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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:30 am 
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Exercise 64 - Transitioning to Health

Take today to envision where you are in your transition to health. What skills do you feel you have worked hard to develop? What skills need additional work? Explore your attitude in regards to whether or not 'addiction' is a part of you; or merely a pattern that developed in your life. Explore your awareness as to the role that your compulsive rituals played...and what it would mean should they return. Explore how you would respond? Explore your confidence level in that response. Explore your overall balance and stability...how much of your life is spent 'fighting urges, managing urges, acting out, engaging in recovery activities, etc.' versus how much of your life is spent just living. Assess your identity for hyper-sexuality. How prevalent is it? Assess your value system. How efficient are you in using it to make decisions, achieve balance, etc.? Share any significant observations (from the questions listed above or others) in your Recovery Thread.


I think the big shift for me was seeing how my addictive behaviour was being used to manage my emotional state - making that connection between Problem/Solution has really been a key learning. I've been aware that I've not been very in touch with my emotions, but I hadn't seen how...automatic that realtionship was between me feeling bad, low, bored, lonely or unloved and my acting out sexually. So a big thing for me has been breaking that automatic link and just sitting with the uncomfortable feelings.

My wife has born the brunt of my acting up in a wider sense. She wasn't aware of the sexual behaviour (until D-Day) as I kept that well hidden, but the pressure I've been putting on her to have sex and my moodyness and sulking and manipulative behaviour if I feel I wasn't "getting it". In some ways that's the area where I've made the most progress and I've also still got the most work left to do because I'm still feeling "needy", I'm just not pushing it on to her so much.

Something I've found useful in the past lessons is the discussion of slip and relapse which has made me really see that I can't imagine (right now) going back into that life, although I might at times make some wrong decisions I will be aware of doing so, and will do what I can to correct my behaviour out the back of that.

When I consider how much time I spend on recovery activity and fighting urges - and really it's not a fight just now, more like noticing an idea popping into my head which makes me feel uncomfortable and saying "No" - well it's a very small amount of my day, less than 5%. So the vast majority of my life is fine.

Hyper-sexuality...yeah, I think there's still elements of that going on. If I see someone wearing a peachy pink out of the corner of my eye I'm likely to think they're naked. My mind tends to give me a sexual interpretation to lots of the things I see - trains entering tunnels will remind me of intercourse for example. But you know, thoughts come and go, I think the biggest thing has been breaking the link between the thought popping into my head and me acting on it.

I'm very happy with my values system - I really stand by those values. In terms of how helpful it is for making decisions, well if I'm even able to ask the question of myself then I know that I'm going to make the right choice. In terms of helping me achieve balance, I've got some more work to do there. I think I need to be looking at the longer term satisfaction of where I am in my life - my work, my family, my environment - and let that sink in; rather than the intense quick hit of sexual stimulation....which, you know, I miss. But it doesn't make me feel good about myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:56 am 
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Exercise 65 - Life After Addiction

a) Envision your "life after addiction/life after recovery''.


I'm writing this deliberately without checking back to lesson 2 first, as I'm interested in how my vision might have evolved.

I see myself as someone who is open, honest, loyal and faithful to their partner and considers their feelings in all actions.

Someone who is calm and grounded, responding rather than reacting. Keeping an awareness of my physical state (eg hunger) so that it doesn't affect my behaviour.

A healer with a strong connection and trust in the Universe. Who takes in those around him with an open heart and communicates in an affetionate and expressive manner.

I see myself doing the things I decide to do, and not doing the things I decide not to do. Where a considered set of values are used to form the basis of all decision making and where emotions are felt keenly and acknowledge, but not necesssarily acted on.

Someone who takes pride in their work - both professional and DIY - but keeps it's importance 2nd to that of a loving fulfilling family life.

b) Compare it to the vision that you began back in Lesson Two of the workshop.
c) They should be nearly identical. Are they?


I had a first go at a vision here which I'll quote:
Quote:
I envision a me who does everything he commits to doing, and does not do the things he commits not to do. A me who's core drive is honest spiritual growth and who's in a loving caring marriage where I balance my wife's needs ahead of my own. Where my energy find healthy expression and I hide neither my light or my darkness under a bushel. I will be someone that my children respect and want to stay in contact with, in a family environment where faults can be discussed without threat.


I also re-wrote my vision in a much longer prose version here.

It's interesting that the differences in my vision are - I think - the things that I would now take for granted. That my spritual growth should be "honest" for example; how could it be any other way? Because my values are now in place, my energy (what energy, I've got two small kids?!) is already finding healthy expression and I'm now much more OK about having faults discussed without feeling threatened - I didn't need to state that explicitly.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:18 am 
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Exercise 66 - Recovery Triggers

I think I see myself in the 3rd category of the lesson - se who pursue recovery, who believe that long term recovery is possible, but who lack the foundation and skills to pursue a healthy recovery.

This quote in particular stood out for me:
Quote:
the stimuli itself is irrelevant. It is only the emotional associations that an individual develops in relation to a stimuli that will determine what is and what isn't a trigger


Currently potential triggers - like clothes catalogues with attractive models on the cover which I know will contain an "underwear section" - are causing me low levels of anxiety. I have to make an effort not to pick up the book and flick through it. I sometimes move the catalogues elsewhere, or turn them over.

While I intellectually "get" what is being said about the 4th category, I'm not working like that emotionally, yet.

a) Consider your perspective towards potential triggers when you were in early recovery. Consider your perspective now. How has this changed?

I think that early in recovery I was still finding triggers arousing, sexy, stimulating, attractive. And there was an undertone of "doesn't make me feel deep down good". That's all gone now, such things make me feel somewhat apprehensive and uncomfortable although I'm not entirely sure why.

b) List five potential triggers for you--that may lead you into a compulsive crisis. How can you shift your perspective of each so that they are not only NOT a threat to your values, but you can actually use these triggers to strengthen those values?

I don't think seeing a fashion magazine would cause a compulsion, although I might be asking myself - how much of me is flicking through this magazine because it's the only thing here to read, and how much is looking for sexually stimulating images. In terms of an actual crisis I can think of:

  1. Seeing pornography in the recyling bin when I drop off.
  2. An email from an old - female - school/college friend.
  3. A hug from a woman at a house party



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:06 am 
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Exercise 67 - Poly-Addictions & Switching

a) List the most likely behavior that you will need to monitor for potential 'switching' and/or compulsivity now that the sexual rituals have subsided.

b) Are these listed anywhere on your weekly monitoring so that you can objectively assess them?


The one I think I most struggle with - and I do find I'm actually struggling with it because it's not completely "off limits" as is acting out sexually - is alcohol. However, this has already come up between me and Sunshine as alcohol is a sensitive subject in her family. When we met I was drinking far far more than I do now, and something she helped me introduce was a weekly "3 dry days" rule, which these days is more like a 5 day thing.

But when she's away I do tend to have a beer in the evening and the fact that I'm acting differently when she's not around has got to be cause for concern. Especially as I'm using the sole carer for the children at that time.

I do also sometimes have chocolate cravings and can get through 100g in one sitting. This seems to come up mostly in the afternoon when I'm tired - especially the afternoon after having made love, seems to take something out of me that I try to replace with sugar.

So no, that's not in my weekly monitoring - I'll add it in now. Would also be good to add some "rules" to stick to in the next pro-active action plan I do for Sunshine being away on a trip.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:26 am 
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Exercise 68 - Anger and Rage

In this lesson Jon points says:
Quote:
Does what I’ve just shared teach you how to manage your emotions? No, to do so would take a book—and there are lots out there. Just make sure that should you choose one, you choose one that focuses on DEVELOPING emotional management, not CONTROLLING anger.

So I did a post about this and looking for book recommendations in the support forum.

a) Map out your own anger rituals in the same way you did your sexual rituals long ago. Look for patterns in relating to your partner, coworkers, friends, yourself...where anger is triggered and you find it difficult to disengage from that anger.

I'm working at home and also acting as the main carer at the moment, so just about all my anger is being expressed at my wife and kids. The only time I think I've expressed anger to anyone else in the last 6 months was when a neighbour's dog dug up my vegetable plot.

I get angry when I feel unloved:
  • In the case of my wife when I feel criticised.
  • In the case of my children when I feel ignored.

And what's going on with one, tends to set me up for being unable to skillfully handle issues with the other. Eg if I'm feeling unconnected and ignored by my wife, then I'm upset to begin with and I'm much more likely to over-react when one of the kids spills paint on the floor (after I've asked them to put down newspaper, etc).


b) Can you identify the elements of these rituals where YOU actively intensify the stimulation that is experienced?



c) Do you think that 'creating a break' upon the awareness of these anger rituals will allow you to slow the situation enough to allow your values to take over? Why or why not?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Exercise 69 - Victim Awareness, Making Amends

Sunshine and I have discussed making amends before now, and she felt that me getting back in touch with ex-girlfriends to apologise would not make their lives any better. I'll talk that through with her again.

I do Reiki, so something we did agree is that I could do some remote reiki work as a general 'world healing' for all people (who want to accept reiki healing) who have or are being abused or exploited sexually.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 8:28 am 
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My Recovery Thread has moved to be publicly visible so a big Hi to everyone here on the recovery path.

So I finished lesson 73 (back at 'ya HoneyCat) and then immediately had some slippage - a bit of a triple hitter - and there's a lot I can do there: should have had an action plan in effect to help the first one and the second one I could also have been ready for. Sunshine was away and I'd done an action plan for her last trip and just thought I'd hold that in my head...got a bit complacent there.

I took a silver lining from this episode in that immediately after I'd stopped myself in slip #3 I decided that I was going to tell my wife about them. Or perhaps I became conscious that at some level I'd already decided to tell my wife about it. And so I spent the next two days (she was away) feeling guilty about my behaviour and anxious about the convesation we were going to have. But that's progress - it shows I'm really there with the honesty, and also that I'm no longer compartmentalising my behaviour - what I'd been doing was very much on my mind, so I think my "two worlds" are becoming much more integrated.

Slip #1
I was up past my bedtime watching youtube comedy clips. I can see that flicking through comedy clips is quite similar to flicking through porn pictures, it's my brain seeking stimulation. At the end of my browsing session I checked my browsing history and deleted two entries with the self-justification of "I wouldn't want Sunshine to get the wrong idea about what those sites might be" because they both had the word "Sex" in the title. So a) I was seeking to practice deception by deleting the history and b) why was I looking at anything with Sex in the title in the first place?

The first was a japanese video about a preacher who'd been caught in a sex chat room and claimed that he'd been possessed by a demon and the 2nd was a young woman explaining sex terms which I think I was drawn to because she had bright orange and red hair...and she was talking about sex. I was asking myself what I thought I was doing while I was watching the video and stopped play after a couple of minutes.

Lessons Learned #1
What was going on there is that I was just up too late looking for pleasure and clicking on anything stimulating that wasn't obviously sexually stimulating - but there I was excusing myself with "It's OK, it's not porn" - going into a click happy trance. I've already made a commitment (which I can't find in writing just now) to challenge myself over every link to see if I'm following it for sexual stimulation - however innoculous the content might seem on the surface. So I think if I'd been a bit more awake I'd have challenged myself about that a bit more effectively rather than just telling myself "it's not porn".

So Sunshine is going away again at the end of this week and the top item on my next action plan is going to be: Power off at 10pm.
And I need to visualise that happening I think. I don't really understand why it doesn't. It's not like there's any voice in my head saying "NO! I want to stay up late and watch movies!" and yet, I stay up late and watch movies, or surf the net, or play computer games. Total idiocy.

Slip #2
I was driving to town with the kids and they both fell asleep so I pulled over onto a back road and a layby near a river/forest so I could nap myself. I woke up to become aware of another car stopping and a couple getting out. The lady crossed over and sat sunning herself on a grassy patch directly in front of my car (and me). And I checked her out without bringing to mind "the whole person". I had a fantasy in my head that she might hitch her skirt up higher to catch the sun. The creepy thing is that I was wearning shades and hadn't moved - head still back from sleeping - so that was deceptive. After a minute the lady's partner finished his cigarette and came over, then they left.

Lesson Learned #2
What I should have done in that situation is taken off my shades, made it evident to the lady that I wasn't sleeping and waved at her. I doubt she'd have chosen to sun herself right in front of my car if she'd known I was right there and awake. And if she had, well I could have looked out at the trees or something.

Slip #3
Immediately after the lady left, my wife's friend's phone beeped to say it had finished charging. She'd given it to me to charge. I got some mad idea in my head that she might have taken a "naughty" picture of herself and I opened up her photos directory to look for it. It took a while to get in there (wasn't used to her phone) and all the while I was feeling 'off' about my behaviour. After scrolling the page a couple of times, I got my head together and realised that a) it wasn't very likely that she'd have any pictures like that on her phone and b) even if she did, I had no right to look for them and c) if I did find them I'd be looking at pornography and breaking my couple's contract and d) it's my wife's friend and boy is she going to hit the roof about it when I told her.

Lesson Learned #3
Well that was just a straight forward invasion of someone else's privacy - a clear boundary that I breached. I think I was still in some sort of acting out state from having that woman sun herself in front of me. I was trusted with that phone and I betrayed that trust. My behaviour fell well below what I'd expect from myself. I had the warning guilty feelings, and I failed to properly listen to them. Just need to listen to that "you're invading someone's privacy" alarm bell and - OK this isn't ideal motivation but - reflect that I'll be telling sunshine about the incident and do I really want to put her and myself in that situation when we've been getting on so well.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Guided wrote:
I don't have much motivation for anything at the moment. I've rejected materialism....freed myself of the expectations of my parents, of society. I'd like to be a good dad. I enjoy my work, mostly. But I don't really have any burning ambition to achieve or do anything in particular.

Been thinking about this some more. One of the big questions is whether or not my own spiritual progress would actually help anyone...and I think the answer to that would be it would definitely help my kids if found a more compassionate way to get them into pyjamas and bed than yelling at them. I don't start with the yelling, I just up the volume each time I repeat myself. The things is I'm completely divided on where that progress might lead - to more self or no-self?

I don't think people can be helped unless they're asking for help. I think people need to find their own answers and sort things out for themselves.

Anyway, I'm rambling. To cut to the chase, I think I'm going to commit myself back into daily meditation because whatever I actually end up doing with my life, that's going to help me with:
  • Being still, present and actually listening to people
  • Not being so fragile emotionally
  • Being calmer with the children
  • General physical good health
  • Being able to, er, um, remember stuff good and hold an entire train of thought in my head at one time rather than just the last two carriages.

So whatever i do that'll be good groundwork.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:51 pm 
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Guided wrote:
I don't have much motivation for anything at the moment. I've rejected materialism....freed myself of the expectations of my parents, of society. I'd like to be a good dad. I enjoy my work, mostly. But I don't really have any burning ambition to achieve or do anything in particular.

Been thinking about this some more. One of the big questions is whether or not my own spiritual progress would actually help anyone...and I think the answer to that would be it would definitely help my kids if found a more compassionate way to get them into pyjamas and bed than yelling at them. I don't start with the yelling, I just up the volume each time I repeat myself. The things is I'm completely divided on where that progress might lead - to more self or no-self?

I don't think people can be helped unless they're asking for help. I think people need to find their own answers and sort things out for themselves.

Anyway, I'm rambling. To cut to the chase, I think I'm going to commit myself back into daily meditation because whatever I actually end up doing with my life, that's going to help me with:
  • Being still, present and actually listening to people
  • Not being so fragile emotionally
  • Being calmer with the children
  • General physical good health
  • Being able to, er, um, remember stuff good and hold an entire train of thought in my head at one time rather than just the last two carriages.

So whatever i do that'll be good groundwork.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:15 am 
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Sunshine came back from a two week trip away and we had sex pretty much immediately, and then again the next night. So when she got back from her next trip which was just two days, I don't know if I had an expectation that we were going to have sex again, but she said today that that "old energy" of me pressuring her for sex was back in the air.

A few days later we went to the beach together and I said "I'd really like sex tonight" which she heard as "I want sex" which she wasn't up for because of course that was all about me and I wasn't being very sensitive to how she'd be feeling having me back on a beach with topless sunbathers for the first time this year. That day finished well, but the next day I was feeling really frustrated and took myself off to do some DIY in the morning and worked on RN posts in the afternoon - basically left her for the day which wasn't great for Mother's day. I wrote about that in our couple's thread

Sunshine suggested I write an action plan around how I handle myself when I'm feeling frustrated. I think a large part about what helped me turn the corner was an energetic exercise that I wrote in this thread. I hope to bring that into play sooner and get that energy moved out into my body and doing something constructive with it. I don't think it's a coincidence that I was up at 6:30am this morning doing sit-ups, press-ups then putting a filing cabinet together.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:51 am 
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Still here, still working with the program although I haven't posted in this thread for a while.

Things generally going well, Sunshine and I seem to be moving in the right direction although some days are better than others. I've totally stopped getting upset if sex appears to be on the cards and then it doesn't happen. Which takes a lot of pressure off Sunshine so hopefully we can move back towards - say, kissing - without Sunshine worrying that it's going to lead to my having a "hissy fit".

I think what's become clear in the last month is that I've been very focused on my recovery and Sunshine was encouraging me to check in with her about that regularly without prompting. But now it's becoming more about Sunshine's Healing and her need to have some emotional space and support from me to do that.

So when we're at the beach, instead of me sharing "I thought I did OK not looking at the topless sunbathers", I need to be asking Sunshine "How are you feeling about having me at the beach?"

----------------------------------------

Woke up feeling a bit sad this morning and I wasn't sure why. Maybe just feeling that early childhood wounding and "need" for something that throws me off balance. Sunshine woke up later and we had our regular morning cuddle which I really enjoy, feeling that affection without needing it to lead to sex. I said "Sorry", which means sorry for a lot of things but at that point it was mainly sorry for being the one that's caused this distance between us and all these barriers to go up.

Something we've been talking about the past couple of days is how I "steal a peek". Sunshine wears a black lace nighty which I think looks very sexy on her. While I was getting tea, she pulled it down to fully cover herself. I'm not sure if I'd peeked at her or not, but it's the sort of thing I might do. She said that she'd start feeling more comfortable around me when I stop looking at her like she's a piece of meat. Which, OK, I see that, it's a fair criticism. She suggested I come up with an action plan about that, so I've had some ideas about that which I'll maybe put for feedback in the support forum.

Done here.


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