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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:09 am 
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Exercise 44.
1, My core identity is where my values and vision come from and it is from there that I am building a healthy life. As I have become more in touch wife my core identity I have noticed it strenghen to become something tangable and real rather than a puff of smoke that I grasp at in desperation. When I put my attention on my values, vision and boundaries they grow stronger and if I give my attention to something else, i.e fantasy, they grow weak. It is therefore essential that I stay in touch with my core identity and the wellspring of resources (vision, values, healthy boundaries) that come from it.

2, As I said above. When I pay attention to my values they grow stronger and when I make decisions based on them they grow stronger still. My core identity grows stronger with each value based decision I make. If I make a decision based on short term gratification, then my core is weakened, or I loose track of it and have to focus and pull myself together in order to get that connection back. If I continue to make valu based decisions my core identity will grow stronger and the old identity will weaken. Values based decision are essential if I am to strenghen my core identity.

3, I would say that in the moment I make the decision to act in a destructive way, that I have already lost touch with my core identity. At the moment I am working hard to establish a stronger connection, as I feel that my 2 weeks away did weaken the strengh of my connection to my core. I am not sure if my core identity gets affected by any distructive actions, but I would say that my connection to it weakens and therefore the identity itself seems to weaken. But does it? I'll let you know when I know.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:21 am 
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Exercise 45.


Ritual: Viewing internet porn with masturbation.

Elements: Fantasy (visual), Fantasy (distortion), Internal conflict, Sensory (visual), Sensory (touch), Audio (internal and external), Suspense and anticipation, No Orgasm, Accomplishment.

1.Working all morning on various work related things. (Feeling good, happy that I am doing soemthing constructive).
2.Work is finished and I put my computer to the side. (Slight feeling of 'Well what shall I do now?' Frustration)
3.Sitting on the sofa doing nothing. (Frustration builds into mild stress and soon more intense stress)
4.Pick up my computer and begin surfing around, for 'Something to do'. (Slight internal conflict. I know that this is potentially dangerous territory)
5.See a story in Yahoo news about The Playboy Mansion and decide to read it, out of (duh!) harmless curiosity :S (More internal conflict. I'm on the edge of crossing a line here)
6.I read the story and notice that some of the playboy girls are named in the artical (My hidden agenda should be obvious by now, in that I've found what I was really looking for. The feeling is like a slight release of tenstion and excitement).
7.I Google a couple of the names and find a few pics.(The stress has subsided now and I'm feeling excited. The internal conflict is here but only in the background and I pay no attention to it.).
8.I remember a particular girl who I had been meaning to investigate for some time. I suspect that she does some hardcore porn work so I go to a clipsite that specializes in pornstars. (I still tell myself that I'm in control but the reality is that I'm not. I know it's only a matter of time and there's a feeling of sweet suspense along with the fantasies of what I might find.).
9.I make the decision to act out. My boundaries subside and I prepare myself for the ritual. (Surges of excitement and trembleing through my body. I know I'm going to have my fix.).
10.I begin to masturbate and start to look for harder material. (I feel a whole cocktail of emotions. Lust, excitement, pleasure. Surging through my vains and brain like a chemical soup.)
11.I am really in the flow of my ritual now. Going from girl to girl, subject to subject.... Exhausting possabilities. (The internal conflict has returned. The pleasure is no longer so pleasurable and it must be fed by more extreme fantasy of exactly the right kind. My internal voice says 'This is wrong....You must stop. You are betraying yourself and your marriage.' I feel guilt and shame and don't want to stop because I fear what I will have to face.)
12. I keep going...My possabilities are nearly exhausted now. I notice that I've injured myself slightly. (More guilt and shame. I keep going, pushing through. I feel orgasm approaching.... I know I feel worse if I allow myself to orgasm.)
13. I stop. (I force myself to stop. Guilt, shame and pain surge through my body. I also feel a sense of slight satisfaction in that I didn't orgasm. It's more of a rationalization really. As if not following through on the last part kept some of my integrity intact....Maybe it did).
14. I go to look in the mirror. (I see a face that is desperate with sadness and despare.... I want to cry, but I can't)
15. I start to prepare for leaving the house. (Feelings of shame and self hatred continue.... I let out a roar of rage Ahhhhhhhhggggggggggg!).
16. I fill out a Urge accessment form before I leave. ( I begin to fell better in doing this. I somehow regain a connection with myself.).


I can see where the point of no return was now. I had a hidden agenda when I was surfing around. I was looking for something that would change my state and nothing does that quicker than porn. I still had a choice then though. I think the real point of no return was when I clicked on the Playboy story and felt the slight release of tension. From there it was just a matter of time.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:00 am 
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Exercise 46.

4.Pick up my computer and begin surfing around, for 'Something to do'. (Slight internal conflict. I know that this is potentially dangerous territory)
5.See a story in Yahoo news about The Playboy Mansion and decide to read it, out of (duh!) harmless curiosity :S (More internal conflict. I'm on the edge of crossing a line here). THIS IS THE POINT OF NO RETURN.

6. I stop and consider my options. Is this decision based on my values? Or is it based on a compulsive urge and emotional imbalance? Does this decision violate any of my healthy boundaries? Does this decision support me in my life purpose and growing to be the man I know I can become?
How will the potential consequences of following this decision effect me and my vison, values, and my transition to health? How will following this decision effect those who I love the most? How will these potential consequences effect my values of deepening intemacy with my marriage?
7. Realising that the decision to continue would/could have a negative on all of the things that are most important to me, I step away from my computer and sit in silent meditation for a few moments. I feel the emotional imbalance, the urges. I witness the thoughts and justifications without needing to act upon them.
8. I begin to feel grounded again. I turn my attention to ways in which I can make creative use of my time.
9. I decide to spend a couple of hours reviewing my website, perhaps re-writing some of the text.
10 I sit down at my computer and begin to work. I feel good about using my time constructively. Time passes quickly.
11. 2 hours later I decide to stop.
12. My wife calls and lets me know that she'll be home soon.
13. I start to prepare the evening meal. I feel good that I can meet my wife as she comes throught the door and know that I have nothing to hide.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:23 am 
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Weekly monitoring.

1. Over the last 7 days, where did the majority of my meaning and fulfillment come from?

I've been very active in developing my work this week, which has felt good. I also had a really great day out with my wife. Me and her have been having some good conversation, which has been constructive in aligning our visions for the next year.

2. Where did my energy go. Where was I drained?

I've slipped 3 times over the last week. This was ofcourse draining.

3. How did I do with my overall balance? I would say that because I am in a very productive time at the moment and because I reached out for help from the community forum, that my overall balance has been ok. That doesn't make acting out ok though. I would have felt a hell of a lot better and in balance this week, without those slips. I've taken the positives from them though and I'm coming back stronger.

4. Looking ahead over the next 7 days. Do I need to address/prepare for any threats or potential compulsive behaviour?

Yes, I do for sure. I am reconnecting with my values and vison at the moment and reviewing everything. I have also signed up to the new recovery checklist, which I think will be of great support. I am in a productive time of developing my work which is rewarding. I feel like I have a lot of positive focus for the week ahead and I feel confident that I can deal with any threats or urges that come my way.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:09 pm 
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re: "My core identity is where my values and vision come from and it is from there that I am building a healthy life."

Very good. Add to this "...and it is from there that I am building AND MANAGING a healthy life'. That may sound like the same thing, but it is essential that you eventually settle on a life management strategy that places your core identity (your values, your vision) as the centerpiece. That emotions ALWAYS play second fiddle to those values.

re: "I can see where the point of no return was now."

Repeating something I shared yesterday to someone near the same place in development that you are: you are getting to a point in your development when you should begin to recognize that there really is no 'point of no return' in a ritual. That is an arbitrary concept that was created just to develop your ability to assign concrete terms to abstract concepts. What you should be realizing now...and break through any mind games that may be keeping you from accepting this reality...is that EVERY point of awareness within a ritual...every element that you become aware of...is a potential point to end the ritual. To begin urge control.

So from this point forward, no longer identity the PONR...instead, consciously recognize (and practice) beginning urge control from all different points within the ritual. We will be doing this in coaching as well...but don't limit yourself to that.

re: "Weekly monitoring."

This is not something that you must do in writing and post here. It is meant to be a casual conversation with yourself where you consciously review the fundamentals of how you managed the past week. With that said, a lot of people do find it helpful for accountability purposes--just don't lose the perspective of what it is you are doing.

Again, overall, a really good job with these lessons.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:08 am 
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Thanks for your words Jon. I am at a stage now where I don't quite know what to do. The truth is that I am in a full on relapse. It is as if all the work I've done over the last weeks has gone out of the window. I feel desperate... Really desperate. I am not connected with my values or vision even though I am still being productive in my work etc, it feels like I'm just going through the motions. I feel like I am betraying everything that I live for, the people and things that I love the most, and it hurts like hell. I read this first part of Practical Urge Awareness and I realise that something is wrong. Very wrong.


"In all likelihood, you are not currently acting out with regularity. If by this time in your transition you are, something is wrong with the foundation you are building. At WORST, you should be experiencing spontaneous daily fantasies that you become aware of within seconds and can redirect fairly easily. At worst, you should face a significant compulsive urge--one that requires a conscious effort to manage--no more than twice per week. If you have not achieved this state by now, consider the professional coaching option--as you are not successfully putting the pieces together on your own."


I cannot continue lessons until I've realised where my foundation is off, corrected it and integrated the changes into my life. for the first few weeks of this workshop I was really on a good spell of learning. I was makeing goog positive strides in the right direction and was experiencing minimal urges and no acting out. I don't know where it has all gone wrong. If I don't beat this addiction then I feel like my life is really not worth much. I will eventually loose my marriage and my purpose will remain unfulfilled potential. That is why I have to beat this. I don't know how, but I have to.... Simple as that!

Munkfish


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:18 am 
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I have just read back over some of my action plans and I realised that I have neglected a few areas. I will address this and post any amendments here. I also realised that over the first few weeks when I was doing well that I was constantly reviewing my previous work with ethusiasm. That stopped somewhere.... Along with the enthusiasm. It is important to re establish this reviewing here and now, so that is what I intend to do.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:30 am 
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So I've looked back over my thread and I can see some really good work. I have made progress for sure. The fact that I am not where I would like to be right now is as it is, and if I accept this and work with it then I'll be fine. I can see that in some of my action plans I set my bar a little bit to high. This is an on going pattern for me. I remember learning guitar when I was in my late teens and quitting after 6 months when I realised I would never be Jimmy Hendrix.... Get the picture. The tendency for me is to set the bar to high, then to raise my self to the challenge and fall short. I need to pace myself and be realistic with what I can expect of myself. Instead of looking at my action plans as a picture of how my life 'should' be as an idealisation, I need to have actual, concrete action plans that I can integrate as new behaviour. What has happened here is that I've looked at my action plans. Thought wow! And done nothing. I've measured my success by my abstinence from past compulsive behaviours, rather than on building new behaviours. This is where I've fallen down. In love with my idealisations of how my life should look like, but not really taking action. I'm glad that I can see this now, at this early stage. It is clear what I need to do now.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:26 am 
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re: "It is as if all the work I've done over the last weeks has gone out of the window. I feel desperate... Really desperate. I am not connected with my values or vision even though I am still being productive in my work etc, it feels like I'm just going through the motions."

Well for you, it is pretty easy to see where the cracks are. You have done well with the intellectual understanding of the material, but as I say again and again...unless you couple this with experience...those insights are relatively meaningless. And so, if you have been truthful all along about your progress and recent regression...then what you have likely experienced is this:

You began your 'recovery' with energy--based mostly on hope and novelty. For as long as you were able to move forward in what you were learning, you felt as if you were 'in recovery'. And you likely were. People who don't force themselves into abstinence in early recovery tend not to experience the emotional volatility that you experienced. And you NEED to experience that. But then two things happened. One, the rawness of your emotions began to make you feel as if you were no longer 'you'. That you were turning into someone that you didn't want to be. The rituals may have been destructive, but at least you felt good at times. After those first few weeks, you likely didn't experience a whole lot of 'good feelings'...more like a man living an artificial, contrived life. In other words, you never moved beyond that 'void' that is discussed...and likely didn't recognize it as you were experiencing it. For some, it is a true emotional void. For others, like you...it is more of a 'I'm experiencing my emotions with a rawness that doesn't feel comfortable or natural'.

Yet, it likely only took one or two rituals to allow you to feel that natural comfort again. And so, it just reinforced that THAT is who you are. It's untrue, but your mind has to learn that for itself.

The second problem you ran into was the long break you took. There was two ways this was going to play out. One, you were going to go on this break and realize that it was no break at all. What it really was, was two weeks for you to gain experience--on a daily basis--in what you have learned to date. Or two, 'out of sight; out of mind'. That these two weeks were a reprieve from having to read lessons, do exercises, etc.

re: "1. Over the last 7 days, where did the majority of my meaning and fulfillment come from? I've been very active in developing my work this week, which has felt good. I also had a really great day out with my wife. Me and her have been having some good conversation, which has been constructive in aligning our visions for the next year.

2. Where did my energy go. Where was I drained? I've slipped 3 times over the last week. This was of course draining."

This isn't even close to what we worked through in coaching. This is the effort of someone who is just going through the motions, identifying the superficial, without understanding the function. I'm being blunt because if you are looking for answers as to where your cracks are: this would be another major one. This workshop isn't designed to take control of your recovery...it is designed to teach you how to take control of your life. Going through the motions is not enough...you have to understand what you are doing and why. For instance, in this first question, you would know that what you wrote was a waste of time. That what you needed to connect to would have been 6-8 SPECIFIC events over the past week where you derived meaning/fulfillment. Specific events. Like, "Yesterday, my son got in trouble at school for horseplaying. A compass was knocked out of his hand and it hit a girl in the arm, making her bleed. When I heard about this, my initial thoughts were to just chalk this up as an accident; but after thinking about my value of being a good role model to my son, I used it as an opportunity to teach him not only responsibility for ALL actions, but also making amends." That is an example--unfortunately true!--that falls under good weekly health monitoring. You are actively seeking times over the past week where you are actively implementing your values. But, even THIS isn't enough...as eventually, you need to recognize this active application as you are doing it--rather than in retrospect.

Now, if you are struggling to come up with more than three such situations across any given week, your life is too consolidated--and you will likely find yourself struggling with slips/relapse. It's just part of the human experience--once you have come to rely on addiction as a life management tool.

Finally, another crack in this foundation is that, with each ritual that you have engaged in--this time WITHOUT naivete; you have had the opportunity to develop many important skills: awareness, emotional maturity to name just two. Unfortunately, you likely only really tried to process maybe the first ritual or two--if that. All the rest were likely just added on to the 'relapse' and sense of helplessness/hopelessness that accompanied it. This can't happen. Every ritual...EVERY RITUAL...that you engage in from this point forward in your life MUST take the same path. That you first become aware of it. That you then immediately create your break. That you seek to fight what you know is a violation of existing boundaries. That you make a choice as to whether or not you are going to accept the emotional discomfort that you feel; try to distract yourself; or engage in the ritual. That you accept full responsibility for whatever decision that you make. That you seek to anticipate and mentally record a deepening account of your thoughts, actions, etc. as you manage/engage in this ritual. That you process the ritual once it is complete--whether you chose to engage in it or not.

This must be standard practice for you--if you are ever to ingrain the things that you are now mechanically learning.

re: "Where do you go from here?"

Now, those are the obvious cracks. The good news. You have shared some good insight into getting yourself back on track. Believe me, this could still get much, much worse for you...so that you have chosen this point to dig in your feet and fight...that's great. And, you are right on the money with the action plans. Unfortunately, just having those plans won't be enough. You really need to understand the functionality of them...and ingrain the process for using them. That begins with gaining experience in what I shared above.

This is an important time for you...and you need to come out of it stronger and more focused than you went into it. Make sure that you do.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:44 am 
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Thanks Jon. That was pretty tough for me to read, but you are spot on as usual. I will use your last post as a guide for me as I come out of this relapse. I am grateful to have your support and the support of the community forum during this time. I will come out of this stronger. The cracks and faults in my foundation had to be exposed. This exposure has been very painful, but essential, and on one level I'm grateful that these cracks have come out now rather than later. When I look back over the insights I've had, the learning I've had, I can see that this is not enough without it being integrated into practical experience. So this is where I begin the integration.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:56 am 
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Ok. Here I am again. Beginning to feel stronger now. My acting out has subsided and I have been able to look back and see quite a few places where I simple wasn't putting in the required effort in applying the skills I've learnt. This has changed now. I am experiencing urges, but in a different way. My attitude towards urges seems to have shifted from one of fear and anxiety, to one of 'Oh... Lets see what I can learn here'. I guess I'm a slow learner (duh!).
I've also spent some time getting familier with the recovery checklist. It's a great tool and once I went through it, it really helped in pointing out a few more cracks in my foundation.
I've reviewed my values, action plans and vision, and actually they are not unrealistic. What was missing was the fact that they had remained as plans. Plans mean something that you plan to do, rather than are doing...Right? Well that was the case for me anyhow. So I'm very pleased to say that my action plans are now becoming action.
I will continue with the lessons now. It will be at a slower pace because I really am in the process of shifting the focus of my recovery towards practical experience rather than intellectual understanding. Ofcourse the rest of the lessons will begin with intellectual learning, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Experience is what really counts, so that will be where the majority of my attention is from now on. Life will give me lots of opportunities....I'm sure of that;-)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:31 pm 
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Exercise 47.

1. I'm working on my computer and I suddenly have a fantasy with a new twist that I haven't investigated before. I get a strong urge to check it out.
2. It's late at night and my wife is in the bathroom preparing for bed. I'm watching TV and feel temptation to check out some soft porn.
3. I'm walking down the street and see an attractive woman and get a strong urge to follow her in order to check her out.
4. I'm on my computer and suddenly remember a name of a porn actress or porn site that I came across during my last ritual. I get an urge to google the name.
5. I'm out with my wife and find myself looking at an attractive woman out the corner of my eye.
6. I'm on my computer and my wife is in the room and cannot see my screen. I know I can get away with a quick glance.
7. I wake up in the morning feeling tension and stress. I'm feeling negative and start to anticipate acting out as soon as my wife leaves the appartment.
8. I'm on the train/bus and find myself indulging an old fantasy.
9. I accidently come accross some pictures of an attractive woman in a bikini and this triggers an urge to check out 'harmless' (Duh!) bikini contest pictures.
10. I see an attractive girl with nice makeup, finger nails, high heel shoes. She's wareing tight skimpy clothes and I find that I can't stop looking at her.
11. I meet an attractive girl in a work or social situation. I find myself looking again and again at her breasts or behind.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:46 am 
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re: "coming out of relapse"

In the aftermath of relapse, it's important to do a few things. Now understand what I am about to say here...this is what to do AFTER relapse, not in preparation of justifying relapse.

First, recognize that early on, you gave yourself time to make real change to your life. This is one of those reasons why that was necessary. Relapse isn't an absolute in recovery, but it is a common and ongoing threat until that healthy foundation is built. When you began this process, you didn't give yourself a specific amount of time to complete a certain amount of lessons. At least, you BETTER not have! Instead, you were to have given yourself a set amount of time to grow. Without expectation or fear of failure, you were to take that time to build the life management skills that were either deficient and/or non-existent. In a perfect world, that effort would have been met with cooperation from your emotions, maturity, impulses, stimuli, etc. In reality, with an insufficient life management system in place, what would be extraordinary would be if you were to all of a sudden know how to manage your life and never return to past management tools (addiction).

Second, while you must assess and accept all consequences of this relapse--do not brood over it. You are still closer to an ingrained addictive-identity than you are a values-based identity. When you lose focus or your life falls out of balance, you will instinctively return to what is ingrained. Which is why you need to develop so much experience in learning a new way of managing your life. To ingrain this. Once you do, it will be your past addiction/rituals that literally feel foreign to you.

Third, make sure that you are not of the mindset that you are either a) starting over; or b) ruined--because your recovery didn't go perfectly.

You have ONE recovery. That's it. One life; one recovery. Granted, that recovery path may take you through many different pastures. You may get lost for decades and destroy so much along the way. But it is still your only recovery. Why is this? Because recovery is life. It is shifting from one style of life management (which is easily implemented, but highly destructive) to another (which is more complex, but exponentially more fulfilling). For you to leave addiction behind, you must make this shift. There is no other way.

So, in the aftermath, you relapsed in early recovery. So what? Learn from it. And I do mean LEARN FROM IT. Learn the mind games that you played. Learn the deceptions that you relied on. Learn the emotions that you experienced before, during and after the relapse. Learn what led you to say ENOUGH! and return to your one recovery path. Learn how to share uncomfortable, even shameful decisions/actions with those that have the right/need to know. Learn how to be even more comfortable with being imperfect and vulnerable. That is what will make this relapse a stepping stone, rather than a sand pit.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:57 pm 
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Jon. Thanks so much for your support. I will read your last post many times over the next days because it is such a great support for me during this time of vulnerability. I look forward to speaking to you on Tuesday.
Munk


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:22 am 
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Exercise 47. Continued....

6. I'm on my computer and my wife is in the room and cannot see my screen. I know I can get away with a quick glance.

This is one that I am often vulnerable to. I will be experienceing some form of internal stress or tension, and some disconnection from myself and my wife. I start thinking about a particular porn actress(Start of ritual and good time to create a break). There is an impulse to look at her website, often this is acompanied with some internal conflict. There's an impulse to google her name. I do it (PONR).

The emotions involved are Stress and tension, anticipation, excitment, fear.

In isolating these and making a value based decision, I stop what I'm doing. I Leave the room for a moment so I can be alone. I sit and experience my emotions. I feel good at the fact that I have used this urge as an opportunity for strenghening my value of growing in maturity. I go back into the room and take a moment to reconnect with my wife. I feel good that I've strenghened my boundaries and gained experience in managing an urge. I've kept my integrity.


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