I must admit growing up in the 80’s, Michael Jackson was one of my favorite artists. I loved the energy of his concerts. I loved the fact that he could do amazing dance moves while singing live. I loved his Moonwalk. Actually it was the Moonwalk that really intrigued me. How on earth could a person look like they are walking forward when they are actually moving backwards? Such skill was needed to do this and lots and lots of practice.
Recently I was thinking about my recovery journey from porn. It got me thinking about all the times that I outwardly presented myself to others as walking forwards in recovery, when behind the scenes I was actually viewing more and more porn…. going backwards essentially. And then it hit me. Moonwalk Recovery! That’s exactly what it was! Presenting myself as doing the recovery journey really well, when in fact I wasn’t! I looked like I was going forwards when I was actually going backwards.
Now I’ve spoken to plenty of people in recovery who’ve had the exactly the same issue. They’re doing recovery, they want to be better but they’re still viewing and they don’t want to have to admit that to anyone. If they do admit it, they’ll feel like they’re not doing recovery at all. Aka. “If I don’t admit it, then it’s not happening so all is well with the world.”
For me behaving like this cost me lots and lots of time, angst and shame. How could I ever recover if I don’t feel like I can ever stop? How will I ever get better if I don’t stop looking? This kind of behavior needs to be nipped at the bud, so to speak, but what on earth do you do? Here’s some thoughts I’ve put together from my personal experience on ways to help with this.
1. Be Realistic.
At some point in your recovery you are going to fail. It’s almost inevitable. You might have a quick porn viewing session, then realize what you are doing and stop. You might watch something innocent, that triggers a memory, and sets you off on a porn viewing path. Be prepared for this. Not prepared as in, “Oh well it’s going to happen so why should I even try?” but prepared as in “If this happens, this is the way I’m going to pick myself up and move on.”
If you do fail, pick yourself up again and continue the recovery journey. Don’t think of it as a move right back to the start. You’ve done days without viewing porn. You haven’t masturbated for ages. You CAN do it. You have the ability. It’s like a cycling or running race. When you fall you don’t go right back to the start line and begin again. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistake and start back again right from where you left off. Remember this! Your failures do not stop you from success, they are merely little speed bumps on the way. As you continue your journey to full recovery you’ll find it easier and easier to control these urges and the falls will become less and less.
2. Be Accountable.
Being accountable to someone means finding a close person you trust (not your partner) to look out for you. Someone who will help you fulfil your commitment to stop viewing porn. Someone you can confide in who will not shame you or get angry. Someone who’s there to do the recovery journey with you through thick and thin. The best accountability partner is someone who you speak with regularly. They’re not someone who just gets in contact when you’ve been “bad.” They’re always talking with you when you are both good and bad.
Finding a good accountability partner will help you talk about some of your urges before you act on them. You can run accountability software on your computer or smart device which sends a weekly report of your web viewing to them. You can text them when you are feeling tempted to view. You can call them up anytime when you are struggling. Having someone like this in your life will help prevent you from going backwards, as it sets up a healthy outlet for you to be realistic to both them and yourself.
3. Get some exercise
During my recovery exercise was a great outlet. For me, cycling kind of become my new “escape from it all” hobby. It helped me to get away from the computer and take out all my frustrations on those pedals. For me, exercise formed an integral part of my recovery and I found myself going out cycling more and more. My wife Laura, was very understanding and let me cycle almost whenever I wanted. She knew that it was helping me and that it was keeping me away from my porn viewing.
Some well known benefits of exercise include:
Improvement of your “state of mind” – It stimulates your brain and helps your feel much more relaxed and happier about yourself.
Helping you with depression – It boosts the production of mood lifting chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and endorphins.
Sharper thinking – It improves blood flow to the brain and helps you to think more logically.
Helping you sleep better – Because you burn up energy while exercising you can find it will help you fall asleep much faster and give you a deeper sleep.
All of these points offer massive benefits to addiction recovery and I highly recommend it. Remember you want to replace your addiction with something that you enjoy, so don’t pick an exercise that you hate.
4. Make recovery fun
I know, I know, this might sound a little bit controversial but it’s true. They say that laughter is the best medicine. And you know what? It is. I found using humor really helped me to realistic about my recovery and allowed me to have more positive conversations with my accountability partner. When chatting with him he would regularly ask me things like “how are your blue balls going?”, “is that left arm getting weaker?” and so on. We always got a good laugh out of it, but I really did find it helped me to be more honest and lightened the mood of the whole thing. Plus, we regularly hung out together, went to the movies together and did fun things. We didn’t just sit at a table and talk about my problems, we had the discussions while out and about, enjoying each others company.
Now I’m not saying that recovery isn’t serious, because it is. Our porn addictions can cause massive pain to those around us. I know in my case, it caused a huge amount of pain and distress for my wife Laura and certainly there were things that I need to discuss that weren’t humorous. So be wise. Sometimes you have to be serious, but don’t be so serious that it becomes an impossible mountain to cross. Be lighthearted when appropriate.