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Alex Diaz

Episode 71

Alex Diaz

Husband, Father, & Recovering Compulsive Porn Consumer

This week’s podcast guest, Alex Diaz, has experienced how porn can negatively impact relationship satisfaction and relationship stability, especially in his marriage. During this conversation, Consider Before Consuming host Garrett Jonsson talks with Alex about how his porn consumption distorted his understanding of healthy sex, how it contributed to sexual dysfunction, and why he decided that rehab was necessary for himself. Alex also shares what he’s doing today to build and maintain healthy relationships with himself, his wife, and others, and provides encouragement for those who may be stuck in a struggle with porn.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Garrett Jonsson: First things first, Alex, we just wanna welcome you to the podcast and say thanks for joining us.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. You bet. Thanks for having me.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s a pleasure. It’s always a privilege to speak with people who have lived-experience. It’s invaluable. And so really again, thank you for making this happen.

Alex Diaz: No, you’re welcome.

Garrett Jonsson: You and Candace have two kids and I currently don’t hear any kids in the background. How did that happen? Like how did you escape and get a moment?

Alex Diaz: [laughter] Yeah, she took ’em away there. That’s the only way of getting to this place quiet.

Garrett Jonsson: For sure.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. So she’s a out, they took, took him on a picnic and I’ll let her know when I’m done. Yeah. That’s the only way.

Garrett Jonsson: Yep. As a dad, I can totally relate that you are correct when you say that is the only way.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, kids great…

Alex Diaz: You would hear stuff in the background you’d hear crying or laughing or screaming or something.

Garrett Jonsson: For sure. Well, Alex, what are you up to these day? Like what does your day to day look like now? Like just to get a better idea of who you are.

Alex Diaz: Sure. Yeah. Um, so I’m out, we live in California, central California. Um, and I’m in the solar industry out here. I do door-to-door sales. And um, so my, my day-to-day is the morning I try to be there for my kids and my family in the morning time. And I’m more busy in the evening and afternoons.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Alex Diaz: Just because that’s when people are typically home. Yeah. And so I kind of have a flipped schedule where a lot of people are home at five or four and, and stuff like that. But, um, so I’m, yeah, I I’m up in the morning. I do my stuff. I try to get up earlier than my, my kids, which does not always happen. And usually I I’ll set the alarm at six and they always tend to wake up right after me. But, um,…

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] For sure.

Alex Diaz: I try to, I try to have my like hour in the morning to do my stuff, um, you know, connect and do the things I need to do reading and stuff like that. And then, um, yeah, I’m pretty much just with my kids and my wife is I, um, she’s starting her online business and stuff, so she’ll take time to do that in the mornings and then I’m out and I’m working the rest of the day. Um, and then I’ll take some time off. I have a very flexible schedule like that, but that’s kind of our day to day is just and work, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Nice. That’s awesome.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, in regards to your mornings, your morning routine, I’m just wondering, like how important are those moments of solitude? You said you try to wake up early before the kids.

Alex Diaz: Yeah, those are so important. And I just notice that, so if I don’t take care of myself, that I’m not able to take care of my kids as well, I, or other people at work, you know, going out and providing, um, cuz you have to show up in life, you have to be present for your kids. You have to be present for your people at work. And um, especially in a job where I’m not getting paid, unless I actually go make it happen.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Alex Diaz: And so, um, I yeah, taking time to be alone and, and meditate and you know, do some good reading and things like that, journal- that’s huge. Doing some workout as well. So I noticed there’s just a, a total different energy for the rest of the day for me.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Yeah. I was looking at some research yesterday actually. And the research was talking about how important like exercise is for our mental health. And this particular study was like looking at like the importance of like team sports. It said that team sports were like the most effective in regards to improving mental health and then cycling was another one and then gym activities. So…

Alex Diaz: That’s awesome.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, man, like when I exercise, I notice that like for the next 12 hours I feel better.

Alex Diaz: Yeah, dude, it’s so true. It’s a huge thing. And I, and that’s the other thing I try to implement. Like you said, team sport activity. I I’ve never been one into sports. Like I’ve never, I never played for high school or anything like that, but um, yeah, lately, like there’s a group of guys in my work who we’ll get together and play pickle ball like once a week. And then there’s another group of guys I’m friends with that we get together and play basketball. And um, so just like doing that, it’s just so much fun. And you’re with other people and you’re exercising and you feel good and yeah, it makes your life so much better. And I think we forget as adults to do those things.

Garrett Jonsson: For sure.

Alex Diaz: But we’re just gonna become totally more present and just better at everything we do. If we, you know, take care of our bodies, it’s a huge part of it.

Garrett Jonsson: For sure.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I want to give you the opportunity to talk about something that you’re proud of. Like a moment to brag a little bit. Like what’s something that you’re proud of in your life, Alex.

Alex Diaz: Um, Hmm. Well, I, there’s a, there’s a few things I, I guess that come to mind, um, you know, one kind of just being an obvious with overcoming this addiction, this is something I’m proud of, um, where, and we’ll get into that I’m sure more later on, but, um, just the fact that I’m here talking to you, like this is something that I never thought would happen. I never would foresee that cuz I’ve always been stuck in that addiction for the majority of my life. And so actually having some taking action and healing in my life is something I’m, I’m really proud of. Um,…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Alex Diaz: Anything in my life that I can look back and say, I am proud of that is usually something that was just hard to do, you know, like something that was not easy.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Alex Diaz: Of course.

Garrett Jonsson: Now, like pivoting to your, your story, your personal account, you know, it’s, it’s been years now going way back. Did you have any preconceived notions about pornography? Like had anyone talked to you about pornography growing up?

Alex Diaz: Um, yeah, so I remember being a kid and hearing about it, and I remember never really coming across it until I was about, I don’t remember now maybe 11. Um, and our family got the home computer and that’s kind of where I first encountered it. Um, but yeah, I do remember, you know, it wasn’t something that was talked about, I guess that often. Um, but yeah, I remember, I remember at least it happened a couple times cuz the first time I saw it, I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, this is like, this is what they’re talking about.” Like, and I actually moved away from it the first time I saw something that was kind of pornographic.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Alex Diaz: And I remember feeling really proud of myself. I was like, “I actually did that thing that I was taught to do when I came across that like that just happened.”

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, that’s cool. So it sounds like with your first time experiencing pornography, you weren’t actively seeking it out?

Alex Diaz: Um, no, I guess, and I remember remember specifically like the image and everything and yeah, and to me, I just remember thinking like that was pornography. Um, I ended up seeking it out and finding it. So yeah, my experience, I don’t think it was really like thrust upon me. Um, it was just, my family had gotten a home computer that had the internet and I remember spending a lot of time on there doing like the paint app that was on there, whatever, like I was an artist I would love to draw and, and I just thought it was amazing that you could search anything online and like those images would come up.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Alex Diaz: I would just be like, I remember getting my little brothers and being like, “Look, you can pull up an image of a sea turtle and a sea turtle will come up.” Like it was so cool to me or anywhere in the world. I’m like, “What do you want to see? Wanna see a picture of China?” And I remember like showing my little brothers and I just thought it was the coolest thing.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s like pure curiosity.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. It was just like fascinating where you could, anything you wanna see, you can just see on this thing and just innocence and curiosity. And I really don’t remember how old I was. I wish I did. I think I was probably 11. Yeah. But, um, but yeah, and I don’t remember. So I just remember seeing like an image that was a woman that was to me obviously was alluring, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: And for context, how old are you just trying to figure out like how old the internet was?

Alex Diaz: Yeah. How old? So I’m 30 now, just turned 30, so yeah, it’s been 20 years.

Garrett Jonsson: Gotcha. And at what point did you start seeking it out?

Alex Diaz: I remember, um, for whatever reason, I don’t remember like the first search or anything like that, but I remember with that curiosity and fascination and also going through probably normal hormones and like, you know, being a, a preteen and stuff. I remember, um, just seeking it out right there when no one was around just, um, the simplest things, but it, it was all, it was all just Google image. You know, I remember when I was at that age, I didn’t ever go into any porn site, quite yet that happened later on, but it was just Google image, just finding, um, women who were, you know, nude or whatever, you know, and just finding it on there and really just being captivated by it. And I kept seeking it out and going there and um, and it was something that I never felt good about. I always knew inside that it was not something I was proud of. And, and I don’t think it was just because I had heard before, Hey, when you see this, you should avoid it. I think that was part of it. Um, but even without that, I really felt that again, it was something that I wasn’t very proud of, but, um, right. But I continued to do because I, I like the way it made me feel.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Alex Diaz: At least at the moment. I never felt good after, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. It’s like a short term gratification followed by a downer.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And it’s interesting cuz like you, we were talking about like pure curiosity and it’s a weird thing because sex is, is like, is a natural thing and it’s a normal thing, but porn is something entirely different porn is a product. It’s all about clicks. It’s about traffic. And unfortunately, because of the ease of access, like it sounds like that ease of access was problematic for you.

Alex Diaz: Oh yeah. Definitely. Like I don’t think would’ve sought it elsewhere. I wouldn’t have just at least at that age. Right? I mean maybe later on in life, but as an 11 year old, I wouldn’t have thought to go to find like a pornographic magazine or something.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Alex Diaz: But it was just, we had a computer and it was accessible and I figured out you can search anything you want and you know, one thing led to another really. And so it’s just kind of a thing that kids have at their fingertips now, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And it’s problematic because I mean, I’m preaching to the choir, you already know this, but like learning about sex through pornography also means like absorbing a lot of dangerous ideas about like sexuality and about women.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: So it’s not the best place to learn about sex, but oftentimes kids turn to it for that reason.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. I know it’s too bad. I mean, we definitely need to have this. I’m glad that we have things like you guys where we can talk about it. So people need to be able to know that you can talk about it, even if you’re viewing it.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, totally. Well, we know that porn can be habit-forming and it can also be an escalating behavior. And when it comes to pornography consumption and it being an escalating behavior, oftentimes it will look like needing more or more often or a more specific or hardcore version of, of pornography to, to get the same level of spike in the reward pathway. So I’m just kinda wondering like how did your porn consumption escalate?

Alex Diaz: Yeah. Um, well, like I said started off just like that, just on Google image and um, over time, um, it got more and more intense and, and I, and I remember like in my, the 20 years or 18 years or whatever it was of this issue, um, kind of gone up and down, I’ve had good times of bad times, but overall the trajectory of it was I was doing it. I was doing it frequently, and you know, kind of having to see more and more things to get that same arousal or that same high so to speak. And so, yeah, I would, um, I remember when I getting older, you know, middle school, high school, um, it turning, I couldn’t just watch to see pictures. I had to watch videos, you know, to get that same feeling. You know, at that point we had like a laptop and it was easier to hide and things like that.

And so that’s what I ended up turn to. And then I remember as a young adult, you know, maybe I can’t remember specifically maybe 17 or team, um, but yeah, actually going into porn sites and then it’s kind of, it kind of escalated from there. So in my more adult life, uh, there was a period of abstinence that I was able to have. And then when I started back up again, it was same kind of process where it started with pictures and then eventually videos and the, and, and um, and I’m, I’m sure we’ll get more into story after, but like after marriage, I got married when I was 24 and um, as actually a couple years into my marriage, this is just my personal story where eventually started viewing more hardcore pornography again. And I hadn’t done that for a long time. Um, but yes, definitely when I’m, when I’m not doing anything to improve myself or improve my, um, abstinence and like actually stay away from it basically when I just, in other words, don’t care and I, that’s just part of my habit. That’s just part of my life. It does progressively get worse. I progressively will seek, you know, hardcore things to just get the same arousal.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. That makes sense. It’s interesting that you talked to the ease of access. You mentioned how you wouldn’t go seek out a magazine, but the ease of access on the computer enabled you to do that. You also mentioned like once you got a laptop, that was another thing that made it easier to consume, like the privacy, the ease of access in the privacy.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s that aligns with, uh, the Mayo clinic. There’s a nonprofit in Minnesota and they list two risk factors for developing compulsive sexual behavior disorder. And the two risk factors they list are ease of access, and privacy.

Alex Diaz: Totally. And, um, just to note, yeah, I like, like we talked about, there was the laptop and stuff like that. And then, um, for me, I mean listeners now who are youth, I’m sure they have smartphones and stuff like that, but everyone had a cell phone when I was in high school. That was definitely everyone had that. Um, but, and some people had laptops. I went to college my first semester and, um, you know, you kinda had to have a laptop, but, um, at that point I still didn’t have a smartphone and I got a smartphone. It was like, bam, like just a couple weeks after that, having that smartphone and for the first time is when I just automatically started going back into it. Cuz there I was alone with just like this thing in my pocket that can just again, view anything and there I was back into it. So yeah, I think that that’s a huge, that plays a huge part is just the ease and the access that we all have. And the, like you said, being alone.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. So it sounds like your porn consumption kind of started at an impulsive state where there was no forethought of like possible consequences and then it kind of progressed into this unhealthy habit. At what point would you label it like a compulsive behavior, or an addiction?

Alex Diaz: Um, well I’d say like it’s interesting cuz um, I think throughout the whole thing, I always had kind of a habit. Right. I, I think that, I didn’t realize at the time that it was like, I felt like it was always something I could just stop, you know, I kind of felt like, “Oh, I need to stop doing this and I should just stop.” And then I would feel really bad at myself cause I wouldn’t stop. And so I’d be like, “Oh, okay, let’s start over over.” Um, but after seeing that pattern after a little while I realized this is actually a problem, like this is, um, it’s not something that I’m just, “Oh, I don’t wanna do that anymore. I guess I won’t do it anymore.” I just not do it anymore. Like a normal thing. Like, oh I don’t like the way that when I touch the pot, like the, or the stove, it burnt my hand.

So I won’t do that again, but this is something it like I kept doing. And so I think for me early on, I, I recognized it as a bad habit or an addiction. Um, however, I didn’t ever treat it as such. I would kind of just part of my mind, I just, because it wasn’t something that like every time I did it, I know that it was always my choice to do it. Um, I guess I would always think that I could have the choice to just stop it anytime. And so it wasn’t until like my later adult, I mean, I say later adult, I’m only 30, but like in my life at this to this point, the past couple years where I was like, this is an addiction, a problem that I actually need have help and was able to get out and get help that I needed.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool that you were finally able to get help. It’s interesting. Cuz one of the markers for addiction is hypofrontality, which is like your, your prefrontal cortex loses its ability to like put the brakes on the reward center. And so you, you mentioned that you thought you would be able to “not touch the stove”, but then you kept touching the stove kind of a thing. That’s, that’s one of the signs of addiction that, that relationship between your prefrontal cortex and the reward pathway is, is hindered.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, that makes, that makes a lot of sense.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. It’s interesting. And looking back, I wish I would’ve gotten help and I, I did seek out some help a few years ago, but I think so many people in this will, even if they recognize that it is an addiction just don’t treat it like it is one, basically the, they keep thinking, “I can just do this, but on my own.”, because in the moment like you do, you are the one that ends up choosing it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re gonna be able to stop doing it alone. Even though you started doing it alone and you choose to do it alone, you can’t stop doing it alone, in my experience.

Garrett Jonsson: So at what point were you able to talk to someone about your struggle with point of?

Alex Diaz: Um, well I, you know, taking it back to when I was 11 or 12, I did open up to my parents pretty quickly. I, I remember talking to my mom, um, just because I felt like bad and stuff and, and then she talked to my dad and then they both sat me down and kind of had a little chat with me and I’m really grateful for my parents for doing that. Um, and at that point I felt, “Oh man, yeah, I never wanna do that again.” But then I sure enough did. Um, and I don’t think they did have a very good follow up, you know, they were awesome parents and everything, but there wasn’t much follow up conversation on “How is it going?”, you know? And so I decided to keep it to myself for my parents at that point. And for those, the several years of preteen, teenager, stuff like that, um, I really didn’t talk to my parents about it. And then since then I’d say, yeah, I’ve always been pretty open about it to people who I felt like were important to know about it, like my wife. Um, but, um, you know, really, yeah, I’d say for the most part, like as a teenager and as a young adult, it was, it was kind of on my own. It wasn’t until the past few years that I really have been more in consultation with others about it.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, thanks for sharing that. It’s great insight because I think a lot of listeners have kids that they care for or whether they’re parents or not. And your personal account kind of shows the importance of having ongoing conversations. It can’t just be like a one-time conversation.

Alex Diaz: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: So yeah. Thanks. Thanks for sharing them.

Alex Diaz: Yeah, of course.

Garrett Jonsson: Were you able to talk with your, with Candace? Were you guys got married? Were you able to talk to her about your porn consumption?

Alex Diaz: Yeah, we did. So, um, that kind of goes right into that. I remember when I was, you know, in my early twenties and I’d be dating people. It’s something I, I wouldn’t talk about with anyone I was dating and I had a couple girlfriends who were, you know, just like steady girlfriends, uh, before Candice who we didn’t talk about it. Um, I never felt comfortable enough to talk to them about that. And um, and I, I never really felt like as I was dating these different women like inside, I knew I wasn’t gonna marry them. And so maybe that’s why it wasn’t as big of a deal or something to me. Um, but when I met Candace, when I was 23, I remember really liking her and really feeling like “This is someone who I could really wanna be with.” And then we started dating each other pretty soon after meeting each other.

And I was just like, “I want to tell her everything about me and this is a part of me that I want to talk to her about.” And so, yeah, it was a few weeks into dating that the conversation opened up and I just, it was kind of one of those things of like, “What’s the worst thing you’ve done or, you know, like, what’s like things you struggle with? And I remember telling her, I’ve struggled with pornography just to be honest with you. And it’s something I’m not proud of. And I I’m doing a lot better right now. And I probably thought I would never do it again because it was, um, as I was dating her at first, it was something that I didn’t even want to do. And, um, but yeah, we talked about it really early on and, and um, throughout our dating, it was not that it was, it was few and far between the times that I acted out.

But when I did, I would actually talk to her about it every time that I acted out for me, that’s just, I just felt like she deserved or needed to know. And so I would just be honest with her and it wasn’t ever easy. And she was always very understanding, supportive, but also very hurt. It was something that did actually hurt her thinking that I wanted to go view other women, you know? And so it, wasn’t very fun, fun conversation to have, but we always had it. Um, and then going into marriage, we were married a year later at this point. I definitely thought that I was done with it forever. It had been a little while since I had viewed it, um, probably, you know, several months and, um, we were married and, um, pretty shortly after we got married that I had acted out the first time and I was like, “I can’t tell my wife now she know we’re, she’s my wife, what’s she gonna do?”

I talked to a friend. So that’s another thing. I did have a friend who I would talk to every now and then that we would both struggle with this, um, in my adult life. And he, yeah, he’s like, “You should tell your wife.” And, um, so I did ever since then, I, it came up, you know, in my marriage it became a problem again. And I was always honest with her. Um, that’s something that I’ve always been able to do. Well, I say “always” the story changes. Um, but, uh, for the first few years of our marriage, whenever I did act out, it was something that she always knew about. I’ve felt like she deserved to know.

Garrett Jonsson: It can be tough for not, it can be, it is tough for the partner to hear these things. And to almost like sometime, in some situations, the consumer relies on their partner, like an accountability partner.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That can be really, really exhausting for the partner. And it can…

Alex Diaz: Cuz you’re right. I think something that I’ve learned and I’ll just, I, you need to have someone that’s not just your spouse talk to about this. And um, so for me, I, well, I have a therapy and I also have a sponsor. So somebody who has gone through their own recovery, who I’m able to reach out to in moments of temptation and things like that and report to, um, and I know different couples do it differently. I hear I’ve heard of some couples saying, you know, like that they, for them, it didn’t, it wasn’t as helpful to have him tell her every single time he acted out that she knew the problem whenever, um, she was aware of it just for me. I mean, honestly, like I feel like if you’re in a committed relationship, the other partner deserves to know that you have this struggle, you have this addiction that you’re working on it.

Um, and that you can figure out the details with him or her on how often you’re report or whatever. For me, what works for us is we just, she wants to know anytime I act out. And because of that, I’m committed to telling her, um, there, and, and there’s like, yes, it can’t be exhausting and stuff like that. And the point is like, there have been many times where I feel like the only motivation for me to not act out was I did not want to tell her. And I didn’t want to experience that. The problem there though, is that I wasn’t doing it for me. And so eventually I would go act out and um, and then I would have to go have that conversation or choose to have that conversation. I didn’t have to, but I chose to. And so for us, like the way that it goes for our story is we were married and you know, now we’re, we’ve been married for almost six years.

And so for the first four, almost five years of our marriage, it was, I would have some, some periods of good and some bad. And every time I acted out, I would go tell her which she always appreciated my honesty, but it was, it was hard because it was like she would go through all the emotions and then I would go through all the emotions. And then I would pretty much feel like the only reason I don’t wanna do this is because I don’t want it to mess up my marriage and I don’t wanna have to tell her. And when I do it, I will have to tell her. And so again, there’s no real healing of recovery there. So it CA it came to a point where pretty much just, I didn’t want to go through that pain anymore of talking to her about it.

And we had moved to California and we were moving because our marriage was not doing very well with the addiction. And then also just with other things, just with our, our marriage. And we wanted to have kind of a therapeutic move near her family and kind of a chance to start over. And my addiction continued right away upon moving. And it was the first time in our marriage or in our relationship that I felt I need to keep this to myself. There’s no way I’m gonna tell her now, because now we’re making this move and she’s gonna leave me cuz now we’re near her family. And so looking back, I recognized how I created some stories in my head about how she would react. I would tell myself the story that she would for sure leave me and it wouldn’t be worth it. Therefore, I need to keep it to myself or it’s gonna be too hard for her to hear and I’m gonna protect her.

So I’m gonna keep it to myself. And, and so I did. And so I kept it to myself and I kept acting out and I thought that I would just do this on my own. Finally, I don’t have to deal with my wife. And it was actually kind of nice. There was a few months and I was like, “She thinks I’m being clean.” I feel like that part of our, that wedge in our relationship was kind of going away. So we didn’t have to deal with that anymore. And in ways I felt like we were doing better and I was thinking, “This is good. I still need to take care of this issue though, cuz it’s actually getting worse and she has no idea. And now I have this like, Ugh, she thinks I’m being honest and I’m not being honest.” And um, you know, the truth is and all that, there’s a lot to learn.

I think, um, honesty to me is so valuable in a relationship that that was where I went wrong is I, I don’t think you should ever need to be at a place where you need to lie in your relationship. Um, but this can also become the focus of your relationship, which I think it was for ours sometimes. And when it became not the focus of our relationship, we were able to focus on other things. And so there has to be a good balance here, but this, this lying and, and continuing to acting out, went on for a year. And um, my, the frequency of acting now be it became more frequent. And again, I started viewing more hardcore pornography and had been a year and she had asked me like, “Wow, you’ve really gone an entire year?”, Like “That’s amazing.” There was kind of some curiosity in some like suspicion in the way she asked it.

I think she just kind of felt like that wasn’t true. And she just asked me like have really gone a year. And um, at that point it was just something hit me where I just knew I could not lie to this woman. I just, there’s just no way. I’m just gonna sit here and just say another lie. And so that’s when the truth of it came out and I just said, “No, you know, I haven’t actually been perfect at this for a year and I’ve struggled and I’ve still been acting out.”, and, and that it really opened it all up. And so it was really difficult for us, really difficult for her. That’s where a lot of her betrayal came is where now I’m, I’m actually lying to her. Um, and then since then, uh, I went to rehab and since rehab I’ve been out and I’ve been honest with her and um, now the way that I see it personally is you gotta be your relationship.

You have to be honest. Um, you can’t create stories about the other person, what they’re going to do, but you also have to be willing to accept the consequences. If, if my wife is gonna leave me because of your pornography, then I then so be it basically like I want to not view pornography and overcome this for me. And not just because I’m afraid that she’s going to leave me or afraid of how it’s gonna make her feel. And that’s more, the place that I’m at right now is I see that this is something I don’t wanna be with. Um, but so for us, what works is complete honesty. And um, if I, because she’s expressed to me, “Hey, I wanna know how you’re doing.” We actually have a daily check-in. So at night we report a few things and one of those things is recovery and I’m actually able to report to her how my recovery was that day.

So during the day I don’t have to go to her if I, I can go to her, but I don’t and be like, “Oh, Candice like, I, I saw something.” or, “Hey, I am struggling.” Like I have other assets or I have other, um, you know, allies that I can reach out to, but she’s just told me, Hey, I wanna know where you’re at every day with recovery. And there’s been many times where I’ve just judged her for that and been like, “Man, like other women don’t need to know every day where their husband is at.” or, you know, whatever. But I had to come to a point where I’m like, it doesn’t matter what other people do or don’t do. My wife wants to know where I’m at every day. And that’s the only person that really matters. And so, um, every day I report to her how recovery was that day.

And I’ll tell her if there was a slip up, then she gets to know within 24 hours, um, even the day that there’s a no slip up. And there’s just a struggle. I just say, “Hey today I had some struggles. I, there was a few things that I saw outside that were triggering to me. And this is what I did with that. I actually, uh, reached out to my sponsor.” or, or I just say, “Hey today, there was no, there was no triggers at all.” And so for us, that’s, that’s what works for us, just being honest. And I think that if you’re not honest with your spouse and that might look differently for different people. Um, but I think if it comes to the point where you’re actually lying or you’re presenting a false truth to your spouse, then I don’t, it’s my belief that there’s not, um, there can’t be real intimacy and, you know, real connection there.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Because if you engage in deceit, then you’re not giving your spouse an opportunity to accept you for you.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: That makes sense. Well, it’s really interesting cuz your personal count really shows that pornography consumption can negatively impact the relationship-quality and it can also negatively the relationship-stability. Like there were times where you questioned, if you’d be able to maintain and continue forth with your relationship with her because of this.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: I’m curious, like what advice do you have for someone, if there’s a listener who has unwanted porn consumption, um, but doesn’t want to talk about it that that is fearful about being open and engaging in self-disclosure because of their they’re fearful of the possible repercussions.

Alex Diaz: Totally. Um, my advice is to most definitely get help, reach out to somebody who can help you. And um, you know, maybe you’re listening to this and you’re in a place where you are very fearful about your spouse or your significant other somebody knowing about it. And um, I don’t wanna come off like too harsh, I guess like I’m like, you know, I, I think that at the end of the, the goal is to be completely honest with that person. Uh, I understand though how difficult that may feel. And so I think that no matter what you do, the number one thing is to get help from somebody, get the help, reach out to a therapist or go to a meeting there’s meetings out there for addiction recovery and um, get help because you cannot do this on your own and you gotta get some help.

And um, and then, you know, talk to that person when you, I get, and it’s kind of one of those things where I’m like, don’t wait until.… The sooner, the better. I think for me, I, it was good to talk to my wife right away about it. I, I, I don’t recommend holding off on that. I recommend being honest, but first things first, you know, wherever you’re at, cuz maybe you really are too fearful or afraid or whatever. Um, just know you cannot do this alone. So if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to that person, reach out to somebody else who is not emotionally affected by your behavior, who can help you. That’s the best advice I could give.

Garrett Jonsson: What about for the person that thinks that the relationship like having a significant other, whether it’s, you know, marriage or not married, if a person thinks that that relationship is gonna solve their problem with their unwanted porn consumption, like what advice do you have for them based on your experience?

Alex Diaz: Um, yes. Just know that it will not solve it. Um, I think that from in my experience I have, there’s been a few times in my life. I felt like something in my life, a life change would be enough motivation for me to stop like marriage. And, um, uh, that for sure was the big one and then having our children. So the first time we were gonna have a child, it was like, “Okay, of course I’m not gonna do that after Im a dad.” And so I felt like those things would just kind of get stopped somehow. And um, they didn’t, they did not, it doesn’t matter how awesome or how like, you know, big responsibility that is, it’s not going to take it away. It’s something that you have to do yourself. You have, now these things can get motivation. I went to rehab, uh, and we had gone to therapy before.

So I had, I had therapy, we did couples counseling. I worked on, you know, the addiction and stuff like that before. And then, like I said, we went into the whole year of me not working on it at all, not reaching out to anybody, totally working on my own and not being lost on my wife. But then I, I chose to go to rehab, which was the best choice I could make. And that was the, the life raft for me. That was the… now going there. I really don’t think I ever personally, I don’t think I ever would’ve gone there. Had I not been married and almost divorced, like at a point where we have kids and like I had to come to grips of the reality. I’m like, “Man, I really, and truly am messing things up in my life.” And so that was a huge motivator.

Um, but I, I did choose to go for me. I had to come to a point where Candice was like, “You cannot go for me.” You know? And so I chose to ago, regardless of what happened to my marriage, I really went in there actually thinking we might still get a divorce. And um, but I was like, “You know what? I don’t want this problem in my life anymore. I really want to get rid of it whether we’re divorced or not.” And so that for me was what made it valuable. Whereas if I just went in just, just for my wife just to save us, then it would not have worked. Um, and I that’s how I feel about it. If you’re going to get therapy and stuff like that, that’s not to say that those can’t be big motivators. So for me, yeah, keeping, you know, keeping my marriage together and us and being a good dad and everything showing up there, all those things and seeing my children grow are humongous motivators for me, but they are not the turning point. The, the thing that actually makes the diff friends in my life is my choices. Um, choosing to recover and getting the help that I need because nothing else will be strong enough.

Garrett Jonsson: At what point did you start to discover your why? Like, was it during rehab or during the counseling sessions, or another time? And when I say “why”, I mean like the reason why you were turning to two pornography, was there a deeper reason than just a short term gratification thing?

Alex Diaz: Yeah. That was in rehab that I was able to discover more of that. I think beforehand, I kind of knew I came to learn. “Okay. There’s deeper stuff, whatever. I know that.” Um, but in rehab, yeah, I was able to identify these off limiting beliefs that I have inside myself and, um, things that kind of keep me stuck. And I just learned how there are, there are root issues going on. Pornography is not the root issue. Pornography consumption, that’s like the symptom of the problem. And so sometimes you’ll help people say like, it’s like a cough is symptom of the cold you have. And so a lot of people just try to treat the symptom. But, um, I learned that I have, um, like I have a self-limiting belief, a fear of being a failure for example, is one of ’em. And I’ll notice that kind of in, in relation to that, um, a big thing for me is I’ll feel like if I’m comparing my life to other people or comparing my spouse to other women would caused a lot of hardship.

Um, but I guess my point in saying this is that I struggle not only in my marriage, but I’ve noticed I’ve learned how in my life I will like compare and, and really have big, like, uh, what is it just indecisiveness and just really be back and forth and think, “Oh, do I want this? Do I not want this? Did it make the wrong choice?” Uh, like, and so when I struggle with that, indecisiveness not lack of commitment, it’s so much easier for me to go view pornography, um, when I’m in that state of indecisiveness, because, uh, there’s probably a lot of reasons. I don’t know all of them, but I just know that I feel like I’m in a state of worry, I’m, you know, causing stress in my body and anxiety and stuff like that. And when pornography is presented or the thought comes of, “Oh, I can go do this thing.”, it’s one, it’s going to be a numbing effect.

So it’s gonna make me feel good and gimme a dopamine hit. And so I’m attracted to doing that, but also it’s something that I can be certain of that like, I I’m so uncertain about these other things in my life, but this is something that I know for sure will do this thing for me right in this moment. Um, the problem with it though, is that it’s an has net-negative effect. Meaning I go into that with problems, I’m feeling stressed, I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling like I’m comparing my wife. I’m comparing myself to other people and their success. I have all these or whatever it is in life stressors. And so it comes to the point where it’s like, “Oh, you know what, this would be a great thing to do.” And I do that thing, but then I’m left afterwards with the exact same list of problems I had beforehand.

And then I also have the negative effects of viewing pornography. And so it’s just, you know, it’s like you trade that small moment for just even more issues. Um, but I learned that I in rehab, especially, I learned that I struggle with these comparisons and indecisiveness and, and then just in my daily life, if I’m feeling, you know, really just down on myself, it all goes back to these core beliefs of “I’m not good enough.”, or “I can’t make the right choice.”, the fear of, of commitment, fear of being a failure, all those like deep beliefs, I guess those are the roots of it for me. And pornography ends up being a symptom.

It really comes down to like not being present in your life. And I get caught up in my mind so often where I’m in this like, oh, I should be like this. I should be like that. Um it’s and that’s a huge thing I learned in rehab is just becoming, present, being present with reality. And uh, so pornography is so much about the unreal, right? And you go into this fantasy and you get that. And, and so it all has to do with that same thing where, when I’m comparing to other people, I’m not living in my own reality. And I’m thinking, what if, what if, what if, what if, and um, I should be doing this, I should be doing that. And that’s another thing is just having that mindset of should, does not help. I should have done this. I should be doing that.

You’re focusing on things that are not real because you can’t do anything about them. It’s like the past or it’s the future. And so, um, when I’m in that mind space, when I’m regretting the past or when I’m fearful of the future, I’m in a place where I’m much more susceptible to act out. Uh, but when I’m present and I’m like, “Okay, I own up to my choices and I’m here and I am grateful…” and all the, as things that I’m feeling way more powerful and it has less of an effect on me cause I’m not trying to chase the unreal anymore.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. It’s kind of interesting that we sometimes refer to it as fantasy. And I think one of the scary parts about referring to it as fantasy is like, if it’s a fantasy, then the scary part is that we would step out of the reality to enter this fantasy, even though it’s not real.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: And, and that’s a scary thing because we’re hardwired for connection. And again, this fantasy just isn’t that like you’re connecting with pixels.

Alex Diaz: Right. You are, it’s, you’re kind of seeking. Um, and you’re probably seeking that connection in a way, but it’s not actually happening. And um, yeah, I mean, in, in true intimacy with another person, it takes being seen by both people being accepted by both people. And, and it requires work also, especially in like a marriage or something like that, you know? And, and if you get into deeper, if it goes into, you know, sexual connection with somebody requires work with each other, but pornography it’s like trying to cut the corners of all the work and it’s not intimacy because you’re not being seen, you’re not being accepted by somebody else. You’re just accepting this product and taking it in and trying to feel that void that never gets filled. And, and you’re just not finding that connection that you need so desperately and relationship’s not going to fix it.

Like I talked about at the end of the day, I had to come to love myself. I had to come to be okay with me. And then I was able to go and like, you know, take, you know, those care of those normal needs of, of relationship and connection, stuff like that. And with my wife and my kids and other health relationships, but yeah, I really had to come to peace with myself and it’s a work in progress. It’s a working process. I’m still in recovery and you know, that’s the, uh, thing don’t ever feel like you just like arrived, I guess. Um, this is something that I’m excited to do the rest of my life to continue recovery work. And that’s the big difference. I think I would always, I was just done forever. “This is never gonna happen again. I did the thing I need to do I’m over it.”

And there’s kind of that I guess people might feel like, oh, like I don’t want to go into recovery lifestyle. Cause then I’ll have to identify myself as an addict or whatever it is. But you know, I just come to know like, I, I am not an addict. I am a human being, but um, I recognize how this is something that I’m susceptible to. And so I’m going to always have some boundaries and guard and recovery work in my life because it’s just gonna make me a better person anyways. And then, you know, I don’t, I, I’m not gonna take down the, the guard or whatever and slip back into it later on. Cause that’s very much a reality. That’s a very much a possibility.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. And recovery work is just another term for self-improvement. So the fact that you’re all about recovery really just states that you’re all about becoming the best version of yourself. So that’s a positive thing.

Alex Diaz: Absolutely,

Garrett Jonsson: We talked earlier about how porn consumption can often be used as like a form of sex education. And I think that that can happen whether the consumer turns to porn intentionally for education, also it can happen if the consumer is consuming porn and just subconsciously learns these things. And I’m wondering if you can talk to like some of the realistic expectations that you learned from consuming pornography, like in regards to, how did it negatively impact your expectations of what sex is?

Alex Diaz: Um, yeah, sure. You know, you see a lot of in those videos, it’s just, um, like talked about fantasy and the truth is none of it’s real, you know, you even think that the person in there is wanting to do that. Or if that, if that person is choosing to do that, first of all, you have no idea, I’ve learned, if that is the case. But even if it was, if it’s someone who’s just, they just want to be a porn star and that’s just what they aspire to and that’s what they’re doing and whatever. Um, it’s still not real. You’re seeing these videos and it’s not like that situation. It’s all filmed. It’s just like watching a movie and you’re watching a movie and you think like, “Oh, like this marriage, like these people, I want a marriage like that.”, or whatever. And you see them and it seems so real.

Cause they’re such good actors, whatever it is. And it’s still not real, right. It can represent something like some true art, like in a film might represent truth. But what you’re actually seeing is not real, it’s actually acting, it’s all, um, you know, there’s cameras and it’s…

Garrett Jonsson: It’s a product.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. It’s a product. And so it’s an end product and, and it’s a great illusion. Right? You could see like the greatest actors, like whatever, and think, you know, they, they have such a good marriage in that, whatever, and it’s not real. So in, in pornography you confuse the real with the unreal. It’s not real intimacy, it’s not real sex. Um, and so for there was some, yeah, I’d say like, just like it being easy to just get hard and please this woman, and it’s all just perfect. And my brain was trained in a way that’s how sex was.

And so honestly, through our marriage, we’ve had struggles. It’s gotten better now that I’m actually in recovery so much better. Um, but struggles with, um, my brain was completely trained to get off at an image and not just one image, but when I would view pornography, it was one after another, you know, as, but as videos, as one after another. So I’ve seen these thousands of images that are in my mind and my brain is trained to that and to do it to myself. And so when having sex with my wife, it was now, now I have this one woman who’s here. Like it’s not like a video, it’s all cut together perfectly where everything happens perfectly. It was like, I couldn’t get like hard or there for her unless I was thinking of something pornographic. And then it wouldn’t work. I would not be able to please her as much as I wanted to. And that was frustrating. And then, you know, now it’s like, “Oh, it didn’t work out.” And I had a hard time staying hard, honestly, where it was like, it just, it just prevented or it created a lot of disconnection in problems in our intimacy just because I was addicted to pornography. Um, and so in now, um, we took, when I went to rehab, it was three months. And so coming out of that, um, going back into intimacy and stuff, it’s been progressively better and better where sometimes I will start, you know, me having sex. And if I think if I’m having a hard time in my mind, we have an agreement where I can just stop us for I’m continuing, because I’m struggling with that. But the reality is, yeah, it still has an effect on me where I’ve had years and years of training my brain to relate that to sex. And so if you think that it’s not causing you any sexual issues or future relationship issues, it, it really is.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting. Cuz when it comes to consuming pornography, the user is in total control of the, of the sexual experience.

Alex Diaz: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And in contrast, just like what you’re talking to like with, with healthy sex, with a partner, that’s not the case. You’re like you’re sharing control with the partner. So…

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. Pornography, you’re just a consumer and you just consume, consume, consume, and you go board at this video onto the next one. Right. Boom, boom, boom, boom. And um, you go, it’s just completely, it’s a selfish act. It’s all about yourself. And so yeah, when you’re in that with someone else you’re not in complete control, you both are and you nailed it man. And it’s just one person. And so when Candice and I have real intimacy and sex together, it’s, it is so much better than any kind of pornography experience it had. Um, it’s just because it’s real, it’s real connection. That’s what the whole, that’s what sex is for. And so you’re gonna have more satisfaction with something real than something fake.

Garrett Jonsson: Right? Yeah. Again, as human beings, we are hardwired for connection and yeah, it’s, it’s interesting that you experienced like this type of sexual dysfunction from your porn consumption.

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s also interesting that you had this false expectation. I think you said this, maybe I misheard you, but so correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you said that it’s like you were consuming porn and the expectation was “Yeah, you just get hard and then you are able to satisfy this woman.”

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: And did you say that or did I misheard you?

Alex Diaz: Yeah, I said that.

Garrett Jonsson: So I just think that’s interesting cuz like even the performers from what I’ve, what I know from what I know speaking to performers or former performers is that oftentimes they’re using drugs to get hard.

Alex Diaz: Hmm

Garrett Jonsson: So it’s like, there’s this false expectation that the consumer’s like, “Oh this must be what it’s like.”

Alex Diaz: Totally. You get caught up and you think, oh, that’s what it’s like. And that’s what it’s that’s reality. And it’s, it’s not, it’s not. Um, so I can’t stress that enough.

Garrett Jonsson: If I’m putting myself in your shoes, Alex, and as you address this challenge and then you go to attend, you know, you go to rehab, I’m just wondering if you were experiencing shame at any point during this process.

Alex Diaz: Um, yes, definitely shame has a part to play in this. Um, that is just as destructive to me mentally as viewing pornography. Um, maybe in a different way, but it is destructive. And um, I left rehab full, full disclosure. I left rehab. I had been three months clean cuz I was acting out even before going into rehab after telling Candice and three months clean. And then I went, uh, six months after rehab. So almost nine months and I acted out I was not taking my recovery, uh, day-to-day as I could have. And I was getting imbalance in my life. And, um, I was like, my life shattered is how it felt. And so looking back on it and that, you know, that was a few months ago and between that, I’ve had a couple times I’ve acted out and, um, I look at it now. And so I’m, I keep track of my day to day. Um, today I am on day 48 of sobriety, however, the whole, cause it’s been a year since I went into rehab now, almost exactly just, just barely over a year since I went into it, I have made a lot of progress and, um, there’s a point where I expect perfection and think I’ll never do that again. Now I’m not saying that you should do it again and maybe I never do do it again. Right? Um, but I learned that after like acting out again after having, like being clean for a while and all that, I really dove into this depression of like beating myself up and just really, and there’s a place for those emotions. There’s a place for feeling sad and feeling bad. Um, there’s, it’s not like I’m gonna be, “Oh, whatever.”

Um, but I took it to another level and gave into that, you know, immediate, like beat yourself up over it. And that’s just not helpful. I’ve learned. And I have relearned how, um, you know, if you act out, okay, own up to it, be honest about it, you know, get the help that you need, but move the freak on, you know, like you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna make yourself feel any better, but beating yourself up. So yeah, shame has played a huge, huge part in this addiction. And um, and now, um, as I said, I, in my most recent relapse, I had some shame. I will not deny, you know, I had some shame afterwards, but, um, it was a couple days after that I remember I was, I was just on my own and I had this thought of just like, you can actually be healed of this.

“You don’t actually have to keep doing it. And if you do, you’re not a bad person.” Um, you just, it’s hard to put into words, but “Just let go, let go and open yourself up to the new possibilities.” And so now I am, yeah. I’m just feeling a lot healthier and I’m doing the things I need to every single day. Um, like I said, I don’t doesn’t mean that I can be like, oh, I’m gonna act out anytime now. Like, no, I actually think it, my personal thought is if you can go a week, you can go three weeks. You know, if you can go a month, you can go nine months. Basically. You don’t have to go back. You always have a choice and I don’t have to go back to it. Um, but I have to remind myself that, um, if that were to happen, then I don’t have to stay stuck.

I don’t have to stay down. It’s kind of like if you’re riding, this is an analogy. Someone gave me a rehab. If you’re riding an escalator, an escalator that’s going down and you’re walking up the down an escalator, you’re trying to get to the top of the escalator going down, which is always a fun thing to do as a kid. Right?

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah.

Alex Diaz: Um, super dangerous. But, um, let’s see. You’re, you’re climbing up that thing and then you fall, um, well you can stay down and then eventually you’re gonna hit rock bottom again. But if you just, you fall and you get back up and you keep going then, okay. You know, maybe you got hurt, whatever, but you keep going. And so, um, yes, I’m honest with you. And, and with others that I have had, um, I have acted out on it even since rehab.

Um, but I have an upward trajectory and I have not gone back to ground zero because afterwards I’ve been able to pick myself up and do what are the things I’m missing in my life. I was not going to my meetings regularly. Um, a couple months ago I was not reaching out to my sponsor regularly. And so naturally thing life happens. And that’s the thing that I tend to do. I have to learn that about myself. And so now I’m like, “Hey, let’s do my dailies. Let’s do my meetings. Like, let’s do all the things to keep me in balance and keep the upward trajectory.” You know what I mean? So, yeah. That’s, I guess what I’d have to say about shame is just, it’s just, uh, nothing good comes from that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Thanks for speaking to, I love your personal account because it shows that setbacks don’t necessarily mean failure.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: I love, I love your analogy with the escalator and I can totally relate to that as a kid and having kids, my kids always wanna run up the opposite side up the escalator.

Alex Diaz: Yeah. Totally

Garrett Jonsson: That visual really helped.

Alex Diaz: Like you said, though, you failure it’s get up and, and move on. It’s not, it’s not the end. People who are listening, who are like, “Ah, like I failed again.” Like don’t give into that. Just, um, keep going, keep, keep climbing and um, living consultation. That’s the, like I said, early, earlier, you said, what’s the advice I, the advice is to have somebody you can talk to about that after you act out or, and especially before, um, that way you’re not battling it alone.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s really cool. And I personally really like your perspective on, like, if you’re gonna consume worn again, you mentioned how it’s possible that you, you do turn back to pornography. It’s also possible that you don’t turn back to pornography. And I think that that can be a very healthy perspective because I think sometimes it can be, it’s a common pitfall for people to say, like have this false enthusiasm, like “Never again.”

Alex Diaz: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Like “I, I will not do it ever again. I’m I’m over it.” And I think that false enthusiasm can be detrimental. And it seems like your approach is more of like this realistic approach. Like you realize that you’re still a human being.

Alex Diaz: Right. Exactly. You don’t have to turn to it. Now I have things that I will do immediately. What I do is I reach out and I know a lot of people, there’s a lot of things I can do. And maybe you think I need to go, maybe on my list of things to do is I go for a walk or whatever it is. My advice is when you’re triggered, reach out to somebody like, like I said, I, I really, this is the main thing I want people to get outta. This is that you don’t do this alone. I have a sponsor because, um, “connection is the opposite of addiction.”, like they say.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s really cool. What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced from being porn free?

Alex Diaz: Um, well, I’ve been just able, literally really physically able to have sex way better. Um, and so again, like there’s progress and there’s times that I struggle mentally and stuff like that, but so intimacy has improved with my wife. Um, just knowing that cuz I, I began lying about it and I think a lot of people in this addiction are living a double life and, and just knowing that I don’t have to have that double life and keep up that, you know, that, um, facade is really freeing because I was living a double life and, uh, it was exhausting. And at times I would believe my own lives. And at times I would Gaslight my wife when she would suspect something was wrong and I’d be like, nothing’s wrong, you know, nothing’s going on? Like, “You’re, you’re the one who’s crazy, you know, for thinking that.”

So just not having to deal with all that crap anymore. I have a lot more energy to focus on more positive things. Um, it feels great to be able to not fear my wife or my kids, you know, grabbing my iPad and going on it for anything or using it or my phone. Like there is no fear because I know they’re not going to find anything. Um, and so yeah, I’m able to, uh, just also like, it’s weird, I think about this addiction. And I think a lot of times in my life I re I felt like it was like my thing I would do. Like, I felt like it was my hobby, you know, like I would be always caught up with, um, work or school or marriage or, or family. And I didn’t really ever take that much time for myself to consistently exercise or do things that like, even though I was a theater major and I love acting, that’s like, that was like my passion I’d be doing a play.

It came to a point where that, cause that was kinda like work, you know? And so even if you’re doing what your love, I was never taking time for myself, really. Like I wasn’t taking time to go hang out with friends as an adult. I just let go of friends. And so now I’m like the time, I guess, that I would’ve been like acting out, like I’m being more aware of, I go play sports with people like once a week, you know, I, um, I make sure to take care of my basic needs. I, I love being in nature. So I fit that into my schedule to go, to have time with my family in the mountains. And so just kind of feeling my life where now there’s like, literally there’s more time in my life. Right? Um, feeling that was something positive. And so now that’s not like, you know, that’s not my thing anymore.

That’s not just a thing I do by myself. I have other things that are interesting. So, uh, I feel like my life has freed up. Um, my time has freed up my production work has gone up a lot, um, because it in my work and I think a lot of people struggle with not being able to be as productive at work, especially if you’re, you’re finding an opportunity to act out at work. And for me, um, like I said, I’m a door to door salesman. Totally… you know, no, one’s there breathing down my neck. I don’t have to work if I don’t wanna work. Um, and so it’s very, very easy to sneak off and find places to act out. And then when I did, I would feel crappy and I was not able to sell as well and wasting time. And so just, just the simple reality of, I have more time to work. Im more present in my work and I’m making more money now than I was when I was an addict. And so I guess all over overall life has just improved.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s a beautiful thing. That’s really cool. Thank you for sharing.

Alex Diaz: Yeah, of course.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s been a great conversation. Like it’s been really cathartic for me and I know it’s gonna help a lot of listeners as well, but we wanna leave you with the opportunity to have the last word as this conversation’s coming to an end. Are there any last thoughts that you would like to share because we’d like to hear those?

Alex Diaz: Um, yes, I will just say, do you use listening, um, focus on the good in life in yourself in your loved one who is struggling in this? Um, cuz it can be very easy to just focus on the bad. It’s so easy to just focus on the bad in life and especially in this addiction, it’s easy to make that be the focal a point of your life. Um, I am still in the beginning stages of my recovery, but I can honestly say to you guys, this is just as much to you. Who’s listening as it is to me to remember that I can be free of this. And uh, I can overcome this, just get the help. Don’t have to do it alone. Absolutely. Don’t have to do it alone. Um, but yeah, just don’t give up hope, do not give up on yourself. Smile, tell yourself you love yourself and um, just keep that, that energy and that mentality. Even if you do have a bad day or it’s okay to have bad days, just, just focus on that, which is good without neglecting the bad. I don’t wanna say like, you know, don’t worry about the bad swiping under the rug. Take care of, take care of yourself, take care of this problem, get the help you need, but make sure that you’re you focusing your attention and your energy is on that, which is good.

Garrett Jonsson: I love that. And the reality is, is like you’ve put in a lot of work and Candice has put in a lot of work to make this relationship work and to continue to grow together. And there’s also a lot of cases out there where that’s not the case where it, uh, it did disrupt the stability of the relationship to the point where the relationship ended.

Alex Diaz: Right.

Garrett Jonsson: And I just wanna state that. I admire again, I already stayed this, but I’ll stay it again. I admire you and I admire Candice. And for me it comes back to the fact that moments of bliss are not free. Like you guys are paying the price for moments of bliss and, and uh, we appreciate you joining us today on the podcast and for being vulnerable and strong and, and sharing with, with us your personal account. I think it’s gonna help a lot of people. So…

Alex Diaz: Well, I hope so, man. I that’s great to hear. Um, yeah, I hope so too. That’d be awesome to help others…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Alex Diaz: … through this, you know, this is a great platform you guys have, so thanks for all the work you guys are doing. And um, you know, let us know if there’s anything else we can do. We’re here. We’re excited to join the fight.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

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