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170711 Tuesday – First Post

Gah.

I still have a bad connotation when I hear “blog”.

Not sure why.

Probably because I was raised to think any kind of focus on oneself was selfish and bad.

But I’ve wanted to make some major changes with my life, I enjoy introspection and writing, and a kind of daily looking-forward-to-this activity has been helpful to me in the past.

Up ahead: this picture was included in the ‘first post’ template. I want to think it’s stupid and way too obvious for a metaphor…but I kind of like it. Guilty, embarrassed face. So, I’m keeping it.

post

What this blog will be about:

A daily-ish recounting of:

  • my journey out of entertainment addiction and into self-control
  • the experience of getting back into daily exercise
  • inner psychological experience and history in relation to the above
  • thoughts about the world and life (eye roll)

I am not entirely happy with my life. I do have a lot to be grateful for (the fact I have the means to sit down and write a freaking blog shows this), but I am not happy, I think I could be happier, and I think I know how to get there (or at least, begin that journey).

So come along for the ride!

So I want to be happy.

Do you? Don’t we all? What does that even mean? How does it look like for people?

But the world is (feels?) pretty shit right now. Or…there’s this kind of impending doom. The climate is heating up faster than expected. Everyone hates each other. Nuclear apocalypse could happen at any moment. The rich get richer. Yada yada yada.

Sure, there’s a lot of good going on…but for me, the long-term trajectory, at least from an ecological and economic standpoint, seems pretty scary.

Gah so many thoughts.

Where to start?

So…I want to be happy, but my happiness is hindered by my anxiety about the world situation. So…part of my life (part of this blog) will also be about how I am trying to ‘get involved’, and what ‘getting involved’ means to me. Because, even though I’m just a spec, and probably won’t cause any change (and everything is hopeless, blah blah blah), I feel like, for my own self, I’ll be able to rest easier feeling like I have a small understanding of the world situation (instead of being continuously shocked every time I come out of my hole of entertainment addiction, look at the national, state, and local news, feel immense guilt I haven’t been doing anything about it, or feel a kind of despair that things will never change).

SO.

To get to happiness, I have to -> START A BLOG -> stop my addiction, and that -> gives me more time while feeling more self-control and better about myself -> enables me to get more involved -> the world is (or isn’t) saved as a result.

Cha-ching. Yay!

The daily action of writing, of anticipating who might be reading, of anticipating how this transformation will look, of keeping myself accountable because I just spent $35.88 and don’t want that to go to waste – yes, that is why I’m starting a blog.

Will a blog help, hinder, or no-effect an addiction? If I ever stop writing, you’ll have your answer.

I don’t want to stop, though. I really, really would like to change my whole sense of myself. And that’s going to take a lot. It’s going to take…

One moment by moment.

Ha. ha. ha. (“Roll credits!” as the YouTube channel CinemaSins would say).

So that’s it. That’s why I’m here. I can see the change. You can see the change.

We all probably die via ecological/society meltdown anyway.

But the hope (gotta have hope!) is inner and outer success.

The hope is I change. And personal change will happen if I touch on certain things (at least that’s my belief, my hope). I try to be a realist, but I can’t seem to get rid of certain elements of romantic, utopian vision and hope for myself and the world.

At the heart of this (‘this’ being the key to success), I think, is… hmmm…

  • the successful creation of new habitual actions that circumvent and/or positively respond to triggers / trigger behavior
  • the ability to stay present with painful emotions and physiological symptoms as a result of the processing of those emotions (and withdrawal symptoms)

So, this is my first post to get my bearings for this blog. The next will be Day 1.

So it is.

All I want for

Writing for ½ an hour. I can do that.

Who wants to read the ramblings of a stranger?

Ok, maybe I do. Depending on what they’re talking about.

Loneliness. Isolation. Individualism. Collectivism. Our current dystopian world. Hope?

The body.

Existentialism.

Entertainment Addiction.

Attention Disorder.

What am I?

What are we?

Codes of DNA encased in a flesh shell. All that DNA wants to do is survive and replicate.

Is that all we are?

I am a recovering theist atheist. So for those of you hoping to find solidarity in faith or the beyond will not find it here.

You will find someone who struggles with:

loneliness and isolation

being overwhelmed by politics, wanting to do something, thinking if we got together things would change, feeling like it’s all hopeless

trying to adapt with a mind brought up to think in black and white, positivity, afterlife, everything has a reason that clashes with how things really are

still thinks there’s hope and it’s worth fighting for

Existentialism feels more real to me every day.

But E is nothing more than socially programmed humans who have a surplus of time living isolated, individualistic lives:

What do I do with my free time?

The culture of individualism is a culture of isolation / living alone – which leads to stress – which leads to addictions of all kinds – which leads to more isolation and feelings of powerlessness – and this cycle is how we’re pushed more and more out of power / how more and more voting rights are demolished.

One merger after another. We’re definitely heading towards the BnL Wall-E future. Maybe we’re in it already.

How do we escape?

Is it through intentional communities and cohousing? Is that the crux of all this? Shifting the culture of individualism aka isolationism to ‘cohousing-ism’?

The very thought of sharing my personal space with others makes me want to crawl into a hole.

“I’d go crazy” I think.

But I’m going crazy now.

That’s why I’m sitting on the floor of a darkened room with the glow of a computer screen as the only form of illumination. This urge to EXPRESS…this urge to express ME… to cry out…. am I… REALLY alone as I feel?

Seeing words materialize on a blank white canvass feels…comforting. So the very act of typing feels nice. I’m able to shape and create SOMETHING.

So why publish it then?

I am lonely and so are you.

I…. want it to stop and so do you.

I think.

The world as it could be. The world as it could be.

I was born into an environment that shaped me into an idealist.

Phenomenon after phenomenon.

Is there ‘a god’. Are we here for a conscious purpose?

While I ask these questions, I could be helping someone fleeing a country or someone who is starving. But I have the privilege of existentiality. The horror of the mind and the modern age of surplus time and isolation.

Existentiality is beautiful, but not at the price of inaction.

I know I am grossly misusing the term in a strict, academic philosophical sense.

“Existence precedes essence”

But as I lay on my death bed in 5, 10, 20, 50 years from now – at least I did SOMETHING.

I felt lonely. I moved my fingers. I pushed a button. And other people can see it. Hey, I feel that way, too.

Pointless. Hopeful. Maybe it’s a way out of my crippling escapist behaviors. It’s definitely an EB in itself. But at least it’s better time spent then watching another half hour of pornography or the next show on Netflix. It’s better than just being in a reverie of thought-mulling, a trance of rumination, where thirty minutes has passed and I’ve just been sitting on my bed, half aware of what I’m thinking and half not.

I struggle with this process of sticking my neck out. Of now being open to criticism.

You’re a fucking dumbass.

You’re a shitty writer.

Go kill yourself.

How EMBARRASSING. I feel so goddamn embarrassed for you, you fucking loser. You fucking piece of shit loser. Jesus fucking Christ you are a lost cause. You’ve wasted your life and now this? And now this?

Why in the absolute fuck are you putting yourself through more pain?

The pain of exposure.

The shifting judging eyes.

The flying thoughts of judgment like thousands of tiny daggers. The frown. The squint. The click. The turn. The forgetting.

Am I just attention crazed?

Yes. Yes I am. I am in desperate need of attention and that’s why I’m writing and posting on the internet because I have no friends.

(Well, I do have friends, but… I crave community. I crave community. And I crave a life worth living. I crave meaningful work. I crave doing something instead of caving into paralysis in the face of a dystopian society.) Boy, we’ve been fucking dystopian for a LONG ass time. Where the fuck have you been?

Grandpa, what did you do with your life?

Well imaginary grandchild, not fucking much. I did however, once or twice, be in just the right mood to right an existential, rambling blog post.

What I want: a variety of intentional communities (rural to urban) that shifts culture from individualism and isolation and addiction to healthy minded, diverse, and connected individuals who are aware of and participate in the political process, decentralizing power and resources, to create a stable, sustainable union with the planet and each other.

I want to love myself and have the courage to say what I want in front of others, and face the fear of criticism and backlash. I want to believe in myself. I want to believe in the goodness of humanity. I want to believe in hope and give hope a try.

That’s all I want.

An evening of coping with anxiety, despair, and depression

Phase 1 – Denial. Rushing around. Doing things. Doing your job. Going on a run.

Phase 2 – Shit hits the fan with no escape. God no this is real. This is happening. No, no, no, no. Not this. A thousand nos. Sitting on your floor with racing thoughts. Could I turn to this person? This person? That person? Him? Her? Them? No…no…no…no. Alone. I am alone and I … this is all fucked up. I’m fucked up.

Phase 3 – Brief wonder about what my preferred method would be.

Phase 4 – In the shitstorm of despair that is my mind, there are flashes of the ideal group of friends. Flashes of the ideal mentor. Flashes of being loved by my own self. A smile. A denial. At first I feel completely disconnected to it. I am just observing, pushing away, and then seeing the flash again.

Phase 5 – Flashes / Imagining of the ideal become longer. Maybe there are glimmers of feeling in the body. This is the turning point. The internal screams become softer.

Phase 6 – Feel my body again. Feel my aloneness. But I am surviving. Despite my situation, my body doesn’t care – it wants food. I am alone, but I can take care of myself. [Pause for a moment to see my privileges – I have shelter, food, access to a shower, able-bodied. The crises are all internal. No less agonizing, but it could be much worse.]. Get up and take a shower.

Phase 7 – Amidst fits of crying, ups and downs, then sitting on the floor of the bathtub as water spills over me, looking up at the spout, feeling the moment. The warmth. The water. My body. A breath. All these sensations. I am alone, but I am not dead, and I am in company with sensation and breath.

Phase 8 – New ideas. Introspection. A kind of calm. The anxiety, fear, and pain are still there, but they are now shadows. I see the reflection of their eyes, and maybe a silhouette or two, as they wait in the darkness at the edge of the light of the fire. What is the fire? Is it hope?

Do animals have hope? Is that how they fight against depression? Are animals existential? Rhetorical questions?

A message to anyone reading this struggling with despair / loneliness: I am sorry. I am so sorry. It fucking sucks. It feels like the worst thing in the world. I wish I could take your pain away. Things that have / are helping me:

  • Therapy (this develops the ability to comfort, see, accept, and understand yourself when you are alone. I think there comes a time when even your therapist is not able to give you the kind of seeing/understanding you need. But when you have developed critical introspection tools, there is an ability to stand beside yourself, even in really dark times.
  • Exercise (I think a lot of anxiety is partly the built-up unused and excess energy of the body due to a sedentary lifestyle. There’s also a lot of science to back up the health / mental health benefits of exercise
  • Music, shower, writing, breathing, hugging yourself – anything that creates a kind of positing stimulation to begin to anchor you to the moment
  • Imagination: visualization of the ideal of whatever you need being there right with you. Make sure it’s a need and not just a craving / want. What do you desperately need right now? What would it feel like to have that right now? Feel it.
  • Recommended music:
    • Against the Sky -Harold Budd & Brian Eno
    • Even if You’re Never Awake -Stars of the Lid

Honesty.

Courage.

Good luck friend.

Days 4-7 Recap / 170718 Tuesday – Day 8

Brief, several day recap. I begin to develop a kind of daily checklist.

Sometimes I find it difficult to concentrate and remember: ok, what is this blog about again? I want it to be so many things.

I find that, occasionally (maybe even often) writing in this stream-of-conscious way tends to stir up my inner anxiety/despair/self-criticism. Why is that?

I want this to be some kind of record (for science??) about documenting the attempt of a 30-something white male to end an addiction to pornography, video entertainment, procrastination, excuses, avoidance, and a child/follower bear-no-responsibility mind-set over the course of a year.

But, a key step of recovery, I think, is replacing those activities with something that’s positive and something that develops and manifests the core of who I am, so wouldn’t this blog also need to include what I am doing, and not just what I have avoided doing?

Because, I’d like to think I am not just my addiction, even though whenever I think about who I am, that’s often what I think about.

We are a mix of desirable and undesirable qualities, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, if I could press a button and be perfect, I’m not sure what would stop me from pressing it. But what does that even mean, and is it even categorically possibly? What is ‘perfection’? And if I never made mistakes, I would lose something quintessential to myself. Would I even be able to recognize myself? Would I actually be conscious? Or just some kind of automaton? Is a fundamental part about being human the process of holding space for your imperfection and fallibility? The understanding that at this very moment, because of my lack of knowledge of the future and all options, I am on course to my next mistake, my next thousand mistakes, and eventually, my death.

I think I am going to develop a kind of checklist. I’m not sure if I will complete it daily, or if I will do a kind of review at the end of each week.

Work in progress:

CHECKLIST

  • Pornography? Yes, 1x, yesterday (Sun)
  • Video games? No
  • YouTube? Yes, in the presence of my partner.
  • Unstructured news browsing? Yes
  • Unstructured general browsing? Yes
  • TV/Movies? Yes, but with another human being
  • Maintaining clean apt? No
  • Sleep for at least 7 hour? No
  • Career/Passion work?
  • Misc/daily chore/task work?
  • Eating well?
  • Exercise?
  • Physical affection? (Hugs, cuddling, sex)
  • Feeling the inner parent?
  • Social interaction?
  • Introspection?

Frustrated by/ Needs work:

Grateful for:

I can feel how this blog can become an avoidance mechanism (and it has been that occasionally). I still am figuring out how to establish a balance.

One of my biggest challenges is simply maintaining some sort of basic schedule and plan for the day. 98% of my life has been becoming absorbed by some activity until an external force pulls me out of it.

170714 Friday – Day 4

Even with small success, I remind myself I have a problem, and explore what this blog is about. A stream-of-conscious prompt at the end.

Sleep: <7 hours

I am feeling a classic pattern of:

“Whoa! I’m free! Psh, I’m not an addict, I’m fine! This is easy. Wow, I wonder what it must be like to not have control.”

When can I say, “I’m no longer an addict”? Definitely not after 3 days.

And is a ‘true addict’ only someone who cannot recover unless they move / are moved into some kind of controlled living environment where they are monitored constantly?

Regardless, I have a problem. A problem that, while I hasn’t wrecked total havoc on my life, it has ‘delayed’ it (at least I feel like my life’s been delayed), and has made day-to-day living a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t like thinking ‘I have a problem’. I don’t want to think there’s nothing wrong with me.

But I’m three years behind in taxes. I don’t have healthcare. I’ve deeply struggled with relationships. Having crippling anxiety. Etc, etc. Sure, some of that is structural issues with society itself (isn’t everything?), but I have to believe I’d be a little farther along if I hadn’t chosen to play at least 8-15 hours of video games every weekend or losing 1-2 hours of sleep to watch pornography almost every night for years and years. Sure, there were periods when I didn’t touch video games. There were times – not usually more than a week – where I was responsible. But these have been far and few between.

The two edge sword of this blog process for me is that, while I am processing my feelings, and while I feeling a greater sense of feeling accountable to myself, and to the people who read this, I am feeling the nagging feeling that I may begin to use writing as a way to escape my daily responsibilities. And I suddenly just realized that I am on unstructured time right now.

Ok, just created a small schedule.

As I was saying, that this process can do the opposite effect of being present with myself and with my surroundings, and instead, delve into what ifs and stir up latent anxiety.

I pause.

And hear

the silence

of where I am.

I play ‘Dark Beyond the Blue’ by Hammock on repeat.

Silence is fresh. Silence is sharp.

And it’s not that there is no sound. I hear cars. I hear others talking. I see movement. But it is all movement that is happening now. Not the rushed cavorting about that happens with avatars and distorted time frames of movies and shows.

An unbroken stream of time, real-time.

I notice I am breathing.

This person comes. That person leaves.

The clouds are moving. Can I see them move?

 

What is the end goal of all of this?

This is a blog not just about reporting back on withdrawal symptoms and how bad pornography and entertainment addiction is.

This must include the journey of facing all the feelings I am trying to get away from. Of letting Shame and Self-Hate speak, and then reminding it of my other parts. Of seeing how anxiety makes my skin crawl as though I’m covered by thousands of ants.

And it must include the journey of fostering the inner parent, which, I believe is the most important part of all.

Does all life derive from some kind of deep sense or hope of importance, attention, and love?

My inner parent doesn’t know all. But they are calm.

S(HE feels some fear and confusion too. But she is confident in my being. That, she does not second guess.

I…but…here. ah, shh, it’s ok. just take a breath, in, in, and hold, and let out. relax the shoulders. I mess up so much. I mess up so much. I mess up so much. why… why am i….looks down, ashamed. hey, hey, look at me. what do you think I think. tears. a small smile. but… so troubled. yes…but not just troubled, right? no, true. and breathe…feel it in your belly…push it out if you need to….feel it in your chest…relax that jaw, and those cheeks. and now the water works. I am an infant crying. I want to be held. but no one is there. it’s dark? I curl my fists. it’s hard to breathe. I writhe. all muscles contract. am I on a table? want to scream.

It’s about living well in the time that we have. And I have some time today. Small steps. Small moves. I bring the inner wounded along.

We are all walking wounded, as my therapist used to say. Does knowing that it make me feel better? Is it actually true?

How do we all become unwounded?

Day 3 Recap

A few moments of choosing to sit with, observe, and breathe with my emotions, rather than compulsively going to my phone.

Pornography, video games, or Movie/TV platforms: None.

Exercise: Swimming

Physical contact/affection: Some. Not as much as I’d hope.

Yesterday was a little weird. Began to feel some withdrawal symptoms. Hadn’t gotten enough sleep. One of my coworkers began talking about a game that I had been playing last before beginning this attempt, and that wasn’t helpful. I wanted to say, “You know, I really don’t want to talk about this.” But instead, I just leaned into it. Why? Maybe because I wanted to seem courteous or friendly. He’s a nice guy.

When I got home, I had some pretty significant urges. The game station was just sitting there, available.

I took a nap.

But when I woke up, I began unstructured, impulsive browsing of Facebook, articles, and the like. It was all interesting, and there were some informative articles. But it was unstructured. It wasn’t the priority. And I felt like I had to keep going, like I couldn’t just stop.

Some good things:

  • Seeing the ‘likes’ that are starting to come in for posts – that’s very heartening – thank you
  • prepared to leave for somewhere in advance (instead of waiting until the last moment, then scrambling, then feeling pressure to drive faster)
  • Exercised

Weird things:

  • A man, completely naked, approached me aggressively in the locker room trying to talk with me and got angry when I said I just wanted to change and wished him a good workout. It made me so uncomfortable I left and reported it to the front desk. Apparently he’s done this once before and has some social developmental issues, which I understand, but I was a little frustrated when it seemed like all the front desk people were going to do was apologize to me for my experience. This was the first time something like this has happened to me, so I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask the front desk people, “So…is there any kind of follow up to this? Are you going to approach him and talk to him about how doing XYZ is inappropriate?” He didn’t touch me, and I did go back in and change, but he definitely slammed something in the bathroom. But…I feel like something worse could have happened and I walked away feeling like the deeper issue wasn’t resolved. I think our culture just extremely ill-equipped on how to have difficult, awkward, but civil, respectful, productive, healing conversations, with a variety of people.
  • My partner and I fought last night. Among a few other things, they got their upper wisdom teeth removed the day before and couldn’t eat much of anything more than yogurt consistency, and I had made a salad for dinner, and they got frustrated at me for eating in front of them. They were pretty frustrated about some other issues, so I was trying to be understanding about the salad thing, and some of the other things they said, but it was difficult. I am still learning how to express ‘productive/respectful anger’, and not ‘lash-back anger’, or ‘get even anger’. Nonviolent Communication is a big thing for me.

 

Was this a successful day? Partially. Still need work towards structured time.

170713 Thursday – Day 3

Partner is moving (will break up). I calm myself down after having racing thoughts.

5.5-6 hours of sleep.

Am I writing for people? Am I writing for myself?

What is happening?

(I am in one of my spiraling inner panic / anxiety / self-doubt episodes right now).

My partner is moving several states away soon, and at first I thought maybe I’d move out there with them, but there’s a new opportunity for me here, and as a result, we will probably break up.

Feeling a whole mix of emotions.

Calm.

Deep breath.

Calm.

7:41 AM – There’s this kind fascinated horror that happens – there’s the ‘panicker’:

“But what about this?! And what about that?! And this?!” They’re running around, flopping down in despair. Just kind of crazy, and all the while, there’s this other part, the observer, that can only watch:

“Uhhhhhh” And the observer is kind of panicking, too: “Dunno what to do! Dunno what to do! D…”

But deep breaths.

One thing at a time. One

thing

at

a

time.

 

Calm. Deep breaths.

 

I feel the chaos.

 

And I can also feel the calming effect of deep breaths.

Both can be true.

 

This blog keeps me accountable.

This blog helps keep me accountable.

(See how I like to externalize responsibility?)

 

Now I feel like crying.

 

Relax the shoulders.

 

So…

so much tension…carried in there.

Relax the back the arms.

Hard to open the chest while typing.

But I want to relax that too.

Always crying.

Always in pain.

But always in breath, too.

Gah that was melodramatic.

Roll credits. (Self-hate)

So…

Breaths.

Breaths.

I don’t feel…Ok, a part of me doesn’t feel like this breakup will be good for me. It’s established so much stability in my life. It’s brought me a lot of joy. Have learned tons about myself and how to navigate awkward, difficult parts with someone very close to you.

“They fill me with so much joy” (i.e. I won’t have that joy when they’re gone).

“When I see them, when I am with them, I feel joy.” (This takes more agency).

What is the self? (Rising panic, and beginning philosophical ramble: where is the human race headed? does my life mean anything? what would it take to get to a society living in harmony with itself and the rest of the biosphere? nothing I do matters. it’s all hopeless. Is there an afterlife? What difference would it make?)

All of this is a way to keep myself stimulated. It’s distracting. It causes more anxiety.

What’s helpful right now?

Making a schedule for the day:

Just made my list. It’s just one thing at a time.

Embodying the parent.

Fostering the parent self.

The parent self is calm. It doesn’t necessarily know what to do, but it knows that being confidently, gently calm with deep breaths, and thinking about basic next steps just for today, are important.

Foster the parent self.

So, a lot of this is very stream-of-conscious, if you couldn’t tell already. 8:08am Lolz

Day 2 Recap

Fine.

No exercise.

Slept about 6ish hours? Don’t get enough sleep.

Really busy with stuff, so not lots of opportunity to feel urges.

Hmm…well, I spent the night at my partner’s apt last night and I did impulsively look at some news articles.

Is acting on impulse always bad? (Would like to get away from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ language – is acting on impulse always harmful?)

But it was just to pass the time.

They had to work on some stuff, and I didn’t have much of a plan.

Why am I so hard on myself?

Because it’s the little things…little reminders that I feel out of control.

Right, but, this kind of self-shaming (that I feel now) isn’t going to help me. And…now I’m shaming the shaming.

Hard to pin down what a ‘successful’ day is, but there are varying degrees.

In comparison to my worst days? It was pretty fantastic.