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Night in the Box
By DH
12/23/2011 12:40:06 AM
My title is from a famous scene in Cool Hand Luke -- one of the greatest prison movies -- where the jailor is explaining to all of the new prisoners that anyone who gets out of line in the prison will be punished by having to spend a night in cramped and uncomfortable isolation -- in "the Box." The title might make more sense in the end.

8 days ago, I slipped. I came on the site, opened an account, got pretty active in posting and responding -- it was helping me. Today, I slipped again.

Simply put, 8 days is pretty good for me. But, of course, it is not that simple -- it is actually quite complicated.

As I said in my first post, my drug of choice is MB. I usually am not that tempted to view pornography. But the temptation has been getting more frequent, and that scares me.

Like everyone else on this site, I have taken every approach imaginable to address this problem -- everything from conscientious abstinence to total indifference. Everything. Been there.

One of my less orthodox approaches was basically an agreement with my wife that I would MB once a day, in the morning shower, and I wouldn't view pornography at all. This deliberate approach made MB efficient, systematic, and routine, instead of anarchic, uncontrolled, and underground.

The immediate benefit of regular MB for me was that I was not preoccupied with sex -- I didn't have to bother my wife for sex every day (not always a fun discussion), and I was rarely even tempted to look at pornography. In short: I could lead a chemically balanced life, if not a spiritually strong one.

I told a few of bishops about our arrangement (we moved during the arrangement, so we had 2 bishops in this time). One of them saw no problem with it as long as my wife didn't mind and as long as I didn't feel bad about it; the other thought I should keep trying to cut out the MB, but he didn't impose any kind of "disciplinary" action or anything. Everything was going fine, and I didn't feel that bad about the situation because I was being honest with my bishop and my wife and I was avoiding pornography and sexual preoccupation throughout the day, all at the price of one "harmless" indulgence.

The only problem with this whole system was that, for all my rationalizations, I still knew deep down that my addiction to MB -- even if it was not apparently "hurting" anyone, and even if it didn't make me feel "bad" under the circumstances -- was holding me back from achieving the full potential that God had planned for me. I knew that if I kept doing what I was doing, I would remain at the spiritual level I was at, which (I was sure) was nowhere near as rewarding and happy a place as God wanted me to reach.

So, occasionally, I would fight back. I would suddenly choose to ignore the morning ritual, go to work, white knuckle through a few days or a week, but then, inevitably, I would crash . . .

. . . with pornography.

Why? I don't know.

I said on an earlier post that I think it might have something to do with me being so fixated on avoiding the MB that while I watch the front door, Satan comes in the back.

It could also be that pornography can sneak up on you much more subtly than MB. I mean, if you're going to masturbate, you have to take some pretty clear steps to do it. But with pornography, it's not one jump into hell; it could be a hundred baby steps -- click on an innocent link, then another, 10 innocent links later, the links are less innocent, but they are still not pornography, 10 more and you are in a yellow zone, 10 more and you find yourself saying "to hell with it, I have already failed." And he's got you.

This trend of crashing with pornography is extremely distressing to me because -- first of all -- it has become something of a self fulfilling prophecy. Second, I find pornography to be much more seriously scarring to me personally than MB. It may be different to different people, but to me, pornography is the more dangerous and pernicious vice. It hurts me more because it stays in my head,and it hurts my wife more when I do it because it seems to her to be more of a mental thing than a physical one, and it can last so long.

Because of this trend, I often feel I have a dilemma: I can sit quietly in his prison and nobody gets hurt (MB), or I can try to escape, but if I am caught, I get a night in the Box (pornography), which is much worse for me than just sitting in jail.

Every time I run, I get caught and I end up in the Box.

After a while, its enough to make a prisoner sit down on his bunk and say, "well, this isn't so bad, anyway. At least I'm not in the Box. At least no one is getting hurt."

But after a while of sitting on the bunk and looking out the window, most prisoners will eventually start thinking of their next break.

And so it goes: every time I try to quit the MB, I crash with pornography, and every time I crash, I always think "I should have just kept on with the MB." And so I do for a while, but then I try to quit, and the cycle starts over.

Well, 8 days ago, I quit the MB. It was a great 8 days. I felt good. I was happy. I had the Spirit. I felt free.

About a week out (yesterday), I started feeling the pain of withdrawal. I had intense cravings for MB. I put my head down and pressed on. I was determined to win this war.

But, yesterday, I started to lose little battles. I would read something innocent online, but I would look a little too long at the links with salacious news items -- not pornography, but not something I would not want the Bishop to see me reading. Maybe I would go to an entertainment news page, or something. Of course, I know I don't care about entertainment news! I know darn well I am only going to those pages to see the paparazzi shots of the women on their beach vacations or whatever, because I can tell myself that is not pornography, but it causes a very small chemical release in my brain -- some adreneline, probably some dopamine -- it is like slipping without slipping, right? You know the lies Satan tells as well as I do.

One thing leads to another. Eventually, you feel yourself sliding on the icy roads, skidding out of control, and Satan is telling you that you have already failed so why stop now?

The ironic thing is that if I give in to MB when I start losing the early battles, the urge goes away and I avoid the pornography at the end of the line. (But then I am back in prison). I tell myself that I can't just give up and give in to MB because I have come so far, and I still haven't MB! So I just keep clicking for relief that -- as we all know -- never comes.

Eventually, I give in anyway.

So here we are. I leave the Box feeling broken -- which is the point of the Box. The Box is supposed to break your spirit so you get back in line and go back to your cell. This is the part in my cycle when I tell myself that I should go back to the safety of my uncomfortable government-issued mattress and stainless steel toilet. It's better than the Box; at least I don't mess with pornography in my cell.

OR, here's a revolutionary idea, what if I just started running again?

Satan is the jailor, telling me to stay put, threatening me with a night in the Box if I get out of line. He is controlling me with my fear that I will "inevitably" crash with pornography. I want to run again, but I am afraid.

I know that faith in Christ means that I should do what I know is right and do not fear what seem to be the inevitable consequences. Faith is at the heart of every time I run. Fear, the cause of all of my crashes.

Thoughts?

Comments:

call me, if you're still up    
"As I said yesterday:

In so, so many ways, I look up to you, too, and I will no matter what...

I meant it then, and I mean it now. You are my example in so many ways. I am on your team. You may be against yourself right now, but I am for you. You may not be proud of yourself, but I'm proud of you. 8 is great. Now, as you have preached, it's not about whether you fail, but about whether you get back up. Get back up and keep running.

I should've called you yesterday, or today, or 2 hours ago when I thought of it, but it would have been the middle of the night for you. It looks like you were probably still up.

Here are a couple new things to try. When the temptation comes next time, you can call me any hour of the day or night. You must know I love talking with you, and I would be honored if you called me in your time of need.

Another suggestion, if your wife is up for it, is to do what I did today. I was also tempted, and I went quickly to my wife to tell her I felt the temptation coming on. I knew that there maybe triggers today. My wife knows the routine, and she would prefer me to come to her than to act out. Some may think that I am still a slave, but I prefer to think of myself as just an average man. It is good to have a wife on my team.

So, there are 2 options as you continue your battle. I'm sure you have thought of the second 1, and now you can call me anytime you like. Serious."
posted at 02:57:34 on December 23, 2011 by beclean
Thanks    
"Thanks, BECLEAN. I appreciate your constant support.

I am willing to give the emergency call a try. What do we talk about in these calls?

Have you seen Cool Hand Luke? The more I think about it, the more I think it is actually a pretty apt metaphor.

Luke's whole thing is that he has an unconquerable spirit. He escapes and all the prisoners look up to him, but it turns out that he really hadn't escaped as cleanly as he let on; he gets sent back to jail. The warden punishes him thoroughly for trying to leave before, determined to break his spirit and his will to escape. It eventually seems to work. Luke goes through a period of despondency. Eventually, he runs again. In the final showdown, when the warden has him surrounded, he defiantly rejects the warden's insistence that he is doomed to fail by flippantly parroting back the warden's signature quote "what we've got here is a failure to communicate", In the end, they kill him -- but he dies on the run.

Luke is every addict that stands up to the warden and gets caught and gets punished and runs again anyway -- every addict to whom Satan says "you are just not getting it; I own you and you will never leave me, you can't because you're too weak" ("what we've got here is a failure to communicate") and replies "no, you're the one that is not getting it. I will keep running no matter how many times you bring me back in. I will never stop trying." ("what we've got here is a failure to communicate")."
posted at 10:50:50 on December 23, 2011 by DH
so now we are brothers ;)    
"I have seen the movie, It's a good one. Your analogy is also good. And I've also seen Toy Story 3 and noticed the scenes that movie borrows from Cool Hand Luke. :)

Emergency call: can be at any time of day or night, and we can talk about anything. We can talk about the real reason for the call, or we can talk about anything else. I don't think we have ever had a shortage of things to talk about. If you call, and I don't answer, try again immediately, since my phone is always on vibrate, and I may have set it down. It should still wake me,when necessary, and this would definitely be "necessary.""
posted at 11:37:28 on December 23, 2011 by beclean
Porn Vs. Masturbation    
"DH,

You seem to struggle with the question of whether porn or masturbation is worse. I'll tell you something that I heard from my sponsor, "It's all the same crap!" Whether it's lusting, masturbating, looking at porn, or participating in some other wrong sexual activity, it's all pretty much the same. The reason it's all the same is because all of these methods are just ways for us to get our fix, and all of these things make the Holy Spirit leave.

I hope you listen to your "brother", Beclean. He knows what he's talking about. I don't know exactly what Beclean means by "going to his wife," but I do know that the Lord commands us to keep all sexuality between husband and wife. If Beclean's wife is fine with their arrangement, then good for them. They are following the commandments from what Beclean has described.

It seems to me that you must be married to a very understanding and compassionate woman. I don’t know if she can give you permission to masturbate though. I don’t think that counts as sexuality between husband and wife, especially since you’re doing it when she’s not there. Something about it seems wrong. If I were you, I would give up the addiction altogether. Total abstinence from lust, masturbation, and porn is the only way to go.

You mentioned that giving up masturbation causes you to crash with pornography. There might be some truth to this, but I think it sounds a lot like addict rationalization. Following this line of logic, you win either way. You excuse yourself for the porn, and you allow yourself masturbation in the future. I’ve done a lot of rationalizing and heard a lot of it as well, so I can definitely relate. I think a more appropriate position to take the next time you slip with porn would be to say, “I failed. I will examine what went wrong and do better next time.” Your goal should be to give up this addiction, not to protect it."
posted at 12:37:11 on December 23, 2011 by ETTE
Perception is more important than reality.    
"Ette, I hear what you are saying about it all being "all the same crap." I agree that it is all sin and that it all keeps us away from God, but that does not necessarily mean that one cannot be more dangerous to a particular person than another. We all have different challenges.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this point, but I feel that FOR ME, pornography is more dangerous because it gives me new ideas that I didn't have before (which tend to germinate), it sticks with me longer than any MB fantasy, and it fuels more MB (not the other way around).

That is just me. I know others are different.

You are right to observe that the dilemma I described above depends entirely on this dynamic -- that is why I set up the dilemma by describing the dynamic. If there were no real difference between how bad they each made me feel, then I wouldn't have the Prison vs. Box problem. But one does make me feel much worse.

Where we disagree is that, it appears, you believe that if I just consider them to be the same then the Prison vs. Box problem goes away. The problem is, I can't just "consider them to be the same." They are not the same in my mind; for me, pornography is much more damaging. I know my limits on this one.

I wouldn't describe my reflections on this subject as an effort for ME to "win either way." Indeed, I feel more like I lose either way. I feel no sense of triumph when I feel surrounded by the enemy. If what you mean is that, under MY reasoning, SATAN wins either way, I agree with you. There doesn't SEEM to be a way out. But that is what faith is all about.

Another point where we agree is that I am trying to do exactly what you suggest at the end. The entire point of my post was only to say “I failed. I will examine what went wrong and do better next time.”

By writing out my thought process honestly, I can see that one of the reasons I failed was because the pornography was "more subtle than any beast of the field." I can see that one of the differences between MB/P is that pornography can sneak up on you more subtly than MB can. I hadn't thought of it like that before. I can watch out for this better in the future.

Also, when I started writing, I was strongly considering going back to the prison. But by the end, I had decided that was exactly what Satan was trying to intimidate me into doing. He is trying to control me with the fear and hopelessness of my dilemma. Every time I try to get out, he slams me back in and rants and raves, and I have to admit that every time I am scared, like Moses was when Satan tried to intimidate him, but what is driving all of his ranting and raving is that he is afraid that I will try again. He is afraid that if he doesn't scare me enough, I will try to leave again. And again. And again. And he knows that someday, the faith that keeps me trying will be enough for Christ to bust me out of there.

Well, I know what he is doing now. I still feel that pornography is more dangerous to me than masturbation. But I can also see that he is using that exact dynamic to set up a checkmate to control me, and if I realize what he is doing, and that he is using my own reasoning to box me in then -- while I can't change the reality that one is more perilous than the other to me -- I can protect myself from his psychological manipulation by calling it what it is.

Thanks for the comments. I do appreciate the input."
posted at 13:43:12 on December 23, 2011 by DH
It is all the same drug    
"Some time ago I made a discovery that helped me view my addiction in a different light. The chemicals in the brain that give the pleasure rush from P/M are endorphins.
Endorphins get theor name from endo and morphine. Literally, these are chemicals that one's body replicates the same effect of morphine. And that is why it is so addictive. A person who would be vulnerable to a morphine addiction (or any similar drug) is also vulnerable to a P/M addiction.
And, having a quick easy access to things that stimulate the endorphin production makes it more addictive. Why is crack considered more addictive than cocaine? Because the "rush" hits the brain that much faster. The brain gets trained to expect the rush that much more quickly.
What this means is that whether an addict chooses porn or masturbation, either way it is the same drug."
posted at 14:43:44 on December 23, 2011 by Hk-47
Thanks for clarifying, DH    
"That makes a lot of sense. I believe we learn a lot from expressing ourselves and sorting through the circumstances and consequences of our addictions. I understand what you mean by porn being worse for your individual situation.

I think we generally agree with each other, I was just asking you to be a little cautious. One of the inevitable problems with a blog like this is all of the misunderstandings. I really appreciate people like you who take the time to explain themselves instead of getting offended and spouting hateful insults.

As a side note, I find it very interesting that you feel like your porn addiction fuels the masturbation. For me, it's the exact opposite. I feel like if I give into masturbation, then it will only be a matter of time before the masturbation leads me to porn and beyond. I guess that just proves what you said about everyone being different.

Good luck, DH. Thank you for sharing so honestly."
posted at 16:22:42 on December 23, 2011 by ETTE
Horse breaking    
""He is afraid that if he doesn't scare me enough, I will try to leave again. And again. And again. And he knows that someday, the faith that keeps me trying will be enough for Christ to bust me out of there." - DH

Christ has already "busted you out." He has freed the captives, flung the prison doors wide, overcome the world, and bought you with a price.

Each of us is a dual being. Our bodies were created in a fallen world. They are carnal, sensual, and devilish by NATURE. Our bodies crave and lust; they hate work and self-control. Our bodies are, perhaps, incapable of doing ANYTHING good by themselves--totally depraved.

But our spirits come from the presence of God, where we valiantly fought alongside Michael against Lucifer. When we came to earth, our spirits WANTED to serve God--and I think all the people on this site STILL have spirits that want to serve God.

Our spirits must learn to control our bodies. Our bodies will rebel every step of the way. But, as I have already said, Christ has overcome all of that. His atonement has given us perfect, incorruptible bodies for eternity--guaranteed! All we need to do now is endure to the end. That is, our spirits need to hang on until our bodies finally give out. Then, the war is won. The mortal body cannot win the war against the immortal, eternal spirit--unless our spirits give up and give in.

Our body has strong unrighteous desires and natural tendencies. However, like a wild horse, our bodies can be tamed. Christ wants a broken heart--like a broken horse. I don't know much about breaking a horse, but I imagine that it takes some horses longer than others, and I imagine that the key to horse-breaking is consistency and not giving up. Eventually, if you keep putting the horse (your body) in it's place, you will have a broken horse (a broken heart and an obedient body that is subject to the spirit). That's not to say the horse will never act up again, but if you consistently put it back in it's place when it acts up again, and again, and again, eventually, the horse will have gone for months and years without acting up, and then it will stop altogether.

Interestingly, DH, I think that is what you describe that Satan is trying to do to your spirit. When you run, he kicks you back into place. "What we have here is a failure to communicate," he says. You WILL sty in your cell, or you'll get a night in the box. He's trying to break you. He's trying to keep you from running.

But you are in charge here. Satan, without a body, can never be as powerful as you. You break your body! As quickly as you can after your body acts out, turn with all your might back to the Lord. Don't cry, "It's too late, I'll NEVER control this thing." Don't despair that your body acted up on you again. That is just what natural, unbroken bodies do!

Instead, get immediate help to calm the beast. Yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man. Teach your body what is right and get back on the straight and narrow as quickly as possible. Fill your mind with good, and teach your mind exactly what it should be doing. Parrot back to your body, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Eventually, if you keep getting back up, never failing, your body will be broken; it will remain it ITS place, not the other way around. And, you WILL win this war, because Christ will eventually give you a new body, one that NEVER rebels against its master spirit--guaranteed!

To all those on this site who wonder why you are such a terrible person with wicked desires and righteous desires at the same time:

You aren't a terrible person! You are a glorious spirit in a natural body. Your body has terrible desires, but your spirit is good, as evidenced by your desire to change and control your body. You are NORMAL--better than normal. Most people who come to this earth never make an effort to control their bodies. They simply submit! But YOU are different. You are trying to control your body, and so you are experiencing the ultimate battle of this life: man against self--eternal spirit warring against newly received, mortal body.

The trick is, as we have all said, JUST KEEP FIGHTING! Get back up, and endure to the end. Eventually, you will win. But oh, WHAT A TRAGEDY if you STOP fighting, and you stop teaching the body who is the boss. Then, the body wins. The body takes control. And when the body dies, what is left, but a destroyed and submissive spirit, anxious to serve Lucifer?

"Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come (desires) may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come...If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God." Alma 42:27-28

It's all about the desires of an unconquerable spirit. You WILL win this war, if you just keep fighting! The enemy has already been slain! The battle that remains is for your growth and development; the whole purpose is to see whether your spirit will choose to be faithful or choose to give up. Don't give up!

PS Ette, it's good to see you again."
posted at 18:37:58 on December 23, 2011 by beclean
some thoughts    
"DH - I am not going to write anything more sagacious than ETTE and BeClean, but I'll share what I have discovered lately. I like alot what BeClean said about us vs the mortal body. We also hear alot about these 12- steps. I have been to countless meetings. but i NEVER WORKED THE STEPS! I don't have a sponsor but I have really come to learn what steps 1-3 are all about. I am on day 8 today myself. I am a total addict. I can't hardly go a day without wanting the fix. I'm not married so I don't even have a woman to fight for.
I go to three different groups. 2 SA and 1 PASG. Traditionally, we go. we give our sob story. and leave. Well, lately I have told the group that I need people to call. I need freaking help. I got a list of numbers. I didn't stop there. In the past 7 days, any time I get cravings or bored or emotions are off, I mass text the group. I state exaclty what I am feeling. I either ask for advice or ask if someone can make a call. The response has been awesome!! Other men, especially those with a bit of sobriety, are super willing to talk you through it. Forget your pride. Forget the "I don't want to talk to a stranger about my issues" forget that!!!

Do all your dailies. do all you can. but in the moment, plead with god " I am powerless on my own" I tell God exactly what I am craving and how i'm going to act out. "Lord, I really like how it feels when I masturbate. These sites have really hot girls and Im going to look at this to make the MB even better. So Lord, I am powerless against this, so I give it to you. Take these desires. I forfeit my will. bc my will is out of whack right now." This is an intense battle. I think I had to do this 3 times in one day. The support group was not bothered by the texts.

You are welcome to add me to your contact list. I take calls from anyone. I may not have the advice but honestly the process of making the call and talking about the situation and the EMOTIONS is often all it takes to come to your senses. Under enough chemicals, our prefrontal cortexes shut down. You think too much fantasy and our rational brains shut down. We turn into animals. Surrender before then!! get the numbers (i mean the cell phone numbers) of the guys in this site who impress you and especially the guys at your meetings who have some sobriety and expereince. And call them!!!

well, like I said, I am not the most sober addict but I have learned this. We are awesome men. Satan is getting desperate becuase he fears us!!

check this link out about the MB and how to manage it (tobacco users are doing this)

http://mwharkertherapist.blogspot.com/2011/12/line-upon-line-relapse-prevention.html?spref=fb />
this therapist has a really good blog"
i like it    
"Use every weapon you've got. Don't just try 1 thing, try them all, at the same time, and keep using them, even if you fail. A complete attack and ambush is the only way. That shows the lord that you are serious. Then he fights The battle."
posted at 12:37:46 on December 24, 2011 by beclean


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"I need not define your specific problem to help you overcome it. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it violates the commandments of the Lord, it comes from Satan, and the Lord can overcome all of Satan’s influence through your application of righteous principles. Please understand that the way back is not as hard as it seems to you now. Satan wants you to think that it is impossible. That is not true. The Savior gave His life so that you can completely overcome the challenges you face. "

— Richard G. Scott

General Conference May 1990