Addiction and Cerebral Palsy: Reading to Heal

It can be challenging to remember exactly how I started my journey to a better lifestyle. The term recovery sounds too clinical for me, so I have never really thought of it in that context. Plus, I don’t really understand what it means to recover from something so invasive. To me, staying clear of pornography and sexual fantasy remains an ongoing challenge. Which, I’m guessing will never truly leave my world. Though, leaving the actions completely in my past, remains the goal in which to strive. In order to reach that lofty goal, I have learned things need to change. As, what I have referred to as an addiction, has also been spoken of as a negative habit. Negative, because of the toxic impact the actions have had on my life. When one tries to remove any kind of habit from their lives, the removal tends to leave a void. More like a black hole of nothingness, which needs to be filled. Most every kind of research I have done tells me that without a plan, it remains likely to get drawn back into a habit. So, when thinking of giving up pornography, I needed something to fill the void. A habit that would have a positive impact of my life, rather than the toxicity of going to the screen. My initial step in the process of healing was giving up the pornography websites. Leaving myself with YouTube as an okay alternative. But, even this first step would be a challenge.

I have looked upon my healing process from this addiction as a stepping process. The journey for me, has been years in the making. Where I have moved in and out of sections of the process. At times, not truly having the ability to fully commit to one step or the other. But, luckily there has become moments when I have made the commitment. Wanting to take a leap to complete one of the challenging steps along the healing journey. The first step in my journey was giving up the pornographic websites. Which, I did for about a year and a half, before reverting back to partaking in the practice. It seems I wasn’t convinced those images had to be absent from my world. Or, you could say I hadn’t put a plan in place to help remove myself from the compulsion. I had to find a place of being honest with myself regarding what those sites were really doing to my psyche. My major course of study in college was psychology, so part of me feels like I should have known better. But, we can convince ourselves of many things if we try hard enough. And I thought with having cerebral palsy, watching the videos was the closest to intimacy, I was ever going to get. The lie festered inside me for years until I had it ingrained inside myself. The lie was that the watching of the toxic videos was keeping me away from intimacy, much more than cerebral palsy ever would. 

The feeling of numbness inside of me could be felt. After each of my episodes spent watching the pornographic videos. The aftermath of the toxic situations brought about emotions challenging to place into words. It was like feeling completely detached from the world I was living inside. The memory of driving down the road after watching these things without a true understanding of where I was. It wasn’t a feeling of being drunk, I had no trouble operating the vehicle, or going through the physical activities of an afternoon. My mind was emotionally detached from the things happening in my immediate sphere. Like I had floated away into my own bubble, not living in reality. Maybe, you think this all sounds kind of nice, escaping life into a bubble created for yourself. Possibly, to some degree it was kind of nice. But, there was always trouble lurking on the other side of that fantasy. There was never enough pornography to consume that would keep me in that trance. Inevitably, my emotions would pull me back into reality as much as possible, and I knew the viewing wasn’t good for my health. In my years studying psychology and subsequently understanding I needed help from a professional. I understood this road wasn’t taking me anywhere positive. But, I had become attached to the escape it was providing. The ability to spend hours locked into stimulating videos. Wasting away another day that would have been depressing, otherwise. It felt like I had no future. 

The thing seeming apparent was my mind going crazy in situations. It felt as though the craziness was leading me to and being produced by the pornographic impact. The way to begin healing seemed to be trying to get my brain functioning with more logic. Because, my sense was that watching the toxic videos was sending my brain into chaos. Removing my emotions from the sensations happening inside my world. Going onto and spending hours on those sites was numbing my emotions. I had to mind a way of bringing my mind and emotions back into something making emotional sense. An activity that wasn’t shocking my system with such highs followed by unbearable lows. So, I came across the idea of forcing myself to sit down and read each day. There would be no requirement about what I was reading. Whatever kind of book able to hold my interest would work wonderfully. In making this commitment to myself, I found something on my iPad to help further. The reading done on my iPad in Apple Books was timed. Meaning I was able to set a goal for the reading I did each day. The iPad would tell me how close I was to my daily goal and when I had finished. The plan gave me something relatively easy to focus on each day. Trying to hold my emotions back from compulsively reaching for the computer, whenever I felt emotional pain. 

Reading was the first activity to have me feel like healing was a possibility. My daily reading started with a half hour per day. Which, might not seem like much time, but it was all I could muster. I feel like wherever someone can start with a positive habit is better than not starting. The reason for going to reading was the impact it had on my emotions. A book has often brought comfort throughout my life. Even though, I have always been far from considering of myself as a reader. The logical rhythm of each sentence, leading to the logic of a paragraph, and page. A story fits together like of puzzle that makes complete sense in its mechanics. But, the twists and turns can challenge the imagination of a mind. The combining factors relax my emotions. While, my challenges in reading, provided an accomplishment I was proud of each day. Helping me feel better about who I was as a person. That emotion contrasted with the shame of going onto toxic websites. It wasn’t long before I decided to elevate the challenge of reading. My goal went from one half hour, up to reading for an hour each day. Since those early days of fighting the most pervasive form of my addiction. The days have gotten filled with other positively productive elements. I continue to make an effort to read daily, but it never approaches the string I put together back in the first days of my fight. When I achieved forty-three days in a row of reading for an hour. The development of the positive habit set me onto a life changing path.

The streak of reading proved discipline was possible in my world. I could learn how to route my energy into something productive. Rather than mindlessly letting my negative impulses take control of my actions. As the streak ending in forty-three consecutive days of reading played itself out. The first part of healing from the nagging addiction was taking shape. It kept me away from the toxicity of the pornographic websites. The journey has to start somewhere and with habits robbing people of their potential, it doesn’t much matter where the journey begins. There would be more steps along the way of my healing journey. As when the reading streak was happening, I continued looking at negative videos on YouTube. So, other positive habits would come into my healing journey later. Pushing me forward into more positive results working on placing sexual fantasizing in my rearview mirror. The thing I remember most about the days before my reading streak was the feeling of being trapped. The emotion of not having a way out of going onto the computer and looking at toxic images. Like somehow, because I have cerebral palsy, it was all the intimacy I deserved. The thought was the very thing leading me back onto the sites. It was a lie I had come up with in my head to get me out of developing more challenging, yet more positive habits. The total journey of healing from something negative can be overwhelming. Having spent a couple years along the road, now. The journey continues to be difficult, but I like to think of it as a million little steps. Some are obvious to the outside world, while others haven’t been obvious to myself. However, it all started by opening a book of my choosing and reading a sentence. 

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