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Brian

Sometimes ambivalence, sometimes conviction.

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Day 38 journal:

I just returned from working away from home yesterday and MAAAAAAN, I feel proud of some things I did while I was away. The biggest success was in shifting my mindset by pausing throughout my day and expressing gratitude. I set reminders on my phone (using Habit Bull) for every two hours (during daylight hours) to pause and express gratitude. My thoughts were MUCH less negative overall. When expressing gratitude, I took some notes from Stoicism (I've been getting into this philosophy since beginning this detox) and engaged in 'flickering thoughts' of not having the things/people in my life that I love, or remembering that some day I will die and this moment might be my last on earth. I found that my gratitude was simpler (e.g. - appreciating gentle breezes moving tree branches in sunlight) and deeper (really feeling more) as a result. I'm excited to carry this practice onwards.

I also found that I'm most at risk to game when I first return home from work. I work in a very intense fashion away from home for about 48 hours straight, then upon returning home I feel a strong compulsion to detach from life, to tune the fuck out. Gaming did that for me - it allowed me to detach/escape from reality temporarily. I'm proud to say that I rode through that compulsion and still haven't gamed in 38 days. Developing lists of alternative habits/behaviors helped me ride through that intense craving... Also mindfulness meditation continues to strengthen my ability to notice intense emotions, name them, and not give in to them. 

I struggled with wanting to engage in PMO tonight and fortunately my website blockers were in place. I didn't engage. I'm noticing how important physical intimacy and sex is in my life though... I'm married and sometimes my partner and I go a week or a month without being intimate with each other. That's hard. It has currently been a week since we were intimate with each other, and thoughts of PMO trickle in. For those of you who also struggle with PMO, I'd like to hear from you. I feel conflicted because after engaging I feel a sense of release, but it's dangerous because of the high addictive potential when just orgasming for the sake of achieving a feeling. I also feel uncomfortable with what I just wrote (old family stuff) and am open to feedback if this isn't appropriate for this forum.

Thanks for reading! I'll check back in tomorrow.

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Imho this is absolutely fine to share. I think you and your partner could benefit greatly from discussing about the infrequent intimacy, and although it is a hard pill to swallow, a lot of times PMO is what gets in the way. Does your partner know of your struggles in this area? Women often suffer in silence when they know you're watching other women and getting satisfaction from the process, comparing themselves to the stars of those clips and always ending up thinking they're worthless. It can destroy the self esteem and confidence of a person and ruin the sex drive. Take a look at r/loveafterporn for context.

What is stopping you guys from setting some time aside each week to be relaxed and talk and maybe have sex? 

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@fawn_xoxo Thanks for the reply. I am fairly sure that she doesn't know about my struggles with PMO. I have been very secretive about it and have worked to insulate her from it. That's the biggest reason I am considering talking with her about it, as well as intimacy in general: I want to be transparent and not establish a rhythm of being secretive with the person I believe I should be sharing everything with. It's a big violation of my values. I'm really uncomfortable discussing sex and intimacy in general even though it's something I need. So that's one thing that is holding me back - my general discomfort with talking about it with her. Secondly, I mentioned a couple of days ago that we have been recovering from a natural disaster for several months. Things began to settle down at the beginning of December. The stress of that event took a toll on both of us, and intimacy was hard to come by. Video games and PMO were a way that I coped with the the stress of that time, in addition to being in 'survival mode' for several months. Now that we're more settled than we have been, it's time to have conversations with her about a lot of things that we've been putting off just to get by. PMO and intimacy is one of them.

Day 40 journal:

Yesterday was a busy day. 

  • My spouse and I talked about some insights we have been gaining in therapy and the meaning we are making in light of events that have occurred over the last several months. I feel so happy to be connecting with her in a more vulnerable way. Both of us have had to put on a strong face recently, and while we have supported each other when one of us has felt overwhelmed, it hasn't seemed like we have had time to breathe. Now we're breathing again and making sense of what has been happening.
  • I spoke to my bosses boss yesterday about a raise I proposed in October. This one is a mixed bag of feelings for me. I love the work I do with this organization. It is perhaps the most meaningful and impactful work I have ever done. I also haven't received a raise in the 2.5 years I have been working here, despite increasing my capacity and job performance. The counter-offer I was proposed with was significantly less than what I asked for. I learned that my position is 'capped' at a certain rate which doesn't surprise me, but also sucks. However, the company is making efforts to help me create income in other ways which I appreciate. So it's a mixed bag. I could change to a different position with higher financial rewards but higher risk and performance demands. At this point, I am resolving to counter their proposal again and give this one year in order to assess how I feel in my overhauled position and find out if the salary becomes what I need.
  • I went to therapy and talked out a number of issues, including the ones I'm writing about in this post. My therapist described our (my partner and I) situation with the natural disasters beautifully: he likened it to the wind blowing hard, us leaning into it just to move forward, the wind ceasing to blow as hard, and us needing to find our equilibrium again. That's what this period of time since the beginning of December has felt like - trying to find equilibrium again, trying to figure out how to relax again, and also preparing for the next wave of possible stressors. Gaming and PMO were big coping skills for me during this time, and have been coping skills for a long time. They have become 'maladaptive'... meaning that they are no longer adequate for my current situation. 
  • I spent several hours hanging out with my spouse and some friends last night! This was a lot of fun. We had some drinks, ate some food, walked downtown, and were generally silly. 
Thanks for reading! I hope y'all have a blessed day. 
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Sorry to hear you're going through all of this and I'm glad you survived the natural disaster. Pmo has been a struggle for me as well, but I've been successful at cutting down my watch time from 5 times per day to maybe 5 times per week or less. I suggest starting with cutting off the triggers caused by being hungry, angry, thirsty, lonely, and tired. Listen to your body and provide it the nutrients and sustenance it requires. This will also make you less depressed as your body isn't pumping dopamine and serotonin everywhere at crazy rates. 

Next I think you did a good job having fun with your wife and friends. Keep doing things like this where you can get opportunities to do activites with her, but allowing yourself to flirt with her. When you flirt with her and remember your passion and love with her, as well as the safety feeling of her embrace, not the fake safety of porn, then you will start to crave her and want more intimacy. I just suggest you don't try to have sex every time you're stressed because she'll know and that can also be bad. 

There must be a way for you to physically release your frustration naturally like the gym or swimming, walks, hiking, etc. Keep going, I personally think pmo is brutally more difficult to quit than gaming.

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@BooksandTrees Thank you for the support! I'll pay closer attention to HALT (plus thirsty... HALTT??) as it relates to PMO triggers and cravings. Going to the gym regularly has been super helpful in releasing pent-up stress and anxiety while also building confidence. I lapsed on that last weekend and noticed that I felt much more spastic. I'm heading to the gym in an hour and am greatly looking forward to it. 

Day 45 journal:

Holy halfway, Batman!! I feel excited, proud, and a sense of awe thinking about having not gamed in 45 days. Despite this, thoughts about gaming have popped into consciousness more frequently this week. Thoughts like, "Will I ever play again?" are more persistent and are harder to dispel. Just for today. Just for today. I will not play today. I'm fairly certain that my consistent practice of mindfulness meditation is helping when these thoughts come up... I notice the thoughts, label them/name them as thoughts, then shift my awareness to sounds, sensations, or breathing. I think that the detox has also helped to decrease the intensity of these thoughts and associated cravings because I haven't acted on them. 

Peace.

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Day 48 journal:

What a weekend! Some accomplishments, curiosities, and struggles:

  • I went to the gym four days in a row! This is a feat not only because of the intensity of the workouts, but because I can't go to the gym Monday through Wednesday because of my work schedule. My connections to the community really seem to have picked up in the last couple of months and I'm really enjoying seeing people I know consistently. It's like having 20+ accountability-buddies, which is great for consistency. 
  • I had a big 'Aha!' moment in therapy. A little backstory: I went to my first-ever 'vision quest' in November 2017 and came into contact with a primal, beast-like force within myself. It's sort of like The Hulk when Bruce Banner is about to be killed or seriously injured... A kind of power and grit that shifts me into another level of determination and drive when the going gets REALLY tough. I also came into contact with how I have 'caged' myself... Video games were a part of that. The cage basically consists of comfort, security (although a false sense of it), and routine. Letting my internal beast of the cage was a big part of the vision quest. Fast forward to this summer when natural disasters struck. My 'Aha!' moment was that this internal-beast-force granted me with the wherewithal to endure in the face of overwhelming negative events. I put in a lot of physical labor to try to save our home. Blood, sweat, and tears all happened because I was on the front-lines. Then a second wave of disaster happened about a week after the first. Primal screaming happened. There was nothing I could do to stop nature's course. But DAMN IT, I was going to let nature know that I wasn't going to be beaten. The 'Aha!' was that, without really knowing what I was doing, I saved myself from trauma. Bodily movement, tears, sweat, screaming at storms all happened and these were the things that allowed me to move grief, overwhelm, anger, hopelessness through my system. 
  • The next Civ expansion releases next week and I'm having trouble with that. I watched the developer livestream this weekend and I'm tempted to reinstall and reboot. It's amazing how much mental and emotional energy is tied up with the release of an expansion that I won't be playing right away. I'm committed to this 90 day detox. I have given some thought to what I might do after the 90 days is up though... I want to try another 'experiment' where I allow myself to game with limits. I have some ideas as to how I might do this and may post about them in the future. I think I need to know that I can't game, or that it's possible with strict limitations. Gaming definitely got out of control before I started this detox, I'm not denying that. It seems like the purpose of this detox is to reset my brain from the reward system of gaming, to establish healthy habits and hobbies, and do a deep-dive into my values and purpose in life. I'm interested in hearing what y'all think about this.

That's all for now. Catch y'all on Wednesday or Thursday.

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Day 54 journal:

The release of the next Civ expansion has come and gone and I still haven't played. Booyah. 

I evaluated my habit progress yesterday. I have been using 'Habit Bull' to track my habits and found the graphs and hard data really helpful. I scaled up or scaled down some habits depending on how successful I have been. I am now tracking my nutrition and don't think I have been eating enough, especially protein. Connection with my spouse, family, and dog have also been added to my tracker. 

I relapsed with PMO Thursday morning, which I feel disappointed about. I felt EXHAUSTED when I came home from work on Wednesday and the exhaustion lingered throughout Thursday. I think that was the trigger: feeling so mentally and physically run out that I craved some form of pleasure and immediate gratification. I listened to an Art of Manliness podcast on 'Hyperfocus' with an author named Chris Bailey. A major takeaway from that podcast was that our brains are wired to seek pleasure, novelty, and to watch out for threats. I found this helpful because it normalizes what I'm experiencing - instead of feeling ashamed for relapsing into PMO, I can understand that my brain is susceptible to cravings for pleasure and novelty. Having the ability to 'name' something seems to take some of the power away from it.

Peace.

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