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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:34 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
This lesson was a really hard one for me and took me a long time to complete. It was hard to own up to all the negative things that this relationship has created when I am looking so hard for the positives in the relationship and reasons to make it work out. Making this list was a cold splash of reality about how far we still have to go. I also really struggled with rating things, and I might rate things differently if I did it again.

A. One of the first steps on the road to healing is to take inventory of all the ways that your partner's compulsive behavior has affected you. Begin listing these consequences and post them in your Healing Thread..
B. B. Rate the effect of each consequence from a 1-10. "1" will represent the most significant consequence that your partner's addiction has had on your life.

My internal experience
a. Loss of self-esteem (5)
b. Contempt for him (3)
c. Contempt for his family (3)
d. Anger at him (1)
e. Anger at his family (3)
f. Anger (1)
g. Overwhelming feelings of wanting to physically injure him (5)
h. Feelings of wanting to hurt myself (7)
i. Sensitivity to any sex on tv, nudity in ads, etc. (3)
j. Disgust at myself (7)
k. Panic (3)
l. Periods of feeling hopeless (3)
m. Frustration over being asked what’s wrong by my partner (5)
n. Loss of faith/religion (5)
o. Paranoia that I am being lied to about everything (3)
p. Jealousy about everything and everyone that he interacts with to a ridiculous extent that I can recognize the silliness of it but cannot stop myself from feeling it (1)
q. Loss of trust in relationship (5)
r. Not wanting to have children with him because worried about the example he sets (7)
s. Anxiety over finances and paying for therapy (7)
t. Drive, ambition, and focus all come in cycles rather than constantly due to emotional exhaustion (1)

My External experience
a. Loss of productivity at work (1)
b. Uncontrolled crying or tearing up at inappropriate times (5)
c. Shaking when experiencing anxiety (1)
d. Procrastination (3)
e. Inability to focus (1)
f. Loss of productivity in study program (3)
g. Loss of time with friends/socializing because focus is on recovery (7)
h. Loss of connection with friends and family by feeling like I have a huge part of my life that I have to hide (7)
i. Prioritization of dealing with this over everything else (3)
j. Lying to my husband about my feelings (5)
k. No longer cooking or cleaning or working out- too anxious and tired and consumed by this process (1)
l. Unable to watch certain tv shows or movies with any amount of explicit content, nudity, beautiful women, or where sex is treated with a casual attitude (1)

Relationship factors
a. Wanting to control his social life/feeling protective and preventing him from making friends (5)
b. Needing to monitor his communication and whereabouts (1)
c. Wanting to prevent him from working out because there might be cute girls at the gym (5)
d. Loss of time together because of the time spent in therapy (3)
e. Being very needy for attention and physical attention (1)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:10 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Exercise 11

I posted about skipping this one earlier because it was too emotionally difficult and I didn't feel capable of writing a letter to myself from my partner. The letter that I initially wrote from him was this:

"Dear Puffin,
Fuck you. I am sorry that I didn’t have the balls to say it to your face and leave you before I ruined your life. That would have been easier for us both.
From, Your Partner"

There was a lot of anger there and I couldn't think of anything that I would believe or that could ever begin to rebuild trust. I think I am past that now. Here are the letters that I wrote. The letter from me to him was written back when I was experiencing so much anger, at the same time that I couldn't write a real letter from him to me. Obviously, the letter from him to me was written more recently.

A. Write a letter to your partner, expressing all of the emotions that you have experienced as a result of their addiction.

Dear Partner,
I have been hurt.

My world is not what I thought it was. I saw the two parts of reality but was blind to the one part of illusion. It was like I was wearing glasses that only allowed me to see the good and not the bad. This viewpoint was created by the lies you told me and the misunderstandings you never corrected. You framed the way that I could see the world: making me feel guilty and controlling for setting boundaries, pretending to be committed and honest with your actions. When the curtain fell and I could see the illusion as well as the reality, the new sight dominated my view. I was and am unable to focus and pull the new sights into perspective. The shock and surprise and emotions keep pulling this new perspective into the foreground and all the things I thought I knew are pushed into the background. When I look right at this betrayal I think two things: first, if my world looks so different now than it did before, how will it look in the future? What new aspect will be revealed and throw everything else into shadow? And second, if I was so blind, how can I trust myself to see the whole picture now? You have not just destroyed my trust in you, you ruined my trust in me and the world. I have no foundation now.

I grew up watching my parents fight and saw the fallout that happens when a spouse is selfish and refuses to give their partner priority. I knew that I did not want to be the kind of person who doesn’t prioritize their spouse. I have worked my whole adult life to grow patience and kindness and empathy and understanding. I always try to apologize first. I always try to listen to what is really being said. I just never expected that my spouse would not also being doing the same. I married someone who I knew to be more naturally patient, to be more inherently kind, a person who prioritized the needs of his family above his own. I had no reason to think that I would be the exception to your priorities. That my efforts to rise above my own nature to try to be your equal in temperament and generosity were actually far exceeding any action you would take toward me, because I was the one place where you put yourself first. And masturbation and pornography and alcohol came first. I was the exception in a life where you valued everything, I was the one thing that came last. Why would I be the exception? Why would my complete devotion to being the best partner I can make me the one person that you could treat coldly and undervalue. I just never saw it coming. I always thought that I would have a flaw inherent in me, passed on from my cheating mother. Little did I know that the flaws I had was passed on from my father: blindness and forgiveness to the same stupid selfishness from a spouse.

I felt beautiful when we met. I felt like I was coming into my own, blossoming from an awkward and overly sexual confused girl into a woman whose needs were stronger but I understood better and could control myself better. Being with you gave me a chance to understand my needs and my values and how to live those out. You provided an anchor at a time when I needed one. By trying myself to you, I reined in my runaway thoughts and emotions and processed them and discarded what was not useful and developed what I thought was powerful. Throughout our relationship, there were times when I felt on top of the world, beautiful on the inside and out. I thought those times in our relationship were good for you and that you made me feel beautiful. I do not feel beautiful now. I no longer can savor the feeling that I had then when I recall those emotions and memories. I feel like a girl who was taken advantage of and lost. Had I known then what your other activities were, had I known how pervasive throughout the relationship they were, would I have consented to come to your bed? I doubt that I would have. I consented to sex that I thought was special, treasured, valued. I did not consent to the sex that I was really having, sex that scratched an itch for you, that felt burdensome. Those memories are tainted and I no longer can think of past times without a feeling of disgust. The man who I let touch me is not the man I thought I was with at the time. The experience I had was so drastically different than the experience that he was having. I feel awkward and ugly, now, young and inexperienced. I feel foolish for marrying young, a stupid stereotype that I always despised. Sex is not pleasurable with me because I now know that I cannot have any idea what my partner might think and the past has taught me that you are not thinking anything I could stand to hear said out loud. That you felt that oral sex I never asked for is a burden is more heartbreaking than you can imagine. I have never been sexually forward with you, requesting certain acts or telling you what I need because I never wanted a relationship where sex was a burden. Yet, you made this relationship into that all by yourself. I hate myself for having participated in this type of sex and feel reluctant every time we have sex. I wonder: is this an obligation? Is it enjoyable? Does he care that this is me? Does he want me? Does he want this? And I wonder: does he know that this now feels like an obligation to me? That I worry that to refuse is to admit the end of this relationship? Is he just using this sex to boost his own self-esteem? Does he care about my pleasure? Does he care about me? And finally: will I ever be a confident beautiful woman?

I am frightened. Everything I do, everything I say, is a loaded gun. All I can think about is my new reality, but when I express it I am dwelling on the past, creating shame for you, and being unable to move on. But every second of every day I want to say: when did you do this? Why did you do this? How could you do this? Don’t you love me? did you ever love me? Will you love me again? Are you lying? And are you being fully honest? Will you ever be honest? When you look at me right now what do you see? I want to say: don’t go to the bedroom. Don’t go to the bathroom. Don’t go near the computer. Don’t turn on your phone. Don’t leave the house, don’t go to work, don’t see any women, yes even that fat old one there I don’t care just never see a woman again. Just sit here, where I can watch you. And now tell me your thoughts. They’re dirty thoughts aren’t they and they aren’t about me, what are they about? Who are they about? What specifically are you thinking about? You turn to me and ask “what is on your mind?” or “what’s up?” and I am paralyzed or all these things will come flowing out. Just don’t ask. Please. I have nothing to say to help us forward. I only have fear, crippling, consuming fear. And the biggest fear of all is that I still don’t know. I don’t know what to fear because you are still hiding it.

I have no hope left. I am not in love the way I was before. That kind of love is not possible. So I will put in the effort here, on this relationship, and keep my heart in my chest and not on my sleeve. I will get up every morning. I will bring my patience with me. I will bring my comfort and empathy and humility and honesty. And maybe one day I will have poured enough into this relationship that you will feel that great and perfect true love that I once felt. It is amazing and I sincerely hope that you get to experience that joy.

From Puffin

Dear Puffin,
I have hurt you and I know I hurt you. I can never understand how deeply you are hurt, but I recognize the pain that you are experiencing. I have broken your trust and do not deserve to have your forgiveness. I will fix myself and try to repair the parts of our relationship that I have broken.

Emotionally, I will learn to be alright with negative emotion. It will be alright for you to have feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, and so on. It will be alright for me to have those emotions as well. I will not try to make everything have a silver lining and I will understand that negative emotions are valid. I will also be more aware of the way that you need your emotions treated, when you seem sad I will tell you how much I love you and how beautiful you are and I will hold you and take you out on dates, instead of asking over and over what is wrong, because I know something is wrong and it is because of what I have done. I will start sharing my emotions with you, just saying out loud what I am feeling and even if I have to re-learn how to identify my own feelings, I will learn to do that because you are my spouse and deserve to know some of my internal experience.

Spiritually, I will begin to attend church again every Sunday whether you accompany me or not. I know that my actions have made it difficult for your faith and you have lost a lot of the spiritual connection that meant so much to you. I know you will need to reconnect to that in your own time, but I know that my attendance at church will make it easier for you to get there, so I will go every week no matter how you feel. I will pray at home and bring prayer back into our lives, even if you don’t participate yet. I cannot stand the thought that I have deprived you of such a large part of your identity and I will make it as easy as possible for you to put yourself together again.

In terms of honesty, I will be forthcoming as well as truthful. Each time I open a beer, I will let you know how many drinks I have had that week. Not to ask your permission, but to show you that I can be honest and open and willing to keep you informed. Each time I open my phone, I will announce what I am doing and how long it will take, not to ask your permission, but to show you that I can be honest and open and willing to keep you informed. When I go on the computer, I will do the same thing. If something changes and it takes longer, I will let you know. I will do this because I care about your emotions and never want to put you through any stress or anxiety ever again, I have put you through enough.

I will appreciate your body and make sure to hold you and run my hands over your body at least once a day. I will tell you each morning and night that I think you are beautiful. You are beautiful and I want you to know that. I will work on saying things with sincerity and not being playful about them because sincerity makes me uncomfortable. I know that what you need is sincerity and I will give that to you. I will tell other people about how lucky I am to have you in my life and the things that make you an amazing spouse. Telling other people will make it hit home for me, give affirmation and reminders to me that I need to appreciate you, and show you how proud I am that I managed to get a woman as amazing as you are.

I know that you do not believe the things that I have said here. I have said similar things in the past and let you down. That is unforgivable. But I will do these things and my actions will speak for me. You can return to this letter again and again and see that I am doing what I said I would do. I don’t ask anything from you in return, not forgiveness, not patience, not even love.
I love you forever and always,
Your Partner

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:46 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Exercise 14

*List the role(s) you intend to play in his recovery. If none, say so. If some (and there are potential healthy roles for you to play), list them.
I think that I would like to be there to affirm that I see the effort he puts in. I also would like to suggest that he register on RN and start the individual lessons so that we can start doing the couple’s workshop together. Otherwise, I really don’t want to play any real role in telling him/encouraging him/ badgering him/ praising him for anything related to his recovery. The only thing that I will affirm is his effort, not progress or behavior or anything. I just want him to see me only as a spouse, not as a mother or the FBI or a cheerleader for his recovery.

*How much time do you intend to spend secretly investigating his actions? If none, how will you manage those times of mistrust and/or doubt?
I will continue to ask out loud when he goes on his phone or the computer what he is doing, and I will step it up so that I am always asking that whenever I feel anxious about it, but I really really really hope to spend no time secretly snooping around. I will try to manage times of doubt that I have by being open and honest with him about my feelings of anxiety, because it is unfair for me to ask him to share his emotions if I am unwilling to share mine.

*What personal values are you willing to allow your partner to continue damaging over the next month? If none, how will you protect these values?
I will protect my values by asserting my needs clearly and loudly when they are not being met. I am going to buffer against the most delicate and fragile values (feeling desirable and trust) by working out so that I feel confident myself and wearing makeup and dressing in clothes that I like, and work on trust through being more honest about my own feelings during our weekly check-in.

*Over the next two months, what mistakes are you prepared to tolerate from your partner and why? What mistakes (if any) are intolerable and will serve as the catalyst to end the relationship? Note: think with your head here, not your heart. You are no longer ignorant as to what to expect in recovery and so, define those true 'bottom lines' for you and your relationship.
• Tolerable:
o A slip like looking at or masturbating to nude photos provided he discloses w/in 48 hrs
o A slip like looking at or masturbating to pornography provided he discloses w/in 48 hrs
• Intolerable:
o A slip where he does not disclose within two days
o Lying about alcohol consumption/ not disclosing amount of alcohol consumption

*How much responsibility do you intend to invest in changing your partner? Versus placing the responsibility for change on them? How do you envision communicating your observations about their motivation/responsibility — both positive and/or negative? For those positive observations, how will you make them seem genuine? For those negative observations, how will you make them seem non-punitive?
I feel like the responsibility to change should be his responsibility. I also don’t feel like he is responsible enough to carry that responsibility. I would like everything to be motivated by him and that he would engage in everything that he needs to. I have been worried recently since things have been so good for us that he hasn’t put as much effort into his personal therapy or group therapy and has been just focused on his hobbies and hanging out. There are things that I have expressed to him (I want him to take more of an interest in how I am coping with the fallout of his behavior, I feel uncomfortable with the VERY sexual spam in his email) that he has never acted on at all and that is frustrating to me, since these are simple actions (delete spam, ask how I am doing in RN). I have asked for some of these multiple times and he hasn’t recognized my needs in this relationship as something that needs to recover. I guess what I am trying to say with all this is that I am not certain how much I am still willing to speak up and voice what needs to happen, to be his jiminy cricket a little bit versus sitting back and letting him take the wheel—which he seems to be mostly doing well at, but does leave some of my needs neglected. I think this is one that I will have to play by ear, but these are my guidelines: appreciate effort, not outcomes and if I have to voice something, voice my own needs or feelings, not telling him what he should be doing or what he hasn’t done.

*Do you intend to motivate change in your partner by threats and/or rewards? Or by simply sharing your needs and allowing your partner to find the motivation to meet those needs? If the latter, how much clarity do you have in determining and communicating your personal needs?
I sort of addressed this in the last question, but I feel like I have said my needs out loud and some have been met and some have been ignored. I feel like stating my needs isn’t getting me anywhere, but neither will threats or promises. I think what I need to do for the moment is sit back and let him work on himself and try to tend to my own needs until he is farther along in recovery and more open t hearing my needs and more willing to meet them without coercion from me.

*How do you envision moving beyond two individuals in recovery/healing to becoming a team in overcoming those areas of your relationship that have been damaged? What changes will YOU need to make in your own perspective to regain a sense of teamwork? What changes do you need to see from your partner for this to happen?
I need to see him as completely positive toward me. I need to feel like he sees me as a team player and not feel like I am the FBI or his mom. I think that if I feel like he really sees where I am coming from I will feel a lot less hostility and defensiveness from him. That would open the door to really feeling like he adores me and loves me and wants to have me be the center of his life. Some things that would go a long way to making me feel loved would be for him to share his emotions at times other than when we are arguing or I am feeling hurt, for him to not always feel defensive or hostile when I express that I am hurt or we are arguing, for him to speak to others about my good qualities as a spouse and partner, not just my qualities of being good at work or my study program. I need to stop seeing everything through suspicion. I think that setting my own goal of letting him focus on him and me taking care of my own needs for a while will protect me from disappointment and help me stop viewing him in a constant negative light.

*Apart from your partner's addiction, identify the current major obstacles that your relationship faces. For each obstacle, seek out any patterns that will eventually need to be worked through as a team. For instance, communication. We have fallen into a pattern of dysfunctional communication that must change. Here is what I can envision doing to bring about change to these dysfunctional communication rituals:
The worst pattern is: his behavior causing my anxiety stress, me not saying anything about it because I feel like I have said it before so he should know it upsets me, him not noticing, I let the emotion fester, I become critical, he becomes defensive, I become more critical, he becomes remorseful and promises change, I feel sorry for him because he is so upset, I forgive him and trust him, nothing changes and repeat.

I think that there are several things that we could do to fix this pattern. I could put sticky notes with reminders about what sort of behavior is triggering to me in the places that it usually occurs as a reminder to him to change that behavior, rather than me needing to say it each time. I could speak up in the moment rather than waiting on it, although I find that solution frustrating, because he could still act defensive and the whole point is that I have already told him (more than once!) about what I find distressing and I really just want him on his own to show me that he cares about my feelings. Another option is that we could make a daily checklist of behaviors, that way he can know if he is crossing a line or meeting my needs. I think that the best solution (which isn’t really a solution) for now would be to tell him that I see this cycle and ask him what he thinks about it and how to fix it, and give him some time to think on it and come back to me when he has thought about it some.

*Should you find yourself struggling to manage your own life (intense emotions, undefended boundaries, deteriorating values, neglected values, etc.) how do you envision getting yourself refocused and back in balance? List this general plan.
I think that my general plan is to come back here, read this, and do activities that center me: work, workout, go for a walk, and not do activities that distract from my emotions like watch TV.

*What signs will you look for in your partner to generate confidence in the sincerity and stability of his/her recovery?
I will look for forthcomingness surrounding his phone, computer, alcohol habits, and actively trying to meet my needs.

*What unique signs will you look for in your partner over the next few months to generate warning of imbalance and/or insincerity?
A lot of the symptoms that I listed in a exercise 3 of problem behaviors, particularly the ones about giving evasive answers to questions, giving overly specific answers, or taking a long time to answer are particularly important ‘symptoms’ to look for. I am also going to look for times that he says ‘I don’t know what you want me to say’ which I sometimes feel like he uses to deflect from his own experience and turn it on me and make me the FBI and the one who needs help.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Exercise 15

A. Make a list all of support resources (people only) that you currently have available to you in helping you to deal with this current crisis? How many of these people have you already turned to for support? What have you found beneficial in their responses? What have you found to be disruptive?

I don’t have many (any?) support people. The only ones that I really can count are my partner and our previous marriage therapist. I feel pretty damn reluctant to count my partner since he is the cause of my current crises and while he can be an understanding and supportive person, he can also be pretty unempathetic and unhelpful just due to his involvement and own feelings in this whole thing. We also are no longer seeing the marriage therapist because he was not as good at listening and suggesting tools as we had hoped, and also because constantly going to therapy was taking up all of our time and energy, and making more difficult to focus energy on our relationship instead of easier.

I know that there are other people in my life who support me in different ways, but I have not confided about what I am going through to them. I have a lot of shame that I would feel in telling someone close to me about this. I would be embarrassed that I got married so young and have such a rocky marriage already (“what did you expect, you stupid girl, rushing into a commitment like this?!” I hear the voice in my head say) and I would be embarrassed to come off as old-fashioned or strict about pornography (“it’s totally normal to watch pornography and you’re being controlling” I hear the voice in my head say). I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about something so intimate like our sex life and trust and love. A lot of me also wants to protect myself and my partner, since we are staying together and working through this I know that he will continue to be in my life around the people I am close with and if I told them about him, they would dislike him or criticize me and I want to preserve the potential of a happy future where our families are supportive and involved in our lives.

B. List all resources (not people) that you have available to you in developing a balanced, healthy support system. This list should contain at least eight items. Put an asterisk in front of each resource that you are currently using to help you through this crisis.

I currently use all six of these, but just couldn’t think of any others. I think it is obvious from this exercise that my support system is majorly lacking, between having fewer than 8 resources and zero people.

• Working—gives me a sense of purpose and I enjoy it, it takes my mind off of anxiety and fears, and makes me feel more resilient
• RN lessons—takes my mind off the immediate distress and works as a positive to mend myself and the relationship
• Self-care—taking baths, painting my nails, working on my skincare routine, all these things treat myself the way that I deserve and remind me that I deserve that type of treatment, they also relax me.
• Working out—this boosts my endorphins and makes me feel like I am working toward something positive: being healthy and I am shallow enough to admit I really want to work off my “pouch” belly and feel a little more positive about my body.
• Reading—this allows me to escape my life and relax until I calm down a little
• Pets—my cats are my babies and never fail to cheer me up by cuddling. Sometimes the nonhumanness of these kitties is so refreshing, they have no deep thoughts, judgements, struggles. They just accept and love me and playing or cuddling with them is such a nice break

C. Discuss a time when you were a part of someone else's support system. Was it a positive or negative experience for you? What made it so? Is there anything that you would have done differently? How can you use these insights to further define your own support system?

I am having a difficult time thinking of a time that I have been part of someone else’s support system. There have been times that I cooked or cleaned for a friend or relative when they were going through a hard time, but I have never been a shoulder to cry on or kept up the level of care for any extended period of time. I feel frustrated when people have an issue and don’t take proactive steps to solve it entirely, or when they feel torn about the correct course of action. I think that my lack of sympathy with others is part of what makes it hard to have sympathy for myself. I am so ashamed of the courses of action I have picked for myself (getting married young, staying with my partner after all this), knowing that they are courses of action that I would scorn someone else for taking. I think that my favorite friendships have been with very independent people who don’t ask for much support or encouragement and the friendships that haven’t lasted or that have been struggles for me are ones where I felt that they asked a lot of me emotionally or wanted to confide deep and honest things. I think that I distance myself from deep negative emotions and chaos by regulating and planning my life and making quick decisive choices about problem-solving so that I never feel helpless or out of control, like I did as a child with my mother or as a teen with my social problems. It has always been a source of some regret that I have no close friendships or long-term friends.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Exercise 16

A. Create a list of at least ten core values that represent the person you want to be. You should be able to rely on this list with confidence in guiding decisions, actions, prioritization, etc.
1. Integrity
2. Service
3. Justice
4. Love
5. Honesty
6. Constant improvement
7. Stewardship
8. Investment
9. Responsibility
10. Spirituality

B. In your own words, how can you use these values to guide you through this current crisis (or a future crisis)?

These values are who I want to be. Having a strong sense of identity will help me feel able to survive in the face of whatever challenges come my way. They will help me feel more proactive and able to cope. I will know that I am able to rely on myself.

C. Compare this list to the vision that you created in Stage One; Lesson Two. Are they similar? They should be. In fact, they should be practically identical — with your vision serving as a narrative for the list you have here. If they are not, change whichever is inconsistent with the life that you want to lead. Your vision must be forged from your core values or you will continue to struggle with imbalance and chaos.

I looked back at my vision and I saw some of these values, but not all of them, and I saw some things that I had forgotten were part of my vision that I think are good things to work on that I hadn’t been working on. For instance:

“I see myself finding more of a community where I could form authentic connections and be able to find people to trust and gain emotional support from. I would feel comfortable with my own emotions and be able to give myself the time and space to authentically sit with my emotions and feel them. I would not completely hide, overcome, or suppress my emotions to accommodate others when I know that I need the chance to relax and just feel what is happening inside my own process and around me in my life. I would give myself understanding that sometimes the emotions don’t make logical sense or just come from a deep place that I don’t ordinarily connect with.”
I had forgotten about doing any of that and when I was working on the support system exercise I was really working through some of these things for what felt like the first time. I was surprised to look back and realize that I was aware of the problems with the way I handle emotion and the lack of support system that early on. I knew it needed to be a priority, and yet I have done literally nothing to further this goal. I need to think hard about what it will take for me to step outside of my comfort zone and put effort into this. If I truly value honest, constant improvement, spirituality, and integrity, I better think through how to achieve this goal of emotional vulnerability and connection with other people. I think that my list could be pretty evenly split into values that I have already incorporated into my life and are strong values, and values that I want to live by but haven’t. It would look like this:
Category 1 (achieved):
1. Service
2. Justice
3. Responsibility
4. Investment
5. Integrity
Category 2 (unachieved):
1. Spirituality
2. Stewardship
3. Love
4. Honesty
5. Constant improvement
I need to put major work into the second list.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:33 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Personal Check-In and Update 1.
I wanted to start interspersing my lessons with personal check-ins. Sometimes I get caught up in a mentality that if I just go through the lessons it will 'fix' the relationship, and I know that isn't the purpose. I need to heal myself and become whole so these check-ins are my reflections on my own health and healing, to help center me in the true purpose of this journey.

Body Health:
I am feeling really good about my health. I am not where I want to be in terms of healthier meals and working out, but I am headed in the right direction. I have already worked out about 500% more times in the last 2 months than I did in the 6 before that (post-D-day). I am slowly establishing working out as a healthy habit and am really trying to congratulate myself for the progress I am making, even if it isn't close to my goals yet. I have stopped putting sugar in my tea and drinking soda, so I feel good about that. I still have a lot of work to do on figuring out meal planning and making healthier meals more achievable. It is hard because I don't get home until so late some nights, but I'm getting closer. Buying more produce has been good. I'm making an effort to praise myself for the effort and steps in hte right direction, even when its only a small step or a little effort.

Mental Health:
This has been getting worse and I can tell that the anxiety attacks are getting more frequent/worse even though the triggers are still the same. I am working on getting a better support system for this, as per my plan in the support system exercise. I have an acquaintance who I have always enjoyed spending time with and she is very open and shares easily, unlike me, so it makes intimacy with her easier. I also know that her ex-fiance cheated on her, so she has some similar experiences. I am going to try to set up a time to go to coffee or something with her and try to develop a good girl friend. My partner and I have also set aside time this weekend to talk about our health insurance and costs and expenses. Once we have that solidly figured out, I will be able to start looking for a counselor/therapist for myself. That will help out quite a bit I hope. Not directly related to my mental health, but I know that I have a tendency to 'binge-work' and then have a lot of free time on the weekend which leads to unhealthy lack of activity, and I think it might be healthier to limit myself and do maybe 4 hours of work each weekend day to spread it out and keep some stress under control too.

Environment Health:
I seem to continually run into the issue that my home is lovely and clean Saturday through Wednesday, but somehow as we get burnt out at the end of the week on Thursday and Friday we just sort of fall apart and let the place descend into chaos. I don't necessarily have a solution for this yet, but I'm trying to think of one. Generally I would say my surroundings are peaceful and clean and conducive to my well being, but I definitely think that there is room for improvement. Current goal is to keep the closet tidier in order to feel more able to have good/attractive outfits available.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
A) In Stage Two; Lesson One, you created proactive action plans for three values to help you begin the process of stabilizing your life. You now need to expand this to the remaining values listed in Exercise Sixteen.
B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.
C) Develop a specific plan that will allow you to maximize the potential in each of those remaining values.
D) List the 'next two or three steps' you will take to begin strengthening each value. Note: you will not be expected to begin taking all of these steps. The goal here is to gain clarity in what steps to take and to have a plan of action ready for times when you have either lost focus or have some extra energy.

It is interesting that I split my values in exercise 16 into already developed/developing and those that need work—it’s like I was anticipating this exercise! I guess I will just focus on those values that I identified as being really under-developed.

1. Spirituality
a. Meaning and fulfillment right now is pretty much zero. We pray before meals and that is the full extent of the spirituality in my household. I used to g to church and pray. I know from those previous experiences of my life that I was very fulfilled and connected to spirituality in a way that was deeply impactful to my life. It was such an enormous part of my identity. I feel completely disconnected from any higher power and have no sense of a religious community which was important to me. I know that fulfillment is possible in this area and that right now I have none of that.
Step 1: ask partner to be supportive and helpful in connecting to spirituality (I did take this step and the result was mixed—he said he didn’t understand why and didn’t think it was important, but maybe will).
Step 2: attend church, any church, just to look for a church community
Step 3: look into going to a retreat or workshop that would give an opportunity for spiritual reflection and community

2. Stewardship
a. What I mean by this is pride of ownership and caretaking for the things that fall under my control and responsibility. I think that I have more fulfillment currently from this value than I do from spirituality but I also know that when I don’t work on this value, it is a big source of stress and dislike for myself.
b. Plan:
Step 1: create a daily checklist of the bare minimum things I have to do to feel good about what I need to care for (i.e. self- take of makeup before bed, floss, eat breakfast; cats- make sure they get played with before dinner, brushed; home- make sure the bed is made before I leave for work)
Step 2: actually use the checklist, and slowly add items when I begin to successfully complete all the items every single day

3. Love
a. I think that I gain a lot of meaning and fulfillment from my romantic relationship, and that is part of why I feel so conflicted and hurt, because it has always been an area that I have drawn meaning from. I just feel very confused when so much of the time I can see all the reasons why I love my partner and feel loved in return, but also feel so betrayed and hurt some of the time too. I think that the times that I feel like we are really actually connecting are times that I am beginning to rebuild the foundations of trust and love that I need to have strength in this area.
b. Plan:
Step 1: make sure that we get to go on dates where we are actually dating each other, chatting, and talking, not just looking for an activity out of the house to distract ourselves
Step 2: try to really remind myself that love is about recognizing the great things about another person and I am allowed to love a flawed person who still has wonderful qualities and that I can feel conflicted and that’s ok.
Step 3: Try to ask for things that I need out of a romantic relationship, not just give with no return

4. Honesty
a. I know that I shy away from uncomfortable topics because I know that they are not pleasant to talk about, can lead to a downward spiral of emotion, and so on. But being honest, particularly with myself, about what I am feeling and what I need could really help me feel less on edge and like there are things bottled up that I try to push down into the back of my brain and never think about.
b. Plan:
Step 1: When I feel something, name that feeling or need or thought and let myself think it, that way I know
Step 2: Report to my partner what the thoughts or feelings I had were, without needing encouragement or affection or anything from him
Step 3: Try to be honest in more areas of my life, so that I feel more comfortable being authentic with people because I know that I play my cards pretty close to my chest and refuse to be intimate or close with people. I could share with close coworkers that I am worried about a family members health decline and the toll that it is taking on the rest of the family. That would be vulnerable and honest and not the sort of thing that I usually share, and I know that a lot of them can relate.

5. Constant improvement
a. I think that improvement is tied in with a couple of these other values like stewardship, so the things like basic things for myself like removing makeup and flossing more regularly play into this too. I feel horrible that such basic things would be an improvement for me, but they are areas that I really have let slide. It always seems easier to let myself slide than anything else that is my responsibility.
b. Plan:
Step 1: I will say no to an obligation if I feel like taking it on will not allow me to have time to spend on myself
Step 2: I will go to therapy and invest in myself that way. It is something I have not wanted to spend the money and time on and I know that I need to get some of these emotions under control, so this will be a big improvement. It is a big improvement for me even to admit that I need help getting my emotions under control

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 24
Personal Update #2

I took a step toward building myself a support network today. I confided about what I have been going through in this process to someone and it felt like a huge weigh off my shoulders. The person I told was my partner's cousin, so that was totally inappropriate, but she has had a lot of marital issues herself and was just the only person that I could think of who might possibly understand where I am coming from without a lot of judgment on him, since he is her cousin and she loves him. I just didn't feel that there was somebody else who could listen. Even though she didn't have much to say, I feel much better for getting it off my chest to somebody, although it my be the after-crying high of relief that I'm feeling right now. I do feel a little silly letting this all pour out now, when things are so significantly improved and just a week before my first appointment with a therapist, rather than letting myself break down when things were at their worst, but I guess now is when I feel more comfortable letting my walls down and letting myself be real. This update is really just to say, I said I would force myself to create a support system and I took the first step, so I am proud of myself.

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