The “M” Word

This would never happen.  But let’s just suppose that the missionary in the 12 Step Group asked the question: “By the show of hands, how many have a problem with pornography.” Probably most hands would go up.  Now what if he asked: “By the show of hands, now many have a problem with masturbation?” Possibly some hands would go up, but not as many as with pornography. And those hands would probably go up very slowly.

Why is that?  Well we rarely speak publicly about the “M” word. We even feel uncomfortable seeing it in print. It seems OK to say that I am addicted to P, but not to M. We, for some reason, don’t want to think of it as an addiction. And yet, based on my very limited research, I think that M is harder to overcome than P. I know of more than one case where the individual admits that they have not viewed P in over X amount of time. But they can’t say the same thing about M.

With addiction to alcohol, the addict has to obtain the bottle before he can act out.  With addiction to porn the addict has to either get access to the Internet, a magazine, a book or a picture before he can act out. However with M an addict has access to his addiction almost anywhere and at almost any time. So why shouldn't it be harder to give up.

And if you are honest, you will probably admit that you had experience with M long before you had experience with P. So you have a longer history of acting out with M. So let’s just admit it.  It’s a real problem to overcome M even when we are able to overcome P.

Perhaps we tell ourselves that M is not as bad as P. Is that it? We can act out with M and not have the same thoughts that we have with P. Does that make it better?   

As you may notice, I am not answering my own questions. I am just asking the questions.But let's be real honest here. "M is having sex with yourself."

We seem to acknowledge that we all use P to medicate ourselves just like an alcoholic uses alcohol to medicate himself--to escape his pain or problems. But let’s be honest. We also use M to medicate ourselves.

Here’s the chain of events.
  1. First there is the “trigger”
  2. Then we have the thoughts 
  3. Next we go to P
  4. And finally we go to M
In step two chemicals are released in our brain that create pleasure. In step three more of those chemicals are released.  And finally in step four we get a real jolt.  However, there is no requirement that we even have to do step three.  We can go directly from step two to step four.

You will notice there is no step five.  Yet we are all familiar with it.  Step five is guilt.

So if we want to overcome our addiction to M, perhaps we need to concentrate on steps one and two.
Without our reacting to the initial trigger, we won’t create the thoughts.  And without the thoughts we won’t act out.

That all makes sense, but each of us will have to deal with our own unique triggers and our own learned thoughts (daydreams and fantasies).   As another author has stated: P and M are not the addiction, “Thinking about it is the addiction!

While writing this I came across Alma 7:15Lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down.”  Yep, that’s what we’re talking about.

If you have suggestions about overcoming M, I would like to hear them.

One suggeston is that we employ "boundries" with M just like we do with P.  With P we can set boundaries as to when we access the Internet and where we go.  Perhaps with M, we should set up clear boundries as to when and how we touch ourselves.

Also see my post regarding Being Half Sober.

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