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 Post subject: rm959229 Recovery Thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:45 am 
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A. Three keys

1) actively committing myself to change
2) not allowing guilt/shame to sabotage your commitment
3) allowing yourself time to change

1) Right now I am not actively committed. I still am acting out. I tell myself that I am “doing better”, but I also know that I’m lying to myself. There are many things that I could be doing to advance my recovery, and I’m not doing them. It’s hard to let go of something that feels good (short term) when the world is so messed up, and I have been using that as an excuse. When I look at my behavior, though, I can see all the ways in which I have been relapsing for over a year now. Before the pandemic. And I have to ask myself honestly, does this truly feel good? There’s a lot of boredom, frustration, and disgust entailed in acting out.

Being able to see this inadequate level of commitment is useful, in that I’m not lying to myself about how far I have to go. How do I find that sincerity? How do I find that motivation? What is wrong with me that I can’t figure out it out?

2) Not allowing guilt/shame to sabotage my commitment. This may be a big issue. I live with such a high level of guilt and shame and self-loathing that I have no idea what it would be like to live without that burden. I try to imagine it. If it’s not my sexual behavior, it’s my weight or my hair pulling. That feeling of being utterly broken. That anything positive people see in me is a mere shell or disguise. That if people really knew me they would hate me.

3) This doesn’t seem as problematic as the other two. I realize that it took me a long time to get this way. On the other hand, I also feel like I have been “working at this forever” and it’s taken so long to get even a little better, and the relapses are so horrific.


B. Why do I want to recover?

1. I want peace and quiet.
2. I want to have nothing to hide from anyone.
3. I want to know I harm no one.
4. I want to be kind instead of selfish. I want to empathize instead of ignoring others’ pain.
5. I want to have time for growth and development. I want to learn new things.
6. I want to be able to look back on this as the time when I changed permanently.
7. I want to commit to my work. I want to be fulfill my promises to my students and colleagues. I want to advance meaningful projects. I want to be a leader.
8. I want to look at myself in the mirror with pride in my accomplishments.
9. I want to know I have made amends to others by changing my behavior for good.
10. I want to experience my life fully instead of numbing out.
11. I want to be whole, safe, and serene.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:53 am 
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Hi rm959229,

Quote:
1) Right now I am not actively committed. I still am acting out. I tell myself that I am “doing better”, but I also know that I’m lying to myself. There are many things that I could be doing to advance my recovery, and I’m not doing them. It’s hard to let go of something that feels good (short term) when the world is so messed up, and I have been using that as an excuse. When I look at my behavior, though, I can see all the ways in which I have been relapsing for over a year now. Before the pandemic. And I have to ask myself honestly, does this truly feel good? There’s a lot of boredom, frustration, and disgust entailed in acting out.

The longer you are here you will see that most people arrive here feeling the same way. The positive thing about that is that you are not unique and therefore should not beat yourself up about it as that will just get in the way of your recovery. The flip side of that is that you now need to make some important choices. If you genuinely want to recover then you need to commit and commit right now. If you are going to be half hearted about this then you will be wasting your time. The tools are contained within this workshop to help you to a full recovery but only if you take it seriously. In the meantime you need to do all you can to freeze the acting out whilst you focus on the workshop and learn how to make that sustainable.

Otherwise, welcome to RN which is a proven well trodden path for recovery. If you really do want to improve your life and remove those self inflicted shackles of addiction and to recover from your emotion driven compulsive behaviours then you are at a good place to make that a reality, RN can show you the way. To achieve recovery then commit , fully and completely. Work through the lessons and understand them , if you miss something ask on the help forum , assistance is always on hand, this community is supportive to those who demonstrate sincerity in their journey. Coaches and mentors are likely to drop by occasionally but if not, don't worry as this is generally a good indicator that you are on the right path, you have not been abandoned.

The path is long and difficult but it is well proven and you are not alone, many have taken the path successfully. We usually suggest completing about 3 lessons a week but spending time every day posting , reading, evaluating and putting into practice what you have learned, be open be honest, nobody here will judge you. Remember to work at your own pace and its not a race indeed some consider recovery to be a journey rather than a destination.

In Lesson 1 there is an exercise involving getting a photo of yourself as a child. This is a deliberate and important exercise to help set you off on the right note, I would encourage you to do this and to post your thoughts to your thread.

Good luck with your journey.

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A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:01 am 
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Vision

I envision a clean, orderly home filled with beauty and serenity. I am at work in my home office, immersed in the creative process. I have been advancing steadily on all my research projects, responding fully and quickly to emails, serving my students, my colleagues, and my community. Earlier in the morning, I did my daily workout, feeling myself strong and powerful, and then shifting to my yoga practice, grounding and centering. My breaths are deep, my face is soft, my shoulders are relaxed.

My cello and my Spanish workbooks are nearby, reminding me of the skills I am developing. A delicious healthy meal is cooking downstairs in the slow cooker. After dinner maybe I will read a new book or watch a film or enjoy a baseball game on TV -- I know that I can relax and unwind in a healthy way.

Also in the room with me are my pets, whom I provide with the very best care possible. Pictures of my travels fill the room and remind me of all the amazing experiences I have had. I know that later I will be planning a new trip because travel is a major part of my life. Outside, my garden flourishes. I love spending time there, nurturing the soil and the plants, just as I also love spending time in open space, learning more about the natural world, connecting to God through the creation.

My life is secure. I am safe. I have nothing to hide. I have no one to fear. I am free.


Last edited by rm959229 on Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 5:58 am 
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I was surprised to realize that I cannot find a picture of myself from childhood anywhere at all in this house. I think this says something about how little I want to think about my childhood. I find it nearly unbearable to face that trauma. I have come to see that I need to dig down and explore that -- probably with a therapist -- for true recovery, though I probably can push my way through to abstinence without doing so.

Values List

I value creativity. I nurture my own gift of writing and explore new ways to express myself. I respond to the creativity of others by engaging with the arts. I make the most of opportunities to experience the arts and create opportunities to explore the possibilities of my own imagination. Literature and poetry are essential but so is music, the visual arts, dance, gardening, all forms of creativity.


I value compassion. I meet others with empathy and work to extend that same empathy to myself. I pause before judging others and consider what it might be like from their point of view. I practice an ethic of non-harm, of not taking what isn’t mine, of avoiding substances and activities that might lead me to harm others. I radiate kindness. I nurture myself so that I can nurture others.


I value justice. I fight for my value and a more equitable society in which all are free to flourish. I speak out against injustice and support the efforts of others to make a better world.


I value service. I constantly seek new ways to be of use to others. There are many ways to serve, and while I don’t have to be doing all of them at the same time, I make service a core component of my days.


I value friendship. I take the time to support my friendships and consider ways to appreciate the relationships in my life. I reach out to people to keep these contacts strong. Even when I feel like isolating, I put myself into the uncomfortable place of reaching out because it’s worth it. I look for ways to develop new friendships. But I also shed toxic connections and step away from friendships that have lived their course, and I don’t worry about being included in everything.


I value learning. I constantly develop new knowledge and skills. I commit myself to learning Spanish. I recognize my achievements in learning. I support others’ learning. I avoid complacency about knowing enough — I gently encourage myself to strive for more knowledge.


I value responsibility. I keep my word. I honor my commitments. I steward my money and property with care. I value the responsibility of caring for my health. I can be secure in the knowledge that I have fulfilled all my responsibilities. I am honest with others about having too much on my plate sometimes, so that I can more effectively meet my responsibilities. But the things that I say that I will do, I do. The things that are necessary to take care of life, I do.

Additional values:
    Security
    Independence and control over my own life
    Being physically healthy--preventive health care through routine tests, doctors' visits, consistent medication, healthy food and hydration, limited if any alcohol, plant-based diet most of the time.
    Being open-minded and tolerant; less judging of others' failure, more willingness to give other people the benefit of the doubt. I can be harsh and express anger inappropriately.
    Leadership; I want to be a role model, want to help others succeed in their goals
    Being heard and respected. I will no longer settle for being gaslighted or trivialized or dismissed or stonewalled by people who are close to me.


edited to add new values, add more definition 9/24, 9/26
edited to remove "knowing when to walk away" as this is not so much a value in itself but more a reflection of "independence and control over my own life" and "being heard and respected."


Note: need to work on translating to practical values.


Last edited by rm959229 on Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:24 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:09 am 
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Translating values to practical values and prioritizing values

Creativity:
set aside time every day for writing
set aside time several times a month for enjoying music, art, theater etc. with a friend

Compassion
seek out ways to practice active listening
prayer and spiritual practice every day
deepen relationship with sisters and parents (how? need clear goals)
need to be compassionate with myself as well
support other people in their recovery

Learning:
set aside time every day for Spanish
read books, watch documentary films
visit museums, historical sites, etc.
learn about recovery

Responsibility
active recovery work
exercise 5x a week
build habits of wise spending and saving
maintain house and yard

these last two are important but maybe will need to be on the back burner for a little while as I focus on other things

Service/justice
follow through on commitments (but be willing to say no to things that are not important to me)
continue supporting organizations that align with my values

Friendship
reach out to friends via phone, text, mail
answer emails within a week
minimize time on social media so as to focus on relationships that matter


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:40 am 
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Lesson 5: Values Congruency

Quote:
Finally, examine the list one more time for its realism. Do this by briefly grasping each value and thinking about the role that it would play in your day-to-day life. This does not mean that you must use the particular value on a daily basis, only that it can serve as a realistic, functional part of the identity that you are building. For instance, if I choose 'spirituality' as a top priority for myself, but in reality I am only listing that value out of fear and/or social acceptance...then my list is not real. It is not practical. On the other hand, if I list 'Strengthening my relationship with my brother' — whom I have not had any contact with in twenty years and with whom I would like to rebuild a connection with...then that is practical. Also, remember to examine the values that are not necessarily socially accepted/idealized. This is critical. If you build a life based on what others expect from you, you will fail in your transition. If you build a life based on a mastery of what it is you truly value, then you will succeed. So examine values such as 'sexual gratification', 'being sexually adventurous', 'feeling sexually desired', 'being promiscuous', etc. If these are important to you, then prioritize them within your list. Leave them out because they don't 'sound right' and you are dooming yourself to that dual-identity that pervades sexual addiction.


Thinking about the role that other people's approval plays in my values system. What have I done, and what do I do currently, that is motivated by the attempt to get people to like me, respect me, admire me? Example: a lot of time posting things on Facebook to maintain a certain image. Example: I give my opinion about things A LOT. What would it be like to be quieter? would it advance my values? I think it would.

What role does sex play in my values? How much meaning do I currently derive from sex? I use it as a way of escaping and coping and getting people's attention. Is that healthy? It might be. It might not be. The key point is whether it is congruent with my other values. Am I responsible? Am I compassionate? is sex undermining my efforts to learn, serve, create? It isn't healthy for me to derive fulfillment from sex unless I can do it in a responsible, compassionate way that supports my overall values.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:03 am 
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Hi rm959229,

Further to my response to your post in the Community Forum, I would like to offer some thoughts on values where someone is not currently in a relationship in the hope that this will help you with the exercise for this lesson. What I would start by saying though is that the workshop is like a big jigsaw puzzle that starts to fit together the further you go through it. In the early lessons you are asked to do exercises which may not make much sense at the time but they are deliberately done as they will set you up to better understand what is to come. Please don't let this put you off as it will be well worth your while persevering with it until it starts to fall into place.

Your values form a cornerstone of the workshop and need to represent the core rules that you want to live the rest of your life by. It may be that you do not do some of these things now (in fact if you did and they were all healthy then you arguably would not need to be here!) but they are what you would like to live your life by as this will then become clear what areas of your life you need to change in order to align with it. A good way of thinking about it is thinking of what you would like someone to say about you at your funeral, that is certainly how I approach it at the time I went through that lesson as I felt it to be an easier way of thinking about it.

You might also like to look at this which was put together by one of the coaches in relation to values some time ago but has stood the test of time and worth a read.
http://www.recoverynation.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=18746

In terms of you being single, the way you described it as striving to meet someone with whom you can share a healthy relationship would be a good one. In terms of how you achieve that would not form part of the value setting for this exercise but is something that will be indirectly addressed as you progress through the workshop. As you come to understand your addiction and what causes it, and therefore what changes you need to make in order to avoid falling into those traps in future, the workshop will help you understand what a healthy life is all about. If you become more aware of things that trigger you and understand why that is then you can use all of that information in order to work out the best way of meeting someone new and in a way that will be healthy and not trigger you.

I hope this makes sense but if I have only served to confuse you further please post again to your thread here and coaches/mentors will try to help you. Keep up the good work!

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A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:55 am 
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learningtorun wrote:
Hi rm959229,


In terms of you being single, the way you described it as striving to meet someone with whom you can share a healthy relationship would be a good one. In terms of how you achieve that would not form part of the value setting for this exercise but is something that will be indirectly addressed as you progress through the workshop. As you come to understand your addiction and what causes it, and therefore what changes you need to make in order to avoid falling into those traps in future, the workshop will help you understand what a healthy life is all about. If you become more aware of things that trigger you and understand why that is then you can use all of that information in order to work out the best way of meeting someone new and in a way that will be healthy and not trigger you.

I hope this makes sense but if I have only served to confuse you further please post again to your thread here and coaches/mentors will try to help you. Keep up the good work!


Frankly, I am not sure that I WANT to be married or in a long-term relationship. Is there any way for me to have a sexual life even if I am single? Or do I have to decide, okay, the only "right" way to be sexual in the context of a monogamous, committed relationship? I don't really want to be in a relationship, and I don't want a string of one-night stands either. I don't want to have sex with anyone, really, but it's still a physical impulse -- am I supposed to wrestle endlessly with than impulse rather than masturbate because masturbation is "wrong" as it's not sex in a marriage? or will that impulse magically go away once I have been in recovery long enough? or should I just masturbate and get it over with, rather than overthinking all this? I've met people in 12-step SA groups who have literally gone ten+ years without masturbating or any kind of partnered sexual activity. 100% abstinence. I'm not sure that is a realistic or even desirable goal for me but it kind of seems like the consensus in SA and here is that this is the ideal....


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:23 am 
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Again you make some very valid points.

You could perhaps look at this in a slightly different way. Why have people come to RN? As you suggest, many arrive in chaos because they have been having sex with people that they should not and their partners have found out about it. Others have found that they have become addicted to porn + masturbation which has led to them showing no interests in their partners. In both of these situations, either the avoidance of having sex with other people and masturbation respectively may be the healthy way forward so that they can strive instead to have a healthy sexual relationship with their partners.

As a single person you are not in either of those situations and therefore (say) masturbation is perfectly healthy for you if that act in itself is not impacting others adversely. However, you have come to RN for a reason so what would be interesting for you to think about it is what is it that is causing you guilt or shame which makes you feel like you are addicted? It may be that the masturbation in itself is not the problem but rather than associated aspect (for example it could be something like an overreliance on porn which leads you to lose many hours a day which you afterwards feel guilty about or something similar?). More importantly the workshop will help you to understand addiction, what causes it, what triggers it and therefore what should and should not be healthy moving forwards. How that looks will be different from person to person depending on their individual circumstances.

I can tell you that by reading others' threads there are other members currently on the site who are single and probably have issues around P+M as I have outlined above and they are seeking to have more control over their lives so that they can pursue healthy relationships with someone else or just that they did not wish to have it feel so compulsive.

This aspect would be good to flag in your thread as you go along and coaches and mentors will be happy to stop by and help you try and get you clear in your mind as to how the various learning points should apply to you as a single person. I hope this helps.

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A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:05 pm 
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Thanks for your assistance.

Moving forward:

Quote:
What role does sex play in my values? How much meaning do I currently derive from sex? I use it as a way of escaping and coping and getting people's attention. Is that healthy? It might be. It might not be. The key point is whether it is congruent with my other values. Am I responsible? Am I compassionate? is sex undermining my efforts to learn, serve, create?


I will define healthy sexuality for me as (1) not using sex to escape from uncomfortable or painful emotions like stress, sadness, or loneliness and (2) not engaging in any behavior that could harm someone else, such as watching people on webcams who may be engaging in this behavior without the knowledge and consent of their partners -- by watching these people I am complicit in their betrayal of their partners.

The question is not so much whether I'm doing any particular act (watching a webcam may be okay IF the person is single and IF neither of us are doing this in a way to numb painful feelings and IF I can be sure that this is a brief act rather than an obsessive ritual (it will be a long time before I get to this, if ever)) but rather how this behavior aligns with the values and boundaries I have set out above.

On to the next lesson...


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:03 am 
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Lesson #6

I'm not sure that I understand the difference between "Practical Values" and "Proactive Action Plans." When looking at what I wrote for the former, I feel as if perhaps I jumped the gun and wrote out the latter.

The underlying point of this lesson makes a lot of sense to me. My values-based decision-making has improved over the years, but it still breaks down in times of stress and loneliness, because I haven't continuously advanced my values through a proactive approach. I still tend to let others' priorities determine my own behavior, which leads me to feeling cornered and anxious. I still tend to be secretive and closed-off. I guess this raises the question of honesty and how much I want to be honest with other people about what matters to me, who I am, and why I am making the decisions that I do.

Value: autonomy and independence
--actively explore my own value system and remind myself of it through prayer and journaling
--find support for boundary maintenance through therapy and support groups
--come clean with others about K so that they know what I value.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:29 am 
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Continuing Lessons 6-7 with Proactive Plans

Universal Value -- Creativity -- practical value -- develop my own creativity and appreciate others' works of art
set aside time in the morning every day for writing
set aside time several times a month for enjoying music, art, theater etc. with a friend or alone
review my calendar every few months to see if I have scheduled times for seeing art, enjoying music and if not reach out to friends and schedule something.

Universal value -- Compassion -- practical value -- treat myself and others with kindness
seek out ways to practice active listening
prayer and spiritual practice every day
send cards, call, email family members
support myself and other people in recovery by attending meetings and listening non-judgementally
pay attention to getting enough sleep and eating mindfully as a way of treating myself kindly... no self-shaming around food and eating!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:04 am 
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Quote:
I. Consider those lies that are still being perpetuated in your life. Who you are deceiving. Why you are deceiving them. Consider the 'risks' of coming clean. No need to do anything about these thoughts...just have an awareness of them.

II. If you are involved in a partnership, choose now whether or not you intend to continue deceiving them in certain areas. If the answer is yes, acknowledge that you are willing to jeopardize the future of that relationship by maintaining the deception; AND, admit to yourself that you are intentionally sabotaging your own healthy foundation by allowing such a huge crack to remain.

III. If you are involved in professional coaching (or outside counseling), choose now whether or not you intend to continue deceiving those whom you are working with. If the answer is yes, acknowledge that you are not fully committed to ending your addiction. Acknowledge that you are choosing to 'go through the motions', rather than actively pursue real change.


Lesson Ten: Absolute Honesty

Essential lesson. I need to get this right.

IV. List of places
--file of photos of D on personal laptop
--I have D and E on contacts in Skype, WhatsApp
--accounts on two websites
--item in nightstand
--secret email account

V. People
--DS
--E
--DL
--JR
--instinctive random fantasizing -- notice this tendency [addend. 10/12/20: Until recently, I never understood how often I do this, how reflexively, nor did I understand how damaging it is. I don't approach situations for what they are; I rapidly, instinctively assess them for the possibilities for romantic and sexual intrigue. This probably hinders my effectiveness in problem-solving or collaboration, and it most certainly acts as a way of distancing myself from reality... another form of numbing, coping, escaping.]
--random strangers on chat sites

VI. Internet, internet, internet. Where do I access? [addend. 10/19/20 -- note that this could be laptop or on phone. Both are essential to acting out rituals.]
--bedroom
--living room sofa
--dining room table
--bathroom


Last edited by rm959229 on Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:38 pm 
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I'm not sure if there's an exercise for Lesson 11 or not? I did the life skills assessment but when I tried to submit it I got a 404 error page.

Anyway, I learned two things from the last couple of exercises:

    --my acting out spans a much more narrow range of behaviors and absorbs far less time than it used to--this is progress
    --I have not changed the fundamental underlying patterns of dishonesty, isolation, and avoidance--this will continue to thwart progress unless I confront and overcome these patterns
    --I need an action plan to address dishonesty, isolation, and avoidance and then I need to execute the plan


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:23 pm 
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Quote:
They will have completed the majority of exercises with sincerity and passion, but they tend to move on to the next without ever thinking much about what they have already learned.
They put forth the required amount of effort in their participation, but only rarely go that "extra mile". The one where they take the information and use it for their own benefit, in their own way. Establishing a private workbook, writing out (or just thinking about) additional personal ways that the information may pertain to them.
They tend to analyze the risk/reward benefits of what they are being asked to do, before making the decision to do it. At least later in the workshop.
Though they are sincere about wanting to recover, they keep the workshop separate from their "addictive identities"...in that, they intellectually try to understand what they are learning...and physically try to apply it to their lives, but only in appearance...not in substance. Several exercises where this can be seen would be in Day Seven, where they were instructed to take out their values list in between each urge/decision to act; Later in the workshop, when they are asked to keep a log of their time; and in the Advanced Topics area, where they are asked to complete an evaluation form for each time they acted out.
Those who find themselves in this final group, most often ignored the physical act of pulling out the list and reading it; most often thought about the actions they would have documented in the Time Management log...or spent one or two documentation sessions trying to remember days and days of information — rendering the exercise useless; most often ignored the instruction to complete the evaluation form for one of several reasons, or they completed it for less than 25% of the times that they have actually acted out.
This is not to say that they have been insincere or have failed...not at all. Only that such behavior is common with this group. And the reasons for the behavior...laziness, monotonous, boredom, "getting nothing tangible in return", incorrect anticipation of why the exercise is being requested...these are the wrinkles that will need to be identified and smoothed out before that final transition is made.
People in this group spend the majority of the workshop looking for proof that what they are doing is working, or that it will work — which prevents them from fully investing themselves in their recovery.


Yes, all of the above apply to me in one way or another. So do the patterns identified later in this lesson.

The difference is between the intellectual grasp of the concepts and living the recovery program. The first part, no problem. And I have learned enough from previous ineffectual attempts at recovery to avoid some of the common pitfalls of defensiveness, finding excuses not to continue.

What needs are still being met by my addiction? Why am I unable to implement these changes? I don't think it is laziness. It's fear that I won't be able to live in any other way. That point about feeling uniquely damaged... about feeling like I'm caught between extremes... that applies to me.

Feeling such shame and self-loathing that I can't talk about this with anyone. I avoid 12-step meetings and therapy and coaching because I make up excuses... I don't like the Christian approach, or I had a therapist and she wasn't helpful, or I emailed those people who were contacts for the group and they never responded or they responded negatively. All of which is true, but the fact that they are true does not compel me to keep on isolating. It's clear to me that the secrecy and isolation contribute to active addiction and poor life management skills. I need to get into therapy, attend 12-step meetings, work with a coach and consistently talk to other real live people who won't think I am a monster. That monster -- that's my identity, that's the addiction I can't leave behind, and I'm choosing to give up and stay a monster forever instead of finding the courage to move ahead. So I stay stuck. No one can fix this but me.


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