Recovery Nation

ToWinThis's Recovery Thread
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Author:  towinthis [ Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  ToWinThis's Recovery Thread

I don't always have an internet connection, so I'm posting several lessons at once.

First Lesson

1. I feel pretty cool-ly active in my commitment. ThereÂ’s not the burning bush fervor that I often had before when I started off on this road, but a quieter need in my mind and my gut about this. I care about this, and I can see the connection to everything around me. But itÂ’s less a desperate cry for change than it is the time for this change to happen so I can really progress with my life.
2. The guilt/shame combo is pretty bad. I donÂ’t feel particularly ashamed right now, but it is a constant wall I face when I think about my own legitimacy with what real life is, how I deal with other people, goals and aspirations. I donÂ’t feel it strongly now, but when I compare myself to my internal idea of “healthyÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Third Lesson

The days arenÂ’t of too much concern. The moments are, the choices, but the days arenÂ’t threatening or all-consuming(developing patience). I donÂ’t worry about having too much time or too little, but IÂ’m thankful for the time I have and able to use it well(being humble, being productive). IÂ’ve spent my time building relationships(companionship), building art & music(artistic creativity), building social justice(improving social problems), building happiness(self-fulfillment). IÂ’ve found a balance between enjoying myself and giving all that I can to making the world a better place(stability and improving the world). I do this without grandstanding or fanatic fervor, but quietly, almost subconsciously, the fruits of habits long-lived(humbleness). The food I eat is local most of the time, the products I use biodegradable and with a minimal impact(social consciousness, sense of responsibility). I have a room full of instruments that I can play, maybe one or two really well, but most enough so I can loop them together and make a happy racket(artistic creativity, being playful, connecting to my own feelings). IÂ’m close enough with my parents(strengthening my role as a son), siblings(strengthening my role as a brother), and buddies(strengthening my role as a friend) that I know them, what they want to be and do, what they get joy from. The random thoughts donÂ’t bug me now, they just slip away unfocused on(developing emotional maturity). IÂ’ve got two or three things going most of the time(staying active), work being a big one(establishing competence in my field). Whether it stays education or shifts, itÂ’s rooted in social consciousness and growing as a person(sense of responsibility, personal growth). IÂ’ve learned Spanish fluently and another language or two pretty damn well(developing intellectual depth), not to put my nose up in the air(humbleness), but rather to reach out to people within my communities and globally(living an exciting life), talking about music and food, how we can help each other(bringing joy to others, teaching appreciation for culture). I donÂ’t cook like a chef, but my meals stay with people because of the love and happiness in my kitchen(bringing joy to others, being nurturing). My wife and I are happy together, spiritual, artistic, active(companionship, developing true intimacy). We know about the life in the communities, and we take care of one of the local parks every now and again(appreciating nature). I do yoga or tÂ’ai chi most days, lifting or swimming on the others(being physically active, feeling sexually desired). I dance every single day with my wife and my children, rain or shine(being playful, raising healthy children, bringing joy to others, bringing joy to myself) . The people who know about me smile when they talk about me sometimes, or sometimes shake their head at my idealism(showing appreciation towards others, being compassionate, being happy). I love them all.

IÂ’ve managed to let go so I enjoy myself whatever IÂ’m doing(being realistic, sense of humor), whether itÂ’s cooking or reading, traveling, working, playing music or seeing plays, working out(providing for myself). Making love(sexual intimacy and content). It isnÂ’t about checklisting anymore(being content), since IÂ’ve already traveled (intellectual growth)quite a bit and worked hard in my field(becoming distinguished in my field), made a CD or two and play live music regular evenings with my wife at some coffee shop a friend owns(sharing musical intimacy, developing artistic ability). IÂ’m blessed to have grown old, and I think of my family often(content with time passing, developed connection to family). IÂ’ve managed to make that family a bit bigger than just blood(feeling needed and loved by others). I do what I can to help people out that are in the thick of it(placing others before myself), I stay a bit on the outside for my wife and childrenÂ’s sake, but we come in frequently to help what we can(walking the same path as equals with my wife and children, experiencing spirituality in my day to day life). I feel low sometimes, but I smile knowing it wonÂ’t last forever(emotional tolerance and honesty). My memories are like my photo albums, filled with colors and smells, details and friends(contentment in a life fully-lived). I make it someplace new once or twice a year(living an exciting life), but not for tourism with a big bus. I do it on the cheap with friends or through work, traveling with my wife and children as often as possible, keeping the wonder of the world alive(guiding, teaching, role-modeling for my children, open-minded and appreciative of others, curiousity). I write my poetry when the mood strikes(personal expression, feeling and communicating deeply). IÂ’m there for my brother and sister(strengthening my relationships as a brother, being dependable), and my parents would be proud to see how IÂ’ve come along(being proud of myself). I live with their eyes and hearts(continuing the love I have received, passing along my parents legacy, acceptance of mortality).

I want to make love with my wife knowing each-other, being able to share our thoughts and bodies with each other. I want to be able to thank God for what is happening as we make love, and to see that she is thanking God too. I want her to know my body, and to love it. To want to touch me, to hold me, to kiss my skin. I want to walk away from her for work knowing that she wants to keep me home and make love to me, and I want to watch her walk away for work and want the same thing. I want to feel that touch. (feeling masculine, experiencing euphoria, feeling desired, physical beauty)

All of these things encompass being a man for me, which is what I want to be. An honest, true man.

Reasons why I act out

1. Feeling needed, desired, loved by others
2. Power
3. Control
4. Experiencing uniqueness
5. Feeling unconditional love
6. Physical pleasure
7. Sexual intimacy
8. Sexual contact
9. Experiencing euphoria
10. Feeling sexually desired
11. Feeling appreciated
12. Feeling masculine
13. Sharing my true self with the world around me
14. Living an exciting life
15. Being validated by others
16. Being validated by others
17. Experiencing the forbidden
18. Avoiding conflict
19. Improving my social interactions
20. Sexual intimacy
21. Physical attraction/Beauty
22. Masculinity

Author:  CoachJon [ Sun Nov 18, 2007 2:18 am ]
Post subject: 


1-Improving social consciousness and response
2-Strengthening my role as a son
3-Establishing competence in my field
4-Developing intellectual depth
5-Developing emotional maturity
6-Developing connection to family
7-Being dependable
8-Open-minded and appreciative of others -Being compassionate,
9-Intellectual growth
10-Developing artistic ability & creativity
11-Developing true intimacy
12-Providing for myself
14-Emotional tolerance and honesty with myself
15-Staying active
16-Living an exciting life
17-Lasting sexual gratification

Author:  CoachJon [ Sun Nov 18, 2007 3:12 am ]
Post subject: 

re: "But itÂ’s less a desperate cry for change than it is the time for this change to happen so I can really progress with my life."

That sounds good. And if you still feel this way in a month, then you will likely be well on your way to real, permanent change. :wink:

re: "I feel like IÂ’ve missed out on a lot of genuine moments to get closer to my family because of this."

You have. Now that is not something to take sorrow is something to keep at the forefront of your awareness as a reminder to look for every opportunity available to experience those genuine moments now. Should you become really will come to see that every trigger that you face is not a trigger to potentially collapse your values, it is an opportunity to reinforce them. All depends on your perspective and the depth of your awareness.

re: "My Spirituality"

Just in the way that you shared this, I can tell the potential this holds for you in terms of being one of your primary values. If you eventually get into the personal coaching, remind me and we can explore this in depth.

re: "Overall"
In just what I have read here, you have everything you need to be successful. Intelligence, insight, depth, awareness...and a wonderful vision that is certainly capable of sustaining a healthy, meaningful life. So then, what is missing? A few things. While you have insight, you will need to develop a practical use for that insight. You are also missing experience. Experience in managing your life through healthy means. If I were to guess, I would say that you have a well-developed idealistic sense of what a healthy life is all about, but are lacking a fundamental understanding of the same. How all of the pieces work together to form this ideal.

Your biggest obstacle(s) will likely be the following: 1) learned failure...and so, you will subconsciously hold on to this sense of 'eventually, you will screw up'. 2) being too smart for your own good. Meaning, there are times to learn calculus...and there are times to learn addition and subtraction. These next few months are about addition and subtraction...which will, I promise you...allow you to do even more with the calculus. :wink:

Author:  towinthis [ Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Lesson Six

Improving Social Consciousness and Response Action Plan

-Read Utne/Grist/DemocracyNow, listen to podcasts weekly
-Join either Eracism or local chapter of One
-Volunteer once a month with a local agency
-Shop at FarmerÂ’s Market once/twice a month
-Provide a social justice project for my coworkers

Strengthening my role as a Son

-Write Dad weekly letters
-Keep calling everyday/every other day
-Come up with a few “presentsÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Lesson Seven

Here's where I'm starting to have trouble, it feels like a giant to do list that I won't ever realistically complete. I've added a few more, but I could really use help implementing this into a real life practice that isn't both daunting and exhausting.

Developing Intellectual Depth
-Pick one new book to read each month
-Keep listening to lectures in the car
-Attend lectures and presentations whenever possible
-Subscribe to language and news broadcasts

Developing Emotional Maturity
-Pay attention to how I feel at least once or twice a day
-When I start fantasizing or fixating, ask myself “Why? What emotion am I avoiding?Ââ€Â

Author:  CoachJon [ Wed Nov 28, 2007 3:35 am ]
Post subject: 

re: "Here's where I'm starting to have trouble, it feels like a giant to do list that I won't ever realistically complete."

Ah, that's only because we haven't had our first coaching session yet. In reality, this IS an overwhelming list. Which is why you are not going to be enacting it as it is written. Instead, you are going to be (well, we will be doing this together) reducing this to eight or nine of the smaller steps to focus on initially. After a few weeks, this will be reduced to two or three steps. Not values, mind you...but the smaller steps involved with strengthening those values. Bottom line, if you create something that you cannot are setting yourself up for failure. Much of what you are 'brainstorming' in these few lessons will be used again when you get to the weekly monitoring--in about a month. But they will be more generalized at that point.

Author:  towinthis [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Week Two Lesson Two

If my girlfriend had done exactly what I have done, I would probably break up with her. I have enough on my plate without having to deal with the compulsive behavior of somebody who canÂ’t even share themselves with me. I donÂ’t know how I would rebuild trust, because I would think that she was pathetic, and didnÂ’t deserve to be with me if she doesnÂ’t find me attractive enough to enjoy sex with me. I suppose I would try for a little bit to really listen to her, and maybe even do the couples program with her, but I know that IÂ’m desireable enough and interesting and intelligent enough to be with plenty of people that I could love and achieve what I want in life with. Nobody quite like her, but somebody that would respect me and themselves more. I would constantly wonder why she was going out with certain people, what she was doing on the internet, and every time she didnÂ’t want to talk or I heard her sound “tiredÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Week Two Lesson Three

Biggest risk of coming clean: lose job and any further prospects in my field for inappropriate use of work materials

I wonder about the complete honesty in the relationship in terms of talking about sexual attraction to other people. I know that I have a huge attraction to voluptuousness, it probably borders on fetishizing. So do I have to tell my girlfriend every time that I am attracted to somebody? We talked about the level of honesty, what she wants to know when, and she told me she wants me to tell her what IÂ’m comfortable telling her. I think this isnÂ’t mean-spirited or duplicitous, but that she honestly trusts in my sincerity for the relationship. I suppose the largest problem I have right now is a coworker who is very buxom. Since IÂ’m new in town, I know very few people. I work on the exact same level as her, so we interact more than any other coworkers. She is a local, and very friendly, and so sheÂ’s also the closest social pipeline I have as well. IÂ’m very physically attracted to her, and IÂ’ve told my girlfriend about the situation. But I remember a friend whoÂ’s old boyfriend used to tell her about all the “possibilitiesÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Week Two Lesson Five

Patterns I recognize in unhealthy recovery

I see myself in so many of these patterns, I almost donÂ’t know where to begin. In terms of hyper-religiousity, extreme emotional reactions (DEEP depression, anxiety, despair), believing the disease is sometimes beyond my control, powerlessness over my urges (but not over my life in general), a fear of relapse triggers (including moving to different continents and living without television or an internet connection to prevent acting out), seeing life as episodic, judging my success through abstinence (which isnÂ’t precise, itÂ’s more that I could reach all of my goals if I just didnÂ’t lose that time and energy with the acting out). Feeling selfish, focusing the relationship on myself CONSTANTLY. This all seems to fit with the tendencies of the “Occasionally Struggle with Relapse,Ââ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Lesson 15

So in the past few weeks, IÂ’ve gone deeper than my initial attempt with this recovery program. This is due, in a large part, to the personal sessions, feeling like I have a person to help me and be accountable to, along with a voice of experience to question. Basic truths like having a lack of life-management skills and my particular compulsions are nothing new, but I understand them at an intellectual level, which I hope to internalize at a more emotional level. I looked at my list of values for the first time yesterday, after feeling my initial queasy feeling, and I was surprised by the number of emotional reactions I had just from reading that list slowly in response to the urge to act out. IÂ’ll continue this practice. The most beneficial moment, one I have seen a distinct result in so far, is the honesty with my partner. As opposed to leaving her in the dark about the process, I feel like I have a partner who is supporting me through the process. And not in a co-dependent fashion, but rather, in an almost contradictory way, it is increasing our intimacy.

My biggest challenges will be maintaining the balance of confidence with this process with a cockiness that will both demand too much of me before IÂ’m ready (unstructured time around the internet, for example) while not placing so much emphasis on my challenges that I wonÂ’t recover from the shame of acting out. IÂ’m still off-kilter, between feeling confident this will end, and feeling almost as if “well, IÂ’m better, so letÂ’s see how I react if I look atÂ…Ââ€Â

Author:  CoachJon [ Sun Dec 23, 2007 12:51 am ]
Post subject: 

re: "What decisions do I need to make to change from the mindframe that puts me in the constantly or habitually recovering groups?"

A few things come to mind.

First, decide that from this point forward, you will no longer see 'recovery' as a goal to be attained or an activity to be pursued. Instead, see it as a process that you are committed to establishing in your day-to-day life. This means that you no longer look to the future (or the past) to measure your 'success'...but that you assess your recovery based on how actively and sincerely you are able to maintain focus on this transition to living a healthy life. Not as an ideal, but as a practical life management strategy.

Second, you need to develop the desire to know yourself better than anyone else. Others are privvy only to the information you project about yourself and so, they are inherently disadvantaged. You, on the other hand, have the ability to get to the root of your addiction. You are the ONLY one who can navigate your thoughts beyond the mental games that you play. You are the only one who can make decisions for yourself based not on what others might see; but rather, based on what they may never see. And so, you have to build an internal sense of value and morality that only you will be able to manage effectively. Or, if you choose not to take the time to develop this ability...then you are the only one capable of mismanaging your values. Either way, you have to WANT to take responsibility for managing your life.

Third, you need to anticipate and prepare for those times when you will not be at the top of your game. There are many obstacles on the road to health and EVERYONE will encounter some of them. Typically, just being able to anticipate them and thus, be aware of them when they occur is enough. With only that in place, you have other tools available that will help you manage each obstacle. It is those obstacles that you are either not prepared for, or that you ignore that will serve as one of your biggest threats to remaining in the recovery/relapse cycle.

It is sad, but people can spend decades 'learning' about themselves...but never really learn enough to let go of the addiction. Instead, they continue to 'learn' with each relapse/recovery cycle...all the while never really pushing themselves to learn when they are healthy. They always seem to wait for a crisis and allow the additional insights to restabilize and remotivate. It doesn't have to be this way and the sooner you accept that for yourself, the better.

These three points would be a good place to start. :wink:

re: "Second; is that brief fantasizing, or the remembering of imagery from previous relationships or sexual material something that considered beaten when you no longer remember them or fantasize, or when you experience those triggers briefly and then move on? IÂ’m having a hard time picturing myself as a loving father or attentive spouse if, while IÂ’m talking on the phone with my partner, my thoughts randomly flicker every now and again to pornography."

There is so much wrong with this question that I don't even want to explore it at this point. Right now, your identity is still in flux. You continue to feel a connection with the compulsive urges that you have come to rely on...and so, you anticipate that this is how you will feel in the future. It won't be. Nor will the way that you process such feelings remain as they are now. Remind me about this question when we get towards the end of I would like for you to answer it. If you can't, then I haven't done my job. :wink:

Author:  towinthis [ Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Exercise 17

My rituals are variations on some trigger (boredom, visual stimulation, stress, etc.) which creates a queasy feeling before I act out, which involves the following

1. Sensory Stimulation – primarily sight and sound, involving watching pornography involving the particular body type I’m attracted to, and listening to the audio which is female-centered and very vocal.
2. Fantasy – imagery fantasy, used primarily while masturbating when the initial sensory stimulation does not provide any more orgasms. This runs from using sexual memories from my current relationship to previous relationships (less frequent) to acquaintances or co-workers. These fantasies sometimes involve imagining touch sensations as well. I feel the least amount of guilt when I use imagery from my current relationship, but IÂ’ve come to realize that it is using myself and another person as objects, and it doesnÂ’t do much to “bring us closer togetherÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Exercise 18

Time – Like I said in the previous post, I think it is the 24-hour time frame, where I allow myself after making that one mistake to continue using that day (before falling asleep and waking up) to act out. ItÂ’s also pretty important that in the next day or few days IÂ’m not around family members or at work, since the guilt feels like it is poring out of my eyes (I avoid eye-contact with people during this time, and I feel that my eyes are often much more truthful than any other part of me). Being around a partner is desirable because of the ability to “sleepÂâ€Â

Author:  towinthis [ Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Exercise 20

A. I have many large goals that I have attempted and failed at, but I think the number of large goals I have felt passionate about and failed is smaller. When I was still in high school, my athletic goals of winning wrestling state championships ended when I quit the wrestling team (about five months before I was diagnosed and had to stop sports under doctorÂ’s orders). I have not attained the musical level I want either, particularly with finishing perfect pitch or relative pitch courses. I lose my steam to continue every day in the face of “too much to doÂâ€Â

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