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christmas day's recovery thread*
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Author:  christmasday [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

Conversion to Weekly Monitoring / Daily Development Process
(per phone with Coach Jon)

Writing this down to see if I’m fully understanding the mechanics of the task, followed by my focus in this first week.

General Guidelines:
1. This needs to be a skill / behavior that I’m trying to build / develop
2. Needs to be stated in a positive way.
3. NOT goal oriented.
4. Maintain awareness of the opportunity to build the skill / behavior throughout the day. Example of a good one: “I will make choices throughout my day which support my improved physical healthâ€ÂÂ

Author:  christmasday [ Tue May 14, 2013 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Very odd to be back at Recovery Nation some 4 years after working through the lessons and regaining my health. My recovery thread got lost in the translation, so trying to pick up from here with thoughts and direction.

In the midst of some significant stressors in my life I went back into old history of coping skills: alcohol, porn and escort x 2, starting around 6-7 months ago. It's hard to even write it. One of the greatest things then happened in my life: I was admitted to the hospital with severe dehydration. The 3 days in the hospital were a great time of reflection for me, looking at what was working in my life and what was not. I came to peace with my career decision (ok, mostly), and knew that I had to be honest with my SO regarding my behaviors. She was shocked, disappointed, emotionally beaten up, and told me I needed to move out of the home we purchased together. She also shared in detail my behaviors with one of my adult children, realizing that this would create a discussion with the other kids as well. For all of the pain the confession created, I still believe it was the right thing to do.

I'm now in a new home that I enjoy very much. It's one of the few value pillars, along with travel and my parents & children still in the picture. Work was a big part of my life from many years. Perhaps too much of me and my ego were invested in the world of work over the course of my career. Last day at work was earlier this month. A big void, but I knew that there was a purpose in forcing the change to a complimentary but different work focus.

Jon's death was hard for a lot of people, most importantly Cristy and the kids. I was 6 months into our coaching when I read the announcement. It seemed surreal when I read it. It couldn't be true. But it was. A week earlier, Jon told me on the phone that he was having irregular heartbeats. I told him he needed to see a cardiologist. I wish I would have insisted and sent him the $$ to do it. I didn't and I continue to regret it to this day.

I had a local counselor, but not someone who knew this subject matter anywhere close to Jon. The $$ for the local counselor were high, and he was great in the "crisis" mode immediately following discovery. But after that, the value was low. My former SO on a couple of occasions suggested group or local pastor for continued work. I didn't feel comfortable with that living in a small town. Reached out to Coach Rain (wonderful person) for her thoughts and guidance. She suggested an individual on this site who did a great job of completing the work. I reached out, but no response. Which I completely understand. There is a time for RN, and there is a time for moving on. But not staying vigilant and working on continued was a mistake. Big mistake.

Met a great counselor this week in a different town, with SA credentials. The drive may get a bit old, but the individual has dealt with personal addiction as well, and is willing to talk about it. The goal is to establish the relationship, understand each other, and then move forward with an on-site men's group coupled with both in-person and Skype counseling from here forward. After telling him my history and story, his response was: "you were only missing one big ingredient: Collaborative Accountability". While I realize some could read that and state "you need to be accountable to yourself", I well understand the value of keeping the topic of health maintenance "top of mind" and vigilant.

Strangely, I'm far more centered today than with discovery 4+ years ago, even though a far larger portion of my value pillars have come crashing down - SO departure, home departure, work departure, ortho injury & rehab, kids reeling from hearing the details, missing my dog ... I've been very committed to my physical and emotional health every since hospital discharge. Diet is far better. Alcohol is gone. Don't miss it, or think about it. I've dropped 30 pounds. Reached out to SO's daughter and apologized for our relationship, how I behaved, and my commitment to address it positively. I've been a kinder, more engaged person to others as well. I feel it.

Surprising to me, in the 28 days between the SO confession and my move out of our home, the relationship with the SO grew closer. We hugged with emotion. We talked. We cried. We were kind and caring to each other, albeit without intimacy. We celebrated the special time of being in bed, not quite time for sleep, in the presence of a very loving and amazing dog. It could have easily been a time of angry silence and stony distance while we counted the days to departure. It was just the opposite.

I know from previous lessons that one of the rallying cries is "abstinence is not recovery." Yep, I agree. I also believe that utilizing multiple models is helpful in life's learnings.


Author:  christmasday [ Wed May 15, 2013 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Self awareness. Stimulation. Both RN and counselor talk about "stimulation" and the need to replace unhealthy with healthy. I haven't felt any desire to engage in what I call unhealthy coping activities.

But I have long had, in my opinion, a high need for work, intellectual, or other activities to stimulate my brain. I wonder if in this digital age we are training ourselves to become a group of ADD individuals. Example: I would frequently check my smart phone for work related email. I find myself doing the same thing today (personal email), but why? Do you think there are urgent emails from work when you're unemployed? High schoolers and college students are even more fixated on their phones and electronic media. It's stimulation. Connection with friends through social media.

But I do feel a void, which feels different than Dec / Jan 2009. In both situations my SO was gone. In both situations, I had a relatively new home to focus on. In both situations I had time off from work. But in this case, I feel a greater void. Likely due to the stimulation (in some cases over-stimulation, and perhaps at time unhealthy?) that I received from my work world. Seems like the concept is the same: replace the unhealthy with a healthy and balanced source of intellectual / work challenges.


Author:  christmasday [ Sat May 18, 2013 6:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Peace. A happy life. It's what we all want. In the present life I find the greatest peace at the beginning or end of the day in reading Jon's words. Much like an older student going back to college, I'm reading Jon's words for content and knowledge, not to "get through it" and get the credential of completing the work. But I also understand the importance of human, live time, connection. It's what I had with Jon, and what I now know is an essential companion to self study.

Current counselor is solid, has had alcohol addiction, but not sexual compulsive behavior. People who have been there, in my opinion, will be much more effective in counseling. I was very connected to Jon through the phone. Gotta believe that Skype / phone will continue to be great tools in the hands of talented people, combined with the work here.

Patience. Learning. ... r-husband/


Author:  christmasday [ Sat May 18, 2013 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

A. Three keys to establishing a successful foundation for permanent change in early recovery are:
1) actively committing yourself to change
2) not allowing guilt/shame to sabotage your commitment to change
3) allowing yourself time to change.

Consider where you feel you are in relation to each of these recovery keys? Briefly share your thoughts in your Recovery Thread.

It feels a bit shallow to state that "this time" I'm really committed to change. It implies that last time I was not. I actually believe I was committed to change. Where I blew it was in long term vigilance and accountability. I thought that I had it. I understood the theory. Shoot, I could even speak it and apply it to other addiction situations of others with my ex-SO (ESO). Unfortunately, I've learned the lesson of vigilance and accountability through a difficult path.

Why do I believe I'm actively committed to change? Health. If you don't have it, you have nothing. Physical health and mental health. Life feels so much better in an environment of solid personal health. And without it, that's all you are able to focus on.

I don't think about guilt / shame near as much as I used to. You can't "un-ring" the bell, turn back the clock, or otherwise un-do what has been done. All you can do is take what you have today (which in my view is the present moment), and do the right thing with it.

I think the hardest thing for me is allowing time to change. My intent is to proceed through these lessons at a reasonable pace, and seek counseling via Skype from individuals who have "been there, done that" and have the insights that come from it. I was kind of negative on the 12 step approach, but after reading more about it, and listening to the Wayne Dyer definition of God, it looks fine to me. And I believe that local group therapy is important in terms of ongoing vigilance and accountability. Combine that with a more active travel schedule, and you could wonder how this is all going to work. Actually, I think the Skype counseling could work very well for someone on the road. Have to work on the group issues.

B. Beyond an active commitment to change, another important factor in determining your ultimate success is your motivation. Look deep inside and list ten to fifteen reasons why you seek to permanently change your life. Don't stop at three or four obvious ones, really examine your life and what is important to you. Phrase these in the positve. For example: " I don't want to keep deceiving my wife" would serve you better if written like "I want to be honest and transparent with my wife". Positive statements have much more power in our mindset than negative ones. List these in your recovery thread.

1. I want to have a healthy, loving, positive relationship with my ESO, or someone else in the future if that is not possible. As strange as it may seem, the last 28 days of our relationship actually felt like a model of what I'm describing. Making time for each other. Truly being in the moment. Planning. It was very nice, I enjoyed it, and I want to experience that again in my life.

2. I want to honestly interact with my children regarding all aspects of my health, and use that openness as a positive development experience for all of us. I observed amazing maturity recently from a colleague when a person in our organization got into legal trouble. As soon as he learned of the issue, he picked up the phone and called the person, stating his confidence in the individual, that help was available, and he cared about the person. In my experience, that rarely happens in work life. Tragically, the person in legal trouble couldn't deal with the public embarrassment, humiliation, and potential loss of job, and committed suicide the next day. The colleague who made the phone call was devastated. But the reason he had the insight to do it was because of family challenges that he experienced, and he understood that good people stumble. The challenge is getting back up. Children can learn from adversity.

3. I want to manage in a healthy way the inevitable stressors which will come into every life. Professional highs and lows, death of friends or family members, health challenges, inevitable relationship issues that require open dialogue and problem solving. Know that the situations are coming. Be ready for them.

4. I'm better at work and supporting others when my life is healthy.

5. I'm more productive when I use my time efficiently vs. in unhealthy and unproductive ways.

6. I have a really wonderful life. I'm blessed with so many positives. Experience it. Live it. Enjoy it.

Author:  christmasday [ Sun May 19, 2013 6:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*


This lesson had a large impact on me 4+ years ago and now. When your life has huge voids, it gives you this feeling of emptiness. It feels awful. And you want to fix it, by positive stimulation. But nothing really seems to be "enough". It's frustrating and the feeling remains. What will get me out of this funk? And then you read this lesson in essence stating: "is this all there is to life?". And the answer is: yes, pretty much this is it. Deal with it. I'm likely not going to be a country music star, or the next MLB knuckleball pitcher at this age. No Nobel Peace Prize nominations. So what is it that you want to do an be? What gives you joy when you reach the goal? What's your vision for the rest of your life, now that you understand the above?

Children. Should I be with ESO, make a difference in her children's lives. Step children seems cold. Better label is bonus children. I had good relationship recovery with one, and it was instructive. It doesn't take necessarily a lot, just honest caring to make a huge difference in a relationship. Stepping back, my relationship with my children is one of the most gratifying parts of my life. It was amazing how they reached out and cared in a situation that had to be confusing and difficult for them. Bonus children on the other hand have been a stressor. But it doesn't have to be. Stepping back, can I create not the same, but a strong relationship with them? Absolutely. It takes caring, time, patience, love.

Physical health. I've done well since April 4th in terms of having much greater awareness and need for a healthy diet. Much more fruit than junk. No soft drinks. No alcohol. Water is the drink of choice, and often. The result has been positive in terms of weight, but need more engagement in daily exercise as well, even if it's just a 30 minute walk after dinner. Leg rehab is huge and many more months.

Kindness and Caring of Others. I was at a wedding last night and during one of the conversations the person stated "of course you won't go there, you're too polite." Kind, caring, polite .... is how I wish to be. And I do feel it in my life today. I took off some time from work to make dinner for my ESO's mom. My ESO was busy. But I knew that it would be important to her mom, and it was. And through that it gave me stimulation and positive feedback. I see people bitter and negative. Complaining. They are less joyful to be around.

Work contribution and making a difference, but understanding the need for balance. When you are done with work, work is done with you and moves on. Don't anticipate a legacy. Keep it in balance, because at the end of work, what you have is your family and friends. Do a good job. Help others, and through your work, help make a difference in people's lives. Fortunately, in my line of work, that connection is easier to see perhaps than other lines of work.

Lifelong learner. Travel and understand better people and our world. Embarking on that this week. Keep your eyes and mind open.

Parents. They won't be here that much longer. Our relationship today is strong, but could benefit by more "reaching out" from my side. Traveling to them vs. having them always travel to me would be nice. Particularly when they are in their summer home.

Relationship. I've hurt my ESO terribly, and I never will do that to her or anyone else. A loving, caring, connected, devoted relationship is so gratifying, and worth whatever work & effort it takes to maintain it. It's not easy. But it is worth it. I've felt it.

Dog. Gives me so much joy and peace. She is pure love and you can see it in those eyes when she looks at me. Teach her new things. Help her experience joys, new smells, and play with others. What a difference she makes in my life.

Friends. This circle is very small, and has almost always focused on work friends. But when work goes away, often so does the social side, unless you have and continue to work on those relationships external to work. A wise man once told me: "in the end, family and friends is all that you will have." I need to invest in relationships to create that short list of close friends.

Author:  christmasday [ Mon May 27, 2013 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Prioritized Values

1. Honesty and integrity
- demonstrated commitment to this value in the face of significant consequences
2. Focus on physical and mental health.
- use metrics developed in the "investment in me" doco to help keep this on track in a measurable way. solid progress on both, but
better definition / detail for both.
3. Support my SO / wife as a partner and best friend in this life. Truly be "better together" in this world.
- better define what this looks like each week / bi-week. this one drifts and needs to be more stuctured.
4. Making a positive difference in the lives of family and friends.
- keep meaningful engagement / contact / vacations with children and bonus children (if appropriate). to have quality friends, i
have to reach out and be a quality friend.
5. Make contributions in my work life which positively helps people that we serve.
- meaningful work is huge for me. chapter 1 was solid, time for chapter 2 focus.
6. Be kind, caring, and thoughtful of others
7. Having an organized and comfortable home / surroundings.
- this is so important for me. previous home often felt like it wasn't mine. this one is, and investment in making it comfortable,
inviting, and consistent with my vision is important for how I feel.
8. Lifelong learning. Always be curious about the world and people.
- so much to learn, engage in, and enjoy in the process. it is so much easier to stay in a local routine than travel. but the richness,
learning, and personal growth is worth the price.

I'm reading a book now which downplays the above types of lists / lofty goals, and places a greater value on specific measurables, so it feels odd to learn that and then create the above list. But I do understand the need for working large to granular.

Author:  christmasday [ Fri May 31, 2013 3:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Patience. God is teaching me patience.

I never really understood why my ESO got so frustrated with her mother. I have now figured it out. I'm traveling in close quarters with 2 other people. Extremely close quarters. Every conversation, 24/7 is in the presence of the 3 of us for 2 weeks. One of the people, whom I love very much, does not say anything of consequence. It's as if I have someone is speaking baby-talk to me 24/7, and feels uncomfortable with silence. And the questions are inane as well. The only attempt at conversations of substance come from repeating positions from Fox News, without understanding the content. Now I get it. Once you are sensitized to the issue, it's more irritating when you hear (and anticipate) the next words of conversation.

Driving in traffic in a foreign country, heavy traffic, with an oversized vehicle. God is working hard to teach me patience.

And I'm doing better. You can use unhealthy emotional responses, or you can use value based responses. You can use scripts to help you with your value based responses. You can address the stress with alcohol at the end of the day (emotional) or you can read a great book and post lessons here. The great part is being aware of feelings, understanding why you're feeling them, and working to manage them through healthy processes. Strangely helpful.


Author:  christmasday [ Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

Sexual abuse as a child. Seems that this is a common thread for many with compulsive behavior. For years I've kind of blocked on the thought, but now I understand that this happened in my youth.

The way I came to this understanding: how would I look at it if I were the adult and did the same thing / similar to my child? Answer: it wouldn't be appropriate.

But I also believe there is a statute of limitations. At this point, I am responsible for me and my behaviors, and that has to be the focus.


Author:  christmasday [ Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: christmas day's recovery thread*

One of the keys to regaining health is becoming much more aware of feelings and why, as well as understanding the "foundations" of how I got here. What I now understand about myself:

1. Abuse in the home occurred as a child.

2. During my formative years (age 14-16), the most influential person in my life was a person named Mike. Mike taught me about porn and shallow relationships. He was proud of shallow relationships. He modeled behavior for me that I thought was "cool", as he was 8-10 years my senior, and we spent a lot of time together.

3. Understanding #1, #2, and my history, it's clear that my immature thinking has occurred over a long period of time.

4. Given #3, it's not going to be a quick fix or self study that is going to get me where I need to be. Jon was an awesome counselor and leader on this site, but sadly, his written resources are the only thing available to me today. As good as they are, I need more.

5. Personal counseling is paramount.

6. 12 steps is paramount. Jon and I discussed 12 steps, and I don't think it was his cup of tea. And it may not be perfect for me in terms of matching up with 100% of my belief systems. But they have a lot more success in this process than I do, and my "Wayne Dyer" definition of God and spirituality can fit nicely with 12 steps.

7. Patrick Carnes is the guru of this behavior. His research states that people who meaningfully complete the program don't repeat.

8. My counselor states that people who meaningfully complete his course of counseling have 90% success. Both #7 and #8 focus on motivation and "meaningful". Jon said the same thing.

I have a clear course of action that I feel good about.

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