I've never had a problem with that. I've always been pretty awestruck by reality, and I'm not the type of person who easily gets bored. I feel just as fascinated by reality as I ever have since I quit.

    Anxiety / Depression: I've struggled with depression throughout my life, but never with anxiety. I don't think my addiction ever really caused my depression - it was more that I was depressed and used my addiction to medicate that depression. Nowadays, I don't use my addiction in that way anymore, so I have to deal with depression differently when it comes up. I do that by journaling, telling people I love, meditating, exercising, and treating myself to a nice meal. For me, depression comes and goes. Sometimes I catch a bit of the ol' depression, just like catching a cold. I've never suffered from chronic depression or more serious situations like that.

    I hope that clears things up for you. Remember: everyone has different experiences with this addiction. I can't promise that you will see the same improvements that I did because you're a different person, but I'm sure that things will get better for you in one way or another if you've identified that porn is a problem for you and you are doing something about that problem.
     
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  17. Strugglingforyears

    Strugglingforyears Fapstronaut

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    Thanks @Ridley. Always great to read a well thought through recovery post.

    For myself, and perhaps others, here are my three take aways:

    1. Be thankful and share success - We can’t do this on our own and acknowledging those that have helped us is important to making ourselves better and helps others see the value in participating in these forums. Success stories really helps us see that beating this nasty addiction is possible and provides advice that has been shown to work.

    2. Sex is different without porn. It is very important to understand that sex with our partners will be different, hopefully for the better, after we leave porn behind. And it is good be prepared. Quitting porn is a period of readjustment and it has its ups and downs. I am particularly looking forward to a deeper, more intimate and more fulfilling experience than the past where my fantasies and anxieties dominated.

    3. Challenge others and be open to challenge yourself- we are all full of bullshit and probe to hiding this away. If we don’t get called out then we will struggle to grow and really learn those things about ourselves or do the hard things we need to do in order to create a truly porn free life.

    I hope this helps. I had a really tough morning after reading a less than helpful post with lots of triggers. Reading this post and writing a reply has really helped me work through a bad patch. Have good day everyone.
     
  18. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

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    Yes, gratitude is not just beneficial during recovery, but also just for life in general. Sometimes, it's easy to think that you aren't making a difference in this world, but the gratitude of others will remind you that your efforts are noticed and appreciated. A little goes a long way here.

    Oh yes, I love what you said about having ups and downs. A 'readjustment' is the best way to describe it. In my case, the changes in my sex life as I moved away from porn weren't always comfortable. In fact, sometimes they were really confusing and overwhelming. However, the ups and downs of all of that became more stable with time, and it wasn't long before I felt adjusted. I haven't had sex in about a year, but I just feel better about it going forward. I trust that my future sexual relationships will be healthier and more sustainable as a result of my hard work.

    I found myself believing all sorts of bullshit to justify my addiction. As I mentioned in my OP, one of the things I believed for a long time was that my sex life wasn't impacted by porn as long as I never chose porn over sex. It was one of the things I told myself to justify watching porn, and it turns out to be both false and counterproductive towards quitting porn. After a certain point, I had to challenge that assumption, and I'm glad I did.

    Thanks for your insight. It adds a lot, and I'm glad that you were able to get through a rough patch. You're doing the right thing by getting your thoughts out of your head and into words. I find that reading over what I've written helps me better evaluate where I'm really at.
     
  19. Well done mate!
     
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  20. Pranay_Masterchief

    Pranay_Masterchief Fapstronaut

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    Thank you man .., really opened up my eyes ... idk whether it is possible to beat it .... I just thank you for this
     

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