So September is nearly upon us and looking back, August has been probably the toughest month I’ve had to deal with in relation to porn addiction. My anxiety and stress levels have been through the roof, yet I’ve been relapsing at the same regularity as before, so all in all I’m finding it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But that hasn’t meant I’ve stopped trying, and one key change I’ve made, and continually refined upon, is implementing a holistic method to block my ability to watch porn on my laptop, tablet and phone. This is only addressing the means, rather than the motivation, but the aim is to help me get to a period of sobriety, which in turn will improve my mental state and increase my chances of a longer-term recovery.
- Enabled Sky’s (my broadband provider) content filter by enabling through their admin panel. As I have a Sky login (to use their services like remote record), I technically can disable this filter, but if I do, my wife automatically receives an email. By enabling this filter, all porn served to any home device via my broadband connection is blocked, and the filter works very well. There is one workaround to this though:
- Using a VPN/proxy server. A VPN is a way of bypassing your ISP’s content block, by requesting web pages via a different domain service than the one your ISP uses. I happen to have a VPN to my work network setup on my personal laptop, so I can easily work from home, and my company does not filter porn on their network for some reason. So the only way to block porn delivered via the VPN is to install software on my laptop which will block porn locally, regardless of what internet connectivity has been used. I have opted to use K9 Web Protection, which does a very good job. My wife owns the password and it blocks all porn and also image searches, unless you use its own safe image search. I am still an admin on my laptop, which means I am technically able to force-delete appropriate system files to disable this block, but it is laborious and combined with the steps below, I’m hoping removing my admin rights won’t be necessary.
- Enabled Apple’s adult content restriction on my iPad and iPhone. This is a very strict block that prevents a lot of websites from being shown on my phone, but better to be safe than sorry. Again, content is blocked regardless of whether I use a VPN or not, and it applies to almost all 3rd party apps as their built-in browsers essentially just use the built-in Safari engine. In addition, I have deleted all apps on my phone that can access images or porn, like Reddit and Google Search, and have disabled the App Store so I can’t download 3rd party browsers.
So I am at a point where it is basically impossible to look at porn on my phone or iPad, and the only way to do it on my laptop is to force-delete the K9 software and use my work VPN (where all my access is recorded) to watch porn. There is a huge risk of me using my work VPN, in that I could lose my job.
In addition, I have put in place two additional safeguards into my daily routine. As the most common times for me to watch porn, or try to, are in the morning after my wife has left for work and in the evening after she’s gone to bed, I’ve suggested to her that from now on I get up and leave the house with her (no more lying in bed as she leaves) and go to bed with (no more staying up late). These steps should hopefully compensate for the fact that technically there is a workaround, albeit a laborious and job-risking one, still available.
One key thing I’ve noticed is that the more I implement technical blocks of porn, the more I rely on these blocks as my method of abstaining. This has meant that each time I find a workaround, I go full on and relapse immediately to take advantage of it, then afterwards I plug that workaround and the process continues. By relying so much on the blocks, it has reduced the emphasis on building up my own mental fortifications against temptation. My most successful periods of abstinence have been in the past before I implemented a single block, and now I’ve got blocks enabled, I’m relapsing more frequently as I spend my whole time trying to break them (and often succeeding), rather than spending time building my mental strength and strategies. Now I have basically got the blocks sorted, I need to revisit these original mental techniques to start focussing on resisting temptation and improving my mental well-being, rather than just focussing on the technicals.
I must mention my wife as well – she has been hugely supportive. My stress levels have been borderline depression during my recent relapses and she’s been open to all my suggestions and has supported me all the way. She’s 4 months pregnant and so I feel terrible to be putting her through this but I don’t see any other way – she has to be involved. It is so hard to admit to her when I fail because I know how disappointed it makes her, and it is embarrassing for me, as well as being genuinely hard to do because after I relapse I tend to be at my lowest mental point – depressed, deflated, disappointed with myself, so to then admit this to someone else who will add to the disappointment is hard. But it needs ot be done and she hasn’t let her disappointment flow over into negativity – we always discuss why it happened and what can be done to prevent it again.
So there we have it. This is probably a few blog posts wrapped up into one but I just wanted to get a few things written down. I’m hoping this will be useful or interesting reading for someone at some point in the future!