The Journey Is The Purpose: A Guide To Life Free Of PMO

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by KnightErrant21, Nov 20, 2022.

  1. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    The Eternal Journey of the Tortured King

    In Greek mythology, King Sisyphus is a man condemned to eternal punishment by Hades, the god of the underworld, for cheating death and thinking himself cleverer than the gods. Imprisoned deep in the abyssal dungeon of Tartarus, Sisyphus is put to the task of rolling a boulder up a hillside, only to have the cursed rock roll back down the slope before the peak is ever reached. He must then set out about his task again, and again, and again—laboring eternally to reach an unattainable goal.

    Throughout history this myth has been used as a metaphor for undertaking fruitless struggles, as a cautionary tale for indulging in hubris, and even for the absurdity of life itself. It’s easy to see how Sisyphus’ condition can be viewed through such a dark lens, but I agree with a very different take: Sisyphus should be the hero of every man working to better themselves.

    In his 1942 essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, the French philosopher Albert Camus concludes that despite Sisyphus’ dour circumstances “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” as “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.” That, to me, is where those of us that endeavor to overcome their worst demons must find their meaningful solution—with happiness in the struggle itself.

    To narrow this thought to the struggle of overcoming addiction to pornography, masturbation, and problematic sexual behavior, I claim that this positive comparison to the never-ending toil of Sisyphus is even more poignant. For me, my addiction to PMO and its associated behavior, has been the most destabilizing and damaging influence on my life. I have attempted—and failed—countless times to quit, reboot, and build a new life. However, it wasn’t until I shifted my focus away from ‘simply’ trying to quit porn, to bettering myself holistically as a man, that I at last found a path to true success. I found happiness in the struggle. Purpose in the journey.

    As I write this, it has been 59 days since I last viewed pornography. The last two months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, and an ocean’s worth of ups and downs. They also have been the most defining and life-affirming of my adulthood. I started down the path of recovery from this addiction almost two years ago, and I made positive strides down that path, but it wasn’t until I changed my outlook that I truly found success. Like Camus’ view of Sisyphus, I embraced the fact that the journey to betterment is the purpose, and not a destination.

    In the writing to follow I hope you can learn from my experience, and find ways to aid you in your own positive journey—that the work of pushing the boulder of your faults up the hill of life becomes a mission of reward, and not a toil of punishment.

    My Past: Context for My Journey

    I am a man in my mid-30’s. I’m married to a devoted wife, and I have children. My first experience with pornography came when I was in my early teens, and I used my family’s dial-up internet to view lewd bikini models online when I supposed to be babysitting my younger siblings. I ended up getting caught after that incident, and my parents subsequently made it impossible for me to access the internet without supervision. So, internet porn went away from my world until I was a senior in high school. It was through a friend that I regained unrestricted access to the internet outside of a school setting, and it was from this access point that my addiction manifested.

    After spending nearly a year finding frequent excuses to use my friend’s computer during the end of high school, I found myself independent as I moved on to college. Suddenly I had my own place, my own freedom, and my own computer. My addiction grew quickly, and viewing porn became my most abundant pastime. It was such a consistent habit that I’d even find secluded corners in my university’s halls and libraries to watch porn between classes. Eventually I even started skipping classes on occasion so I could binge and edge myself. It was when I began the habit of binging and edging that my romantic life began to be affected.

    Throughout high school and beyond I was sexually active. I dated consistently, and thought myself to be quite the lady’s man. However, as porn’s influence gripped me tighter, I had my first instances of sexual dysfunction. These moments were infrequent at the time, but they nonetheless planted a seed of doubt and anxiety into my proud, macho-fueled psyche. There were times I pushed romantic encounters away simply because I doubted myself, and moreover, I wanted to have that time to myself to binge.

    It was a miracle that around this time things got better. I honestly can’t say why, but I managed to focus enough on finishing college and starting my new career that porn took a back seat in my daily life. I still viewed porn on a regular basis during this era, but it never seemed to get in the way of ‘normal’. Eventually I landed my dream job, found the woman I would marry, and set off down the mythical road to the American Dream.

    Life progressed quickly, and with the stresses of a new spouse, a new job, and soon a new child, porn once again was there to fill my growing void of satisfaction. With a vengeance my addiction returned. I viewed porn at home, at work, and really any moment I could steal time away in front of my laptop. If I had the chance I would binge and edge for hours in one sitting, and this habit only worsened with the purchase of my first smart phone. I lived this way for close to a decade.

    Within the last few years my addiction deepened further with frequent instances when I would stay up all night viewing porn. So much time looking at a screen eventually led to me developing dry eye disease, I found myself swimming in a fog of constant fatigue, and the repetitive motion of masturbation manifested lasting damage to my shoulder joint. My sex life with my wife flagged, and I became unable to orgasm without envisioning porn. Not long after, erectile dysfunction became a regular occurrence until sex was almost an impossibility. It was at this point that I opened up to my wife about my addiction, and began looking for resources online to quit porn.

    During my many subsequent reboot attempts my performance anxiety spiked dramatically. All I could think about was how emasculated I felt, and how I had a penis that seemed utterly lifeless. Every morning I would wake up and dwell on my lack of morning wood, and dread going to bed at night knowing I would have to find an excuse so my wife wouldn’t try to initiate sex with me. All this stress led me to relapse numerous times back to porn. I would find comfort in the thrill of its familiarity, and relish the sensation of being able to achieve a strong erection again, all the while knowing in the back of my mind I was only making things worse.

    Eventually I managed to maintain a reboot long enough to start experiencing the benefits of being porn-free. In the early months of 2022 I had my first real breakthrough, and I seemed to find my footing. I was thirty-plus days porn-free at the time, my performance anxiety was vanishing, and my sex life with my wife was the best it had been in more than a year. I got comfortable, and quickly took my newfound success for granted. I let porn sneak back into my life because I had it under control—or so I told myself. I regressed on all the little things that had helped me succeed in that reboot, and my spiral back to my old status quo was alarming. All the pain and doubt in my marriage, performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, and chronic physical fatigue flooded back seemingly overnight.

    It was from this latest period of relapse that I built my current success. I took stock of my situation, and set out to take a holistic approach to my recovery. It was with this approach that I built upon my past achievements, and found the techniques and philosophies that have led me to where I am today.

    Square One to Infinity: The Guide

    Listed here are the core tenets that allowed me to find the most productive recovery path I’ve ever experienced. As everyone’s circumstances will be unique, not everything listed here will pertain to everyone. However, even though I’m speaking only from my personal experience, I feel strongly that anyone struggling with porn addiction can gain positive insight into their own recovery from this list.

    This ceaseless journey is about self-improvement, and manifesting the best version of yourself in every moment. To achieve something you’ve never had, you must do things you’ve never done. Be prepared to push that boulder up life’s hill, enjoy the journey, and earn the peaceful rest of a life-well-lived at the end of it all.

    [ 1 ] Set Your Focus
    Instead of starting your journey with the mindset of “I’m quitting porn”, think of this process as “I’m starting the journey to be my most epic self”. Don’t dwell on the lack of porn in your life, how hard the reboot is going to be, or how you have to reach a magical day milestone in your sobriety. Those thoughts should be at the back of your mind. What you should be focusing on is setting up what the author James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, calls a “system” of self improvement. Clear states that setting goals are not what allow us to achieve the positive habits we desire, but the systems we put in place to create those positive habits in the first place. I couldn’t agree more, and it was this idea that was singular in helping me to get to where I am today.

    [ 2 ] Delete All Social Media
    Every. Single. One. Seriously, get rid of them. Even YouTube—you can research essentials from targeted online searches, or from reading books. Limiting your access to the numerous triggers on social media is the single most important step, beyond your initial devotion to recovery, that you can make.

    [ 3 ] Limit Screen Time
    To dovetail off of the above, limit as much time as you can on screened devices, especially those with an internet connection. Put up speed-bumps in your smart phone to track and limit time on apps, and viewing the screen in general. Install parental blocks on internet browsers. Stop playing video games, particularly online ones. Video games can be an open-ended time vacuum, and are often filled with sexual triggers.

    [ 4 ] Get Active
    Research and set up a system to achieve an above-average level of fitness. Wether it’s running, lifting, Crossfit, swimming, martial arts, yoga, etc., find a genre of physical activity that you enjoy and that you can take part in regularly. You want your physical journey to have measurable milestones, and you should spend time creating a plan to reach these milestones. Most importantly though, start. Get off the couch and do something physical—don’t wait for inspiration for the ‘perfect’ routine for you. Discovery will be apart of that journey.

    [ 5 ] Create Positive Intimacy
    If you have a significant other, help your brain rewire by creating intimate moments with them. I know that this can go against the mantra of ‘hard mode’ or ‘monk mode’ in the NoFap community, but I would argue that this is an integral step in recovery if you’re in a relationship. If you’re struggling with performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction like I was, focus on non-sexual intimacy. Hold your partner’s hand, give them a back massage, make them tea, compliment their hair, etc. The point is to reconnect with the love languages that create positive, natural, sexual desire.

    When sex with your partner is a possibility in your journey, create novelty to change your routine and reinvigorate your sex life. From my own experience, I gained a lot of confidence back after having sex when my wife and I traveled together, or from other more spontaneous situations outside of our bedroom. Discover making out again at a time when you know sex isn’t plausible, and focus on the simple enjoyment of those shared moments instead of the pressure of performing for sex.

    If you don’t have a significant other, strengthen platonic intimacy with friends and family. Spend quality time with those you care about, and give of yourself when you can.

    [ 6 ] Get Out Of Your Head
    The focus of this journey is setting up a system of self improvement, not quitting PMO. Living without porn is a byproduct of this lifestyle, not an end-state. I found in my earlier reboots that I put a lot of my attention into tracking my progress. I journaled a lot, including on this site. I tracked my days without porn on a habit tracker, and even marked dates when I would wake up with morning wood. Don’t do this. When you’re constantly thinking about quitting porn, you find yourself being hyperaware of how you feel without it—and often times, especially in the beginning, you feel like shit. Keep your focus on self improvement, and creating your system for that journey. Mark the date you decided to quit somewhere for later reference, and then put it out of your mind.

    [ 7 ] Meditate
    Add meditation to your routine. The more you can find time to be in the moment, and not in your own thoughts, the better. It doesn’t have to be complicated: meditation is simply the act of bringing your focus onto your own breathing. The act itself can be hard to do—your mind is really good at wandering—but the practice is where the benefits lie.

    [ 8 ] Learn
    Read, listen to educational podcasts, take classes, attend lectures. Weave a consistent flow of gaining knowledge into your system. Remember that you’re on a journey of self-improvement, and as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Further, books are a great way to fill downtime in your day when moments of temptation for relapse would otherwise invade.

    Resource List

    Here I’ve placed some of the educational resources I found to be most helpful and inspiring during my journey.

    [ Book ] Atomic Habits by James Clear
    [ Book ] Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
    [ Book ] Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
    [ Book ] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
    [ Podcast ] The Art of Manliness Podcast
    [ Podcast ] Jocko Podcast
    [ Documentary ] Free Solo
     
  2. JohnCollins0

    JohnCollins0 Fapstronaut

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    OMG. What a superb post. Thank you. You have just solidified for me what I have been doing recently. This is jaw droppingly good.

    I was on this forum a couple of years ago as BigDaawg (I long ago forgot my password and thre email address I used so am now John Collins!) I recognised my problem and made progress with reasonable streaks but found that I was trying to quit porn rather than trying to be the best version of me that I can be. . The very act of journaling kept porn in my mind and I relapsed. I was far better than I was - consumed much less porn, wasted far less time at the computer, but it was still about quitting porn rather than that being a by-product of simply being a better me.

    This is the key for me

    KnightErrant you have really insired me today to carry on - not to not watch porn, but to lift weights, to spend time with my family, to maintain my good diet, to finish a pirece of work - to carry on being a better me and to strive to be even better still. Thank you brother
     
    crunchyblack and KnightErrant21 like this.
  3. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    This is exactly why I took the time to write this post. Wisdom is exponential when we share it, and this is precisely what I hoped to achieve. Your experience with this post is truly humbling, and your words are no less inspiring to me. Best regards on your journey, brother. I hope one day in the future to hear of your success as you continue to blaze your own path as a high-value man.
     
    crunchyblack likes this.
  4. OLLIE_100

    OLLIE_100 Fapstronaut

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    Hi your journey sounds like an emotional one from start to finish but I am happy for you that you are in a much better place now in life, I am just wondering did your shoulder and your eye problems heal from going on to Nofap and self improvement as I am going through a similar situation right now aswell.
     
    crunchyblack and KnightErrant21 like this.

  5. 10000% THIS is what has helped with gaining momentum in the recovery journey.
    Not merely avoiding the bad, but pursuing the Good. It makes Life come alive.
    It seems like our problem is that we don't have a strong enough vision for what COULD be.

    Your post echoes the idea C.S. Lewis had in The Weight of Glory. Speaking of our desires, he says they are

    "...not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."


    Thank you for your post. I wish you all the best!
     
    crunchyblack and KnightErrant21 like this.
  6. Jackj3

    Jackj3 Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for your post and sharing. We all have different histories, etc,. But I think you capture what for me has been key, not focusing on giving something up, but on living and as you said: 'self-improvement', is the central focus of my life now. It feels like just staying in everymoment with the question: What am I focused on now, what am I doing, and what is the next thing to do to move on in life (Wash the dishes, finish a chapter in a novel, go exercise, think of others and do something for them, to rest, to go to sleep, to read a book rather than look at a screen,etc). I appreciate also your insight into behaviours that are 'wasting time', and how they reinforce and move us in the wrong direction. If you are tired, rest. Take care of ourselves in positive ways. Thanks for the post, insightful and very helpful to read.
     
  7. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    Thanks for reaching out. Yes, fortunately my health issues have improved a lot since I've been "clean" for several months now. My shoulder has shown the most improvement: I've incorporated a lot of rehabilitation exercises into my gym sessions, and that has helped immensely. As for my eyes, they have gotten better, but I struggle still with the consistently dry, red inflammation. I've spoken with my eye doctor, and the prescription of some medicated drops have been slowly aiding the process.
     
    crunchyblack likes this.
  8. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    You've summed up my outlook and journey so well. What a great quote from C.S. Lewis. I hadn't ever seen that until you shared it, so thank you! We have the ability for such grand achievement, yet as individuals we so often yearn for the simple, easy, and vice-strewn path. Happiness and fulfillment await on the other side of struggle, and we must learn to enjoy the pursuit.

    All the best to you in your own journey, brother.
     
  9. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    Thank you for taking the time read my post, and to add your own insight. It's so inspiring to see others walking in the same positive direction in their lives, and sharing that experience. Good luck on your own journey, and congratulations on making it to a month-plus of sobriety.
     
    Jackj3 and crunchyblack like this.
  10. Dexter94

    Dexter94 New Fapstronaut

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    Thank you for the post. While I'm in my mid 40's, your story is similar to mine in the sense that I was exposed video porn at a young age which probably set the stage for what was to come. The exposure didn't seem like an issue until years later, when I was of age to access porn regularly and thus, the addiction began. Again, I thank you for your thoughtful and insightful words. As a new member, this post gives me direction on my new journey of quitting porn....or should I say, creating a plan for a better me.
     
  11. KnightErrant21

    KnightErrant21 Fapstronaut

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It's humbling to interact with others that are finding themselves at a crossroads like I was when I began my own journey to betterment--I'm still very much at the beginning of it all, and I am certainly not bereft of temptation or doubt. It's not an easy road to take, but I promise it will be a fulfilling one the more you travel down it. You can do this, brother.
     
    Bailaella likes this.

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