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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:56 am 
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Poly-Addictions & Switching

Lesson 67 of Recovery Nation says: “a) List the most likely behavior that you will need to monitor for potential 'switching' and/or compulsivity now that the sexual rituals have subsided. b) Are these listed anywhere on your weekly monitoring so that you can objectively assess them?”

I recall that I’ve recently categorized my “compulsions” as either responses to nighttime restless energy, self-protecting cowardice, comfort-seeking inflexibility, or obsession with feelings of inadequacy. The value in categorizing these behaviors is to remember that while some may not fit easily into the standard language about compulsions, some do. This question is a good example. Three of these categories just don't fit with the question.

One does: compulsive responses to nighttime restless energy. In the bad old days, I used porn, masturbation, prostitutes, and affair partners to address that energy. There were also occasions at the beginning of our marriage when I expected my wife to help me address that energy by giving me sex without proper emotional context, an approach that made her question my motives for initiating sex with her even after I stopped the negative approach. Later, after D-day, there was an unfortunate period when I used tobacco instead of sex to address that restless energy. Now, I think I have good self-control regarding my approach to that restless nighttime energy. But, I do need to monitor myself to be sure I don't turn to alcohol, food, or any other inappropriate means of addressing that energy.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:52 am 
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Anger and Rage

The inclusion of a chapter on anger management in Recovery Nation struck me as random. But, the following passage from Lesson 68 made me think:

“Emotional immaturity is a constant in fantasy addictions (sexual addiction, porn addiction, love addiction). Not that people with addictions can't experience emotions (in fact, they are usually experienced as being more intense than ‘healthy’ people), it is just that they lack the ability to manage their emotions in healthy, productive ways. And so, they live crisis to crisis…or, when they experience emotional discomfort (e.g. stress, shame, boredom, pressure, expectation, etc) they seek to escape into ‘pleasantville’. I’ve coined this state 'delusional actualization'—which is exactly what it is…the feeling of being actualized through fantasy—hence, the delusional part. It is not real.”

Let's ignore, for a moment, my continued rejection of the term “addiction” in my case. What interests me in that passage is the idea that behaving compulsively with porn or sex, as in the type of compulsive actions I relate to nighttime restless energy, may suggest I was experiencing emotions too intensely rather than not experiencing them. This intrigues me. There is more than a hint of truth in it, I think. Perhaps I got more agitated, or allowed myself to feel more agitated, than a mature or healthy person would in the face of boredom, expectation, or stress.

I don't think I have an anger management problem. Did I? Maybe. At least, there may have been a few memorable moments when I did not handle anger well. Or, more likely, moments when I allowed anger to develop or persist in ways that were not normal or healthy. Either way, the following line also intrigues me: “You develop that foundation for mature emotional management and you will see that your irrational anger will vanish.”

Lesson 68 says “Map out your own anger rituals in the same way you did your sexual rituals long ago. Look for patterns in relating to your partner, coworkers, friends, yourself...where anger is triggered and you find it difficult to disengage from that anger.”

Two things immediately come to mind here. I don't know that they can be called rituals, but perhaps they can be. First, I remember an incident 22 years ago when I got irrationally upset at a gas station when they said they could not accept a credit card or something like that. I don't recall the details. I do recall behaving like a child or a crazy person, expressing my frustration in a very futile and embarrassing temper tantrum. That's a memorable and severe example in my mind. I think there have been other, less severe, and less memorable examples too. I'm not sure.

Second, I used to get angry over perceived sleights – from a colleague, a schoolmate, a taxi driver or clerk, and perhaps others. It's not that I no longer get upset when someone is rude or difficult. But, now I try not to take it personally, try not to dwell on it, and try to put it into perspective. Five or ten years ago, I think I was too sensitive to these incidents, did not have a healthy perspective, and spent too much time and energy on my anger and too little time and energy on focusing on healthy priorities.

Can I map these incidents? These two categories are a bit different. The first does not offer much to map. I got angry, and I failed to control it. The second, however, lends itself slightly better to mapping. Step one was getting angry and failing to control it. Step two was continuing to ruminate on it.

“Can you identify the elements of these rituals where you actively intensify the stimulation that is experienced?”

I’m not sure this is what the question intends. But, I suspect I inadvertently intensified my anger by dwelling on it, ruminating on it, not letting it go.

“Do you think that 'creating a break' upon the awareness of these anger rituals will allow you to slow the situation enough to allow your values to take over? Why or why not?”

The “break” in anger for me these days comes from humility and gratitude. I’ve learned humility, after all these decades, by feeling the consequences of my bad decisions. Now, I am constantly aware of humility. As for gratitude, I learned that frequent thoughts of gratitude are a healthy balance to unhealthy thoughts such as anger.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:40 am 
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Victim Awareness

Lesson 69 of Recovery Nation says: “The first issue to consider in making amends is who you should make amends to.” Answer: my wife and my sons.

“Once you have such a list, consider the specific ways that you have impacted this person's life. Write down some of the more serious consequences in this person's life as a result of your actions.”

Answer: I think the best place for me to start here is to review the apology I wrote my wife in recent years, the one that covered a long list of consequences. Upon reviewing that, I really think it is the most thorough treatment of the topic that I can write.

“The next step in making amends is to go through the list and determine which people have been so significantly affected by your actions that some type of mending is needed.”

Answer: my wife and my sons.

“Now comes the hardest part of making amends, determining who, of the remaining individuals on your list, would actually benefit from further action by you...and which might be further traumatized.”

Answer: my wife and my sons.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:54 am 
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Healthy Guilt and Shame

Lesson 70 of Recovery Nation did not have exercises or homework. The point seems to have been that some people should avoid being immobilized by guilt and shame at the beginning of recovery work, and that here near the end of Recovery Nation’s lessons they should reconnect with guilt and shame and use them as warning signals. Coincidentally, about a week ago my wife and I discussed the need for me to verbalize when I encounter a shameful reminder of my sins. Examples include reading or overhearing something that recalls a place or method of my sins. For example, given that one affair partner was a Filipina domestic worker, the frequent sight of Filipinas in our current environment is a reminder, both to me and to my wife, of my selfish, hurtful past behavior. I need to recognize such reminders, both inside my head and out loud.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:04 am 
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Permanent Recovery = Ongoing Awareness

Lesson 71 of Recovery Nation also came without exercises or homework. It's point seems to have been that relapse is not a problem as long as one's commitment is constant and never gives way to complacency, laziness, or arrogance.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 4:05 am 
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Health Monitoring V

Lesson 72 of Recovery Nation says: “Once you have achieved this weekly monitoring for six months post-addiction, consider expanding your monitoring to once every two weeks for six months. Then to once a month for several years. Another consideration in 'fine tuning' your Monthly Monitoring is to generalize the content of your assessment.”

Here's what I said about health monitoring recently, in lesson 63:

“Back in Lesson 35, I said I should do the following each week: ‘evaluate myself on whether and how I made my wife, sons, and dog my highest priority for my time and energy during the week.’ Also, I wrote myself a note and placed it near my cuff links, which I use every morning. The note said: ‘I will think of supporting TL before anything else today.’”

“How have I been doing on that? I think I have been inconsistent. I’ve had good days and not so good days on this topic. And, the note near my cuff links has really not helped. So, yes, I think the weekly monitoring on this topic is still necessary and adequate for strengthening my value system. But, it appears I need a new means of ensuring I remember and adhere to this goal each day and each week. Instead of relying on the note near my cuff links, I will start sending myself a daily electronic reminder each morning with the phrase ‘family first.’”

Lesson 63, and even lesson 35, were not that long ago. I think I need more time turning this good practice into a good habit. I think I should wait several months before dropping the frequency of my monitoring to anything less than daily. In some regards, it shouldn't be too high of a demand, because I’m really only monitoring one variable, albeit a super important variable on which many other things depend.


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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 9:09 am 
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Leaving Addiction Behind

Lesson 73 of Recovery Nation, the last of the numbered lessons, says: “The following checklist should help you assess where you should be at this point in your recovery. At this point in your recovery, you should possess the following insights/skills:”
• “You should be experiencing a significant decline in the frequency of compulsive sexual/romantic urges. Experiencing one or two per month would be ideal. Experiencing no compulsive urges whatsoever is not natural.” CHECK Referring back to what I wrote in lesson 64, let me use the following key words as a mnemonic aid: restless, inadequate, defense, and control. Is it approximately one or two times a month now that I am faced with an urge to channel restless nighttime energy improperly, obsess on feelings of inadequacy, act with dishonesty or cowardice for the sake of self protection, or be inflexible attempt to control my time? Yes, that's a reasonable estimate.
• “You should be comfortable in isolating each individual urge you experience — as it is experienced.” CHECK
• “You should have no existing triggering material in your possession and should have no 'secret stash' of destructive links, images or other stimuli that you can gain access to.” CHECK
• “You should have your self-awareness enough to know whether you are being absolutely honest with yourself about whether or not a particular stimuli is destructive.” CHECK
• “You should possess the ability to understand the general flow of emotions in a single compulsive event.” CHECK
• “You should be able to recognize the critical time in a compulsive urge where you are capable of logical and/or predetermined decision-making (e.g. engaging in a mechanical decision-making process or deferring to an existing action plan).” CHECK
• “You should have a clear understanding of the Urge Control process.” CHECK
• “You should have a clear understanding of the Decision-Making process.” CHECK
• “You should have a comprehensive Relapse Prevention Plan in place that addresses not only the most common behavioral patterns, trigger patterns and signs/symptoms of an unbalanced life, but that has objective, precise actions to take should the need arise.” CHECK Lesson 62, and follow-up comments, contain my six relapse action plans.
• “You should have documented Action Plans in place for all of your most likely compulsive behaviors/triggers.” CHECK Lesson 59, and follow-up comments, contain my six relapse action plans.
“Additionally, you should have at least partially developed the following:”
• “You should possess at a minimum, a fuzzy understanding of how the individual pieces of the workshop come together to form a cohesive addiction recovery strategy.” CHECK Yes. I think it's basically using values instead of emotions to make decisions and using action plans for prevention and urgent intervention.
• “You should have a mechanical awareness of the individual pieces presented in the workshop, but not necessarily a functional one. This functionality will be developed in the next phase of the recovery process.” CHECK Hey, wait. What next phase? Where is that?
• “You should be experiencing mild to moderate anxiety/doubt about your ability to sustain long-term, healthy change.” CHECK Does this sentence mean “mild to moderate” as opposed to “severe?” If so, I agree.
• “You should feel some apprehension in anticipating your first real test to your recovery — usually related to either complacency or the recognition that secrets/dishonesty remain a part of your life management repertoire.” CHECK Does this sentence mean “some” as opposed to “severe?” If so, I agree.
• “You should have started to prepare for this test, though confusion should persist as to just what this 'test' will look/feel like.” CHECK
• “You should be getting in the habit of engaging in multiple mental role-playing sessions (lasting a few minutes each, several times per day) with the goal of furthering your awareness and ingraining healthy skills into the compulsive process.” CHECK I do need to improve, in terms of making this role-playing a deliberate, planned, prioritized routine. Perhaps each day as I begin my daily “recovery” work, I should think through one role-play, based on some scenario that could have arisen in the recent past or that could arise in the future.
• “You should have a list of solid, functional values that contains at least seven items. Each of these values should be capable of providing you with strength, stability and focus when called upon.” CHECK For these values to be useful, I think I ought to be able to list them from memory. Here's my attempt: family, integrity, honesty, health, mindfulness, compassion, and empathy.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 7:37 am 
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Your Unique Path through Recovery

I read the supplemental lesson called “Your Unique Path through Recovery” in Recovery Nation. Its main point was that people who use compulsive behaviors to cope with life are more alike than they are different. The compulsions rob you of your individuality. Leaving the compulsions behind frees you to develop your individuality.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:29 am 
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What is Love Addiction

I don't really think I have or had what Jon Marsh calls love addiction. But, I read the relevant supplemental lesson in Recovery Nation to be sure. Marsh listed his own symptoms. Here they are, with my thoughts on whether I experienced them.
• “The relationships all involved instant intimacy.” In my marriage and in other relationships did I proceed to intimacy instantly? If that means physical intimacy, then no, I did not. If it means emotional intimacy, maybe. Maybe it is my habit to either awkwardly avoid women or, alternately, to approach them with slightly more emotional intimacy than would be considered normal. I'm not sure. In any case, I now make a conscious effort to avoid emotional intimacy with any woman except TL.
• “Most required an intense, deeply-rooted need to have them like me. To tell me they love me. Until that happened, most actions within the relationship were geared towards achieving that goal.” This does seem familiar.
• “There was a sense of desperation involved with establishing/maintaining the relationship.” Maybe.
• “As the relationships began to lose their intensity…so too went the feelings of 'love'.” Maybe.
• “There was a willingness to sacrifice any and everything for the relationship to succeed.” Though I didn't recognize it at the time, in retrospect, my approach to some relationships did seem that way.
• “When the relationship would end while that intensity was still intact, I would experience a completely inappropriate sense of rejection, failure and desperation.” I don't believe this ever happened to me.
• “There was a completely unrealistic perception of the person's qualities at the beginning of the relationship; completely unrealistic expectations of their abilities towards the end.” This does seem familiar.
• “There was an intense, constant hypersensitivity/pressure within the relationship; and a constant need for reassurance.” Maybe. Perhaps that fits with some examples of me being overly or awkwardly jealous or possessive.
• “Many relationships were brief, intensely emotional sexual relationships, to experience the aura of that initial love and awe.” No, that doesn't seem to fit.
• “In many relationships, there was an obsessive nature behind my acts - constantly checking up on my partners to assure that they weren't cheating on me.” This may fit with my awkward, outsized jealousy, including retroactive jealousy.
• “In many relationships, there was a considerable, hair-triggered sense of jealousy - which was triggered from the fear of them meeting someone 'better' than me and/or leaving me.” Yes, I guess that's true.
• “In many relationships, there was the need to be the end-all to their existence. Healthy boundaries…mutual growth…partnership? No idea what you are talking about.” Yes, I think I did this.
• “In several relationships, experiencing incredibly intense, emotional devastation that lasted for years after the relationship ended. The inability to let go. That I couldn't live my life without that person.” No, this never happened.
Marsh says: “ . . .[B]ecause the root of most love addiction can be found in early relationships (childhood trauma involving . . .parental . . . domination/extreme performance pressure), the foundation of the healthy transition must involve a commitment to relearn/rebuild healthy relationships - which may or may not include the need to rebuild sexual values/boundaries. In sexual addiction, the foundation is to relearn/rebuild healthy sexual values/boundaries - and then to integrate those skills into healthy relationships.”

Marsh then lists his standard recommended steps for addressing sex addiction, which I’ve done, and says, “For love addiction, the path would be similar, but the following areas would need to be added:”
• “The need to initially isolate yourself from all obsessive relationships (in which the target is an active participant in the relationship).” I’ve done this, unless it's possible to say that I behaved obsessively in my relationship with TL, my wife, too. In fact, I think that I was obsessive toward TL, and that overcoming that view of her has been an important part of improving myself as a person and improving our relationship since D-day. I used to treat her as a possession, putting unrealistic expectations on her. Now, I'm learning to treat her as a true friend and individual, something I never really understood nor valued in my earlier years.
• “The ability to redefine yourself as an individual.” Yes, this is a challenging, ongoing, and crucial task for me. It's something I should have done as a child or adolescent, but perhaps didn't do fully or properly.
• “The need to redefine the health/boundaries of all existing relationships early on in the recovery process.” Yes, this is done.
• “Learning the role that others play (both consciously and subconsciously) in actively prolonging your unhealthy behavioral patterns/addiction.” I think this is done.
• “Learning the role that society plays in encouraging/promoting love addiction (society actively recruits sexual addicts for profit; it promotes love addiction as an actual value to be admired/emulated - this is an important distinction).” Yes, this is done, and it us a helpful reminder.
• “Learning the process of redeveloping healthy relationships from ones that were once obsessive.” Right, I think that is what I am doing regarding my relationship with TL.
• “Dealing with loss as a choice, versus a consequence.” I don't think this particular line item is relevant for me.

Marsh says, “Love is a universal need/experience in all healthy individuals. It is not like alcohol or porn - where the behaviors can be seen in terms of absolute abstinence. So, while past factors that led to the development of a love addiction cannot be permanently removed, the ability to develop permanently mature, healthy life management skills - and thus eliminate the need for that addiction - is most certainly attainable.” This suggests to me that “love addiction” might not even be the right term. Maybe a more accurate term would be “relationship addiction.”


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:35 am 
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Your Search for Meaning by Jonathan Marsh
I read the supplemental lesson called “Your Search for Meaning” in Recovery Nation. It does not include exercises or questions. It is just a lecture. But, it is encouraging. Just as I have put real emphasis on spirituality in my life since D-day, Marsh describes his own individual approach to it and how it helps with changing compulsive or hurtful behavior patterns. I hate to just quote large portions of what he wrote. But, aside from his habitual disregard for English grammar and syntax, Marsh did a pretty good job of capturing some thoughts I found helpful. Here they are:

“Developing your own understanding of "why you are here" can be a tremendous source of strength, guidance, energy and stability in your life. From a strictly "recovery" standpoint, it is not important what you believe, only that you do believe.”

“Having a clear understanding of the reason for your existence allows you to not take yourself so seriously. It allows you to keep your perceptions in perspective.”

“Being agnostic for many years, I searched for answers my entire life. I studied anthropology, world religions…talked endlessly to stout Christians, Muslims…I wanted desperately to "feel" God in my life. When I was truly honest with myself, I knew that that feeling had never come. In reading the Bible, I just couldn't get past the thoughts that it was man's word I was reading, not God's. And knowing how manipulative, controlling, selfish and domineering man has been throughout the ages…I was not too receptive to the Bible's messages. Was I sincere about wanting to feel Him? If you have completed the Recovery Workshop, you should have no more doubts as to how deep my sincerity runs. I prayed…and prayed…and prayed…alone, when it was just me and God. I would spend hours sitting alone in my house…my car…in the middle of a forest…anywhere where I could to finally feel His presence. It never came. Then, after many years of searching, logic finally got the better of me. I had always considered myself a logical person, and realized that, logically, I had only two choices: I could go on believing that there is no God, and that my life is essentially meaningless (existentially); or I could have faith that God does exist and in return, be rewarded with a purpose and "meaning" that will last for the rest of my life. If I was wrong? Then it wouldn't matter anyway.”

“Logically, there was no down side to developing my spirituality. Of course, it had to be one that I believed in, and one that made sense to me…I couldn't openly lie to myself…that would destroy the value of spirituality altogether. And after many, many years of intense searching… I developed my own understanding of God and Heaven and the role it plays in my life. I won't go in to what those beliefs are; though if you, as an individual struggling with similar issues would like to know…I would be more than happy to share them with you individually. There will be no conversion attempts, only God as I see Him. Or, more accurately, as He has guided me towards seeing Him.”

“Being that there are thousands of books having been written on the soul, I will share only the most basic thoughts as they apply to recovery and health. The soul is a metaphysical concept that many believe to be the true self. Beyond your senses, beyond your muscles and bones and skin, beyond your emotions lies your energy source--your soul. Others will argue that a soul could not exist without emotions, and without senses. What is the truth? Nobody knows. Logically, it makes sense that if our life is perceived through our senses, and our senses elicit the emotional responses that make up our "soul", then our soul's could not exist without our senses. This is one of the more frustrating points for me to understand about most people's perception of Heaven…because it contradicts their perception of the soul as an energy force, separate from the body. "It is your soul that goes to Heaven." Why then, is it assumed that our soul will continue to experience thought, emotion and other such traits once it has left the very body that produced them? Not really looking for an answer, just emphasizing the point that nobody really knows what the "soul" is.”

“For me, it is when I close my eyes. All of the feelings, emotions, sensations, thoughts…that is what makes up my soul. When I communicate with people, that is what I am trying to communicate with. Not whether they are young or old…fat or thin…tall of short…black or white…I close my eyes and try to get in touch with their soul. Or at least what I believe to be their soul. If I'm wrong, and that isn't actually their soul, so what. It works for me, it works for my value system, and it promotes healthy relationships with others. That is all that matters. The truth is relative.”

“When considering your soul, like spirituality, it doesn't matter what you believe, only that you develop a thorough understanding of this belief and that you use it to promote your life. In recovery, once you have a clearly defined "soul", the process of separating your emotions from your behavior becomes that much easier.”


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:45 am 
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Addiction Recovery and Your Family of Origin

I read the Recovery Nation supplemental lesson on family of origin. Again, I want to quote a few passages that seemed relevant to me.

“Further development involving this person's "family values" might include taking the time to understand the toxic effects of the environment in which they were raised, or learning to integrate associated values (like forgiveness and compassion). The point is, no matter what your past holds, from abuse to blissfulness, if you are struggling with compulsive sexual and/or romantic behavior--further developing the values associated with your family of origin will help to balance/stimulate your emotional life.”

“For children, one of the most important roles a family can play is to provide them with a safe, nurturing environment where they have the opportunity to test and develop their social boundaries--boundaries that will later be used to develop healthy relationships outside of their family structure. Too often, when these boundaries are not properly developed, further social development is retarded, thus creating an additional stressor throughout the person's life. A common example of this would be the domineering parent who extorted nearly constant behavioral control over the child throughout their childhood and early teen years, thus stripping them of the critical ability to develop confidence in managing their own emotional awareness and decision-making.”

“Additional sources of familial stress might stem from the parenting style in which you were raised: with authoritative, critical and/or perfectionistic parenting styles triggering lifelong issues with anxiety, lack of confidence and overall emotional imbalance/low self-esteem. Or, you may have derived stress from a constant parental pressure to succeed in all areas of your life. For some, after many years of struggling with such "family issues", you may have even made the conscious decision to resign yourself to the fact that you will never have the opportunity to experience the power and positive emotions that can be produced by an association with a healthy family. Which, of course, is a deception…but one that provides a temporary relief over the alternative.”

“Can one be happy without ever experiencing it? Yes, but it will take an extraordinary emotional adjustment, with the family being replaced by some other significant nurturing target--like God, or animals.”

“Otherwise, it is not hard to see how the development of relationship addictions and romantic obsessions might be used to balance the enormous emotional burden of not experiencing the unconditional love sought through one's family. Even those adults who go on to connect with their own spouse/children in a deeply emotional way, continue to require a personal connection to their family or origin (whether that family is biological or not is irrelevant). Those who have broken their ties with their family of origin (either through choice or through circumstance) will continue to suffer emotional consequences as a result of this disruption. Granted, the amount of relief gained from the disruption may outweigh the stress that continuing the relationship would have otherwise caused, but stress will be experienced when a person has no healthy connection to their "family of origin"--and their parents, in particular.”

The exercise with this lesson says: “Spend fifteen minutes thinking about the role your family has played in your life. As you think, consider the following:”
“1) What does unconditional love mean to you, and have you ever experienced it? From whom? Towards whom?”
“2) How did the parental style in which you were raised affect you both positively/negatively?”
I think I had unconditional love from my father, and he was present in my life. But, I think the amount of time I spent with my mother dwarfed the amount of time I spent with my father, or with any other human being. She was omnipresent, in my mind. And, in my admittedly biased memories, hardly any other person was ever present. My only sibling was born when I was five-years old. In my memory, other relatives, friends, neighbors, or others were rarely present, very rarely. I thought that my mother went out of her way to discourage friends and acquaintances, even shunning her own friendships and her own relatives. I'm sure I exaggerate that situation in my own memories, but it does capture my feelings.

I never thought much about whether my mother loved me, unconditionally or otherwise. She often said she loved me, so I figured she did. She probably did, and does. But, I recall constantly resenting her. Though it may be another exaggeration in my own mind, I thought she inappropriately controlled every aspect of my life: where I went, what I did, what I ate, what I wore, my entire grooming and appearance, with whom I associated, what I watched on television, what music I heard, and more. I also always thought that all my peers had enormous amounts of freedom that I did not have. I'm sure I focused too much on my negative view of the situation. I especially say that now that I have one son who is constantly complaining that everyone in the world except him gets to watch raunchy movies and have no bedtime.

Did I have unconditional love from my parents? Maybe I did. But, I didn't think I did. Did I give unconditional love? No, probably never. I think I only gave unconditional love to pets. I thought I was giving unconditional love to my own children, but later realized I was somehow communicating some sort of unrealistic expectations about athletic interests to them. As for giving unconditional love to TL, that's something I’ve been trying to learn since D-day.

I have long blamed my mother's parenting style for preventing me from learning how to make my own healthy decisions. I do learn rather slowly from my own mistakes. Perhaps my mother assumed that meant I would never learn. I’ve also written about how I believe my mother's own inner struggle between freedom and her Victorian upbringing was passed down to me. In short, she told me progressive modernism was smart and good, but she behaved as though anything other than a strictly conservative lifestyle was evil. She also taught me that sex was an unspeakably evil act, women were only for marrying, and she did not want me to marry or grow up. Among other things, that upbringing put little or no value on maturity and taking on adult responsibilities. In fact, I believed those things were discouraged, and that they would hurt my mother's feelings too much.


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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:21 am 
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Exploring the Concept of Love

I read Recovery Nation's supplemental chapter on the concept of love. The following passage is helpful enough that I want to save it and use it again.

"Love is not attraction. One does not fall in love with a person based on their physical appearance. In other words, love at first sight does not exist in a healthy reality."

"Love is not stability. Though stability can and should play a big part in a long-term, committed relationship…remaining in that relationship for the sole sake of stability does not equate to love. There must be some interest in seeing the relationship and/or the individuals grow."

"Love is not a distraction, nor a shortcut. To often, rather than looking at one's own chaotic life, a person seeks out "love" from others in an effort to distract them from having to deal with that life. Or to artificially produce the esteem that would otherwise require years to develop."

"Love is not selfish. For love to occur, it must be by choice. It must be through the desire to care for, nurture, share and experience certain parts of your life with that person…and for those feelings to be reciprocated. This isn't to suggest that love cannot include selfish acts…it can and should. Individual boundaries that include clear expectations of the other's behavior within the relationship are examples of this. Without these boundaries and "selfish expectations", it would be too easy to be taken advantage of by a selfish partner."

"Love is not a guess. In love, it is the responsibility of each partner to share his or her true self with the other. Let's repeat that. In love, it is the responsibility of EACH PARTNER to share his or her true self with the other. Without this, the experience of love can achieve nothing more than an illusion. Without honesty and the sharing of one's inner self…any emotions experienced are based on projections and images. Additionally, love is never having to guess how your partner really feels. To trust that they are sharing their true selves with you."

"Love is not desperate. When feelings of love are not reciprocated, or when the target of your love does not treat you in a way that reflects the way that you want to be treated…then the relationship is not based in love. Most likely, when someone continues to pursue such a relationship, there are unresolved issues from one's past, or emotional deficiencies (e.g. low self-esteem)…but the feelings that are being experienced are not love. Love does not have to be won. It does not have to be proven."

"Love is not a savior. Love should never be sought in an attempt to "rescue" your otherwise unsatisfying and/or chaotic life. Additionally, love should never be used as a bargaining tool after "rescuing" another person. Love is best experienced when you have first learned to love yourself. That is more than a cliché…it is absolutely true in terms of the fulfillment that love can bring."

"Love is not dangerous. In love, there should never be a worry that your vulnerabilities will ever be used against you. Or that something you share in complete sincerity is later taken out of context or used to judge you. Communication is open and instant. Even if that means to communicate that you are not in an emotional state to effectively communicate at a particular moment."

The exercise says: "Post your own understanding of what love is. The role that love plays in your life (or the role that you would like love to play in your life)."

Maybe this will be easier if I break it down to the specific subtopics Jon Marsh suggested. What can I say, for example, about self-love? I'm sure I have spent too much of my life being unhappy with my physical body, my abilities, and my accomplishments. Conversely, I spent too little time realizing that I have some control over each of those things. Do I love myself? Did I love myself? I don't know. Perhaps I worried so much about how others viewed me that I neglected to consider how I view myself. Actually, I’d welcome some feedback on this topic. How does one know whether one loves oneself? How does that look? How does that feel?

How about romantic love? I want the best for TL, I want to be with her, and I don't expect anything in return. I wasn't always that way. I used to expect her to be perfect, to meet my every need or whim, and to make me feel better about myself or about life. In that regard, I didn't learn what romantic love is until after I had already caused terrible damage to TL, until after D-day.

What about familial love? I know I have unconditional love for my children. I just know it. I would love them no matter what they did or didn't do. I also know that I have struggled to stop myself from putting too many expectations on them with regard to sports, homework, extracurricular activities, and anything that does not involve them sitting on their butts playing video games or watching television. Is expecting too much of them an unloving act on my part?

Speaking of familial love, what about my parents and brother? I do think I love them. Yet, I don't really like talking to them or being with them and I do carry around varying degrees of anger toward them. Is that contradiction really possible?

That's the extent of love in my life, except for the unconditional love I have for my pet dog. But, even she makes me very angry at times, when she bites too much or destroys something in the house.

Is that enough love in my life? I think it is. Why not? I think the main thing I need to remember is to keep my love for TL unconditional.


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 9:23 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:26 pm
Posts: 105
Exploring Sexual Intimacy

Recovery Nation's supplemental chapter on sexual intimacy was a bit confusing. It began with the following.

"Intimacy is a limited value. By this, we are referring to the limited, finite scale of which the positive stimulation produced by the value exists. There are other limited values: honesty, for one; order, another. In each, there exists a maximum amount of positive energy that can be generated, and once that maximum has been achieved, there is only way for the stimulation to go...negatively. When a limited value is at its threshold (that threshold being, you are completely satisfied with the role this value is playing in your life), you have achieved the maximum emotional benefit that this value provides, and the focus then turns to maintaining it. Unlike compulsive behaviors, there is no habituation that takes place with values. Self-esteem, honesty, intimacy...such values do not require more and more to achieve the same emotional results. They simply need to be maintained. Which is a major reason why, once the compulsive behaviors have ended, and the underlying roles those behaviors were fulfilling have been replaced, the potential for relapse not only diminishes, but disappears altogether."

I'm struggling to see the practical application of that passage. I think Jon Marsh, with his unfortunately piss-poor grasp of the English language and the skill of writing, is trying to say.that one can rid oneself of compulsive behaviors by replacing those behaviors with healthy values. That fits with the following passage later in the chapter.

"That means, the next time you are about to pick up another addiction recovery book to read, or the next time you are about to make yet another post on your online recovery support board, read a book on one of your values. Learn how to be honest. Develop the skills that it takes to have self-respect. Or, go to a discussion board that focuses on something that you are interested in, outside of recovery. Begin expanding as a person. Begin allowing yourself to make real changes in your life. Begin the transition from recovery to health...by focusing on the health."

I'll summarize the next part of this lesson by saying that Marsh believes there are eight elements of sexual intimacy. He says: "As we examine each of the elements, keep in mind your role in past relationships (or the role of your partner). What parts of the wheel were missing? What parts have you yet to develop properly?"

Elements Involved in Sexual Intimacy
"Reality: the knowledge that your perceptions of the relationship are similar to your partner's perceptions of the relationship." Obviously, by leading a double-life, lying, and cheating, I robbed TL of this important element of sexual intimacy. I believe I am safe now in knowing my perception of the relationship is the same as hers, from my point of view. I think I may have had some distorted, irrational views on reality in the past, at the beginning of our relationship. I think I may have irrationally feared that she was less interested in our relationship than I was.

"Choice: the feeling that you openly choose to be with the person that you are experiencing intimacy with; the feeling of "not being stuck" in the relationship." Now, TL perhaps feels stuck in our relationship. Though I betrayed her, she may feel that our children and our weak financial situation leave her stuck with me. I have never felt stuck with TL. But, I do recall that feeling in a previous long-term relationship. Accurately or not, one part of me kept thinking, "I should be able to find a more attractive girlfriend." Another part of me would respond, "No, I can't. This is the best I can do."

"Trust: the knowledge that your partner is honest with you; that you are honest with your partner; that your partner knows that you are being honest; and that you know that your partner is being honest." Here's another aspect of sexual intimacy I obviously destroyed for TL. On the other hand, TL has never given me anything but honesty.

"Pride: the willingness and desire to tell others about your relationship." I have always felt proud of my relationship with TL. Again, I undermined this good aspect of our relationship by hiding my relationship with TL from potential affair partners. Thus, TL does not believe that I am proud of our relationship. She, on the other hand, has always been proud of our relationship, and shown it. I, however, wallowing in self-doubt, refused to believe that she was proud of our relationship.

"Respect: the feeling of wonder and amazement towards your partner as a human being; equality." I began our relationship feeling this kind of respect for TL. Then I soon buried it under jealousy, insecurity, and unhealthy expectations.

"Vulnerability: the willingness to risk emotional damage in the attempt to grow as a person/couple; the knowledge that your partner will use the information/experiences you share in positive, fulfilling ways." This is an interesting topic. I'm not sure I completely understand it. In the early years of our relationship, I was irrationally possessive of TL. I whined and pouted to prevent her from going out without me. I was manipulative and unfair. Was I afraid that would make me vulnerable? Is that what it means to be vulnerable, in this context? Or, does vulnerable mean being willing to share private, intimate thoughts, feelings, and ideas? If that's what it means, then I have been vulnerable with TL. I think she has been vulnerable with me. If not, how would I know?

"Self-love: the knowledge that the more you love yourself in healthy, productive ways, the more positive emotions that you will have to share with your partner; the more accepting of yourself that you are, the more accepting of your partner you will be." This is a rather new concept. It makes sense. If I'm not so insecure, I should be freer to accept her, unburdened by jealousy, fear, or doubt. This is a work in progress for me. If I had to guess which one aspect of intimacy was the most difficult for me, this would be the one. In fact, this one concept may be the root of many of my problems. For so many decades, I just wasn't at ease with myself. I wasn't confident, relaxed, focused, or natural. Instead, I was always imagining what others might be thinking about me. I'm much happier with myself now, but it came severs decades too late.

"Sensory Stimulation: the understanding that all sensory stimulation between you and your partner is geared towards communicating to that person's soul; the use of intentional sensory manipulation to bring emotional pleasure to one or both." I'm not very good at this. I've tried to improve. I do have some difficulty understanding it. I need to remember to focus on this.


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 10:10 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:26 pm
Posts: 105
Communicating with Yourself in Recovery
Self-esteem 101...by Jonathan Marsh

Jon Marsh's supplemental lesson on self-esteem focused on the following questions that really don't seem relevant to my situation.
"Nobody can understand why I do the things that I do."
"I will never be able to get past this. It will affect me for the est of my life."
"I have a disease, therefore I have no choice in the way I behave."
"I've ever been able to control myself so there is no reason I should be able to now."
"I don't want to act this way, I just can't stop."
"There's something wrong with me."
"Nothing can help me. I've tried everything--promising to God, promising to my wife...nothing works.
Marsh does offer the following general good advice about self-talk. "It is important that you recognize this little voice and confront its misconceptions--especially if you recognize that you are struggling with a low self-esteem in certain areas of your life. Train the voice to broadcast positive, confident thoughts. Because as silly as it sounds, such positive affirmations can have a tremendous effect on your life. And at the very least, will allow you to see things more clearly and rationally. When you learn to communicate positively with yourself, you are also learning to provide yourself with immediate comfort. Additionally, you will gain more and more confidence as you begin to understand the reality of your past and as you experience the success of managing your future." Positive self-talk is, of course, easier said than done.


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 10:10 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:26 pm
Posts: 105
Communicating with Yourself in Recovery
Self-esteem 101...by Jonathan Marsh

Jon Marsh's supplemental lesson on self-esteem focused on the following questions that really don't seem relevant to my situation.
"Nobody can understand why I do the things that I do."
"I will never be able to get past this. It will affect me for the est of my life."
"I have a disease, therefore I have no choice in the way I behave."
"I've ever been able to control myself so there is no reason I should be able to now."
"I don't want to act this way, I just can't stop."
"There's something wrong with me."
"Nothing can help me. I've tried everything--promising to God, promising to my wife...nothing works.
Marsh does offer the following general good advice about self-talk. "It is important that you recognize this little voice and confront its misconceptions--especially if you recognize that you are struggling with a low self-esteem in certain areas of your life. Train the voice to broadcast positive, confident thoughts. Because as silly as it sounds, such positive affirmations can have a tremendous effect on your life. And at the very least, will allow you to see things more clearly and rationally. When you learn to communicate positively with yourself, you are also learning to provide yourself with immediate comfort. Additionally, you will gain more and more confidence as you begin to understand the reality of your past and as you experience the success of managing your future." Positive self-talk is, of course, easier said than done.


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