Sobriety Remains Intact, But Still The Dreams Come

Aside from people telling me what they see in the clouds beyond shapeless blobs, I find listening to them prattle on about their dreams to not only be annoying, but borderline painful. So you if you don’t want to read this, I get it, but I think it speaks to how addiction is always going to own a piece of my brain.

I was told by many addicts at my first rehab who were hooked on heroin that almost every night, they had dreams of using. Some of their dreams would stop before the needle went in, while others got the drugs in their system and then felt horrible guilt.

I’ve never had a pornography dream since I’ve entered recovery, and it took nearly a year for me to have a drinking dream, but recently, they’ve taken a weird turn.

For 3-4 years my drinking dreams have all followed along the same path. I’m usually at a bar or restaurant and there’s a pint of beer in front of me. Then, through the magic of the subconscious, the dream jumps forward in time and there’s an empty glass in front of me and I know I’ve drank it. I usually get somewhat upset at myself, but then I have the ability to tell myself it’s just a dream. I’ve had that ability since I’ve been a kid. I think it’s why I can’t recall ever having a nightmare. So, I wake up and I’m relieved I didn’t actually drink. The dreams probably only happen once a month at most.

In the last couple of weeks though, I’ve had two dreams and they’ve taken an interesting turn. Instead of that jump in time, I’m actually drinking the alcohol in the dream, except it’s always hard stuff, like a shot, not a beer. I think this may be because it only takes a second to down a shot where a beer takes longer.

The reason for drinking is always the same – there is none. I just have a momentary lapse, like I forgot I’m not supposed to drink. It’s totally an ignorance, not a craving, thing.

In the new dreams, I have a much stronger reaction after recognizing I’ve just tasted alcohol, too. I don’t have the ability to wake myself up because I’m convinced it’s real. I get very, very upset with myself and tell people around me about the old drinking dreams, but now it’s become a reality and how I’m a stupid idiot for letting it happen. The dream dissolves into whatever at that point, but I can’t wake myself up from it.

I’ve tried to figure out why the dreams have just changed. The only thing I can think of is that while I was on probation, drinking was illegal. Now I’m off, there is no actual punishment if I drink. But, I’ve been off probation like three months at this point. No idea why they just started and why I can’t get them to stop mid-dream. It’s got to mean something to my subconscious.

Anybody else with addiction issues ever have dreams like this?

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – January Edition

I haven’t written a trivial thoughts entry yet for January and since we’re both at the end and I have no thoughts worthy of a long-form entry, it’s the perfect intersection of deadline and laziness.

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I had a fascinating conversation with a friend the other day. I have been engaging in a little more anti-porn talk on the podcasts I appear on and presentations I make lately. I’ve tried not to come off as anti-porn because I believe the people who need the most help are pro-porn. Being anti-porn is passing judgment and addicts generally don’t respond well to being judged. That said, I also fully subscribe to the idea that all porn is objectification. There is no other reason to look at pornography than to objectify the person in the images being looked at or watched. Pornhub doesn’t exist to play “Guess this person’s IQ!”

I mentioned that porn is never a good thing because of the objectification, my friend asked the question if all objectification is wrong. I said that I thought it was, even when it’s a simple as seeing a pretty girl on the street. I’m not saying it can be helped necessarily, but I did say it was wrong. He brought up the idea of people making themselves look good, especially for a blind date. Aren’t those people specifically trying to appeal to the other person on nothing more than a visual level? He also brought up the fact that most people don’t want to be in a relationship with somebody unless they find their partner physically attractive. He said that’s just part of how evolution works.

I thought it was a fascinating point to make and one that I’m still wrestling with. I’d be curious to hear your opinions if there is such a thing as acceptable, or perhaps even necessary, self-objectification.

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I was going through the list of bloggers that I follow and saw the number had exceeded 100. It doesn’t feel that way when I look through the Reader section of WordPress, so I checked into the blogs I follow and it was amazing how many people haven’t kept up with their blogs. I went through and deleted every blog that hadn’t updated in at least four months. By the time I was done, I only had 56 blogs left. Some of them were amazing and I wonder what happened to those people. Others, often about addiction, just abruptly stopped and I worry what happened to those people.

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When I first went to rehab for alcoholism in 2014, I was told by a recovered heroin user that people who are heavy addicts will often dream for years about their addiction, and using. I have to admit, that’s never happened with me and pornography. I have never had a dream about it. I did however, go through a long stretch of having dreams about alcohol and over the last few weeks, they have returned.

Almost all of the dreams are the same. I am usually at a bar or a party and somebody offers me a pint of beer. I say no. Then, the dream jumps forward and I’m sitting with a couple of empty pint glasses in front of me and I immediately recoil in disgust. I can’t understand how I could have drank those beers since I haven’t had alcohol going back to April 1, 2014. I am thoroughly disturbed in the dream at the idea that I “just forgot” I had years of sobriety.

There was a wrinkle in the latest dream. I was faced with drinking and I said to myself, “Well, since I already slipped up, I guess I could” and for the first time in years, I recall drinking beer in one of my dreams. I think it’s fascinating that in my dream world, I relapsed in one dream and used it as an excuse to continue drinking in another dream. This is just another reminder that for all the energy I put toward pornography addiction awareness, I personally have to keep just as strong a watch over the alcohol.

Getting Trivial Things Off Of My Chest – December Edition

I have a feeling the next week-and-a-half is going to be busy and with a packed schedule comes a lack of maintaining this blog. I can directly trace my busiest times of the year with how many (or how few) blog postings I’ve made. So, this might be it for 2018 unless I toss up a Q&A.

At one point earlier this year, I would have made sure to have at least two more entries. I followed my statistics much closer then. I don’t think that’s the best reason for writing a blog. As I’ve mentioned before, I know a blog with the term “porn” in the title will scare away some people and many computer filters don’t let people get to my site because of the topic of the content. It’s ironic the very people who could use this site are the ones being denied by clunky content filters.

It reminds me of back in like 1996, when the newspaper I was working at just got the Internet. The IT guy (yeah, I’m looking at you Ray) who had your typical Napoleon Complex that comes with a lot of these guys who were picked last in gym, installed a hardcore filtering system. I once did a story on a woman who survived breast cancer and tried to get some statistics, but couldn’t look it up because the word “breast” was in the search.

Anyway, earlier this year I justified that following stats was important because the higher the numbers I had, the more people I was helping. In reality, I think it also gave me a bit of an adrenaline rush to see such high numbers. I mentioned this to my therapist once and she is often of the opinion, “If you’re not hurting anyone or yourself, does it matter?” I understand this philosophy, but think part of my illness through most of my life was the constant attention I was seeking from strangers. While a much lesser example, I still think checking my stats three times a day was more indicative of a popularity contest than a completely altruistic mission to help people.

I’m sure that when the new book comes out sometime next year (my guess is late spring at this point, but these things seem to have a way of getting delayed) I’ll be on here shilling it almost daily, but I’ve decided to not live by a posting schedule in 2019. There’s a lot of good material I’ve written and I hope people search it out if they need help. I’m just not going to be a slave to posting in hopes it pays off in ego points.

 

Speaking of ego points, if any of you have ever thought of publishing a book, be wary of those “publishers” who try to play to your ego and are in it to make money off of you. Now, we can argue the word “legitimate” when I say “legitimate publishers” but to me, that means a publisher who tries to make money off the book, not the book’s author.

Despite a recent spat, the publisher of my first book NEVER asked how many copies I was going to buy, nor made that contingent upon publishing.

The new book is getting interest from a handful of publishers. One of them asked if they could send a contract. I said OK because I want to see as many potential deals as possible. I won’t mention the name of the company here, but after an exchange of several emails and a nice telephone conversation, their deal came in the mail the other day.

While I had a couple problems with the deal, the real red flags went off when I got to the section of the contract that stated we had to purchase 500 books as part of the initial deal at right around $9 each.

No legitimate publisher is ever going to ask you to purchase your book. In fact, much like the other offer we’re currently considering, they should offer you at least 10 free copies of your book.

For the $4,500 that new publisher wants us to spend, we could self-publish and get far more than 500 copies. We said thank you, but no thank you.

I understand the urge to not self-publish – I don’t want to do it – but if the only publishers interested in your work want a large paycheck with it, that’s not somebody you want to do business with. If your book is that good, they’ll get behind it and have some skin in the game to make it a success.

 

Before I wrap this up, I just want to take the opportunity to thank those of you who rode with me the entire year and those who just jumped on board in recent weeks. While I try to keep this kind of stuff in perspective, I appreciate when you hit the like button, share a blog I’ve written on Facebook or share your comments. The reality is, we need to talk about pornography use and pornography addiction before we can, as a society, tackle the problem. I share statistics all the time that indicate the problem is getting worse, not better. Those of us willing to face it (even by just passively reading what I present shows you’re interested in the conversation, which is far more engaged than the vast majority of society) are still in the minority, but hopefully if we can continue to not judge, and maintain a safe space for addicts to come forward, we can begin to put some small dents in the problem.

Once again, thank you. I value each and every one of you.

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – November edition

I noticed I didn’t have trivial thoughts post for October. Maybe that explains why there are so many rolling around in my head today. Without further ado…

So, depending on when you read this Election Day is either a) over, b) today or c) tomorrow. I’ll be really glad when people pick up their signs on their lawn and go back to be secretive about who they support. Whether you like Trump or not, one thing you’ve got to say for him is that he has galvanized both sides of things. A lot of people will call it a divide, and it is, but at least it’s now out there in the open, for good or bad. I just think lawn signs look tacky and don’t affect my vote in the least. And whether your guys win or not, recognize that come Wednesday, it’s same shit, different day. None of this is going to affect you all that much in the long run.

I’m taking my son to an event on Wednesday where I expect to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen for about 20 years. I’m wondering if I should wear a ball cap and a hood, or shave, or do something to try and throw off my appearance. Despite not seeing these people, I’ve got to believe many know what happened to me about 5 years ago and probably have strong feelings against me because of it. I’m hoping that if someone recognizes me, they just ignore me. It would be bad form to confront me, especially in front of my son, yet that’s the big fear. Telling me off isn’t going to change anything. Next time you decide you’re going to give someone a piece of your mind, think about what you actually achieve. It’s little to nothing.

All of the years I was a journalist, I almost never voted in an election. I didn’t want my objectivity to be swayed one way or another. While I often found one (or both) candidates to be narcissistic assholes I wouldn’t want babysitting my kid, I did so by interviewing them and actually looking at their record. These days, I’ve resumed voting – absentee so I don’t have to show my face at the polls – and I leave the races where I don’t know both candidates blank. It seems safer than to just put a check mark next to the R or the D. What if you vote for the wrong person? It’s safer to vote for nobody.

I hate the leaves changing colors. I hate them falling off trees. I hate raking and I hate that it’s all a harbinger of the death season that is winter. Yet I still live in Maine…

A reminder before you vote. It doesn’t really matter who you vote for because progressives always win. I know conservatives don’t like to hear it, but you only have to take one look at this country to recognize that conservatives do little more than put up speed bumps. Whether it’s slavery, abortion, women’s suffrage, gay marriage, or 101 other issues, the progressive side always wins in the end. The most a conservative can really hope for is to be an obstructionist and win a battle or two until they’re dead because history has proven progressives always win the war. And I say this as someone who doesn’t label himself a progressive, but can honestly view how things work.

I had somebody approach me about writing a guest blog for this site. I’m still working with her on the content, but figured that so many people have given me shots at writing over the years, I may as well return the favor. If anybody else out there reading this wants to do a guest column, just let me know and we’ll figure something out.

Final thought: If you’re a diehard Democrat or Republican, your vote actually counts more if you don’t show up to maintain the status quo. In most elections, you’ll find 38% go Democrat and 38% go Republican. It’s the 24% in the middle who actually make the election count. As a hardcore Democrat or Republican, your job is just to cancel out the vote of the guy on the other side of the street with the equally ridiculous signs. Those people like me, who don’t have a sign on their lawn? We’re the ones who really decide things. It’s nice to play for one of the big teams, but there’s a freedom of being a free agent most will never experience. And one final reminder, you don’t have to vote a certain way or belong to a certain party because your daddy did. There’s a 49.999% chance your daddy was below average. Break the cycle. Think for yourself.

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – September Edition

I just realized I hadn’t written a trivial rantings article for September yet. While I know nobody was waiting for it, I have a lot of random stuff on my mind today, so it’s a pleasant coincidence.

First, I just did the math, and near as I can tell, I have hit the 500 mark in books sold. To the average person, that may not seem like a lot, but when you dig into sites like Amazon and know what it means to be listed #4,505,294 on their best seller list, you’ll understand why the vast majority of books never make it to 100 sales. The book was released on January 10 and my first goal for the year was 200, then it became 365, then it became 500. I don’t think I’m going to set another goal, I’m just going to be grateful for further sales and hope that reading the book is as helpful for people as writing it was for me.

My Internet is going about 10 times slower than usual today. The irritation might be good. It helps me realize just how easy my life is compared to many in this world.

Did you read my book, The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About: How I Let My Pornography Addiction Hurt People and Destroy Relationships? If you didn’t, click the link and go by a couple of copies. They make great gifts and provoke terrific conversations that start with, “Why the hell did you give me this??!!” If you did already buy it or read a free copy, and thought that it was good, can you go give it a review? I’ve been stuck on 9 for some time now and while I understand being hesitant to tell the world you liked the book, I’ve been told that every review exponentially helps Amazon decide how to rank searches.

So I broke my vow of no politics the last two days and I watched the hearings about the sexual harassment/assault charges against the nominee for the Supreme Court. I think I watched because I happened to see a little of his original testimony, and wondered how this story would unfold. Regardless of what I think should or shouldn’t happen, I was really saddened by the divide this country is in socially. I heard somebody on TV say that they think we’re headed toward a cultural civil war and while that may be a little hyperbole, I don’t think it’s far off. There are people in power, and so many more who support them blindly, that believe they are right, you are wrong, end of story and they exist in both political parties. I don’t think this can end well because there’s going to have to be something that brings people back together and aside from all agreeing to put yellow ribbons and American flags on our cars for a few weeks in late September 2001, this country is just getting further apart. I always say when I do podcasts or radio shows that there is no stereotypical porn addict. Well, there is also no stereotypical American. It’s our differences that make us stronger, not the little tribes we feel better belonging to because they parrot our opinions back to us. This also reminded me to return to not watching the news.

A few months back, I wrote about a library in New Hampshire where I was supposed to give a presentation and how the assistant library director had to write me with her tail between her legs apologizing for cancelling. Apparently, the new librarian was worried nobody would attend because it would be an admission they are an addict, despite the fact it’s advertised as an informational talk from a pornography addiction expert. Along with cancelling, the library had my book for over three months at that point and it still wasn’t on the shelf. The assistant librarian said she wanted to read it to make sure there wouldn’t be anything someone objected to in the book. I didn’t get into a semantics discussion over different ideas presented that may not please everyone, especially after she promised it would get on the shelf soon. Two months later…still waiting. If you don’t want my book, that’s fine, but don’t lie.

With the brilliant people at the Onondaga County Library in Syracuse, NY, deciding that my book was fit for their shelves, I am now in 246 verifiable libraries in the world. I still find it odd that New Zealand has more libraries with the book than at least a dozen states in the US. If you’re too cheap to buy my book, you can probably get it from your library or on loan through a library that has it in your state. And if you live in New York City or Los Angeles, complain to them I’m not in the library yet. I really want to get in those two and can’t seem to crack them.

As always, thank you for reading and/or following my blog. I used to write a weekly op-ed for a newspaper I was editor for. I really cherished the thought that my opinions and ideas were getting out to thousands of people who, whether they rejected or embraced what I wrote, at least were considering it. I know I’m dealing in hundreds instead of thousands these days, but nonetheless, thank you for considering my words.

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – August Edition

A couple weeks back I saw the Mr. Rogers’ biopic that’s been in movie theaters lately. It’s actually the highest-grossing documentary this year thus far. For me, Mr. Rogers was a signal that I was in the clear. My parents would pick me up at the abusive babysitter’s house around 3:45 p.m., when they were done with their elementary school teaching jobs. After being in a tumultuous environment for the previous eight hours, there was something calming and soothing about being able to sit in the safety of my home and a kindly gentleman telling me that everything was OK. My mother called him “Mr. Boring” but after the days I had, I was totally ready for Mr. Boring. I got choked up watching the movie several times because of my admiration for how truly decent a human being he was. Truth be told, I find most children irritating. I think those people who don’t and can be their mentors are very lucky.

I went to see that movie with my son. Since he’s on school vacation, I try to find at least one or two things a week for us to do so he doesn’t get too bored with his summer. He just started driver’s education this week, so I don’t have to work as hard at keeping him occupied. The fact he will be driving soon is a reality – and age – check for me. He read my book when it came out in January and he’s had a few questions here and there, not necessarily about my crime or even my addiction, but about things that happened in my childhood that may have contributed to where I ended up. I think at nearly 16 he’s ready to hear non-graphic accounts of what happened to me and my opinions about it. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about a lot of things. Feelings and “the past” were tops on that list. I’m hoping that my openness with my son will carry through to future generations. I know older people lament the good old days being gone when children respected their elders and blah, blah, blah, but I think our interpersonal communication skills are better than they’ve ever been as a people and while far more work needs to be done, we are finally accepting mental health as a real thing. I know there’s a tendency to romanticize the past and ignore its problems, I have a lot of optimism for the next generation. Sure, the younger generation utilizes electronic communication devices and platforms that I will never integrate into my life, but that’s not a reason to dismiss them. There’s still plenty of work to be done in areas of accepting all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientations, etc., but if I compare my grandparents’ generation to that of my children, I’ll pick the new generation every day of the week, even if I still don’t understand the point of Snapchat filters. My parents and grandparents did not come from “The Greatest Generation”. They came from the most self-righteous, and you reap what you sow.

Do you ever wonder who the heck is reading your website? I mentioned at the beginning of last month that my numbers were exploding, but that was nothing compared to what happened through the rest of July. I saw overall users for July grow by 39% and hits grow by 45% and the numbers may be even better for August. Who are these people finding my site? Are they reading anything helpful? Am I being duped by robots and crawlers who aren’t actually real people? I know there are plenty of companies that can tell me exactly what’s going on if I drop a load of cash on them. Not going to happen. So much of my life has been about trying to manipulate and overanalyze results and I kind of like the organic nature I feel this whole thing has taken on.

I’ve been working pretty steady on the second book over the last couple of weeks. I still find it a challenge to balance my freelance and ghostwriting work, which pay the bills, with my pornography addiction work, including this blog, which are my passion, but aren’t putting a roof over my head. I think this book, both in structure and content, will be like nothing else the pornography addiction recovery community has seen. I’m very excited, or at least more excited than I am about writing healthy eating blogs at $50 a whack for people who claim it’s their own work. That balance between passion and responsibility is a tough one to manage for me at times, and those people who can blend the two are truly lucky.

You may have seen the entry I made recently about resentments and how I think there are still people in my area who are resentful against me less for the things I did and more for the fact they see the entire episode as a betrayal of trust. I mentioned an Amazon review that had recently gone up that was an attack on me as a person, not a commentary on the book. As expected, it was pulled quickly. A few days ago, I got what you might call my first “bad” review, and you know what? It didn’t bother me nearly as I thought it would. I think the reviewer missed the bigger picture of what I was trying to do, but who cares? I don’t need to explain the nuance. They didn’t like the book. I can’t count the number of books or movies people have liked that I can’t. I’m sorry, but The Big Lebowski is asinine. There will be plenty of people who say I don’t “get it” but that’s fine. I still think Jeff Bridges is a fine actor, I just didn’t like the movie. It’s reassuring to know that a negative review on the actual subject matter won’t get me down. Negative reviews of me as a person just make me feel bad for the other guy.

 

 

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – July Edition

I rather enjoy when it’s time to write this monthly article. It lets me take the thoughts I haven’t been able to form into a blog-length article and just blurt them, even if they’re only a sentence long. It’s just like clearing a garden of the stuff that is decent, but won’t grow.

Side Effects May Occur: My doctor changed my meds recently. He pulled the Wellbutrin and put me on Zyprexa because I’ve been coping with a little bit of depression. This time of year, as the weather is reaching its zenith in these parts, I almost always get depressed. It’s like an opposite seasonal disorder. Anyway, I’m about 10-11 days into it and while the tiredness is getting better, I just feel exhausted so much of the time, especially the first half of the day. It’s supposed to take around two weeks to disappear. I guess the good news is I’m not depressed, but the bad news is I feel stoned most of the day. I just don’t understand how I took stuff recreationally 20 years ago to feel this way on purpose. I guess it’s numbing and that’s what I wanted.

Oh, Canada: In the statistics for this website, which is about 10 months old now, Canada has always come in at a distant third place for visitors and page views, far after the US and UK. Some weeks, India beats Canada. Over the last half of last week, Canada was doing triple the visits of the United States, often accounting for 80% of the traffic, which has been up lately. I have absolutely no idea why this is happening. It’s not resulting in better sales in Canada of my book. I’m getting the same number of queries for my peer support website. Something is going on in the Great White North.

The Fallout of Coping With Betrayal: As many know, I’m working on a book with a professional therapist about pornography addiction geared at the female partners of male addicts. I’ve found many sites run by them on the Internet and talk to many as part of my peer counseling efforts. It’s amazing how differently addiction can hit a wife or girlfriend. Some immediately view it as an illness and work to help their loved one get help. Others view it as the ultimate betrayal and years later are still trying to come to terms with it. I discussed this with my therapist the other day. She said that there are some betrayal trauma recovery patients who she believes will just never get over it, the way that a small percentage of people just never get over the death of someone super-close to them. And “get over it” can be a catch-all term, of course, but she’s talking about being able to live a healthy life and move on to a place where your day-to-day activities are largely back to normal. The hurt will always be there, but the human spirit as a will to survive…except when it doesn’t. Now I’m debating whether to put this in the book or not. Saying, “It’s possible you’re in the super-minority who never get over this” seems unhelpful, but if that’s what happens, is ignoring it a healthier option?

Punishment Fitting the Crime: She told me something else fascinating. If you went back 10 years, the sexual offender clients she had were all hands-on. Today, it’s all hands-off. She said it’s basically the same number of clients, but it’s all people who did stupid things via the Internet. Obviously, I’m somebody who has a personal interest in the legal system, but with the rate that sex offender registries are growing in this country, we’re going to have to start recognizing that the same lifetime punishments for somebody who looked at something illegal online and someone who actually sexually abused a child may need to be put into two categories. I’m not minimizing what I did, I just think that if I am on a list for life, far more has to happen to the hands-on offender post-incarceration or if they are going to be on a list for the rest of their life, maybe the non-contact offenders should be allowed off it at some point.

Cause and Effect? The other thing I wonder, and I’m sure I could compare crime stats to figure it out, is if access to illegal material online has caused the number of real-life abuse incidents to drop or if it’s actually caused them to spike. I’ll have to dig into that sometime.

Expert on the Addiction of Pornographic Material: You may see the phrases “porn addict expert”, “pornography addiction expert”, “pornography addict expert” on this website more in the future. I’ve been told by someone who runs a speaker’s bureau that if I’m moving my life in the direction of being an advocate and educator, I need to more fully exploit my credentials and build a name for myself. If someone types in “pornography addiction expert” into Google, I’m going to want my name to come up in the first page, so dropping these phrases is important. So that explains that, from a porn addiction expert.

Did You Get My Good Side? I wrote another article for Recovery Today magazine that was published last week. Instead of using my usual headshot, they used my mugshot. Yeah..now there’s a guy who looks like someone who should be giving advice.

Almost 200: My book has either been ordered or is now confirmed to be in 198 libraries. If it’s not in yours, request it. Think of all the people you’re helping…like me, for instance.

Help Feed My Kids My book is about to fall under 1 million for the first time on the Amazon bestseller chart. Tomorrow marks six months to the day it’s been out. Don’t let it fall under the 1 million barrier on such an occasion. You’ve been reading my stuff for free for too long. Go pick up your copy HERE.