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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:39 am 
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As we start this thread, I've completed lesson 59 in the Recovery Workshop (starting the Advanced Lessons now) and Sunshine is in "Stage Seven: Transitioning" in the Partner's Healing Workshop.

We'd started the couple's work some time ago and mingled couple's posts in our own individual threads, so I like to collate those here (see below). Neither of us felt able to do the Couple's Ceremony. That feels more like something we'd like to do to mark some sort of "new start". It's been 6 months since D-Day.

We had a joint coaching call with CoachCheryl a couple of days ago, and she suggested we start a couple's thread and can start doing some joint work here, and I've also committed to finishing off the Recovery Workshop at a rate of 1 or 2 lesson/exercises per week.

Guided
Introduction
Healing Contract
Guided wrote:
Couple's Workshop - Healing Contracts

Developing the Contract


I. The first step in developing a healing contract is to clearly document your existing values and boundaries. Again, these are your values--not your partner's and not your relationship's. If you aren't clear what these are, simply list five to ten areas of your life that you value (your values) and ways that you will protect those values (your boundaries).

II. Next, put aside your list and allow yourself to think about the following questions in relation to your partner:
•What behaviors would you find completely unacceptable in your partner?
•What behaviors would cause you to worry about your partner's overall balance?
•What behaviors would symbolize a return to their addiction and/or a detriment to their own healing?
•What healthy behaviors would you like to see from your partner in response to what has been identified above?

In general, we are talking about behaviors related to past destructive patterns, though you do not have to limit yourself to this. Document the behaviors you have come up with.

III. With the above steps completed, your final task is to determine an appropriate response that you will take for each behavior--should it be observed.


My list of values (most recently worked on) is posted here. The thing is; L is very fair and supportive in general, so I can't really imagine her impinging on any of my values. She does insist that I communicate (eg for working out who's looking after the children at which particular time of day) but in general, fairness is something she really champions. We take reasonably even turns at (career) work vs domestic chores - although of course priorities change and that's something I generally feel able to discuss and I never feel forced into anything and/or resentful.

•What behaviors would you find completely unacceptable in your partner?
I think the only thing I can't handle with L is when she's talking at me and I'm feeling emotionally overwhelmed (which happens fairly easily I admit and I'm working on that) and she just keeps going. So I'll say that I need her to stop talking immediately when I ask for a timeout.

Swearing at me or criticizing me in front of (or directly to) the children.

•What behaviors would cause you to worry about your partner's overall balance?
Exhibiting signs of depression: crying; not getting out of bed.

•What behaviors would symbolize a return to their addiction and/or a detriment to their own healing?
Well L is going through quite a few ups and downs at the moment. She's "casting up" my behaviour to me quite regularly and (as I see it) blaming me for lots that's wrong with our relationship but, I mean, I am to blame for much of what's wrong so I sort of accept that although I don't like it. As long as she's talking about it I think that's probably a sign that she's working through her healing in some way shape or form. So I'd only worry if she stopped communicating with me altogether - and I have a hard time imagining that.

•What healthy behaviors would you like to see from your partner in response to what has been identified above?
I think as long as she can respect the "Timeout" request (which would be a defined 5 minute thing and not a complete end to the discussion) and not disrespect me in front of the children (even though I might deserve it) that would be fine with me.

In terms of handling depression, she did have a couple of days (mostly) in bed last week but I think that had a lot to do with finally crashing after several mad weeks (also a member of the family died) and she had a throat infection so I think it was the best thing for her at the time. If there was a return to that I'd probably contact her parents and get them involved, maybe suggest she go and stay with them to be looked after for a few days.

•Determine an appropriate response that you will take for each behavior--should it be observed.

If L were to fail to respect a timeout then I'd expect to leave the situation and not receive any criticism for leaving.

For both that and disrespecting me in front of the children I'd like an apology.

I'd just like to add to this post that I really had to dredge the barrel to come up with these sanctions and I can only think of about 4 occasions in 5 years where I've percieved L as having been disrespectful of me in front of the children.



Common Obstacles

Guided wrote:
Couple's Recovery: Common Obstacles

Rules: In whatever forms you choose (writing them out, recording them on your answering machine, etc.), hide ten compliments/meaningful thoughts for your partner in places you anticipate them accessing over the next week.


I've been really enjoying both thinking about these compliments (have been trying to spread them over all the "hats" my wife wears - professional, mother, lover, daughter, friend, domestic goddess, explorer, spiritual aspirant, althlete, model) and also giggling to myself as I think up more and more places she going to look. I've also generated a few extra notes and hidden them in places that she's not going to look in for several months.

If she doesn't get 10 this week, then we're all going to know that she's not flossing her teeth. ;)


Lesson 9 - Viewing Addiction through Partner's Eyes

Guided wrote:
Couple's Recovery Lesson 9 - Understanding Addiction Through Your Partner's Eyes.

Ask your partner to read the above lesson and share their thoughts openly. Encourage them to talk about the similarities and differences between what they have read and what they have experienced. Your job is the most difficult: listen. Just listen. Listen with compassion and with empathy

After this conversation, each of you take a few minutes to share your individual thoughts in your couple's thread. Share only constructive observations of how you felt, what you thought, feelings you experienced, etc.--even if painful.


L didn't really discuss the similarities and differences between the Business Partner passage and her own experience, mainly she just talked about trying to understand my addiction. Regarding the boundaries of the exercise - that I would just listen with empathy and compassion - she complained that all I ever do is listen to her, and "nothing comes of it". Generally if I don't respond to what she's saying she just gets more and more worked up until I do something to stop her (which might be by blowing up and storming out). So I did give her some feedback on what she was saying, but after a short time she decided to try just going with what the exercise had suggested.

She talked about the different things going on with my addiction. I think she finds it much easier to understand and accept the "love addiction" side - coming from my early childhood of a mother with post-natal depression who wasn't tactile and I was kept in an incubator for the first few weeks and then - later on - she used to drive me around in the car to get me to sleep. So seeking acceptance and love and jumping from relationship to relationship as the honeymoon period wears off, she "gets". The side she doesn't like hearing about is the "weak, selfish" addict who apparently valued the buzz of a sexual high over the integrity and wellbeing of his family.

L made a good point that it's she (as the innocent party) rather that the addict that has been put in prison - she sees my position as one of "win win" - if we breakup then I can go off and sleep with whoever I want, and if we stay together then I get to keep the kids and the great life we're currently living.

Differences I noted was that - from L's perspective, she didn't get any of the warning signs of a business in difficulty - she just turned up for work one day to find her building burning. So I suppose that must be worse in a way, more of a shock thinking that everything is fine and then suddenly finding out that the solid foundation for the last 5 years of marriage turned out to be completely hollow.

In terms of how I felt and what I experienced during the conversation...I did feel that my ability to empathise is improving. I think a large part of that is that I'm gaining some confidence that it's not "the end of the world" and I'm not being utterly rejected, so there's a bit more space for me to take in what L is feeling. I think having the dicussion within the context of a RN exercise also made it feel a little less threatening.

It was interesting for me that, reading the paragraph, I came away with the thought "no way would I ever go back into business with that guy again" and having it really starkly clear to me that that's exactly what I'm asking L to do. Incidentaly, she was of exactly the same opinion about the (hypothetical) situation.


Lesson 10 - Understanding your Partner's Needs

Guided wrote:
Couple's Recovery Exercise 10 - Understanding your Partner's Needs

Ask yourself the following: “If my partner did the things that I have done—exactly as I have done them—what would I need in order to rebuild my trust in him/her?” Really think about this. What would you want from them, expect from them, demand from them? Share these thoughts in your Couple's Thread.


I think after such a long time of being so secretive, I'd really need them to open up and be transparent about what's going on with them and in their lives. And after being so self centered, I'd want to see some indication that they're working to move away from that.

I'm not being very honest here; mainly I'm giving the answer that I think the teacher wants to hear. When I think about L doing these things I think that I'd be delighted to be out of the "hot seat" myself and would use her behaviour as leverage to get what I want - back massages and oral sex every night. <sigh> I've got a lot of growing up to do. I'm sure it'd be true that if I was facing these sorts of admissions for real I wouldn't be so happy about it. L was describing potentially having sex with a neighbour the other day (in order to help me feel empathy) and I got really angrily worked up about that.


Building Trust

I cannot find this lesson?
It's Rebuilding Trust & Respect in the Wake of Chronic Deception - 11th lesson down in couple's workshop.


Sunshine
Healing Contract

sunshine74 wrote:
Couple's healing contract

I. The first step in developing a healing contract is to clearly document your existing values and boundaries. Again, these are your values--not your partner's and not your relationship's. If you aren't clear what these are, simply list five to ten areas of your life that you value (your values) and ways that you will protect those values (your boundaries).

I am a person with faith and belief in herself and compassion for human beings.
Boundary: I also know where to draw the line between compassion and idiot compassion.

I am a committed mother. I make time to play, listen to and actively love my children.
Boundary:

I continue to be in a fulfilling career and to do the overseas travel that I need to do.
I am a support to my friends and family and my friends and family support me. My priorities remain clear and I remain open hearted.

I make time for myself. In the short term, this means that I go for a run regularly, bathing in my beautiful surroundings, physically working out the tricky energy that all this is causing. I will return to my meditation practice. I will be kind to myself as this will not be right now.

II. Next, put aside your list and allow yourself to think about the following questions in relation to your partner:
•What behaviors would you find completely unacceptable in your partner?
1. Him having an affair- online, phone, face to face, whatever format he thinks of. If he is liaising with another person, male or female, without telling me- that is an affair.
2. Him sneaking off to view pornography/ pornography in the home
Basically, anything that he is lying about: by omission or blatantly (e.g. contacting anyone that is not 'a friend to our marriage' without telling me).
Lies are now unacceptable.

•What behaviors would cause you to worry about your partner's overall balance?
- manic behaviour
- voyeurism
- deceitful behaviour
- ignoring me behaviour
- agressive behaviour
- detached behaviour: failing to notice my emotional state or care about me and do something about it.

•What behaviors would symbolize a return to their addiction and/or a detriment to their own healing?
- all the above

•What healthy behaviors would you like to see from your partner in response to what has been identified above? In general, we are talking about behaviors related to past destructive patterns, though you do not have to limit yourself to this. Document the behaviors you have come up with.
I need him to do the following if I am to stay with him:
- checking in regularly with me telling me about his emotional state
- telling me daily about SA progress- any issues that need to come out.
- enhanced communication
- awareness that I exist
- compassion
- empathy
- not sneaking off.

III. With the above steps completed, your final task is to determine an appropriate response that you will take for each behavior--should it be observed.

1. Him having an affair- online, phone, face to face, whatever format he thinks of. If he is liaising with another person, male or female, without telling me that is an affair. Includes prostitute.
Response: he leaves the family home, I divorce him.

2. Him sneaking off to view pornography/lap dancer
Response: He leaves the family home for a week minimum if it is one incident. If it then appears that there were more and he didn't tell me, it will be one month.

3. Voyeurism
Response: Changing room thing is putting us all at risk. He will leave the home for one month and we will then discuss again.
Response: Peeping Tom- As above.
Response: Setting up camera. Divorce.

Basically, anything that he is lying about: by omission or blatantly.
Lies are now unacceptable.
To discuss together....

- manic behaviour
Response: sit down and chat, work out what is going on: caffeine, lack of food, mania. Take relevant action to address.

- deceitful behaviour (other than above)
Response: sit down and chat, work out what is going on. Take relevant action to address
Sanction? Peter?

- ignoring me/ detached behaviour- treating me as a sex object or a random stranger, not respecting me as a human being, with a history, who has borne him two children. Not having compassion, empathy, sympathy, warmth.

Response: Note it... he is planning to work on it. Come back to this in 3 months time and note how I am feeling. If not change, then reassess response. I am not prepared to live in such a relationship.


- aggressive behaviour
Response: ask and get for Timeout.
If not respected, I and children leave building.


Lesson 8

sunshine74 wrote:
Exercise 8
1) In your Couple's Thread, discuss ways that you can practically implement the insights offered in this lesson. For instance, how might you integrate joy into your relationship now, as a part of the healing process? How might you offer sincere support to your partner's efforts to change his life (as opposed to patronizing support, pressured support, etc.)?
Integrating joy: going for beautiful walks amongst the Autumn leaves, roasting chestnuts that we have collected on our fire, playing games with the children, eating nuts that we have picked...
sincere support: ask him how it is going, how he is feeling, give him hugs and say well done.

2) Examining your current role in your partner's recovery, what mistakes have you made? Are there any you might still be making?
I won't call them mistakes as I needed to do them. They were about MY recovery. So shouting, being angry, being upset, making comments. I needed to get the shock and energy out of my system. Now I just need to watch that I don't make comments just for the sake of it. If I have something to say, then I need to say it mindfully not mindlessly. However, I am not going to bottle things up just for his recovery. That would destroy mine which wouldn't be of long term value to either of us.

3) Describe the things you ARE CURRENTLY DOING to role model healthy partnership skills.
Respecting him
Thanking him
Acknowledging him
Asking for his opinions and taking them on board
Holding his hand when I sense he needs it
Being aware of his emotional state and providing comfort where needed


Lesson 9


sunshine74 wrote:
Couples Workshop Exercise 9: business partner gambling and burning down building.
Found this pretty frustrating. Me talking, him listening is what we do. He listens well, but doesn't mean anything changes so I don't trust him listening. I trust him when he voluntarily tells me something, which is very rare.
I feel that the example didn't really work in that it is Me in the prison, not him. He is not begging for 2nd chances, I feel he is in win win whatever. I am the one imprisoned in a situation that is not of my choosing. Yeah... maybe.... eventually... I will benefit. But right now... who knows. We have children, I like him, I like his company but I don't know him, don't feel connected to him.


Last edited by Guided on Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Coaching Call
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Here's some notes we took during our call:

For Guided
  • Map my manipulation process (shutting down difficult discussions) as done with an Urge. Step by step feeling/action. Find flipping point and define 2 - 3 things to do to head off this behaviour eg a mantra or affirmation. Write and post action plan.
    • Find a way to listen with it shaking 'core' (Narcisissm issues)
  • Work on developing a stronger sense of self. Having a sense of accepting yourself and what you want to accomplish in the future will strengthen your self esteem, and you'll find it easier to accept criticism. Look at the person you want to be.
  • Accept you weren't perfect and now you're working to be a stronger person. Take pride in your accomplishments and stand up for yourself.

For Sunshine
  • When Guided's emotions hijack the conversation either:
    • State "I will continue and you need to find a way to let me say what I need to say
    • Say "I am aware that I'm being manipulated by you"
  • Recognise Progress
  • Commit to not having difficult conversations with Guided while driving.
  • (in response to question about how/when to trust) Look for communication, consistency, emotional management, transformations, rely on gut. BUT Guided needs to give Sunshine a basis for that trust - once an addict starts doing things in a healthy way, they'll find that unhealthy ways no longer work for them. It takes time and action.
  • Embrace "the new"

For Both
  • Have physically connecting, non-sexual moments.
  • Start couple's thread (Done! :g: )


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:35 am 
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Ok so I needed to see the work in one place so copied and pasted them into this thread :)

I'm looking them over but wondering about any progress so far. It has been almost 2 weeks. Right off the bat I don't see G's action plan from our call or a mapping out, was that done in your recovery thread? If it's completed posting it in this thread will be most helpful as it is really couples work.

Any intimacy building activities? If so how did they go?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:44 am 
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Well we're getting on better, and Sunshine says she feels like we're making progress.

I've been making time for non sexual affection ie hugs which I think Sunshine is appreciating more now that they don't have a groping element to them. And we're back to sleeping half naked (again non-sexual) which certainly makes me feel like we're closer. But no, we've not done anything formal in terms of deliberate intimacy building.

We did have a long discussion the other morning which was letting Sunshine express some stuff and I didn't derail that. Then again at lunch, which I had more difficulty with - it came (for me) out of the blue and I wasn't ready for it, where the morning discussions are more of a regular thing and I'm not trying to do anything else at the time.

She's away for work (and a wedding) this week and felt she had to "get off her chest" that she was feeling pressurised into having sex with me before she left so that I wasn't tense and irritable with the kids which I found...a bit upsetting. We did have sex after that - she said she felt that saying that had cleared the air which was great, but I think I'd have been fine about it if we hadn't (had sex) and was looking forward to seeing how I dealt with that situation without taking it out on anybody.

I was feeling a bit lost without her yesterday, but better today. Nice to be able to take some time to work on my self discipline (ie get to bed on time) and standing on my own two feet without reference to what anyone else thinks about me, or needing porn, beer, computer games.

I had to spend some effort yesterday not looking up a particuar actress (we'd seen last week) on the internet, and used values based decision making to avoid having a glass of red wine with lunch today. Have however, set myself up a beer and a movie for tonight. The night after is Tai Chi, so that'll be alcohol free. I've had a few email exchanges with Sunshine today and have told her about these things.

The action plan for not derailing Sunshine expression I've got clear in my head, I'll write that below - I used it successfully on Saturday (the air clearing conversation). Mapping out what goes on in those situations I've been thinking about (again below), but finding very difficult.

The couples exercise on trust that you couldn't find above was: Rebuilding Trust & Respect in the Wake of Chronic Deception


Last edited by Guided on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:17 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:07 am 
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So what happens is that Sunshine will be telling me things that I don't want to hear and I'll get really upset about it and one of a number of things happens, but basically I'm "trying" to stop the discussion, although my subjective view of the situation is that I just need her to stop because I can't stand it.

I said I'd try and map this out, and for that I'm referring back to the Recovery Workshop lesson on Urge Control: Isolating the Emotions as it's definitely my emotional state that's causing the issue here.

Event Mapping

I have a hard time even keeping one of these conversations in my head for long enough to think about it - perhaps because it's related to panic. Which is interesting in itself.

I also get much more upset when Sunshine is talking to me while we're driving which is why I pressed for her to agree to avoid these conversations when we're in the car. Perhaps because driving requires the concentration that I would normally use for keeping myself on an even keel.

Here's how it goes:
  • Conversation progresses
  • I feel criticised, "got at", unloved
  • I start to feel worried that I'm going to go mad if I keep listening to her
  • I might start getting shaky, or feel physically strange - dizzy.
  • I feel a bit panicky
  • If we're in the car, I might start to imagine kicking out the windows, or opening the door or (if I'm driving) crashing.
  • If I've got something in my hand, I might throw it (a satsuma comes to mind as a memorable example.
  • I might storm off, or I might manage to ask for a timeout or perhaps say a time when I expect to be able to come back to the discussion.

Action Plan

I've had more success with coming up with an action plan. Which is as follows. On realising that we're having a conversation that I'm going to find difficult:
  • Regain my sense of connection to the Universe
  • Feel my feet against the floor, or my heals pressed against the bed
  • Come back to my breathing if I'm feeling overwhelmed
  • Remind myself to think about what Sunshine is feeling, that this discussion is about her, not about me. Try to stay with her.
  • She's not saying this because she wants to "get at me".
  • Remember that she's stayed with me because she loves me, and that how I currently "sense" she's feeling towards me is a temporary thing. We've had these discussions before, and it's always been OK afterwards.
  • Remind myself that her expression is part of her healing - a healing that my actions necessitate
  • Reflect that she's not saying anything that's untrue, and neither is she being abusive.

Also to bear in mind:
  • That the "I'm doing fine" state of getting through one of these discussions could well have elements of me shutting down my emotional response and I may find myself getting upset later, when I'm playing back what's been said.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:54 am 
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There is nothing specific to say about couple's work specifically as I have been away for a week, but having the space has helped indirectly with couple's work. So I am putting it here, let me know if that is not right Cheryl?

It has been really good to have a week to myself. No regime, no fixed timetable imposed by children and Peter’s food needs and moods. Just my own schedule. If and when I chose to have one. Blissful. To be able to just breathe. I have been away for work and then to a weekend wedding of one my best friends. By myself, without Peter or children

I think the pressure of having children on myself has been underestimated by myself. I really forgot who I was. Life just became of whirlwind of being a mother, wife, career woman and daughter. All colliding at the same time. All those needs, neediness, crashing into each other and into me. To the point that ‘me’ was just a reactive ‘to do’ list. To just be away and reclaim myself and cycle around Edinburgh and do what I chose to do was just a revelation. How easily I gave all that away. Of course I got a lot in return but still…

So good to rediscover it. Before going back into the chaos again.

Being with my brother and sister in law brought home one particular point that Peter has offered me. I think I have learned through this relationship the importance of understanding how judgmental I can be. How I can criticise other people’s ways if they are not my way. But I have realised that I don’t have that right. In a way analysing people is not ‘taking that which is freely given’. People are not saying to me ‘please help me be a better person’ and yet that is what I do. Point out the flaws. Because I want people to point out mine so that I can ‘improve myself’. But just because I am happy with that doesn’t mean I have the right not assume that others also want/need to be aware of everything they do and asked why. Maybe that is not my right, sometimes it might be important but sometimes not. So I need to get the balance better. This could give me a clue to help me on my own personal quest for ‘mindful speech’, something I have always struggled with. I have always just blurted things out and it upsets me. Sometimes it helps, most times I think. But sometimes it really doesn’t.

So what I am saying here and how it is relevant to the couple’s work is that I am seeing something that Peter has offered me. This is important because the angry voice in my head sometimes goes back to ‘how come HE gets to do all these things and I help him be a better person whereas I just end up traumatised with no obvious benefit … just negatives?’. So it is good to think of what he has offered my own personal development. And how he can in the future now that hopefully the relationship is going to be more than just about him and his needs and the children and their needs.

He has also taught me to develop awareness of my needs (and then trampled on them but that we now), something I didn’t even know that I needed to know before he forced it out of me. So that is also work in progress.

Also in terms of noting Peter’s progress, he is being empathetic and pre-empting how I might be feeling. The text ‘I understand that you might have mixed feelings about coming back’ is definitely a new and helpful step forward. I think before he wouldn’t have thought about that. So now he is thinking it and communicating to me that I has some awareness of who I am. So that was good.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:23 am 
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Guided Writes:
Sunshine and I have been talking this morning. She was feeling very blocked and irritated and unsafe. She feels like almost all of the reasons for us being together as a couple have been shattered ie the deal was that when she met me that we were working on a spiritual path in an open, honest and trusting relationship. So now she's left with a sci-fi fan who happens to be the father of her children and she's wondering where we go from here. Like starting a new relationship, only set back by this irritation and lack of first glow infatuation.

I feel like I'm starting to stand on my own feet for the first time. Dealing with narcassism really - I was thinking that my Sister was born just 9 months after me, and when we were young I had this adoring fan who used to think I was great and followed me around everwhere and did whatever I wanted us to do together (often exploring the countryside around our house - both houses in fact because both were equally rural). And then when she grew up and started wanting to do her own thing, I started looking for a girlfriend and have been in serial relationships ever since.

Sunshine has a friend G who I look to as a model for being a single guy able to successfully live a life on his own, although as Sunshine points out he has wanted to be in a relationship. Sunshine is pointing out that he totally fails to open his post. He was an only child and lost his Dad at the age of 8, then boarding school then army so perhaps he'll have more trouble being in a relationship than being single.

So although Sunshine is feeling pretty blocked and frustrated this morning, and what's especially bothering her is that I'm not helping her work through her emotional state. But I've pointed out that what we've spent the last few months working on is me being able to listen to her talk about this stuff (and more recently specifically that her life would be much easier without me which I used to get really distressed about hearing) without freaking out and forcing her to take care of my emotional state. So now I can listen without "leaving" one way or another, I'm starting to get into a position where I could help her work through what's going on for her.

But she's feeling a bit stuck because she's saying, OK you did this stuff, you broke up our marriage, it happened, what's to work through? She's asking what is this sex addict / recovering sex addict who likes science fiction (hint not Sunshine's main genre) doing univited in her life?

In some ways it feels good for me to have Sunshine a bit removed and shut off from my life...I feel a little like I'm being born, becoming my own person for the first time. Funny I thought I was. I suppose it's a spiral path, you think you're back at the beginning but in fact things have moved on a bit. She's going to be away quite a lot in the next three months so that's fine, it will give her some space, a break and a rest from this and I can work on being OK by myself.

Sunshine notes that I've not said anything about how I feel about her...I feel like I've not got to that yet, I've been so dependent on her...well lets call it narsissitic supply, and then dealing with my emotional state with having that withdrawn. I love her, she's the most amazing person I know. Challenging, which isn't easy, sexy, clever, able. I love that we're both into nature - feeling at home in the trees.

Sunshine writes:
The last line that he has written doesn't feel true to me. I don't feel that he knows me, other than in how I meet his needs. But that step back and objectively seeing me as a person than as a witness to his life, a facilitator to his life has yet to be taken. Coversation this morning has helped me to get that he is STILL working on himself so in that sense nothing has changed for me, it is still all about him.

But on the other hand, when it is not about him, then it can be about me. For example, he is a great facilitator of my life. In that he enables me to have the job that I want. He looks after the children, cooks, does what needs to be done so that I can do my thing.

But without the connection, the complicity that binds true lovers, the honest and safe place where a couple can unite, am I just left with unpaid help? That sounds very cruel and maybe being middle aged means letting go of the idea of romance but I had it. I had the place where I had it all. And it is hard not to want that back. Even though it wasn't real. Apparently. Though again there is a part of me that just doesn't get that this person did those things. Integration still lacking.

So this is probably about patience, he needs his time to find himself.
But in the mean time, I am left sharing a bed with this person who is finding himself (again- a common pattern in my partners).

So that is one voice.
There is still the other voice that says
You do know him. He is good dad, he looks after you in practical ways. And that was his model of care. Parents feed, clothe their children. But my model was about emotional support. You can pay a cleaner if that is what you need - if you can afford it. Or pay someone for the other practical things. The SPECIAL thing about relationships is that they transcend that. They are a place of safety, of challenge of course, but within a place of safety. And that safety is based on loyalty. Writing that makes me realise what a big thing that is in my culture. Family loyalty and emotional availability are non negotiables. I don't know how to operate in a context where they aren't there. And currently they aren't there. In him or his family.

So a fundamental upbringing culture clash there.

His parents still don't mention anything that has happened. They still haven't told him off, chastised him. Everyone just pretends all is fine.

So I am left looking for common ground and not finding any.

Other than being parents. And that doesn't feel like enough right now.

So I feel like I am waiting. And ok I am getting on with my other values, friends, family, nature, exercise, work etc. But they aren't there when I go to bed at night and am face to face with this stranger that I know so well in so many ways.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:32 am 
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I'm feeling physically tense, angry and frustrated. Sunshine and I were supposed to be taking the kids to visit a relative today, but I decided that my mood is not going to shift and she should take the kids herself while I got on with some RecoveryNation work, but she's too tired so they're hanging out while I do some writing. I tried looking to my values and getting some stuff done - tidied up a bunch of stuff, varnished a set of shelves and painted a couple of things that had been hanging around for a while but I'm still feeling pretty crabby and I'm aware that I'm likely to take that out on the children especially my son who seems to be getting into saying "yes Daddy" when I ask him not to do something, and then doing it anyway as soon as I'm out of sight.

We went to a beach yesterday for the first time this year, and - as there always are - there were some topless sunbathers out. I was very aware of how much more of my attention was focused on my wife...also haven't seen her in a bikini in a long time. I was aware that she'd be feeling a bit tense having me there, knowing that looking at topless sunbathers had been one of my things. Unfortunately I didn't communicate that to her, of course because I didn't want to "draw heat" on myself, reminder her of what I used to do, bad short term decision. She wasn't happy that I had what might have been a considerate thought and then failed to share it. But all in all I felt pretty good about being there, sat with my back to the topless folks and just looked out to sea. It felt good, the lightness of just being there with her and the kids without having that tightness, the anxiousness of furtively glancing around the beach. Not having to sit with guilt. It felt like good progress.

Sunshine said she wasn't used to having so much of my attention on her, so I think that also made her feel a bit uncomfortable, like I was looking at her as a piece of meat rather than seeing her for herself. She discussed the need for pubic hair trimming - I offered to help and she said she'd already done in on her last trip which I found to be quite a turn-on and I said I was looking forward to seeing it. While we were there I said I'd really like to have sex that evening, which annoyed here because she said I was just reacting to this sexually stimulating environment (including her body being on display) rather than it having anything to do with her as a person.

So I'm feeling pretty sexually frustrated just now. I said this morning that I resent the fact that my wife can have sex whenever she wants, and I can't. I'm still upset about a conversation we had a couple of days ago when Sunshine basically said, "I'm not in love with you. I don't know that I can ever be in love with you again after what you did. I don't know that I want to stay in a relationship where I'm not in love". So I'm feeling quite vulnerable out the back of that.

I was cuddled up to her stomach this morning talking about my need for touch stemming from having non-tactile parents, and exploring opening up to that vulnerability with her. Half an hour later she complained about both the children and me needing looked after so that really upset me. All this "opening up and sharing myself emotionally and making myself vulnerable" that she says she wants me to do, and when I do it, I'm being a burden on her. So I'm angry about that, but of course the largest element in what's going on for me today is that I want sex and I'm being denied it, so any "slight" or minor offense is going to set me off. Sunshine's attitude towards me this morning wasn't helped by my failing to plan anything special for us to do today - it's Mother's day in the country we're currently living in.

Sunshine also went back to the pubic hair trimming discussion and pointed out that her doing that has nothing whatsoever to do with me, and being all about other women's expectations of what's "decent".

She also said of our sex life that she feels that she's just an accessory to my masturbation, which was pretty upsetting to hear. When we met I told her that I didn't do "Just Sex", I did "Making Love", but my subsequent behaviour of having an online affair and masturbating to porn has pretty much shown both of us that I was fooling myself about that - my sex life wasn't at all dependent on one particular person or another, just that they were female. Still, that attention isn't being directed at anyone else now.

She caught me glancing at her breast this afternoon and covered herself up which made me feel bad for having done it (and a large part of the reason why I'm back on here now because I'm obviously objectifying her) and made me feel like a criminal.

I've got a post overdue about what to do with that sexual energy once you've got yourself wound up, so I think I'll put that into practice now, and then get back to something that Sunshine asked me to write about some time ago - the difference between Masturbation, Sex and Making Love.


Last edited by Guided on Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:48 am 
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Masturbation for me has almost always been a way of getting rid of physical tension, or boredom. I really sign up to the "dopamine hit" theories around addiction in this regard. So I've most often masturbated to help my get to sleep. I've also masturbated to "get rid of the testosterone" - so that I can walk around feeling somewhat relaxed and less aggressive. So that I can talk somewhat normally with a girl rather than being preoccupied with trying to push for something physical to happen between us.

I see the difference between Sex and Masturbation as being that in Sex, seeing and touching the other person is a much larger part of the stimulation, but I think although more attention - maybe even all the attention - might be on the other person, it's still being done for self gratification. "Giving" someone else an orgasm because "you want" to give them an orgasm, and that makes you feel like a accomplished lover.

I suppose the main difference between Sex and "Making Love" is who it's about - who are you primarily trying to make feel good. Or even not "trying", just entering into the flow of it. Sex is about putting your own desires first. Sex could be about anyone who's sexually stimulating, making love has the other person as the primary focus - being with them, doing what you're doing as much (or more) for them as for yourself. Making love needs to have a basis in trust, to fully share ones innermost self. Having sex doesn't require so much trust (except in the physical sense of contraception and not transmitting STDs) because far less of the self is shared - or even a completely false identify might be shared.

As I see it, Making Love:
  • Starts with a connection, rather than "feeling horny"
  • Isn't rushed. It's not about "getting there" as quickly as possible
  • Feels good afterwards, leads to a feeling of being more connected, not "used"
  • Is a focus on the whole body, rather than just the genitals and breasts.
  • Has a "higher" or spiritual aspect to it.
  • Results in a deepening of the emotional connection
  • Has more elements of respect and affection
  • Makes the wider setting more important, a greater awareness of what's going on around you.
  • Senses what would be good next for the other person in the moment, rather than working through a script or plan.
  • Doesn't have barriers, but also has no need of them because what's felt is what's right for the other person
  • Is more about the experience than the result
  • Needs both parties to be sober and mentally present.

After I'd written most of the above I did a websearch to see if I'd missed anything important and found this article, that I thought was a) quite close to what I thought about the subject and b) contained interested links for further reading:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the ... aking-love


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:35 pm 
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So Sunshine reviewed my post above and suggested that I come up with some action points. She pointed out that - as usual - I'm making it about me and my feelings and not particularly thinking about hers. She says that I'm making myself into the victim (where in fact, I'm the predator) and I should be seeing myself as the damaging cause of the situation we are now in. I also didn't write my post at all from the point of view of what we as a couple need to work on.

And this is something I used to do - even to a subtle degree - when I had a facebook account. Paint my life as being just not quite as great as it deserves to be painted in order to get myself some sympathy and attention. So I think it would be good for me to review my posts for "poor me" content. Maybe work through each paragraph and say "what does this say about me, and what does this say about Sunshine?"

It's unfortunate that it took me all afternoon to pull myself out of my self centered frustrations, which obviously puts a strain on Sunshine having to take over all the childcare - especially with it being Mother's Day here. I did manage to do some breathing and opening up exercises that - I think - is where I turned a corner, so I hope to put them into play a bit quicker if I get into that state again. I wrote about that here.

Getting upset with Sunshine for covering herself up is obviously way out of line. If I'm making her feel uncomfortable then that's "my bad", and I should be the one apologising, not complaining.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:32 am 
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I think Sunshine and I are moving forward. She said the other day that she felt like we're "friends again" which gave me a warm glow. We've got a book - Erotic Intelligence - in the post and Sunshine said she's waiting to get started on that.

I just wanted to catch up that with the end of the couple's workshop, Sunshine indicated that the ball was in my court to "fix things", so I put a post in the couple's support forum asking if anyone had ideas for further exercises.

In that vein, Sunshine and I were in bed a while ago and she said that she didn't want to have sex because she doesn't feel a connection between us. I had a think about that and came up with an exercise which was just as follows (actually I'll write this more generally after reading something that Shaw wrote):

Time for exercise: 10 minutes

The person who is feeling more open (and that might be person in recovery or partner) lies on their back with top half minimally clothed (in my case just jammie bottoms, but you might be more comfortable in a vest) and the person who is experiencing resistance lies at 90 degrees (or whatever is comfortable) and puts their head on their partner's chest so as to listen to their partner's heart beat. Make sure to position yourself so that they're facing up the way.

And just stay there for ten minutes. See what comes up (for the person feeling the resistance) and feed it back to their significant other.


In our case what came up for Sunshine is that she's feeling all these barriers against me because she doesn't trust me, and (so that I can work through this) I'll be doing my next post on all the ways she doesn't trust me. So that's the next thing that we'll be working on together - until this book turns up ;)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:12 am 
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So what came up in the "Head on the Chest" exercise is that Sunshine feels unable to drop the barriers that have formed between us (on her side, still have to look at my own barriers) because she doesn't trust me; and this mistrust has several aspects that we agreed I should list and then see what if anything can be done about them.

I think Sunshine does trust that I've not masturbated, had contact with anyone "not conducive to our marriage" or looked at pornography, since we started the course here. I also think she's starting to trust a little more that I will tell her if anything "comes up" in that regard for me. We've been working with the "Red, Amber, Green" discussion markers which have been helpful.

There's also been progress with me no longer shutting down difficult conversations (although I still stall them a bit through lack of enthusiasm and not having much to say), and I've also stopped all (?) expectations around us having sex and I don't pressure/manipulate Sunshine into it or get stroppy when sex doesn't happen.

But she's said she doesn't trust me:
  • to always put her and the children's needs ahead of my own
  • or even to put her and the children's health/wellbeing ahead of my own
  • to think about her and the children as part of my decision making process
  • not to just go crazy again one day (I went through a bit of an episode in 2007 and had to be sectioned for a week)
  • not to freak out if we're having an argument that I'm finding particulary upsetting
  • not to "peek" at her when she's getting changed
  • not to get into some sort of sexually charged state when I'm looking at something I'd traditionally find stimulating.
  • not to edge towards pornography eg looking up pictures of actresses in google
  • to fully respect the privacy of others


Last edited by Guided on Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:17 am 
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Sunshine found a thread in the Partner's forum here which was about working on intimacy. One post contained an exercise that a couple had gone through, that I think might be useful to us even as I'm thinking about the trust issue. The thread puts forward the view that trust forms out of intimacy, rather than intimacy being based on trust, or maybe I've read it wrong. It seems likely to me that the two develop together, one building on the other [Edit: Yup, Coach C agrees here ].

Here's the exercise:
Quote:
We began by looking at the messages we carried from our childhoods. We each took time to think about the frameworks we were given as children. Then we talked to each other about our findings.

Here is a list of the sort of things we looked at:
  • As a child, when did I feel loved?
  • As a child, how did my family celebrate special occasions eg. birthdays and Christmas?
  • As a child, did I always feel safe and secure?
  • As a child, how did I see that my parents sorted out their disagreements?
  • Did I see them arguing and making up too?
  • How did my mother talk about my father when he was not around? And vice versa?
  • How much time did my parents spend together and what did they do with that time?
Sharing the answers to these questions gave us an opportunity to talk about our feelings, without any contention or potential for arguments. It helped to create a greater awareness of the different messages we had each brought with us to our marriage.


Also this suggestion here:
Quote:
We try to do nightly diad talks which is topic based (3 topics on a piece of paper).We draw the paper randomly and take turns talking/listening for a 3 minute period per topic. There is no question and answer time - just listening and talking. We each do each topic. And we sit knee to knee in dining room chairs looking directing each others eyes. In fact, we do a 2 minutes stare without talking before we even begin.


There was a game mentioned in the thread (that I was able to also find via Amazon.co.uk) which I think does much the same thing - gives you the cards to draw from, so I've ordered that.

Then Coach C summarises the suggestions in this post.


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