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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:41 pm 
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Hi I’m MT_Mike.

I’ve struggled with my sex addiction for years. Finally confessed to my wife and began my journey to sobriety in 2015. Limited success. Progress, not perfection.

This is my recovery thread. I’ll post my workshop efforts here. My approach is to journal in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, clean it up a little, then post. If my thoughts change or gain clarity, I will post a follow-up in this thread. Thanks in advance for your support.

Lesson 1, Exercise A) – Where am I in relation to: 1) actively committing myself to change?

I am ready. I have the desire to be healthy in all aspects of my life, not just abstinent from my inner-circle sexual behaviors. I have been wandering without much guidance or structure in my recovery efforts. I do feel I have a great support network in my 12-step group, however, without a sponsor or working the steps I have not had a structure to help me through my vulnerable moments. I still get overwhelmed by emotions. I struggle to maintain a healthy attitude and get back on track with healthy thoughts after I’ve experienced triggering thoughts. Even if I stay sober, the thinking most likely progresses until I push my boundaries and eventually agree with myself to act out. But It’s not fun anymore. It feels more like a sad, desperate pursuit of the repressing of uncomfortable emotions with familiar distracting emotions. The aftermath is unbearable, and I am so tired of hurting my wife. I’m tired of living in a manner contrary to who I want to be. The acting out behavior is the identifiable behavior that is most hurtful to my wife, but its about more than that. When I am caught up in obsessive thinking, I hate the person I am at that moment, which usually is a period of time, rather than just a moment. I am fearful, angry, selfish, and emotional unavailable to my wife, everyone else, and life in general.

I am prepared to commit to daily work which will involve a combination of this workshop, prayer, meditation, reading, daily inventories, and setting intentions, as well as other healthy activities, such as playing guitar, working out, recreation with my wife and friends, therapy, and anything else that feels like an appropriate, healthy activity.

I am committed to using time set aside first thing each morning, last thing each night, and during the day on a consistent basis to accomplish workshop lessons and other “work.”


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:42 pm 
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Lesson 1, Exercise A) – Where am I in relation to: 2) not allowing guilt/shame to sabotage my commitment to change?

This is an important reflection for me. Just coming off of what felt like a significant relapse, I have a lot of negative self-talk and feelings going on. Intellectually, I know shame is not productive, but I’m still learning to recognize when shame is driving me. I am learning to be more aware of what is going on somatically, and I’m trying to back away from over intellectualizing and having to label everything that I think I’m feeling (which I don’t think I’m very accurate at, anyway). It feels like when I’m getting caught up in guilt and shame is when depression takes a greater presence. My motivation lacks, and I end up telling myself that it’s ok to start distracting behaviors, like it’s the only thing I have energy for. I suspect that my shame leads me to feeling incapable of working through overwhelming emotions as well as feeling like I’m not worthy of recovery or a healthy and happy life.

I know that feeling guilt and shame is a miserable feeling and it holds me back. I know this intellectually but I still find a voice inside me saying “I deserve this.”
I also know that when I have those moments of feeling worthy of recovery and having a good life that those moments are extremely empowering and I feel absolutely capable of getting better.

I want to be better. I want to put the shame of my past behind me. As a sufferer of childhood sexual abuse, I want to leave behind any identity I have assumed as that victim and lovingly embrace the survivor who finally got the courage on my own to resist my abuser and stop the abuse. Why is my love for that strong survivor almost non-existent compared to the disgust and contempt for the weak victim that I tell myself I was/am?

I recognize that guilt and shame are barriers for me and I want to learn to recognize when they are blocking me and then work my way through them to active recovery and healthy actions.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:44 pm 
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Lesson 1, Exercise A) – Where am I in relation to: 3) allowing myself time to change?
This is a great topic for me to reflect on. Some bullet thoughts:
- I didn’t get here overnight.
- Intellectually, I realize that I won’t change overnight.
- I want to achieve abstinence from my acting out behaviors NOW even if the overall thinking and emotional changes take more time.
- I realize it is a lifelong journey.
- I feel like I have the understanding to be patient with myself, however, I will most likely struggle with determining what are realistic expectations for myself.
- Until I gain some progress with my challenges of acceptance for myself, self-compassion, and self-love, the ever-present judgement will be self-sabotaging by labelling my efforts as failure, opening the door to acting out again.
- Question for myself: Can I develop an accepting, patient attitude that allows me to honestly assess my progress/changes while still holding myself accountable?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:47 pm 
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Lesson 1, Exercise B) - list ten to fifteen reasons why you seek to permanently change your life:

- I want to truly feel love and compassion for myself.
- I want to be honest and transparent with my wife, to have no secrets.
- I want my actions to come from a place of love for myself and others.
- I want to live with less fear.
- I want to live with faith and trust.
- I want to practice more frequent and natural acts of kindness.
- I want to feel incapable of making a decision that would hurt my wife.
- I want to be able to practice more acceptance of myself, others, and life in general.
- I want to see women as fellow humans to be loved, not as potential targets or objects of fantasy.
- I want to experience greater emotional intimacy with my wife.
- I want to be more comfortable experiencing emotional intimacy with men.
- I want to live an appreciate life in the moment, to be more present.
- I want to honor my life and those around me with healthy, not self-destructive, activity.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:01 am 
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Posts: 161
Hi MT_Mike,

It is good to see that you have decided to start the workshop.
You wrote:
Quote:
I know that feeling guilt and shame is a miserable feeling and it holds me back. I know this intellectually but I still find a voice inside me saying “I deserve this.”
I also know that when I have those moments of feeling worthy of recovery and having a good life that those moments are extremely empowering and I feel absolutely capable of getting better.


This was me in the beginning and still is to some extent, but I have used it to help my recovery although I did not dwell on it. I took this statement that Coach John wrote in lesson 1 and have used it throughout my time so far.
Quote:
III. If your primary motivation to recover stems from no longer wanting to live such a lifestyle...
With this being your motivator, you can be assured — right now — that a permanent recovery is possible. Not easy. Not guaranteed. But by following the path that has been set forth and traveled by thousands before you, it is absolutely within your reach, should you choose to pursue it.


Good luck going forward.

_________________
“Change your thoughts, change your life.” ~Lao Tzu
Regards
T


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:46 pm 
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Thank you very much, Theseus.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:59 pm 
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Back again. I've been writing, but haven't taken the time to put it in this thread. Since this thread will help serve to memorialize some of my work, I thought I would add this note I wrote to my wife:

I am heartbroken right now. Right now, more than I can remember with recent relapses, I feel intense disappointment, sadness, and regret for my actions. The look on your face. The simple act of replying “uh huh” when I say I love you so strongly reminds me that I am in danger of permanently harming our relationship and that scares me and fills me with so much sadness. I love you. There is only you in my life and I don’t want anyone else. I want to be with you forever. I want us to grow old together and be happy together. And I am so sorry that I’ve made you doubt that. Or even doubt whether that’s what you want as well. You do not deserve to be hurt the way my actions have hurt you. You have done nothing to deserve that, and it is not your fault. I am so scared. Scared that this is who I am, although I also believe I can do better. I am scared that the angry and hurting part of me, the part of me that still seeks out old solutions, is going to consume the better part of me, and cause me to lose everything I have right now, which is you. I want to be your strength, not your burden. I want to bring joy to your life, not anxiety and sadness. I want to stop hurting myself and you.

I am committed to getting better.

More to follow.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:24 pm 
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Lesson 2 - Establishing a vision - Exercise C.

For this exercise I'm using the example/exercises put forth by Coach Mel. Again, I mainly wrote in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. Then I'm cleaning it up a little as I type it in here. Mostly, I will consider a bit of a work in progress, and will plan to return to it from time to time and see if new insights will alter it any.

Exercise 1: Start at the very end:
- I want my kids to say they felt loved and supported, and that they were able to be vulnerable with me.
- I want my wife to trust me. To feel unconditionally loved and accepted by me. To feel 100% commitment from me.
- I want everyone to know in their hearts that I lived a full life, full of love for myself and others.
- I want others to feel their world was a better place for having me in it.
- I want to be remembered as having kindness for others.
- I want to be remembered as being genuine, authentic, vulnerable, real.
- I want these perceptions others have of me to be true--not just an image I cultivated.
- In other words, I want this for myself first -- If this list is truly who I am, how I am remembered will take care of itself.


Last edited by MT_Mike on Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:15 pm 
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Visioning - Coach Mel example - Exercise 2 - The very beginning:

As a kid I remember myself being very innocent. For better or worse, I really trusted adults. I truly feel I was loving. I definitely had a love for, and, I hope, a connection with animals.

Although I wouldn't call myself courageous as a kid (Not that I wasn't, just that I probably am having a hard time thinking of myself as courageous), I do remember having more confidence and a sense of liking or being ok with myself. I was definitely curious and absolutely naive. I remember all the magazines I read cover to cover (nope, not porn, but horse and car magazines) out of a thirst for more knowledge.

I was shy as well. I loved spending time alone. As I got older, I enjoyed making or crafting things. In the shop or in the barn. Or I would head out in nature. Hunting, fishing, having my dog with me.

When I was younger, I didn't like destructive things or "mischief," as I had a strong fear of getting "in trouble."

I'm not sure I have given a lot of thought to things I wanted to do but didn't as a kid, or things I missed out on. At a certain point, I know I didn't like competition or being "singled out" for praise in contests like public speaking or spelling. I was painfully aware of all of my shortcomings as an athlete in individual or team competitions, but I didn't have the courage to say "no" to being in them. I didn't want to disappoint my parents.

I may come back to this one. It doesn't feel really like I wrapped it up as well as I could have. But I did stimulate some thoughts, which I think was part of the goal.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:05 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3848
Location: UK
Hello Mike
Quote:
I may come back to this one. It doesn't feel really like I wrapped it up as well as I could have
:pe: :pe: :pe:

Will you come back to RN?
have you really committed to yourself and your recovery?

You only need to ask and answer yourself, nobody here will judge you
choose wisely

_________________
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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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:13 pm 
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Thanks, Kenzo. Indeed, still committed, and still sober since my relapse in September. I ’m currently wrapping up the last part of my visioning exercises, identifying and consolidating the principles that matter most to me.

I got stuck on focusing too much on what I would write for an overall vision vs identifying what was important to me, so I took a break and focused instead on some self-compassion work and some ACT-work with my wife, in addition to joining my wife for her weekly therapy sessions.

This is a good time to document for the purposes of my recovery thread that I’m still attending my weekly 12-step meetings as well as participating in daily calls and weekly coffee meetings with friends from the program. Sponsors are hard to come by in our relatively small group, so one of my program friends and I will be starting some self-paced step work using various resources and each other as sounding boards.

I’ll wrap up the word work then move on to the next exercise. Thanks for checking in on me.

Mike


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:32 pm 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3848
Location: UK
Hi Mike

why not read coach Mel's how to , found in this forum and then expand and set out your vision
believe me the more pillars supporting your recovery the better

the vision becomes the cornerstone of the foundation of recovery

_________________
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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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:48 pm
Posts: 10
My delay in posting a vision is due to my inability to create it in my originally-intended manner. Basically, I was hoping to create an inspirational, beautiful, one-page essay. That won’t happen. However, this exercise was extremely useful in allowing me to see how the concepts and values that inspire and drive me are beautiful to me and extremely satisfying. Most of my life has been spent obsessing over what others thought of me. I was willing to subvert my moral and ethical self in order to gain recognition, acceptance, and approval. However, my work over the past several years has allowed me to finally accept myself for who I am. Acceptance and love of myself is still a work in progress, but I was very inspired by the groupings of values that appeared as I went through the list of values. For the purposes of documentation, I will include those at the end of this writing. Rather that delay this posting any longer, I will present it in a somewhat stream-of-consciousness fomat of “my vision is...” statements.

My vision is of a life that is fulfilling to me and full of connections with other humans. Simple statement, I suppose. However, what that means to me is that my visionary life is one where my actions and activities are driven by and supportive of my values, and less impacted by my perceived expectations others have of me. In the value/keyword exercise, I was surprised but grateful that none of my selected values involved perceptions over reality. Meaning, my selected values are based around my actions and intentions, not the perceptions of others. I also found that my values were highly centered around connections with other people. That finding has been affirmed by my work in 12-step and other groups. Real connections with other people (in a non-sexual manner) bring me tremendous joy and it is not uncommon for simple interactions to bring tears to my eyes.

My vision is of a life full of vulnerability and intimacy (emotional, not sexual). This will require courage from me to continue to explore what that looks like for me. I still find myself more comfortable being vulnerable with women than men. I am unsure yet if it is related to the trauma experienced as a child, or my worry about being judged negatively by other men relative to this concept of “masculinity” that I struggle with. But I am becoming very aware that vulnerability and intimacy are at the heart of “real” interactions and a source of my personal value “wealth.”

My vision is of a life where I love myself as I am, and have the courage to follow my values regardless of perceived pushback from others.

My vision is of a life where my intentions, decisions, and actions are motivated by my love for myself and others. Where I am not capable of unloving, mean, unhealthy intentions and actions toward myself and others.

My vision is of a life with no secrets.

This is worth repeating – My vision is of a life made richer by real connections with other humans.

Value exercise – groupings of words with similar impacts on me.

Abundance, contentment, optimism, appreciation, bliss, gratitude, happiness, adaptability, resilience, faith, flexibility, openness, open-mindedness, peacefulness, hope, hopefulness, joyfulness, self-reliance, thankfulness, wonder.

Affection, benevolence, caring, compassion, kindness, kindhearted, love, connection, empathy, fairness, family, feelings, friendship, generosity, giving, heart, helpfulness, humanitarianism, mercy, philanthropy, selflessness, tolerance, thoughtfulness, understanding.

Adventure, bravery, confidence, creativity, curiosity, courage, empowerment, expressiveness, fun, inquisitiveness, inspired, passion, self-esteem, self-respect, worthiness, youthfulness, zest.

Approachability, authenticity, candor, clarity, credibility intimacy, pleasantness, truth, truthfulness.

Attentiveness, awareness, being, insightfulness, sensitivity, tranquility, vision, wisdom, balance, centered, calmness, civility, conscience, detachment, equanimity, flow, grace, harmony, mindfulness, serenity, spirituality.

Belonging, camaraderie, purpose, unity.

Commitment, loyalty, dedication, dependability, devotion, fidelity, integrity, reliability, sincerity.

Discipline, fitness, growth, health, personal growth, self-control.

That’s it for now. I’ll edit as necessary.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 300
MT,

Quote:
My vision is of a life made richer by real connections with other humans.
We must always tread carefully when our vision involves a variable that is impermanent and out of our control: other people. Especially since you know how other’s perceptions of you have impacted your life. However you do mention:
Quote:
My vision is of a life where my intentions, decisions, and actions are motivated by my love for myself


So let’s keep that at the forefront. That being said.. let’s use your pursuit of healthy connection as an impetus. The list of values you have written here is phenomenal and extremely powerful. What would happen, if you began to adopt the idea that it is your responsibility to provide those things to others? How would your decisions change to match these intentions, and thus impact your recovery?

No action steps needed here, just food for thought.

Be well and stay the course,

Anon


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