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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:48 pm 
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Day One Exercise:

A brief background note here. I completed the Partners Workshop as I am the wife of a person working on recovery from compulsive sexual behaviour. There have been a number of crises over the last 8 months (and for a further 18 months before that, when neither of us knew about this addiction). After the last crisis I realised that I had turned to alcohol to numb the pain and to give me courage to discuss my feelings. I was probably not aware of the real tipping point, but yesterday I realised that I am consistently and compulsively using alcohol to cope with my emotions. Duh! I wrote to Coach Jon, asking if I could adapt the workshop to my own needs (thinking I would do the lessons without posting them) and enquiring whether there was any additional material I could use. He very kindly offered me the chance to post publicly. So here I am, a goose among the swans!

On second thoughts, I'm not quite sure whether I should post here or on the other side, so I have "parked" the first lesson on my healing thread and will seek advice as to its proper placement, as I can find no precedents.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:53 am 
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I had threads on both sides, and I found that it didn't really matter much where I posted. As long as I was getting the lessons down onto paper in some place, that was the main thing.

It can be very easy to get caught up in trying to maintain your "identity" as a "partner" but that is a distraction from the real work of recovery. Try not to think in terms of these categories, and instead focus on being a healthy person. "Addict" and "partner" are just labels in the end.

I'll have a look at your other thread.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:56 pm 
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Day 1

A. It was stated that there are three keys to establishing a successful foundation for permanent change in early recovery. Consider where you feel you are in relation to each of these recovery keys? Briefly share your thoughts in your Recovery Thread.

1) actively committing yourself to change

Something in me changed today – I don’t know if it was an intellectual insight, or a gut feeling - and I knew that I had to take action.

I am certainly not committing to change because of external pressure or the desires of others: I can easily hide the extent of my drinking (so far, at least) and I “outedÂâ€Â


Last edited by self reliance on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:04 pm 
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Dear Coach Monica

Thanks very much for your reply and the reminder to be brutally honest with myself.

I have decided to post on the Recovery Side. This somehow reinforces to me that I have to take responsibility for recovering from this traditional, but unhealthy, method of managing emotions.

H and I discussed as you suggested. I explained the situation as follows: that the "problem" had been creeping up during the last 10 months. I cannot pinpoint when I became dependent, but it was during this time, probably earlier than I was aware. The heavier and recognisably dependent use began about 20th September, after a crisis in his recovery. I had the tools, I had the insights but I didn't use them as fully as I could, instead I used alcohol to cope with my emotions. The difficulty in this conversation was to avoid blaming H, as this is not helpful for his recovery. I stated that yes, it was a reaction to his actions, but that I take full responsibility for my unhealthy coping methods.

H stated his feelings as follows: he had to shoulder many burdens during this time because of my poor time management, which was affected by my alcohol use. He also felt that, as I had stated I had used alcohol to be able to express my feelings to him, that our conversations in the past may have gone differently if I had not been drinking. I did not press him to explore this last statement - I probably should have.

I do not feel that I have got to the bottom of H's feelings about this, as I soon became overwhelmed with shame and guilt (brutally honest here). I did not handle the conversation as well as I could, but I think I avoided minimising, blameshifting and I did not lie by fact or omission, nor did I cry or manipulate him emotionally.

However, with more hindsight, I think I began on the slippery slope after H voluntarily admitted an emotional affair over two years ago (and I also found evidence of porn use - which I thought at the time was a minor side issue). I have not told H about this because he is asleep - it is midnight where I live. I will tell him in the morning. I will also tell him that I have probably been fooling myself about my dependence for longer than I think. However, I am really not sure about this as I really did blindside myself.

I see that some of this is Lesson 10 material, with which I am well familiar due to H's work on recovery.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:43 pm 
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Day 1 (continued)


Look into that child's eyes. Feel his/her innocence. How vulnerable you were. How trusting. Recognize the lack of addiction in your life...and the desire for little more than love, compassion, teaching and support. Think of the trauma that child has faced throughout his/her life. Think of the times when he/she has felt alone. Confused. If you feel like it, cry for this child. Allow yourself to feel love for this child. Do whatever you must to emotionally connect to this child because it is for this child that you are now reclaiming your life. It is this child who has lost its way, and you are the one now showing the courage to guide it back to health.

This was very disturbing, because I felt nothing for this child - I looked for a long time and felt no connection. It certainly is a sweet looking little girl and I thought it looked rather doll-like - in fact I felt a faint antipathy to it. I think this is because it looks small and vulnerable and something in me rejects and resents any connection with those characteristics. I am well aware that I am calling the child "it", which is a whole carillon of warning bells.

This is really not healthy. I assume I am suppressing something here. I was abused in a nasty way by some older children (who themselves must have been abused, as they were hypersexualised), and had a couple of minor abuse incidents by strangers - it is must be related to these events.

If so, it explains a lot - the emotional disconnection which I have mentioned in my vision (still under construction), the odd physical disconnection with my environment ... and more.

The best I can do at present, is to pursue emotional health with determination and commitment so that the wrongs of the past can be put right.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:22 pm 
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Exercise Two

I. Take at least twenty minutes to be alone. If you have a family, ask them to respect this time that you are taking. Make sure that you leave your cell phone off. That the dog is fed. That there will be no distractions. Take a walk by yourself. Sit alone on the beach. Find somewhere secluded and then, think. Think about who you are, the life that you have led, and the life that you want to lead from this point forward. Think about your legacy. Create a vision that you would feel comfortable committing yourself to pursuing. One that, as you someday look back upon your life, will allow you to feel proud of the person that you developed into. Of the life that you led.

I want to be the person, to live the life, that I project to others: confident, caring, honest, intellectually questioning and stimulating, funny, independent, hardworking, realistic, philosophical, practical, imaginative, not materialistic, generous, supportive, quirky, spontaneous, sensitive, empathic. I am all these things and yet there is something at the core, something connected with my emotions, that means that I don?t fully live this life, somewhere inside my emotions are disengaged, not fully lived, they exist somewhere, like the threatening, stifling pressure before a thunderstorm. Admitting my emotional immaturity and creating this vision are the early steps to defining my life and owning it.

I want to be engaged with life, to pursue goals and activities with commitment. How can I do this is a practical way?

I want to care for my immediate environment by proactively making our home a calm and attractive space for those I love, and for myself. This means not grand projects which give emotional stimulation in the planning, but never materialise. It means consistently and proactively taking care of the little things in life that make the bigger picture harmonious and pleasant ? cleaning the toilet, having a clean and orderly kitchen, folding the laundry (courtesy of Coach Jon?s example), planning menus and planning the day, to avoid that last-minute rush before going to work.

For the slightly wider environment, it?s the little things that count again. Always feeding the wild birds, changing their water regularly in the winter, keeping the garden attractive for humans and providing sanctuary for wild things by doing tasks in their proper season, rather than in a last-minute rush. It means saving seeds, taking cuttings, pruning fruit trees.

I want to be able to be alone, but not lonely. To go into the countryside and be in it, experiencing the grass, the trees, the soaring buzzards instead of dwelling in a negative, floating, uncentered mind state. Play the guitar, listen to music ? really listen, not just as a background to my vague feelings of discomfort and pain.

I want to enjoy my embodied self: enjoy what I do and do what I enjoy. Feel the wind on my cheeks, enjoy sensuality and relax into it, enjoy the food we cook, take delight in the physical. Learn to delight in my own health by proactively keeping healthy ? walking, gardening and exercise for strength and flexibility.

I want to be present in what I do: attending to the small things I am doing and doing them carefully. Straightening the counterpane so that it is really straight ? not twitching it into place while I am thinking of something else. Either watch tv or talk to H, or work on the computer ? do not do all three at once, even if I am a woman and I can.

I want to express love by giving my full attention and presence to people. For my husband, this means being generous with my attention to his work projects and taking on the little things that make his work arduous. It means being generous with affirmation and gentle in criticism. It means moving away from absorption in my own pain and my own needs, while not denying them. It means both to give and receive love without fear.

For my father it means taking time to listen, contributing to his interests, helping him unobtrusively with chores, watching his health, cooking healthy food for him, anticipating his needs without putting his autonomy at risk.

With friends, I must remember that no man is an island. It means taking the trouble to keep in touch instead of drifting away on my own because I think they do not want my company. I am and will always be very selective in my choice of friends, but for those I chose, I can be a friend to them, not a distant but cheerful and supportive acquaintance.

In my work I will continue to support patients and families by being open, skillful, respectful and effective in the little things and the larger things. With colleagues I will continue to be open and helpful, sharing knowledge and asking for their own expertise. I will be friend in need, keeping confidences and mediating disputes without being judgemental or directive. These are things I am paid to do, so I can do them gratefully and well and be thankful that I am healthy and well qualified.

In my spiritual life I will take the time and effort to write down my insights and learn to speak clearly about the truths I have internalised, when appropriate.

If I pursue these things with sincerity, I can be proud of my life


Last edited by self reliance on Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:39 pm 
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self reliance wrote:
Day 1 (continued)


Look into that child's eyes. Feel his/her innocence. How vulnerable you were. How trusting. Recognize the lack of addiction in your life...and the desire for little more than love, compassion, teaching and support. Think of the trauma that child has faced throughout his/her life. Think of the times when he/she has felt alone. Confused. If you feel like it, cry for this child. Allow yourself to feel love for this child. Do whatever you must to emotionally connect to this child because it is for this child that you are now reclaiming your life. It is this child who has lost its way, and you are the one now showing the courage to guide it back to health.

This was very disturbing, because I felt nothing for this child - I looked for a long time and felt no connection. It certainly is a sweet looking little girl and I thought it looked rather doll-like - in fact I felt a faint antipathy to it. I think this is because it looks small and vulnerable and something in me rejects and resents any connection with those characteristics. I am well aware that I am calling the child "it", which is a whole carillon of warning bells.

This is really not healthy. I assume I am suppressing something here. I was abused in a nasty way by some older children (who themselves must have been abused, as they were hypersexualised), and had a couple of minor abuse incidents by strangers - it is must be related to these events.

If so, it explains a lot - the emotional disconnection which I have mentioned in my vision (still under construction), the odd physical disconnection with my environment ... and more.

The best I can do at present, is to pursue emotional health with determination and commitment so that the wrongs of the past can be put right.


I'm so sorry that you have these traumatic experiences that you must grapple with...if it's any consolation (probably not), many alcoholics and addicts are victims of childhood abuse. We turn to our "drug of choice" to help us cope with feelings we can't handle, just as when we were children we learned to detach from our own feelings in order to survive the abuse. That's the theory anyway...you may or may not feel that it applies to you. I found in my own experience that it was true. Perhaps the shock and pain of discovering your partner's addictive patterns may have triggered some emotions linked to your past. If you haven't sought some counseling to help you heal from this abuse, that is something you may want to consider at some point.

At any rate, I agree that the best way to heal the pain of the past is to turn towards the present and the future, and to learn new, healthy ways of life.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Dear Coach Monica

Thanks very much for your supportive and insightful reply. I think you are right that the shock and pain did trigger some past stuff and I developed my own compulsive behaviour then, as I could always take it or leave it before. (However I must be careful not to minimise, deflect etc).

Lesson 3 - Values

A. On your computer, extract the values from the vision you have created and list them.


1. Facing my emotions
2. Integrating my emotions into a healthy life
3. Cherish my H
4. Affirming and appreciating the good things we have in our marriage
5. Giving and receiving love
6. Experiencing intimacy
7. Being sensitive to the needs of others
8. Meeting my own healthy needs
9. Caring for my immediate environment
10. Carrying out mundane tasks carefully and with good grace
11. Being fully present emotionally
12. Being fully present physically
13. Respecting myself by caring for my body
14. Respecting and caring for the wider environment
15. Being a good friend
16. Being a good colleague
17. Keeping confidences
18. Being honest with others
19. Being honest with myself
20. Establishing boundaries
21. Taking pride in my accomplishments
22. Being humble about my shortcomings
23. Fairness and equality in my treatment of all
24. In my work, easing pain, providing comfort and skilled assistance
25. In my work, empowering patients and their carers
26. In my work, supporting colleagues
27. In work and personal life sharing the joys and pains of life and death with others
28. Facing death bravely, with a joke on my lips
29. Facing life bravely, with a smile on my lips
30. Clearing up my own mess
31. Learning something new every day
32. Challenging unfairness
33. Picking the right battles
34. Learning to enjoy and then let it go
35. Learning to feel pain and then let it go
36. Generosity with my knowledge and skills
37. Continuing to inspire and motivate
38. Facing and accepting challenges
39. Enjoying my physical self
40. Enjoying my own intelligence
41. Managing my time well
42. When working, really work
43. When relaxing, truly relax
44. Stating my own needs when appropriate
45. Accepting help gratefully and gracefully
46. Offering help sensitively and appropriately
47. Developing my intellectual abilities
48. Value and respect for all living things
49. Bringing order out of my own chaos
50. Seeing the humanity in everyone
51. Budgetting and being frugal
52. Emotional honesty
53. Self reliance
54. Realism
55. Perseverance
56. Ability to change
57. Forgiveness
58. Loyalty
59. Humour
60. Sense of proportion
61. Spontaneity
62. Regaining a sense of wonder
63. Creativity
64. Sticking to my principles


B. Consider 'the dark side' of your decision-making. The compulsive behavior. Take some time to extract the values that went into those behaviors as well. List them as well. each item.

Despair
Feeling unheard and unvalued
Avoiding my emotions
Hating my emotions
Dreading the future
Hating the present
Seeking oblivion to end the pain
Escapism
Gaining courage by any means
Seeing only the worst in all possible outcomes
Feeling sexually inadequate
Hating my body
Wanting something that is private for me alone
Loss of control over my life
Gaining control of my feelings by any means
Wanting a quick fix for the pain and fear
Powerlessness
Feeling I have nothing to offer


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:13 am 
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Lesson 4 - Prioritising Values

Note: The first ten to fifteen values on this list will form the crux of your initial value development and monitoring. Make sure that you pay particular attention to the top twenty or so values. They must be areas of your life/identity that you truly value.

1. Integrating my emotions into a healthy life
2. Cherish my H
3. Being fully present emotionally
4. Being fully present physically
5. Meeting my own healthy needs
6. Managing my time well
7. Carrying out mundane tasks carefully and with good grace
8. Respecting myself by caring for my body
9. Budgeting and being frugal
10. Being honest with myself
11. Being honest with others
12. Caring for my immediate environment
13. Learning something new every day
14. Sense of proportion
15. Creativity
16. Establishing boundaries
17. When working, really work
18. When relaxing, truly relax
19. Stating my own needs when appropriate
20. Bringing order out of my own chaos

Learning to enjoy and then let it go
Learning to feel pain and then let it go
Giving and receiving love
Being sensitive to the needs of others
Respecting and caring for the wider environment
Facing and accepting challenges
Enjoying my own intelligence
Accepting help gratefully and gracefully
Offering help sensitively and appropriately
Developing my intellectual abilities
Value and respect for all living things
Humour
Facing my emotions
Affirming and appreciating the good things we have in our marriage
Experiencing intimacy
In work and personal life sharing the joys and pains of life and death with others
Being a good friend
Being a good colleague
Keeping confidences.
Taking pride in my accomplishments
Being humble about my shortcomings
Fairness and equality in my treatment of all
In my work, easing pain, providing comfort and skilled assistance
In my work, empowering patients and their carers
In my work, supporting colleagues
Facing death bravely, with a joke on my lips
Facing life bravely, with a smile on my lips
Clearing up my own mess
Challenging unfairness
Picking the right battles
Generosity with my knowledge and skills
Continuing to inspire and motivate
Enjoying my physical self
Seeing the humanity in everyone
Emotional honesty
Self reliance
Realism
Perseverance
Ability to change
Forgiveness
Loyalty
Spontaneity
Regaining a sense of wonder
Sticking to my principles

This was not as easy as I thought it would be, because somehow in the last few years I have stopped really living my life, so picking up the reins is a challenge - which I am facing!

In a healthy relationship, I would have placed more emphasis on values based on the relationship with my H, achieving true intimacy and partnership. Because he is working towards recovery and emotional health, I have no certainties and no control over his recovery and I do not have enough trust to go steaming ahead on my own in rebuilding the relationship.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Exercise 5 - Value Congruency

In previous exercises, you identified and prioritized a list of your personal values. This list should represent those aspects of your life that you want to use to define who you are and how you will be managing your life. Take a moment to look over that list with a fresh view. As you read through it, ask yourself, "Does this reflect the person that I am committing myself to becoming?" If so, continue on. If not, add those missing values that are congruent with the life that you want to lead; and remove those values which are not.

Take the top fifteen values that you have currently listed and post them in your Recovery Thread. To be successful in recovery, you will need to learn to derive about 75% of your life's meaning and fulfillment from these values across any given week or so. It is okay if you are not currently doing this, that is what the following two lessons are for: to help you develop this ability over the coming months.


Edited after coaching session

1. In work and personal life sharing the joys and pains of life and death with others
2. Working with H to build a loving, intimate and mutually fulfilling relationship
3. Being fully present emotionally and physically
4. Ensuring that my aged father's last months/years are happy, fulfilled and pain-free
5. Allowing my own healthy needs to be met
6. Managing my time well
7. Carrying out mundane tasks carefully and with good grace
8. Respecting myself by caring for my body
9. Financial prudence and responsibility
10. Accepting responsibility for my words and actions and never use deception as a means to avoid doing so
11. Trusting my intuition and dreams
12. Caring for my immediate environment
13. Seeking out opportunities and meeting challenges so that I can learn and grow
14. Generosity towards others with time, emotions and material things
15. Creativity


Last edited by self reliance on Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:03 am, edited 8 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:57 am 
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Lesson 6 - Proactive Action Plans 1

    Financial prudence and responsibility

    Work on and agree basic principles and detailed plans with H, in the following areas

    Food shopping and menus
    Large purchases
    Quality, durability, fair trade and sustainability

    Ongoing review and reality check with H as occasion arises, but at least quarterly


    Seeking out opportunities and meeting challenges so that I can learn and grow

    At work keep proactively up-to-date with conditions, treatments and interventions.
    Learn from and share knowledge with colleagues, patients and caregivers

    In my spiritual life seek out new insights, internalise them and apply them
    Speak and write about my spiritual life, when appropriate

    In areas of personal growth, seek out new insights, internalise them and practice them
    Use and share what I have learned to benefit others, when appropriate



[list]Trusting my intuition and dreams

[i]Living with someone who relies on compulsive behaviour to manage their life and emotions can be very confusing (in this case I am referring to H, not myself!) and I have lost trust in myself and my innate abilities.

I don’t find my personality or thoughts very interesting generally, but I do find my dreams and intuitions fascinating and rewarding. This activity will also give me something of my own, which is done for myself alone. This is a “dark sideâ€ÂÂ


Last edited by self reliance on Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:08 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:57 am 
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Exercise 8 - understanding your partner

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. Don't defend. Don't answer. Don't correct. Don't clarify. Don't pity. Don't self-loathe. Just listen. Listen to how your partner has perceived your addiction to this point.

H is in a slightly different position from a partner of a person using sexually compulsive behaviour.

I have been very careful to ensure that Hs feelings have been fully explored and expressed and I think they have. His feelings about the situation are as follows, in the order of importance he gave them:

He felt that because I was drinking, the burden of running the house fell upon him, at a time when he is busy and stressed with his business and working on recovery.

He wonders how our discussions about his issues may have gone differently if I had not been drinking

He sometimes felt that it was unfair that I should be able to drink to manage my emotions, but that he could not turn to his addiction to manage his emotions.

He says that he holds no resentment but would find it a real help if I would look at my time management and participation in managing the house.

Occasionally I declined to drive the car as I had a drink, which was limiting/inconvenient.

He felt that there was sometimes an element of “look what you made me doâ€ÂÂ


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:43 am 
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Exercise 9 – understanding your partner’s needs

[i]Ask yourself the following: “If my partner did the things that I have doneâ€â€Â


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:25 am 
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re: "I have decided to post on the Recovery Side."

I'm glad. Especially that you connected with the personal responsibility aspect...apart from your partner's addiction/recovery.

re: "alcohol versus sexual compulsion"

You have a tremendous advantage in having worked so closely with your partner through his, you already know the general outline for the workshop. And so, I will cover some of the additional and/or variant information you will need to consider.

1) There are two significant differences between recovery from alcohol compulsivity and that from sexual compulsivity. First, with alcohol, abstinence can be achieved. You can establish a goal of 'no alcohol' and live the rest of your life without ill effect. On the other hand, sexuality is a natural human need. And so, you don't have the luxury of 'abstaining from sexuality'. Instead, you must create healthy values that surround your sexuality, and then learn to live within the boundaries that protect those values. This is a huge advantage to the recovery from alcohol. It is much easier to approach recovery with such 'all or nothing' thinking than it is for say, the alcoholic to approach recovery knowing that they MUST drink a certain amount of alcohol in order to survive.

The other difference, and it somewhat cancels out the previous advantage, is that addiction to alcohol carries with it a physical dependency, as well as psychological. Now, to be accurate, sexual addiction also has physical dependencies attached to it, but with alcohol, it is externally induced through chemicals (whereas sexual addiction involves more internally induced chemical changes). Why is this important? Because it shifts the processing of the ritual from one level (internal) to two (internal and external). This can get confusing, so let's make sure we talk about it in-depth when you get to the lessons on mapping rituals.

re: "motivations for change"
Excellent.

re: "Your vision"
One of the best I have ever read.

re: "If I can do all these things, I can be proud of my life"

Change this to, 'If I pursue these things with sincerity, I can be proud of my life'. You can't control what obstacles life will lay in your path. You can only control your skill in relying on your values to help you manage them. This is especially important in recovery, because so many people mistakenly believe that they must 'recover' to feel good about themselves. Uh-uh. The minute that you look at yourself in the mirror and see a challenge in front of you...and choose to take on the challenge. That threat. That is when the pride should start. And it should be used to carry you through the tougher times.

re: "values and proactive action plans"

Ok, time for us to talk. Please contact me with a few days/times that you are available. We need to expand a few things here...and, begin developing that first practical tool.

_________________
Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:17 am 
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In the interests of brutal honesty I am pointing out that people who use compulsive behaviour to manage their emotions are often very plausible and can interpret and express the beauty of life in a way that touches people's hearts.

Two patients I have known illustrate this - one rich and famous, one poor and unknown. One had could interpret music in a sublime way, the other wrote delicate, sensitive and moving poetry. Both had vile smelling diarrhoea, grossly oedematous legs and relied on others to care for their most personal needs. These were not noble romantic figures trapped by the grossness of their fleshly envelope - they were people who had relied on alcohol to manage their emotions and their lives, had not taken responsibility for themselves and were living in humiliating dependence on others because of this.

I found writing my vision very involving and inspiring, but I am writing this note as a warning to myself that the beauty of life lies in living it according to values, with honesty, courage and realism.

Although people using compulsive sexual behaviour to manage their lives often have poly addictions, including alcohol, I wonder if there is an alcoholic mindset that can sometimes be different from the primarily sexually compulsive one. Perhaps alcohol frees up the expression of creativity. I'm not sure if it is important - whatever the addiction, health based recovery is the common aim.

I should add that while the initial insights in this post are my own, H has offered some useful insights of his own, which I have incorporated.


Last edited by self reliance on Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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