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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:44 pm
Posts: 301
090816

Hello, it's been years since I've been on the forum after many years of being on the forum regularly. I'm happy to say that my life has been remarkably healthy overall, and I owe a great deal to Jon, his teachings, and the other coaches for that. I am tremendously grateful.

And now the unburdening! : )

Although it’s been over four years since I’ve acted out the way I used to with phone sex and chatlines, I have had a lingering infatuation / obsession (on and off) for about two and a half years now - a coworker who I developed a close friendship with that I'm having a hard time forgetting. Or at least, at this point, getting her out of my head. I haven't worked with her for almost two years now but it's rare that a day goes by that I don't think of her. It just feels like she's with me a great deal and I haven't been able to let go of fantasy and thoughts about her, and wishes that I could be with her more.

To clarify, we've had virtually no physical contact ever (a hug hello and a hug goodbye at an industry event I saw her at in late April this year) and very intermittent email contact in this two year period we’ve been not working together. As well, there has been no flirting in an obvious fashion. However, it’s always been clear that we are attracted to each other. And even now, there are days that I long for more from her. Not always. But frequently. I was shocked the other day when my wife touched my arm and I wondered how it would be if SHE had touched me instead. It’s sometimes like this woman’s with me, almost like a ghost, as I move through the day. This while I have had no contact of any kind with her in over 3 months.

I have tried various action plans over the three years I have known her and they will work for awhile and then their effectiveness will wear off. I am happy and fulfilled in my marriage and family. I don’t want a relationship with this woman. Yet the fantasies persist. I feel like I need to reach out for some assistance as it really is time to bury this and move on. This is not a crippling thing to me but it’s a hindrance and a definite reality, it’s more of a chipping away at my best self… it’s something I am using to torture myself perhaps or maybe a way to not completely let go of my addictive patterns. While I’ve left behind my sex addiction, it seems the remnants of love addiction are still lingering.

I don’t feel like I can be completely free if this is going on in my life and I need some input. Have any of you had troubles with infatuations, obsessive attachments and fantasies that won’t go away? What strategies have you had success with?

Any suggestions or thoughts are welcome.

Thanks!
Ontrack

_________________
"Today I commit to deepen and strengthen my Values and fully engage my Action Plans to uphold the Boundaries that keep my Values sacred."


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:11 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:26 pm
Posts: 189
Hi Ontrack

It is encouraging that you have so far "managed a somewhat healthy lifestyle", however it is also worrying that you have this lingering fantasy or obsession as you put it. I am not in any way discrediting your efforts thus far, i am just compelled to say something because of my own experiences and thought i could share my opinion. I hope i don't sound offensive or putting you down. Do forgive me as this is more of an emotional response rather than a well thought out discussion.

So i have been attempting recovery for the past couple of years, i constantly lied to myself and to those around me that i was in recovery but i was not. At an intellectual level, i walked the talk, putting up a facade, building a grand personality for show yet my character is rotten to the core. So deep down i never started the journey as four years down the line im still right here where i started. Only now my eyes are partially open as i try to be honest, first with myself.

ontrack wrote:
I have tried various action plans over the three years I have known her and they will work for awhile and then their effectiveness will wear off. I am happy and fulfilled in my marriage and family. I don’t want a relationship with this woman. Yet the fantasies persist. I feel like I need to reach out for some assistance as it really is time to bury this and move on. This is not a crippling thing to me but it’s a hindrance and a definite reality, it’s more of a chipping away at my best self… it’s something I am using to torture myself perhaps or maybe a way to not completely let go of my addictive patterns. While I’ve left behind my sex addiction, it seems the remnants of love addiction are still lingering.


Have you tried to discuss this with your wife? It may be the only way to purge these thoughts when you share them with those that will be hurt should you act out on them. You have come this far, this may seem like small pie, but it could be your undoing

ontrack wrote:
This is not a crippling thing to me but it’s a hindrance and a definite reality, it’s more of a chipping away at my best self… it’s something I am using to torture myself perhaps or maybe a way to not completely let go of my addictive patterns. While I’ve left behind my sex addiction, it seems the remnants of love addiction are still lingering.


Ask yourself, What is keeping this fantasy alive? If the opportunity to live it out presented itself would you be able to resist it? Be honest with yourself and find a way to beat the demons before they beat you down

Be well

_________________
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.


Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.


Carl Jung


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:44 pm
Posts: 301
090916
Thanks for the response, thisiscumbersome, much appreciated. And no offense taken, it’s good to be asked these questions as they are ones I’m also asking myself and they need to be answered.

I haven’t told my wife about these fantasies. I think it’s because I’m very aware that she told me clearly four years ago, this is my last chance with her. If I act out again, we’re through. She meant the sexual acting out I was doing, the phone sex and chatlines, but still I fear her response would be to walk away from our marriage forever even if it’s just a crush or a romantic delusion in this case.

As well, although this has existed for awhile now, I never have felt that it was taking over, it’s just been a presence that would rise up from time to time. I think I felt that as long as I wasn’t acting out sexually I was “ok” and didn’t need to share it with my wife. I’m willing to admit this may be delusional on my part but at the moment I am unwilling to go there.

In my reading on the site yesterday I came upon the thread:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=19078

I believe the kind of work that Coach Boundless and Forwardthinker describe is at the root of it for me (and indeed your second question). “What are the underlying causes of my fantasies / obsessions / delusions?” As they seem to have experienced, it appears my sex addiction has been managed, leaving unresolved love addiction issues underneath that go deep into my childhood. I need to go get in there, sifting through thoughts and beliefs and underlying currents. I spent a couple hours exploring that yesterday with some success: I believe the root causes are related to identity and neglect (emotional and physical neglect) I experienced as a child. I discovered a helpful inner question that I’ve been walking around with today which is, “Who am I? Why am I here?” This question triggers answers within me surrounding my values and life vision and purpose in a really solid way. And takes away the need and craving that’s underneath my fantasy / obsession / romantic delusional thoughts. Because my mind fills it the question’s answers with positive things about what I believe in and the direction my life is headed. My mind (thus far anyway, it’s very early in this exploration) is reminding me about my own Goodness. My Principles. My Values. So I will build a specific action plan around this for when the fantasies occur.

I do feel I can talk to wife about what I’m going through in a more general way. As a way of expressing where my compulsions and addictions come from. So I wouldn’t say, “I can’t stop thinking about his girl I used to work with”, I would say, “I think I’ve discovered some of the underlying causes of my compulsive behaviours and this is how I’m working on it, what do you think?”. I feel I can safely have this kind of conversation with her. For now, this will be my approach. There’s a great deal of openness in our relationship but I want to tread carefully and with respect in this area.

So, I’m resolving to tackle my love addiction issues: read more here at the site, construct new action plans that address the root causes of my thoughts and behavior, and increase my awareness of my thoughts ten-fold… as I believe Coach Boundless described so well in the above thread, I really need to be intensely (and healthily) monitoring my thoughts so that I can move into a new area of health.

Thanks,
Ontrack

_________________
"Today I commit to deepen and strengthen my Values and fully engage my Action Plans to uphold the Boundaries that keep my Values sacred."


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:26 pm
Posts: 189
Hi Ontrack

Unfortunately i can not give you a direct answer. However, i can only share my experiences and opinions so you can try to relate and find your own answers.
Firstly i did not truly live my values and that compromised on everything including my thought process, for instance the value of honesty as elaborated in lesson 10 of the workshop where absolute honesty is encouraged, I circumvented honesty to my own folly. i would suggest you go back to lesson 10 for guidance. Think about it this way, your wife is still with you because she believes in you, and you being open with her would build or strengthen trust. Yes you have to find an honest way of sharing your thoughts in a manner that does not strain the relationship or cause her discomfort but without minimizing the truth. But the most important thing or rather the most important question to ask is what is your motivation to recover? Are you doing it for your relationship or for yourself? If you can answer this, then you will be in a position to decide what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately there are sacrifices to be made either way. I have come to realize that Honesty is indeed the best policy.

_________________
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.


Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.


Carl Jung


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:54 am
Posts: 1377
Hey Ontrack

Both happy and sad to see back here. I returned the other day for the first time in ages for a little reality check. Just drifting a little - more in my attention and focus than anything darker. but realise some old patterns heading back and want to head them off.

I always feel with your that you already know the answers to questions you raise. I guess you hit the nail on the head with fantasy - the contrast between what your mind is creating about this woman and the reality of your relationship.

the problem is that this places the focus on you and why you are creating the fantasy. Not just about this individual but why are you creating it all?

The problem too with fantasy lives and relationaships is that it lets us off the hook so easily. Nothing really happened, so what is the problem?

But it is good you are raising it here, as clearly there is a problem and you feel it.

You can ask yourself - what was it abot this woman, and the relatiionship you had that was giving you sme kind of meaning? But it is always worth wondering what else is happening in your life and relationships. You compare her to your wife, favourably - how is that going? How is work? Is there complacency in your recovery.

I suspect there is a little in mine and I want to get things sharply in focus before I lose myself again.

Good to hear from you though...
Shaw


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:05 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:44 pm
Posts: 301
091316

Thanks for the response, Shaw, and good to see you too. Don’t be sad to see me, this is all a process and I’m happy to be here investigating again. Digging for answers and confronting some of my delusions. This is much of life after all, learning how to live with self and reality and others.

I’m taking a larger view on this one for myself. Digging into overall needs that I have stemming from childhood and upbringing. Core beliefs like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unloveable”. The need to be SEEN. Identity and lack of identity. My gut says if I put my attention there, be watchful of thoughts and delusions and catch them in the moment, I’ll be fine. I don’t feel it’s about this woman or my wife or any of that, there’s the root causes that come from these Core Beliefs that needs to be addressed: self-care, self-love and compassion.

Somehow in my life I’ve adopted behavior and thoughts that are unhealthy in order to get the kind of love I think I need. I need rigorous observance of thought to identify those patterns in the moment and let them go. The good thing is that I’m longer just trying to stop negative behaviors that could destroy my life. My sex addiction is currently managed. The next level is deep core thoughts and belief. Looking forward to spending time every day in meditation and otherwise picking through and examining thought patterns to get there.

All the best for your recovery, sounds like you’re doing well. I encourage you to show compassion for yourself and recognize the growth you’ve undergone in your years here. Really recognize it and appreciate it. This is about process, not perfection.

Peace,
Ontrack

_________________
"Today I commit to deepen and strengthen my Values and fully engage my Action Plans to uphold the Boundaries that keep my Values sacred."


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:44 pm
Posts: 301
091516

Hi, just realizing I've been rather naive in my approach, and indeed with my words, in this thread. Did a mapping of the rituals I indulge in in relation to this woman... it was a true eye opener. This is a true romantic delusion and deeply ingrained. I've been deceiving myself with thoughts of, "oh it's not so bad, it’s ok, I’m ok". Getting on it with rigourous action now. And will post those actions both here and in my recovery thread...

The ritual goes something like this, with variations:

1. Random Connection by one of these ways:
- See her online at Facebook, a post she’s tagged in comes up on my feed, or a Linkedin update, or something about the xx she’s working on comes up in the news, or a related social media feed

-Will be driving through her neighborhood either day or night – or realize I’ll be going to do that later in the day, or three days from now, and plan to drive out of my way a bit to go closer than I otherwise would.

-Streetcar through her neighborhood on the way to work – what if she gets on? I wonder if this is when she takes the streetcar to work? What does she look like now? Did she color her hair again?

-Be biking home and wonder if I should bike out of my way to give me a chance to randomly see her.

-just think of her

2. Fantasy:
-Remember a moment we shared
-Think of her – wonder what she’s doing now, is she still working on xx or for xx?
-Remember more moments from the past
-Think about when I next see her, run into her – random element SUSPENSE – will I run into her? Where is she? Will the stars align?
-Think about calling her, talking on the phone – imagine phone sex?
-Think about having sex with her, her face, her body, what does it look like?
-Think about talking with her
-Excuses to contact her via email: I can’t create without her input, I need that adrenaline coursing thru me
-If I invited her for lunch would she come? Would she like that? Would she do it out of duty? Would she dodge it? What would she wear? How would she behave? Flirty? Professional? Fun? Serious? Would she ask about me? Does she care about me?
-when will I next run into her?
-does she have a boyfriend now?
-does she think of me like I think of her? Ever? Never?

3. Online hunt:
Look online for signs of her, FB, Linkedin, flip through her photos until bored (but this hunt can last awhile, perhaps several times over a few days, starting and stopping)

4. Conflict about contacting her:
-back and forth, reasons for and against, until I relent and figure out a “good” way that “isn’t too bad” i.e. I rationalize it so that I’m not breaking my boundaries too obviously, I figure out a way to bend them not break them. NOTE: REDEFINE MY BOUNDARIES AROUND HER SO I CAN’T DO THIS

5. Email Her:
-Write an email – waffle over sending it – send it
-the game of messages begins - excited about waiting for a response, imagine when she’ll respond, if she’ll respond, excited, anticipating, if it’s in the next half hour she loves me, in the next six hours she likes me, the next day she just feels obligated – maybe she won’t at all and then I’ll be free of her, if she doesn’t answer I’ll NEVER contact her again and I’ll be free
-but I am depressed if she doesn’t respond, reread the email chain, try to infer meaning from her words, what could I have said to get a different response, to hook her and yet remain neutral (that’s the game, to go through all of this and remain neutral and non-sexual, to not cross the boundaries of my marriage, to not betray my wife, how close can I come and still not betray her?)

-I GET HER EMAIL RESPONSE – THRILLED CURIOUS EXCITED – and filled with excitement I respond again – what should I say to get a response right away - will she respond right away again, hours later, days later, or never?
-what do I want in best case scenario? a quick chain of responses, like chatting via email, the ching ching ching like music as her message comes in – anticipation, excitement, secrecy
-and then the messages naturally stop… and I know it’ll be weeks / months before there’s any more contact like this and then the emotions roll through, relief, sadness, despair, back to my real life, mundanity, and then nothing, blankness… rolling through the stages of our interaction in my mind – what did that mean? Does she like me or doesn’t she? and then it cycles back to the beginning of the ritual - the key thing being that, so far, it perpetuates itself, it does not end ever as it's currently built


I HAVE UPDATED MY BOUNDARIES TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

• I refrain from indulging in fantasies about women – I use the catch and release thought principle
• I refrain from targeting women, i.e. making them a target and pursuing them
• I refrain from flirting
• I refrain from online intrigue with targets
• I refrain from viewing FB or Linkedin or other online profiles compulsively, targeting and tracking women, getting intrigue hits from their photos or profiles
• I refrain from changing my driving or commuting routes while out in the world so that I may have a greater chance of “running into” a woman / target
• I refrain from indulging in fantasy (first step) and using it to launch a compulsive ritual
• I refrain from contacting women I’m triggered by


THE POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES OF ME MAKING A HEALTHY DECISION WHEN FACED WITH THE URGE TO BEGIN A COMPULSIVE RITUAL related to her – fantasy, checking out her online profiles, playing the game of “will I run into her?” :

-my self-respect will stay strong
-I’ll feel love in my life, not desperation
-I won’t be sucked down energetically
-I’ll be moving away from chronic dependence and moving toward health
-I’ll be more present
-I’ll give myself a break – self-compassion and forgiveness
-I’ll be letting go of the past
-I can get behind my self and my mission
-I will soar as I’m letting go of the things that hold me back, squash my creativity and love

ACTION PLAN FOR EXPERIENCING A TRIGGERING THOUGHT ABOUT HER:
• CATCH the fantasy or thought – ID it for what it is, label it “fantasy” or “target trigger” or “game playing” or “intrigue” and think, “uh-uh” to stop the progression of my thought(s)
• ASSESS - How far along am I? Where am I at?
• RECOGNIZE this is a moment of DECISION – who am I? What kind of life am I building? With what tools?
• REFLECT - think of at least five positive consequences of making a Healthy Decision in this moment – weigh these against the negative consequences of an Unhealthy decision
• REFRAIN – wish her well, let go of the thought, REVIEW Mantra, CHOOSE a Value that will help me commit to a healthy decision in this moment
• CHOOSE a Healthy Action and launch it
• APPRECIATE how I’ve reaffirmed my Values and my Healthy Core Identity - SIT IN THAT APPRECIATION (compassion) - RESOLVE to continue to uphold my boundaries
• WHEN SAFE, REFLECT on the emotional root of the urge, where does it come from? What emotional need is it a result of?
• STAY IN HEALTHY ACTION and move forward, strengthening my Healthy Core Identity
• REPEAT as necessary

_________________
"Today I commit to deepen and strengthen my Values and fully engage my Action Plans to uphold the Boundaries that keep my Values sacred."


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