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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 8:28 am 
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Effective Communication Skills in Recovery

Jon Marsh's supplemental lesson on communication has a few thought-provoking passages.

"For most, learning to communicate in a healthy, positive way comes naturally for those who have been raised in a healthy, nurturing environment. With a solid foundation of values, people are free to communicate openly without having to worry about exposing their "secret" selves. This openness is not usually the case for those who have struggled with sexually compulsive behavior. For us, our ability to communicate has often been significantly diminished by our attempts to hide our behavior — including the guilt, shame, embarrassment and other such consequences of that behavior (e.g. prison, affairs, lack of accomplishment, unfulfilled potential, etc.)."

"This is not to suggest that people with addictions cannot communicate. In most cases, it is quite the opposite. Their adeptness at communication is what allows them to continue on with their "other life" without their secrets ever being detected. Their spouses never know, their friends, co-workers. It is their communication skills, and their ability to "say all the right things" and "act normal" around others that lead to their double life. Eventually though, it all catches up to them and they are faced with a potentially catastrophic situation. "

"Romantically compulsive people frequently have the ability to "communicate" on levels that others simply cannot match. They frown upon small talk, and believe it is a waste of time in social settings — preferring instead for deep, meaningful conversations. With small talk, they realize that there is no possibility for an "instant connection" to those they are talking with. It is instead a slow, drawn out process that they feel completely uncomfortable with. It is too unpredictable. Too stressful. They are no longer in complete control of the conversation. While they are engaged in deep conversation, romantically compulsive people have a phenomenal ability to remember all of the lies (both past and current), and to naturally steer the conversations away from topics that might threaten to expose those lies."


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:47 am 
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Five positive statements

Recovery Nation offers a couple prescriptions for handling self-talk.

"1) Every negative self-thought must be challenged. Every time."

"2) Create a list of five important affirmations (positive statements) about you, your life and/or your long-term goals. And every morning for the next forty-four days, read this list to yourself before you leave the house."

Five statements? Hmm. First, I have two sons whom I want to raise to be successful, or at least happy. Second, I have a beautiful wife who is a great friend and supporter. Third, I'm pretty good at writing and speaking. Fourth, my dog loves me. Fifth, I enjoy skiing and diving.

Wow. That was surprisingly difficult. I know it should not have been. But, it was. Could I have done that 14 years ago, before my oldest son was born? How about before I was married? As an adolescent? Perhaps not. And, had I tried to do it back then, would I have become depressed, or would I have considered doing a better job of setting goals and striving for them? This, self-esteem, I believe, is where I really ought to focus my attention, for the sake of understanding the root cause of my infidelity and preventing recidivism.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:02 am 
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Effective Communication Skills in Recovery, part 2

The communication lesson in Recovery Nation has a section saying to be constructive and upbeat when talking about "recovery " online. Okay. Roger.

There's a paragraph saying to find a balance between honesty and empathy when discussing the topic with family and friends. Check.

Jon Marsh says it's wasteful to be anything but honest with your therapist. Check.

He says be alert for events in communication that could trigger old, bad habits. Check.

Now here's some potential food for thought. Marsh says: "There are five communicative trouble areas commonly found in those struggling with compulsive sexual and/or romantic behavior. Some may find that all apply to them, others merely one or two."

"Shyness — Whether learned or genetic, shyness often begins at an early age, disrupting the development of healthy patterns of communication. Like most skills, the earlier the onset, the greater the disruption. Left unchecked, shyness can infiltrate just about every value in that person's life. The consequences can range from isolation to promiscuity; from fantasy to obsession; from depression to apathy."

This caught my attention because I am shy, and I was more shy as a child. And, I do suspect it was related to my problems with isolation, low self-esteem, fantasy, depression, and perhaps apathy too.

"Perfectionism — The need to always say exactly the right thing, or to forever act within the bounds of a particular image. Ironically, this image often parallels their very weaknesses — that of being socially adept. To perfectionists, the pressure to always have the right answer, the right anecdote, the right witty come-back, or the most compelling question — all while maintaining a facade of natural ease — makes regular involvement in social situations intolerable. Their social skills have diminished to the point of performance, rather than a forum for open communication. A performance for which there is no room for mistakes. Often, the perfectionist will guide the conversations to ready-made topics — topics where he/she can be seen as having extreme intelligence, intuition and/or depth (e.g. religion, morality, meaning, death)."

I don't know what to make of this paragraph. It is actually novel. It seems possible I suffered from this kind of perfectionism. It's too soon to rule it out.

"Shame —To someone struggling with addiction, a successful conversation is not when there has been an increase in knowledge, values or opinions, but rather, success is seen when a conversation has been completed and there were no hints given towards revealing their shameful secrets. Often, those who hold onto shame become quite adept at avoiding conversations altogether, or in implementing other techniques for avoiding potential intrusions into their "other world" (e.g. humor, intellectualization)."

This is an intriguing point, but not familiar. I don't think it applies to me.

"Dishonesty — Often, . . . lies are nothing more than a step in the addict's attempt to manipulate their target. Whatever the reason, the consequences are the same: an absence of long-term intimate relationships; an absence of self-respect; and an enormous amount of energy that is spent to avoid detection."

Obviously, I used dishonesty to hide my infidelity

"Confession — The final communicative problem is one that is surprisingly common in addiction, and mentioned earlier in the lesson: that of telling everyone everything about their addiction."

Nope, I don't have that problem.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:37 am 
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Forgiveness

Recovery Nation's chapter on forgiveness seems unfinished. It had some thoughts that seemed more useful for victims of adultery rather than for perpetrators. It also had some thoughts on self-forgiveness. That's not really where I need to focus.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:41 am 
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STDs and Testing

I figured the Recovery Nation chapter on STDs would be redundant. TL and I are already painfully aware that I gave her herpes after contracting it from a prostitute. But, the following passage is a haunting reminder of what I have done.

"One of the most devastating consequences of having engaged in sexually compulsive behavior is the potential that you may have compromised your physical health and/or the health of your partner. What complicates this is the reality that most who engage in such behavior also tend to engage in 'magical thinking' in terms of contracting such diseases. That being, 'they likely won't; don't have an STD and so, there is no need to admit the possibility that they may'. "

This "magical thinking" is real. That's exactly what I did. That concept itself probably suggests further research I can do. How did I let myself engage in magical thinking? I don't really understand it. I must have subconsciously calculated that my insecurity and obsessions were more important to me than health. It's very sad.


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