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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:19 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:49 pm
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Hi Namaste,
What does intimacy look like to you? I had forgotten about this thread which takes on this very question which for many of us helps us find the tiny baby steps that can be used to build intimacy from a non-sexual perspective - safe baby steps.

Sometimes it's the simplest activities that open the heart so emotions can be shared.

Nellie James


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:21 am 
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I think during active addiction, we are relying on an illusion of intimacy. During healing/recovery, that illusion is gone and we feel the coldness of our reality - that we are not close or connected to the real man. We don't even have the illusion! That is hard to bear, because it makes the pain of healing very lonely (very good reason to rely on other relationships for support). The only path to rebuild intimacy, however, is for both to happen - the healing and the recovery. Intimacy requires two willing participants.

These suggestions are great - even sincerely wanting intimacy doesn't immediately result in dropped walls. It takes practice for someone who has always had a secret to figure out what it even feels like to be truly open. My husband was keeping me out in ways that he literally had no idea you can let someone in. He'd never experienced it and didn't know how it felt. First he had to want it, and then he had to have a thousand opportunities to try and fail.

One thing that I think has helped us get started is dreaming together - imagining and planning the future. The past is full of landmines, so talking about it was not a good starting place for reconnecting. But it began to forge a connection between us when we talked about the future - what we wanted for our lives on the other side of addiction recovery & healing. Stuff like the improvements to our home that each of us would like to make (or, like Nellie, getting our hands dirty and working on our home together), making a plan for the kids' chores and privileges, a lighthearted conversation about our funeral preferences (we live across the street from a funeral home - there was no tacit threat in this :s: )...even planning for the family portrait that was our "ceremony" once we completed the workshops. Looking forward together to shorter & longer term plans put our present situation into the bigger picture of what our life together "could" become if we both made the effort to get there. I think it helped us (or at least me) to see how our family could be together and addiction free - to start building a brand new, SA-free, identity as a family. Ha - I guess to separate the addiction from "us."


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:25 pm 
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Thank you Nellie and bagholder for the posts. What does intimacy look like for me? Laughter, playfulness, being comfortable to reveal the unpleasant side of ourselves, loyalty, support in times of crisis, and each of us feeling at ease to share our good and bad feelings. Guess I said the last one twice, so that is obviously important to me. Right now that seems so far away! I love my H deeply, the PERSON that he is, and I hope, hope, hope we come through this, but it is VERY difficult to imagine that we will acheive a level of intimacy with each other that I had previously expected. I would be content with growth (in both of us), but I agree that there has to be a desire for that from both people. Right now he is barely hanging on and is petrified at the thought of being vulnerable, so we will see.

There was an odd incident that happened about 15 years ago that has bothered me ever since. We were on a dive boat in The Central American area when I had a medical problem. My H rose to the emergency (he is very good at that) and arranged for us to leave. One of our fellow passengers was a family therapist and she had observed us for a few days. Before we left the boat she took me aside to express her concern about something she saw in our relationship. She described it as a "formal ness " and advised me that this was something that should be dealt with. I was shocked and felt a wave of anxiety. I told my H about it, but that was as far as it went. I have never forgotten it and now I believe that she was seeing a lack of INTIMACY between us. Isn't it strange how a single remark from a stranger can have such an impact?

I have been reading Codpendent No More and boy oh boy does she have my number. Today I am struggling with the idea of detaching with love while at the same time being open to intimacy. It seems like a tightrope walk over a very deep canyon.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:40 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:49 pm
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Quote:
Laughter, playfulness, being comfortable to reveal the unpleasant side of ourselves, loyalty, support in times of crisis, and each of us feeling at ease to share our good and bad feelings.


One of the suggestions in this thread (I think from Nellie) is to be childlike, playful. You said playfulness and laughter are important to you. What is one step you could do to create a time of playfulness or laughter together? A suggestion was choosing an activity that you both find fun and engaging in it if only for an hour once a week. A time where you put aside the subject of addiction and really focus on having that break in all the tension and emotional turmoil. Doesn't have to be anything big, just a baby step. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:52 am 
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Emotional Intimacy Building - Non Physical
Nightly short topical conversations
Being in each others presence while relaxing
Discussing feelings on safe subjects (without having to do with SA)
Work at friendship being established/reestablished
Putting aside an hour to focus on something childlike or fun/frivolous
Talk about hidden thoughts and feelings
A willingness to invest the time!
Adventures
Discussing our life dreams and goals
Share our personal bests/worsts of the day
Set a time each day to say something positive that we like or love about the other person or something that affirms the positive aspects of their personality or behavior?
Non-sexual physical intimacy like hand holding.
Sharing time together in a joint effort.
Spend time doing something simple together like grabbing an ice cream cone and sitting in the park looking at the night sky.
Nightly diads - take turns drawing a slip of paper with 3 topics that you have to talk about or listen to. Each talk and listen to each topic which were borrowed off a Joel Osteen Calendar (or your own topics)
Write fun challenges on a slip of paper and then have to do them, such as:
- Learn a poem by heart and recite it to your partner
- Eat no sweet things for a day (fruit is ok)
- Run up the steep steps nearby twice (100+ steps)
- Send three loving texts to your spouse. Spouse has to reply lovingly to each.
- No shopping for two days (H loves shopping!) except for dogs and aged father
- Cook a meal you have never cooked before for both of you
- Learn three interesting facts and tell your spouse about them from memory
- Take photographs of each other and photoshop them to mutually acceptable standard (we are both very photo shy)
- Frame every statement you make today positively
Ask for and offering help to each other every day. Little things to let the other know they are in our thoughts.
Involve each other in things that need to be done instead of handling it all yourself (Projects, home changes etc.)
Date night at least every two weeks doing something you both enjoy (Dinner, movie, museum, dancing, bowling etc)
Dreaming together


I also wanted to start a part two list of this thread for those that have moved beyond the first baby steps to some physical intimacy building (Non-Sexual) but need ideas. These lists will be added to the tool kits we are creating for the new launch of the site later this year. So here are some suggestions.

Physical Intimacy Building - Non Sexual
Back rubs
Foot Massages
Brushing each other's hair




What else can we add to our lists that has worked for others or think would be good to try?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:51 am 
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Being playful...our initial couples counselor recommended that we play together like children which is different than being immature or childish. She was right. It opens the door for healthy intimacy and helped us get through some pretty rough stuff. That autumn we walked a lot - through the crunchy leaves and recalled making leaf forts when we were young. We took in the smells, sounds, colors. We planned to build a snow fort when it snowed but we didn't get the right "wet" snow for that. I did roll up a snowman or two.

I love Haiku and use it often in my gallery to carry the theme of an exhibit so we would write seasonal Haiku together when we waited in the doctor's office or were in a restaurant waiting for our food. It fed the creative side of us, and gave us an opportunity to praise the other. It was a gentle thoughtful experience each time we did it.

Then we decided to try fishing - we fished with our families as children but didn't really know what we were doing. That made it all the more fun. I found myself sliding down steep banks on my rear and dashing cross creeks in my shoes to get to just the right spot - never caught a thing but figured out how to cast and not get my line all tangled. We took our cameras along, too, to capture sunsets and other scenery. We truly got lost in the adventure. I felt like a kid, and was 67 at the time.

Next, we bought an old vintage 1954 Shasta teeny tiny trailer. My H loved working on it fixing all the leaks, replacing birch panels, etc. and I took on the curtains, rugs, bedding, dishes, pots and pans. We hit every yard sale in town for two years. Last summer we finally took our maiden "voyage" and found a wonderful camp ground with tall pines and a meandering brook. I thought we were in heaven.

I love to dance. My husband only know his 70's moves but we give it a try once in a while in the living room. We also search out "oldies" on U Tube although his era is different than mine. We laugh and giggle noting the hair styles and the clothing we once thought was so cool. He'll start to sing, goes off key, and I laugh with him because he knows how bad he is. It's fun.

In writing this, I realize that we need to get back to more of this - playing like kids. It's so good for what ails you. :w:

Nellie


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