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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
I wanted to post an update for myself to assess where I am in my recovery and in my relationship. Obviously I can't cover the entire scope of these things in a post, and I'm sure I will leave things out that I will later remember, but at least as an honest, basic idea of where I am, I think this will be useful.

Relationship

My partner and I are getting on well at the moment. For over six months since the discovery of my behaviours, we went through terrible ups and downs. It began with her discovery of my having cheated on her a few months into our relationship, and two months after that there came more revelations about my addiction in terms of fantasies about friends and co-workers, hiding my porn habits, compulsively staring at women's feet. I did not share the information with her in a healthy way and it has been drip-fed over a number of weeks. There is finally nothing more to share about my compulsive behaviours but the way she has found out about everything has been traumatic and has nearly torn us apart. Neither of us understood the depth of my compulsive behaviours until about six weeks ago, and it has only been since then that I have truly started healing and she is beginning to trust me again.

My partner has been incredibly understanding and supportive and has stuck by me when many others would have left. She understands now that my addiction has evolved from a lack of healthy life management skills and inability to cope with negative emotions, where compulsive behaviours have formed as coping mechanisms. She understands that I will still be troubled by compulsive thoughts, but does not need to know about them. She wants me to be honest with her about how I'm feeling and how I'm progressing in my recovery. She wants to know that I am committed to her and want to make our relationship as good as it can be. She is not going to worry about me through the days and panic about what I might be doing - she trusts that I am working to change.

At the moment, I know that my commitment to her is rock-solid. I understand that this is an minimum expectation in a committed relationship, but I say it because until these last six months I have never truly questioned my commitment to her - I have always just assumed that we would stay together, without understanding what commitment in a relationship means to me and her. Now I know that I have truly committed myself to her and will work with her to build a life together.

I have to manage some anxiety when we are together. I am overly conscious of my thoughts, feelings and actions when I'm around her and find it difficult to relax. I carry a lot of guilt and shame about my past behaviours and there are times when it feels like I'm doomed to repeat my past mistakes - that's when memories are triggered, and sometimes memories trigger compulsions, all of which triggers anxiety. Things are getting better, but very slowly. I am able to be myself more often, but it takes effort to do this sometimes, which is frustrating.

We are making sure we spend time together and are planning things like meals out, weekends away, visiting family and friends. We are communicating well, but I know that I have to be more spontaneously open and ask her about how she is feeling more often. We don't often talk about my addiction or recovery, I think because she finds the memory of past events very painful and would rather avoid it, which I respect. She trusts that I am not engaging in my past behaviours and am actively working to change, which is true.

Compulsions

I only understood and accepted that I have an addiction about six weeks ago, and only found Recovery Nation a month ago. Since reading about addiction on the website and reading other people's journeys on the forums, I have an understanding of what my compulsive behaviours are, and I draw hope from the knowledge that I can learn new skills to leave my addiction behind.

Right now memories are my biggest issue. Through the day, while my mind is occupied, I don't have compulsive thoughts, but when I have time where my mind is free, I will often remember a person I have fantasised about and I will feel a compulsion to go back to fantasising about them. I choose not to go down this path, and take my mind away from the compulsion by picturing my partner (I imagine a meaningful photo of her and this reminds me of my commitment to her and of my ability to make a healthy choice). Because these memories and thoughts come so quickly in my mind, it is a challenging process. I don't know if it's the healthiest way to deal with things at the moment, but right now it is working for me. I think it is more of an emotion-based decision-making process than a values-based one, as the emotion of picturing my partner helps me to refocus on what's important to me and avoid the unhealthy thoughts. I'm not kidding myself that things can continue this way forever, but I am still learning to incorporate my values in my decision-making in an automatic, practical way. If anyone else has thoughts on this I would be grateful!

When presented with trigger situations - attractive women at work, good-looking strangers out and about - I become aware of myself and my thoughts. I feel an urge to fantasise about sexual or romantic situations, and occasionally I will have flashes of these enter my mind. I will always stop these fantasies from continuing but when they do happen they trigger shame and anxiety. These fantasies and urges are becoming less frequent and I feel like I am gaining more control over them, but it is slow progress.

When I'm at home alone I occasionally feel an urge to watch porn and masturbate, but it feels like a dulled sensation, an echo of what those urges used to be. I recognise it is triggered by boredom or anxiety, and while I don't act on the urge I could probably take more definitive action to move on from it - do something productive instead like text a friend or family member back, respond to an email, do some housework.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
Lesson 13: Healthy patterns in recovery

"They have accepted that they have struggled with certain immoral behaviours that contradicted their values, but realise that what matters is what they are doing, not what they did. They realise that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present."

I think I need to get a tattoo of this quote somewhere.

I gained hope from reading the healthy recovery patterns - there are some that I identify with and some that I don't, but I sort of see this list as a road map to my transition to health. If I can integrate more of the healthy behaviours as I continue my recovery, I will achieve my goal of leaving addiction behind and living a healthy life.

These are the healthy patterns I identify with:

Early recovery

- In early recovery, individuals often experience significant doubts relating to their ability to change.
This was true in the beginning, but I feel much less doubt now that I did.

- In early recovery, extremely negative emotions are the norm: especially as they relate to depression, anxiety, hopelessness and suicide.
I have not gone as far as feeling suicidal, but I have felt very anxious and I do have periods of low mood and hopelessness. Again, these are becoming less frequent.

- In early recovery, they tend to experience relief in having their behaviours 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.
I feel great relief that my partner understands my behaviours, and it helps to remove some of the shame associated with them.

- 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 think this is an accurate description of how I feel - I understand that my thoughts and behaviours are in my control, but I don't always see with confidence how I can control them and I often feel helpless or desperate when I'm faced with a trigger situation I'm struggling with.

- In early recovery, significant others tend to experience these individuals as very needy, pathetic, "lost souls".
I'm sure that I have come across this way to my partner. I often need validation for doing things well, and I feel a strong need for her to accept me and love me.

Middle recovery

They have accepted that they have struggled with certain immoral behaviours that contradicted their values, but realise that what matters is what they are doing, not what they did. They realise that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present.
This is one of the most powerful things I've read so far in my recovery, and I want to stay mindful of this as often as I can. I think my partner and I both understand this point, and it helps to drive us both forward in our relationship.

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've thought hard about this, because in the past I was content to live a life of illusion. But now I feel uncomfortable with that thought - the thought of not being genuine is really unpleasant. I want to live a real life. I want to be real. It will be hard, because I have built deep-rooted habits to conceal my inner feelings and give people the illusion that things are okay, and these are hard habits to break. But I will break them.

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. They know that whether these decisions end up being the right ones or not is irrelevant. That all that matters is that they were made with the right intentions in mind.
This is an important pattern. I am naturally quite indecisive and selfish, and I am prone to over-analysing and rationalising decisions to fit with what sounds best or to, as they say in the quote, get away with things. I am trying to destroy this part of my thinking and instead make decisions in accordance with my values.

They perceive "powerlessness" as a temporary term that more accurately describes their lack of skills in managing their urges.
I also wrote above that "powerlessness" is sometimes perceived as desperation, but reading this helped me to understand that I feel powerless because I've yet to learn how to manage my urges (and my life as a whole).

Significant others tend to experience these individuals with cautious optimism. They can see the changes taking place, but remain unable to commit to their partners fully — as they continue to doubt their own judgement (a consequence of the shocking discovery of the addiction's reality).
I don't think it's too hopeful to say this - my partner tells me that she loves me for all I am and can see that I am working to change.

Other healthy patterns I want to incorporate into my life:

They are not focused on controlling/ending their past behavioural patterns, but on developing new patterns that will take the place of those related to the addiction.
Relapse triggers are experienced not as a threat, but an opportunity.
They recognise failure as a learning experience — but only when that failure occurs with on-the-spot sincerity, as opposed to pre-planned deception.
They recognise 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".
They identify their future with a healthy person that once used addiction to manage their life; not as an addict that is managing their life with healthy behaviour.
They see their lives as a continuous process of growth and development, rather than an episodic book of starts and stops. (e.g. "When I was addicted" "After I recovered").


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:31 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:29 am
Posts: 330
Hi Daxter,

I appreciate the openness and honesty of your post. Please take comfort that you are currently in a place that we have all been and that there is a way forward from it. You are progressing well through the lessons and are about to enter a series of them that will lay down the groundwork for you to better understand why compulsive behaviour happens and how we can change it. On the one hand I can appreciate you wanting to have all the tools as quickly as possible (I've been there!) but it is equally important to not rush and ensure you have taken everything on board before moving on to the next lesson. In the meantime, your mental image of your wife is a good one to have in mind when an urge may arise, if you can evoke that image and try and stop urges in their tracks it will be a lot easier than allowing those thoughts to develop. Whilst this is more of a short term fix it will give you time to learn the techniques described in the workshop.

If you get stuck on anything please post to your thread and a coach or mentor will stop by to help and offer guidance.
Quote:
"They realise that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present."

I think I need to get a tattoo of this quote somewhere.

Joking aside, either keep a note of it somewhere where you will see it regularly (I keep key quotes that resonated with me from each lesson on a long list that I read through each day) and/or put it in your sign-off if that is an important one for you.

_________________
L2R

"Should you fail to permanently recover from your addiction, it will be due to your inability to fully commit to recovery"


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:38 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
Thank you very much for your advice L2R, it gives me comfort to know that other people have been through the kinds of things I'm facing. I appreciate your point about not rushing through things too fast, and with that in mind I'm going to make sure I have completed all my action plans before moving on to the next set of lessons.

Being confident and respected in my career

Read for work for at least three hours a week.
Keep an up to date portfolio of my achievements.
Aim to sit in on a non-rota'd clinic once a month.
Ask for feedback from colleagues after significant events.
Keep an organised diary so that I can keep on top of my work schedule.
Maintain a respectful outlook towards all colleagues, regardless of their role or level of training.
Set aside time to revise for my exams three evenings per week.
Commit to my work with genuine interest.

Being an active part of my friends' lives

Accept invites to social events - pub quizzes, badminton, etc.
Suggest group activities for friends.
Arrange to meet up for a drink with a closer friend once a month.
Lose the fear of social rejection - I worry too much that friends will not want to hear from me or get anxious about suggesting activities because I worry what people will think of me.
Text closest friends once every two weeks as a minimum.
Check in with more distant friends once a month.
Arrange to see friends in the area when visiting family back home.
Ask questions about friends' lives, and listen and respond with genuine interest (not as empty small talk).

Being an active part of my family's lives

Call my mum and dad once a week.
Text my brother and sister once a week.
Check in with my grandparents once a week.
Initiate/participate in fun chat on the family message groups.
Ask questions about my family's lives with genuine interest.
Accept them and their actions for who/what they are.
Respond with understanding and kindness when they express emotion.
Make myself available to them for support and follow through when needed.
Share new developments with them in my life.
Don't be afraid to ask for support if I need it and understand that they will give it willingly.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:17 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
More action plans:

Being a true partner to my girlfriend

Honesty

Be spontaneously open about how I'm feeling.
Stay mindful of her feelings and be honest but kind at the same time.
Don't say things just to clear my conscience - be aware of how it will make her feel. If it feels like I'm about to go down a road where I'm confessing something or revealing something hurtful, I am probably saying the wrong thing. Stop and think of a different way to say it.
Trust that she is giving me space and will never interrogate me on purpose.
Get rid of the assumption that she will react badly if I'm honest, or that the worst case scenario will happen. If I'm honest about my feelings it can only be a good thing.
Address difficult situations with her without fear.
Get more comfortable being myself!

Communication

Check in with her to see how she is feeling every day.
Listen and understand her when we talk. If I haven't heard or understood her, ask her to repeat or be more clear.
Respond with care when she tells me how she is feeling.
Don't try to fix every problem - sometimes it's enough just to listen and understand.
Speak my mind when we are talking or if we disagree - don't say what I think she wants to hear just to move the argument along.
Speak my mind in a conscientious way - try not to get angry. Disagreeing does not equal retaliation or anger.
Ask about her day and take an interest in what she is involved with.
Don't say things that sound good or that I think I should say.
If I think I might forget things she says that are important, write them down after we've talked.
When we text it doesn't have to be a monster message back and forth - little chats are fun and a much more natural way of talking.
Keep a sense of humour and know that she appreciates humour as a way of making things easier to deal with.

Keeping our relationship fresh

Suggest an activity for us to do and plan it myself at least once every two weeks.
Limit the amount that we both use our phones when we're together.
On the other hand - know that sometimes all we will want to do after a stressful day is zone out on our phones or in front of the TV.
Take more photos of each other.
Try to go out or do something fun at home once a week.
Take an interest in things she wants to do and suggest them.
Take a risk - she will appreciate me trying something different.

Signs of affection

Thoughtful gestures - not just doing something for the sake of it or out of guilt.
Be aware of signs that she is looking for affection.
Physical touch when appropriate.
Be with her in the moment when I hold her or kiss her.
Be aware of when she doesn't want to be touched and respect this.
Meaningful verbal confirmations of love through the day. Don't just say "I love you" as a filler.
Reach out to her genuinely for touch - not as a way to fill a silence but because I want to feel physical affection from her.

Giving and accepting love

Know that we are partners and will always care for each other.
Appreciate the support she gives me and acknowledge this.
Make her feel that I'm a safe space for her to come with her troubles.
Communicate when I need to feel love or affection.
Be aware of when she needs to feel love and affection.
Know and remember that we are moving through life, making decisions, overcoming obstacles together, not as two people but as one couple.

Supporting my partner

Make myself available to listen to her as often as I can.
Accept her thoughts, feelings and actions without judgement and with understanding.
Encourage her career development and help look for new career paths.
Help out whenever I can with her family - go over to her parents to spend time with her dad, be active in family situations to take the pressure off her, visit Nan when she can't.
Let her know how attractive she is regularly.
Verbal reminders of how special she is and how thankful I am to be with her.
Nurture her independence and understand we are not reliant on each other. It is much better to want to be together than to need to be together.
Look after myself and keep my own life organised so that she doesn't feel like she is keeping my life on track as well as hers.
Respect the boundaries in our relationship.

Being sexually intimate with my partner

Be aware of signs that she is reaching out for sexual contact and respond with honesty - I might be feeling in the mood, but sometimes I might not. Be open about this.
Be open about what I like and don’t like relating to sex.
Stay receptive of her desires and make an effort to fulfil them.
Be open-minded about trying new things.
Remember that sex is fun and we should enjoy ourselves with it - it does not always have to be a deep emotional experience.
Get rid of any expectations or social pressures about sex - there is no ideal way to do it, no ideal amount to do it.

Future planning

Sit down with her and organise our finances so that we can save for our future - house, wedding, children etc.
Research and plan a proper proposal.
Agree on a direction for both our careers and try to accommodate each others' wishes where we can.


Last edited by Daxter7 on Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
More action plans:

Living with integrity

Keep a diary so I can reflect on significant events and assess whether I acted with integrity.
Keep a list of my values with me so that I can review it regularly and make sure that I am sticking to it.
Consider how people might see me or think of me and ask myself whether this matches the way I feel about myself.
Stay honest with myself.
Answer people honestly.
Live without secrecy.

Treating people with respect

Remember that everyone is a complex person, and that what I see doesn't begin to touch on who someone is.
Consider how I want myself, my partner and my future children to be treated - try to make the way I treat others match the way I want myself and my family to be treated.
Listen to people without judgement and with understanding.
Respond to people genuinely, not falsely.
Accept people the way they are, without prejudice.

Being kind to others

Give my time and energy to people without expecting anything in return.
Take time to listen to people and understand where they're coming from.
Offer help willingly.
Sacrifice for others.
Stay aware of how my actions affect other people.

Managing my emotions in healthy ways

Identify the unhealthy ways I manage my emotions, including my addiction.
Identify times when I have used unhealthy coping strategies to manage my emotions.
Come up with alternative behaviours I can employ in those situations.
Stay in touch with my emotions through mindfulness or meditation at least once a week.
Identify triggers of difficult emotions. Analyse these situations and try to come up with better ways to either avoid triggers entirely, or manage triggers more healthily.
Express my emotions spontaneously and openly.
Commit to this workshop and complete the exercises honestly.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
Last few action plans are posted below. I'll consolidate them in a post later. The last action plan is a late addition - I have looked again at my values list and have modified it to include another value that I have realised is important. I enjoy hobbies like video games and sports, but I recognise that they have come to fill a similar role to my sexual compulsions and I have used them to avoid difficult feelings. I would like to still enjoy them, but in a way that doesn't hold me back from growing as a person and as a partner to my girlfriend.

Being responsible

Accept that only I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions.
Don't use strategies to relieve my responsibility - playing down the significance of something, explaining things in a roundabout way, shifting blame to others.
Accept the consequences of my actions.
Be honest with myself about my own accountability.
Be realistic about my expectations of myself - I expect way too much of myself and I can be more responsible if I understand my own limitations.

Sharing my true self with the people around me

Accept that I don't need people to like me. It's nice if they do but it's okay if they don't.
Understand that my worth comes from within me, not from what other people think of me.
Don't say things I don't mean or don't believe just to get along with people.
Don't be so concerned about what others will think of me.
Important people in my life like me and love me for who I am - remember this.

Enjoying hobbies in a healthy way that complements the rest of my life

Limit myself to two hours per day on activities that are not related to work, personal growth, or nurturing my relationship. (This may be too much time to donate to hobbies, but I want to be realistic about what I can achieve. If I find it's too much time wasted, I will tighten the limit.)
Ask myself why I want to pursue a particular hobby at the time - if I think I am doing it to hide from something, I will stop and address what I need to.
Try to involve my partner in my hobbies if she is up for it.
Share my hobbies - they are not to be enjoyed by me to the exclusion of my partner.
Enjoy my hobbies when I can without guilt or shame, as long as I am participating in them out of genuine interest, and not to the exclusion of time with my partner or other more productive behaviours.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:14 pm
Posts: 31
Here is my final set of action plans. I thought it made sense to have them all in one post to refer to in future. The first action plan is about the most important value to me, which is strengthening my relationship with my partner; the rest are in order of importance to me.

Being a true partner to my girlfriend

Honesty

Be spontaneously open about how I'm feeling.
Stay mindful of her feelings and be honest but kind at the same time.
Don't say things just to clear my conscience - be aware of how it will make her feel. If it feels like I'm about to go down a road where I'm confessing something or revealing something hurtful, I am probably saying the wrong thing. Stop and think of a different way to say it.
Trust that she is giving me space and will never interrogate me on purpose.
Get rid of the assumption that she will react badly if I'm honest, or that the worst case scenario will happen. If I'm honest about my feelings it can only be a good thing.
Address difficult situations with her without fear.
Get more comfortable being myself!

Communication

Check in with her to see how she is feeling every day.
Listen and understand her when we talk. If I haven't heard or understood her, ask her to repeat or be more clear.
Respond with care when she tells me how she is feeling.
Don't try to fix every problem - sometimes it's enough just to listen and understand.
Speak my mind when we are talking or if we disagree - don't say what I think she wants to hear just to move the argument along.
Speak my mind in a conscientious way - try not to get angry. Disagreeing does not equal retaliation or anger.
Ask about her day and take an interest in what she is involved with.
Don't say things that sound good or that I think I should say.
If I think I might forget things she says that are important, write them down after we've talked.
When we text it doesn't have to be a monster message back and forth - little chats are fun and a much more natural way of talking.
Keep a sense of humour and know that she appreciates humour as a way of making things easier to deal with.

Keeping our relationship fresh

Suggest an activity for us to do and plan it myself at least once every two weeks.
Limit the amount that we both use our phones when we're together.
On the other hand - know that sometimes all we will want to do after a stressful day is zone out on our phones or in front of the TV.
Take more photos of each other.
Try to go out or do something fun at home once a week.
Take an interest in things she wants to do and suggest them.
Take a risk - she will appreciate me trying something different.

Signs of affection

Thoughtful gestures - not just doing something for the sake of it or out of guilt.
Be aware of signs that she is looking for affection.
Physical touch when appropriate.
Be with her in the moment when I hold her or kiss her.
Be aware of when she doesn't want to be touched and respect this.
Meaningful verbal confirmations of love through the day. Don't just say "I love you" as a filler.
Reach out to her genuinely for touch - not as a way to fill a silence but because I want to feel physical affection from her.

Giving and accepting love

Know that we are partners and will always care for each other.
Appreciate the support she gives me and acknowledge this.
Make her feel that I'm a safe space for her to come with her troubles.
Communicate when I need to feel love or affection.
Be aware of when she needs to feel love and affection.
Know and remember that we are moving through life, making decisions, overcoming obstacles together, not as two people but as one couple.

Supporting my partner

Make myself available to listen to her as often as I can.
Accept her thoughts, feelings and actions without judgement and with understanding.
Encourage her career development and help look for new career paths.
Help out whenever I can with her family - go over to her parents to spend time with her dad, be active in family situations to take the pressure off her, visit Nan when she can't.
Let her know how attractive she is regularly.
Verbal reminders of how special she is and how thankful I am to be with her.
Nurture her independence and understand we are not reliant on each other. It is much better to want to be together than to need to be together.
Look after myself and keep my own life organised so that she doesn't feel like she is keeping my life on track as well as hers.
Respect the boundaries in our relationship.

Being sexually intimate with my partner

Be aware of signs that she is reaching out for sexual contact and respond with honesty - I might be feeling in the mood, but sometimes I might not. Be open about this.
Be open about what I like and don’t like relating to sex.
Stay receptive of her desires and make an effort to fulfil them.
Be open-minded about trying new things.
Remember that sex is fun and we should enjoy ourselves with it - it does not always have to be a deep emotional experience.
Get rid of any expectations or social pressures about sex - there is no ideal way to do it, no ideal amount to do it.

Future planning

Sit down with her and organise our finances so that we can save for our future - house, wedding, children etc.
Research and plan a proper proposal.
Agree on a direction for both our careers and try to accommodate each others' wishes where we can.

Raising a family

Keep an organised diary so that I can stay on top of things when they get hectic.
Discuss honestly with my partner when we both want children - when is the best time in our lives.
Plan with her for raising children - savings, house space, school areas.
Be realistic about family life. It will not be happy memories every day - it will be hard work and it will be exhausting.
Understand that family life involves sacrifice from me as a parent - giving up things that I enjoy to help my children and my partner.
Be fair to my partner and do my share of childcare and housework to take the burden off her.
Agree with my partner on a clear vision for our children's development and try to stick to it.
Agree with my partner on the values we want to instil in our kids.
Don't lose sight of how rewarding family life can be - I have always felt that having a family is important and will be extremely satisfying, and I would like to share that satisfaction with my partner.
Don't be ashamed of deriving fulfilment and joy from raising children with my partner.

Accepting myself for all that I am

Look at myself without fear.
Be honest with myself about the person I am - my feelings, my thoughts, my needs, my desires, where I am in my life, the progress I'm making with my addiction.
Identify and strip away any false ideas about who I am.
Understand that people are inherently flawed and that this is normal and okay.
Identify more clearly any overly idealistic views I have about myself. Then examine them and replace them with realistic views.
Stop comparing myself to other people.
Accept who I am right now - keep a goal of self-improvement, but don't confuse the person I want to be with who I am in this moment.
Understand that the important people in my life accept me and love me for the person I am.
Make a list of my strengths and weaknesses. Understand and accept this as a summary of who I am.
Resolve to build on the strengths and strengthen the weaknesses.

Sharing my true self with the people around me

Accept that I don't need people to like me. It's nice if they do but it's okay if they don't.
Understand that my worth comes from within me, not from what other people think of me.
Don't say things I don't mean or don't believe just to get along with people.
Don't be so concerned about what others will think of me.
Important people in my life like me and love me for who I am - remember this.

Living with integrity

Keep a diary so I can reflect on significant events and assess whether I acted with integrity.
Keep a list of my values with me so that I can review it regularly and make sure that I am sticking to it.
Consider how people might see me or think of me and ask myself whether this matches the way I feel about myself.
Stay honest with myself.
Answer people honestly.
Live without secrecy.

Managing my emotions in healthy ways

Identify the unhealthy ways I manage my emotions, including my addiction.
Identify times when I have used unhealthy coping strategies to manage my emotions.
Come up with alternative behaviours I can employ in those situations.
Stay in touch with my emotions through mindfulness or meditation at least once a week.
Identify triggers of difficult emotions. Analyse these situations and try to come up with better ways to either avoid triggers entirely, or manage triggers more healthily.
Express my emotions spontaneously and openly.
Commit to this workshop and complete the exercises honestly.

Being selfless

Put my partner first in my thinking and decision making.
Be aware of what she needs and try to provide that - e.g. doesn't need empty reassurance when feeling down; needs genuine compliments about how she looks.
Think about how my decisions will affect her and come up with other options if faced with a decision that may hurt her.
Don't assume she will react to things the same way I would.
Give my time and energy to her genuinely, not out of obligation and without expectation of reward.
Do not look for validation from acts of kindness - the value of the act is in knowing I have done something for someone else, especially my partner.
Draw satisfaction from the act itself of doing something kind for my partner - not from the praise I might receive.
Get rid of the idea that I know better than anyone else and accept other people's opinions as valid.
Consider other people's points of view and be respectful of them.

Being loyal

Show unconditional commitment to my partner - not because of what's in it for me, but because we love each other and have made a commitment to each other.
Respect the boundaries in our relationship.
Include my partner as an active part of my decision making.
Support my partner and nurture her development (career, hobbies, etc.)
Stay mindful of when my partner needs support - when she is upset, when she feels lost, when she is struggling - and provide this willingly.
Sacrifice when I have to for my partner - sometimes a relationship needs compromise and I will have to do things that are difficult or take time away from what I would rather be doing.
Make realistic promises to my partner, friends and family and KEEP THEM.
Offer help to important people in my life and follow through on this.

Being responsible

Accept that only I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions.
Don't use strategies to relieve my responsibility - playing down the significance of something, explaining things in a roundabout way, shifting blame to others.
Accept the consequences of my actions.
Be honest with myself about my own accountability.
Be realistic about my expectations of myself - I expect way too much of myself and I can be more responsible if I understand my own limitations.

Being an active part of my family's lives

Call my mum and dad once a week.
Text my brother and sister once a week.
Check in with my grandparents once a week.
Initiate/participate in fun chat on the family message groups.
Ask questions about my family's lives with genuine interest.
Accept them and their actions for who/what they are.
Respond with understanding and kindness when they express emotion.
Make myself available to them for support and follow through when needed.
Share new developments with them in my life.
Don't be afraid to ask for support if I need it and understand that they will give it willingly.

Being an active part of my friends' lives

Accept invites to social events - pub quizzes, badminton, etc.
Suggest group activities for friends.
Arrange to meet up for a drink with a closer friend once a month.
Lose the fear of social rejection - I worry too much that friends will not want to hear from me or get anxious about suggesting activities because I worry what people will think of me.
Text closest friends once every two weeks as a minimum.
Check in with more distant friends once a month.
Arrange to see friends in the area when visiting family back home.
Ask questions about friends' lives, and listen and respond with genuine interest (not as empty small talk).

Being confident and respected in my career

Read for work for at least three hours a week.
Keep an up to date portfolio of my achievements.
Aim to sit in on a non-rota'd clinic once a month.
Ask for feedback from colleagues after significant events.
Keep an organised diary so that I can keep on top of my work schedule.
Maintain a respectful outlook towards all colleagues, regardless of their role or level of training.
Set aside time to revise for my exams three evenings per week.
Commit to my work with genuine interest.

Treating people with respect

Remember that everyone is a complex person, and that what I see doesn't begin to touch on who someone is.
Consider how I want myself, my partner and my future children to be treated - try to make the way I treat others match the way I want myself and my family to be treated.
Listen to people without judgement and with understanding.
Respond to people genuinely, not falsely.
Accept people the way they are, without prejudice.

Being kind to others

Give my time and energy to people without expecting anything in return.
Take time to listen to people and understand where they're coming from.
Offer help willingly.
Sacrifice for others.
Stay aware of how my actions affect other people.

Enjoying hobbies in a healthy way that complements the rest of my life

Limit myself to two hours per day on activities that are not related to work, personal growth, or nurturing my relationship. (This may be too much time to donate to hobbies, but I want to be realistic about what I can achieve. If I find it's too much time wasted, I will tighten the limit.)
Ask myself why I want to pursue a particular hobby at the time - if I think I am doing it to hide from something, I will stop and address what I need to.
Try to involve my partner in my hobbies if she is up for it.
Share my hobbies - they are not to be enjoyed by me to the exclusion of my partner.
Enjoy my hobbies when I can without guilt or shame, as long as I am participating in them out of genuine interest, and not to the exclusion of time with my partner or other more productive behaviours.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:17 pm 
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Posts: 31
Lesson 14: Health Monitoring

I feel like this will be an important lesson to stick to. I will need to make an effort to complete this active monitoring at first, as I have always been quite complacent with trying to learn new behaviours - like practising the drums when I was younger, or revising for exams at school. Sustained effort and application is something I have not practised for a long time, but if I don't do it now, I will not change. I will apply myself. It may be difficult and uncomfortable but I will put in the effort.

Daily monitoring checklist

1. Have I been honest with my partner today?
2. Have I shown her love and support today?
3. Have I initiated meaningful conversation with her today?
4. Was I attentive to her needs today?
5. Have I had any compulsive thoughts or behaviours today?
6. If so, have I actively recognised and stopped these compulsions?
7. Have I been honest with myself today?
8. Have I shown the world my true self today?
9. Have I acted with integrity today?
10. Have I been kind and compassionate to others today?
11. Have I been kind and compassionate to myself today?
12. Have I taken time to understand how I'm feeling today?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:18 am 
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Posts: 31
Lesson 15

It's been a while since I've posted; I've had a few busy days and have found it difficult to devote a lot of time to reflection and self-improvement.

I think it's worth me trying to write down as much as I can about how my addiction developed, but first I want to complete the lesson 15 exercise: "I. Take a minute to review what you have learned over the past two weeks. Of what you have learned so far, think of one example of how you have actively integrated that information into your day-to-day life. Share this in your personal thread."

The main thing I have learned so far is that values are integral to human growth and flourishing, and that decisions made based on one's values, as long as they are healthy values, will lead to a more fulfilling life. I have drawn a lot of hope from setting out my most important values, as it was not something I had ever truly considered before - am I living up to the person people think I am? I have also learned that my compulsive behaviour stems from a lack of healthy life management skills, and a reliance on unhealthy coping strategies to manage my life. I am becoming more aware of my compulsive behaviours and the part they have played in my life up to now, and I understand that there are healthier ways to deal with my emotions and manage my life.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:58 am 
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Recovery Mentor

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 276
Hey Daxter,
I was impressed with your reflections in Lesson 15. Well done.
Quote:
I will need to make an effort to complete this active monitoring at first, as I have always been quite complacent with trying to learn new behaviours

Quote:
I understand that there are healthier ways to deal with my emotions and manage my life.

So you know that you're complacent with trying to learn new behaviors abd you know that you need to learn healthier ways to manage your life. You did incredible work on your action plans. How might monitoring fit into them to prevent complacency?
You don't have to answer that. Just food for thought.

Be Well,

Anon
PS
Quote:
I think it's worth me trying to write down as much as I can about how my addiction developed

You'll get a chance to do so in an upcoming lesson, Lesson 20 to be exact. Keep the course, choose wisely.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:31 am 
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Posts: 31
Lesson 16: the positive role that my addiction has played in my life

In looking back on my life, I can see that I have used fantasy to relieve stress and to feel better about myself. This often included sexual or romantic fantasy, but my fantasies also covered success in academics or sports. When I was younger I was very shy and absolutely petrified of talking to girls, especially ones that I liked. I hit puberty late, around the age of 15, and to me it seemed like everyone else in the world had pubic hair, a deep, mature voice, was kissing or having sex with girls, or was in a relationship. I felt like the only person who was awkward around girls, who hadn't kissed anyone, who hadn't hit puberty. I would obsess over girls I liked; I was terrified to talk to them or ask them out, so instead I played out fantasies in my head where I was desirable to them, often as a kind of saviour figure, and they couldn't help falling in love with me. I became so used to fantasising that it felt much easier to do than to actually interact with someone I fancied in the real world. Fantasising helped me to feel good about myself, as opposed to the real world, where I felt like I didn't measure up.

I have also leaned on pornography as a boredom or stress reliever - if I didn't feel like studying, for instance, or if I was feeling down.

The main benefit that my addiction has given me is to help me to feel better about myself, and to feel validated. Clearly, I understand that this is an illusion, and any good feelings I felt were not based in reality, and purely short-term. They also came at the expense of my long-term health.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:38 am 
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Posts: 31
Lesson 17

One of my main rituals used to be masturbation using pornography. When at home alone I would become bored, which would trigger an urge to watch porn and masturbate. I would touch myself lightly at first, getting myself hard and trying to keep my engines revved as long as I could. I would either do a blanket search for a certain type of porn, or look up videos of a certain performer. I would build up suspense while searching through videos to find the perfect shot, and on reflection I can remember how comforting just looking at porn used to be for me - I just got swept away in it, not even needing to orgasm or even touch myself to feel soothed. Once I'd found the right set of videos I would watch through them in order of how much they turned me on or fit my idea of the perfect type of porn; I would touch myself to keep myself on the edge of orgasm and then use the best scene I'd found - the perfect shot - to orgasm. Afterwards I would feel a sense of accomplishment for a short while, then guilt and shame.

Elements of compulsion:

Power - seeing performers being pleasured and acting as though they can't help themselves, imagining I'm the one giving them such pleasure, imagining they are so grateful to me, they want to pleasure me in return. This fed my ego and soothed my lack of self esteem, gave me a sense of power that I don't have in my life.

Accomplishment - once I had started I would find that I needed to see it through to completion; from the time I started watching porn it was almost inevitable that I would orgasm to it. I recognise this need for accomplishment in other areas in my life - I have other perfectionist or compulsive tendencies and I find it uncomfortable when I can't complete my little rituals.

Sensory stimulation - touching myself in the right ways to keep myself on the edge of orgasm for as long as possible.

Danger - in the past I would purposely masturbate at times when I knew I might get caught - when my partner was asleep next to me, for example. I never liked to admit it but this enhanced the whole experience.

Suspense - searching for the perfect scene built a huge sense of suspense - would the next video I clicked on be the right one?

Fantasy - huge for me. In my head the pleasure from porn was magnified because I imagined myself as the one being pleasured by or pleasuring a woman. I would also fantasise about other women that I knew, particularly friends of my partner or people I knew from work. Fantasy and power are strongly linked for me, as I could fantasise about being in positions of power that I never could achieve in real life; I was desirable and in control in a way that I wasn't in the real world - or at least, didn't feel like I was in the real world.

Orgasm - combining orgasm with the sight of the perfect porn shot or the fantasy of a perfect sex position would enhance the orgasm to new heights.

Past - I would build up memory banks of my favourite scenes or fantasies, and derive heightened pleasure from returning to those memories when I fantasised or masturbated.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:36 am 
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Posts: 31
Lesson 18

Before getting into the exercise in this lesson, I wanted to share a quick reflection on how I feel at the moment - more for myself so that I can get it out of my head and into the real world than anything else. I feel generally more emotionally stable than I have done for a while. That's not to say that I'm where I want to be, but I think I can say the highs aren't as high and the lows aren't as low at the moment. Compulsions to fantasise sexually or romantically still crop up but they are less frequent, I am able to overcome them more easily, and the presence of the compulsive thought, where it used to frighten me to death, is less scary. I am rock solid committed to my partner and this in itself is a big comfort. I am trying to be more myself, but I still have to work a lot on being more spontaneously open with my feelings - for instance, little things like saying I adore something my partner cooked when actually, I was lukewarm on it. These things matter more than I realise, and I have to break the habit of trying to please and just express my true self more. I'm remembering to review my daily monitoring most days, but not every day. This needs to change and I will make sure I am considering my monitoring list every day from now on.

Exercise

One of my biggest and most significant rituals - one that has caused the most distress for my partner and me - is fantasising sexually and romantically about attractive women, particularly people she or I know. It began as far as I can tell when I was at school around the age of 12 or 13, when I first started properly noticing girls and being interested in them. I was terrified of being rejected and so would keep my interest a secret, but as I got older I would play out fantasies in my head. I don't remember exactly how they started but they were more innocent at first, like imagining them smiling at me or holding my hand. They grew into longer, more detailed fantasies - I would imagine whole conversations, scenarios where I would rescue them from some unpleasant situation like an abusive partner, or a scenario where I would comfort them when they were upset and they would be grateful and then like me.

Eventually, after I discovered internet porn, I would evolve these fantasies to include sex. The sexual fantasies would become longer and more detailed as I got less excitement from the usual scenes in my head. I then evolved them further to include people closer to me - my friend's mother, my girlfriend in college's friend, people in my classes at college. The danger element of fantasising about people it was not socially acceptable to fantasise about elevated the experience and took me to new heights. When I met my current partner, I continued this behaviour a little while after we met - initially she was all I needed, but eventually I wanted to get more pleasure from sex with her and I incorporated fantasies about her friends or pornstars when we were having sex.

Filters of compulsion:
Time - spending longer and longer fantasising about women.
Intensity - evolving my fantasies to include entire conversations with women, scenarios where I would be a hero. Then incorporating sex into the fantasies, knowing which positions I could imagine that would turn me on the most.
Habituation - including people I wasn't supposed to fantasise about in my fantasies; fantasising at inappropriate times, like when I was with my partner.

Reading back and reflecting on this I feel a lot of shame, but I also feel a sense of relief at having written it down and gotten it out into the world. I have told other people about it as well, a few select friends and family and my counsellor, although maybe not in this much detail. Of course, my partner knows about what I've done too. I feel somewhat comforted that the things I've mentioned here are in the past, and I feel a strong determination not to return to those habits again.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:09 am 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3686
Location: UK
Hello D7
Quote:
Reading back and reflecting on this I feel a lot of shame, but I also feel a sense of relief at having written it down and gotten it out into the world.

As THE Coach said
guilt and shame need to be put to one side "for now" in early recovery
that is great advice do take it


Quote:
I feel a strong determination not to return to those habits again.

You have no need to , those habits simply harm and feeding them only fuels the fire

believe in recovery believe in yourself

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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