I had been doing pretty well with my commitment. The challenge of getting my addictive behavior under control. Some significant changes had been made to my daily life. Removing myself from viewing the more damaging cites on the web. The limiting of my self-gratifying behavior had also seen improvement. I was tracking my number of episodes on a calendar. Providing myself with information about my habit. My idea in keeping track of these activities was to help the healing process. The decision was made on my last day of rage in May of 2020. I needed to face the dysfunctional habits persisting in my life. Hoping to bring my struggle with anger down. In order to find the healing. I felt it was important to keep track of situations in life that could be influencing behavior. After that day in 2020, I began keeping track on the frequency of viewing inappropriate videos on YouTube. I also started tracking the days in which I slipped into self-gratifying behavior. The task of keeping track of my two scenarios continued for almost a year. There were signs of things getting better, with the total number of happenings being numbered to end each month. It was all progressing pretty well. Leaving me happy about the challenge I was facing. However, there were still bouts of anger occurring. Making me feel disappointed in my ability to heal.
The episodes of rage had slowly left my life. Signaling some healing from my addiction was taking place. Putting a stop to looking at the pornographic websites was changing some patterning of my brain. The anger was continuing, but not spiraling into rage. There had become a break starting to take effect. Some kind of mechanism, not allowing my emotions of anger to move past a certain point. The realization was causing me to begin being thankful. The first light I remember inside this journey of recovery. My days had become filled with projects throughout the yard. We were in the middle of the pandemic during this time period. Leaving most of us without much to do with ourselves. The break from life, one like we have never witnessed before, helped me take on my challenge. The hustle and bustle of life seemed to disappear overnight. Making my surroundings much simpler. Life turned into something that made more sense for me, with a reduction in everyday life stresses. I felt safe working on the large projects in the yard of my childhood home. The projects were taken on with enthusiasm and they provided structure at a confusing time. The tasks turned into daily work, keeping me away from spending time in front of the computer. They required me to use my strength. Making sure I was good and tired by the time evening approached. My mind started moving away from wanting to spend the hours watching the intensively destructive videos.
My self-worth started to climb a little at a time in the latter half of 2020. I was still watching videos on YouTube, that weren’t healthy. But, I was succeeding in fighting the temptation to go any further down into the darkness. Holding firm in my commitment to refrain from venturing onto any other websites. There remained an uncomfortable frequency to logging onto YouTube for the purposes I was intending. Looking back on the notations being made in my calendar. I found the urges continued to occur weekly. Sometimes the ability was there to make it a couple weeks in a row. Still, the negative habit wasn’t falling in frequency to a place of comfort. I can still feel the cravings I had in those moments. The desire to watch one more video and just one more video. I couldn’t get the need to completely subside. It can be challenging to completely remember the justifications I was using. The concepts I repeated inside my head to make the behavior of watching these videos on YouTube justifiable. There were points at which I would look at the action as a reward. If I had writing a certain amount. Or, completed one or two blogs, then going on YouTube to watch videos was earned. I would also try limiting my time watching them. Another tactic inside my altered headspace was convincing myself that I limited the number of videos I watched. Even in attempting to make these modifications. The overall craving for the action would not disappear. I found myself always wanting to view one more video.
The battle with my temptation had become more and more real. On the days, I was refraining from logging into my YouTube account. I would log in, hoping no one would stumble onto the things I was watching. But, even on the days of holding myself back. The images of the videos I had watched on previous days, played like picture reels in my head. Continuously tempting me throughout the day to take another look. The voice providing the perfect solution to escape whatever pain I might have been feeling. The loneliness was too overwhelming and it would be far too difficult for me to change things. Writing was going to require effort, as the voice told me no one cared about the things I wrote. The sounds just kept pounding in my head about how my life couldn’t improve. I had cerebral palsy, which meant no one really wanted to be in my presence. Making the effort to improve my life would not be worth anything. Everything I needed was inside my home and the computer was my escape from any pain. Watching the videos made time disappear. Keeping me so engrossed in the screen that an hour or two or three would vanish. Along, with the emotional pain that accompanied those minutes of the day. My session on YouTube were truly enabling me to disappear from life. Even when I thought there was still some control over my situation.
The deal making with myself was starting to take hold. It got to the point where I couldn’t really fight the temptation to log into my account. So, I told myself it was okay to log in, as long as no videos were being watched. I would look at the channels that I frequented to see the thumbnails of their new videos. Stockpiling images inside my mind. Telling myself to hold off just a couple more days. Then, I could log onto the YouTube account and watch the ones I had tempted myself with. The process felt like it was the beginning stages of some added self-control. I would log on a couple of days later. When I knew, there was time to myself. Holding myself to watching each of the videos only once. The repeating of watching many of them was making me feel addicted. So, I was attempting to cut down on my repeat viewing. The process I was putting into place seemed to be working. In my mind, I was finding ways of managing my temptations. Spreading time in between the days I was watching videos. Managing tempted thoughts by just logging in to look around at the new videos being posted. While, holding myself back from clicking to watch. Until the specified time, I had allotted myself the freedom to watch. The stockpiling of my so-called reward system felt like it was working, until one day it wasn’t working anymore.
Who knows if this happens to everyone who has gotten themselves involved with an unhealthy habit? There became a day when I realized, the control I thought I had, I actually didn’t have. I have heard something becomes a problem when there is a realization that an action can’t be stopped. The feeling produced from the action becomes so intoxicating the person can’t pull themselves away. April 3rd, 2021. I came across a video on YouTube from a channel I wasn’t used to watching. It was during one of the session, in which I was allowing myself to watch videos. The short film was a role play, designed to go just far enough. Tempting me to log onto a different sight for more explicit content. Part of the plan I had put in place was to keep myself away from these tempting videos. But, with this particular one I had found. I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Sitting there for more than an hour. Watching it play over and over and over again. The same video, I probably watched play more than ten times in a row. I couldn’t stop myself from hitting the play button. Then, I came back to spend another long period of time watching the same video, later in the day. The only thing in my desire was to be alone, watching this video play on YouTube. My temptation and desires had gotten out of control. I knew I couldn’t stop.
In the days that followed the episode of April 3rd, I was faced with a reality. In order to change my life, the behavior had to stop. Going onto YouTube and watching the watered-down videos wasn’t working. The temptation remained to move forward into more explicit online sites. The only way to truly get better was to pull myself away from YouTube. The watching of even the YouTube videos was feeding the addiction. The feelings of shame from being on the internet was persisting. On that day in April, I understood there was still a problem. Moving into a commitment of only going onto YouTube wasn’t solving the problem. It wasn’t easing my desire to look at explicit content. Watching that one particular video over and over proved the need to start a healing process, without excuse. Because, at the time, I couldn’t get enough of looking at those pictures. The road wasn’t going to be easy. Often anything making us better as people doesn’t involve a simple journey. I knew there needed to be things in my life to replace the habit. The implementation of changes that would make me better as a person. Ways to occupy my mind, not involving going onto the internet. I was going to put into place two things moving forward. Activities I believed would get me off to a good start in achieving my goals. I was going to read from a book each day and play golf once per week, without exception. I would also, slowly pull myself away from social media.
Today, I am writing this blog in the middle of December, 2022. We are about a week away from Christmas. With Christmas eve being my absolute favorite night of the year. I have been clean of anything pornographic since that day, April 3rd, 2021. Giving me a little over 20 months of clean living. After more than twenty-five years of using images and videos in a destructive manner. Many times, having no understanding of the impact on my brain, and therefore my personality. The behavior impacted every relationship in my life. Altering the manner in which my brain functioned. Therefore, messing with the way I interacted with people in every moment. I was numbing myself to the emotional pain I was feeling. Pushing people away, to the extent that a true connection with me, wasn’t a possibility. The healing process from my negative habit remains far from complete. Maybe, it never does truly complete itself. But, I continue to walk the important path. Finding out new things about myself and the people in my life. However, letting go of the escape mechanism hasn’t been easy. There are times when life becomes overwhelming. The thing is, the challenge is worth taking on with full commitment. As daunting as it may sound, life is better lived without something trying to steal it from your grasp. The path has required seeking no small amount of help. And through that help, I have found better methods of channeling my pain.