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 Post subject: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:08 am 
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Posts: 58
We are reminded to have a personal reason for posting on this forum. The reason is that I am 71 and my wife and I are no longer able to have penetrative sex because of operations she has had. She also doesn't like masturbating me.

I realize that for most addictions, such as to alcohol or cocaine, the rule is total abstinence. And I know that some advisors think that the same needs to be true for sexual addiction. The advantage is that the rule is clearcut and easy to adhere to. I also realise that early in recovery everyone advocates a period of total abstinence. And I am in such a period. It is proving very helpful indeed in readjusting my values.

But I am now thinking of what happens when this period is over. It is totally clear that I must abstain completely from porn. It has had a very destructive effect on my life in recent years. And it is also totally clear that I have to be faithful to my wife, and this means that I cannot hire escorts.

So the issue is whether abstinence must mean no masturbation. I know that normally abstinence must mean sex is only acceptable with a partner. But what if you don't have a partner, for example you are young, unmarried or as in my case married but not able to have sex with your wife?

Of course, one question is what does my wife think. She does not object to me masturbating and expects me to do so. This doesn't answer the question though, because the issue is what I think.

I am posting on this forum, rather than simply raising this on the self-recovery thread and seeking the advice of a volunteer coach, because RN is a community. I know that members of that community will have different views on this issue, and I would find it helpful to know what those are.

I realise that RN is a self-recovery program and that we need to do the lessons and work things out for ourselves. But I hope that in posting this on the community forum I am not doing something that is inappropriate. If I am, I hope that a coach will quickly tell me so.


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:08 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:56 am
Posts: 851
Location: Sweden
Digit wrote:
We are reminded to have a personal reason for posting on this forum. The reason is that I am 71 and my wife and I are no longer able to have penetrative sex because of operations she has had. She also doesn't like masturbating me.

I realize that for most addictions, such as to alcohol or cocaine, the rule is total abstinence. And I know that some advisors think that the same needs to be true for sexual addiction. The advantage is that the rule is clearcut and easy to adhere to. I also realise that early in recovery everyone advocates a period of total abstinence. And I am in such a period. It is proving very helpful indeed in readjusting my values.

But I am now thinking of what happens when this period is over. It is totally clear that I must abstain completely from porn. It has had a very destructive effect on my life in recent years. And it is also totally clear that I have to be faithful to my wife, and this means that I cannot hire escorts.

So the issue is whether abstinence must mean no masturbation. I know that normally abstinence must mean sex is only acceptable with a partner. But what if you don't have a partner, for example you are young, unmarried or as in my case married but not able to have sex with your wife?

Of course, one question is what does my wife think. She does not object to me masturbating and expects me to do so. This doesn't answer the question though, because the issue is what I think.

I am posting on this forum, rather than simply raising this on the self-recovery thread and seeking the advice of a volunteer coach, because RN is a community. I know that members of that community will have different views on this issue, and I would find it helpful to know what those are.

I realise that RN is a self-recovery program and that we need to do the lessons and work things out for ourselves. But I hope that in posting this on the community forum I am not doing something that is inappropriate. If I am, I hope that a coach will quickly tell me so.


There are no real absolutes when it comes to sex and its expressions. Your values are your parameters and as long as you don't transgress those values, anything goes as long as you make your decisions based on thought and not on emotions.

Self sex can be both, completely depending in which context it's performed and with what intentions. You need to be able to distinguish what is what before you make a decision to engage in self sex then. However, you are relatively early in the workshop, both in the number oif lessons you've completed and the time you've been able to implement the knowledge from the workshop into your daily life. In the beginning of recovery it is often hard to distinguish what constitutes healthy sexy behaviour and compulsive addictive behaviour, because we are so much under the influence of our addictive behaviour and thought patterns. It takes a while for a new recoverer to learn enough and to let that knowledge sink in before he or she can start making sound decisions regarding sex. This confusion in turn can lead to mixed emotions after having sex, like shame or second guessing yourself (I.E: "did I engage in my addiction again? Should I have done better). You don't need any of that in your recovery, at least not when you're fairly new to the recovery process, IMO.

I would therefore advice you completely to not engage in any sexual activity for a while. Personally I would recommend two-three months. At least, I would recommend you to wait until you hit lesson 39 and have worked a bit with that lesson. It's your choice but IMO, it's a bit like that famous test when kids were left alone with a cookie. If they refrained from eating it, they got two. Some still ate it, some didn't. This is a similar situation with grander consequences. What do you cherish more, your comfort right now or your long term mental and physical health? Of course you can and should have both but I would advice you to make sure that you know that you abide by your values when you seek comfort in the present.

:g:


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:41 am 
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Posts: 58
Hi coach Martin,

Many thanks for your reply. Let me explain why it was so helpful.

First, I was hesitant about posting on this issue. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to stir up debate or genuinely wanted advice. The truth may have been a bit of both. So why might I seek advice?

After all intellectually I am quite clear in my view that both self-sex and porn can be acceptable. Of course, I don't approve of porn if it concerns people who are underage or coerced. Of course much of it is very seedy indeed and some of it sadistic. But in principle I don't see anything wrong with someone viewing a picture of a naked person and being aroused by it.

It's like alcohol. There is nothing wrong in principle with a drink but there is everything wrong with a secret life of drinking including drinking in the morning etc Similarly I think that there is nothing wrong in principle with self self or porn but everything wrong with a secret life of addiction to sex sex and porn.

It has become quite clear to me since joining RN that porn has played a pernicious part in my addiction (and indeed that porn has played such a role in the lives of many others). It has led to an escalation in a way that is quite unacceptable and that is damaging for me. So whereas before joining I thought I just needed to avoid going to sex shops, buying sex toys, having massages and booking escorts, I realise that my boundaries now have to be that porn is also out.

So that made me wonder whether my views about self sex also needed changing. I still think that there is nothing wrong with self sex, but now I have to face the question as to whether for me (and for other addicts) self sex is now out. This is the same question that my son has had to face with alcohol. Bipolar mood disorder runs in the family and he suffers from it severely. It is common for those with this disorder to have addictions and he is an alcoholic, though recovered. So he can no longer drink alcohol.

Does this mean that the best thing for me is therefore to stop self sex? If my son's life is not ruined by having to avoid alcohol, why should I think that my life would be ruined if I had to avoid self sex?

It is these thoughts that led to me posting. In other words whereas I am clear what I think about porn (or some of it) and self sex for people who are not addicted, I was not clear what I thought about them for people who are addicted. Given that I have had to change my views about porn, perhaps I needed to change my views about self sex. After all I am 71 and many have given up sex anyway by my age.

So I think I was genuinely seeking advice, either from a coach or from others in RN who might be facing the same decision. What coach Martin gave me is really valuable advice. He pointed out that I am early in recovery, and indeed I am in an abstinence period of 2-3 months. I will also, of course, look at the lesson that he mentioned.

Coach Martin suggested that what I should think about is whether my decision is based on my emotions or my values. What I must do is engage in an honest consideration of the consequences of self sex for me. Would it simply lead me back into my addiction? In other words, is it something like porn (as I now realise) that is just too dangerous for someone like me.

I had not expected to get such a helpful and considered reply as the one given by coach Martin. I am really glad that I posted.

I wonder if there are others on the self recovery path who have no partner or for other reasons cannot have sex with their partner, and who therefore face a similar decision to me. If so, it would welcome their thoughts too.


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:12 pm 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: UK
hello Digit
I agree with Coach Martin
but lets look a little deeper
Quote:
So the issue is whether abstinence must mean no masturbation. I know that normally abstinence must mean sex is only acceptable with a partner. But what if you don't have a partner, for example you are young, unmarried or as in my case married but not able to have sex with your wife?

abstinence is exactly that, abstaining from - not doing
you are not seeking abstinence you are seeking recovery
part of that recovery is your wife
you talk about having sex, getting relief, self gratification
what about her?
what about making love?
making love does not need penetration, nor masturbation

remember that you are in very early recovery so get into post recovery before you start even thinking about what next
addicts are selfish and I believe this question may be born from that selfishness
I hope I have not caused offence but that is how I see it

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:26 am
Posts: 1806
This was an interesting read. For one thing, I am very surprised to see your age and see that you're still have (or desire) an active sex life. I turn 44 this month, and I've noticed in the last year or so how my libido has decreased. I think if you can incorporate healthy sexuality into your life, that's a very remarkable feat.

I think that if you're in a marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) that it's incumbent on the recover-er to respect the partner's wishes and incorporate her values into their sex life. To take the low road, in other word.

In my own situation, balancing out a healthy sex life was the hardest part of recovery. It was a real give-and-take over several years to work into a healthy situation. After my recovery, I wanted my wife to revert to the young hottie she was when we first met in college. But, of course, she couldn't, because she wasn't that person anymore. I had to learn to love and accept her and enjoy our time together, even if it didn't always leave us panting for more breath.

You're not in that same spot, but it DOES sound like you and your wife share differing sexual values. It's incumbent on you to look at your values, talk to her about her values, and to work to meet her at the connection points between the two.

To answer a question you just posed, there's a guy I immediately thought of: He was a guy I knew from 12-Steps. His wife had some medical issues, and (apparently) was unwilling to incorporate masturbation or oral sex into their sex lives. And it was against this man's values to masturbate. In other words, he never had physical release. Never. Sometimes, he'd share that he had a wet dream, or something like that, but other than that, there was no sex in his life. And to top it off, the guy was as happy as a clam. He and his wife had a wonderful relationship, and he often shared about the things they did together. Walks, dates, shopping, etc. He was truly a remarkable guy. I don't think I could have pulled it off.

It's a tricky thing. Sexual relationships over the long term are difficult, in the best of circumstances. But throw a monkey wrench in the works like a sexual addiction, and it becomes near impossible to resolve. It's only through very hard work, and lots of time, that an intimate relationship can be restored. But it can be done.

Keep moving forward,
Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:50 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:00 am
Posts: 58
Hi Coach Kenzo,

No, it's not selfishness. During the operation my wife's clitoris was cut and so she has no sexual feelings at all. That is why we aren't able to make love. It's not that we don't cuddle, we do.

Hi Coach Tim,

Your post was really empathic and helpful. I know my original post sounds a bit like a winge. My son can't have alcohol: that is a real reason for wingeing. I guess the problem is that if you have bipolar mood disorder you feel hypersexual when your mood is up, and that still happens to me.

But what my body wants and what I want should be two different things. I can't imagine how strong the urge is for my son to drink alcohol, especially when he sees others doing it. But he doesn't (and can't or he would be ill). So I really need to consider whether I can afford to go back to self sex after my period of abstinence. It might simply be too dangerous.

Is there anyone else in RN facing a similar problem?


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:10 pm
Posts: 511
I'm not totally qualified to comment on this subject, but I can only talk from my own experience. I know that at one stage in my ongoing recovery process, I went for about 45 days abstinent and it did help me at the time as I was trying to break old, bad habits and after a while, between 2-3 weeks for me, it really became a minor, side issue and I could concentrate on more important stuff without this 'need' hanging over me. If you can work up a period of abstinence you may find it helps you focus on other issues that you can make positive changes in. Everyone is different, but it did help me at the time, and in a way it still helps me now as I know that I CAN do that in need, I don't NEED to masturbate like I felt I used to when I was in the throes of the addiction.

Good luck!

AndrewWA


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:10 pm
Posts: 511
I'm not totally qualified to comment on this subject, but I can only talk from my own experience. I know that at one stage in my ongoing recovery process, I went for about 45 days abstinent and it did help me at the time as I was trying to break old, bad habits and after a while, between 2-3 weeks for me, it really became a minor, side issue and I could concentrate on more important stuff without this 'need' hanging over me. If you can work up a period of abstinence you may find it helps you focus on other issues that you can make positive changes in. Everyone is different, but it did help me at the time, and in a way it still helps me now as I know that I CAN do that in need, I don't NEED to masturbate like I felt I used to when I was in the throes of the addiction.

Good luck!

AndrewWA


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:00 am
Posts: 58
Hi AndrewWA,

Thanks for posting. It's an encouragement. I have been totally abstinent now for about 30 days and plan to continue for another month. As you say, it should show me what I really value. I'm hoping that, as you say, when the period is over it will become a non-issue or a minor issue.

You say you are not qualified to comment. But actually I think that anyone who has been through this is qualified (at least to some degree), and that is why I really welcome your contribution.


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:23 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:10 pm
Posts: 511
I'm obviously not totally qualified to post on the forum when I keep doubling them up! :s: Something sometimes happens when I post, so apologies for the duplication. Keep working at it and look for positives as much as you can!


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:56 am
Posts: 851
Location: Sweden
I think you've received some quality advice and perspectives from the other posters Digit. What you do with that advice is up to you.

Quote:
No, it's not selfishness.


However, I would like to add my two cents here. There are pros and cons with RN compared to the twelve step movement. One con of course being that we don't met and give each other human contact, face to face, like they do in SLAA for example. THe pro, at least from my perspective as a former SLAA member of 1,5 years, is that here people give you the advice you may not want to hear but at least need to consider.

Kenzo gave you some top notch advice and IMO, it seems he was bang on the money. If I'm wrong I sincerely apologize but it does seem his remark made you quite defensive and in my experience, at least when it comes to myself, people get defensive when their weaknesses are highlighted. Kenzo is right that we as addicts have a tendency to be selfish, even very selfish, and that we have a simplified concept of what things like sex and intimacy is. You speak of sex as something you do, not as something that you as a couple do together. You and your wife can't have sex in any of the typical ways, fine. That can't be easy. But there are tons of other ways to express your sexuality and intimacy as a couple without having regular kinds of sex. I saw a movie a few years ago based on a true story about a guy who was paralyzed from the neck down and according to the movie, he and his wife had sex. Not sex like most of us have, but he and his wife had sexual intimacy nonetheless.

You speak of sexual release and sexual activity as something that you want and you do, but my advice to you would at least be to consider sex as something that you and your wife have and also reframe what constitutes sex and intimacy. If you're anything like me, you also think that intimacy means sex, but trust me, intimacy is so much bigger than sex. At least for me, the irony of it all was that what I most craved in life was intimacy but I couldn't handle intimacy and instead substituted it for something that I could handle, okish at least, namely sex. Intimacy is so much bigger and so much demanding and in many ways more rewarding than sex is. I'm not saying that you should abandon sex for the sake of intimacy, but at least consider your options and what you could get out of the different paths you can choose. Look at your values, what's important to you and what's less important? Again, I'm not saying what you need to do, but I recommend you to dare think big. I recommend you to look back to your vision and challenge yourself. As a first step, why not consider Kenzo's post and examine yourself? What do you have to lose?

:g:


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:04 pm 
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Posts: 58
Hi Coach Martin,

I am quite happy that either coaches or others say things here that we don't like or don't agree with. There's no point in posting if all you get back is your own opinions. But it is not necessarily true that someone is 'defensive' if they reply. Nor does the fact that someone replies mean that they are not grateful for the help offered on this site.

The problem, I suspect, is I hadn't properly explained our situation. One reason is that I was posting on the community forum, not on my self-recovery thread. So I was trying to raise a general issue.

I explain on my self-recovery thread that my wife no longer has any sexual feelings because in one of the operations for a prolapse her clitoris was cut. So it is my wife who doesn't want any sexual contact any more. We have had a happy sex life together for very many years, and my addiction only developed after the operations that meant that my wife no longer wanted sex.

Of course, we have intimacy: we lie in bed cuddling and canoodling. We always have done and still do. My problem is not that I don't value intimacy. I do and I do think for and care for my wife. I hadn't talked about that, and so that is why you might have thought otherwise and so suggested that I am 'selfish' or that my post was selfish.

My post was not about intimacy but about whether I needed to give up sex completely, that is self sex. After all many people at my age no longer want it. The issue is whether this would be the best way of curing my addiction. Our son has had to give up alcohol, so I was wondering if I should take the simplest course and just accept that I didn't need to have sex any more.

I raised the issue on the community forum because I wanted advice about abstinence, and you and the other coaches have given that in your earlier posts. Many thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: UK
Digit
Quote:
my addiction only developed after the operations that meant that my wife no longer wanted sex.


and now you are wanting to recover but are still considering carrying on your masturbation?


Quote:
just accept that I didn't need to have sex any more.

it is that word
Quote:
need
that concerns me and again I suggest that reflects selfishness
please do not misinterpret my comments regarding selfishness
I have been there for most of my life and RN showed me the way out
I simply want to try to open your horizons
Please do reflect on who you became, dont pro-port to be a victim, move on and concentrate on your recovery remembering to give your lady the honest open love that she deserves

good luck my friend
back to your recovery path

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:00 am
Posts: 58
Hi Kenzo,

It is the word 'selfish' that I object to. I am not selfish in respect of my wife or in respect of other people. Nor is it 'selfish' to ask a question about total abstinence. I am not doubting your sincerity or desire to help, but it is of no help to go on insisting on something that isn't true.

As for being a 'victim', it is true that I do sometimes feel sorry for myself because of my bipolar mood disorder, and I do regret the fact that my wife and I can't have sex. Anyone else would do the same.

But I don't regard myself as simply a victim of my addiction. I take full responsibility for it.

However, my post was meant to raise a general issue, not one peculiar to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Total abstinence
PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:47 pm
Posts: 694
Hello Digit,

This is a very interesting thread, not only in the subject matter, but also in how there seems to be some kind of clash in values and ways we understand some concepts. So, I'd like to throw in my 2 cents.

I'm sure you noticed by now, despite being a fairly new member, that the RN community holds the value of sex subordinate to that of intimacy. One underlying factor that allows addiction to appear and develop is the separation of these two values, with sex becoming a priority while partially or totally divorced from intimacy. In the long run, intimacy, if ever experienced as such, withers and dies while the person is on a self-destructive quest for sex. Recovery implies, among many other things, bringing these two values back together again (in the same act) and chaining sex down to the greater goal of achieving intimacy. In other words, sex is no longer viewed as a biological function i.e. need, but just a means to achieving intimacy. I believe this is the healthy way of using our sexuality, as a way of connecting, not as a way of releasing the build-up or getting sexual pleasure. RN is a gentle path towards building a strong, healthy foundation and lets us come to these realisations by ourselves forcing us to look deep into the values we hold and the ingrained patterns of behaviour that are not in line with our values.

Now, you say you have no problem with looking at pics of naked people and getting aroused. Are you familiar with the concept of objectification? It is one of the core issues regarding sex addiction. What about fantasizing? Or scanning? There used to be a time when I was also very innocent or better said naive about these things and see no harm in them. That is why I had to educate myself, to broaden my horizon instead of assuming I know what's best for me just because I am living my own life. I had to admit I am not the ultimate authority on my own life and others know better cause they have been faced with the same challenges and they've made it before me. I'm still learning. It has been a long, on-going process of self-discovery and the workshop was the gear behind it. Now, after more than one year on RN I can say I still haven't touched the bottom of my issues and there are still things about myself that now and again blow my mind. When I joined RN I was a partner devasted by the discovery of my H's addiction but soon enough I was forced to see I am not healthy myself. And I've spent most of my adult life talking about intimacy and sexual intimacy without knowing that what I was doing was far from it.... Things are not always what they seem and just because we all use the same term does not mean we talk about the same thing ....

But enough about me... To answer your question ... People do talk about healthy masturbation but you need to be healthy or at least understand the depth of your issues to decide what that means to you. To give you an example, for me masturbation used to be a means of engaging in my true core addictive pleasure - fantasizing. It took me very very long to understand this simple truth about myself, while all this time I was justifying the "need" for it in the absence of being able to be sexual with my H because of his own issues ... So, for me healthy masturbation would be something exclusively sensual, with no fantasy going on in my head, no other images of people or porn visuals ... My mind should be completely focused on sensations, devoid of any visual arousing images. But that is very hard to achieve and the mind switches to what it knows best which is not in line with my values so this activity is off limits, also because I'm in a committed relationship...

Now, it's awfully early for you to be preoccupied with these issues ... I mean, I'm sure you agree that as a sex addict in early recovery going through an abstinence period you should focus exclusively on developing your values so as they sustain your emotional needs. If I were you I wouldn't put a time limit on my abstinence, I would link it to something else ... maybe to when you feel little danger of slipping back to your addiction ... That would allow you to focus on the recovery process and growth and awareness instead of worrying about deciding things that you are not in a position to decide upon now. First learn and grow, then decide.

Good luck to you. Believe it can be done.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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