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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:02 pm 
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Lesson 12: Recognizing Unhealthy Recovery Patterns

As mentioned, “the first group propels themselves throught the first weeks of the workshop on pure hope and enthusiasm,” I am somewhat hoping this will be “the program” that “finally” leads to being more successful, though a part of me is still holding back and “reserving the right” to act out “as needed,” as I am still highly skeptical of ever being in a relationship where someone knows about behaviors I have mentioned.
I did also join somewhat out of curiosity, though also the thought of being in true long-term panic. My usual vision for this is that I have to live in the woods scrubbing cabin toilets as a day job, and live with only men, no cell phone or internet access, and never look at another female again. While obviously an exaggerated paranoid fantasy, I tend to react, thinking “that’s all recovery is, so why even bother?” I then jump to the idea I’ll have to accept acting out as part of the rest of my life, especially as I am in a freelance knowledge worker profession, with lots of hours in front of a screen, and that I’ll never get clean.
I definitely also relate greatly to the second group described as among those who continue skipping from program to program over the course of many years. I’ve already been in individual and group therapy for sex addiction, an online life coaching-based program, and the online programs Feed the Right Wolf, and also part of NoFap. Even in this program, I am already internally rebelling a bit at the idea of basing the week around values, rather than roles and goals, per se, but even that is part of my own rebelling against terminology, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater, rather than using the tools to make for a better life overall. I tend to want to live according to the “one best program” rather than just living life itself, with good tools to help.
Along those same lines, as is described for the third group, I have some internal questions around how to incorporate this program with the 12 steps, but again, I imagine it’s a matter of making the best of each program make for better living, and working what works, so to speak. I’ve had a habit of trying to dovetail life according to a particular program, rather than making the best of multiple programs make life run more smoothly. With these doubts and concerns in mind, many of these have been set to rest a bit with the next quote, “It will be what you do with the information that you gain not only from here, but all available resources, that will determine your fate.”
As mentioned too with the fourth group that wants to just jump ahead and “get ‘er done,” I am already jumping ahead with some lessons ahead, and have yet to really plan my week around values-based planning as called for in the first few lessons. And when it comes to intellectualizing the work, I have for a long time based my life and self-worth around things intellectual: having a BA, being in self-improvement workshops, reading and living by this or that book; I’ve only recently become a bit jaded with the addition of a latest title or “rank” in a group. Still, I can relate to wanting to “look good on paper.” For instance, I might tell myself if I wrote 1,500 words on a writing project, hiked 5 miles on a Sunday, went to three networking meetings, yet also paid for sex and watched 10 hours of porn, it still wasn’t a bad week.
While I’m not really connected enough socially to feel there is anyone I need to appease, I’m still telling myself that what I’m watching is just pixels, and it doesn’t matter . . . while simply also just accepting how isolated and cut off I feel at times. It’s almost as though I’ve normalized being cut off as most of the day is in front of TV, computer, phone, and social media. And I do also play the relapse card: I track days of no masturbation with a friend by text, and a 0 slip brings a “you okay?” response, a mild excuse, then a “take it a one day at a time” reassurance, and the pattern goes on. Too, in other no-masturbation circles on the Net, is an “Ultimate NoFap Spreadsheet” I’ve been tempted to start tracking, yet something tells me tracking it would be the most complex metric I work with, even over business, and that might not be a good thing.
I also am somewhat on the fence with moving forward, as being in healthy recovery means most likely never hiring a prostitute or sexual massage again and staying healthy, yet I can’t see myself for instance being at a girlfriend’s place watching movies and cuddling, with her knowing for instance, that I’ve been sexual in a massage parlor in my past. And when it comes to days abstinent, I’ve had a few periods of weeks at a time in my past when a fantasy barely entered my mind, and I didn’t seek out images, though it’s been months or more since then, and I find it hard to imagine at the moment.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Lesson 13: Healthy Recovery Patterns

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

Early Recovery: “Understanding/Recognizing the Behavior”
[/b][/b]In early recovery, individuals often experience significant doubts relating to their ability to change.
I am taking on faith the idea that I might have the ability to make permanent changes, given how many times I’ve started, relapsed, and started again, though definitely having strong doubts here too.

In early recovery, extremely negative emotions are the norm: especially as they relate to depression, anxiety, hopelessness and suicide.
Definitely there. I have been working through some severe depression lately these last few weeks, thought starting Step One and Step Two in another 12-Step program with a sponsor is helping this ease somewhat. And depression starting to lift just a little these last few days.

In early recovery, they often “test the waters” of recovery by attempting recovery for a few days, then acting out. Attempting recovery for a few weeks, then acting out. Attempting recovery for a few months, then acting out. A weaning behavior similar to a toddler giving up a security blanket.
Have often been at this for several years, putting together 4-day, 17-day, 21-day “streaks,” and basing overall self-worth around this; yet, also when I’m with others at breakfast fellowship who are doing the same work as in this program, and talk about how complex it is being with their significant others, I get overwhelmed at the thought of how complex this process might actually be.

In early recovery, they tend to explore many different trigger situations to see how well they can handle themselves. To see "how far they have come". This is a behavior that is often witnessed in adolescent wound care — where the adolescent almost compulsively tears open their bandages to "check the wounds". Of course, just like with addiction, such behavior is often problematic — as it opens the individual up to additional infection. But it is a behavior that provides comfort to the adolescent — no matter what stage of healing the wound may be in.
I’ve noticed this most often around days 12 to 16 or so of continued abstinence from masturbation and porn. Fantasy drops off, but then so does arousal and sensitivity altogether that I start to have fears of ED, only to notice sensitivity and arousal coming back stronger later. Often though, between these times, I’d attempt arousal by fantasy “just to make sure the equipment works,” . . . sure enough, it always did, leading to a slip.

“In early recovery, they tend to experience relief in having their behaviors understood, and immediately seek understanding in all areas of their life. Unfortunately, this tends to overwhelm them, distract them, etc., but it is fairly common . . . and a good sign that their desire to change is sincere.”

Makes me think again of being tempted to jump from program to program, and also as I’ve also started to work with Debtors Anonymous for financial challenges, learning to balance them, but also as sexual compulsion takes a huge amount of energy, this still should come first.

“In early recovery, these individuals may be all across the board in terms of treatment, and may display many similar traits as to those in the “Those Who Will Occasionally Struggle With Relapse” category above.
In early recovery, they perceive "powerlessness" as "helplessness" and "desperation".”

I can definitely relate here.

In early recovery, significant others tend to experience these individuals as very needy, pathetic, “lost souls”.
I can sense where some people, as I talk about what I’m struggling with, tend to try to offer advice, but then I get a sense of a “there but for the Grace of God” vibe.

Middle Recovery : “Actual Recovery”

Their motivation to recover comes from the desire to live a life that they can be proud of, rather than a desire to create the illusion of a life that they can be proud of.
I’m feeling a sense of this, and by making a few key decisions and daily plans a focus, I’m enjoying working at my own goals, but still need to learn to stick with it, even when progress seems slow or minimal.

They make decisions based on what they believe is the right thing to do, rather than on what they think they can get away with.
I definitely am still in the place of wanting to do things that I can “get away with.”

They are not focused on controlling/ending their past behavioral patterns, but on developing new patterns that will take the place of those related to the addiction.
I am still stuck here, though making some progress – I’ve been stuck for some time on making days away from not masturbating the central overall metric for my life and self-worth, rather than just part of recovery, and focusing instead on what I’ve put in the vision & values plan from earlier

They perceive “powerlessness” as a temporary term that more accurately describes their lack of skills in managing their urges.
Relapse triggers are experienced not as a threat, but an opportunity.

Definitely not there at the moment.

They recognize failure as a learning experience — but only when that failure occurs with on-the-spot sincerity, as opposed to pre-planned deception.
I am still at a point where I often want not to voice my dealing with urges, so as, as above, to hold onto the relapse card for sympathy.

They recognize that the feelings that they are experiencing are the same feelings that others deal with every day in many different situations. That they are not “defective,” but “deficient,”
Admitting, at least to myself, that for instance, feeling financially strapped, and depressed . . . hard to admit being “weak,” but does also feel more “normal,” and relatable: going over finances with DA sponsor with $75.00 overspend would be easier to talk about being an electronic gadget, as opposed to a massage parlor “extra.”

They will take a long, hard look at anything associated with their destructive past, and will voluntarily make the decision to remove these objects from their life.
A bit hard to look at making this a reality, as I’m not sure I could do my work without computer and smartphone.

soon resolved with a commitment to making it up to people in other, more healthy ways.
Can’t think of times I’ve been here. The making it up to others to me often has meant something like, “thank you for being honest (and this is the last conversation we’ll ever have)”

Late Recovery : “From Recovery to Health”
[/b]They have complete confidence in their ability to manage their life and are moving forward with their dreams in a rational, planned manner.
Letting of of long range goal focus for the time being in favor of making sure to take care of daily disciplines has been helping these last few days.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:13 pm 
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Lesson 13
II. Consider the values that surround both your healthy and unhealthy patterns. Are they consistent with your current prioritized values? If yes, wonderful. If not, how might this awareness alter how you are currently perceiving/managing your recovery? Share your thoughts in the community forum.

Lately I've noticed I have a tendency to take life “episode by episode, or “story by story,” rather than paying greater attention to the baseline of recovery, and investing the time in changing how I respond to things generally. I am getting recenlty a better sense of being internally guided when it comes to pursuing the values above, though still get caught in the trap of trying to primarily avoid negatives, rather than spending the bulk of time going after what’s more healthy, and learning from mistakes made with the latter.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:03 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:29 am
Posts: 411
Hi Wavemonk,

I was interested to read through your thread.

On the positive side you have done a great job of sticking with the lessons and steadily working through them, a lot of people can lose interest and enthusiasm after the first half dozen or so and you clearly wish to succeed which your progress through the lessons thus far has demonstrated.

If I might offer an overall observation though, I get a sense that you are not really convinced that RN will work for you and you are perhaps keeping your options open by also following other programmes (e.g. 12 step) and are maybe trying to take out the best of each? Abstinence appears to be another theme and a sense that this falls after a while under the guise of "testing the waters". So my advice to you would be for you to stand back and have a think about what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to change how you behave and eliminate compulsive behaviour? Most SAs at the start of the programme would say that they clearly do wish to change but if they are honest will also be thinking that it sounds too much like hard work and that they can't really ever see themselves free of their urges and acting out. If you think that this is you then you have a choice to make. This programme will give you what it promises but it will only deliver if you give a full commitment to it. The quote in my sign-off is what CoachJon says in Lesson 1. If you are not able to recover using RN then it will be because you did not fully commit to the process. So you need to ask yourself how badly you want this, if you want it then you need to be "all in".

You will also learn through the lessons that recovery is not abstinence. In the short term this is recommended whilst you gain the tools through the workshop but in the longer term the goal is in fact to change how you manage your life (through using your values rather than emotions) rather than learning to manage your addiction. Don't lose sight of you stating in the first lessons what your vision and values are. You stated these as being what you know will make you happy. On that basis it makes logical sense to ensure that everything you do in learning how to manage your life properly through this programme must revolve around protecting your values. Acting our violates your values and will therefore make you unhappy even if it does give you a temporary buzz, if you see that then you can understand the illusion of immediate gratification.

My words may seem harsh and I certainly do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm but I get a sense that you need to get a bit of a nudge to get your completely on track. You clearly intellectually understand what is being taught in the lessons but I feel that you now need to believe it, absorb it and then adopt it. If you are living the recovery rather than just reading about it then I have no doubt that you will quickly feel a big change in how you feel about the programme.

I sincerely hope that you take my feedback in the positive manner in which it is intended. This is just my view and you are free to take on board and/or discard any or all of it as you see fit. I look forward to monitoring your thread and see your progress over the coming lessons. If there are any areas that you don't understand then post that to your thread and coaches/mentors will stop by and provide you with some guidance. Your choice but please choose wisely.

_________________
L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:06 am
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Hi L2R,

Thank you for your feedback, and touching base. It is really good to actually connect with another here on the forum. Yes, it does bite a tad to hear not to just take an intellectual approach, but to really absorb, and start to live by, what’s being taught. But I’ve also heard from other friends recently observe how I can take things at intellectual level, and not really work with them, and when three friends in three different social circles say the same thing, I start to pay more attention as well.

I agree that taking trying to “take the best of each,” can easily become cherry picking, and igoring whole needed parts of a program. I imagine where I might be overthinking things is where different programs have slightly different variations of ways to approach a part of life. For example, I’m already seeing the benefit of paying attention to more value-driven, life-affirming activities as a basis for planning, but I can also sometimes not pay as much attention to more deadline-driven things perhaps?

Not sure how much of this is more than just ovethinking. But in any case, when I first started posting here, I was still counting days away from porn as abstinence, even if I was still looking up massage ads or hookup sites, and still had porn sites emailing into my spam filter that I’d click. I’ve since unsubscribed from these, and have clean e-mail, and several days away from seeking out those types of sites, the most abstinent I’ve been in quite some time, not yet in days, but in how “clean” those days have been. I think the program here is already starting to have helped with that.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:20 pm 
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Lesson 16

I. Consider the POSITIVE role that addiction has played in your life. What purposes has it served (think short-term, not long)?
Being able to shut out anxiety and discomfort. Shutting out the world. Feeling rush of power and in control. Absolute pleasure and blocking out of pain. The rush of endorphins. The feeling (or even just idea) of being loved, admired, and “hot.” Like somebody really wants me, and accepts me for all that I am, even with all of my own awkwardnesses.
When it comes to massage, positive aspects I sense are having a sexual connection and feeling of intimacy. Too, being in on something secret and “taboo.” Having a sensual massage (without actual sexual contact) has been wonderful sense of being touched, caressed.
The first time I found I could turn into masturbation and having arousal during some times of family stress in the house, it was a rush that I could shut out the outside world and focus on my own pleasure and escape in a “safe” setting.”
Too, even during a few times when being seductively caressed by my dad when I was 12, there was a longing for that touch and feeling to continue (this, apart from the more overtly sexual parts that came later).


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