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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:04 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Last weekend I told my wife all about my addiction. I had thought
she would throw me out of the house, but she was very compassionate
and understanding. However it is clearly an enormous blow to her
and we will take a long time to work through it. We may work through
the couples recovery thread together.

The disclosure was very hard but was a huge step forward for me I think.
Not having so many secrets buried inside will get rid of a knot of shame
that made the addiction so powerful.


I have found it difficult to complete all the proactive plans from lesson 6.
I have realized the reason for my reluctance to work on these plans:
completing these detailed plans forces me to think about and confront
stresses and issues in my life which I used to deal with using the addiction.
For example feelings of inadequacy in my career, stress related to my career,
and work/life balance, lack of self-confidence in relating to male friends, and so on.
I suppose this is progress and a good thing. I will finish all the proactive plans.


Lesson 13
---------

Quote:
Identify those patterns that you currently recognize
in yourself in relation to a healthy recovery. Post
these observations into your Recovery Thread and/or
Recovery Manager.


These are the patterns that I think apply to me now:

- I have accepted that I have struggled
with certain immoral behaviors that
contradicted their values, but realize that what
matters is what I am doing, not what I
did. I realize that no successful recovery
ever took place by changing the past, only by
changing the present.

- My motivation to recover comes from the
desire to live a life that I can be proud of, and in control of,
rather than a desire to create the illusion of a
life that I can be proud of.

- I make decisions based on what I believe
is the right thing to do, rather than on what
I think they can get away with. I know
that whether these decisions end up being the
right ones or not is irrelevant. That all that
matters is that they were made with the right
intentions in mind.

- "They are not focused on controlling/ending their
past behavioral patterns, but on developing new
patterns that will take the place of those
related to the addiction." This one does not quite
apply, although I am focused on developing new patterns
a lot of my focus is still on preventing the return of
past behavioral patterns.

- I perceive powerlessness as a temporary
term that more accurately describes my lack
of skills in managing their urges. I am gradually
developing more confidence and feeling less and less powerless.

- "Relapse triggers are experienced not as a
threat, but an opportunity." This is true for me to some
extent, I have used triggers as opportunities
to practice new coping skills, and also to gain
insights into whatever internal stress or emotion
may have been involved in the trigger.

- "They recognize that the feelings that they are
experiencing are the same feelings that others
deal with every day in many different situations.
That they are not "defective", but "deficient"."
This is an important shift in viewpoint and in core beliefs,
I think I am starting to make this transition but I
am not completely there yet.

- I identify my future with a healthy person
that once used addiction to manage their life;
not as an addict that is managing their life with
healthy behavior.

- I have taken a long, hard look at anything
associated with my destructive past, and have
voluntarily make the decision to remove these
objects from my life.

- I feel terrible about how I have hurt my wife,
and how difficult it will be for her to work through everything.
I have to do everything I can to help her and to
try to make it up to her.

- None of the patterns listed under "Late Recovery" really
apply to me yet. I do not yet have complete confidence
in my current ability to manage my life. What I do know
is that I will keep working until I get there.


Quote:
Consider the values that surround both your
healthy and unhealthy patterns. Are they consistent
with your current prioritized values? If yes,
wonderful. If not, how might this awareness alter how
you are currently perceiving/managing your recovery?
Share your thoughts in the community forum.



I think the patterns in my life now are all consistent
with my current prioritized values.


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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 10:29 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
1. Did I devote any time to improving my spiritual health today
(quite time to myself to think, get in touch with my emotional
state, keep track of triggers, perhaps listen to music, be in
contact with nature)? If not how many days has it been?

2. Did I engage in activities to maintain my physical health
(exercise)? If not how many days has it been?

3. Did I engage in recovery work and personal growth today
(recovery nation, journal). If now how many days has it been?

4. Did I engage in any compulsive (objectification, scanning, fantasy)
behavior today? Did I create a break as soon as I became aware of
that ritual? Did I identify external or internal triggers?

5. Did I prioritize getting to bed early over watching TV or reading?
Have I planed ahead my work schedule to avoid late nights?

6. Did I derive meaning from interactions with my wife today?
If not how many days has it been?

7. Was I truthful in everything I shared with my wife today?

8. Did I share anything about my recovery with my wife today? If not
how many days has it been?

9. Did I find an opportunity to teach my children something today?
(values, life skills, how to read or bike)

10. Did I spend meaningful time with each of my children
today, focused on their needs rather than mine? If not how many
days has it been?

11. Did I yell at either of my children today? Do I have a plan
for what to do instead of yelling?

12. Did I interact with or contact someone important to me
beyond my immediate family (extended family, friends) in person,
via email or phone? If not, how many days has it been?

13. Did I interact meaningfully with colleagues at work today? If not
how many days has it been?

14. How would I describe my overall emotional balance and stability at
the moment? Do I need to take any action to rebalance myself?


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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 15: Example of integration of something I have learned
into my everyday life:

When I feel a strong urge to scan and ogle a woman a see walking
on the street, I now try hard to identify a source of stress
or strong emotion in what I was thinking about shortly beforehand.
Usually if I can identify the source of stress,
the urge to scan dissipates.


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 Post subject: Lesson 16
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 12:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 16:
----------

Quote:
Consider the POSITIVE role that addiction has
played in your life. What purposes has it served (think
short-term, not long)?


It is hard to think of the addiction having a positive side, but here goes:

During times where I felt inadequacy or shame, acting
out by watching porn or masturbating has caused those
feelings to temporarily go away.

Similarly feelings of loneliness or stress were alievated
for a while when I acted out, it was an escape.

During acting out I felt a very intense high, almost ecstasy;
I am not sure though if this qualifies as a positive role.


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 Post subject: Lesson 17
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 3:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 17
----------

Quote:
Consider a particular compulsive ritual that you
have engaged in. Identify the elements of this ritual
and post them in your recovery thread.



A ritual I have engaged in is masturbating to pornography in my office
at work.



1. I have an exended period of time with no
appointments, an opportunity.

2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door. I imagine
what I am about to do. [Fantasy, Suspense]

3. I decieve myself that I am resisting by not going
immediately to hard porn sites but instead doing searches
for things that will stimulate me that are not quite so hard core,
for example erotic stories, pictures without videos. [Sensory
(visual), Fantasy]

4. This leads inevitably to hard core sites. [Sensory (visual and
sound), Fantasy]

5. I view the videos with headphones, and spend a long time
searching for more and more stimulaing videos. [Suspense, Sensory
(visual and sound)]

6. I start to masturbate. [Sensory (touch)]

7. I download some videos onto my computer for ease of access later
during this episode.

8. I search for videos that I remember from previous episodes. [Past]

9. I watch some of the saved videos again.

10. Eventually it is time to quit, so I pick a favorite video
to use while I bring myself to orgasm. [Sensory (visual, sound,
touch), Orgasm, Accomplishment]

11. I clean up and feel intense shame and failure and helplessness.
I delete everything from my computer. I promise myself never to
do it again. A part of me knows I will not be able to keep
this promise so I feel dishonest as well as despairing.


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 Post subject: Lesson 18
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 10:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 18
----------

Quote:
Consider one of your own compulsive rituals.
Identify circumstances when each of the three filters
(time, habituation and intensity) have come into play.
Make sure that you understand each filter to the point
where you are able to identify them as a ritual is
being performed. Post these personal examples in
your recovery thread.



Ritual of masturbation to pornography.

Habituation:
------------
In the past I used to get stimulated by looking
at pictures online. After a while this was not enough,
I moved on to looking at online videos. Eventually
I moved on again to masturbating while looking at videos.
Then I became used to vidoes and started to concentarate on certain
types of videos that I found more arousing (women with women, anal
sex). At some point I focused on videos involving specific actresses.
Also low quality (resolution) videos were initially sufficient, later
I found I needed higher quality videos to achieve the same stimulation.
Also for my favorite videos, playing them at normal speed
was eventually not sufficient, I would play my favorite parts
over and over in slow motion and frame by frame to maximize my
stimulation. Also early on a short session of looking at videos
would be enough.
Later the sessions got longer and longer as it took longer
to find the videos that would stimulate me sufficiently.
Finally, the frequency of sessions would start at a couple of weeks
apart, and then get more frequent, up to once every several days,
until I would reach a crisis and stop completely for several months or
a year. This happened a few times.


Intensity:
----------
The intensity of my emotional response to the various stages
changed with time. If I had not acted out in a long time
any source of stimulation would be very intense. If I had acted out
recently I would need much more stimulation and stimulation
of specific types to get to the same level of intensity.
The most intense stimulation came from having an orgasm while
watching one of my favorite videos.


Time:
-----
Sometimes videos were so stimulating that I watched them
several times in succession, but more often after one watching
I would have reached the stimulation threshold for that video
and move on to search for others.
I did not reach any time thresholds associated with a session
of viewing pornography, there was always so much more out there
to stimulate me, usually I would stop because of external time
constraints or after having an orgasm.


Last edited by StrivingForHealth on Sat May 18, 2013 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 10:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi StrivingforHealth,

Quote:
2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door.


What do you think triggered this urge?

Quote:
I promise myself never to
do it again. A part of me knows I will not be able to keep
this promise so I feel dishonest as well as despairing.


One thing to consider: the guilt and shame from one ritual can actually be part of the beginning of another ritual.

Quote:
If I had not acted out in a long time
any source of stimulation would be very intense. If I had acted out
recently I would need much more stimulation and stimulation
of specific types to get to the same level of intensity.


Hopefully you can see here how this also is habituation. One important aspect of Lesson 18 is to start seeing how these filters work together: both within an individual ritual (small picture view) and between multiple rituals (big picture view). For instance, habituation within an individual ritual is not necessarily the same as habituation that happens between multiple rituals. These concepts will come up again in the next couple lessons, particularly Lesson 22.

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 10:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Coach Boundless,

Quote:
What do you think triggered this urge?


That's a very good question. These days I find that when I feel a
strong urge to act out, if I try I can usually identify something that
was stressing me out or causing uncomfortable emotions that
acted as a trigger. Identifying the source usually makes the urge
dissipate, so it helps a lot to know that there was a trigger there
not connected with the addiction.

Earlier when I was using porn regularly I was not as aware,
and on many occasions I think there were probably triggers
like work stress that I was not even aware of at the time.
Also as you mention the shame and despair from any previous recent
porn use was also a constant motivation to act out, I was always
conscious of this feeling.

Quote:
One important aspect of Lesson 18 is to start seeing how these filters work together: both within an individual ritual (small picture view) and between multiple rituals (big picture view). For instance, habituation within an individual ritual is not necessarily the same as habituation that happens between multiple rituals. These concepts will come up again in the next couple lessons, particularly Lesson 22.


Yes I can see how this works. I did find the filters idea a little tricky,
I found it helpful to read over other peoples posts on lesson 18
and the forum discussions to get a more concrete idea of how they work.


Thank you for your help and feedback :) Recoverynation has really transformed
my life. I am conscious of the fact that I still have a lot of work to do, but I have
a firm belief now that I will achieve a healthy life.

StrivingForHealth


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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 11:49 am 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Quote:
These days I find that when I feel a
strong urge to act out, if I try I can usually identify something that
was stressing me out or causing uncomfortable emotions that
acted as a trigger.


Yes, exactly. There is some kind of stress that you are trying to balance that is causing the urge. Actually, the urge itself is NOT created by this stress, but rather in response to it. The urge is created by the emotional stimulation that your mind anticipates you will receive if you act out your compulsive behaviour. But this is entirely a learned, ingrained response. You have learned over the years that if you do A, you will feel B (with B usually meaning "better"). But, you can still make any choice at that point...whether to indulge in your compulsive behaviour, or engage in healthy behaviour that gives you positive stimulation. Obviously, the latter is preferable. But this should also tell you something about why a recovery plan of simply avoiding your compulsive behaviours will not succeed...because your compulsive behaviours are a response to your life's stresses, not the problem in and of themselves.

Quote:
Identifying the source usually makes the urge
dissipate, so it helps a lot to know that there was a trigger there
not connected with the addiction.


Why do you think they're not connected to the addiction? :w:

The life stresses that you experience are a part of the addiction. Those stresses create emotions. Your addiction and your compulsive behaviours has developed as a way for you to manage those emotions. Eliminate those life stresses, and there would be no addiction. Of course, to eliminate all life stresses is impossible. Which is why the workshop focuses on teaching you how to manage the ups and downs of life in healthy ways. There is more to it than that, but essentially, if you can learn to manage your emotions and life stresses in a healthy way, addiction will no longer be a factor in your life.

The takeaway point here is that your life stresses, and the ways you've learned to perceive them and manage them, are fundamental to the addiction itself. They are what drive your compulsive behaviours...both external stresses (work stress, family stress, etc.) as well as internal patterns that you may have developed in how you perceive the world that cause you stress as well. Your compulsive behaviours are a response; but, you now know you can choose healthier responses (and in fact, choose healthier ways of living proactively, so that your life doesn't get stressed and unbalanced to the point where you perceive the need to engage in compulsive behaviours).

:g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Coach Boundless,

Quote:
Why do you think they're not connected to the addiction?


Yes you're right, I can see that life stresses are a part of the addiction. What I meant say
is something like this. In the past the urges seemed to come out of the blue, I had
no idea that they were triggered by stresses, to me it seemed that the addiction
was unpredictable and arbitrary and powerful. Now that I can see that there are stresses
and pressures and emotions that act as triggers, the urges seem less mysterious and powerful. To me it is
a little bit like the moment in the Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled aside, and the
frightening wizard is revealed to be just a little man pulling levers. When I said
that the stresses are not connected to the addiction, I really meant that they
were not caused by the addiction, and not arbitrary, inexplicable, frightening
and powerful; they are instead just a normal part of me that I can understand. I can
see that my addiction involved unhealthy ways to deal with the stresses, and that what
I have to do is to find new and healthy ways to deal with them.

:w:

StrivingForHealth


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 Post subject: Lesson 20
PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:48 pm 
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Posts: 93
I have not posted here in some time, in part
due to a crisis at work. I do write
in my recovery journal everyday and also
practice everyday the "exposure and response prevention"
relapse-prevention technique I found on the website
www.feedtherightwolf.org. I plan to continue
working through the lessons here more regularly from now on.


Quote:
Examine your addiction and the role(s) that it has
played in your life to date. Look across your life span
and identify the progression of the addiction, the
sustainment of it, the absence of it and/or the stifling
of it. Look at the major transitions that you have
experienced (childhood to prepubescent teen;
prepubescent teen through teenager; teenager
through young adulthood; young adulthood through
adulthood; explore also any major traumas that you
have endured (parental divorce, sexual abuse, moving
to a new school or neighborhood, etc.) and identify
the role that addiction (or the rituals that eventually
developed into an addiction) played in helping you
through that time period.
Your goal is to develop a fluid understanding of just
how these patterns progressed from early sparks
(harmless fantasy, etc.) to an eventual wildfire (e.g.
addiction).




I was physically abused from my father from about the ages of
three to thirteen. I was terrified of him, anything could set him off.
I remember one evening when I was about 7 sitting
at home feeling relieved it was Sunday, because during the week
I would be at school and have less interaction with him.

I now realize that I didn't know back then that this abuse was wrong
and that I didn't deserve it. Instead, I internalized the fact
that I did deserve it, and I developed a low self-esteem.
Also I developed a tendancy and ability to have a secret internal
world; I would hide all my feelings and thoughts as a safety measure.
My father demanded absolute compliance, no dissent was tolerated.

Looking over the development of the addiction over the course of my
life, it seems to me that the addiction was not the result of
stresses and traumas later in life; instead it grew on fertile soil,
whenever there was opportunity for it to grow, spurred on by any mild
stresses and difficulties. I think the core aspects of my personality
that set the stage for the addiction were molded in my first decade,
by my father.

I remember being aware at a very young age of the shame
associated with nudity, before even knowing anything about sex.
I must have picked this up from my parents.
Shame became a central aspect of my addiction later.

I first masturbated during puberty, and first encountered
a pornographic magazine in my early teenage years. It did not
make a huge impression me a the time. However during my later
teenage years I remember seeking out sex manuals in bookstores,
and sex scenes in movies, for the thrill they would give me.
My first sexual relationship was in my teens, and did not have any
compulsive aspect I don't think; instead it was affirming and
positive. After that relationship ended I went through a period
where I was lonely and had low confidence, racked by self doubt.
During this time my addiction grew whenever there was opportunity,
for example I saw a pornographic movie in a hotel when I was interviewing
for a job. The thrill of pornography provided relief to
my sadness, loneliness and repressed anger. It touched a part of
me that was locked away, that nothing else could touch. But it also
contributed shame.

In my twenties the developing addiction receeded when I was in a very
intense relationship for a period. When that relationship
ended I knew immediately, with a sinking heart, that my relationship
with pornography would resume. It felt inevitable.
Later I started to rent adult videos and masturbate to them,
and to go occasionally to strip shows.

In my late twenties I moved to a distant city for a new job,
and the stress of starting over without a network of friends
contributed to an escalation of the addiction.
I eventually started seeing prostitutes, on several occasions.
One evening I noticed an add for a therapist specializing in sexual
addiction issues, and I knew therapy would help me, so I signed up.
I read several books that my therapist recommended, and
I finally learned about what I was up against, the nature of sexual
addiction. This knowledge and the therapy were helpful -- I stopped
seeing prostitutes -- but not enough. My addiction continued
through pornography use and fantasies and masturbation.
Acting out provided relief from emotional stresses, a temporary
escape from reality, a fix. It was enormously powerful.

One night when I was in my late twenties I realized that my addiciton
was preventing me from developing any serious relationships,
and that it was compromising and undermining my existing
relationships with friends and family members, including my parents.
I decided the price I was paying was just too high,
I vowed to give up pornography for good and threw away my collection
of pornographic videos.


Sometime later I met a wonderful woman
and starting dating her. I was too cowardly to tell her
about my addiction problems, telling myself that they had gone
away and would never come back. We dated for several years, and
the addiction did seem to be gone. Eventually we got married,
and later on the addiction returned, and I started using
pornography again, now on the internet. This continued intermittently
for several years, with periods of a year or two at a time
where I would manage to stop using porn, followed by inevitable
relapses. My wife and I were living apart for several years for
career reasons, which may have been a contributing factor.
I felt enormous shame and self-loathing for doing this and for
keeping it secret from my wife. I felt trapped, unable to stop,
and unable to reveal my secrets for fear that it would cause
the end of my marriage.


Eventually I reached the point where I knew that the addiction
would slowly destroy my life if I did not stop it. I also
knew (because of repeated failures) that I was simply not able
to stop without confronting the addiction and telling my wife.
Finding the recoverynation website was an enormous help in this,
both in making me realize that I needed to tell her and in giving me
the courage to do so. Loosing my marriage was a risk I had to take;
the alternative would eventually destroy me and my marriage anyway.
So I told her. It has now been five months since I have stopped
all compulsive activity, and two months since my disclosure to my
wife. My core beliefs have changed now: instead of despair, now
I believe that the addiction will never come back, and that with a lot
more hard work I will transition to a healthy life.





Quote:
Look to future transitions in your life. Divorce.
Death of a partner. Death of your parents. Death of a
child. Loss of a job. Retirement. Having another
child. Empty-nest syndrome. Consider many different
situations that you will possibly face in the remaining
years of your life. Situations that could potentially
cause major instability to an otherwise balanced,
fulfilling life. Explore the role(s) that addiction could
play in helping you to manage these times. What
would it feel like for addiction to come back into your
life? Would it be a rapid collapse or a subtle
progression? What signs would you look for? What
actions would you take?


Considering these types of future events is scary for me.
I am not yet confident enough in my recovery or life management skills
to really know for sure that the addiction would not return.
Certainly it would be a serious danger. I think a key would
be for me to have people I could discuss my emotions and addictive
urges with, either my wife or someone else. It would be much harder
all on my own. Currently no one else knows about my addiction other
than my wife.


How could addiction help me in such future time? Maybe a little
my temporarily providing escape and distraction. However I think
any return to the addiction would of itself cause an enormous
despair and stress which might rival the original source of stress.
Having the addiction come back is the worst thing I can imagine.
It would make it so much harder to really believe that it can be
defeated and will not always be coming back.


Would it be a rapid collapse or subtle progression?
I'm not sure. I think I am sufficiently aware now that I would
be alert to the danger, it would not sneak up on me unawares.
I know what the warning signs would be: the same urges I still
experience now in times of stress, to ogle pretty women in public,
to search out books about sex in bookstores, to browse on TV
for sex scenes, to fantasize about people past and present...
I think what I would have to do is either lean on my wife for support,
or in cases where that was not posssible (her death or divorce)
I would preemptively join a sexual addicts support group to get the
support I need to prevent a return of the addiction from occuring.
Such a step is a lot easier for me to contemplate now that my
addiction is no longer a secret inside me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi StrivingforHealth,

Quote:
Some others grate on me but I have to do them anyway,
like giving my children baths, especially when they misbehave.


Why does it grate on you, these obligations? And I ask this for a specific reason...but I want to hear what you have to say, then I will come back with something that may change your perspective.

Quote:
None of the rituals had the same emotional charge as sexual rituals.


Yes...and this is one thing that you will get used to as you get further from your rituals. Your healthy activities will never give you the same immediate emotional stimulation as your compulsive rituals. And this is a good thing.

Why? Because the intensity of compulsive behaviour, while being incredibly efficient at balancing your emotions, also makes you very emotionally chaotic. Think of it in terms of waves...like your emotions are waves in the ocean, which ebb and flow. Compulsive behaviour is like sharp, high waves in a tsunami...but what goes up higher must also come down lower. Whereas healthy behaviour is more like calm waves on a sunny day. The point here is that the amount of water remains the same. Your emotional content is the same...it is just that individual compulsive behaviours create much more intense peaks, but also more intense drops...while healthy activities have peaks that aren't as high, but as much calmer, stable, and longer-lasting. As you increasingly get used to this, you will actually find that compulsive behaviour will increasingly make you more uncomfortable, rather than stimulated. It just doesn't feel great to be all that stimulated. Plus, the reason compulsive behaviour is so much more stimulating is due to the underlying value conflicts involved...which combines many emotions, like fear, anxiety, danger, excitement, guilt, shame, and possibly even disgust/repulsion. This is part of what creates the intensity...and healthy activities can't do that. But again, this is a good thing.

Quote:
I do write
in my recovery journal everyday and also
practice everyday the "exposure and response prevention"
relapse-prevention technique


That's good to be journalling; many people find that helpful, myself included. The only thing I will caution you about is the relapse-prevention technique. I've never read of it before (though I do know that ERP is used as a treatment for OCD behaviours), and I'm sure the technique itself is fine. The issue I just want to address is that the focus there remains on relapse prevention, as opposed to personal growth and life management. A relapse prevention plan is definitely necessary; you just want to ensure that it's not the only focus. Or even the primary focus. Basically, a good relapse prevention plan should be there to help you when you are emotionally compromised and out of balance in your life...and act as an objective guide for helping you to get back into balance. Such a plan is developed as part of a lesson later in the workshop. But it shouldn't be your day-to-day focus...as that will cause your recovery to remain focused on the avoidance of your compulsive behaviours, which won't lead to long-term, sustainable recovery and health.

Quote:
Looking over the development of the addiction over the course of my
life, it seems to me that the addiction was not the result of
stresses and traumas later in life; instead it grew on fertile soil,
whenever there was opportunity for it to grow, spurred on by any mild
stresses and difficulties.


Yes, in the way it develops, what happens is those early experiences result in a faulty foundation for your identity in the first place. Note that "faulty" here does not mean "wrong" or "defective", but rather that because of those early traumas, it caused a disconnect from your values that prevented you from grasping early life management skills, which then prevented a transition to mature, adult life management skills later on, which is why all of us were stuck in rather child-like methods of emotional management. Because those early experiences influenced your perceptions, all your future experiences were then filtered through those same faulty perceptions, which continue to get further and further from reality...and then requires more and more artificial compulsive behaviours to manage as you get older and these perceptions create more and more stress. This is how the addiction slowly grows, picking up speed like a boulder rolling down a hill.

One thing I suggest to everyone who does lesson 20: you have described mostly the progress of your sexual behaviours. This is good. But, one thing to think about is, as you look at the progress of your addiction...consider what was going on in your life at the time of major progressions (or regressions). Almost certainly, you will find that at times that were stressful or out of balance, your addiction progressed...either you added new behaviours, made old behaviours more intense, were acting out for longer periods of time, etc. Or, when things were going well, it may have regressed too. You seem to understand this from your post, which is great...as this is one lesson that serves to de-mystify the addiction. Your addiction developed as an emotional management tool. Learn to manage your emotions and your life (and they are entirely connected) in healthy ways, maintain awareness of when you are getting out of balance and take action to right yourself, and you will eliminate addiction from your life. There is more to it than that in other areas...but that is recovery in a nutshell.

Quote:
I think I am sufficiently aware now that I would
be alert to the danger, it would not sneak up on me unawares.


Don't fool yourself. And I don't say this to challenge you...I say that we have probably all said this at some point. But, these patterns can be very insidious, even when you have significantly ramped your awareness up. Usually what will happen is that there will be a series of minor boundary violations (like scanning, fantasy, etc.) that will go unattended (ie. "eh, that's not such a big deal"), to go along with a series of small stresses that go unmanaged that slowly build up, which eventually can culminate in a slip/relapse, where the person then slaps themselves seeing "why didn't I see it?" But usually, the signs are there...and can be for days, weeks, even months in advance of the actual slip. And it can be very easy to ignore them, thinking that "nothing will happen"...until something happens.

My point here is not to induce some anxiety-strained state of constant vigilance, to where life no longer has any enjoyment. That's not the point. Just that, this is why your daily (and eventually, weekly and monthly monitoring) is important...so that these little issues can get recognized and attended to before they cause bigger problems.

Anyways, keep at it. :g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Boundless,


Quote:
Why does it grate on you, these obligations? And I ask this for a specific
reason...but I want to hear what you have to say, then I will come back with
something that may change your perspective.


I'm not completely sure. Really I should cherish my time
with my children. I guess it is partly the lack of agency and control,
these are things that I must do at the same time every day, not
when I feel like it. Also my kids tend to dawdle which can be
frustrating. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.



Quote:
Yes...and this is one thing that you will get used to as you get further from your rituals. Your healthy activities will never give you the same immediate emotional stimulation as your compulsive rituals. And this is a good thing.

Why? Because the intensity of compulsive behaviour, while being
incredibly efficient at balancing your emotions, also makes you very
emotionally chaotic. Think of it in terms of waves...like your
emotions are waves in the ocean, which ebb and flow. Compulsive
behaviour is like sharp, high waves in a tsunami...but what goes up
higher must also come down lower. Whereas healthy behaviour is more
like calm waves on a sunny day. The point here is that the amount of
water remains the same. Your emotional content is the same...it is
just that individual compulsive behaviours create much more intense
peaks, but also more intense drops...while healthy activities have
peaks that aren't as high, but as much calmer, stable, and
longer-lasting. As you increasingly get used to this, you will
actually find that compulsive behaviour will increasingly make you
more uncomfortable, rather than stimulated. It just doesn't feel great
to be all that stimulated. Plus, the reason compulsive behaviour is so
much more stimulating is due to the underlying value conflicts
involved...which combines many emotions, like fear, anxiety, danger,
excitement, guilt, shame, and possibly even disgust/repulsion. This is
part of what creates the intensity...and healthy activities can't do
that. But again, this is a good thing.


I like your wave analogy, it makes sense.


Quote:
That's good to be journalling; many people find that helpful, myself
included. The only thing I will caution you about is the
relapse-prevention technique. I've never read of it before (though I
do know that ERP is used as a treatment for OCD behaviours), and I'm
sure the technique itself is fine. The issue I just want to address is
that the focus there remains on relapse prevention, as opposed to
personal growth and life management. A relapse prevention plan is
definitely necessary; you just want to ensure that it's not the only
focus. Or even the primary focus. Basically, a good relapse prevention
plan should be there to help you when you are emotionally compromised
and out of balance in your life...and act as an objective guide for
helping you to get back into balance. Such a plan is developed as part
of a lesson later in the workshop. But it shouldn't be your day-to-day
focus...as that will cause your recovery to remain focused on the
avoidance of your compulsive behaviours, which won't lead to
long-term, sustainable recovery and health.


Thanks for this helpful advice. I knew that I should transition
away from the daily ERPs at some point, but I was not quite
sure when, and I was keeping them up out of caution.
I think I'll transition to doing them every couple of days, and
gradually phase them out. I have found them very helpful,
particularly right after I stopped acting out.

Basically the technique has a couple of steps: First, type some terms
into a search engine, but do not press the enter key, so that you are
just one keypress away from accessing porn. This near-acting-out
can cause physical reactions like increased pulse rate.
Second, do some deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and body.
Third, read over a file with a list of reasons to not act out and stay
healthy (I use my RN list of values for this together with some other
affirmations). Fourth, give yourself a reward of some healthy
activity -- I usually go for a run.

In the past when I would try to defeat the addiction by
white-knuckling, I was always frustrated by the fact that
at the start I would be charged up with energy and determination,
but what could I pour that energy and determination into?
Back then (before I had learned more) defeating the addiction
meant not acting out, and how do you pour energy into not doing
something? All I could do was to wait, to try to save up my energy
for whatever time later the urge would strike, and hope that the
energy had not dissipated away by then.
This is one of the great things about the RN recovery program --
there is something positive you can pour your energy into,
you don't have to wait for the addiction to strike in order to fight
it. Similarly for the daily ERPs, you can work at them at a time
of your choosing. I found that they tapped into the strong emotional
charges and patterns of the addiction, but in a positive way that
disrupted the addictive cycle, and set up a new habit that can be a
resource in times of danger or stress.

Anyway I agree with you that now it is better to save most my energy and
focus for developing life management skills, and look to the future
rather than the past.


Quote:
Yes, in the way it develops, what happens is those early experiences
result in a faulty foundation for your identity in the first
place. Note that "faulty" here does not mean "wrong" or "defective",
but rather that because of those early traumas, it caused a disconnect
from your values that prevented you from grasping early life
management skills, which then prevented a transition to mature, adult
life management skills later on, which is why all of us were stuck in
rather child-like methods of emotional management. Because those early
experiences influenced your perceptions, all your future experiences
were then filtered through those same faulty perceptions, which
continue to get further and further from reality...and then requires
more and more artificial compulsive behaviours to manage as you get
older and these perceptions create more and more stress. This is how
the addiction slowly grows, picking up speed like a boulder rolling
down a hill.


Yes I can see that now. In hindsight it is amazing how I went through
large parts of my life not being aware of how some fundamental aspects
of my identity were functioning.


Quote:
Don't fool yourself. And I don't say this to challenge you...I say
that we have probably all said this at some point. But, these patterns
can be very insidious, even when you have significantly ramped your
awareness up. Usually what will happen is that there will be a series
of minor boundary violations (like scanning, fantasy, etc.) that will
go unattended (ie. "eh, that's not such a big deal"), to go along with
a series of small stresses that go unmanaged that slowly build up,
which eventually can culminate in a slip/relapse, where the person
then slaps themselves seeing "why didn't I see it?" But usually, the
signs are there...and can be for days, weeks, even months in advance
of the actual slip. And it can be very easy to ignore them, thinking
that "nothing will happen"...until something happens.

My point here is not to induce some anxiety-strained state of constant
vigilance, to where life no longer has any enjoyment. That's not the
point. Just that, this is why your daily (and eventually, weekly and
monthly monitoring) is important...so that these little issues can get
recognized and attended to before they cause bigger problems.



This is very helpful to know. I have had some minor boundary
violations like you describe, so I do need to be very careful and to
work at it. As you say the key is emotional management, I'm working
at this and I think I'm gradually getting better. I'm finding the
goal of deriving meaning from six or seven of my top values each week
to be very helpful in keeping my emotions on an even keel.


Thanks as always for all your helpful feedback :w:

StrivingForHealth


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 Post subject: Lesson 21
PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:15 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 21
---------
Quote:
What large goals have you attempted in your life
and failed? Why do you suppose you failed?


I tried for many many years to overcome my addiction
and stop using pornography. Before this year I always eventually
failed. I now realize that I failed because I was trying
a method that is doomed to failure: burying the addiction,
keeping it a secret, trying to white-knuckle through the urges.
I read in many places that this method does not work, but I
had to learn this for myself the hard way before I was ready to try
a different method.


Quote:
What large goals have you attempted in your life
and succeeded? Why do you suppose you were able to
succeed?


In my career I was successful in getting the kind of job I wanted.
I was sucessful in part because I am lucky enough to be talented
at what I do, and in part because I worked very hard, probably too
hard, my life at that time was not very well balanced.

I convinced my wonderful girlfriend to marry me. I suceeded because
our relationship was the most important thing in my life,
my heart and soul were in it, I loved her (and still do).


Quote:
List one recovery goal that you have and break it
down into as many smaller, measurable tasks as
necessary for you to manage it successfully. If you
find this difficult, then you are probably starting off
with too general of a recovery goal. Make it specific.



I will finish working through all the lessons in my recoverynation
recovery thread before the end of this calendar year.
This will require me to keep working steadily through all
the lessons (I have not been going very fast), at least 2 or 3 per
week.


Last edited by StrivingForHealth on Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:35 pm 
Offline
Recovery Coach

Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi StrivingforHealth,

Quote:
I'm not completely sure. Really I should cherish my time
with my children. I guess it is partly the lack of agency and control,
these are things that I must do at the same time every day, not
when I feel like it. Also my kids tend to dawdle which can be
frustrating.


I'm glad you touched on the point I was trying to make. How many people out there get frustrated at things like this...then go on to later in life to lament that they didn't treasure the time they had when their kids were kids? So, think of this awareness as fantastic. You are now aware of this while you still can cherish this time. But, this will take a shift in perspective...and one that will ultimately serve your entire recovery well.

The lack of agency and control could be the case. But why do you have a lack of control? You're still the adult. If you examine yourself, I would bet that most certainly, this comes down to selfish thoughts. "Why do they have to annoy me?" "I wish I was doing something else right now." Even potentially frustration with not knowing how to handle the situation...which can be learned. But by thinking these things, you take yourself out of just enjoying the moment. You are constantly thinking of the future...of how you wish you were doing something else or being somewhere else...rather than living in the present. This creates anxiety...which previously, has been something that you managed through acting out.

Hopefully you see where I'm going here. See this time as a time you get to spend with your children, not thinking about work or other obligations, but just being with them, and potentially having fun yourself. The same goes for many other instances, not only with you kids, but in the rest of your life as well. With a slight change in attitude, you can see this as something you enjoy doing, something that makes you happy and fulfilled....rather than a source of anxiety and stress. Huge difference, no? And one that, if you generalize to other areas of your life, will make a massive difference to your recovery and life.

Your kids are certainly not dawdling with the intention to annoy you. They're dawdling because...well, they're kids. That's what they do. They have short attention spans. They are having fun and playing. They are being kids. Allow them. And, allow yourself to be a child once again (in a good way) with them. Splash around. Make a mess. Laugh. You won't regret it. This obviously doesn't mean there is no place for discipline (again, I understand that it can occasionally be trying on one's patience). But one thing people tend not to consider is how your own perceptions and actions can affect situations. Perhaps if you take the initiative to be more fun and playful during this time (and others)...your kids will respect it more when you say "okay, time to finish the bath" and won't dawdle so much. And even if they do...it's probably not as big a deal as your mind is making it. Remember, they're kids; you're the adult. I hope you see what I'm getting at here (which is applicable far beyond just this issue).

Realize your actions here could be the difference between your kids looking back later in life and seeing bath time as a time where dad got frustrated with them...and something that is a fond memory with you, where they really felt loved.

Quote:
Basically the technique has a couple of steps: First, type some terms
into a search engine, but do not press the enter key, so that you are
just one keypress away from accessing porn. This near-acting-out
can cause physical reactions like increased pulse rate.
Second, do some deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and body.
Third, read over a file with a list of reasons to not act out and stay
healthy (I use my RN list of values for this together with some other
affirmations). Fourth, give yourself a reward of some healthy
activity -- I usually go for a run.


Yes, I can understand why this works for some. However, on the flip side, you are also directly putting yourself into the danger zone...and I would imagine some aren't always successful. What we teach here (later on in the workshop) is similar to this, but is focused on mental visualization (where you visualize a situation like this, then visualize playing out your healthy action plan).

Quote:
In the past when I would try to defeat the addiction by
white-knuckling, I was always frustrated by the fact that
at the start I would be charged up with energy and determination,
but what could I pour that energy and determination into?


Yes, exactly. This is why recovery strategies that focus solely on avoidance of the compulsive behaviours can be successful in the short-term, but are doomed to fail in the long-term. It gives you nowhere to go...except another day of abstinence. What kind of life is that?

Quote:
This is one of the great things about the RN recovery program --
there is something positive you can pour your energy into,
you don't have to wait for the addiction to strike in order to fight
it.


Yes, I see what you mean here...but just to get you thinking: what exactly are you fighting? Certainly not addiction.

What I mean by this is regarding how addiction always comes back to emotional management. There is no "addiction" that is "striking"...at least not some kind of "beast" which is how people sometimes perceive addiction, as something separate from themselves. Rather, you experience stress and emotional imbalances, just like everyone else...and you have learned over the years to manage those emotional imbalances through your compulsive behaviours. Those behaviours have become ingrained as effective ways to manage those emotions (at great long-term cost). Again, there is more to it than that (in how these patterns distort your identity and perception over time) but addiction fundamentally boils down to managing emotions.

Hence another reason why abstinence-only recovery programs will not work. Even those who successfully avoid their behaviours through willpower usually relapse at some point...either with their original behaviours or by switching to other compulsive behaviours. You cannot just force your emotions away forever, nor is that healthy. Everyone has emotions. It is a normal part of being alive. This is why you must attack the underlying patterns of the addiction, rather than focus on the behaviours themselves (which are merely a symptom), as well as replace those patterns with healthy behaviours.

So "addiction" is not separate from "you"....nor is it you. This can take people some time to wrap their head around. I know I covered a lot of concepts there, and if this still seems confusing, it should start to make more sense after you get through the lessons on emotions. Ask questions to clear things up.

I hope this was helpful. :g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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