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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 2; Day 6
PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:58 am 
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I certainly would agree with the statement that negative emotions are the norm. My usual state seems to be "blue" or depressed. Some days can be quite good, but at the end of the day and first thing in the morning, depression is what I feel. I certainly have had suicidal thoughts these past weeks as well.

After reading the last lesson on how avoiding triggers is still giving them power over my life, I have tried to face them. Mostly by allowing myself to look at people (sometimes even twice) and at televisoin to see that I don't have to start fantasizing.

I don't want to create an illusion that I'm living a life I can be proud of; I desire to be happy and content with the life I truly am living.

Finally, rather than keeping a list of what things I can and cannot do; I'm trying to do nothing that feels questionable.

I guess if I way the two lists against each other I have more checks in the "Those Who Will Occasionally Struggle With Relapse" than in healthy recovery, but I guess that falls in the across the board statement.


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 Post subject: Daily Monitoring List
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:47 pm 
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1. Was I Honest today? (Or said when I was unsure or uncomfortable to answer)
2. Did I do or say something Positive for my wife today? compliment or assurance
3. Communication:
- was I engaged?
- was I listening or say it's not a good time?
- was I kind?
4. Was I courageous in describing my process with triggers today?
5. Did I display spontaneous affection, shared fun, or warming conversation?
6. Did I play with one of the cats today?
7. Did I think what my wife would like at least once today?
8. Did I spend time outside today?
9. Was my work focused on something productive today?
10. Did I spend some time enjoying myself today?


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 Post subject: Exercise 15
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:29 pm 
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One thing I have learned so far is living with absolute honesty between my wife and myself. I have learned that keeping things back was mostly a fear of rejection and possibly using having horrible secrets to make myself feel something. I have learned that absolute honesty about the past is essential for her to ever be able to heal and I am using that absolute honesty about my daily struggles and recovery to try and build a real trust between us. I am getting much better at not submersing myself in guilt while we are talking, but I still need to work on seeing/feeling things from her perspective.


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 Post subject: Day 16
PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:47 am 
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I guess the positive aspect I would apply to my past addictive behaviours is stress management. When I was feeling very stressed because of a test or making a speech, I could find temporary relief from that pressure by masturbating.


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 Post subject: Not going so well
PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:39 pm 
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My recovery does not seem to be going as well as I thought. My wife and I have been having a rough weekend going over transparency and realizing that while I thought I was being transparent, I was actually counting certain thoughts as insignificant (based on duration) when I should have been more open about frequency. These discussions have been very painful in that it all appears to my wife that I have been dishonest with her and it feels to me like I've been doing very well on the honesty front. I also had very emotional responses to the reaction from her that I've been lying. I have been angry and defensive. I have had suicidal thoughts and I have even struck myself repeatedly. I think this means that I am not doing very well at recovering. I realize I need to work harder at it. I am committed, recovery is do or die for me, but I am not sure what, specifically, I should be focusing on harder to make progress.


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 Post subject: Where I am
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:00 pm 
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This has been a hard weekend followed by a business trip, which was stressful on both myself and my wife. I think all the hard work on transparency and being forced to go out among triggers was good in the end. I had to realize that I have not yet gained any victory over the addiction. I mean, I've been taking the x-many-days clean approach and it's all a load of crap. There were underwear adds posted all over the city I had to visit and I would just stare at them for a quarter of a minute at a time. I haven't been acting out because I've been avoiding any tempting situations. I really got a lot of pleasure out of looking at those adds and I'm probably getting something out of all the thoughts that I try to brush out of my head every day. Almost never do I dwell on them but maybe if they are frequent enough that does not matter, but that's not my point. I think I see now about putting pressure on myself not to act out has just been fooling me into thinking I'm doing better. I am not. And, eventually, that tactic will blow up in my face and I'll lose everything I've been hoping for. I think this helps put things in better perspective and gets me closer to working on the real stuff I need to.


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 Post subject: Ex 17
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 3:06 pm 
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I am thinking about my use of Internet Porn.

The elements of the ritual are:

Sensory: Obviously touching myself and prolonging the stimulation as much as possible, also obviously sight from trying to find the most stimulating movies which means sound as well, particularly sounds associated with sex acts that were the favorite fantasies. Also smell in lotions used especially if that smell could be associated to a woman/women in any way (e.g., tanning oil or favorite lotion of an ex, etc.). Taste sometimes entered too, through eating dinner while beginning to look for porn or having chocolate during.

Fantasy: This was also obviously central. Also, thinking that the women in the porn would engage in such acts with me even to the state of temporary delusion in believing it really was so...this elevated me to an extreme high. This feeling would also persist in believing that if I just joined the amateur sites and wrote them, participated in 'meets', etc. I really would be able to have sex with some of these women. I also achieved a delusional state concerning my own sexual potency, ability, and desirability to other people. This also included a romantic facet in that surely sex would lead to a long term situation with these women.

Danger: This was also sometimes involved in risking getting caught or trying to cover up evidence after the fact--this is really sick now that I remember it: I prided myself in how good I was at not leaving traces of my actions; the ability to leave no trace of a masturbation session and the meticoulasy of really leaving no clue; the skill of going through other peoples things and getting everything back in exactly the same way.

Suspense: Waiting until I found the "perfect" image, clip, sequence or watching media that wasn't "porn" hoping to find some nudity. There was a large buildup in the waiting and disappointment if I didn't manage to wait for the "perfect" one before orgasm.

And that leads right into Accomplishment: from succeeding in managing to wait for the perfect stimulus and/or for prolonging the experience for some duration of time. for managing a "good" state of erection. for obtaining non-free material from sites without paying for it, for finding good "material" and pasting it together in some slide show or video editing into a really stimulating sequence. For multiple orgasms and/or for the amount of semen produced and/or the temperature of semen produced and/or how far it was ejected. Such goals did often lead to exhaustion and damage, bruises, scabs, soreness, leg/back cramps, neglecting to eat drink, go to the bathroom...

Power: This also entered in the selection of porn: picking situations for fantasy, depictions, movies where the woman is powerless and/or humiliated. At times there was violent movies that I watched.

Past: THIS ONE I MAY BE GETTING WRONG. Often failed opportunities would be fantasies and this could also be coupled with porn to use the porn experience to relieve those situations and play them out a different way.

Poly-addiction: Yes. Often used compulsive computer gaming and/or eating to cope with the "low" after a compulsive porn/masturbation session. Then when the low came from these activities I would go back to the porn. The cycle could repeat past exhaustion, lead to lack of sleep, lateness for work/other appointments.

Orgasm: This was not the only main goal as it lead to the end of the euphoria that led up to it, but it was also a goal with regard to frequency or with the mood altering that such a release could bring.

Am getting the principle of the elements? Is it unusual that I find all nine? How do I figure out what other elements may have been part? Could someone please HELP ME understand?!?!?

Guilt? This certainly was used to reinforce ideas about myself and could provide powerful emotions.

Remorse and anger about the lost time?

Maybe I should be going on...i don't know.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:32 pm
Posts: 4572
re: 'a month'

Shoot. Sorry. I try to get to everyone who is still early in the workshop every week or two...but I see you have slipped through the cracks for over a month.

Starting family time now. Will pick up with your thread after my wife goes to bed.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 3:52 pm 
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Posts: 4572
re: "Top 18 (no order)"

There should be an order. Many of the things that you are asked to do in this first month of lessons are things that aren't exactly as they seem. They are building blocks for what you will be doing down the road. Here, taking the time to consider the order of your existing priorities is geared towards establishing a deeper awareness of both your values in a decision-making process and, to begin to explore value conflicts--which will inevitably occur when you try to prioritize such closely related values.

By not exploring this, you have cheated yourself out of a level of awareness that will be expanded upon down the road. As a game, if you have an extra fifteen minutes or so sometime...see if you can't prioritize them. The actual priority of the top fifteen or so values is not all that important...but the process of prioritizing them is.

re: "Post subject: Exercise 5"

Ummm, never mind. :oops: This then would be your prioritized values? If so, then having your top priority: 'Enjoying my sexuality'...when you are struggling with sexual compulsion is a major identity issue. When you value your own sexuality above your health, your wife--well, everything else--that would be a recipe for perpetuating sexual obsession and compulsion.

It has been a month since you established this as your top priority--would you say that it remains so? Or has your identity/perspective shifted at all?

re: "3 simple Proactive action plans"

These are good. Keep in mind that it is not your goal to integrate all of these into your life--that would be impractical. The role of proactive action plans are to exist as a blue print for 'what you will do next' when you have the motivation to develop/sustain a particular value in your life. Typcially, you will want to be working on six to eight such values across any given week. More than that and you will over-extend yourself; less than that and you will make yourself vulnerable to crises and imbalance.

re: "Proactive action plans"

Excellent.

re: ""Normal" life does not feel possible, *yet*."

I'm glad you recognize this. In reality, the experience of a 'normal life' is at least six months to a year away. You still have several more months of learning and application specifically related to recovery before you begin to shift away from recovery and towards normalization. For you to begin to feel 'normal' at this point would be worrisome. There is a delicate period between shifting away from recovery too soon and remaining in recovery too long. You should still be right there in the middle of that recovery process.

re: "I don't want to create an illusion that I'm living a life I can be proud of"

Good. Because once you begin to live your life based on your values...and begin to share that life transparently with those around you; it should be EXPECTED that you will be deficient in certain areas. Like communication, maturity, etc. But, this is where you must start...and so, when you accept that and share these deficiencies openly as something you are working on...then you will never project an illusion. And then, once you become more and more proficient in such skills, a healthy life will be something that others identify you with.

As a bonus, if you can actually take pride (the good kind) in having recognized and accepted your life management shortcomings and your commitment to overcome them...then that allows you to derive fulfillment from your recovery efforts. As in, you aren't trying to get to a certain point before you derive meaning from what you are doing; you can derive that meaning progressively, on a daily basis. Starting now.

re: "Post subject: Daily Monitoring List"
This is pretty good...not that it will do you much good now. You should have made that switch to a more focused, isolated daily monitoring (one or two items only--for brief periods of time). Let me know if you have done this or not.

re: "I am getting much better at not submersing myself in guilt while we are talking, but I still need to work on seeing/feeling things from her perspective."

Excellent.

re: "My recovery does not seem to be going as well as I thought. My wife and I have been having a rough weekend going over transparency and realizing that while I thought I was being transparent..."

It doesn't seem to matter how sincere one is in trying to become 'transparent'--there is always a learning curve attached because the presenting deficiency is so profound. For some, this means holding on to known lies. For others, this is found more in their perceptions. But in just about everybody in recovery from sexual addiction--and I mean that literally--there is an evolution that takes place--not an all-or-nothing decision. One where, as their identity changes...as their awareness deepens...as their compassion and empathy strengthen--their perceptions change as well. And transparency becomes more and more profound.

re: "This has been a hard weekend followed by a business trip, which was stressful on both myself and my wife."

It would be good for you to assess how well you prepared for that trip personally (not just how you and your wife prepared). As in, how deep (and how accurate) did you anticipate the feelings you would experience in likely situations while you were away. How efficiently did you prepare to handle those feelings?

re: "Past: THIS ONE I MAY BE GETTING WRONG. Often failed opportunities would be fantasies and this could also be coupled with porn to use the porn experience to relieve those situations and play them out a different way."

You are right...this one seems a bit off. The element of 'past' would be more relevant in a situation where, say, you were sexually abused by your uncle and found that many of images you were using to masturbate involved older men.

re: "Am getting the principle of the elements? Is it unusual that I find all nine? How do I figure out what other elements may have been part?"

You seem to be. And while it is not unusual to find these nine elements...do note that these were nine of the most common elements involved in MY rituals. There can be many more in your own life...personally perceived by you. And so, in a sense, you would want to develop your own 'wheel of sexual compulsivity'...mentally if not physically.

_________________
Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 4:22 am 
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re: "Post subject: Exercise 5"

No, I think my full action plan was closer to my priority order, but it has been a month.

Now my list is:

1 - Establishing intimacy/connectedness with my wife

2 - Appreciating natural beauty/nature (U) Spending time out of doors (P)

3 - Music

4 - Providing quality in my work; Striving for excellence in my work

5 - Bringing joy to my wife

6 - Enjoying life's simple pleasures: pets, Reading for enjoyment, Listen to music, etc.

7 - Feeling accomplished

8 - Integrity

9 - Trips/Seeing new things

10 - Feeling needed, desired, appreciated, and loved by others: Accepting love, praise or criticism

11 - Exercise, Physical health & Staying active

12 - Enjoying a healthy sexuality

13 - Being respected as an expert in my field

14 - Being considerate of others (U) resisting rude urges


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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 4:27 am 
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re: "Post subject: Daily Monitoring List"
This is pretty good...not that it will do you much good now. You should have made that switch to a more focused, isolated daily monitoring (one or two items only--for brief periods of time). Let me know if you have done this or not.

No, I have not done this. My current list is:

2. Did I do or say something Positive for my wife today? compliment or assurance
3. Communication:
- was I engaged?
- was I listening or say it's not a good time?
- was I kind?
4. Was I courageous in describing my process with triggers today?
5. Did I display spontaneous affection, shared fun, or warming conversation?
6. Did I play with one of the cats today?
7. Did I think what my wife would like at least once today?
8. Did I spend time outside today?
9. Was my work focused on something productive today?
10. Did I spend some time enjoying myself today?
11. Did I enjoy my music today?

But, about half these items is a yes every day. I should be more proactive in deciding when things can be removed from the list?


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 Post subject: Ex 18
PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 11:23 am 
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Again I will analyze my rituals with MB and P:

Time:
Time is involved both in how much is spent in acquiring material before the real surge toward orgasm is begun and in how much can be spent in the state just on the edge of orgasm.

Intensity:
I think one example of a change of intensity is when I was very young, my thoughts during rituals were centered on how attractive the women in the pictures were and how what I was doing was "worshiping" them. Now, my thoughts are instead on how I want to be doing that to that woman, and how great I am at it, and how she would want me if only she knew. I think that represents a change in intensity.

Habituation:
When I started with Porn, it was with soft-core pictures. Hard-core pictures would turn me off and hard-core video would as well. Later, pictures weren't enough and I needed video of "dancing" naked women. Later still, that wasn't enough and I needed to watch women in actual sex acts. Then, the acts had to become more demeaning for the women and the women in the videos got younger (both brining the Power element into the ritual). At times, I experimented with watching videos that had a violent element to them.

I just want to write that I'm finding these last two lessons arousing. I suppose it is a good step to re-realize that I was doing these things because of the intense amount of stimulation they brought me, but it also makes it necessary for me to face temptations that I have been hiding from this last month.


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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 3; Day 7
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 10:17 am 
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A. What large goals have you attempted in your life and failed? Why do you suppose you failed?

I have mostly failed all my fitness goals over the years and I failed to get the first degree I set out for. I failed to get into the Air Force Academy.

Lack of sufficient motivation was the primary obstacle, I think. Depression may have contributed.

B. What large goals have you attempted in your life and succeeded? Why do you suppose you were able to succeed?

Obtaining the second degree I tried for. Getting various jobs I've applied for.

Here again I would say motivation. Working without the degree gave me a reason to go back to school and that kept me going through the hard times.

C. List one recovery goal that you have and break it down into as many smaller, measurable tasks as necessary for you to manage it successfully.

1 - To be able to go to a beach/lake/boating and respect/humanize everyone by Summer 2009.

I guess breaking it down to more manageable tasks like going to work, going to the grocery store, going to the mall and maybe smaller chunks of time like all morning, this afternoon, all day tomorrow?
Going to the city for my therapy, etc. Also, all the little factors like staring, second glances, memorizing, thinking about...?

Is this too negative a goal? It's still an avoidance.


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 Post subject: Exercise 21
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:18 am 
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Ritual Measured:
Masturbating to TV

Primary Elements Involved:
Suspense; Sensory (visual); Physical stimulation; Orgasm

Values Assigned:
Sensory (visual): 3
Accomplishment: 3
Suspense: 2
Physical stimulation: 1

Filters applied:

Sensory (visual):
*Time -- Images are very brief '2'
*Intensity -- images are not very "good" '3'
*Habituation -- nothing novel '1'

Accomplishment:
*Time -- no effect '1'
*Intensity -- achieved orgasm at past "correct" time '5'
*Habituation -- this is old hat '2'

Suspense:
*Time -- took too long, now irritated '0'
*Intensity -- didn't expect to find much '3'
*Habituation -- been doing this sort of thing a lot '2'

Physical Stimulation:
*Time -- too long '0'
*Intensity -- varied, peaked maybe at '7'
*Habituation -- no real effect '1'

Calculations:
Sensory (visual): 18/4 = 4.5
Accomplishment: 24/4 = 6
Suspense: 10/4 = 2.5
Physical Stimulation: 8/4 = 2
Total: 15.0

This particular ritualistic experience was unsatisfying and new/old rituals were sought afterwards.


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 Post subject: Excercise 22
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:27 am 
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So the 1st practical use of measuring rituals has been to see that I had rituals and to begin to understand part of the motivation behind seeking out new behavior. Everything I've read about addiction jumped up with little red flags yelling "me, me, me" that I was reading about myself but I just kept thinking of rituals to be, like, priests walking down an aisle swinging incense in the air.

The 2nd practical use has been to reinforce my motivation to recover. This is NOT the way I want to be able to break down my life. This is an ongoing practical use. If I can break down what I'm about to do like this, I do believe it will be a powerful help in choosing not to do it.

I think it will be even more beneficial if I break down all my other destructive/compulsive behaviors like staring at females in this way.

I guess that's something I should do soon.


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