Recovery Nation

learningtorun's Recovery Thread
Page 17 of 19

Author:  learningtorun [ Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I am 1 week short of my second anniversary on RN and nearly 2 years in there is still a penny that hasn't dropped in my head. I apologise in advance if this rambles a bit but i fear that may be necessary for me to get to the crux of the problem.

Kenzo said
you say MB takes the urge away
But does it?
Does it take the urge away or simply put it on hold

In all honesty i feel like it does take the urge away because afterwards i can think considerably more clearly and my values hold and help me make good decisions. With the urge in play i have very clouded vision (more on that issue later) so when i get to that scrambled mental state having MB as an emergency go to position is far better than the alternative of acting out. Does it put it on hold though? I would argue No as i feel that urge is managed after MB but it will come back in due course - and that is probably Kenzo's point in which case the answer if more likely Yes.

Kenzo also said
perhaps addressing what brought the urge into being is or should be the focus

Coping is not living
dealing with the issues that we all have provides us with the means and opportunity to at least try for that fulfilment of our lives

Regardless of the answer to the last question, this is absolutely spot on and i am aware of that. I see the MB as a bit of a stepping stone to give me some security over acting out pending me finally getting my head around what isn't registering. So i completely agree that MB is not a long term solution. Interestingly, i found that i was not needing it and it was perhaps more of a comfort knowing that it was there if ever needed which made me more relaxed and not needing to use it.

So let me get to what i feel my problem is. However stupid this sounds i actually understand the basis of the workshop in terms of logic and the process ("stupid" because if i really understood it then i wouldn't have a problem would ?!) My problem is more in the application of a certain part. I am going to spell it out here so that it will be clearer for me to reflect on and hopefully easier to mentor.

When a trigger occurs the broad plan is to:
1. Recognise there is a trigger event that has occurred (This is fine)
2. Create a break and stand back to make a values rather than emotions based decision (This is fine)
3. Work out the options available to you and filter them through your values to determine healthy options that remain (This is fine and in practice i tend to find that there is only one healthy option which is usually very apparent)
4. Commit to making that healthy decision and proceed on that basis
5. Expect (at least in the early days) to have some stress to manage as a result of a perceived deprival of acting out

I have perhaps oversimplified the process out of 73 lessons but this is the pertinent highlights as i see it. My problem comes at Step 4. i will use an extreme hypothetical example which hasn't actually happened to me to stress the point. Let's assume i have a business meeting with a very attractive female and during the course of that meeting it becomes apparent that she really likes me and essentially offers me herself if i want her. Whilst the trigger would in reality come a lot earlier that her declaring her intentions, for the sake of argument let's assume it kind of comes out of the blue and she just says it. The trigger then is self-evident and would be recognised by the knot of excitement that would appear immediately in my stomach. I then move to Step 2 and create a break where i stand back and commit to making a values based decision. Then on to Step 3 where i immediately realise that the options are to accept or reject her offer and clearly the rejection of the offer is the only healthy option available. These first 3 steps probably happen in an instant or two but the problems start when it gets to Steps 4 and 5. To move from Step 3 to Step 4 requires a total commitment to my values. In the cold light of day (in theory) that sounds so simple but when a live situation occurs (in practice) then it feels very different. CoachJon compares a healthy married man's view of being in a marriage as being based on a commitment to one's vision of being in a partnership whereas an addict who is married has a fear of missing out on things. That comment really struck a cord with me and probably points to the root of my problems where i feel like i missed out on this in my late teens due to panic attacks. Regardless, this is where it comes unstuck for me. I know what the values based decision is but there is an overwhelming urge created by having the opportunity to have/take something that i shouldn't have/take and so committing to the healthy and right decision becomes incredibly difficult. Having in my head that i need to take the healthy option creates a huge pull the other way which is the sense of denial of the excitement. I can commit to making the healthy decision and make it but i become plagued with a bombardment of negative thoughts that i am turning down something that i really want. Of course if i give into those feelings and make the unhealthy option then immediately after acting out i am filled with the usual feelings of guilt, shame, remorse and self promises that it won't happen again in true addict tradition.

In trying to analyse all of that a couple of things occur to me. Firstly, Coach Jon was no fool and was an addict himself so knows all about what i have just recorded. He refers to the stress which must be managed to support making the healthy decision. He also refers to taking those few moments before the trance sets in to make the healthy decision and i wonder if perhaps i let things drift on too long and therefore the trance has settled in too much which is hampering my attempts to make a healthy decision? I think there is some sense to this as when i have gone for long spells feeling fine i find that i dismiss triggers almost instantly which doesn't generate any stress at all. It sounds so simple to say "Just do it quicker then" but in live situations that doesn't feel as straight forward as that. It also really bothers me that when faced with the rush of excitement of a trigger that i can think about my values and the harm that acting out can do but this does not have the effect on me that i would want, it is very disappointing to say that it does not kill the excitement as i would want and expect it to. Again, maybe i am in the trance having acted too late and my vision is too clouded to have my values giving me the necessary ammunition to stop?

I have recorded on my thread before that i had 3 addictions at one time, cigarettes, alcohol and sex. I stopped smoking first and then stopped drinking (for the second time after believing stupidly that i had it under control and could go back to having the odd glass of wine) about 3 years ago. I am therefore left with what i knew would be the hardest one to conquer. They are very different addictions but there are similarities in giving them up. When i think of when i gave up drinking i would regularly be tested as drinking is a social thing and you are always being offered a drink in social situations. My head managed it by expecting to be tempted in a given situation (e.g. Bar or restaurant) so it would come as no surprise and when the temptation came i would stick to my plan and decline and have a line ready for that. When the twinge of deprival came and i could sense the anticipation of opportunity ("I am away on business overnight and no-one will ever know") i would tell myself that i don't need or want a drink and remind myself that i am not actually in any pain which then took the sense of inevitability away. The same process should apply to sexual situations but it just doesn't seem as easy for some reason. I wonder if part of it relates to me knowing that it is the last of the 3 addictions to overcome and if that happens i perhaps have a fear of losing everything that excited me? That is of course nonsense but it would make sense as to why i am struggling so much to let go.

I think i have rambled on enough for one post, i know this will take many reflections for me to get to the bottom of what is needed to move forward. I will therefore leave it there for now and will end by commenting on Kenzo's last comment to me which was:
do not take this as a criticism, simply a differing viewpoint
maybe we are both right, or hopefully not, wrong

I never would take your comments as criticism my friend. I have returned because RN will help me find the answers i need as i won't find them all on my own. Your feedback is valued and will help me stand back and see things more clearly as at the moment i can't see the wood for the trees. In all honesty i don't think i am that far off but the missing link is key and i need to find it.

Author:  learningtorun [ Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I decided to read back my last post as if i was mentoring someone else that had written because i can probably be more objective that way.

I wrote
To move from Step 3 to Step 4 requires a total commitment to my values. In the cold light of day (in theory) that sounds so simple but when a live situation occurs (in practice) then it feels very different.

This is key, a successful recovery requires a total commitment and i am not giving it that. I am doubting it for some reason and i have a good idea that it is the part of me that is scared of letting it go. 40 years of enjoying (supposedly) those rushes of excitement is a big thing to give up. I also see some sense in where i wrote:
I wonder if part of it relates to me knowing that it is the last of the 3 addictions to overcome and if that happens i perhaps have a fear of losing everything that excited me?

I know deep down that when i act out i badly regret it almost instantly so actually i don't want it at all. A life free of addiction is something that i crave but because i never thought i would get there i think it scares me. I think that i need to form an action plan that makes these several points very clear and to spend a lot of time over the comings days and weeks of engraining that as a mantra so that my reaction to triggers become automatic.

I amused myself by reading back that i wrote:
I can commit to making the healthy decision and make it but i become plagued with a bombardment of negative thoughts that i am turning down something that i really want.

So in reality i am not committing at all am I?! There needs to be a complete clarity of mind where I know the reasons for making healthy decisions and just as importantly the reasons for not making unhealthy decisions. I also need a clear plan of attack as mentioned above and then have a total commitment to stick to it.

If I am being really honest with myself i know that when thoughts pop into my head i do not head them off quickly enough. I allow myself to think about them briefly before declining them which is the start of a very slippery slope. I don't need to dip my toe in the water at all because i know that the water is not one that i want to dive in to, so stop testing it.

I wrote:
It also really bothers me that when faced with the rush of excitement of a trigger that i can think about my values and the harm that acting out can do but this does not have the effect on me that i would want, it is very disappointing to say that it does not kill the excitement as i would want and expect it to.

It seems self evident that this is caused by allowing myself to dwell on things way too long and probably the trance like state takes hold before i try to reject it. The identified action plan should resolve this if adhered to. I will put this together and post to my thread.

Finally, i wrote:
However stupid this sounds i actually understand the basis of the workshop in terms of logic and the process ("stupid" because if i really understood it then i wouldn't have a problem would ?!)

This does sound stupid when i read it back but i genuinely believe that i am not far off. On reflection i don't think it is my learning that it holding me back it is my commitment to what i know needs to be done.

Author:  learningtorun [ Thu Sep 26, 2019 3:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

Further to my post of yesterday i have given more thought to my general action plan when facing triggers which captures the key areas that i feel i have not been applying correctly until now.

Create a break and then consider:
- I can not afford to dwell on the trigger, act immediately and head it off
- Every single time i have ever acted out in my life i have regretted it immediately afterwards
- The perceived excitement and anticipation is therefore a complete myth, i don't want it
- By acting out i risk losing everything that is truly important to me including
○ My wife
○ My son
○ My lovely home
○ My retirement plans
○ Being relaxed and happy with my family
- Don't be scared of letting go of this last addiction, instead celebrate that i am free of it all at long last
- When i feel that the urges are overwhelming ask myself if i am actually in any physical pain? As i won't be then there is nothing stopping me avoiding acting out, it won't hurt me and i can do it
- My recovery will not succeed without a total commitment to it

i will review this regulalry over the coming days and ensure it is engrained as soon as possible and applied with immediate effect.

Author:  Kenzo [ Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

Hi L2R

i have a good idea that it is the part of me that is scared of letting it go.

understandable and IMO something we all go through, perhaps to a greater or lessor extent
but fear not recovery, addiction is what should be feared

i don't think it is my learning that it holding me back it is my commitment to what i know needs to be done.

perhaps this realisation can be used to rekindle that commitment that you know you have in you

Now a question
Are you holding yourself back or are you simply not progressing as fast as you envisaged you would
You are not the man that found this programme two years ago
Credit where it is due

Author:  learningtorun [ Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

29 Sep marks my second anniversary on joining RN so an opportunity to look back and reflect on my progress and where i am. I am going to be tied up with business stuff for the next couple of days so i am posting this a couple of days early.

Kenzo commented that i am not the man that joined 2 years ago and that is perfectly true, i was riddled with guilt, shame and remorse back then but had no tools or knowledge of how to get out of that black hole. The learning i have gained from this free resource is life changing and priceless - CoachJon needs such praise for opening this up to all of us at absolutely no cost.

Kenzo also asks if i am holding myself back or rather am i just not progressing as fast as i had envisaged. Another very astute question to ask. If i am honest i think it is probably a combination of the two. I do think that the fear of letting go forms part of it. Also, I am someone who has done extremely well in business and am at the top of my tree. I got there because i have skills and expertise and pick things up very quickly. I therefore have a high expectation of myself to take on any challenge and to have it nailed quickly which is normally the case. RN was no different and in my usual fashion i stubbornly moved through the lessons at a rate of one a day and within 3 months completed the workshop with an expectation of having all the answers and having this thing licked. I keep saying this but i understood everything that was being taught all the way through but in my haste to complete i did not allow the time to properly absorb it and then apply it to myself. The result was i went off to a flying start and arrogantly assumed i was done and could take my foot off the gas. This is the stage where you need to keep your foot firmly on the gas because you are then flying alone. I let my guard down and foolishly allowed myself to dwell too long on the triggers as i cockily thought i could manage a little taste and i fell of the cliff. Once you fall it takes a lot of effort to drag yourself back out again. This led me to drift for a while but i always had in the back of my head that i needed to get back on track. I am embarrassed that it took me so long but i have got there again now and am hopefully much the wiser of what needs to be done this time.

I have felt calm for a few weeks now and i haven't felt this way since just before falling off the cliff. I had almost forgotten how good it feels to be relaxed and hopeful about the future. Maybe i am just not having the triggers the way i was or maybe i am now just better managing them. At the end of the day the triggers are always there if you want to find them so i will opt for the latter. I found before that when i was being very efficient with managing them away it happened almost automatically and they were gone the instant that they emerged and these therefore produced little or no stress. The problems come in when i do not manage them away quickly and i stupidly dwell on them. I am one at times to learn things the hard way and this is one of the keys for me now that i must not be scared to let go and fully commit to the my plan and my recovery. I will then get what i really want and turn my back on the nonsense that the old me thought was so exciting and wonderful.

So 2 years on, 2 years older and hopefully now 2 years wiser. I find things easier where i keep my recovery in the forefront of my mind and this is one of the main reasons for me wanting to return to RN at this time as it keeps it all fresh. So i plan to stick around and see how things go. If i can help others along the way with mentoring then that is a bonus and is my way of being able to show my appreciation to CoachJon in particular and also the coaches and mentors who have stuck by me and helped me through the thick and thin. It is a strange feeling to have people you consider to be your close friends that you will never meet or even know their name yet you know you can count on them to be there for you when you need them. Thanks go out to you guys, you know who you are.

Year 3 then and every reason to look positively ahead to the future. Total commitment is all that is needed to make that a reality. So let's do it right this time round.

Author:  learningtorun [ Mon Sep 30, 2019 3:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I wrote last week about being away on business for a couple of days. I also used a hypothetical example of a scenario which would generate significant urges and the issues of how to manage away the temptation. The scenario i used was a woman essentially telling me that i could have her if i wanted when i was away on business. It is therefore with some irony that this is almost exactly what happened when i was away last week. An attractive female that i had been speaking to made it clear that if i was interested in spending the night with her in her room then that would be fine by her. I had not been flirting, it just happened. I think there is something in the fact that when you are not looking for something or someone then you send off positive signals which others find attractive and can act on.

It is therefore somewhat timely that i had spent time last week getting my plans in place so i would be ready for all scenarios. The "normal" me would have been jumping at this opportunity like a shot on the basis if it being very unlikely anyone would find out, sex on a plate with an attractive woman. But i didn't do that and rather went straight to my plan. I think the biggest difference this time is my making a point about not dwelling on what could happen at all and so there is no time allowed for the trance to set in. I have learned my action plan using the acronym DRM LSPT which stands for:

DWELL (i.e. Don't dwell on it for a second)
REGRETTED (i.e. I have regretted it every time i have ever acted out)
MYTH (i.e. It is a complete myth that the perceived excitement would be worth it)
LOSE (i.e. I risk losing my wife, son, home, early retirement, happiness)
SCARED (i.e. I am not going to be scared of letting my addiction go)
PAIN (i.e. If it feels like i can't avoid acting out then remind myself i am not in pain so i can stop it)
TOTAL COMMITMENT (i.e. My addiction will only end if i totally commit with no exceptions)

Part of the good thing about using this acronym is that it takes me a few minutes to go down the list and remember what each letter stands for and then to remember what each one means. This creates a couple of minutes of distraction which takes any excitement away so i am then able to make a calm and rational decision.

So i avoided the situation and decided not to pursue it. Surprisingly there was little or no stress, and as i have said before i think a big part of this was not to dwell on the opportunity and picture the scene (which is why "D" is first on my list) and this may be the key to what was going wrong before. Early days obviously but i can't think of a more powerful urge generating situation that i will ever come across than this so if i can get through that with little or no stress then i should be able to manage any situation that is thrown at me. Am therefore feeling really positive and pleased with myself this morning. A lot more work is still needed but i seem to have a plan that is fit for purpose to work from.

Author:  learningtorun [ Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

The end of another week and an opportunity to reflect on how i am feeling emotionally and how i have been coping.

I think it is fair to say that i have tried a number of different approaches to the practical application of the lessons in my recovery and have been met with mixed results. Overall this has pushed me in the right direction but there are some areas where i just didn't seem able to fully absorb what i needed to do. Last week i set out my refreshed action plan and have kept this fresh in my mind. Little did i know that it would be needed quite so quickly as reported previously but it held firm and did the job, all with little or no stress. I have been quite making a point of taking time to paying attention to my awareness over the last week and i would say that i have been more or less stress free.

As part of my new plan i had identified that my first mental tool was to remind myself not the dwell on an urge but rather push it away immediately without giving it any recognition or time. I am confident that this is the cornerstone of how good i have been feeling. 40 years of engraining fantasy and inappropriate thoughts make such thinking second nature. When i think back to going to visit escorts i would picture in fine detail what the experience would look like from the point of walking to their apartment through to leaving afterwards. I would picture the perfect scenario in my mind and no wonder that i quickly found the actual thing very disappointing because the person would rarely act consistent to how they had in my fantasy. But the point of mentioning this is that, as a visual person, i would spend a large chunk of my waking day picturing past situations where i had acted out or to picture people that i came into contact with that I found attractive ending up in bed with me. This was all very exciting but after a while in order to maintain the levels of excitement i needed to move from "thinking" about it to "actually doing" it. The rush of adrenaline creates the trance like state very quickly and once sucked in it is very difficult to resist. So, quite simply, i have stopped thinking. I can sense when it is about to start (worryingly frequently to start with, i had realised quite how much i did that until i started being more conscious about it) and then i allow zero time to dwell on it but now push it straight out of my mind before it has had the chance to generate any form of excitement. As I am not battling with a sense of denial as i have no excitement about it then the whole process is easy and completely free of stress. I have felt stable emotionally for most of the last week which is in complete contrast to my usual highs and lows as i let my mind drift.

Previously i had posted about using the ability to MB as a safety net if needed and whilst that theoretically is still in place (it wou7ld be far preferable to acting out if ever needed) i have had little interest in that over the last couple of weeks. As usual, Kenzo was spot on, it was the cause of the urges that was the root of the problem and not so much how i managed them after they hit. Catch it early in the process and then there is nothing to deal with. It is always easier to be objective when you are looking at someone else's issue but i do often feel that there is a "We are not worthy" comment due to Kenzo and his experience and knowledge that he shares with the members here. :g:

So more of the same then i think, i will do a similar update at the end of next week to check that nothing has changed as i do my weekly review. So pleased i came back to RN and am feeling so much better about myself these days.

Author:  learningtorun [ Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I am away on business again for the next couple of days so am posting my weekly review a couple of days early.

In some ways saying all is fine may be tempting fate as the last time i went away on a business trip i ended up with the "on a plate" scenario to contend with and who knows if something similar may happen again. If it does then i actually feel quite relaxed about it and am confident i can easily bat it away.

Overall i feel fine, the only thing that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable is how easy it all feels. I am obviously putting work into rehearsing action plans and am "on guard" but i haven't felt this way since i completed the workshop the first time around. That said, I am only too aware that things ended up going off track that time around which was partly down to not having absorbed certain areas well enough and partly down to complacency and a fear of letting go. I currently feel a bit stupid though for thinking it was so complicated as it actually isn't if you have the right thoughts running through your mind and you strictly enforce your action plan. Total commitment is the key, not just 95% and allowing brief tasters of the remaining 5%!

My first line of attack has been aimed at urges and temptation which appear to be under control at this time. I am now ready to open the net wider to cover off other areas that i wish to achieve in order to support my values. The most obvious one of these relates to remaining calm at home. It will perhaps be the subject of another post but i find that i struggle to remain calm when discussing certain things with my wife. I may be blowing bits of it out of proportion but there is nothing like posting it and then reflecting on it when seeing it all in black and white to determine the way forward. I will try and do this early next week. Even knowing that i am at the stage of being able to concentrate on that knowing that the more basic areas are OK is a reassuring place to be at right now.

Author:  learningtorun [ Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

As mentioned in my last post of last week, I was away on business again for a couple of days and having my action plan fresh in my mind and rehearsing it on a regular basis it turned out to be a relaxed trip. As always, the number of moments where i see something quite normal that immediately by association evokes a memory or fantasy in my head are too numerous to count but these are now being extinguished almost before they happen. I have found that this means that there is little or no stress in managing them away as they have insufficient time to have any effect on me. Why did it take me 2 years to get to this realisation? If I am being honest with myself i probably did realise this a long time ago and was actually too lazy, complacent and selfish to not want to follow it through properly. I somehow had this stupid and pathetic idea in my head that i didn't want the feelings of excitement to go. The rollercoaster of emotions has now left and a far more stable and relaxing time has now taken its place. Interestingly I am now left with the same feeling that i had when i stopped smoking and drinking, there was a big build up to the moment when i went live and then before too long wondered what all the fuss was about and how it had taken me so long to do it. Anyway, I am there now which is the most important thing and making every effort to not be complacent.

So this leaves me with a couple of areas i particularly want to focus on now that the foundations appear to be in place. The first one is objectifying women. As recorded previously there are habits which i have engrained after 40 years which need to be rewired and i am going through the process with this one now. The successful key for me this time round is not to dwell on anything and to immediately reroute my thinking when a situation arises. I would say that this has the slightly different issue that my mind is playing different tricks with me with voices suggesting that "seeing and thinking" is very different to "doing" so therefore surely it is OK to look? But it is not. As i say, i have focussed my efforts to the basics in the first instance and i will now shift attention to this. I am already aware that i am not "dwelling" on things when faced with this sort of situation but the batting away is not quite as instantaneous as it is with everything else at the moment. When it comes down to it the two situations are not that different so i don't envisage a problem with it but it requires a conscious effort in the short term to rewire before it starts to become automatic.

The second one is a very different matter and revolves around one of my values which is to not be argumentative or create unnecessary conflict but rather to remain calm and to reason rather than argue. This area particularly relates to interaction with my wife. To be fair the vast majority of the time we get on very well (best friends sort of thing) but there are moments where there seems to be an underlying issue which i have assumed for some time relates to D Day which was several years ago. Since our son was born 11 years ago she has had employment for 9 months out of that period and has otherwise looked after our son and our home which is broadly in line with what we had agreed. I have always been very clear with her (even pre D Day) that i view her job as being just as important as mine the only difference being that mine earns money and hers does not. I have tried to make a point of not making her feel that she wasn't contributing because of this arrangement. Since D Day it has felt different and it seems to have shifted to her at times being intolerant and gives me the impression that she feels like she has got the thin end of the wedge and that i have got it easy. I have a very responsible job which can be very stressful and work long hours but when i am home i make a point of helping out where i can and we each have our roles which share out chores (e.g. She clears up after our meal whilst i get our son organised for bath and bed). As I say, most of the time it is all fine but there are moments where within a minute or two of walking into the house from work i am being criticised heavily for sitting down and being told that "everything is always left to her to do". I will also be told that she is the one that has to remember everything despite my head bulging with everything i need to remember to keep our office running smoothly. I find this really hard to deal with as i make a point of never making her feel like that but she will have no filter and just make aggressive comments which instantly create tension as we are about to eat. She is someone who hates tension and goes to great lengths to make sure that her friends don't take anything she has said the wrong way, she would be mortified to find that she had ever upset them but with me she will almost make a point of saying cutting things to me where she must know they would upset me. She will also seem to make a point of not giving me any compliments about anything. I have written recently about a love i have developed for drawing portraits (including drawing her). Everyone else i know that i show them to have been very complimentary about them but she won't say anything nice but will be quick to point out any areas that don't look right (e.g. "the nose is wrong" or "the mouth is the wrong shape"). When i finished my last portrait of a female celebrity last week she made a passing comment about it would be nice to draw a bloke this time which i took to be an inference that i always draw (and therefore stare for hours at) women. I then worked out that i have drawn 12 people to date and half have been men and half have been women. As it happens i am now drawing an older male celebrity as i am getting in practice of drawing someone with older skin before i try and draw my Mum who is in her 80's as a Xmas present for her. But everything seems to stem from D Day and perhaps reading too much into me drawing females. I can actually understand why she says what she does but it does make it difficult. In an ideal world, having committed several years ago to try and put everything behind us it would be good to do just that but in practice that must be really hard for her to do. She has had a lot to deal with and it is a miracle that i have been given a second chance. I struggle when i feel that i am sticking to my side of the bargain but what she has had to deal with is going to take a long time to get over and maybe she never will entirely. Certainly it has understandably changed our relationship. So i need to be patient and not rise to the barbed comments and hopefully over time the frequency of these will reduce. But from a selfish point of view i struggle at times and i need to remind myself of the bigger picture and what i did to cause it which was really unfair for her. In the meantime i need to try and stay calm and take things in my stride and show her that barbed comments do not have her desired effect and so there is no point in making them. This will be my focus for the coming weeks and then i will review whether that approach has had any positive impact on our relationship.

Author:  learningtorun [ Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

Awareness is a wonderful thing. There is a lot of talk on RN, particularly from those who are well progressed in their recovery, of the word "complacency". I think the two words are very closely associated. When i think back to life pre-RN i can't believe that i had any surprise that i was so frequently caught off-guard and unready to avoid acting out quite simply because i had no awareness of the numerous threats around me. In contrast with that my "notice-anything-inappropriate-radar" was well honed after 40 years of practice and i would spot things that few others seemed to that would give me a rush.

So having not only a healthy awareness of what is going on around me but also an expectation of "when" rather than "if" potential triggers will come at me means that i am more alive the to threats and am ready to head them off immediately. So for me complacency means that i would need to be in a poor mental state and therefore far more prone to be caught off guard. I do think that this is about engraining healthy new habits and whilst you can never afford to let your guard down, once your brain gets used to its well rehearsed auto response to threats then it will hopefully require less mental effort to concentrate on reacting as and when needed as these things will be managed away almost without thinking.

When i was driving into work this morning i was thinking about the first Jurassic Park film where there was a discussion about the velociraptors that were contained within a pen that had electrified wires in the fencing. Each time they touched the fence they got a sharp electric shock but the scientists noticed that the velociraptors were constantly touching different parts of the fence even though it hurt them as they were trying to find a weakness which would allow them to break free. It reminded me very much of how 40 years of engrained bad thinking means that i am constantly being bombarded with triggers that the old me would have paid attention to and (supposedly) enjoyed. It is like my brain has decided to keep throwing stuff at me now in the hope that it will eventually find a way back in, it is just not used to being refused entry. So engraining new habits now means that in time the frequency of the triggers will fall away as my brain will see it as pointless trying to get me to think about them. Roll on that day!

Author:  learningtorun [ Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

So my focus at the moment is to try and remain calm at home even when barbed comments are made so that i don't rise to them and avoid getting dragged into an unnecessary exchange of sharp words. Over the weekend there has been a mixed series of results. In the main it has worked well and my wife and i have got on well (as we broadly do anyway) and i have managed to ignore the odd comment made which i may previously have risen to.

A couple of things happened yesterday which i found quite irritating though and caused me to struggle with it a bit. As a rule, when i am at home, i leave my phone sat in our kitchen which is probably different from most people who will have it sat next to them all evening and be constantly checking it. I am the boss of our company though so it is not unusual for someone to send me an email out of hours and so when i go into the kitchen, say to make a cup of tea, i will have a quick look top check and then will quickly swipe the email inbox away. Over the course of a day this may only happen a small handful of times and no less than my wife checks her phone for text messages and emails too. Her timing though seems to be either brilliant or terrible because she keeps arriving at my back just as i am swiping the inbox away and over the weekend it happened 2 times on the trot. When it happened the second time she asked me why i always swiped something away on my phone as she walked up next to me. It was so frustrating, i explained that i had just checked my emails and held the phone out and suggested she looked but she turned away and dismissed the offer which was almost to say "I caught you didn't I?" i had done absolutely nothing wrong but was left feeling like i had just tried to hide something which i hadn't been doing. A little later, she went upstairs to have a bath and i noticed that the washing machine had finished. I moved the washing into the tumble drier and then put the load of dirty washing sat next to the washing machine inside it and turned it on. I am often met with a comment that infers that the whole housework thing is entirely left to her to do (also frustrating because that is not the case but the things i do are somewhat completely ignored) so i thought it was a helpful and thoughtful thing to do without any fuss. She then came back downstairs with 4 or 5 small items to be washed in her hand. I told her that i had just put the washing on again and she went nuts and spent the next half an hour huffing really loudly whenever i was in earshot.

I know that i have put in an enormous amount of effort over the last couple of years to turn my life around. I am very different person to the one that joined RN at that time and even i can't believe myself what i have learned and been able to achieve particularly more recently. I caused my mess myself and i have no-one to blame for that than myself and i am not looking for any slap on the back or recognition but all i want is to have a life that avoids me being picked on for no good reason. I tread on egg shells half the time so that i make sure that i don't do or say anything that will intentionally upset her as i don't want her to feel rubbish but she seems to have the polar opposite view. It feels very much like i have given up the right to expect courtesy and nice comments because of what i did and in some ways i deserve that. But equally i don't want the next 30 or 40 years to be spent with me still in the doghouse as that will be no life for both of us. I hate being accused of something that i haven't done and knowing i have put so much into living my life now where i am not doing anything i shouldn't be doing.

I am not posting this to get an answer, it is more to have a forum where i can sound off a bit and get it out of my system otherwise i will stew on it. I know that i need to be patient and over time she will hopefully realise that i have changed with my actions that she currently does not appear to notice. Quite understandably she will be on the look out for me acting suspiciously and i need to think of a better plan for when she next walks up behind me, maybe i check behind me before i swipe away my phone so that it doesn't look like i am getting rid of something off it.

10 deep breaths and then back into it....

Author:  learningtorun [ Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I was on annual leave last week and had a relaxing time spent with my family. I noticed a change over that period that the usual odd snide and snipey comments from my wife did not happen and we got on well all week. I do wonder whether she is realising that i am more relaxed and am under no stress with my recovery and perhaps that in turn is making her more relaxed. I hope so as this would be a real step forward.

Whilst reflecting back over recent times i realised that it is nearly 3 months now since i adopted my new approach to my recovery and it all still seems to be going smoothly. I do appreciate that "abstinence is not recovery" and there is a risk of watching timeframes and i am not doing that, i realise that recovery requires a change of lifestyle not just an avoidance of particular situations where i may have previously acted out. But i mention the timeframe here as it has moved from a "let's try this for a few weeks and see what happens" to a "this new way of living seems to be working" on the basis of it having been in operation now for a fair while. It appears to be sustainable to me as it is not involving stress in managing my life this way now and is gradually becoming more automatic.

What has interested me though is noticing that potential triggers still come at me on a fairly regular basis. They are batted away almost instantly but i am left wondering at what stage will my brain give up and not try to present them on the basis of it being futile. Clearly i am in charge of my brain and therefore i suspect that there is still part of me what senses something of interest in the triggers otherwise why i would experience them at all? I wonder whether this is a hangover from the rewiring process and that it will just take time for me to completely absorb that things i used to do no longer hold appeal and will not be pursued. I think there is something in 40 years of engraining a particular (bad) behaviour and reaction to given situations means that it will not disappear overnight but will take time to convert. As i say, i do not feel threatened by it but am more curious by having noticed it.

I certainly do not miss the highs and lows of my old behaviour though and can see why i felt so emotionally exhausted half the time.

Author:  learningtorun [ Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I have recorded to my thread previously that removing the time spent thinking and fantasising about inappropriate things leaves a huge void which needs to be filled in some way with healthier things. My approach was to identify various different things which serve as a helpful distraction and i have come to rely on them to give me some stability. Having a number of things means that it reduces the over-reliance on any one thing in case something goes wrong with a key one and creates a problem.

So over the last couple of weeks the perfect storm happened, my football team is tanking before my eyes, an important portrait i am drawing (my late Dad) for the first time is not coming out the way that i had hoped, my steady weight loss through exercise and healthy eating has suddenly stalled for no apparent reason and i have seen it go up when i was expecting the opposite, etc, etc. All of the things that i rely on to keep me stable have all gone wrong at exactly the same time and i wasn't ready for it. Reflecting back over the last day or two i have been quite angry (at not being ready for it) and also quite down (will i ever get there?). I then thought about non-addicts and what they do when a number of things go wrong for them at the same time. Do they go to their crutch or do something reckless to make them briefly feel better only to feel even worse shortly after? No they don't, they take it on the chin, put their head down and just get on with it. That's life.

So whilst I stand in part by what i have previously said about having a range of healthy interests, they should be there for focus but not there as a replacement crutch because when something happens to one or more of them I can't be overly reliant on them or i risk it all falling apart. At times i despair at my thickness and lack of foresight, why do i have to make life so difficult for myself by learning the hard way all of the time? So head down now and just get on with it.

Author:  learningtorun [ Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

I provided some feedback to a question raised on the Community Forum yesterday in relation to relapses. This afternoon i have been looking through a series of quotes which i jotted down from CoachJon during my journeys through the lessons at the time. There are some real pearls of wisdom in there and i hadn't been through it in a little while. I have copied two below which are particularly relevant to the topic of slips and relapses and whilst i do not want to give too much away about those later lessons for those earlier on in the programme i thought these might be of interest for passers by to see and to get some encouragement from:
(In relation to Healthy Recovery Patterns)
"They realize that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present."

"It is knowing that when you feel like you can't control your behavior, that that it is not the same thing as being unable to. That your urges are merely a finite range of emotional intensity — not some unstoppable, unidentifiable force. And it is learning to manage those emotions in a healthy way."

Author:  learningtorun [ Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: learningtorun's Recovery Thread

My journeys (twice) through the workshop have taught me that power and control are two of the key drivers to my addiction.

In the UK at the moment there is a 3 part drama running on TV about A Christmas Carol which is a grown up version with a darker side to it than the traditional Dickens story. In last night's episode Bob Cratchit's wife secretly went into see Scrooge and asked him if he would consider a loan for a large sum of money to pay for life saving surgery needed for her son Tim. She was desperate and said she had nowhere else to turn. Scrooge calculated the return on a 6 year repayment plan of deducting it from her husband's wages and concluded that the deal was not worth it. She pleaded with him again and he said that he had an alternative proposal. He would give her the money as a gift if she slept with him. She was disgusted and appalled but she knew that it would be the difference between her son surviving or not so she accepted the offer. The Ghost of Christmas Past described it to Scrooge as an evil act.

I have no doubt that most viewers of this would have been disgusted at what played out before them. What bothered me more was that i was way ahead of other viewers and the opportunity that presented itself was in my head before Scrooge had even suggested it. When he did suggest it, i felt mixed feelings of excitement and disgust. Welcome to the world of a sex addict. The whole scene is about power and control and it can bring strong feelings of excitement and is the area i have battled with most over the years. I have manipulated women in a similarly evil fashion for my selfish purposes in the past in the same way that Scrooge did. There is a situation i am aware of currently where there is a very attractive women who i know is desperate for cash and i have no doubt that she could be manipulated if i took advantage of that situation. I know that i will not act on it but where does that leave me. Am I a good person for knowing i will not take advantage of her or a bad person for even having those thoughts in my head? I choose not to dwell on those thoughts and hope that in time they will not instinctively pop into my head.

I find myself at a real transition point in my recovery and feel like i have been stuck here for a while. I was really pleased to see Anon return to RN recently and to read her post, I have missed her insightful comments and observations. She has been away for a while as indeed i have been recently and i know that part of what was keeping me away was that i was not acting as i wanted to and i did not want to read how well others were doing on RN as it would make me feel badly about myself. It is a terrible thing to admit some relief in knowing that Anon had been struggling too as it made me feel like i was not the only one, we started our journeys on RN at a similar time and have looked out for each other along the way. What an awful thing to say though. I dare say that she may have had similar feelings on reading my posts noting my own struggles (no offense intended Anon if i am way off the mark here!!) as it would be a natural thing for an addict to experience, at the end of the day addicts have jealous and selfish tendencies. But both Anon and I are very different people though to those who arrived at RN. We have both learned a lot and have gained experience of what the right way forward is. It is very easy to get wrapped up in what is not going right and to lose sight of the progress made. Metaphorically speaking i see myself standing in a doorway with the door open in front of me showing me the way to a full recovery. I need to be able to step through the doorway which sounds so easy but i seem to struggle with it. I think there are two things stopping me. One is fear, i have had the safety net of my crutch of 40 years and the thought of letting it go scares the living daylights out of me at times. The other thing is that i feel that i don't deserve to recover because of all of the bad things that i have done. But any amount of self loathing will change nothing so i need to forgive myself if for no other reason than to allow myself to recover. I need to trust my instincts and know that my supposed crutch is something that seriously hinders rather than helps me. So my message to myself is this "Walk through the door L2R, slam it behind you and let the f*ck go!!" That is my new year's resolution for 2020, i need to stop dithering and totally commit for once and for all.

Happy Christmas everyone, remember to keep your guard up at this tempting time of year and don't lose sight of the power of alcohol to lower your guard. Forewarned is forearmed! Here's to a healthy and safe 2020.

Page 17 of 19 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group