Age 58 - Metamorphosis, shame gone
History - Richard Nixon had been president for roughly 6 months, mankind had taken it's first steps on the moon and a neighbor showed me some hard-core porn. I was at the very first days of puberty and the intense stimulation from the sight of these photos left an incredibly deep impression upon me at an extremely vulnerable time. I was experiencing the early stages of desire towards the opposite sex and had been slapped in the face with pictures of copulation. The same neighbor kid that showed me the porn demonstrated masturbation to me and I went home to try it for myself.
It took a little while as I recall, perhaps a week later I had my first ejaculation and first orgasm. It was also the day I became an addict. Immediately . . . immediately, I wanted more. I went nuts with it and spent my time alone masturbating, seeking satisfaction that would never arrive. I was a shy kid in my early teens, in many ways innocent and naive, but I had thoughts of very adult activities running through my mind. I developed fixations with sexual practices that I would never be interested in actually doing. My "normal" was calibrated to the extremes I had seen in those photos.
I didn't have a monkey on my back. Nope, this was a much larger, vicious ape that had overpowered me. The worst part was that there was nowhere to turn for help. I was too ashamed to talk to my father, afraid of disappointing my mother and. at the time. popular culture was saying that masturbation was healthy and normal. In a sense, I was ambushed on both sides with sex theorists telling me to go for it and the gorilla on my back telling me to go for it. I was in my mid 20s before I told a soul about my problem.
Marriage To The Rescue
Except it didn't do the trick. I was married fairly young and was certain that the real thing would be so much better than masturbation that my problem would evaporate. Well it wasn't to be. Real intercourse was much less stimulating than masturbation and by the time I had been married for three months I had returned to habitual masturbation. Once this happened the natural bonding program with my wife was hindered greatly and our years together were not happy ones.
In my opinion, the problem was that I had never found a baseline for my sexual behavior. I was reacting to the gorilla on my back, driven by fear that desires would snag me and pull me off track and that I'd be defenseless in the matter.
I Grew Up . . . Eventually
As my 20s turned into my 30s I experienced a bit of reprieve. I spent less and less time masturbating and, even though I had my own place and no one to answer to, I was staying away from porn for the most part. I would, however, especially at times of despair, find myself seeking porn anywhere I could find it. I would drive to a newsstand and peruse the magazines on the shelves. Porno shops intrigued me but I usually walked back out just minutes after walking in. I don't know if it was the atmosphere, guilt or perhaps the reality that not even in these most uninhibited places could I find anything satisfying. In fact, now that I think about it, a porn shop or strip bar was usually the last stop in a binge. There was nowhere else to go, I had seen everything possible.
So, with the exception of the occasional binge I began to live a porn free life. Masturbation was still part of my life but a much smaller part of it. By the time I got married again it wasn't much of a problem at all and I was PMO free for several months before getting married and stayed PMO free for over two years afterward . . . until I ran into porn in the workplace.
Porn at work led to masturbation and that started a slow decline in my marriage. Still, I avoided porn for the most part but the masturbation gorilla has reestablished its grip on me. I was, in a sense, leading a double life, loving husband in the presence of my wife but when I was alone I had fantasies of all sorts of sexual activities, most have which I would never have actually wanted to do.
The Gorilla's New Friend
Then came the Internet. From my first days with a dial-up service I had realized that the 'net would be a new source for novel porn. I remember searching the word nude almost immediately after getting my first online account. The novelty hook was obvious in retrospect but at the time I didn't know what was happening.
Eventually my second marriage crumbled, leaving me heartbroken and miserable. For the first time in my life I decided not to fight masturbation but to just go with the flow. The first year after my divorce I masturbated constantly, many times per day when I had the time. I rented x-rated videos and watched them at home, at least the sex scenes. I didn't care about anything any more, I was just self-medicating.
As the years wore on I slowly came out of that shell and allowed people into my life again. Masturbation wasn't so common but I would occasionally binge on iPorn, especially if I was under stress. I found this puzzling for a number of reasons. Firstly, I believe in family and have always felt that sex was part of the bond between life partners. I had never wanted to just get laid. I always felt, and still feel, that a long-term relationship is my goal.
The second reason the iPorn's effects mystified me was the fact that I had mellowed a lot and become much more philosophical. I hated the way that many men dominated their wives and I didn't think that porn was setting any good example. Sex scenes that ended in humiliation to the woman just didn't seem right to me but I might watch something like that during a porn binge; feeling bad about it as soon as I had climaxed.
Finally, I wasn't seeking sex in my real, day-to-day life. I wasn't looking for a girlfriend or anything like it. I had purposely stepped away from anything that resembled a romantic relationship. I was a loser at love and I had accepted that as my fate. As much as I believed in long-term relationships I didn't see myself going back for another round.
Turning A Corner
Literally! I was turning a corner in my car one day when the thought struck me, I think I want to find a partner in life. By this point in time masturbation was among the least of my problems. My "default" was no MO but, on occasion, I would go on a PMO binge, usually in response to stress. Once I had turned that corner I found myself facing some new feelings, or perhaps feelings I had forgotten ever having had in the past.
I started to engage more with women and found many of them friendly towards me. The world seemed to be filled with beautiful women everywhere I went and I was a bit driven for a while. I wasn't dating per se, just hanging out in places that allowed me to interact with women. It had been a long time since I had done this and I needed practice.
I am currently in a relationship but it is very slow going. Neither of us is in a hurry and neither of us need to put ourselves and risk for being hurt. Of every relationship of my life this one is unique, we are building a bond of friendship and trust. Interestingly, what little physical contact we have had was initiated by her and every bit of it has been bonding based. My feelings for her are very deep and very complex. My greatest happiness in life is when I can see her enjoying herself and being carefree. No feeling of sexual release could even compare to what I feel in my heart when I see her in a joyful state.
An Even Better Corner
Learning about the reward center of the brain and the dopamine cycle has been a huge boon to me. The last vestige of my PMO past has been explained. I now see those binges for what they are, self-medication that can bring no lasting relief. Hearing Gary explain that this was not a matter of character was pivotal. Now I get it, the porn was just a dopamine trigger, that's why I could look at something disgusting and be turned on. Once I realized that this was a treadmill I had no interest in staying in the endless loop.
Dec 12 - Less than two weeks ago I stumbled onto Your Brain on Porn accidentally while on an Internet porn binge. Suddenly, my life's (disastrous) course since reaching puberty all made sense.The binge stopped the moment I watched the YouTube videos on porn addiction and I started a reboot that moment. So far, so good. Now, on to part two:
In my prior marriage I began to sense something wrong, something deeply rooted. My wife was a slender young woman, athletic and strong but relatively petite. I always felt that our intercourse was far too violent (and it was pretty tame stuff) to express the way I cherished her. I felt that the same old, mount, thrust, ejaculate was a sort of power statement, I the physically strong one of the pair "taking" my woman. By the last few years of my marriage I saw sex as a burdensome duty. We did it perhaps once a month, judiciously timed to avoid fertile days just in case the pill wasn't working. I longed for something else.
I used to ask her for cuddling but it seemed like a chore to her. She wanted to Git It On and I wondered what had happened to the tender love we used to have. The first few years of our marriage we always slept in contact with, at the very least, our feet in touching. Sometimes we would sleep in an embrace. In those days we were so close that it was beyond imagination. By the time that ten years had passed we were roommates with benefits once a month.
I also realized that I craved intromission and wanted to remain in that state as long as possible. I found that the female-superior missionary position was not satisfying because there was nothing to thrust against but for gentle intromission having my wife above me was glorious. Amazingly, I had stumbled upon a form of Karezza but didn't know that such a thing was ever done. I would have felt strange suggesting non-orgasmic sex to my wife. For all I knew it was against the law. :)
Reading through Cupid's Poisoned Arrow I am amazed and I'm only halfway through chapter one. THIS . . . is exactly what I want. I feel reconnected with part of myself that was left behind the first time I had an orgasm, self-induced BTW. Before that time I enjoyed having an erection and never gave thought to touching myself for pleasure. Just the fact that I was experiencing sexual stimulation from the erection was more than enough to keep me happy. After my first successful masturbatory orgasm it was like throwing a switch and my erection became an enemy that could ambush me at any time. It didn't matter what I was doing, if I felt aroused I would need to "relieve" the situation. I practiced this at work, in my car, in the bathroom, in bed . . . Good thing I wasn't an astronaut. :)
Anyhow, understanding the porn-dopamine cycle has been a revelation. I've managed resist the commands of that switch setting inside me that insists upon an orgasm whenever arousal happens. In fact, the switch is already showing signs of flipping back to its proper setting. But this isn't meant to be a post about porn addiction, it's about finding the second piece of the puzzle.
Many people today treat sex like an olympic sport, it's a wonder that they don't have judges seated at a table, flashing a score for their performance. Porn highlights this sort of thing, in part, because a movie of two people having missionary sex would not show much beyond a thrusting backside. Undoubtedly, this is a factor in the decline of happy marriages. I can't make any other part of my life operate the way things are in the movies, why should sex be an exception.
So now I find that the way I learned to have sex, almost 50 years ago, is not necessarily the best way. I also learned to simulate sex emulating a less than ideal model of sex. I had pleasure in my erections and no sense of guilt. I was never tormented in any way when I felt pleasure at arousal until I brought my hand into the bargain. Amazingly, over 40 years later I've found that both sex and M do not need to center on orgasm and I'm all for it.
Mankind has had many dark ages. Superstition and fear of a multitude of "gods" held people down for years. People made sacrifices to please these "gods" up to, and including, human sacrifices. In the Christian era some scientific discoveries were frowned upon by a church hierarchy than would brook no challenge to their ultimate authority. Once again, the price was dear, disease, filth and even death of innocent people was the rule for many years. I can't help but wonder if a sexual "dark age" is coming to an end. There would seem to be a polarized situation where some people are diving ever deeper into the failed sexual philosophies of the last few decades while others are seeing that the way of the past may not be all that good.
A world filled with bonding-oriented mating would look quite different, at least IMO. Durable marriage and sexual practices that reduce the frequency of conception sounds like a good start to me. Instead of the stair-step families we see in some places today people could devote more time to the fewer children they bear and extended families could provide nurturing and companionship for children. (It is of interest to me that in some cultures cousins are actually considered brothers and sisters.) I may not live to see it, but I'd love to know how things turn out.
I always thought that sex was a dirty trick played upon us. A drive that linked us, inextricably, to our lowest instincts. Finding the existence of another path to freedom from sexual frustration is a gift.
What I find the most amazing is that this process is not moralistic in its tone. It comes from common sense and a desire to be at our best. I happen to believe in a Higher Power but also believe that this Power is logical and not governed by emotion. Karezza makes sense to my point of view. (I need to point out here that I am not religious in the slightest. I believe in God but I don't think that he concentrates his attention on people based upon their participation in organized religion.) The thing is, whether from a believer's point of view or a more humanistic point of view, a gentle practice like Karezza appeals to the highest nature of mankind, not the lowest. It makes me want to use my time in better pursuits and I'm confident that this will only help in my quest for a happy future.
Nearing the end of Cupid's Poisoned Arrow I couldn't help but laugh. In chapter 10, under the heading Subtle Harmony it talks about career opportunities coming unexpectedly. Since changing my point of view I have had two inquiries from prospective employers, both offering better pay and room for advancement. In any event, I'm not complaining.
Dec 19 - My marriage collapsed years ago and I came away bitter and angry. That's the bad news. The good news is that I've started forging a relationship with someone else and it's going well. We are not intimate at this point but I intend to bring up the subject of Karezza when/if the relationship progresses to that stage. Based upon things we have discussed in the past, I believe that she will probably be receptive to the idea.
My current relationship status is probably best stated as "hopeful". I am in the early stages of a relationship and hopeful that it develops into something lasting and fulfilling for both of us. We have a great deal in common and a great friendship has developed. I feel that I can speak very freely to her and she seems to feel the same towards me. We have spoken more openly about sexual matters than I ever did with a spouse. I feel that she is very much the sort of person I need in my life but I'm not sure that she's quite at that point yet. She's cautious and I'm OK with that.
Feb 14 - So here I am, 75 days into my reboot and feeling pretty good. It seems natural, now, not to seek porn or masturbate. Wow, that's a new one for me, even during the 2 1/2 years I was PMO free I didn't feel this positive. I wonder about what is ahead. I certainly have no intentions of returning to PMO, ever!!!!! I am building a relationship with a woman but it's a slow process.
I had some tests today but did well. While at the drug store a I bought a magazine about drag racing, the way it was in the '60s and '70s. I remember seeing some of the same information in print when I was a teen. There was an ad in the magazine that featured an apparently nude woman hidden behind a sign she was holding. I had no erotic reaction to the photo whatsoever but I ripped it out and shredded it as soon as I realized it was there.
There was also an article about a drag racer and it featured, prominently, pictures of his somewhat busty girlfriend. I remember seeing the same pictures when they were first published, back in the early '70s. Back then they were whacking material, tonight I didn't feel any excitement at all. I think that I've finally learned to look at a woman without depersonalizing her and letting my thoughts head for the gutter. She was a beautiful woman, no doubt about that, but she's just another member of the human family.
Something has clicked in my psyche and I am able to accept myself as worthy of being a sexual human without shame. I am able to leave others to their sex lives and not speculate thereabout. I can now do this for both genders and feel a level of respect for women that I had never achieved before.
It used to be that I would feel a little twinge of evil when the thought of looking at porn came into my mind. It was like I was stealing something . . . I'm pretty sure it was basically a sense of thrill that started with that twinge. It was a short circuit of my normal desires. Anyhow, that twinge seems to have abated. Just being able to say that makes me feel wonderful. I'm not out of the woods, but I'm better than I've ever been in my life, happier too.
Anyhow, I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks. None of the happy thoughts in this message would exist without YBOP.
The metamorphosis has been amazing. I'm finally able to be the person I have always wanted to be. I see it as two factors, the reboot process and the understanding of how this all works. Of course, fifty-eight years of living have been good preparation. I hang out with a bunch of guys in my age group at YBR. They've all had some tales to tell, one of them followed his HOCD straight into an STD that he had to explain to his wife. Amazingly, she stuck by him and they are working together to help him recover. Anyhow, these guys are working hard to get better and succeeding. One guy showed up two weeks ago, afraid that he'd get caught browsing porn at work. Within a week he was helping newer site members and his self confidence had soared. He's a different man in the span of two weeks.
All of my life I've been a hoarder of sorts. It's not the real nut-case stuff; I don't have stacks of old newspapers or a huge ball of cat fur (although my thickly furred pet cat would make this easy if I ever decided to collect cat fur). But I do tend to overdo it on certain things. I have always wanted to be a completist. If I buy a CD by a certain band I'll probably end up buying everything they ever released. Likewise for TV shows or movies, in for a penny, in for a pound. It's probably sub-pathologic but a bit stupid. The good news is that I'm starting to want to thin the herd. I have a pile of DVDs on the floor that will be going to the used DVD store. I'm planning to cull the herd of books aggressively and get a box of books to peddle at the used book store. A lot of the trivial items will probably end up donated, there are plenty of underprivileged families in the area. Then there's the matter of the CDs, well they ain't going nowhere! :) But I have slowed down significantly in my CD acquisitions. Even with a huge and eclectic collection of CDs I sometimes can't find anything interesting to listen to. :)