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 Post subject: Puffin's Lesson Thread
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A. Because the discovery of your partner's addiction will no doubt reflect many commonalities with others, it is at the same time uniquely devastating to you. Take some time to share your background in relation to the discovery of your partner's sexual and/or romantic compulsions/addiction. Share an unadulterated version of your partner's addiction with someone you trust; or, anonymously in this forum.

I knew that I felt terrible about myself and a man who once made me feel like the center of the universe and confident and strong no longer made me feel that way. He would criticize my appearance, saying that certain outfits made me look flat chested, or not wanting me to wear my glasses because it would make me seem frumpy, or responding in critical ways when I tried to address my insecurities. He couldn’t get erect sometimes or would sometimes lose his erection while we had sex. Those were signs that I was just missing, because I thought he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I knew that he had a history of watching pornography and we had talked about our boundaries and the appropriate role for masturbation in our relationship. He had actively talked to me about how he felt pornography was detrimental to him and he didn’t want to engage in those behaviors.

I was so damn understanding and open and supportive of him, and tried so hard to make our relationship a safe place for honesty and trust. I never lashed out at him for watching porn and kept my own feelings under wraps as much as I could since I knew how conflict averse he is and knew that expressing any sadness or hurt would lead to his withdrawal and that he would never be open with me. He would swear that he was doing well and hadn’t been engaging in those behaviors and, like an idiot, I took him at his word. I would check in every once in a while, maybe every three to six months and gently ask him to be forthcoming—“hey, no judgement, I was just wondering if you have been looking at any pornography recently?” and he would always say that he hadn’t. Sometimes I would have just a gut feeling that something wasn’t right and would press him a little more and then he would admit that he had been. I would hold my emotions back and try to encourage him to find a healthy way to work around pornography. I should have known then that he was a liar and would never be forthcoming or honest with me and that he felt just fine looking into my eyes and lying right to my face.

A month after we returned from our honeymoon, I went to his computer. I wasn’t trying to snoop, because I was foolish enough to believe that everything was fine. I pulled up the internet history because I was trying to find a song that we had listened to a few days previously. As I scrolled through the history, I found out what a sham of a marriage I was in. I did not open any of the links, seeing the names was enough. I shut the tabs and sat down with my bastard of a husband. I asked him gently “hey, I just wanted to check in really quick and ask if you’ve been watching porn.” And he looked me in the eyes and said that he hadn’t. I asked again, and he denied it. I said that that was an interesting thing to say since I had found porn on the internet history. He repeated that he hadn’t looked at any. After coming to terms with the fact that I may be naïve and trusting and foolish but not quite dumb enough to swallow that porn just miraculously appeared on his history he admitted it. He told me that it had been going on for months and that it was his stressful job that had triggered it. But he didn’t work at that job any more so it wasn’t completely based on that stress. He disclosed some details to me.

Then, after four months of couple’s counseling and his own therapy sessions and groups, I asked him about his experiences last night and it came out that he had lied to me for the entirety of our relationship and had never refrained from using pornography at all. He had lied to me not just a few more times than I knew, but many more. He also came clean about the extent of his use which hurt terribly because it showed just how many boundaries he was willing to break for this stupid habit, and how far he was willing to go. He told me about the lies he had told even after starting treatment. Treatment does not feel like a clean slate, his new job does not feel like a clean slate, nothing feels like it can be set right since it was never right in the first place. I feel like I never knew the man I married and I feel lost and alone. I feel not like trust has been broken but like none ever existed to begin with because he never ever put me over pornography. I am lonely and isolated and desolate and so so so so so angry and sad. My best friend and partner and lover is someone that I made up in my head and not the real life selfish horny liar that I made the mistake of hitching my wagon to.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:40 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
Sorry for many lessons being uploaded at once, I had been working through these lessons for months before I joined on here.

Create a vision that represents the real you. The one that you will be reconnecting to on your path towards healing.

I see myself being a confident woman. This means that I would feel like I am healthy physically by eating well and working out. It would mean that I would do my hair and makeup regularly, but also be able to feel happy about how I look without anything done up. I would feel like my body is important and be thankful to have such a healthy body. I would think that I am beautiful, not because of the clothes or makeup but because of the way I smile and laugh and am smart and kind. I would feel able to accept compliments graciously and know that they are accurate reflections of good parts of myself. I would not worry that I have to compete with anyone or anything, because I would know how much I am worth. I would look at my naked body in the mirror and see positives, not areas for improvement.

I would be kind to myself and not feel guilty about spending time or money on myself. I would pamper myself by going to the hairdresser more. I would do more reading and hobbies to improve myself. I see myself finding more of a community where I could form authentic connections and be able to find people to trust and gain emotional support from. I would feel comfortable with my own emotions and be able to give myself the time and space to authentically sit with my emotions and feel them. I would not completely hide, overcome, or suppress my emotions to accommodate others when I know that I need the chance to relax and just feel what is happening inside my own process and around me in my life. I would give myself understanding that sometimes the emotions don’t make logical sense or just come from a deep place that I don’t ordinarily connect with.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A) Brainstorm the times when your 'gut feelings' have been right about your partner's sexual and/or romantic behavior. Include times when you feel strongly that you were right (though it may never have been proven either way).

I think that I have been right in every situation where my gut said one thing but my heart overrules it, because I have let my love blind me or my wanting to believe that everything is ok in order to keep my life and relationship the same.

B) Identify as many major situations as you can where you allowed your head/heart to override your 'gut feelings' in relation to your partner's behavior.

• Doesn’t get hard
o over sexual activity
o as quickly as usual
o when I indicate that I want sexual activity
• Doesn’t maintain erection long/during sex
• Doesn’t get all the way hard/ as hard as usual
• Gets more erections than usual at times not engaged in sexual activity
• Goes on his phone a lot
• Hides his phone
• Is annoyed with me when I try to initiate too much sexual contact or activity
• Says evasive things when I casually ask about what he is doing (especially on his phone)
• Answers a question by being overly broad or overly specific or avoiding the question by basically giving the answer to a related topic but not really addressing the direct issue

C) Relying on the experience you have gained, make a list of likely behaviors, situations and/or feelings that may trigger a conflict between your gut instinct, your value system and/or reality.
I think that because all the things that tipped off my gut feeling were mostly all right rather than allowing myself to see reality. Because of all these things being true indicators and not just the product of insecurity or groundless suspicion, I will do a better job of listening to my instincts and trusting myself.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:42 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
1) Make a list of those values in your partner's life that — in your gut — you believe is a part of him. Set aside the addiction and the behaviors that were a part of that addiction. Focus on what values you believe will survive the recovery process. Post these in your Healing Thread. If there is a time when you are feeling close to your partner, share these thoughts with him — so that he knows that you are beginning to separate the addiction from his core identity.

1) Spirituality—seems connected and believes in something larger than himself, in harmony with the world
2) Caretaking/caring, considerate, pampers me and provides for me
3) Agreeableness/companionship and friendship, enjoyable to spend time with
4) Sensitivity and emotional, could become a strong point in the future if he learns to express that vulnerability and if I learn to express myself honestly without holding back too much because I want to avoid hurting him
5) Calm, able to weather a storm and take up the slack when it is needed
6) Patient
7) Fun-loving, witty, and a good sense of humor
8) Relaxed/Peaceful/steady/stable
9) Sweet and is able to give kind gestures and thoughtful actions
10) Understanding

2) Make a list of those qualities in your partner that you believe will continue to pose as obstacles throughout your relationship.

1) Conflict averse
2) Self-righteous/stubborn/strong willed/ (pride?)
3) Unreflective and Inarticulate
4) Indecisive/noncommittal
5) Independent/private/doesn’t consider how I might feel ahead of time only after the fact
6) Logical/unemotional/ability to rationalize anything
7) Questioning/challenging/skeptical/amoral?
8) Sarcastic—sometimes goes too far and says things that aren’t funny or that hurt me
9) Critical
10) Easily discouraged/low confidence/low self-esteem

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:45 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A. How do you manage your stress? What would it take for you to become so emotionally overwhelmed that you would turn to irrational behavior to produce enough intensity to escape from that stress? Can you think of a time in your life that you have turned to such a measure?

Obviously, there are many times that I have used irrational behavior to escape from stress. I have been ‘clean’ from this for about six years, but after a sexually abusive relationship I developed problems with compulsive self-harm. Cutting and burning myself was an irrational behavior that provided emotional release when the emotional build up was high and difficult to cope with. I would also say that my recreational drug use was an example of using an irrational behavior to distract from stressors or to provide relief from those stressors. I think at this point in my life it would take quite a bit for me to engage in those behaviors again. I think that I have learned a lot about coping with stresses and know how to bolster myself against feeling high levels of stress by managing my life properly, and when I feel those overwhelming instances of stress I think that I manage my stress quite well. Usually I confront the source of my stress head on if possible (i.e. if a work project is stressing me out I go ahead and work on it until it is under control or manageable) or if I feel unable to do that I do a lot of self-soothing behavior like baths, and candles, and tea, and getting some relaxation and sleep, until I am in a better emotional place to confront the stressor head on. Recently, since everything has happened, I have felt more out of control with my stress and I have had strong urges to burn myself or hurt myself in different ways. I came very close to acting on this once but willed myself to remain in place until my mind drifted away from thoughts of harm. I have tried to be very conscious of noting these times and bringing them to the front of my mind where I can process that urge as an indicator of emotional distress rather than a solution for it, and tried to be very mindful about not engaging in any sort of activity that would take me toward physical pain as a replacement for dealing with emotion.

B. Consider a compulsive behavior that you have engaged in. Break it down thoroughly. Get a sense for the anxiety that you experienced prior to engaging in the act. Imagine the continued anxiety that you would have experienced had you not engaged in the act. Describe that anxiety in your own words.

The anxiety or stresses that I would feel when I would harm myself felt like:
-the emotions were too big for my body to be able to feel
-like I was so immersed in the emotion that I almost couldn’t notice the way it felt anymore, like how when you swim you know the water is all around you and on your skin, but cannot focus on the single sensation of the water on your skin
-like I would be paralyzed and less than functional if the emotions were not relieved somehow
-it felt like when you are drunk and try to focus on a single thing so that the one thing becomes clear but everything else goes even more out of whack, like if I could focus long enough to harm myself then everything would clear up and straighten itself out but that everything felt drunk blurry before that and I would have to focus through that to relieve the emotion

C. In contemplating the role that addiction has played in your partner's life, imagine what his/her life would be like without this life management skill in place. To be clear, the task here is not to imagine his life without the consequences of the addiction, but to imagine how he would manage his emotions without having the compulsive act to engage in. How would he stimulate himself emotionally? What would he use to regulate his stress? Not how should he, mind you, but how would he?

-He would plan his next hobby session, go for a walk, pray, try meditating in the mornings to enter and prepare himself for the day

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A. Of the four areas discussed in this lesson, which have you observed in your partner?

All or nothing
• He thinks that his boss was angry at him—therefore he is not a good worker
• He thinks that his grades in college were not As—therefore he is not smart
• He thinks that I am angry at him—therefore I do not love him
• He thinks that I do not know what he is doing—therefore it is not hurtful/harmful
• He thinks that his friends make more money than he does—therefore his career is a failure
Immediate gratification
• Obviously was not thinking about any long-term consequences of his actions or was rationalizing it away because of his need to instantly be rid of boredom and stress
• He was also not able to consider any needs other than his own in his decision-making process
Sexualized mind
• Him thinks I am much more sexually promiscuous than I am or that I am constantly looking for sex
• Every kiss or act of affection from me was interpreted as a bid for sex/sexual attention
• The way he tries to add up if he has a chance with women
Objectified mind
• wanting me to dress a certain way to ‘show me off’ and boost his own ego
• his distinctions about how anything happening real-time like webcams and chatrooms are cheating but porn isn’t (this shows that he doesn’t think of the actresses in porn as real people, but contemporaneous interaction feels like real people in his mind)
• the object stimulates the addicts emotional needs—he needs women to find him attractive and pleasing sexually, therefore this is the purpose they serve to him. This is why the flavor he likes is from a female point of view. It is also the reason he wants me to be arm candy, to show women that he is desirable to beautiful women and thus attract them.
• He wants me to show how into sex I am—when I am already showing that in authentic ways and it would detract from my sexual experience to have to put on a show about how much I want it—in order to boost his sexual self-esteem

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:48 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A. Consider the role that you have played in your partner's recovery to date. In the field below, describe these roles as they relate to:

I. Effective communication
• I will try to make space for honest conversation to happen y being receptive and open when my partner brings something up. I know that since recovery has been going better I have developed the tendency to want to shut down these conversations and pretend that if we don’t talk about it everything is getting better, even though I realize that is not a healthy strategy.
• I will try not to open up conversations as frequently, because I can tell it makes my partner feel trapped and frustrated and that isn’t the emotional reaction I want him to have to me. I want him to feel positive and like he can share with me rather than my pursuing answers from him.
• I will try to set communication boundaries in the conversations that he initiates, by gently reminding him what are healthy ways to communicate. I.E. when he asks if I have any questions, remind him that my role is not to be an investigator, or when he shares an experience factually and forgets to mention his perception and feelings about it, remind him that those are things he is welcome to add if he feels comfortable with that.

II. Managing your partner's recovery
• I am trying not to manage his recovery and when he asks things like “if I take X action, will that make you feel better?” remind him that recovery is his process and no one can know better than him what steps he needs to take to make a healthy recovery

II. Empowering/disempowering a pursuit of health
• I have not had enough time or energy recently to focus on my own health, let alone helping my partner. I hope that my acceptance of these hopefully temporary limitations has been a release for us both, rather than needing to feel guilty about our lifestyle. I do really hope to start working on my own health in the future when I am able and I hope that my partner will work with me on that and be supportive and find joy in it so we can work on a healthy lifestyle together. I think that I am very supportive when it comes to his mental and emotional health and really helping him work on a sense of identity and an identity he can be secure and proud of.

B. Consider the focus and attention that has been offered to your partner in recovery; are you gaining equal resource to heal your own wounds? If not, what can you do to ensure that your healing is considered every bit as important as your partner's recovery?

Right now, Recovery Nation lessons and exercises are sort of the only source of healing that I am working on for myself right now. Marriage counseling is helping for the relationship, but I don’t think that it is really a space for focusing on myself. I think that I find a lot of meaning at work, which is great, but I don’t know that it is healing so much as just one of the only stable meaningful important things I have right now. I don’t feel comfortable confiding in anyone because of the obviously sensitive and embarrassing nature of this for me. I think that it would be nice to have someone or somewhere to share my feelings, but I don’t know how to facilitate that. Right now everything takes so much effort that I just don’t have the energy to put into it. Part of me is also reluctant to take any steps toward individual counseling or anything because 1) money 2) I am worried that I will wallow in my emotion 3) I feel like I put 100% into the relationship and am not responsible for what happened and while I know I have room to improve as a person and even as a person in a relationship, that t make any of those improvements would feel like I was saying that I was partly the reason for this.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
If you were to identify three issues relating to your partner's recovery that you would like to see changed, what would they be?
1) Ability to communicate in general (remember to respond after I have said something, even if it is “just a moment while I process that,” realizing that communication isn’t just about the words said but perceiving and responding to emotions, taking my words at face value and not needing me to ‘reinterpret’ everything i.e. if I say “what are you feeling about that?” him being able to tell me how he feels about that without an explanation that I mean for him to think about the different emotions he is having and the reasons for them and then sharing that with me)
2) Self-reflection and growth (not necessarily relating to the addiction or anything but just to his identity since these crazy fucked-up core beliefs are the reason that we ended up here, for him to work on learning that a relationship is a team sport, that he is valuable and worthwhile, that he can be different from other people, that sharing and compromising and putting someone else first is part of a relationship. These are pretty basic things that he completely needs to learn)
3) His perception of disclosure – he just assumes that I know everything and claims to be ransacking his brain for anything that he has left out, but still when I ask questions new things come up and it feels like he blames it on me, that I misunderstood when he said something so he feels like it is disclosed, he blames being unable to remember which still feels weird and fishy to me. He hasn’t ever just sat me down and given me an accounting without my asking, even if it did include things that I already know.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
A. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is engaged in a healthy recovery?

His recognition of fundamental flaws is excellent and he is really working to change these. The change isn’t happening overnight, but he is really putting in the effort and thinking about them. He has made his recovery around fixing these fundamental flaws more proactive than reactive. He still has a lot of room to become even more proactive about this, since I would say right now he is also reactive in a lot of ways and is just settled into going to his appointments and meetings without tons of time outside of that devoted to it, but can tell he wants to put in more time and effort to being proactive.

B. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is NOT engaged in a healthy recovery?

His vulnerability and transparency isn’t great. Like I noted in the last exercise, I am really struggling with his willingness to disclose the past and how he perceives his actions then and would really appreciate him coming forward to share, which he has been spectacularly closed off about. I do think that he has been working on emotional vulnerability, but he struggles still to get in touch with his emotions, identify them, identify the reasons for them, or to express them. I can tell he wants to be vulnerable but struggles to get there.

He is not very good at integrating change across all areas of his life. For instance, he had such a difficult time seeing the similarities between his use of pornography and drinking. He is a master of compartmentalizing things, which I think is one of the reasons he is simply awful at disclosure—because the information is stored in different compartments based on how he rationalized it at the time (“these are just pictures, not pornography” isn’t filed under pornography; “This fantasy about that sexy girl over there is just a fantasy, not cheating” isn’t filed under cheating, so when I ask anything he comes up blank because he isn’t looking in the right spots). He couldn’t translate the idea of forming opinions about everyday activities to forming opinions on societal issues. He couldn’t translate the idea of disclosing small things out of the limited context that the therapist suggested. This is a big worry for me.

C. How have you communicated your observations to your partner? Have you communicated the healthy observations as well as the unhealthy? How has your partner responded?

I think that we have communicated pretty well about all of this, the positive, the negative and I think that he has responded well. It does make him a little depressed, but I see him trying hard. There is obviously still tons of room for improvement, but I think he is learning to feel comfortable with the fact that we need to periodically talk about these issues.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:35 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 577
Puffin - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be.

I could have written much of what you wrote word for word. Partners here understand. You are not alone. I found the lessons to be immensely helpful, as was reading and posting in the partners community forum. I am relieved that you are progressing through the lessons.

The key for me was to turn the focus on myself and my healing. It takes time and it is hard. But it works.

Wishing you peace and joy,

PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:54 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 73
Puffin, I’d also like to welcome you to Recovery Nation although it’s not so great to find yourself here at all. These lessons have been enormously helpful to me and I can read how much thought you have put into your determination to come through this.

I get a real sense of you knowing that the way forward for you right now is to focus on your own emotional health. I can also feel your frustration at your partner’s thought patterns and reactions, which are sadly typical of how a porn/sex addict responds. I feel that I know your situation so well and I share your frustrations with trying to communicate with someone who is forever holding back, forever being evasive, defensive and being too clever with words as to use them to obscure rather than clarify.

My biggest breakthrough was the realisation that after putting so much effort into rebuilding our relationship was that he wasn’t really considering my needs at all. He wanted “recovery” to be on his terms. He refused to be accountable. He disclosed nothing voluntarily and what little he did disclose was after a protracted period of angry denials and minimisations. Communication about sex and sexuality is enormously difficult. Throughout our recovery he has barely recognised that I have my own sexual needs. In fact, throughout his porn addiction he only thought of himself and making time for porn. He showed no sexual interest in me whatsoever. We had a totally sexless marriage for years and I was badly affected by this. In fact it led to unhealthy relationship with food, body dysmorphia and eventually to self harm — none of which had been problems in my early life. I totally understand that numbing out that leads to self harm. It’s like you learn to live in denial as a way of life that you just can’t feel anything except a mass of confusion to the point of complete disorientation. It’s like the physical pain brings you back to reality.

The decision to nurture and care for yourself is probably the most important step to take. I realised I had to detach my own healing from the recovery (or non recovery) of the relationship. It actually took me at least a year to realise this. I could not heal my sexuality in the context of the relationship. It was too unpredictable. He would lose interest, or have erectile difficulties, but he never once thought to ask about how I felt, or what I needed to recover sexually. After 6 months of waiting for him to show an interest — sometimes he was fine, and I thought we were back on track only for him to show no interest in me the following week — I realised the healing of my sexuality could not happen in such conditions. In fact, I began to see my sexuality as belonging to me and not something that needed *his* permission to exist.

Puffin, you’re already doing great work here and I find it very encouraging that you know that you have to take care of your own needs. It’s really tough to steer a clear path. Perhaps your husband will see the very real need to make changes at a deep level. I’m still hoping my husband can do the same but for now it’s more about self care and self nurturing. Keep up the good work!

PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:30 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
(and dnell as well) thank you so much for welcoming me to RN. It feels good to know that I am not alone in my experience and that there are people who can support me and relate to the confusion and frustration of living this experience. I have a hard time sharing this with the people physically present in my life (which is another way of saying nobody outside my partner and our therapists know what I am experiencing). To be able to speak honestly about what I am enduring and to know that people are listening is powerful and makes me feel so much less alone.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:25 am
Posts: 12
Exercise 10.
A) Return to your vision created in Stage One; Lesson Two. Select the three most important values that you need right now to help you stabilize your life.
B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.
C) Develop a specific plan that will allow you to maximize the potential in each of those three values.
D) List the steps you will take in the next 24 hours to begin strengthening each value.

1. Physical Health
a. Meaning and fulfillment: right now, I’m pretty much getting no meaning or fulfillment out of this area, if not in the negatives because of my life circumstances right now. I have little free time outside of work and schooling, so all of the things that I once did for my health—cook healthy meals and work out—have completely fallen by the wayside. Instead when I get home so late at night I just eat frozen or canned food or whatever my partner has made if he had time, although it is never health food like I used to cook. I anticipate there being a lot more time to devote to these things in the future and once I have time for them I will begin to get my fulfillment and meaning in this area of my life once again. The upcoming move will reduce my commute and give me more time to devote to these, as will cutting back on the hours of my program. I did up the hours at work, but barely, and it will be less than the amount I cut back on the school, so I will overall have more time available. My specific 24 hour plan: right now all I can do is pack the damn boxes so I’ll be ready to move in 2 days! Maybe I will also treat myself to a sauna to just get a half hour of relaxation for my body in this hectic week. When I get into the new place I’m setting myself a low goal: work out twice a week to begin with and try to prepare three dinners a week. I know it is so much lower than what I once took on, but I think an achievable goal is good for at first and then if I’m meeting it consistently I’ll reassess.

2. Confidence in my own beauty
a. I am certainly more confident in my physical self than I was when I wrote my vision. My partner’s renewed appreciation has done wonders for that, although my self-image isn’t 100% where I want it to be. I think that the above goal of health will help me feel beautiful, and the reduced commute time will give me more time in the morning to style my hair or wear some make-up. I also plan to continue to fix my wardrobe to get clothes that fit, feel comfortable, and boost my self-esteem. It was a big lift to my spirits a couple weeks ago when my partner took me shopping and affirmed the clothes that I picked out, rather than giving his opinions on what sort of clothes he wants me to wear. I feel comfortable and warm in the outfits I picked out as opposed to a lot of the more revealing clothes that I used to own because of his preferences. A lot of my wardrobe is still not a style or cut or fit etc that I feel comfortable with, but I do feel like I am in a place where I have my partner’s support and understanding of how I need to dress to be happy, rather than how he wants me to dress. I will continue shopping with myself in mind. My specific 24 hour plan: Take a long hot shower tonight to give myself more time tomorrow morning without needing to take one, so I can spend some more time on the beauty aspect of my routine. When I begin my new schedule the goal is to wake up on time, and actually devote an hour to my beauty routine—I know it seems excessive, but I find it relaxing and centering and it really does boost my confidence.

3. Self-growth
a. This is probably the one that I do spend the most time on, because between my schooling and the steep learning curve I have at work I am doing nothing but self-improvement for the majority of my day. However, it doesn’t really fit with how I see myself to come home every night and watch TV for hours, and it isn’t giving me a sense of fulfillment, so I am going to start reading more for pleasure (and I have already begun this somewhat) and try to get more hobbies. Some of this self-growth can even just be being a better pet owner by playing with the pets for a short time every day when I get home and grooming them more frequently, maybe trying to take back up the Italian lessons again. It sounds like I’ve made a lot going on for myself tonight, but I will try to at least cuddle with Bradley and show him some attention, since I know that he has not had as much attention from me since D-Day and the chaos of my life. Once my new schedule has settled into place my goal will be pretty low: spending 20 minutes on pets and 20 minutes on reading or other self-improvement. I want these to be achievable enough that I feel like I am capable of meeting them before I raise them. I also know just how taxing the rest of my life can be and I don’t want to burn myself out before I get into a rhythm with it all.

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