It is late and I cannot sleep. I feel like sharing my story. It is a long story. It is a story about my struggle for love and happiness. It is a story about hurting people I cared about. It is a story about finding true love and then ruining it.
I am 26 years old and in my last semester of law school and I am a porn/MB addict.
I was a pretty happy go lucky kid growing up. It was pretty good, but it was not all peaches and cream. My parents fought a lot and put a lot of pressure on me to do well in school and at sports. In grade school I had a large group of friends and spent a lot of time playing sports in the neighborhood. I was a fairly happy and positive kid. Starting in middle school my personality changed. I was moody, my parents said. In reality I was depressed. I hated school, I hated being at school. I went from having a lot of friends to having almost none. I had tested into all the advanced classes but I did not do well in them. I could barely pay attention and I barely cared. Things got a little better in high school. My parents still describe me as being so "moody" as a teenager. I was very depressed. I underachieved in school and had very few close friends. Being at school was torture for me. It was not until after I turned 16 that I had my first girlfriend or even my first kiss. I became very attached to her and spent a lot of time with her. We never had sex though. I became more social my senior year. I chose what college to go to based on where she was going and of course she ended up going some where else.
College was where things really got rough for me. I went to a small private college. In high school I was busy all the time. I worked 20 hours a week my junior and senior year. In college I had so much down time. I am one of those students that everyone despises because I can get mostly A's without doing any studying. My freshman year I had a single room and I spent a lot of time by myself. I went through periods of deep depression, where I would spend almost all of my time in my room by myself. Eventually I started partying and because of that I started to socialize more. I liked drinking because it helped me be more outgoing and to socialize. I dated a few girls, but they did not like how much I drank. The also did not like how I would socialize with other cute girls. Cant blame them. My sophomore year went well. I had a roommate for the first time. I made friends with a group of guys. I spent a lot of time with them drinking, playing video games, laughing. I did not really date, but I hooked up with a few girls. I got down occasionally but I was not depressed. First semester of junior year was much like my sophomore year.
Then I studied abroad in Denmark for a semester. I lived in a single room in a dorm with mostly Danish students. I became severely depressed. I was sad all the time and angry. If I was not sad or angry, I felt agitated and anxious. I avoided doing social things with the other American students. On a study trip to Sweden I became good friends with another American student. We hit it off. We had similar interests, backgrounds, senses of humor. He stayed with a Danish host family who I visited a few times. He knew I hated the dorm so he asked the family if they would take me in, and they said yes. The next two months were some of the happiest in my life. I had almost no time to myself. I was either at school. Hanging out with my host brother and my American friend. Or the whole family was doing something together. We ate dinner together every night as a family. The morning I had to leave I did not stop crying from when I got up until I got onto the plane. I was sad to be leaving such a wonderful experience.
My senior year started out pretty good. I was back with my college friends, we hung out and partied. I started dating a girl. I spent a lot of time with her. My roommates were all science majors and they started to be busy all the time. Pretty soon I was spending most of my time alone or with my new girlfriend. I started to become incredibly depressed again. I asked my girlfriend to come to my hometown with me for 5 days over a winter break. I spent the 2 days with her at her house then 5 at mine. When I got back to school I became unbelievably depressed. I cried all the time. I would go to the library and go to the basement and put my head into a coat or sweatshirt and weep silently. I had sex for the first time. It was with my girlfriend. I was 20 years old. It was not that great. I had always been petrified of not being able to perform, or that I had a small penis. I went to the school RN and told her I was depressed and she put me on an SSRI. After about a week it made me intensely very depressed for two weeks. I started to feel a little better but I was still depressed and anxious for the rest of the year. We had 10 days between finals and our graduation ceremony, which everyone spends partying and celebrating. My girlfriend had to go home for one night. I ended up getting drunk that night and cheating on her. I had sex with another girl who I had just met. I told her right away when she got back and she was devastated. I felt horrible. I wept for most of the senior week. It was almost incomprehensible to me. How did I even get in that situation? We kind of tried to make it work, but eventually she dumped me. I was really sad for a few days.
That summer I painted houses as I looked for a job. I stopped taking the SSRI at the start of the summer. I started to see a girl who went to my college who was a class below me. She came onto me very strong. I was not over my old girlfriend yet. I had sex with this new girl very quickly. We ended up having sex all the time. It was great. I found out that not only was my penis above average in size but that I was a wonderful lover. It was a great feeling. She became my girlfriend and we had a lot of fun together. However I began to withdraw from her and acted disinterested multiple times. It drove her crazy, she did not understand. It seemed like I went from loving her to detesting her. I always was depressed most of the time. I got a 9-5 job at an insurance company. She went back to school and we saw each other each weekend. I made friends with some guys who were a year above me at my college. They were (and still are) heavy party-ers. We went out one night and I got trashed. I made out with some girl who was at the bar that night. I would not have remembered it happening if my friends had not told me about it the next day. "Dude you cheated on your girlfriend last night." Really? No way. But I vaguely remembered. I told my girlfriend immediately and she was OK with it at first but then she dumped me a couple weeks later. It wasn't the cheating, it was how I turned off towards her, she said. How I would be irritable and short with her. How it seemed like I detested her sometimes. I was very sad again.
It was December when she dumped me. I visited my family over Christmas vacation. When vacation was over and I went back to work I became enormously depressed. I cried all the time. I cried on my way to work. I cried in the bathroom. I cried on my breaks which I took in my car. I cried on the way home from work. I cried when I went to bed. I was miserable. I felt so horrible. I went to see a doctor about my depression and he put me on an SSRI. About a week after taking the SSRI again I tried to kill myself. I tried to hang myself with a tie in my closet. After I passed out the knot slipped and I woke up minutes later. I just felt numb and I went to bed. I started to feel a little better after a couple weeks on the SSRI. I decided to apply to law school. I turned in my applications literally minutes before the last deadline. I decided to quit my job and move home. I banked on getting into law school. I got a job as a waiter over the summer. I eventually got into most of the law schools I applied to. I got only one scholarship offer, and I was a wait list acceptance at a couple schools. Meaning I was one of the last people to get in for that year. I picked one of the law schools and decided to go there. I had no idea at the time what drove the decision to pick the school I did. I had gotten into better schools. I had never been to the city or the region of the country that the school was in. It was not the school I got a scholarship offer from. Something told me to go there, so I did.
My family drove me across the country to move me into housing to start law school. I was very sad when they left, and sad for a couple days after but I started to feel better as I got to know my roommates and meet new class mates. It was an exciting time. I made friends with my roommates. I did social things with people in my class. After about a month in school I threw an enormous party at my house. It was an epic party to say the least. At the party one of my classmates asked me to dance with her. We started dancing and she told me how she had a huge crush on me. I told her that I liked her too and we started kissing and making out. I grabbed her hand and led her in front of what seemed like the whole first year class into my room. She got sick almost immediately. I got her some water and she puked and then went to sleep. She woke up a few hours later and she felt much better. We made out and then layed on my floor and talked. I never felt such an instant connection with anyone in my life.
A couple days later she called me and told me that she couldnt see me because she had a boyfriend. It stung, and I did not know what to think of her. A few days later one of her friends who worked for a social networking site looked up my email address and emailed me. He told me that she had felt a strong connection with me, like something she had never felt before. He told me that she was a special and amazing person and that when you were around her it was the greatest feeling in the world. We started to hang out more and more. It was so easy to talk with her and be around her.
I fell deeply in love with her almost immediately. She is absolutely the most beautiful women in the world to me. Her eyes are so attractive and enticing. She is so smart and so dedicated and passionate about the things she cares about. Her personality is wonderful, upbeat and caring, intelligent and honest, sweet and full of humor. Her laugh always fills me with happiness, it is so unrestrained and joyful. Her skin is soft and beautiful, she has beauty marks that are in all the perfect places. She carries herself with strength and dignity but with a gentleness at the same time. I had never met anyone who was even close to being like her, and I still have not. Being around her, spending time talking with her, laughing with her, being close to her is the best feeling in the world. It is like having the sun's warmth shine directly onto your heart. Or as if your heart was made of pure, unrefined love.
We fell in love. She came to visit me for almost a week at my home over Christmas break. We had a great time. However, When I got back to law school after the trip I felt horribly depressed. I felt sad and anxious. I did not know why. I thought maybe it is because of my new girlfriend. On one incredibly tough night for me I told her that I was not sure if I loved her, and that I was not sure of anything even. I told her I felt suicidal and depressed. She is super smart and progressive about mental health issues so she encouraged me to get counseling and meds. Which I eventually did. I was put on Wellbutrin (which helped a lot) and started counseling. My counselor was terrible, she had no idea what she was doing. She made things worse, made me think my doubts about my girlfriend were real. I knew they were not. Even with the Wellbutrin a cycle started in our relationship which continued until it ended. We would be very close and I would very loving, and then I would turn off. I would be mean. I would say hurtful things to her. At its worst it was emotional abuse. I was confused and she was confused. I loved her so much but I did not know why I was acting the way I did. I spent most of my time with her and by myself. I did not like doing social things.Social things were painful for me. They made me so anxious. I became depressed and anxious often. We were going to move in together for our second year but I backed out and she was deeply hurt. She pushed me to get counseling and for us to do couples counseling our second year of law school but I was not interested. I thought that whatever was wrong with me would just go away. Or that medicine would take care of it.
There were lots of things that we did together and had so much fun. She really loved the show "So You Think You Can Dance." I really enjoyed watching it with her and talking about the dances with her and who was doing the best. We went and saw a live performance by the cast and it was a lot of fun. We had so many good times but the negative times always outweighed the good times. One night at a party I got drunk and I broke up with her. I have no idea why I did it. The next morning I called her and said I was sorry and that I wanted to be with her. She told me that she cant keep feeling like the only one who is doing anything in the relationship. She needed me to try to make it work. My depression and anxiety just got worse and worse. I did not want to do anything social. I just wanted to play video games or watch tv. I neglected her terribly. It was so emotionally painful for her. It was very painful for me too. I loved her so much and I wanted to express that love more than anything but I couldn't. I did not know why. It first manifested as doubts about being in love with her. Then it manifested in a feeling of worthlessness. I thought I did not have the capacity to express love.
The cycle continued of short intense periods of love followed by long periods of disinterest and neglect by me. Last summer all I had was one class in summer school. I spent most of the summer alone. She worked during the day and then I went to school at night. We barely saw each other. I cheated on her with a girl who I had summer class with. I made out with her after getting drinks with her. I told my girlfriend immediately and she was devastated. She asked me if I wanted to be with her still and I said I did not know. I was confused. I did not know why I cheated. I made out with the cheating girl again the next night but decided I wanted to stay with my girlfriend that next day. My girlfriend told me OK, if I did anything to make it up to her and if I did not talk to the cheating girl at all. I couldn't help myself. I continued to text the cheating girl and of course my girlfriend found out. She was devastated. She threw down the gauntlet. I had to get counseling, go to couple counseling with her. Read books about relationships. Make as much as an effort as I could to fix our relationship. I agreed but then I did not do any of those things.
Four months pass. I can start to tell that she is turning off from me. I figured that she needed space so I gave it to her. I started to become interested in Buddhism. I am not sure what sparked my interest. I think it was the fact that I was so profoundly unhappy and was tired of being so. I also think that maybe my brain finally fully matured. I started meditating. I became much more self aware. I felt like a person who had been sleep walking through life and who had finally opened his eyes. I made an effort to show my love to my girlfriend each day. It was too little to late. She dumped me and told me to move out. She told me how she did not know who she was anymore. She told me how she changed herself so much to try to please me and all it caused her was sadness and unhappiness. How nothing she did ever seemed to satisfy me. She said she loved me but she could not be in a relationship with me.
I was beyond devastated. I went to a pharmacy and bought a big bottle of sleeping pills. I got a hotel room. I was planning to kill myself. When I got to the hotel room. I cried a lot. I thought about what I had read in the Buddhist book I had been reading. I thought about selfishness. I thought about how selfish it would be to kill myself. I thought: "You have been so selfish towards her for two years, and now you want to do one more selfish thing and hurt her again!" I couldn't do it. It was the turning point in my life. It was when I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to better myself and find happiness. I stayed up all night thinking of the things that I did that hurt her. I wrote them all down. The next morning I went to a jewelry store and bought the biggest most beautiful ring I could afford. I talked to her that day and I told her how sorry I was. I told her all the things that I did which I knew were wrong. I told her all the things I promised to do. I listed them all. I gave her the ring as a symbol of my dedication. I begged her to take me back. No she said. She accepted the ring but could not take me back this time.
We hung out a few times after that. Then we had two big talks. The first talk I had taken two days to write down everything that was going on with me. Why I did the things I did before. How I felt about her. How I was doing now. What I was going to do to change. Previously she told me that ultimately she would like to end up with me. I asked her if she ever thought she could be with me again and if what she said about ultimately ending up with me was just a "nice if it happens thing." Like it would be nice if I went on vacation this year. She said she needed time to think about everything I said and to compose her thoughts.
A few days later she told me how horribly difficult the relationship was for her. How she felt like she was the one trying the whole time, pushing for the relationship to work without any help from me. How she was constantly worried about doing things that would upset me. How she tried so hard in every part of her life to do things that she thought would make me happy. How she did not know who she was anymore. How she felt empty inside. How she cant be in a relationship with me anymore and needs time to figure stuff out for herself. I found out that she had been very depressed and was suicidal for a few months. It was (and still is) heartbreaking to know how I was the cause of so much suffering in her life. How I was hurting the person I loved the most. Horrifying. Having your worst nightmare come to life and you are the only person to blame.
Hope. She said she loved me. She said that I was her best friend. She said that I was her favorite person in the world. She said that ultimately ending up with me was not a pie in the sky feeling, it was more than that. How much more she could not say. How long it would take, she could not say.
I started counseling immediately. I meditated more often. I bought every insight meditation book I could find. I read them all. I read everything I could find on the internet about self-improvement. I read everything I could find about relationships. A month passed. My happiness and confidence were improving greatly. I became extremely self-aware. I felt like a brand new person. It was hard for me to even imagine being the person I was before. It seemed like a terrible nightmare. I wish it was. I spent time with my ex girlfriend and we really had a lot of fun. Just talking and laughing. Singing T-Payne in the car together. Even my counselor said how well I was doing.
My newfound quest for peace and happiness seemed to snowball. The better I got the more I did to try to improve. One weekend I went out drinking for a couple nights, skipped meditation for a few days and I had a severe panic attack for almost a whole day shortly after. I realized that if I was truly serious about finding happiness that is not dependent. Serious about finding peace. Serious about becoming the best-possible-person-I-can-be-so-that-if-my-ex-girlfriend-ever-starts-to-think-about-taking-me back-that-I-will-have-improved-so-much-it-will-be-a-no-brainer-for-her. I had to be committed 100% Which means not being infallible or perfect. It means that when I do mess up and take a step back I grit my teeth resolve to move forward and push forward. You must be kind to yourself about the mistake, but then be firm and tough about overcoming it.
I spent two days thinking and then writing a comprehensive plan for improvement. I wrote down what my goals in life were. My big goals. My immediate goals. My epic goals. I wrote down my motivations. I wrote down what I thought I was up against, my weaknesses. I wrote down pages of all the mental tools and tricks I have come across or thought of to remove bad thought habits. I thought of what hero I would be if I could be any.
(I picked Hector. I have always loved the Iliad. Hector stands for honor, righteousness and civilization. He fights for his family and his country. He is the "breaker of horses," he breaks down wild horses to train them into war horses. Just like breaking down my wild mind and training it. He fights against Achilles who is selfish and only cares about glorifying his own name. He knows he is going to lose and he still fights. He wins even though he loses.)
For those who have read this far and are wondering where does the porn and MB addiction come in to all this, here it is. It was the missing piece to the story I just told you. For the first time ever, that whole story makes sense to me. I can't believe I never put the pieces together.
While writing all of this down I realized that I needed to assess every part of my life that could be harming my mental health or any part of my life. I decided to face the demon horse who I had been secretly riding for 13 years. Porn and MB. I had recently come across some of Marnia's articles on Psychology Today, Sexual Superabundance I and II, Cowardly Lion etc. but I did not really believe it was that bad. I thought it was good to release all that energy and tension. That it helped relieve my anxiety and depression. I also am serious about Buddhism and one of the lay precepts is to abstain from taking intoxicants. One of my favorite authors Bhante G writes that an intoxicant is anything that results in over-stimulation when used too much. When I first read that and thought about my life Porn was the first thing that came to my mind. I resolved to abstain from porn and masturbation for 60 days. I figured that I would find out if I was addicted if I started to go through withdrawal. I was skeptical.
Here I am day 8 of no porn and no MB (I am in pure agony, mentally and physically). Porn/MB addiction is real. Too real. Horrifyingly real. I have almost never gone for more than two days without porn or MB. The times that I remember having gone for more than two days I remember being massively depressed or anxious during those times. I started MB looking at porn when I was 12 or 13 in middle school. Right at the same time my personality changed. We had a dial up modem and I used to stay up really late until everyone went to be to look at pictures of naked women. This continued through high school. The times in school that I was more involved socially and could not stay up late all the time my mood and depression improved. My junior and senior year when I had a 20 hour a week job and went to school I was pretty happy.
Then I went to college. For the first time I had my own computer and high speed internet. I had a room to myself. I can't believe I ever even went to class. Correspondingly my depression and anxiety went way up. If it were not for booze I don't think I would have ever dated or done anything socially. How sad. Sophomore year I had a roommate and a lot more friends. Not much time to MB or look at porn. Even though I still did. Same thing first semester junior year.
Then I went to Denmark. A new unfamiliar place, not knowing anyone. A room to myself, a computer and high speed internet. It was all I wanted to do. I would go to class and then I could not wait to go home and look at porn and MB. I became super depressed and unahppy Then when I moved to a real family environment I was happy. I spent time with friends and my host family all the time. It was wonderful. I was happy. Then I came home and down I plunged again.
My senior year started great but then as I spent more and more time alone I MB all the time. I knew exactly when my roommate was not going to be there so I would MB when he was at class. I am pretty sure it was 10:30 to 12:00 and 2:00-3:30 most days. Having a GF seemingly isolated me more. The anxiety and depression sky rocketed. When she came and visited me on that break I probably only MB once on that trip because I was with her the whole time (shower). On the 7th day of the trip I started to break down. I was massively depressed. Of course I was, I was going through withdrawal! And you would think that I would have MB right away first chance I got but if that withdrawal is anything like the withdrawal I am feeling right now I have no interest in MB at all, at least not yet. I feel so shitty. And then the SSRI. I have read that SSRI's reduce ones sexual desires. It makes so much sense why each time I went on an SSRI after one week of taking it I had terrible depression. It was because my brain went from high stimulation 2 or 3, sometimes 4 times a day to nothing! I even remember trying to MB a few days after starting on SSRI and it was horrible. I could barely get it up and then I had to work into a frenzy to have the most pitiful and painful orgasm ever.
I cheated on my girlfriend in college. Why? I used to have no idea. It seemed so out of character for me. I am very loyal to those I love. (I am sure three girls think very much otherwise). It was so out of character for me that it was devastating, like I did not even know who I was. Now I know that porn and MB addiction puts one on the path to cheating. When you spend all day for years looking at pictures/videos of potential new mates, impregnating them in your mind. When a real potential new mate presents itself you are going to cheat. You have conditioned yourself to cheat, plain and simple. The reward circuitry in your brain is in control
The next girlfriend I had was the first intense sexual relationship I have had. It made me lust after porn and MB more than ever. I even told her that and she thought that I just had a super libido. Now it makes so much sense. Having a lot of sex gives your brain the dopamine injection you get when you MB. So I got regular dopamine injection from sex for the first time instead of from MB/Porn. Which means my brain went into the lows of withdrawal after sex and I went to porn and MB to cure the desire.
How awful that cycle was that I could not even see. Good sex, I get high then immediately after very low. MB/porn I get high again, immediately thereafter I get low. I become depressed irritable, I detach from my partner. I do not want to do any of the things that need to be done to foster a good relationship.
Every relationship I have with a girl is doomed from the start if I am riding the porn/mb demon horse. It is double doomed if we have great sex.
Ugh it is 4 in the morning and I am finally starting to get tired. I will write some more probably tomorrow night. To be continued...