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.

170712 Wednesday – Day 2

Another sum of what this blog is, and I reveal another part of my entertainment addiction or compulsion

Gah so many thoughts!

Still formulating how I want to present what this blog is about. Right now:

  • Entertainment Addiction and Recovery, which includes healing inner wounds, inner psychology, family history and development, and so on
  • Thoughts on what could help the world (in avoiding environmental / social / nuclear catastrophe (maybe it’s a little too late for that 😦 ))
  • General thoughts

Feeling the need to clarify that this blog is not about drug addiction (although some would argue that the chemicals released by the brain when viewing video entertainment is a kind of addiction).

Also wondering about the criticism this blog may attract:

  • “Your pain/experience is less than a true drug addicts pain, so you don’t have much right writing about this.” Akin to a rich white kid complaining that he didn’t get the car he wanted from his parents.

Is that true? Should I not write about my experience because it may not be as bad as someone else’s?

And why am I worrying about potential criticism?

I am a people-pleaser, and I’ve struggled with that most of my life. I often believe I am the wrong one whenever a conflict arises (and if I do try to fight my point, I feel terribly guilty afterwards). I believe this people-pleasing, self-effacing tendency developed out my parents constantly making me feel selfish for having needs or expressing strong emotions, for my fear of abandonment, and for my desire to have a mentor/rescuer/parent-I-never-had. So when I make myself extremely agreeable, I cast the widest net for potential parents.

As I was at work this morning, I was feeling embarrassed by how much I’ve already shared in this blog, and that’s another criticism I’m wondering about:

“Wow, this guy is embarrassing himself. This is way too melodramatic. This is over-sharing. He just wants attention.” (Which then I take “his pain isn’t actually something important to talk about).

Again, I feel ashamed about talking about myself, my feelings, my experience. My experience doesn’t feel valid. And this gets into part of the reason as to why I’ve decided to start a blog:

MY FEELINGS ARE REAL

MY FEELINGS ARE VALID

MY EXPERIENCE IS VALID

THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME HAPPENED TO ME

THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME SHOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED TO ME

NO ONE DESERVES THIS PAIN

I struggle with a deep sense that my existence is not valid or important. It’s why I’ve struggled with feelings of suicide in the past. I have felt deeply unseen by many, if not most, of the adults that were supposed to aid in my development. I’ve felt used, manipulated, overlooked, glossed over, avoided, abandoned, forgotten.

And now I’m filled with anger and rage at all those who I feel hurt me. The people who were supposed to protect me. The shitty jobs they did. The thousands of hours and days, the years that have been wasted. Where I could be. The shitty place I am now.

Ok. Ok, ok. This is not going to be a blog that’s solely focused about bashing and venting, and never about solutions, and moving to a state where I am trying to take responsibility for my actions.

BUT

Again, for me, my particular experience was that showing anger and frustration is BAD. You’re SELFISH if you make ME feel bad.

But no I don’t want to be selfish! I’m good…right? I think? So felt/thought the child.

I think a deep part of healing is going toward the pain. Part of healing IS venting. If we stay there, that’s a problem. But to gloss over it just makes it fester. We HAVE to vent. Venting is tricky because…sometimes when I keep nudging myself to vent, to be more and more honest about EVERYTHING I am feeling, I can go to dark and disturbing places. But the further I go, I always come to a place where I don’t actually wish for all the things that repressed self expressed. That self wants justice, clarity, accountability. But overall, my highest self wants healing for everyone, and for everything. And if there’s anything that is more apparent in this world, violence breeds violence. Hate breeds hate.

But there is – and MUST be – a place (a safe place) for venting, expressing, and showing the deep pain we have been bottling up all these years. (I have to be careful about using ‘we’ ‘us’ and ‘our’ language because then it begins to sound preachy. I will go back to speaking from my experience.

When I express this anger, this pain, there is another part, perhaps a part of the pain, that says, “Yes! AH, I FINALLY feel like I’m able to be SEEN. To be expressed! To feel VALID.”

See, I think what’s happening is this constant denial inside as a way to cope. I was shut down so many times that I began to deny that my pain existed. But the problem with that is it’s crazy-making. There’s a deep clash inside where the pain is obviously there, but there’s another part that is keeping it all locked up – that desperate, fearful, survive, abandonment-by-others-equals-death part feels that my own anger and pain is a threat. And rather than acknowledging it’s real, it’s easier and takes less energy – in that moment – to deny it’s existence. But that part that feels that certain way that elicits anger, rage, resentment only feels more of it. It feels bewildered. It feels crazy. And underneath all of this is a deep sadness and confusion.

So many layers.

So much I want to write about.

And, I think I’ve decided to just take the plunge and be honest about something else. (Squirm away – gah no don’t embarrass yourself further! What if this destroys my credibility or respect in the future??) Eh. We’re probably all fucked anyway. And I’m eventually going to die and I won’t give a shit about my reputation. If some alien race, or future iteration of humanity reboots the internet and finds this and giggles away to their friends, so be it!

Pornography!

I have also been addicted to pornography.

“Stop using the word ‘addicted’!” I hear someone saying. “If you’re not being being debilitated by it, then it’s not an addiction”.

Well…what do you call something you feel unable to control yourself against? That you use day after day? That occasionally interrupts sleep, definitely destroyed a part of my social life, etc, etc?

I am not a sex or sexuality basher. I am sex positive. Sex is great. Artistic representations of sex and the body is fine and welcomed.

But, I think there’s a problem when I’m unable to control my impulses.

So, this blog will also be documenting my attempt to come out of an addiction – a compulsion? – for pornography.

SO EMBARRASSING.

What if people find out about this and…and…this gets all over the news? Then, anytime I show my face, people will be like:

“Oh…oh HE’s the PORN guy.” Chuckle chuckle chuckle. What a fucking jerk-off. What a sad, pathetic loser. Haha. Let’s all laugh at the guy who’s looked at pornography.

A part of me is pleading, “Please, I beg of you – don’t share this. Why?? Everyone does it. It’s ok. Do we REALLY need to talk about it?”

If I’m starting a blog about ENTERTAINMENT ADDICTION…and it’s about myself experience…and I DON’T talk about pornography (while specifically mentioning all the other stuff…then…?

Whelp. This is me going toward my pain. Of sitting with my pain. (But you’re creating even MORE pain for yourself!!) But here are some of why I think this is pretty essential:

a) It’s kind of exhilarating to admit this big squeamish embarrassing secret (You TOUCH yourself! AND NOW EVERYONE KNOWS OMGGGAHHHHHHHHH)

b) I am deep unhappy because I keep choosing to use my free time to drown out my inner anxiety with video games, TV, movies, YouTube, news scanning, web browsing, and pornography. I hate the self-hate. I hate feeling out of control. I hate the lack of respect I have for myself. I hate the lack of faith in myself. I hate feeling unsafe with myself. Hate feeling like I’m wasting my life. Hate feeling like I have nothing to offer the world. Hate feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing. (Stop using the word ‘hate’ so much!)

c) I choose these things because they drown out – temporarily – all the voices above. I have felt that I am unable to face and deal with those voices. That letting them speak would be a greater threat than masking them. But I am trying to tell my irrational self that in the long run, this survival-mechanism is cause me more more pain. It’s doing exactly the opposite of what I’m hoping it will do. And so

d) the way out is becoming comfortable with that pain, and responding to it – i.e., saying to that self-hateful part, “Actually, I don’t hate everything about my life. I don’t hate everything about me. There are some good things.”

So, this blog is one of the tools I am using to be with that pain. To parent-myself. To soothe it. To let it out. To let it speak its mind. But to remind it, the pain, that there’s also hope. That, along with it, there could also be some other things.

You’ll see that I will continually be trying to validate to myself the writing of this blog.

That’s all for now!

Oh yeah, and I also realized yesterday that this blog can’t just be: I write until I fuck up, and then abandon it. I write regardless. Healing includes some fuck-ups. Even though I just want to be perfect and have no ‘relapses’, no mistakes, no anything.

Day 1 recap

Fine. No real urges.

When I went to go running at the gym (which I rarely do), no one else was there, and I automatically turned on the TV and saw that ‘Beetlejuice’ was playing on one of the channels. I’ve never seen the movie, and since running on a treadmill can be pretty damn boring, I began arguing with myself why watching TV was ok while doing something like working out.

And maybe it is.

But I decided I just wanted distance from any kind of form of visual entertainment that wasn’t needed for some kind of educational purpose.

Normally I have a tough time getting to sleep early without the use of watching YouTube videos/playing games until I’m exhausted, but I employed a number of different tactics I’ve developed, and that actually worked out pretty well.

Didn’t get to bed quite when I wanted to, but that’s ok.