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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:35 pm
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3/22/16

I appreciate the development of value based decision making as a key element of healthy living. Can someone give me some insight into developing emotional awareness? I hypothesize, in my situation, there were multiple contributing factors to a pattern of “emotional and feelings” repression. Until very recently I had listened to my “inner critic” voicing “I was not good enough”. Although I evidently had some awareness of that “feeling” I had never “identified” or analyzed it. This often times led to people pleasing behaviors to feel appreciated or loved. Additionally during my late teen and college days I used alcohol, marijuana, and recreational drugs to self medicate, as well as masturbating (pornography in those days was less of an issue as the internet was not so fully developed). During my early college days I had a psychotic reaction, to LSD. The trip was a whopper. I was in the “rubber room” on the Psych ward for more than a week. I was totally detached from reality, with hallucinations, and very little sense of self or surroundings. During the hospitalization I attempted to choke my girlfriend (whom, of course, I was having relationship/intimacy issues with); she was rescued by the orderlies who pulled me off of her after I assaulted her in the hallway during a visit. I also struck my mother in the face during an episode in the padded room when she was visiting. There was no recollection on my part of the actual events, however I was told about both afterwards. Once released from the hospital it took me months to gain any type of emotional and physical balance. My whole metabolism was in “race” mode. Couldn’t sleep or sit still, was up all hours of the night walking, doing pushups, running, anything to try to burn off enough energy to be able to sit still or sleep. I also had several months of psychotherapy to deal with my emotional “imbalance”; most notably to me at that time were “anger” issues. The next “episode” I had I was probably in my mid to late twenties. It was similar in nature to the psychotic episode only there were no foreign substances involved. It happened 2 weeks into a 4 week inpatient program to shake my marijuana habit. At that time they diagnosed me as “bipolar” and put me on lithium and thorazine. I hated the way they made me feel and at some point I quit taking them. Always on guard for the manic “high” I had become aware of before any episodes, but never to worried about the lows, I think I became a master at suppressing and repressing my emotions and feelings. It is only recently I started to “let go” and started to allow myself to “feel” and experience a wider range of emotions. They appear to be valuable as an indicator of what is going on “inside” of me, however, it can take me until the next day sometimes to “figure out” what I was feeling and why. I worry when I start feeling to “good” or emotional.

Do people generally know what they are feeling and why - relatively quickly? That is just not the way it works for me (yet?). It’s like I have to “deconstruct” and figure them all out. I’m moving on to the RN values work, but am finding “feelings and emotions” add a spice to life that I have deprived myself of.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:55 pm
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I think this is a valuable and important question to as, and I hope several people stop by and offer an answer. What I have to say is, unfortunately going to be a partial answer, because it turns out my issues are part of having Asperger's Syndrome, and by default, my emotional growth is going to be far different from your experience. At least, your experience with the bi-polar will help your understanding of what I am talking, and perhaps part of the answer lies in that in spite of our differences, all or most addicts share common pathology; and in spite of all our commonalities, 'normal' is at best, a collection of the mean.

My awareness of feeling worthless pre-dated my understanding of my addiction and that of my wife's discovery and starting on the path to recovery. I knew I felt worthless and I was very harsh with myself as part of my acting out and ritual. Recovery and eventually therapy was what helped me see what was below those feelings, was the bedrock of my addiction and acting out. Therapy is where I was diagnosed with Asperger's, and RN (along with the peripheral readings I undertook) is where I learned the pathology of my addiction. I identify as a sexual anorexic according to the writings of Patrick Carnes. It was this combination (RN; Independent Readings; and therapy) which really opened up the best understanding and progress I have made. Perhaps for you, awareness waits in using multiple approaches to your issues.

I will write more as this conversation hopefully grows.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:31 pm
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Hello tbbtgoggi and welcome!

For me, actually feeling my emotions, the real ones, is something that has only recently begun. Because of abandonment issues in my childhood I quickly learned not to allow my emotions out, they hurt too much.

I spent decades, literally, burying them under anger and resentment, ignoring them, hiding them, pretending they were something “happy” or “pleasant”, or allowing them out only in small “metered” amounts for fear (terror really) of being completely overwhelmed.

I have learned here on RN that my emotions are, in fact, finite and feeling overwhelmed is something that I do to myself or allow rather them facing them and dealing with them, or just letting them come and go. I am still working my way through letting them out, and still have a loooooong way to go, but I’m not who I was a month ago, not who I will be in a month.

I have finally started to catch the anger (most of the time) before it takes hold and dig for the real emotions I am trying to mask underneath. What I usually find is fear (sometimes terror), sadness, pain and worthlessness. Anymore, I am very suspicious of feeling happy, because for most of my life it has mostly been rooted in my addictions. I don’t trust that feeing much even though I know that I need to feel happy.

Recognizing what the underlying emotions are and where they are coming from has been a REAL challenge for me, to say the least, but it gets a little better every day.

P.H.P.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:19 am 
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Thank you CoachSandalwood & 62andBroken. I would currently liken understanding my emotions to the layers of an onion; there are lots of layers beneath what I first recognize. I'm assuming that given some time along with the "self-permission" to experience the full range of my emotions I will become better at knowing what is really going on and discover how they can best serve me on my journey.

Truly appreciate your input.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:27 am 
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I think one of the common things among addicts is what was stated by 62andbroken. As addicts, we have experienced short circuits while building healthy emotional pathways, and recovery is the first time many of us are experiencing the entire emotional spectrum without running to our addictions for comfort. As each of us begins recovery, those of us who are lucky enough to find a way out, we are forced to confront our emotional dead ends and amputations and then build healthy responses and interactions with our emotional self. Therein lies the difficulty. We must go back and do the work we skipped when we were younger, and often, our efforts fall short the first few times because we think it should be easier as adults when it is not. It takes the same practice and repetition it did when we were children.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:58 pm 
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Very good post, CoachSandalwood.
In addition, we must go back and do the work, not as adolescents but as mature people and the society expects emotional maturity in a competitive level from us. I have reached a transition to health where i can connect to the emotions before addiction sets in - feeling love, valuable, desired. Being able to withstand shit tests (alpha-beta challenges) of others. Experiencing uncertainty, doubts and fear. Being able to say no to people which want to cross my boundaries. And yes, it takes a lot of practice and repetition.

About the LSD-Trips:
I did a few LSD-Trips during recovery. Not to do the next big mistake, but to introduce values like risk taking and experiencing the forbidden. I had extreme controlling parents. My trips did not end as horror-trips. I am sure it was devastating for you when this LSD-desaster has happened. But important in this thread: For those that are NOT emotionally connected to you, it sounds rather funny reading your LSD-experiences, that you totally lost control and went berserk. For those that are emotionally connected to you, they realize that you have a past and a future. And that such a devastating trip destroyed a lot of in your life. They hope for you that you can find a way out.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:25 pm 
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Thank you CoachSandalwood & Sunbeam.

One of the things I find frustrating is the difficulty in coming to grips with what is beneath the “obvious” emotion initially felt or perceived. After I recognize I’m getting angry or becoming defensive there is little time to “delve” into what is beneath the anger or defensiveness as those emotions arise during interactions with my wife. That almost always entails such a barrage of emotional intensity that I’m short circuited after about 10 minutes. The deluge of issues and topics, before degenerating into complete unproductive communication, accusation, and misunderstanding seems beyond logic to me. But then it’s not about logic, is it. I often feel like I could talk to “anybody” else about any of this, but with the hurt my wife experiences, merely seeing things “differently” is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

I realize that developing emotional maturity and being vulnerable are at the heart of developing intimacy and rebuilding our relationship, but sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the effort. Maybe there has been too much water under the bridge to save our relationship, or maybe I’m just getting to old to keep all the irons in the fire hot: recovery, marriage, earning the living and still wanting some joy and fun out of life.

No more for the moment. I do not like where my current thoughts are headed.

Thank you for your input.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:29 am 
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I now experience negative emotions as a form of 'tightness' or 'contraction' on a specific area (usually the chest, sometimes the lower back). I think this is due to me practicing a lot of Zen. It 'somehow' made me 'detach' to my emotions, so now I'm feeling it as a 'physical pain' in my body. I also notice that this 'physical pain' gets strengthen the more negative thoughts I get involved. It really does feel like the thoughts feeds the emotion, which makes the thoughts more stronger, then leads to a cycle. At first I was just reading this on Zen books (Eckhart Tolle books, highly recommend for Zen) but to realize it myself is another thing.

I think one part I misunderstood about Zen is that you are not your mind, so therefore I did not put much effort in developing my identity. As far as Zen is concern, I am not my mind, not my thoughts, not my emotions, not my values, of course this is all my misunderstanding, and this is probably why I struggled in recovery before finding RN. You have to have an identity in the physical plane, that's just how it is. It's just that you shouldn't be 'so attached' to this identity that matters.

That's it, just sharing my thoughts on these one and my experience with Zen in relation to emotions :)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:40 am 
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Although, I am not very acquainted with Zen practices or beliefs I do engage in some meditation and mindfulness exercises. They have helped me to be able to “detach” somewhat when I recognize the emotions I’m feeling will not be helpful. There is recognition that I am not my mind, thoughts, emotions, or values. My understanding of mind, body, and spirit is as the “one” that does the thinking, has the feelings, and chooses the values. It’s the “me” that is responsible and always has a choice, however I can lose that perspective when things are highly emotional or out of complacency (or just “being”).

Thanks for your thoughts.
:g:


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:22 pm
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ProtoMan wrote:
I now experience negative emotions as a form of 'tightness' or 'contraction' on a specific area (usually the chest, sometimes the lower back). I think this is due to me practicing a lot of Zen. It 'somehow' made me 'detach' to my emotions, so now I'm feeling it as a 'physical pain' in my body. I also notice that this 'physical pain' gets strengthen the more negative thoughts I get involved. It really does feel like the thoughts feeds the emotion, which makes the thoughts more stronger, then leads to a cycle. At first I was just reading this on Zen books (Eckhart Tolle books, highly recommend for Zen) but to realize it myself is another thing.

I think one part I misunderstood about Zen is that you are not your mind, so therefore I did not put much effort in developing my identity. As far as Zen is concern, I am not my mind, not my thoughts, not my emotions, not my values, of course this is all my misunderstanding, and this is probably why I struggled in recovery before finding RN. You have to have an identity in the physical plane, that's just how it is. It's just that you shouldn't be 'so attached' to this identity that matters.

That's it, just sharing my thoughts on these one and my experience with Zen in relation to emotions :)


This. so much this. I went through an intense Vipassana retreat and did 2 hours of meditation a day for 2-3 month after the retreat. This tightness or pressure became so overwhelming, that I stopped 2 months ago. The feeling remains, but it feels more like an open wound atm than a good thing and I would love it to stop.

I am not sure if I fucked myself up or if it helps my longterm development. I feel this pressure now instead of neutrality I felt before, but I feel uncertain if that is so good, as it inflicts a lot of my activities and makes recovery even harder atm and my positive emotions haven't been intensified in any way. I still feel as before unable to feel love and mostly only feel sadness throughout the entire day without having any other reason I could think of then acting out...

Before the meditation phase I felt a bit bad for a few days and then mostly just a bit disappointed about me not living my potential. Now I become intensely depressed for 2-3 weeks with some days, where I have difficulty to do anything.


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