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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 4; Day 3
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:24 pm 
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Posts: 95
I. Wheel of sexual compulsion elements:
----------------------------------------------------------------
moral conflict
guilt
accomplishment
sensory
orgasm
response/validation
embarassment/ridicule/humiliation
anger
power
fantasy
memory
past
suspense
danger
polyaddiction


Last edited by Ezekiel on Sun May 25, 2008 8:40 am, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 11:35 pm 
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re: "re: "Post subject: Daily Monitoring List"

After that initial period (a few weeks/month) of daily, mechanical monitoring, a change needs to take place as to the role that daily monitoring plays in your overal health monitoring. At this point, your daily monitoring should exist as follows:

1. It should be reduced to monitoring one or two specific items
2. Those items should be something that you are actively looking to develop
3. They should be items that you can generate meaning and fulfillment from in your pursuit.
4. Once you have selected an item for daily monitoring, you should wake up each morning with the following mindset: "Today, I am going to look for opportunities to strengthen 'whatever it is you are monitoring'. Then, as you go to bed, you conduct a quick assessment to see if you remained consciously aware of what it was you were monitoring. Or, if you completely forgot about it for the majority of the day.
5. Items you monitor should typically be in place for three or four days...and rarely for more than a week. If you haven't made significant change over the course of a week with active focus...then you are missing something. Either what you are monitoring is 'too general' or, you aren't really motivated to develop this particular value/skill.

If it helps, begin to see 'Daily Moniitoring' as 'Daily Development'. What do you do with the rest of the items on your original daily monitoring? They get transfered to your weekly monitoring to gauge them for complacency.

re: "I just want to write that I'm finding these last two lessons arousing."

There are two ways of looking at this. One, is that your 'goal' in recovery is to avoid such stimulation; the other, that your 'goal' is to gain experience in managing such stimulation. The first offers the illusion of recovery and when coupled by a spontaneous loss of urge, can indeed lead to long term recovery. BUT, it won't prepare you for such urges down the road and so, you will always be vulnerable to spontaneous urges/stimuli. The second offers confidence and the ability to generalize all stimuli into the emotions that they trigger.

My point: you have to develop experience in managing emotions like arousal...and what better time to do so then when you are actively seeking to end your addiction? Now, this doesn't mean that you should purposefully test yourself with such stimulus. But it does mean that you shouldn't fear it. When it is present, use it as an opportunity to challenge yourself to further your own emotional development. To further the role of using boundaries in decision-making. To further your awareness of when you disconnect from taking personal responsibility for your actions AND/OR when you embrace the concept of taking full responsibility for your actions.

So the bottom line: don't use this arousal as an excuse to not totally commit yourself to the process of developing experience and depth. In fact, use it for the opposite. Use it as an opportunity to further your own commitment to mastering your life.

re: "I think it will be even more beneficial if I break down all my other destructive/compulsive behaviors like staring at females in this way. I guess that's something I should do soon."

Yes, but don't do it as an assignment, do it as a means of taking control of your recovery. Do it because you recognize that it is an opportunity to move your recovery to a whole new level of personal accountability and challenge.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Month 1, week 4, day3
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:39 am 
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continued....

II. Examples of major rituals
--------------------------------------------
A. Seeing + Masturbation
1. Saw young woman I had been watching at the meeting: 2 elements; sensory (visual); memory - past compulsive thoughts *added emotional stimulation
2. Moral conflict: had promised to quit to my wife, to overcome constant fantasies to myself in response to recent crisis *reduced stimulation
3. Fantasy about having an affair * intensified
4. More watching: sensory (visual) * intensified
5. Worry that my staring is having negative social impact: embarrassment * reduced
6. More watching: sensory (visual) * intensified
7. Go back to my hotel room: moral conflict about ending activities * reduced
8. Begin touching myself: sensory (physical) * added
9. Think about woman: memory of sensory (visual) and fantasy * intensified
10. Orgasm * added
11. Accomplishment of successful orgasm timed with visualization * intensified
12. Felt guilty * reduced

Elements:
guilt: 1
Time = 8; Intensity = 8; Habit = 2: 18 = 2

accomplishment: 3
Time = 1 (no effect); Intensity = 10; Habit = 8: 57 = 6.3

orgasm: 2
Time = 1 (no effect); Intensity = 9; Habit = 8: 36 = 4

memory: 2
Time = 10 (memory still clear); Intensity = 10; Habit = 9: 58 = 6.4

fantasy: 3
Time = 5 (not well developed); Intensity = 8; Habit = 9: 66 = 7.3

sensory (physical): 1
Time = 3 (very short); Intensity = 3; Habit = 4: 10 = 1.1

sensory (visual): 3
Time = 7; Intensity = 8; Habit = 7: 66 = 7. 3

embarrassment: 1
Time = 2; Intensity = 4; Habit = 3: 9 = 1

moral conflict: 1
Time = 2; Intensity = 7; Habit = 3: 12 = 1.3

Total: 36.7

B. Internet Porn + Masturbation
1. Knowing that my wife was leaving the house and wondering if I would use porn: Suspense
2. Moral conflict: struggling with whether or not to look at porn
3. Danger: waiting for long enough to feel confident she would not come home and catch me
4. Moral conflict: going to porn sites and still not feeling good about it
5. Sensory (visual/auditory): seeing pics, watching clips and getting excited
6. Moral conflict: going to "porn-ier" sites
7. Suspense/Accomplishment: feeling excited about finding good material wondering when I would find the right "one" to orgasm to
8. Moral conflict: stayed home to do important/stressful work and it's not getting done
9. Sensory(touch): masturbating while watching, getting more excited
10. Fantasy: that I'm doing something sexual to women in clips
11. Orgasm
12. Not feeling accomplished, didn't wait for right one
13. Guilt over doing what I promised not to, over not getting work done I needed to
14. Polyaddiction: use computer game, food to try and make myself feel better
15. More guilt over not getting work done
16. Work very little
17. Moral conflict over situation I'm now in
18. Sensory(visual/hearing/touch): begin looking at more porn
19. Suspense to find more porn
20. Fantasy
21. Orgasm
22. Guilt
xxx. This cycle 13-22 repeated several times and added accomplishment over number of orgasms but also begin to bring pain with too much masturbation

Elements:

Suspense: 3
Time: 7 Intensity: 7 Habit: 7
63 = 5.7
Moral conflict: 1
Time: 6 Intensity: 6 Habit: 3
15 = 1.4
Danger: 1
Time: 1 Intensity:1 Habit: 1
3 = 0.3
Sensory (visual): 3
Time: 8 Intensity: 8 Habit: 8
72 = 6.5
Sensory (auditory): 2
Time: 8 Intensity: 6 Habit: 8
44 = 4.0
Accomplishment: 3
Time: 0 Intensity: 7 Habit: 7
42 = 3.8
Physical Stimulation: 2
Time: 0 Intensity: 9 Habit: 5
28 = 2.5
Fantasy: 3
Time: 8 Intensity: 8 Habit: 8
72 = 6.5
Orgasm: 2
Time: 1 Intensity: 7 Habit: 5
26 = 2.4
Guilt: 1
Time: 4 Intensity: 8 Habit: 5
17 = 1.5
Poly addiction: 1
Time: 4 Intensity: 3 Habit: 3
10 = 0.9

Total = 35.5
With all the repeats I'm not sure if I'm "calculating" this one right, should I be able to put separate number to each time a single element is repeated in a chain? With a really long chain this seems like it will make for a very low number because of dividing by length of the chain.
That would make the total like 10.


C. Fantasy during sex
1. Wake up in morning feeling aroused: memory of sexual dreams from falling asleep preoccupied * added emotional stimulation
2. Start humping wife: physical stimulation * intensified stimulation
3. Fantasize about other women
4. Get KY and apply it: physical stimulation
5. Feel accomplished about erection, fantasize about women's being pleased by it
6. Enter my wife: physical stimulation
7. Fantasize until orgasm

D. Make someone "fall in love" with me
1. Saw attractive woman: sensory(visual)
2. Fantasized about sex with woman
3. Suspense over whether I can strike up friendship with this woman
4. Repeat 1, 2, 3 over couple days
5. Accomplishment in creating socially "safe" invitation that "can't" be construed as a come on
6. Validation in social interaction
7. Fantasizing about having an affair, masturbating, and orgasm
8. Guilt/Moral conflict over behavior, "rationalization" of not having crossed touching boundary
9. Talking to woman, seeming interested, what Jane Austin would call "attentions" i.e. not talking about anything but why are you paying attention to what someone has to say..
10. Guilt/Moral conflict over behavior, "rationalization" of not having crossed touching boundary
11. Suspense: reducing attentions to "simulatenously" reduce moral conflict over flirting outside my marriage and to elicit more reaction from woman
12. Validation in interest from woman
13. Fantasizing about having an affair, masturbation, and orgasm
14. Guilt/Moral conflict
13. Repeat 9-14


Last edited by Ezekiel on Sun May 25, 2008 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 9:17 am 
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re: "1. Knowing that my wife was leaving the house and wondering if I would use porn"

Continue to gain more and more clarity on the thougths, feelings associated with such a scenario. Especially in relation to 'wondering if I would use porn'. To wonder in such a way is to suggest that you have no control over what is going to happen--and that just isn't the case, as you should be starting to recognize. And so, 'I begin wondering how intense the urge to look at porn might be' would probably be more accurate.

Every chance you get, separate the compulsive feelings you experience from the action itself. Ultimately, it will be these feelings that you need to manage. Choosing to engage in destructive actions in response to these feelings is the result of having managed them poorly.


re: "With all the repeats I'm not sure if I'm "calculating" this one right"

Ultimately, these calculations are all arbitrary. They are concrete representations of abstract concepts. And so, what is important is not the exact numbers that you come up with, but your ability to assign numbers to the right elements and, to see how these elements work together to heighten/sustain the stimulation derived from the ritual. You have done an excellent job of that in both examples.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 11:54 am 
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CoachJon wrote:
And so, what is important is not the exact numbers that you come up with, but your ability to assign numbers to the right elements and, to see how these elements work together to heighten/sustain the stimulation derived from the ritual. You have done an excellent job of that in both examples.


Yes, but there were four. The last example, D: "making someone fall for me," is still very difficult to face. It's almost 2 years ago now but accepting that I intentionally chose to do these things for the emotions I was able to generate...well, I'm getting angry rather than accepting. I have been putting off completing this lesson and moving on to the next one because the instructions say "Don't settle for anything less than mastery here." But maybe there is a difference between how well I'm progressing on understanding the elements (which still needs some work) and how well I'm progressing on facing my past. Maybe I should work on facing my past in therapy and try to move forward on the lessons here?


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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 4; Day 4
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 3:12 pm 
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I'm not sure which compulsive ritual to map out this way or how this way of breaking it down differs from the previous lesson. In an attempt to keep it simple, I will tackle my own early experiences with voyeurism. I see that I should list each point in the map as something that I did or felt. This may be hard for me. These are several rituals when I was 14.

Compulsive Ritual: Voyeurism
#1 Saw step-sister brushing her teeth in nothing but T-shirt
#2 Felt excitement at seeing her butt and genitals
#3 Felt encouragement in being offered the 2nd sink
#4 Felt shame when step-mother rebuked me/us and closed the door
#5 Felt disappointment that there would be no future excitement/closeness with step-sister
#6 Disappointment and guilt/shame linger

This first one was more like the example and feels like it doesn't have enough actions by me. So, I try another one later that year.

Compulsive Ritual: Voyeurism
#1 Saw step-sister and her friend sun-bathing in back yard
#2 Got excited about how they looked
#3 Decided to spy on them and masturbate
#4 Went to bathroom in my parent's bedroom
#5 Took pants down and sat down
#6 Lifted foil on window to see in back yard
#7 Found sun-tan lotion in bathroom
#8 Stared at them while masturbating
#9 Orgasmed
#10 Felt guilt/shame
#11 Cleaned up area

A few posts back I mentioned that I was wondering why I get so much stimulation off of just looking at women. I think I have a better understanding of that now. I'm probably anticipating the emotional response from masturbating while focusing on the memory of what they look like. This was also usually embedded in more complex rituals involving fantasy, but I think the point is that I'm used to engaging in voyeurism even with both parties in public and using the burned-in memories of what I see...


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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 3:43 pm 
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This is a ritual that I engaged in yesterday that wasn't sexual:

Compulsive Ritual: Acting aggressive
#1 Felt resentment that vacation trip was over and that I had to come back to facing my addiction by working on the workshop
#2 Re-read lesson, tried to write sequence of elements for two more major rituals
#3 Felt guilt/shame over past rituals
#4 Felt failure over not accomplishing exercise as well as I hoped I would after finally trying to analyze very shameful past ritual
#5 Decided nothing more was going to be accomplished that day & turned off computer
#6 Went to bedroom to lie down wait for bad emotions to wear off
#7 Got defensive when wife asked what was wrong
#8 Told wife I felt bad because of workshop/past actions
#9 Started answering wife's questions
#10 Felt resentment because didn't want to deal with more bad emotions right then
#11 Made defensive/angry remarks
#12 Felt failure over wife's criticism of my time spent on workshop
PoNR
#13 Stormed out of room saying I could take "no more"
#14 Went to living room and closed door to stew in my anger/resentment
#15 Felt wronged over wife's reaction to my walking off when anger was too strong
#16 Had tantrum behind closed door, tossing blankets, pillows, couch and making noise
#17 Felt resentment over wife asking me if I was hurting myself

after 17, I'm not sure how much use it is writing all the points down. There was yelling, breaking a key chain in basement, blaming wife for pushing me too far when I was already down. It was a long while before I calmed down and we could talk about things rationally again. I showed her my workshop exercise so she could see why I was saying it was hard for me...

I think the next thing to do is to figure out the elements here...


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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 4; Day 5
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 3:49 pm 
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OK, I'll try this new more in-depth mapping on Ritual A from 2 "days" ago:

Element #1 Eating breakfast alone and feeling very lonely on trip
Element #2 See attractive young woman in revealing clothing--become excited about opportunity to become sexually aroused
Element #3 Stare at woman's breasts and experience sexual excitement
Element #4 Tell myself that I shouldn't look as I promised to "get better"
Element #5 Decide to look, but try to be inconspicuous by looking just over top of my reading book
Element #6 Feel more stimulation from staring at her breasts
Element #7 Fantasize that she'll want to have sex with me
Element #8 Realize that her whole table is probably aware of my staring, feel self-conscious and try to stare less
Element #9 Feel bad about my actions
Element #10 Stare more, finish breakfast, take last look while going out
Element #11 Fantasize about having sex with woman on way back to hotel room
Element #12 Enter room, feel hopeful that room mate may be gone so that I have privacy to escalate my actions
Element #13 Tell myself that I shouldn't do anything, it won't help me "get better"
Element #14 Decide that it will be okay to touch myself "just a little"
Element #15 Feel pride in my erection
Element #16 Feel increased emotional stimulation from masturbating while fantasizing
Element #17 Orgasm
Element #18 Feel accomplishment in achieving rush, strength and timing of ejaculation
Element #19 Feel guilty that I "slipped" mixed with pleasure at how fulfilling it was
Element #20 Cleaned up mess
Element #21 Decided that this release was good in that it would help avoid more staring/temptations to contact and that this was the last time

This is longer than my description for day 3, but that already wasn't just stimulation--visual. I'm a little worried that I'm not getting the difference between mapping for week 4 day 3, 4, and 5 right....


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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 4; Day 6
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 2:24 am 
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Compulsive chains with simultaneous rituals. This one is a little hard to apply but I think overlapping sexual rituals would be easier.

Simultaneous
- Engaging in addictive computer gaming and digressing into e-sex and then returning to gaming. (Or is that overlapping?)
- Combining comupter-ing with porn: creating "better" material for my porn ritual
- Combining eating with porn

Overlapping
While engaging in romantic-compulsive behaviour: seeing if I can make someone "fall in love" with me over a period of several days and using fantasy/masturbation rituals during those same days.

Series
Looking at porn & mb followed by computer gaming and then eating and then back to porn & mb sometimes with more computer gaming and/or eating in between or sometimes just starting it again without any breaking. Once exhaustion is reached, falling asleep still fantasizing, spending the next day, all day fantasizing and then repeating the sequence the next evening...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 2:48 pm 
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re: "But maybe there is a difference between how well I'm progressing on understanding the elements (which still needs some work) and how well I'm progressing on facing my past. Maybe I should work on facing my past in therapy and try to move forward on the lessons here?"

I think you hit the nail on the head here. These lessons are about learning the mechanics...and then, applying those mechanics to your rituals, behavior, etc. Compared to others, you have done an exceptional job with this skill. As for dealing with the past...that is a whole different can of worms. Personally, I prefer the approach of 'ending the addiction and establishing a foundation so that it doesn't return' before delving into 'the past' in terms of seeking resolution. Why? Because you will have a much healthier perspective on your own life, on your addiction and, you will have significantly more developed skills in terms of emotional management with which to tackle those long-standing issues. Other people go in the opposite direction. They suspend their 'recovery' (consciously or subconsciously) as they seek to understand, repair and/or amend the past. I don't agree with this approach because it forces people to deal with pain that they simply don't have the skills to deal with and thus, leads them into a situation where a return to addiction is a viable option as an effective coping tool.

But, I say this knowing that it takes only a few months to build a strong enough foundation to begin to focus on those other issues with confidence and stability.

re: "maping rituals and chains"

Excellent. They have the right depth and specificity. One of the areas that you will need to deepen your awareness is between the following:

Element #1 Eating breakfast alone and feeling very lonely on trip
Element #2 See attractive young woman in revealing clothing--become excited about opportunity to become sexually aroused

Specifically, becoming aware that element one is not actually a part of your sexual ritual. All element one is, is a situation where you are outside of your emotional comfort zone. That you have habitually chosen to 'visually scan' the environment in response to this boredom/lonliness does not connect the two causally. You want to develop an awareness of when a SEXUAL RITUAL begins...and here, that would be at the very moment you become aware that you are visually scanning for stimuli.

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Jon Marsh
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 Post subject: Constant visual scan
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 11:41 am 
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CoachJon wrote:
You want to develop an awareness of when a SEXUAL RITUAL begins...and here, that would be at the very moment you become aware that you are visually scanning for stimuli.


I agree this is particularly important for me because right now I seem to be constantly visually scanning for stimuli. Even if I just glance at a busy city street to see where I'm going, I very quickly note where all the breasts are and the age category of each woman. I've made this such a habit that I can't come up with a memory of a single time when I have not done this.


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 Post subject: Month 1; Week 4; Day 7
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 12:20 pm 
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"Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent acting out behaviour"

OK, I've been developing one ritual (A) on days 3 and 5 from the most recent chain where I kept choosing to engage in sexual rituals. So, I guess the chain would be a list of the rituals...

(sequence of rituals over 2 weeks is not so accurate, but I write down those that I remember in some order...)

#1 Left to "conference" wondering how intense urge to do something sexually compulsive might be and worrying what consequences would be in my marriage. *suspense added emotional stimulation
#2 Visually scanned for sexual stimuli whenever I was out of my room. *added emotional stimulation
#3 Fell asleep without my habitual sexual fantasies and felt *accomplishment* that I was changing. *added emotional stimulation
#4 Conversed with attractive woman for the ego boost or to "test" boundaries with wife? (I think now that this was probably the first few elements of what is usually a much longer, more dangerous, and destructive ritual that I did not follow to conclusion.) *intensified emotional stimulation
#5 Engaged in ritual of "glancing" at that woman and other women at conference. *intensified
#6 Engaged in poly-addiction ritual of workaholism to try to avoid fantasizing. *reduced and added new stimulation
#7 Engaged in ritual of "partial-confessions" with my wife. That is, telling only parts of truth to alleviate guilt about what I was doing. *intensified stimulation
#8 Engaged in "masturbation-to-fantasy-and-struggling-with-guilt,-rationalizing" ritual. *reduced one type of stim in completion and intensified another
#9 Begin to use sexual fantasies to fall asleep some nights. *intensified
#10 Repeating of ritual 8
#11 Repeating of ritual 7
#12 Downloading material from internet and masturbating to it, rationalizing it wasn't "really" porn and guilt ritual
#13 By now repeated scanning for sexual stimuli and "glancing" ritual has advanced so far that even at the time I couldn't convince myself I was just glancing: i.e., staring ritual is even more lengthy and more frequently engaged in. *intensified
#14 Feeling guilty that I had been talking to attractive woman at conference and that my motivations to do so were "possibly" (now I would amend that to probably) start a ritual with her and moving back into ritual 7 * ritual 7 sometimes temporarily reduced stimulation from guilt feeling but often intensified
#15 Ritual A from earlier in this week's lessons. *intensification


"Thinking as an addict, look for areas within this chain where you could add additional destructive elements that would have (most likely) increased the overall stimulation of the event."


Now, I'm no longer sure if I should be developing a ritual or a chain. 1st, going back to ritual A, what element could I have added to increase stimulation of the event?
I could have made some excuse to talk to woman while staring at her very close up just prior to masturbation.

2nd, for the entire chain increased stimulation could have been added either by constant fantasizing or by starting up a friendship with either of the two women mentioned in the rituals.


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 Post subject: Exercise 29
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:01 am 
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Hopelessness - When I thought about the bad times, crisis times, the times I lost control of my rage, the emotion I identified was hopelessness. I thought that there was nothing I could do to make my life better and that ending it was the last and only way I could affect it (ridiculous, yes, but those were my thoughts) and those thoughts made me feel hopeless.

Lonely - or maybe unfulfilled - This is an almost always present memory this emotion and a feeling of emptiness inside. This was associated with thinking about the depressive/bad (but not crisis) times that I feel make up the majority of my past life (and, still, a significant portion of my present life).

Fear - When I think of times I contemplated and didn't choose to explore the opportunity of new compulsive behavior, it was fear I felt. Fear of the suspense of not knowing what I would ultimately choose to do. Maybe this was to do with emotional-based decisions? I felt unsure what I would chose to do in certain situations and this made a false sense of "not being in control." Whereas a value-based decision policy would have been more conducive to already making decisions and not being "afraid of how far would I go?"

Bittersweet - I'm not sure of a single word that better describes the emotions from the best memory of life wife: my wife and my wedding ceremony. I cry when I think about this and dozens of other sweet moments with my wife. There is some (maybe?) feeling of being unworthy of the happiness of these moments and longing to feel worthy enough of embracing the joy/happiness. I don't know--is this bittersweetness true of all the best/happiest memories of people in general? Are they bittersweet because they remind us of our own mortality and that of all the people we hold dearest???

Considering a compulsive ritual: this feeling feels "in my body" like almost the opposite of the lonely/unfulfilled feeling. Where there is this great empty hole like feeling for lonely, there is a rising/swelling/filling sensation in the "same physical spot in my chest." I can only describe this feeling as an anticipation, a building excitement for the rush a compulsive ritual would bring. I don't feel like I can nail down a word well enough to call this emotion...it's like being a kid on Christmas. It's just excitement, but I don't think it's "sexual excitement" or "arousal" just a giddyness of anticipating something "great."

Forbidding myself to do this ritual, now (or ever): relief. I don't know, I couldn't really feel any anxiety about not acting out. Maybe it's this fear feeling that I described before though I can't say I felt it when contemplating a ritual. But I feel relieved that I don't have this "out of control" feeling where I feel unsure how far I will chose to go. I chose not to start and so I feel "in control."

I guess this being honest within yourself and seeing your true feelings is a progressive skill? This is like the 2nd or 3rd attempt at doing this exercise and last time I couldn't really manage to "feel" anything. Especially this last conclusion, "relief," leaves me worried that maybe I'm just fooling myself. I've always thought of myself as a very feely-touchy-watch-chick-flicks kind of a guy and thinking now that I'm not really very in touch with my feelings makes me almost sound like I'm coping-out with "it's a guy thing -- emotions are difficult to get in touch with"


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 Post subject: Just have to save this
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:17 am 
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Sorry, this is nothing but a quote from the community thread, but it is so pertinent to what I am struggling with for weeks that I just have to make sure I can save it here and look back at it again and again....

CoachJon wrote:
I received an email from someone trying to work through issues of objectification with their spouse. I wanted to share some of the thoughts that were discussed, because I know this is a common issue for many.

re: "...by learning to manage my emotions through good values instead of compulsive sexual rituals." (quick summarization of urge control)

It's much, much more complex than this. But as long as you add to this statement your awareness that you will never be able to substitute values as a replacement for sexual rituals (and expect an equal emotional return); as long as you recogize that when you are talking about values, you are talking about a foundation of them providing you with a constant stream of 'less intense' stimulation; while sexual rituals involve an immediate experience of intense stimulation; as long as you are able to separate the emotions that your values produce from the values themselves (as they are practically used in decision-making)...then you are close enough to an acceptable understanding.

re: "I also struggle with objectifying women at times but feel I understand when I go into or have gone into this ritual and am able to role play future scenarios to help avoid it."

This will likely continue with degrading frequency and intensity for quite some time. On occasion, you may see this objectification spike during times of boredom or pressure. Or even through repeated exposure to sexual stimuli. For instance, many people struggle with this spike in early spring, when the days are getting warmer and the girls/women begin wearing less and less. In the grand scheme of things, this really isn't a big deal. As long as you take an active role in refocusing yourself on the awareness of such objectification. And, as long as your 'scanning rituals' occur as a spontaneous lapse in focus--rather than a premeditated act. For instance, there is a significant difference between someone walking through a mall who suddenly becomes aware that they are scanning the environment for attractive women. Versus someone at a mall who consciously sits down on a bench so that they CAN scan the mall for attractive women.

You need to always be in the first category; never the latter. Anytime you find yourself aware of objectification, action must be taken--the same as with any compulsive sexual ritual.

re: "Is it possible it's so ingrained in me that I don't even recognize it?"

Is it possible? Before you began recovery, I would say yes. It is possible. Is it likely that this is the case now, after you have been through such personal deconstruction? I doubt it. There were things that I continued to learn about myself in the 2 1/2 years I went through an active recovery. Things that, as I got healthier and healthier...would only come to recognize as unhealthy. Truly, the behaviors/perceptions were so ingrained that I was oblivious to them. Until I wasn't any more. And with that awareness, and with the recognition that such behavior was a threat to the vision that I was pursuing for my life...action would then be taken.

So what is likely here, is not that you engage in fairly overt behavior without even recognizing it. For you to do that now (say, ogling a waitress while you are at dinner), would not be because the behavior is so ingrained that you can't recognize it for what it is. It would be because you have lost focus on protecting your values to begin with. For example, a man who has previously struggled with sexually compulsive behavior goes out in public with his wife. Throughout the early stages of this recovery...and until this response becomes ingrained...there should be a focus on using this opportunity to strengthen the values shared within your relationship. Wanting her to feel loved, admired, respected, etc. If you are focusing on this; you won't be blindsided by lustful objectification fantasies.

Does this mean that you must 'not blink' the entire time? Of course not. But at this stage, you should indeed be putting more time and effort into the skill of developing your awareness.


re: "The following are three points my wife wanted to share with you of how she perceives where I'm at in this.

1." If it's true that he isn't "getting off" on other women, then he HAS made progress, but I wouldn't know (by his behavior)".

2. "I think he knows exactly what he's doing (looking at other women for sexual stimulation), yet he claims he doesn't even know he's doing it".

3. "I think he really doesn't want to give up the sexual stimulation of looking at other women".

It is hard to talk competently on these, as you are the only one that really knows what is going on inside your own head. Neither I nor your wife will ever know for sure. I will say though, that my 'gut feeling' with you is:

1) you have made real progress; not just cosmetic. It just so happens that you two have reached a situation where there is no way to 'prove' anything one way or another. She is perceiving things based on what she has gone through; you are doing the same. You feel the changes that have taken place; she is limited to what she sees--filtered through fear, apprehension and justified mistrust. And so, if you are being truthful, you just have to keep on being so...and she will just need to keep on sharing her observations. And time will heal this.

2) I don't believe you are consciously aware that you are directly violating her boundaries or yours; nor do I believe that you actively seek out such opportunities (as one might by going to a computer to download porn). I do think, however, that you are not nearly as focused as you should be in such circumstances. And so, in a court of law, this would be a verdict of guilty--factoring in 'negligence' as the mitigating factor, rather than 'premeditation'. With all of the insight you have gathered over the past few months--your focus should be on seeking out opportunities to generate real life experience in applying these insights. This won't be the way that you live the rest of your life...but it needs to be the way that you live the next six months or so. Constantly looking for cracks in your armor. Constantly looking to fortify your foundation.

3) The problem here is, it is impossible to 'give up' the sexual stimulation that is derived from attraction. It's impossible. As a human instinct, attraction is a powerful and intense experience. And so, you can't simply choose to give up the desire to experience it. However, as a human being, you can prioritize this experience within the context of your other values. As an example, I took the kids to the pool today and there was a lifeguard that was fairly stunning. I looked once and recognized my reaction for what it was. In the past, I don't want to say what I would have done with that opportunity. Fantasy at the least; probably would have tried to secretly masturbate in the pool while looking at her as the 'normal' response (in my sick world). Or at worst, I may have even developed romantic delusions about her and waited for her after work. Followed her home. Let myself get 'lost' in the delusional fantasies for days/weeks.

Today? It took all of about one second for the following processing to take place: "Is she attractive? Yes. Does she exist to be a sexual object for me to ogle? No. Is it worth reducing the meaning of what I have built with my wife and the potential depth of all that I still want to build with her--in exchange for the experience of a lust that directly conflicts with my values? No. Am I going to use this as an opportunity to strengthen my commitment to my wife by denying myself the urge to sexualize this woman? Yes"

Granted, and this may be hard to explain, but it is how I experience it...all of this takes place in a fraction of a second. I don't even process the words (any more, at least). It occurs with the ease of me brushing a fly off of my shoulder. Do I wish that I wasn't attracted to the lifeguard to begin with? Heck yeah. It would make things much, much easier. It just isn't reality. At least, it is not the reality that I have come to know. I have no control over the attraction; I have complete control over my response to that attraction.

re: "your scenarios"

I really like this. With your permission, I would like to use them in the workshop as examples for others to process in their own lives. I will now comment on each.

re: "- I go to work and one of my assistants is wearing a shirt that fits her a bit tight, not overly revealing but enough to show her full figure. I see that when I come to work and recognize it as a temptation, "trigger". I work with her all day on and off remember the temptation is there to look or take quick glances but don't. It challenges me but I get through the day without stares or even glances. I did not make a point to be around her to look or just be close to her at all that day. Did I objectify because I noticed the well fit shirt? I feel I did not because I didn't do anything with it. But since I noticed it when I came into work did I REALLY objectify her and deny it?

I think you have processed this exactly right. I suppose you could get angry/offended that she would put such temptation in front of you--but that is just not the normal reaction to have. You have differentiated between becoming aware that you experienced a sexual attraction; and acting on that attraction. Unless there are others who are more evolved than I...that is the most I have ever strived for. To go beyond that just isn't normal.

- I'm in a store shopping and as I go past isle's looking for the items I want I see a young women wearing a tank top with large breasts. I don't stare but just keep walking. Did I objectify her? I would say NO because I didn't stare or begin fantasizing just kept walking. When I think back later I can remember what she looked like if I want to, she was attractive with large breasts. Does this mean I objectified her?

Again, the issue here is 'what did you do with that stimulation'? Did you use it for self-gratification? Did you try to enhance it by extending your look. Did your eyes follow her (beyond the initial seocnd or two processing)? That your brain took a snapshot of this objectified image for later recall is not something that you can control. However, you can control those times when you are consciously seeking out such snapshots. You should know what I mean here.

Be very empathetic towards your wife's attempts to understand your behavior here. Women do indeed tend to process visual stimuli differently then men. This isn't just an excuse, it has been proven. And so, her trying to understand your reactions/processing to such a spontaneous stimulus would be akin to you trying to understand a spike in her emotions during menstruation. I mean, intellectually you can understand it, but in reality...there are times when you likely get frustrated because you know she could do better to control her emotions if she just tried harder.

- I'm sitting in church on Sunday and a couple rows in front of me is a women that I used to objectify during the service. I recognize the "urge" to look at her and begin the objectifying ritual but STOP. What does happen is I continue to think of her and what she looked like off and on throughout the service and even later that day even though I tried not to and put her out of my mind. Did I objectify her? My answer would be YES I failed to stop the ritual and recognize the "triggers" even though I didn't look at her I thought about her, so I objectified her.

Again, I agree. This would be objectification and, it would involve you having engaged in a sexual ritual. In reviewing the remaining scenarios, you have a clear (and I would say, accurate) understanding of objectification. I mean, if we wanted to be absolutely textbook, I suppose it could be argued that each of these would be a form of objectification--but too, then you would have to include every time that you notice that someone is tall, small, fat, skinny, black, white, man, woman, attrractive, unattractive, etc. The soul of people are encompassed within physical objects. That is a fact. Your goal is to learn to look beyond the 'object' and come to respect the humanity within them.


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 Post subject: Excercise 31
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 1:38 am 
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Posts: 95
A. Identifiable stressors

1 - Facing anger from wife over pace of my recovery; insecurity with our relationship severe

2 - Facing insecure job situation moderate

3 - Insecurity about what I'm doing with therapy moderate

4 - Disappointed with my own struggles to overcome objectification moderate

5 - Logistics: travel time to therapy, preparing cats for travel, shopping, etc. mild

B. Stressors in pursuit of my top values?

1 - my relationship with my wife and integrity: yes

2 - Providing quality in my work: yes

3 - yes

4 - Healthy sexuality: yes

5 - no

So, yes, this week they do seem to be headed in the right direction.

C. Majority of stimulation from highest values?

I am deriving a lot more of my positive emotional stimulation from my marriage, but also negative as some of the bad patterns we created together during active addiction are still present. A lot of stimulation is also coming from work which I put on my top values. So, that is good. A good part of stimulation is coming still from things like reading/eating/games, etc. Some of these are consistent with my values: i.e., reading as enjoying simple pleasures but I guess I would say things are not balanced entirely correctly as the majority of stimulation is coming from this last group. That is, from relaxing and goofing off...


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