Help. Hope. Healing.

Quitting. Again. Revisited

By Tim B

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I just re-read Quitting.  Again. and had some more thoughts about the quitting business based on how things went from the time I wrote it.  Those who frequent the Support Forums will already know that I’m now lined up to be getting to my Temple Recommend for the first time in a very long time.  But the path to that has been rather interesting.

When I wrote the above article, I was trying to quit intentionally, but I didn’t stay quit very long.  The binge I was in lasted (with a month-long break while I was traveling) until fall (I count my sobriety date from September 1).  And it was a free-fall type binge for me — worse than I’ve done since I returned to full fellowship.  While I was binging, I really dug into what it was I wanted from the porn I was viewing, and what kind of porn I was going to get that from, and I found a very clear answer to that.

What I want from porn is sex — real, in-person, full-contact sex.  I don’t want to be watching other people have sex — I want to be having the sex.  And porn just can’t deliver that.   Porn is not about delivering real things — it’s about promising reality, and delivering fantasy.  It’s all about selling the sizzle, and never delivering the steak. I have known this intellectually for some time — I’ve been using porn for more than thirty years, and I’m not completely stupid — but this time in the binge I really drove the point home to myself.  I spent time looking for what I wanted, and became increasingly aware of what was missing from the experience, no matter how hard I tried to find it.

Oh, I know there are ways and places I could go that would deliver sex, but I don’t want to do those things.

So, the outcome was that I gained mental and emotional clarity that porn wasn’t going to give me what I wanted it to in a way I’d never had before.  This was a significant step in the process of getting to a better quit than I’ve had.  In the past, I counted sobriety only based on not masturbating, but  would have periodic slips with porn that I would manage to keep from leading to masturbation, and I would count that as a win.  But now, in a more profound way than ever before, I have clarity about what porn is (a lie) and what it has done for me (nothing but take and destroy).

Sometime in August, I wanted to quit again.  I wasn’t good with God, and it was hard to get that started again.  I started with the six word prayer:  “God, help me want to pray.”  I found that I could say that several times, and I could feel connection with God when I did.  For the first time in a long time, I was reaching out, and there he was.  I couldn’t stay there for long — I was so messed up and broken that being with God was too hard.  But that was when the quit started for real.  I don’t honestly know when I last masturbated or looked at porn.  I just remember there came a day when, for the first time in a long time, the thought came into my head to go use porn and masturbate and I resisted the thought.  I used that clarity and that desire to get in good with God and got a day of sobriety.

This has not been a hard to maintain quit.  It’s been pretty easy, actually.  There’ve been no porn slips.  Most days I don’t really have to think about being sober, and it’s not hard to clear my head when I start thinking about sexual things, for the most part.  So I’m working on my spiritual program, and it’s taking a lot of work, but it’s working.  I am not considering myself cured.  I don’t know if I’m never going to use porn or masturbate again.  I’d like to think that it’s possible, and that’s as far as I’ll go.  But I’m six months into this quit and it looks as though I’ll be in a temple again in a little over a month.   And this is how I got here.

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3 Responses to “Quitting. Again. Revisited”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Tim. I found it especially profound about your six-word prayer: God, help me want to pray.

    It reminded me of the documentary I once saw on exercise. The narrator related an experience with going to the gym that I thought was really good and reminds me of your prayer.

    She had been struggling for a long time with a desire to go to the gym and workout. Every night before she went to bed, she planned to do it first thing in the morning. Every morning, the thought of it was so daunting that she didn’t do it.

    Then, she pushed herself to walk in the door of the gym, say to herself, “Mission accomplished,” and go back home to bed. That became her standard. She at least had to “go to the gym”. Not long after, she thought, well, I’m here. I might as well check in. So, she checked in. Once past the desk, she stayed. She exercised. It became a habit.

    I think it’s wise of you to not let the entirety of a task and not feeling like doing it the way everyone says is the only complete way to do it keep you from getting started.

  2. Tim B said:

    Starting a new habit is tough. But this was a little different than the habit thing, because the habit of prayer, particularly knee prayer, still eludes me. This was more about breaching the silence and reaching out — a step nearer to God, so he could take a step nearer to me. I needed help to even start that process of getting close enough that I could ask for the help I needed.

  3. Rex Goode said:

    Yes, I understand. I am all about being content with as much as a person feels he can do at a given moment. I never responded well to pushing myself.

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