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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:22 pm 
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Lesson 30 Exercise:
For the rest of today and all of tomorrow, focus on one specific developmental skill: deepening your awareness of the connection between your emotions and your values. Like a student studying for a midterm, concentrate on how your emotions influence your actions; how your values influence your decisions; how your emotions influence your values, etc. Don't do this from memory...anyone can do that. Take tomorrow to assess your emotions/values as if you were in a laboratory. There is no need to write down your observations anywhere. Simply do it.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:21 pm 
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Lesson 31 Exercise:
In learning to effectively manage your life (e.g. maintain relative emotional balance), it is important to develop an ongoing awareness of where the majority of your energy is being exhausted and where it is being derived. In your Personal Recovery Thread:

A. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressor. Example: 1) Facing Possible Divorce: extreme; 2) Lost respect among friends and family: moderate

Working a lot- moderate
On going legal case- mild
Day to day relations with B- mild
Separation/loss of affection/sex- moderate to rarely severe
questions about future of relationship- moderate, rarely severe
recovery-mild to moderate
loss of relationship with mom-mild
financial-mild
day to day chores/tasks- mild

B. Return to your values list created earlier in the workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy being drained (e.g. stress) should be related to the pursuit of your highest prioritized values (top fifteen or so). Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the way that you are expending your energy? I see that I am in transition on this point. Some of my stressors do have to do with reinforcing and living my values especially how I deal with my relationship and recovery. Some of my energy is drained from issues related to loss and worry and upheaval of my life. I have a ways to go before I am in a place where my values are carrying my emotional reactions instead of the other way around. I imagine that I will someday soon more and more derive satisfaction and support from living my values and questions about my relationship, future and recovery will take a less stressful role.

C. Likewise, in a healthy life, the majority of meaning and stimulation that you gain should also be related to your highest values. Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the quality of life you are living?
Share any insights in your Personal Recovery Thread.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:30 am 
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Lesson 32 Exercise:
1. Early in the workshop, you created approximately fifteen 'proactive action plans' that were intended to list specific steps to take to strengthen certain values that are important to you. Return to these action plans and for each, review your progress. Summarize your progress on your recovery thread.
2. Update your Proactive Action Plans as needed.

Truthfulness and Openness

-Being honest about your feelings with your loved ones. This may require mindful and deliberate effort at first until it becomes a normal habit. This should include positive feelings, insights or things that you are struggling with if you feel it helps other's understand you
-Being honest to yourself, (even the not so pretty stuff, the stuff that is embarrassing, the times when you could have done better!!!)
-Sharing my triumphs as well as my failures
-Being aware and open to what is going on in myself and not too rigid in think about myself and others. Feelings are not avoided or stuffed. I believe the correct answer to most problems will rise to the top if we are not to busy or anxious and squash it down or ignore it.
-Being brave enough to look bad or be wrong and take responsibility
-Being able to let someone down, say no, and avoid people pleasing when you know what you are being asked is not consistent with who you are
-Realize that not every thought or feeling must be shared. Be mindful and self assess, post to forum, ask therapist. Ask is it relevant, is it useful, is it kind?
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I feel like I am making some progress here. I find there are still things about myself that I think I should share with B but I don't think she is in a place to hear them and I am not sure they would be useful right now. I don't think I am keeping a secret though, these are things that I would share if we decided to restart our relationship. Otherwise I have gotten more comfortable sharing things with her that previously I wouldn't have been brave enough to. I have been able to discuss these issues without being triggered and in what feels like an mature way, so that feels good. I feel like I am more in touch with what is going on with my emotions and why I might have certain impulses. I can at least recognize negative thought patterns even if stopping them is still a challenge. I am more honest with myself even if I have a ways to go to be able to more easily self monitor and stop destructive impulses early before they cause distress
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Being a loyal, intimate and giving friend and husband to my wife

-Practice empathy, how might she be feeling? If you don't know, don't assume.
-Ask questions and be willing to really listen to the answers
-Give her space to process and heal
-Realize good intentions aren't enough if in her view actions and words don't match
-No more giving to get or "sharing" to get.
-Practice emotional vulnerability for its own sake
-Ask her what she needs, how can I help?
-Show yourself to be the positive person you know yourself to be
-Quietly make your feelings known, say I love you, tell her why you appreciate her, apologize for past behaviors and tell her how you will make amends or how my view has changed, affirm that she is the one you want to be with. There has been so many negative messages and actions over the last 3 years. Fill day to day life with the genuine and positive ones. Remind her how amazing she is to you.
-Radiate safety, stability and security
-Put her needs first.
-Show your trust in her. She is the most loyal person you have ever known, show that you trust in your relationship and friendship with her, give her the benefit of the doubt
-Share yourself, what's happened to you, how that made you feel. Little details to you might not be so little to her.
-Show confidence in yourself and your ability to manage your own emotions
-Make sure that wants do not get confused with needs or demands. See what you can do first to meet your wants or needs before discussing or asking for anything
-Before getting into anything addressing any aspect of your relationship, look at the BIG PICTURE! Remember the long rich arc of your relationship, your story as a couple, all the ways you give to each other and interact. Remember she is your friend, your partner, the mother of your children. Remember what has she has gone through to be here still with you.

There is progress here. I do feel like I have had moments of genuine empathy in areas I have not been able to access. But at times I feel down about my situation and my desire to change it and the discomfort I feel start to over take my empathy for what B is going through. It is a struggle, but I think I have controlled the worst of it. I worry about not being able to always be perfectly empathetic and always put here needs first- I want us to be so much more than we can be right now. I just have to focus on the now and what I do have. I have been taking pride on helping her and being there for her and communicating that I am ready to be a much more supportive friend in her life. I am also doing a lot better on giving her space and respecting boundaries.

Caring and generosity toward the people in my life

-Let go of negative feelings and perceptions and get out of your own head.
-Listen and get interested in what is going on with your friends and loved ones instead
-Remember that you are a person capable of tremendous kindness and enjoyment of giving, be true to that instinct and do not let negativity talk you out of it
-Give even if the other person may not be able to give back. If being a giving person is your true nature, do not make expressing your true self dependent on another's actions

I have been taking pride and enjoying being more giving especially in my job. I think this is true to me and something I am good at.

Understanding/Empathy

-Follow the basic rule of stopping and putting yourself in someone else shoes before judging or asking for something
-Ask questions, find out more
-Don't try to always offer suggestions or fix another persons problem. Listen to, affirm and be with them

Some progress but need to work on this with B. I want to "make things better" and feel better about my relationship and I need B to help me with this. This mindset does not always put her and what she is going through first.

Fatherhood

-Maintain a patient and loving attitude
-Don't focus too much on the negatives such as misbehavior, chores not done, etc. Point out the positives and what great and creative kids they are.
-Reassure them that despite the problems I and Beth are having, they are loeved and everything will be ok
-Take time out for teaching moments

Feeling like my work has lately taken me away from my kids and that the things I am dealing with have diverted energy from them, but I also feel like this will improve

Gratitude/An appreciation of making the moment really count

-There is almost no problem that isn't improved with an attitude based in gratitude.
-Gratitude is the antidote to the negative places my thoughts sometimes go
-Sharing gratitude with those I love relates a positive, outward focused outlook

I really need to work on this more. It is really easy to see the bad in my life and all the things I wish were different or better but really hard for me to see all the things that are great gifts

Peacefulness

-Practice health maintenance behaviors which keep you calm and centered: exercise, meditation, good sleeping habits, taking time to slow down and enjoy some aspect of your life
-Do not let stress in one part of your life, such as work, a set back, a negative personal interaction affect your the rest of your life or outlook. It is a drop in the river and will soon fade in importance.
Sharing burdens

I am doing well on this

Sense of humor

-Laugh at your self. Laugh at life.
-Don't lose the ability to have fun and be funny just because of setback in your life or relationship
-Encourage silliness in your life

I need to laugh a little more, starting to this more this week with B

Toughness

-Remember who you are and where you came from. You have survived far worse than whatever you are going through now.
-Remember pain is temporary, practice "gaman"
-Do not let adversity steal your goodness


I think I am doing this but could do this more, it is a strength

Creativity and Individuality

-Do not always keep your nose to the grindstone. Take time to do projects or practices that put energy back in the tank, that help you see the world in a fresh light
-Dust off the old to do lists items, the ones that sounded like fun but you haven't made the time for
-Be more spontaneous and do things out of the routine
-Consider getting out of the house and interacting with new people, join a drum group or hobby group, make friends so you can express and reaffirm you individuality.
-Being more confident in who you are puts forth my best self and makes other more comfortable around me.

Energy and time are short right now, but I do look for opportunities to do this. Will continue

Work ethic

-Do not let your current struggles sap your energy for taking care of business.
-Meeting your responsibilities at work and around the house is personally rewarding and reaffirming that you can be successful in other areas of you life


Doing well


Patience with others

-This goes right back to empathy
-Take a deep breath and remember the big picture

Doing well

Intelligence

-Do not play dumb with yourself and lapse into old behaviors, just because you can't have what you want.
-Do not let your emotions do your thinking for you. Make sure you are accessing the intelligent and secure side of yourself when assessing a situation or make a decision
-Trust what your know, not necessarily what you feel

Doing well


Freedom of personal and emotional expression


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:46 pm 
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Lesson 33 Exercise:
1. While you have no doubt already deepened the awareness of your emotions...you now want to begin the process of mastering them. You want to make it a goal of yours to turn what was once a debilitating fault into one of your greatest strengths. That can't be done by reading. It must be developed in your day-to-day life. And so, that is your assignment. To take this next week to seek out opportunities to deepen an awareness of your emotions — both as they occur and as they can be anticipated. Each day, find at least five opportunities to assess your emotions. Don't do this retroactively...as in, you are about to go to bed and so, you review the day's activities and how you felt about them...this must be done in the here and now.
Additionally, add a few opportunities for developing this awareness by anticipating, role playing common rituals surrounding your past behavior. Or possible future behavior. Consider your emotions at the height of a compulsive urge. On the death of a loved one. On the experience of a child's birth. Think of the extremes.
The insights you are searching for throughout this exercise will be in relation to the finite qualities of emotion; the lack of fear/anxiety that comes with developing confidence in being able to anticipate emotional intensity; and the confidence that comes with the same.
2. Each day over the next three, share a few insights relating to these topics in your personal thread. Insights that you have gained from that particular day's focus.
3. At the end of the week, assess the level of effort you put into this task. Did you remember to consciously seek out such developmental opportunities each of the seven days? Post your assessment in your thread.

Day 1: It feels reassuring to be able to notice my emotions and the reasons for them before they take hold and make me feel like I need to take an action. I was thinking about and making myself experience emotions related to my current separation and the love addiction feelings this triggers. I become aware of the lack of comfort I feeling knowing my wife does not feel close to me or like I have been a good friend. I miss the pleasure of touch and of sex. I miss the pleasure of laughing with her and knowing she is happy with me. I miss the comfort of sleeping in bed together. It is uncomfortable to notice these things, to watch her walk upstairs to the bedroom without me. This discomfort is gnawing, it makes me anxious, it makes me worried it will never end. It makes the lack of these things feel more unbearable and swamps out awareness of a bigger timeline, of other options, of gratitude for other things. Then I want to end those feelings by any means, wishing she would just accept me back and end all this or that I had someone else that would give me those things.

Day 2: Been analyzing my feelings regarding B today. We have been a little closer lately, she is feeling more open and welcoming and I am trying to be responsive to that while it lasts. So mostly positive feelings, but those can be more destructive and fool me quicker than the negative ones. So I sit back and think about why I'm feeling them, question them a little and follow them out as far as potential consequences a little. Feelings of being attracted to her- obvious sexual physical feelings, also love and bonding based, she amazes me and can be so fun and clever, also a cure for my loneliness though, she could take it all away and make me happy again if she would just let me back in-a slightly more dangerous reason which I need to watch. There is a strong desire to make her happy and take care of her, to earn her trust and respect- this must be tempered with an awareness of what I have done to her and who she is as a person, complex.

Day 3: Working night shift so not much time or energy or contact with family. Mostly I caught myself in stressful moments, having negative thoughts about others and stepping outside these in the moment to question myself: are these emotions helping me, can I put myself in the other persons shoes a little, how can I do a job I am proud of here and that is consistent with my values even in a less than ideal situation, how can I be sensitive to my coworkers

Day 4: Reflected several times about feelings of closeness to B. Having more heartfelt conversations, a softening of her interactions with me, more humor. These feel very good but I am self checking and finding that I think I am enjoying them at face value not in anticipation that this means everything is going to be all better soon. These seem healthy and nourishing. Not connecting them with expectations which have killed potential healing in the relationship before.

Day 5: A little tired and worn out feeling today. Emotions a little more negative, feeling sorry for myself that I don't have a romantic partner. Trying to connect those to why this has happened, why B does not have romantic/sexual feelings anymore. Bigger picture thinking and reminding myself I won't always feel that way helps take the sting out.

Day 6: Pretty negative day unfortunately. Tried to findout from B how she was feeling about the separation and she got really defensive which was hard to hear as I had been feeling really positive and practicing behaviors that made me feel closer to her. Kind of a glass of ice water to the face. Spent a lot of the day trying to figure out where the negative feelings where coming from and just trying to manage them.

Day 7: Somewhat better today. Focused on negative emotions and separated my feelings about the relationship from my recovery. My recovery is going well, nothing has changed with that and I will continue to practice healthy supportive behaviors toward B. I can not change her feelings about the relationship and that is not where my focus should be.


Last edited by phoenix7 on Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:45 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:54 pm 
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Lesson 34 Exercise:
Immediate gratification plays the primary role in the lives of most people who struggle with addiction. In your Personal Recovery Thread, share the following:

A. Describe a time in your life when the "Immediate Gratification" principle has come into play:
Example: When I was twenty-two, I was approached by my best friend's wife, who wanted to have an affair with me. I knew that I shouldn't, and I knew that it wasn't worth the possibility of losing my friend or my marriage, but I did it anyway. Somehow, the feeling to have sex with her was just overwhelming, and it would have caused me great stress if I had said no.
B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Be specific. Compare it to other feelings of anxiety that you experience. The purpose of this exercise is to begin to define the limits of your emotions — and where your compulsive urges stand within those limits.

C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Is it a trance-like feeling? Is it a hyper-alert feeling? If someone could get inside your mind as you were experiencing such a ritual, what would they find?
D. Share these insights in your recovery thread.

When I had my affair, I felt very alone. B and I were not getting along well, she was frequently withdrawn. I did not understand my addiction well and did not understand what she need to heal, so I pressured her a lot and was not very empathetic or patient which made her pull back more. I felt trapped in this bad relationship, I couldn't leave, but I couldn't fix it so I was living with someone who reminded me regularly of shortcomings and this triggered poor self esteem. She just wouldn't give me what I wanted and act as if we had a normal relationship and if felt like it was on purpose. As an antidote to this lonely deprived feeling, I found women as lonely as me to chat with online. Having someone interested in me and finding me attractive was thrilling. It made me feel like life was not all drudgery, like I had something to look forward too and be happy about. The possibility of having sex with someone who found me attractive felt like the most important thing I could do to improve my life and validate myself sexually, so when the opportunity came up I took it, despite not being all that attracted to the person, missing out on a family event the was important to everyone else and betraying my wife. The thought of not doing it and missing the chance seemed inconceivable, to go back to not having anything fun or good in my life like torture, so despite the considerable risk, I did it.

Resisting these thoughts and compulsions is like not eating when you are starving and know that this might be the last chance in days to eat food. It drive me crazy because it is something I need, is it wrong to want attention when the one you married won't give it to you? To not have your needs met? Carrying out that thought of behavior will make me feel better, more like the person I know myself to be, more like the life I want to live and might buy me some time. Maybe if I can hold on a little longer things will get better between me and B and I can get what I need through our marriage like normal people. This is a trance like state, almost meditative when I give into the compulsions to go online or fantasize about another relationship


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:14 pm 
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Lesson 35 Exercise:
1) Evolve your daily monitoring as outlined above. Post the first thing you will be monitoring in this way in your thread for feedback and, share where you will be placing the reminder. Do not wait for feedback to begin.

Specific areas of my life that you would derive additional meaning/value from strengthening:

-Today I will look for opportunities to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for in my life and to express gratitude to those in my life

-Today I will act in a way that I can respect today. I will operate from a place of honesty, confidence, non fear based, and mindfulness of my emotions and motivations

-Today I will respect B boundaries and treat her with empathy, and show interest and caring.

-Today I will practice being open and sharing myself honestly

2) Create your weekly agenda. Post it in your Recovery Thread.

Question #1: Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment. Think specific actions you experienced, not general ideals. "On Tuesday, I took out my guitar and just played for my kids. Took the time to teach them a few notes. It was meaningful to me." This, as opposed to...'music, kids...'
Question #2: Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go? As in, was there chronic stress/pressure I had to manage? Were there any major traumatic events? Any intense emotional events?
Question #3: Given the meaning that I derived this week and the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means (e.g. compulsive behavior)?
Question #4: Looking ahead to the next seven days, are there any significant events that I need to prepare for, so that I am not caught off guard? Deadlines, reunions, holidays, dates, etc.

In addition weekly monitoring will include: overall practicing healthy life behaviors, good communication, positive versus negative thinking


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:57 pm 
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Lesson 36 Exercise:
I. Describe a scenario from your past where not having a well-defined set of boundaries has prolonged and/or intensified the personal consequences that you have experienced.
Example: Knowing that my coworker was sexually flirting with me, I allowed myself to establish a relationship that eventually led to an affair.
II. Describe a situation in your life where having solid boundaries will assist you in managing the event in such a way as to protect your value system.
Example: My husband expects to have sex with me as a sleeping pill for him. Though I don't want to hurt his feelings, being treated in this way is degrading. I am establishing a boundary that I will only have sex with my husband when I am in the mood.
III. Share these in your recovery thread.

Because of my self created crisis and betrayal of B, I got kicked out of the bedroom and sleeping in the spare room for several month over a year ago (similar situation to what's going on now). My lack of boundaries with myself and with her made the process incredibly painful. I was constantly hurt and angry about my situation and at times desperately lonely. I couldn't understand why she could not let me back into her life when I was sorry and was working on myself. I pressured her a lot to show me affection, to start acting like a normal couple, to have sex. I was not empathetic and my hurt made me withdraw which only made the separation harder on her and longer for both of us. I had no boundaries with myself too that would allow me to understand her hurt and focus on being her friend, instead of focusing only on my own problems.

Right now I am turning to my values a lot more when I am anxious or uncomfortable. Remembering and rereading these help me to have boundaries that stop my negative thinking, blaming B, struggling with feelings of loss and rejection (which were triggers for the original acting out in the first place). They steer me away from despair and thinking too much about what I don't have and toward doing the things I know I can do well and help me be a better friend to B


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:03 pm 
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Lesson 37 Exercise:
I. List three of your highest values (values prioritized within the top five).
II. For each value, list at least five concrete boundaries (rules) that you will use to protect that value.
III. Absolute boundaries are those boundaries that under no circumstances will you ever cross. These must be realistic AND you must hold them in reverence. Typically, everyone should have at least three such absolute boundaries. List three that you will use to help manage your life.


Truthfulness and Openness

1. I will be honest with myself about my thoughts and emotions
2. I will share these feelings honestly and with bravery, even when it is negative or makes me look bad
3. My concern in sharing myself should be total honesty, not manipulating a situation to a desired outcome or giving to get
4. I will reassess frequently to make sure there is no event or information that is important that I am omitting (no lies of omission, no "forgetting")
5. I will not do anything that I can not look my wife in the eye and tell her about
6. I will be available to answer questions or give information about anything concerning to her


Being a loyal, intimate and giving friend and husband to my wife

1. I will show interest in and consider her feelings with every interaction
2. I will demonstrate safety, security and stability at all times. My actions will be considered with her in mind, there will be no problem that I can not help with, no discussion I can't have, I will practice positivity for her sake.
3. I will ask her questions, listen to her needs and make them my top priority
4. I will respect her boundaries on behavior and give her the space she needs to heal.
5. I will show trust in her decisions, her ability to know what she needs and what's right for her.


Understanding/Empathy

1. Before acting or speaking, I will try to imagine what B is going through in that moment, how that might be affecting her viewpoint or emotional state
2. I will force myself to remember the things I have done that have led us to this point and acknowledge that these are still present on some level in her emotions and interactions. She deserves extra consideration and care because of my past actions.
3. I will ask questions before assuming, I will check in with her to see if my views of her or our relationship make sense.
4. I will take her at her word when she is telling me what she is thinking or feeling and not make up alternative scenarios in my head that I think explains the situation
5. I will not assume her behavior is about me, I will strive to ask what could she be going through and how can adjust my behavior to be mindful of this

Absolute boundaries:

I will not lie
I will not do anything I could not tell my wife and daughters about truthfully
I will be honest to myself about my emotions and motivations


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:21 pm 
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Lesson 38 Exercise:
I. Review the boundaries created to protect the values listed in the previous lesson.
II. Consider at least two situations where this value may be threatened. Are the existing boundaries enough to protect against this threat?
III. If not, evolve your boundaries so that they are capable of allowing you to manage those situations.
Share your work in your recovery thread.


1. I can imagine the experience of someone I have regular contact with flirting with me. I am attracted to friendliness, openness, someone engaging and charming. I can imagine being very alert to noticing the feeling of positive attention and attraction. This is a situation that might slip through the cracks until I am fantasizing about being with the person and how great that would make me feel. It would be difficult initially to be honest and very open about this with B. I wouldn't want to upset her or bring up questions in her mind when nothing initially has really happened. It would be hard to be brave enough to bring this up on my own. I think a good rule of thumb would be how I would feel if I knew B was watching or discovered me interacting with this person. If I would feel anxious or caught, it is probably something I shouldn't be doing or be telling her about very soon.

2. I have had my values of being empathetic, giving and trusting of B challenged before when we have gotten into an argument where I have felt completely misunderstood and where B is not listening and is attributing negative things to me which I have never said. It is difficult to not lash out or give up n the whole situation. Something that helps is just taking a break. Time is the only thing that heals sometimes and fighting and trying to force being understood just makes it worse. Also with time I am more likely to be able to understand her point of view and forgive her if she has not been fair. Doesn't happen often luckily.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:22 pm 
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Lesson 39 Exercise:


Step 2 Define an Ideal Ending
An ending? Before a beginning? Yes. Your next task is to create an ideal set of sexual values that you will strive to achieve in recovery. Unlike your first list, this one can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. Your goal here is to define three to five ideal sexual values that you will begin developing into your life. These values should be general in nature, realistic and unarguably healthy. In other words, they should be socially accepted sexual values that match your own belief system.

I am sexually positive and comfortable with my sexuality, however I recognize that my love addiction sometimes causes me to place a higher value on a sexual relationship than it should have. I am doing a lot better with this and I will strive to place sexual relations in the context of a healthy relationship as a whole.

I will be open and honest about my sexuality with my partner and not hide or withhold details or information

I will not engage in sexual behaviors including using porn to masturbate, without knowledge of my partner

I will not engage in high risk sexual behaviors or with a partner I do not have at least a friendship or emotional connection

I will put my partners sexual needs and preferences on par with mine and strive to communicate openly about them mutual satisfaction and balance in the relationship. I will not force any sexual behavior which is uncomfortable to my partner.



Step 4 Define Your Existing Vulnerabilities
With the knowledge of where your current sexual values are, coupled with the goals you are striving for, it becomes necessary to identify potential obstacles that will need to be overcome in order for you to successfully reach these goals. You will not be able to identify all potential obstacles, nor should you try. This step requires only that you look ahead to identify the most realistic obstacles that you might face. Additionally, it is intended to address only those obstacles that will keep you from achieving the developmental goals set forth in Step Two.

-I sometimes experience fairly intense physical sexual urges which can influence my judgement in regard to whether sex is a possibility or even a good idea.

-In the past I have made sex about more than just sex, more than a pleasant physical bond that goes along with a healthy relationship, more than a healthy physical relief. I have made it a judgement on the healthy of the relationship, a person's emotions feelings and approval of me, a thing vital to my total happiness in life, a thing worth lying over and trampling my value system in a number of ways.

-Although I accept my own sexuality as good and right for me, I have projected this on others close to me and become disappointed that they do not share the exact same view. This has caused me to violate their boundaries and their trust.


Step 7 Define the boundaries that will protect the selected value
With the value being developed selected, it is time to create the rules that you will use to protect this value.
Examples:
"I will not use porn at home."
"I will not use porn more than once per week."
"After masturbating with porn, I will be honest with my partner when they approach me for sex and I am not in the mood."
"I will only engage in porn when my partner is present."
"I will engage in porn only when my partner has first turned me down for sex."
Are these adequate boundaries to protect the value of, "I don't want to use porn to replace my sexual partner."? Probably not. In fact, several of these boundaries are fairly unhealthy (by design) to illustrate the point that you do not have to strive for perfection as you develop your own boundaries. Your role is to do the best that you can...to put down what you believe will best protect the value under development — given your current state of sexual awareness. It is the LEARNING PROCESS that will continue to refine and rebuild these boundaries into more healthy, useful ones. The only way you can go wrong here is to hold back your development by intentionally listing boundaries that you know to be unhealthy. All others will be refined in the developmental process itself.


-I will be open and honest about my sexuality with my partner and not hide or withhold details or information

-WHEN it is appropriate to my current relationship to include sex and sexuality in our discussions, I will disclose any sexual behavior which may impact my values or my partner. This includes use of porn, ideally would include discussion of plans to use porn before feeling sexual.

-Any interaction whether electronic or in person that I perceive as sexual or flirting I will disclose immediately to my partner.

-I will be completely open about myself and my motivations for affection and sex. This includes whether I am seeking affection/sex or wanting to give affection or for reassurance for my partner, not myself, purely physical reasons, etc.

-I will respect my partners sexual privacy and sexuality as a whole. This includes whether or not they want to engage in particular behaviors or their motivations for wanting or declining sexual contact or affection.

-I am done making sex about more than sex, about a referendum on the whole relationship, me, or a prior interaction. I will be open about my sexual desires, open about my consideration of my partner's desires and motivation and accepting that this is true and right for them. I will place sex in the context of the whole relationship.

-I will not manipulate, deceive or pressure to get sex. I want to know that it is a gift freely given or an act that my partner wants as much or more than I recognize this is the only way to real satisfaction, joy and connection in a relationship. If my partner and I can not come to a compromise, this will be accepted with grace and alternatives discussed- ie a later planned date, some limited sexual contact, other activities, etc.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:41 pm 
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I am reposting a couple of things to revise and review. First my partner pointed out that the language in my Core Value and Value Action plan includes specific references to her which she felt was possibly reflected a confusion between working through this program for me versus doing the program to make her feel good and get back a relationship with her. I still feel my motivations for doing this are for me alone and to become a better, healthier person for myself. It is clear in my mind that working this program will not "save" my relationship. I think with love addiction it is natural to see the most glaring mistakes and flaws in your closest relationship as clear examples of what you need to change. However, I recognize that this has been a slippery slope in earlier recovery efforts and I think it is a good idea to have make sure I have an independent and holistic approach to my recovery that will last regardless of what happens to my marriage. Likewise I do not want efforts to heal my relationship to be too focused on the fact that I am doing this program, like some sort of crutch "but I am doing my recovery program, what's the problem." So I am going to revise the first top few values to reflect this:

Truthfulness and Openness

-Being honest about your feelings with your coworkers, friends and loved ones. This may require mindful and deliberate effort at first until it becomes a normal habit. This should include positive feelings, insights or things that you are struggling with if you feel it helps other's understand you
-Being honest to yourself, (even the not so pretty stuff, the stuff that is embarrassing, the times when you could have done better!!!)
-Sharing my triumphs as well as my failures
-Being aware and open to what is going on in myself and not too rigid in think about myself and others. Feelings are not avoided or stuffed. I believe the correct answer to most problems will rise to the top if we are not to busy or anxious and squash it down or ignore it.
-Being brave enough to look bad or be wrong and take responsibility
-Being able to let someone down, say no, and avoid people pleasing when you know what you are being asked is not consistent with who you are
-Realize that not every thought or feeling must be shared. Be mindful and self assess, post to forum, ask therapist. Ask is it relevant, is it useful, is it kind?


Being a loyal, intimate and giving friend to those in my life.

-Practice empathy, how might the other person be feeling? If you don't know, don't assume.
-Ask questions and be willing to really listen to the answers
-Give others space to process and heal
-Realize good intentions aren't enough the other person does not feel that your works and actions match
-No more giving to get or "sharing" to get with anyone. Reactions and communications should be honest and for their own sake
-Practice emotional vulnerability for its own sake
-Ask others specifically what they need, how you can help, don't guess.
-Show yourself to be the positive person you know yourself to be
-Radiate safety, stability and security to those around you
-Put your loved ones needs first.
-Show trust in others.
-Share yourself, what's happened to you, how that made you feel.
-Show confidence in yourself and your ability to manage your own emotions
-Make sure that wants do not get confused with needs or demands. See what you can do first to meet your wants or needs before discussing or asking others for anything
-Before addressing anything that seems like a problem look at the BIG PICTURE! Put problems in context and they might not really be problems at all.


Caring and generosity toward the people in my life

-Let go of negative feelings and perceptions and get out of your own head.
-Listen and get interested in what is going on with your friends and loved ones instead
-Remember that you are a person capable of tremendous kindness and enjoyment of giving, be true to that instinct and do not let negativity talk you out of it
-Give even if the other person may not be able to give back. If being a giving person is your true nature, do not make expressing your true self dependent on another's actions

Understanding/Empathy

-Follow the basic rule of stopping and putting yourself in someone else shoes before judging or asking for something
-Ask questions, find out more
-Don't try to always offer suggestions or fix another persons problem. Listen to, affirm and be with them


I also wanted to go back and readdress the exercise listing the values of my love addicted self. This was a personally meaningful exercise and I want to make sure that I have identified values and character building tools will help me avoid or counteract this thinking going forward.


The Values of a Love Addict


My feelings are more important than yours- Empathy/Big picture thinking. Remembering what has happened and imagining how the other person feels would counteract this and allow me to question my emotions more, put them in perspective and express them in healthier ways

My pain is bigger than yours and deserves more attention- Empathy/Big picture thinking

My dysfunction demands that you take care of it in the way I have identified it as a problem- This intersects with so many things: empathy, emotional maturity, recognizing boundaries (big one), improving self esteem, and generally developing myself such that I think of my self first as an independent person with trust in myself and the ability to solve my own problems first. I have made some good progress on dealing with some of these more dysfunctional patterns: I handle stress much better, I am more positive and less likely to be threatened if someone has a different opinion or there is a conflict. Still need to work on deriving meaning and happiness from my life more on my own, independent on what is going on in my relationship.

I will base my decisions on very little information or highly symbolic behavior or statements, rather than asking or revealing I have a problem. Information to the contrary will be ignored no matter what the other person says or all the behaviors they have shown you to mean the opposite- A lot of this will improve with trusting the person I am interacting with to tell me what is really going on and what they need. Also big picture thinking and gratitude will counteract a lot of the negative thinking loops that I have fallen into in the past which cause me to see problems that aren't there. Also improved sharing and communication and emotional vulnerability

Compulsive behavior breeds poor self esteem which is covered up or medicated by more compulsive behavior- A lot of the work on this program understanding where compulsive behavior comes from (emotional thinking) helps this. Being more in touch and honest with myself about my emotions works to put these feelings into context and stop this behavior before it starts. The multiple thing that I am working on to improve self esteem will allow me not to need the crutch of compulsive behavior to provide emotional relief.

My wants or fantasies are interpreted as needs. I have little ability to distinguish between healthy appropriate needs and unhealthy ones manufactured from an anxious brain. These needs are totally selfish and do not care what is good for the other person, what is right, or what is fair. They justify lying, they are more important than anything at the time . They are like a 2 ton elephant that has broken out of its pen, trampling your love for your partner and everything else good in your life.- Big picture thinking, gratitude, empathy and work on respecting boundaries

I can not give to myself to fill in holes and stop anxiety or bad feelings. That must come from outside me.- Much more work on emotional maturity, self esteem help to reign in this negative thinking and provide for myself. Also looking at the bigger picture puts temporary feelings or stressors in better perspective. A recent thing that I realized that I think might help is the growing realization that I am a separate person from my partner. I have separate likes and dislikes, I have a different value system and approach to problems and life in general. I am not the relationship, I do not alway have to agree with her. It is ok to occasionally go in a different direction or disagree. So if there is something I need or don't like, I can may be able to take care of it on my own, its not dependent on her. I don't have to have expectations of her or pressure her to do something about my problem

I am anxiety and fear based. I am reactive and must “fix” everything now.- Again recognizing and analyzing emotions before the run into a negative spiral (emotional maturity) helps this a lot. I am better at recognizing when I am anxious and figuring out why, better at dealing with stress and have improved a lot on my need to fix everything immediately. I find I am better able to sit with an uncomfortable feeling and realize that if will often resolve itself with out frantic or fear based and counteractive activity

If my hole is not filled I will lapse into depression and stop giving to my loved ones even thought they have done nothing to deserve this- Empathy, emotional openness, focusing on giving. I have made improvements on seeing that withdrawing never does anything to help conflicts or bad moods and only makes me feel more isolated and negative.

If I perceive a problem, it becomes my only focus and I block out all the good around me and all the evidence that I am loved and have enough.- Again big picture thinking and gratitude are key

I will be slippery in my meaning and evasive about what is going on with me. I would rather lie than risk any embarrassment or the possibility that my partner will be displeased and will not give me the things I want.- Emotional openness and maturity, confidence in myself and my values

My thinking is rigid and overlooks what is staring me in the face.- Getting out of negative loops and emotional based decision making helps a lot. Empathy when the situation involves others.


Last edited by phoenix7 on Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:05 am 
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Lesson 40 Exercise:
I. Choose someone in your life that you feel close to. A spouse. A child. A parent. A friend. Rather than assuming what boundaries they have; or what values they want protected...take some time to step into their lives. Refresh those perceptions that you have. Consider how you can HELP THEM reinforce those boundaries. Post a few thoughts about this in your thread.

I am going to choose my spouse as this is the person I have had the most boundary issues with. In fact, when I think about it my feelings towards others and respect for their boundaries are rarely an issue except when it comes to my wife. I suppose this comes from the fact that I have often felt like I need things only she can give me where I am much better able to be more objective and have fewer expectations of others.
My wife said the other day that ideally I should place a very high value on making sure she feels safe in our relationship, higher than my concerns about what I want or need. Her feeling safe is directly related to my respect for her boundaries: not pressuring her for sex or affection before she feels she is ready, not lying about anything ever, thinking about her with caring and putting her first when ever possible, not making her feel like she needs to take care of my stress or my bad feelings. There are several things I can do to help her reinforce these boundaries:

Choosing actions which avoid situation that could lead to me manipulating her to get sex or affection (not hanging around in her bedroom at night

Clearly stating my intentions whenever I interact with her (giving her a hug when I think she needs it as opposed to taking a hug for me, we are going out together but I have no expectations that anything will happen when the date is over)

Taking care to give her information about what is going on in my life before she finds out about it later (events at work, emails, conversations with people)

Sharing my feelings when useful so she knows my emotional state and why I am doing the things I am doing

Paying attention to the things she has told me make her feel cared for and doing those consistently even when I am tired or down

Being consistently positive, helpful and proactive in my life which shows I can not only take care of myself but am capable of giving to her as well

Demonstrating that I can deal with stress much better in the past and I am working on dysfunctional patterns

Stopping to check in when I think she may be doing something that feels inappropriate and is taking to much on herself for my sake

Expressing understanding of why these boundaries are important and necessary for her


II. Consider what you could do should YOU become aware that you have violated a boundary of theirs.
III. Consider your reaction should they tell you that you have violated a boundary of theirs. Think beyond defensiveness...keep working until you grasp a healthy reaction.
IV. Share your thoughts in your recovery thread.

Clearly state my understanding of the situation, how I violated the boundary and how that must have made the other person feel. Demonstrate acceptance of their situation and offer an apology and to make amends by stating how I will do a better job in the future.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:27 pm 
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Lesson 41 Exercise:
It is your job to eventually identify and master the boundaries that exist to protect all of your highest values. This cannot be accomplished in a single sitting.
Over the next month, keep a log of the moderate to major events that occur in your life and assess your ability to deal with these events in terms of your existing boundaries. Family arguments, decisions, chore assignments, etc. All are related to your values and all should have boundaries that protect those values. With each event, identify the event itself, the values that were infringed upon, the existing boundaries that were in place to protect those values and any additional rules/boundaries that may help you the next time you face a similar situation.
There is no need to write all of this out as long as you are actively deepening your awareness of the role that these boundaries played in protecting/abandoning your values (though if you have the time, writing them all out would prove to be a tremendous benefit).


My plan is to post more notable events and teaching moments here periodically.

Last night, I was feeling pretty relaxed and happy and was playfully flirting a little with B, I wanted to give her a hug, but she looked really uncomfortable and shied away. A number of boundaries could have been violated, I could have taken a hug anyhow which would violate her boundary at the time. It would also violate my own as this would have been disrespectful and non empathetic. I could have gotten mad -again not mature, empathetic, not being a good friend. I could have gotten really negative and withdrew which was the hardest choice at the time. I tried to remember empathy and big picture thinking and think this was her boundary not taking it so personal. I did later apologize if I had made her uncomfortable. I was a little sad thinking of all the things I have done to get to this point and I apologized for that too. It was genuine but maybe a little self pity??? Anyhow it passed quickly which made me feel like I probably did a good job protecting my values and not dwelling in a negative space.

Lost track of my boundaries for the last couple of days and felt bad as a result. I spent a lot of time with B, went out to a concert, spent Easter together. As a result I started to feel very close to her and started having a lot of romantic thoughts. I started fantasizing about what a great life we could have together starting fresh, the excitement and energy we could share. I lost touch with my reality and hers. During a difficult discussion, I forgot my empathy for her and what she is going through, later I tried to convey that I was triggered at one point but probably could have been a lot more blunt and honest that I was having a hard time. I pressured her for affection and became some what anxious about our future together which led me to not listen to her when she was giving me feed back and telling me about her needs, instead becoming defensive. All in all not a great few days for me. I think additional boundaries that would have been more effective would be telling her about my romantic triggering earlier, maybe taking some space when I know I am going there, trying to visualize my empathetic self anytime she is communicating with me so I can listen and be curious and have constructive communication instead of being reactive. If I feel that intense need to explain myself or fear that I am being misunderstood or being seen in a bad light that should be a sign that I need to stop and listen, not talk and later think about the interaction and why I was anxious.

More recently have been doing good with my boundaries and respecting B's as well. Focusing more on my own behavior and being proud of that, having that sustain me instead of a certain reaction or attention from others. I'm more positive and better able to stop myself before my emotional/romantic side runs away and starts creating unrealistic expectations or disappointment that leads to getting in a negative pattern. For instance, I have been wanting to show affection toward B, but trying to limit this to when I am genuine in my intentions of wanting to give rather than take and also making sure that it is appropriate, brief and not uncomfortable for her (hopefully)


Last edited by phoenix7 on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:38 pm 
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I Can Only Be Me

Instead of doing the next regular lesson post I wanted to articulate and write down what I have been feeling lately. It feels like a change has come over me or is starting. Something similar happened once long ago when after a long separation but it was vague in my mind and did not last. This started with the realization that I am really not my wife and not my relationship. I am me and I am separate from those things. It sounds stupidly obvious but I think in the recent past I have tried to identify things that felt uncomfortable to me in my life, like I was not living the life I wanted or was doing it in a way that was not true to me. I could sense the discord but couldn't pinpoint exactly what the problems were. Because I felt engulfed in my relationship and my life is so linked to that relationship it felt like something had to change in the relationship in order to make me happy. So I identified a few things but those really didn't get at the underlying issue and because they were so poor understood and articulated, it actually caused more problems trying to talk about them. I did not know what I was really asking for or saying and this was just frustrating to my partner. This in turn was frustrating and sad for me and led to dishonest behavior.

After almost 3 months of this separation from my spouse I am finally beginning to see myself as my own person. I have my own values, not just the values I'm supposed to share with B. I have my own likes and dislikes, it doesn't matter if they completely match with B. I have flaws that I need to be open about, some fixable some quirks of my personality. I am a really awesome person in a lot of ways too.

I had a relationship that I liked a lot of aspects of but now, without that relationship I am a little less likely to self censor without knowing it in order to protect the relationship and to give B a version of myself that she would find acceptable and would not rock the boat. The trade off before was since I was choosing to not be "me" I expected the relationship to give me the things I gave up in that trade which it never could. I am the only person that can make me feel happy and fulfilled by making choice that are true to me. A relationship or having a partner that must like you cause they are affectionate or give you approval or want to have sex makes you feel good on the surface, but not if you are putting on an act to get it. That just produces discord every time which always always catches up to you. I cant keep running from this stuff.

I think it is time to get real and start providing for my own happiness. I am starting to take care of my own stuff. Don't know how to do something? I will figure it out without help. Know that something needs to get done? I am going to do it because that will feel good to me to take responsibility without being asked. Run into a disappointment-that sucks, move on fix what you can, do something else to keep moving forward, not dwelling on the past.

I will continue to be responsible to my family and I will continue to try to be a good friend to B. But I might start doing things a little differently in my life. Things that generate positive energy, newness, excitement, growth. My challenge is to be in better tune with my true self and listen to what it has to say. To be brave and strike out on my own sometimes, to be honest and share myself with my friends openly. It is my life and my responsibility, no one else's. I have been thinking too much for the last 3 years about how to get B "back" and how to fix my relationship so I can get to a safe protected place where I felt happy, to talk my way back into a cocoon. I can't do those things, I can't make someone love me or desire me and even when I briefly found a way in, it didn't satisfy and didn't last because I was still me and I wasn't being honest to myself.

We have talked about a relationship "reset" that would have to happen if we were to be able to get back together and be successful. But this is not about that, I don't think we can reset a 20 year relationship. I CAN reset me and how honest I am to myself and others. If I am true to myself and show myself honestly, B can decide if she wants to be around this person, if she wants to give trust and if she wants to share her life with mine. I can't make her do anything, I can not manipulate or fix a relationship. It has to be organic, just like when we first met and got to know each other and formed opinions and decided that person has something that I want to be around and share in, that is a person I trust. I am ready to give this up to the universe, it is too big and complicated and emotional to be something I can control in the slightest.



So what does this look like? How do I want to express myself, what do I want to do in this world that feels meaningful, what do I value about living, how do I go about being a person I can admire and feel satisfied with?

I think this will be something that will take continued focus, growth and change, but approaching this from some of the basic things I know about myself, I can get a general direction or outline:

I wake up each day with an idea of what I need to do with my day, grateful for what I have, not worried about my relationship, not overly focused on how others see me or think about me. What are my responsibilities? What are my goals today? What do I want to do with my time and energy that will give me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction (what I think of as quality of life)? I guess this would mean living my life more thoughtfully and deliberately. I think this is something that I can be good at and have the skills and mindset for, my core identity and values will guide me if I take the time to listen to them. It just requires stopping to reflect more often and not always following my same old routine.

I am someone who is basically a good moral person and cares about people. I have fallen down on this recently, but I am learning to forgive myself and focus on getting back to who I really am. I am a giving and thoughtful friend, someone who is there to listen to them and help where I can, someone who is generous in spirit and is free to express how I feel about them and value them. I will take pride in being patient and present as a father. I will make special effort to take pride in being a good friend to my partner so that even on down days or when we are not seeing eye to eye, I am confident that I am a stable and positive influence in her life. My relationships will not have room for insecurity, anxiety or doubt as I can be confident in my ability to be a good friend and satisfied by what I have given, not by what I receive back. Coming from a place of giving trust and openness, I can myself trust others and be honest about who I am, instead of afraid about how I am perceived. I will focus on making new friends and being more social. I like learning about others and learning about myself in the process. I would like to be around people that are creative, open minded and spontaneous.

I am fundamentally a positive person, capable of living in the moment and enjoying a wide variety of experiences. I will continue to evolve my stress management skills which have so far served me well. I will focus on having less "down" days and if having one will take the time and space to use my self care skills: healthy habits such as sleep and exercise, meditation, focusing on gratitude. I will not rely on others to manage my moods or make my mood dependent on other's reaction to me. In the face of negative events I will be the first one to be positive and solution based.

I am a creative, open minded and spontaneous person. I will focus on being open to the moment and take more time to consider doing things out of my comfortable routine. I will take opportunities to try new things, or try creative approaches to the normal tasks in my life. I will take more chances, risk more, not be afraid to be playful and unconventional. I will think about how to use my time in a more rewarding way and be more active in seeking new experiences: new places to go, concerts, recreation, creative and artistic projects, new foods, adding fun to otherwise mundane days and tasks. I will learn new things. I will get out of the house more!!! I will get outside to do the things I know I love and feel satisfied by: hiking, camping, outdoor trips, lying in the sun. Even taking a walk around the block can help me refocus and reset and feel...better.


Last edited by phoenix7 on Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:16 am 
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Hi Phoenix7,

I just wanted to say good luck. It sounds like your insight has been really helpful to you - and it is a great insight. In a post in the general forum you wrote that your wife wanted a relationship that contained independence and space - and now maybe you can see what the value of that is. That is how two people can be in a relationship without becoming the relationship (and losing themselves). In fact, there is only really a relationship at all when there are two distinct parts to relate to each other. One thing cannot relate to itself. Relating happens between two independent things.

In any case, I am not saying this to make you think about working your way back into a relationship with your wife. You have already figured out, correctly, that that is not the way to think about this. I am saying it because I think it is important to recognise where your wife was coming from, because I think it is an essential ingredient to any healthy, strong, relationship. And it would appear that your revelation has shown you the fundamental reasons why this is so. Which is fantastic.

It is heartening to read your post. It is nice to hear someone talk about a breakthrough they have had, and to be so full of possibility. I really do wish you all the best, as it sounds like you have discovered something that will make a huge impact on your life, on your own happiness. You are becoming you, after apparently having lost that for some time. And it is a healthier, stronger, more positive you than perhaps you have ever had before. Wonderful! Stick to your convictions, you seem to be on an excellent path now.

Very best to you.

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Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.
- Samuel Beckett


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