Losing Childhood

Hello, I’m new here. Don’t know how long I’ll stick around.

I’m feeling really angry at myself right now.

I discovered porn when I was about 10 years old. I had the brilliant idea to type in “naked” into the Google Images search bar, and to my surprise, images actually appeared right there in front of me.
I would go back to explore that part of the internet very occasionally, but at 13 I went there more often and at 14 I started getting more disgusted at and scared of myself. I was scared of how many more months I would have to be like this and deal with this shame. Then I started learning about the effects it had on the brain and how malleable my brain was to making strong wiring at my young age, and I was scared of growing up like this. It kept on like this, though, and no sort of strategy or ritual and no amount of prayer would stop it.

I’ve developed this fear of associating important things to me with this discomfort. I did not want to to do anything that mattered to me, think about anything of interest to me, or hang out with anyone I cared about for an entire day or longer after relapsing, for fear of “tainting” that thing or person in my mind.
This led to spending a lot of time in my teenage years just doing nothing and feeling ashamed.

I’m feeling really angry at myself for all of this.
I recently graduated from high school just last year, and I’m really missing it. I’m frustrated and defeated by all the time this wasted—the moments I didn’t enjoy, the friends I didn’t make, and the memories I never made.
Not that it’s devoid of good memories, that I don’t have good friends now, or that I won’t make good memories and meaningful relationships in the future, but people, environments, and my own self are different coming into adulthood, and this time of being young and in school is time I’ll never get to have again.

I’m not so much looking for advice on how to stop as much as I am for dealing with this wasted time and whatnot.
Though rituals I’ve tried and people I’ve talked to are nothing to go by, I’m feeling confident in being able to see this timer tick up. But I’m upset that the timer has to start now and not months or years ago, and I’m angry at myself for all the time that’s been wasted in my childhood.

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Hello pal and welcome. That was a powerful and honest share. I don’t share you addiction but to me, it’s all the same. We are all here to share experience, strength and hope with each other.

Here’s a few folks that share your Gspecific struggle.
@RBG @r

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@rmgrimmer is another

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Thank you for the recommendations!

The only thing we have is today. I understand your feeling of loss due to your addiction. While it is valid and it’s good you acknowledge it, yesterday and the wasted childhood is in the past. The only thing you can do is do better now and in the future. But one day at a time. Grief is a process but it can be lifted by living in the now. Don’t know if this makes sense to you but I hope it does.

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You put down your thoughts and feelings very well. I understand. I hope you take advantage of this forum. It has been my most important tool for recovery. If I you think I can help you, let me know.

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Pornography is a powerful drug. I deal with not relapsing everyday. Is a very powerful stimuli, potential triggers are everywhere. Just know there is alot of us that deal with porn and masturbation. So just know your not alone in trying to get rid of this addiction.

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I feel @Vbc2000 is exactly right… The most important part of your life, is where you’re at right now. So be glad you’re making this change right now, be proud of your self for taking a stand now here in the present and changing this chapter of your life to be a better one than the past, knowing that in the future you’ll be able to look back to where you’re at now and be so thankful that you didn’t let this addiction rob you out of any more of your life.

Now, getting to your real question, how to deal with

The only thing I can suggest is one of those "simple but hard " things. And that is, forgive yourself.

The reason I suggest that is, I’m right there with you… I’ve got so much wasted time I’m working on forgiving myself for. And forgiveness is not just a word you say, or a one time action. Like anything else, Forgiveness is a process. A process we need to continually take. If we don’t, and we just hang on to unforgiveness toward our self, we stay stuck in that whirlwind of anger, frustration, defeat and shame. Which then seem to breed and create shame upon shame, defeat upon defeat etc.

So the answer is forgiveness… but you probably already know that. In fact the simplified version of your question may have been "how do I forgive my self for the time wasted? "

I’ve found (very recently) what helps me forgive myself and others is to… look at the good, not the bad.

You said there were some good memories through your high school years… look at those. You said there were some good relationships made… look at those. Look at all the time you didn’t waist, and the good things you’re doing right now changing your life for the better, and you will be able to forgive yourself.

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Thanks Gabe. @JackBlind totally understand. I sometimes feel like I have been a broken person for a long time. But, I’m putting myself back together. Time and effort makes it better.

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Hi @JackBlind,

Fellow porn addict here. I just wanted to say welcome. And I hope that you do stick around.

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Hey @JackBlind, porn addict recovering here too dude. I’m not too far from your age too, just graduated college a couple months ago, and I share some of your feelings in a way.

In high school, it didn’t seem to interfere that much with my life, but I think that’s because I thought of myself as a pretty solo guy. It took getting through a shitty relationship and the social shock of college to realize there was something in my life causing me to ground out and stagnate. I felt stuck. Outside of the group of those who found real relationships, who could share with one another and be vulnerable without the shame you mention.

Now I’m here. Graduated college. Worked my ass off. Now I’m working a full time, permanent job, which I didn’t think was possible this soon. I’ve gained a bit of clarity in my life that didn’t exist when I was watching porn constantly.

In regard to your question about regret: it’s part of what drives us. I’m someone who very easily regrets, and tends to live in it for far too long, so I know the feeling. Let me tell you man, regret is a wonderful tool, and a terrible habit. If sinking into thoughts of regret is comfortable for you, you need to find a way to shock yourself out of it. I do it by going on hikes. If I’m moving and active, it’s harder for me to beat up on myself. That one physical and definite way I can enact a mental change in myself.

If you let a sense of lost opportunities rule over your mind, you’re only losing more opportunities. You’re only wasting more of these seconds ticking by not just going out there and engaging in your life’s activity, purpose, and relationships.

I can’t slow down. If I slow down to much, and lose my momentum forward, I sink fast. Fighting porn has been one of the best motivating factors I’ve ever had in my life. No bs. No exaggeration.

If you commit to this, and fight this addiction with all you’ve got, all the focus, all the determination, the perseverance, then the rest of your life comes into clearer focus. It’s subtle because it happens slowly, but looking back, I’ve gained so much in these past 320 sober days. Most of all: self-respect, and self-trust: the two most important things in any relationship.

Looking forward to seeing you around. On to the next day.

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Thanks a lot @Hope4freedom , that was something really good to hear. I will work on forgiving myself for losing precious time and treasuring good memories. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep from getting mad at myself after relapsing since… well, this is really important to me. The feeling of it devouring all my mind is really nasty, but I’m feeling a bit better now. Thanks everyone for your support. It means a lot.

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Thanks for sharing @TheJK . Yeah that’s really good stuff to understand.
Momentum is really good to keep up, which I haven’t really been doing a very good job of. One porblem I have is that for some reason I get scared of starting momentum after relapsing until I’ve recovered a little, which is really detrimental to my productivity.

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How have you been doing lately? Just remember, We’re all rooting for you!

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Hi @JackBlind, my name’s Matt & I’m also a recovering porn & masturbation addict. I identified strongly with the feeling of loneliness & friendlessness you described in your original post (I remember consciously sitting alone in my home around the age of 26-27, and I thought to myself, “I have no friends. I have people I hang out with at community events. But I do not have - or at least, don’t feel I have - friendship in the sense of seeking out one another’s company for the pure enjoyment and upliftment of it.”).

It takes time. Porn messes with your mind and in my own case I used it so much for so long that it distorted my desire & arousal templates. I am still resetting those after years of distortion.

But it is possible. I cannot emphasize this enough. The biggest turnaround in recovery, in my own case, was when I sought out sex addiction therapy at a specialized clinic in my city. In the time since I started there I have grown considerably.

Other important tools in no particular order:

  • join an in person sex addict recovery group of some type; there are many; @NealRecoveryCA posted links to a few here: Resources for our recovery
  • if you are in a relationship, at some point your partner will need to be involved; but before jumping into disclosure speak with your therapist about a disclosure plan (disclosure to partners is traumatizing, and it can be seriously traumatizing)
  • in my own case - and this may be less or more of a thing for you; reflect on it - I have found it helpful to focus on friendships & relationships in male-only groups (I have arranged regular camping trips with my brothers and father; I have a weekly brunch with some men I met at my sex addicts recovery group) - I find friendships with men help me to balance out, and sometimes frankly I feel more at ease to discuss or ask anything in those spaces
  • do what you need to do to stay sober - I’ve had days I spent the entire day at a mall food court because I knew I was too weak to make it through the day at home alone
  • acknowledge your weakness & ask for help in necessary & appropriate ways: it is ok to say “I can’t stay here, I need to go somewhere else, I need to be somewhere else, please”
  • recovery takes work: 12-step programs call this “stepwork”, other traditions have a different word for it, but in all cases it is not something that just happens; you will make progress if you put work in, a lot of soul-searching, meeting attendance, asking for & receiving & acting on help; all the work of writing your personal history, narrating your story & accountability - defining who you are, no hiding or running away in fantasy & porn

It’s a long road but it is 1000% worth it. It’s very nice meeting you and I look forward to seeing you more!

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I haven’t relapsed at all yet. But yesterday and today something has acted up and it’s been really unpleasant.

Hello JB. Thank you for your honesty.

I share your addiction. I’ll be turning 50 this Fall and I’ve viewing porn (or whatever I could get my hands on) for about 36 of those years.

I didn’t have the easy access the internet allows until my 20s, but believe me, when it became available, I would lose myself for several hours a day.

It does rewire the brain. I learned to avoid people, to hide my activities, to hide everything from everyone. I didn’t like myself and I carried my anger like a shield. I felt miserable and guilty all the time.

I’ve been in active recovery for about 2 years. It’s difficult work. I’ve relapsed more times than I care to admit to, but I’ve learned to forgive myself and seek help when I need it. I like myself now, imperfections and all.

Talking about your situation to a recovery group, online or in real life, is a great start. There’s much to gain both sharing and listening. Please continue.

Show yourself compassion. The 10 year old you didn’t ask for any of this to happen. It’s a cruel irony, but part of my own addiction has been about recapturing my youth, trying to fill a relationship gap that was never filled. The more you understand about your own motivations, the better off you’ll be.

Best wishes!

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That’s awesome, I’m glad you’re staying on track!

What is that “something”, if you don’t mind me asking?

I’ve found, for me, it’s good to get things out that are bothering me. And this is a great place to get things out too, because there’s so many people here with such variety of experiences and they’re all here to come along side each other and help each other grow.

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Relapsed after 16 days.
I feel absolutely disgusting. I am completely destroyed, I have nothing to do.

You do have something to do, your need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and stay again. You need to analyse what led to your slip and formulate s plan for how your going to approach the same situation next time that it happens without the end result centering around drinking or drugging!
What does your recovery look one, do you work one of the meantrecovery programmes? If not are you now willing to stay doing so and if not then what are you going to change in other to guarantee rest you stay sober. These are questions not necessarily for you to tell me the answers to but for you to ponder over! :+1::slightly_smiling_face:

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