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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:41 am 
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Thank you as always Kenzo.

Lesson 25 Exercise:
I. Develop your own compulsive ritual. Make this relatively simple. List the primary elements in a similar fashion as exampled above in Compulsive Ritual: Exhibitionism. Post this ritual and its elements in your recovery thread.


In my first entry on this, I covered my intrusive/obsessive/fantasy thoughts while driving. This time around I’ll use saying shocking things in conversation.
1. Part of group conversation
2. Overwhelmed by multiple voices/people/thoughts
3. Anxiety around if people are judging me.
4. Notice how attention is on the individual that is speaking
5. Like the attention I'm giving that individual and want to be on the receiving end of attention.
6. Say something funny that makes people laugh.
7. Feel energy boost from being center of attention and bringing pleasure to others.
8. Say something MORE funny/shocking to get a rise.
9. Additional boost and thoughts—"they like me."
10. Say something sexual or at expense of my wife to get a rise.
11. Some laugh, some don’t
12. Know that what I said was not authentic to the real me.
13. Feel guilty/embarrassed for my behavior.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:47 am 
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10/22/18
Quote:
“Using self-medication as a metaphor: by seeing the functional roles that each compulsive element plays in manipulating your overall emotional state, you are then free to choose what medication you will take (value-based versus emotion-based); the dosage (by further increasing/reducing the individual elements associated with your ritualistic patterns); and finally, you are able to make rational decisions as to whether or not the side effects of addiction are worth the temporary relief it provides (in other words, you will have the ability to weigh the consequences of each element, prior to your engagement in them). “

I have often compared the stimulation received from my acting out behaviors as a “bolus”… as if I were a diabetic and need a sugar boost to stay life. This accurately describes the benefit I receive from my behavior, but also empowers me to make decisions based on my values instead (which will “boost” me in the long run).
Lesson 26 Exercise:
In the previous exercise, you were asked to label the elements involved with a particular ritual. In this exercise, you will be delving deeper into your awareness of that ritual. Here, you are asked to 'map out' one of your rituals. Make sure that you choose a specific ritual that you have engaged in (as in, last Thursday before work, I looked at porn); rather than a general
Post this more advanced ritual in your recovery thread.


Stalking
Social situation with children.
Walk into event, worried about keeping track of the kids.
Lots of sensory stimulation has me anxious.
Hyper aware of surroundings as I don’t want to lose children.
Simultaneous
Urge to distract myself from these feelings.
Utilize hyperawareness of surroundings for children’s safety also as way to distract myself from emotions by observing people around me.
Catch glimpse of woman and her daughter and we make eye contact.
Emotional boost.
Wonder if she’s looking at me and my kids/ie giving us/me attention.
Try to stay focused on my own children’s experience of event.
Feel myself only partially engaged with kids.
Observe woman again and notice that she’s been looking at us and giving ‘me’ attention
Throw a ball for child that would lead to closer proximity
Exchange a hello
Engage in conversation about her daughter
Find similarities in our situation as she asks questions about my children
Stimulation from our conversation
Urge to stay connected at end of event
Feel like we should exchange numbers for “our kids to get together”
Invite her for play date with kids.
Exchnage contact information.
Feel sense of accomplishment/anxiety.
Feel justified in behavior as it’s ‘for the kids’
Leave event.
At night when no one is around, use contact information to stalk online.
Feel anxiety as I do so.
Feel accomplishment when I find information.
Replay conversations in my head to gain more data to search for.
Find more information and feel accomplishment.
When I’m further in, like scrolling through several images or once I’ve found her home online and look at pictures of her house I begin to feel guilt/shame and disgust.
Feel like I found myself deep in the rabbit hole compulsively.
Erase history of searches.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:50 am 
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Lesson 27 Exercise:
Provide an example of two compulsive chains in your life. The first chain should be where multiple rituals are engaged in simultaneously — thus enhancing the overall amount of stimulation derived from the behavior. The second should be an example of how you have strung together several rituals back-to-back and thus, extended the stimulation you were deriving. Post these examples in your recovery thread.

Priming would be a great example of a chain where I engage in rituals simultaneously—stalking, obsessing and fantasy all at once to gain more stimulation.
Which of course then leads to the several rituals strung back to back—an affair. Stalking, obsessing, fantasy, delusions, masturbation, infidelity, all transferred through a variety of filters.

This lesson is timely as C recently explored with her therapist how she never really got the chance to heal from my first affair. At the time, we swept it under the rug as acting out due to stress and poor communication between us. I was unaware of my addiction, and I took the victim approach. I’m stressed. We don’t communicate well. This is why I had an affair. What a disgusting and manipulating form of self preservation.
C and I discussed the first affair in an amount of detail that she could safely handle. Meaning she didn’t want to hear play-by-play details, but hear, “Using the knowledge and experience I have from my recovery today, what happened?” So, I explored the rituals and chains. The purpose they served in managing my life via artificial emotional stimulation. The environmental factors of life transitions and inappropriate workplace. And also a core driver—extremely poor self-esteem. These all contributed to my, at the time, unknown addiction manifesting into a full blown obsession and affair. It was hard for me to discuss this mostly because we never have before. But I was fully prepared for any questions she had and was ready to be completely honest. I was able to, and in that I felt proud. She also mentioned that, although painful, it was helpful to hear this. And so I know that this has opened the door to additional healing on her part. Healing that I prolonged, that I did not allow, that she deserves.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:43 am 
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10/29/18

Yesterday, I had the first 1:1 conversation with my Mother in over 5 years. It was 2.5 hours long. For the first time, we, as two borderline personality disordered people, were able to sit down and have a conversation without becoming reactive. Without becoming defensive. Hurting together. Although she STILL continued to struggle with taking responsibility for her past actions as we discussed them, I was able to show compassion and forgive her. I have completely accepted she can’t help being what I needed as a child because she was never taught how. I have also accepted that she does not have the capacity to change. But I do. I told her that I forgive her because I’ve come to realize my calling—my life purpose is to become the beginning of health in my family. I know for a fact I will not cure it, for traits of my mother exist within me. I know that I will unwittingly pass on things I don’t wish to. But I’ll do everything in my damn power to be held accountable for it… stay awake, treat my wife respectfully, listen to their needs, love them unconditionally, teach them through actions not words.

Without attacking her, I was able to explain how she and my father hurt me: the deficiency stories she raised me with. She told me she knew she was emotionally absent for a significant amount of my childhood. She told me she knows she doesn’t connect well with infants and small children. It gave me affirmation that I was in fact neglected as a child. I showed her that I was ready to accept accountability for my life and behaviors. That I no longer need to listen to those untrue deficiency stories. That I’m going to write my own story now, and that I’m choosing not to continue those patterns she struggled with.

She got what she wanted from this conversation: forgiveness and a pardon. I got what I wanted: to be heard without justifications and judgment. A weight and shadow was lifted from both of us.

Afterwards, I felt a rush of what I perceived to be “self-righteousness”. But upon exploring it further with C, she pointed out that no, it was me speaking confidently from my values. Wow. The work that I’ve done in the past year on my values is becoming so ingrained that it gives me inspiration, empowerment, and confidence (is that not what I yearned to achieve by acting out?!). I would have had neither the wisdom, maturity, nor emotional balance required for this conversation were it not for the unconditional love and support from C and RN. My work here has changed my life and the lives of those around me.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:29 pm 
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Lesson 28 Exercise:
1. Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent acting out behavior.

My first run through of this lesson I examined my most recent affair and have not acted out since then, so I’ll take this to the next level by further examining rituals/chains regarding intense emotions. Anger, jealousy, yearn for connection, violated/fear/safety are examples... Earlier this year I examined anger and jealousy, today I’ll take a look at my yearn for connection. I think this is important because if I fully feed the urge? The ultimate escalation is an affair. I know this may seem irrelevant, but it is important to me because of a BPD person's tendency to lose their sense of self... my yearning for connection is a direct result of that. If I were to remember that my actions/behaviors/others do not define me, I can stay centered and not need to act in ways (potentially have even less urges).

Social situation (neighborhood party)

Anxiety of how I’ll behave during event as we drive up.
Wonder who will be there.
Walk through door into event
Feelings of anxiety around fitting in.
People are looking at me as they greet me
Enjoy feelings of being greeted/welcomed/attention
Get my bearings and grounding by taking in the environment.
Sensory overload with sounds, smells, sights, people, food.
Immediately identify a “task” to take my mind off of anxiety.
Drop off wife’s beverages in ice tub to avoid sensory.
Begin small talk with neighbors to engage in stimulation from party.
Fear that C will be upset by my engaging with neighbors
Stay close by to her as to “calm her anxiety”
Realize I’m staying close by her to soothe my own anxiety
Meet someone I or C have things in common with.
Enjoy connection and relating with someone.
Enjoy feeling like I’m being listened to, or that someone finds me interesting.
As party continues, feel urge to keep track of that individual.
Want to increase my connection at party.
Search for ways to include others because “more the merrier”
Urge to share goings on of party with individual to spark conversation again.
Stay with C.
Urge to exchange numbers so that we can maintain that connection.
Stay with C.
Urge to bring up that individual in conversation with C or others as means of “connection”
Not drinking, feel left out, eat a lot instead
Feel guilty for eating so much.
After party, urges to find individual on social media for connection/beloning.
Urges denied.
Guilt for having urges in first place.

2. Upon completion of this chain, review it to ensure that you can recognize the way that each element affected your emotional state.
I broke this down so that I can recognize how EVERY element impacts my emotional state. Things that are in and not in my control. Will the urges ever go away? No. But at this same party last year there were many more urges, many more ways I acted in, may more ways I would have increase the stimulation from the chain.

3. Thinking as an addict, look for areas within this chain where you could add additional destructive elements that would have (most likely) increased the overall stimulation of the event. The actual events that you add should be realistic, and related to the chain itself. For instance, someone viewing porn might add the element of setting up a Power Point slide show of the images. Someone engaging in escort services might add the element of videotaping the encounters. Share these in your recovery thread.
Simply adding the filters of time, habituation and intensity… staying at the party longer, increasing the intensity of conversation by saying shocking things or trying to make people laugh, habituation by engaging in conversation, stalking them afterwards… the list can go on until it becomes full on priming or an affair.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:02 am 
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Did some more reading in the Couple's section with C last night. Will be making an entry in that thread later, but need to record here some take-away's that really struck me:

Quote:
2) Do not mistake 'understanding what your partner is going through' as simply acknowledging their anger, confusion, shock, fear, disgust, etc. Anyone can acknowledge such things - to do so is both easy and obvious. Instead, realize that in some respects, the painful emotions that have been directed at you serve the same purpose as the compulsive behaviors you have engaged in - they are manifestations of the internal chaos that exists within your partner. They are symptoms of the pain that your partner is in. Learn to look beyond the intensity of your partner's emotions and you will cross into a place where you can come to understand and address what they are really experiencing.


I thought that just by "allowing her" to show emotion regarding this that I was doing enough... but to view her emotions and behaviors as similar to what triggers my own compulsive behaviors? Powerful perspective. "Learn to look beyond the intensity of your partner's emotions and you will cross into a place where you can come to understand and address what they are really experiencing." This is the place where true compassion, empathy, and healing lives.

Quote:
3) As you engage in this learning process, do not look at your partner's experience through 'shame-filled goggles'. When you see their pain through your own shame, your natural reaction is to shelter them from the full truth. This is the worst thing that you can do. Approach your partner's pain from a position of wanting to understand and relate to that experience. To do so will require courage and vulnerability - so prepare yourself for this.


So, this highlights for me one of the drivers of my manipulation of the truth: shame. I lied to keep my addiction and behaviors 'safe'... when I was caught, I continued to lie to "self preserve" and safe face... then when caught for sure and asked to tell the whole truth, I didn't because I wanted to "shelter her" from the truth due to shame... and it wasn't until I openly CHOSE to be held accountable and responsible for my actions that I was absolutely honest. At that point our healing was allowed to begin. Time that could have been spent healing was wasted on my shame. Christ, time wasted on acting out could have been spent on being healthy... but let's not get into a wormhole of self-pity here. Point is, having this understanding of 'why' shines a light on the path forward.

Lesson 29 Exercise:
A. Describe the emotions that you experienced and the thoughts that triggered them.

In exploring my intentions, values, and core identity I experienced spiritual connection with people and my walking life. Feelings of admiration and love for my children. Respect for C. Peace. Contentment. Calm. Abundance. Balance. Freedom and disconnect from self-induced harm and negativity. Gratitude.

In exploring the next prompt of the exercise, I was uneasy with where I ended up. Being at a point in my recovery where compulsive urges are less frequent, I know that what I'm still at risk for is either a trigger, traumatic, or transition type event outside of my control... such as the loss of a child. I know this is morbid, but it is top of mind as an 18 year old family member of ours passed away suddenly. My heart hurts for the parents and siblings... and so my thoughts were there. How would I respond if my oldest passed away? Anguish. Depression. Anxiety. Severe anxiety. Anger. Seclusion. Fear. At first, a distrust in the Universe. Why me. Why her. Why us. Pain. Severe, unfathomable pain. Pain that I'd want to soothe... with what? Acting out? Another affair? No...and with that thought came a moment of more anxiety. Denying that urge... but it quickly passed as I realized I would instead choose to have faith. A new found faith in the Universe. A new found love for C. A re-energized trust in my ability to stay true to my moral compass and values.

B. In assessing your own anxiety, describe the extremes of your personal experiences with anxiety. What has been the least anxious state you have experienced and the most extreme anxious state you have experienced? With BPD and bipolar managing these extremes is all too familiar... The last time I answered this question I mentioned that my least anxious state was a time of pure joy and euphoria (birth of our children). But I realize now that an experience like that seems so unrealistic... if anything, the euphoria is in fact a heightened state of anxiety... So with more understanding, I know that the least anxious I've been is at times of calm and peace. When I've been content with myself, my life, my purpose. When I've felt confident in the direction I was heading. When C and I are on the same page. When I've handled stressful situations appropriately.

The most anxious state would be discovery of my affairs... feeling that everything I worked for was about to come crashing down.. that this was the end of the world (as I knew it). That I had been carrying on this parade of acting out and now the real me would have to be faced and dealt with, and done so alone.

My main takeaway from this lesson is that every emotion is fleeting. Every moment changes. Anxiety or none. Anguish or joy. They come and go. Life management is handling the change instead of fighting to hold on to perfect balance. And I tried to do that for 30 years with addiction. Now I gotta let that shit go.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:20 am 
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Hi Anon
Quote:
My main takeaway from this lesson is that every emotion is fleeting. Every moment changes. Anxiety or none. Anguish or joy.
:g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g:

As THE COACH wrote emotions are both cyclic and finite
IMO we need to monitor and analyse our emotions, we can manage them but only to a degree but control them , no, except in so far as to ensure that they do not control us

You are there my friend , give yourself a pat on the back and whilst doing so a gentle push onwards into your journey

_________________
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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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:22 am 
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Quote:
You are there my friend , give yourself a pat on the back and whilst doing so a gentle push onwards into your journey

Friend, you always have the right and timely words and I thank you for your continued commitment to this community and your own health. You make a difference.
And onwards I go...

Lesson 30 Exercise:
For the rest of today and all of tomorrow, focus on one specific developmental skill: deepening your awareness of the connection between your emotions and your values. Like a student studying for a midterm, concentrate on how your emotions influence your actions; how your values influence your decisions; how your emotions influence your values, etc. Don't do this from memory...anyone can do that. Take tomorrow to assess your emotions/values as if you were in a laboratory. There is no need to write down your observations anywhere. Simply do it.


Just recording a few things:

Had a conflict with a neighbor: This event created agitation in both myself and C. We experienced anger triggered by his actions, disrespect from his “Man-Splaining”, and pretty intense aversion to his self-centered and self-absorbed behavior.
Quote:
“The anxiety, the stress, the anticipation, the ache — all of those feelings you experience prior to compulsively acting out — they are all based on your current emotional state.”

And to soothe those emotions of anger, disrespect, aversion, in the past I would have raged on him. Made decisions to separate our kids even though they are best friends. Passive aggressive or confrontational comments. Talking disrespectfully behind HIS back. Trash talking him and his family.

Quote:
eventually, you will actually experience more "immediate gratification" by not acting out, than you did by acting compulsively.


C and I realized that our values of raising healthy, responsible, kind and mature children come first. And children learn by example, not by what we tell them to do. Meaning I must live by my OWN values of responsibility, maturity, emotional balance, and kindness. So, I CHOOSE to put my dislike of him to the side so that my child can develop an independent healthy relationship with her friend without my interference or judgment. And in doing so I felt relieved. I did not choose the immediate gratification of yelling and bitching at him. But chose the longer difficult haul of facing him with kindness and compassion towards his circumstances (dude must have been seriously neglected as a child because he legit threw a tantrum!).

When I first went through this lesson, I heard Coach Jon’s words but did not believe them. I did not think that any stimulation or satisfaction that could possibly match what I got from acting out. I am here to say that it’s happening. I feel it taking root.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:25 am 
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Lesson 31 Exercise:
In learning to effectively manage your life (e.g. maintain relative emotional balance), it is important to develop an ongoing awareness of where the majority of your energy is being exhausted and where it is being derived. In your Personal Recovery Thread:

A. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressor.


Going to use 0/10 for stress

Commute: 2
Cooking/Cleaning/Chores:3
Disciplining kids: 4
Physical Health: 3
Confrontation with neighbor 5
Managing feelings of poor self-esteem/Self-Image/guilt/Shame: 6
Managing intrusive/compulsive/fantasy thoughts: 2
Creativity Stress: 3

B. Return to your values list created earlier in the workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy being drained (e.g. stress) should be related to the pursuit of your highest prioritized values (top fifteen or so). Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the way that you are expending your energy?

Looking back on the past 2 years (30+ really,) I can see how my values were completely ill prioritized. My “darkside” values were at the top, my ever evolving core values simply an afterthought. I truly believed that I was justified in the life I was living. I had allowed to completely merge with my identity. It makes me a little sick thinking about that now that I’m on the recovery road. But, I’ll leave the guilt/self-pity in the periphery for now. I think that’s what made the first few months of recovery such a struggle, because when I took all my acting out away, I was left with a shell. I didn’t know how to act, think, talk, or interact. Every social interaction gave me anxiety. But by rebuilding my values, finding out who I was/wanted to be (versus the definition my darkside values and acting out gave me) gave me confidence to live a whole life.

C. Likewise, in a healthy life, the majority of meaning and stimulation that you gain should also be related to your highest values. Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the quality of life you are living?
Share any insights in your Personal Recovery Thread.


1. Being a helper/mentor/teacher
2. Making an Impact/Fulfilling my Purpose
3. Spiritual Connection
4. Mindful Presence for myself and those around me (in particular my immediate family)
5. Energy, inspiration, empowerment through excellence
6. Responsibility
7. Creativity
8. Emotional Balance
9. Kindness
10. Being a Compassionate Listener (to others and the still small voice)
11. Learning and Curiosity
12. Gratitude and Appreciation for what’s big
13. Choosing my to follow my moral compass
14. Maturity
15. Nurturing myself and others

Today, managing my emotional balance has taken the most energy from me, and, that is healthy. When I first began my recovery journey I thought that complete abstinence and elimination of behaviors/thoughts/past was key… but that is so incredibly unrealistic. Lesson 31’s text explores what life would be like with zero stress, zero emotion. It wouldn’t exists. So managing my emotions (positive/negative, value and emotion based) is part of life. And that’s ok.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:52 am 
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My first break from RN that was not due to travel. Not a planned decision, but a gentle pulling away for a moment. I will admit, some of it was lack of motivation, but I think that was due to a perceived lack of need. I'm confident that I'm not playing with fire here but am being cautious. An important thing to note is my reliance on routine can be obsessive. For example, I became worried that if I missed a meditation here or there, it'd be a sign that I was off track and was allowing the possibility for my acting out behaviors to return. That is an irrational and illogical thought process and spoke about it with C. Why would "missing" a meditation session = acting out? My meditation is for ME... I do it because it makes me feel good. I do it because it helps me stay healthy and grounded. I don't do it to keep acting out behaviors at bay... I don't need to give my acting out behaviors so much power over me. If I act out, it's a choice. Not because I didn't meditate. The same is with RN.

Obviously, continuing to use RN has a ton of benefits. On top of my 2nd run through of the workshop, mentoring helps me stay fresh with the material.. constantly learning.. reading others' posts daily helps me stay motivated. My own posts serve as a form of monitoring and accountability to my recovery. In the past, when travel interfered with my ability to post, I felt off and anxious. As if I needed the routine of checking RN to stay healthy. And that's ok to an extent as long as we do not become addicted to the recovery process. RN doesn't keep me from acting out. It's my choice.

What I'm proud of today is that the break from RN did not lead to anxiety. I came by to read some posts and reflect, but was OK with not posting. No upticks in urges, no upticks in anxiety. If anything, I had a pretty damn incredible week.

My brother and I have been estranged for 2 years. We have not spoken a single word, only sending birthday/xmas gifts to eachother's children via Amazon... But I reached out to him this week and was able to connect. It doesn't fix it, but it's the beginning. Sure, I was anxious. But I didn't cope with unhealthy behaviors. I stayed present. I chose healthy responses. I stayed close to C. I worked through it without acting out to artificially boost and manage my life.

RN is a guide, not a solution. Life management is the solution: pursuing a vision of health by integrating values-based decisions protected by boundaries and never-ending learning through compassionate awareness.

RN will always be a part of my life because I choose to use the tools it provided to assist in finding and rebuilding myself. I'll be making a donation to RN today. Now back to work and continuing my second run through of the workshop.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:59 pm 
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Lesson 32 Exercise:
1. Early in the workshop, you created approximately fifteen 'proactive action plans' that were intended to list specific steps to take to strengthen certain values that are important to you. Return to these action plans and for each, review your progress. Summarize your progress on your recovery thread.

As noted in my previous post, I feel that I’m really progressing towards my vision of health by making values based decisions that contribute to my values. I realize that the action plans I’ve created in the past were super detailed.. close to obsessive. As if I must check off everything in the list to achieve them. But health is not a destination. It is a journey. My first run-through of the workshop helped me visualize HOW to begin contributing to my values. I need to be careful that I’m not just creating checklists of “I must do this to achieve my value”. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a guide of evolving OPTIONS to continuously improve my life management skills and fulfill my life purpose. I really feel that it's becoming ingrained.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:29 pm 
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Hi A
some 3 weeks ago I posted into your thread

You are there my friend
after your short sabbatical you have endorsed my comment with the words:

Quote:
I don't need to give my acting out behaviors so much power over me. If I act out, it's a choice. The same is with RN.


Quote:
as long as we do not become addicted to the recovery process. RN doesn't keep me from acting out. It's my choice.


Quote:
RN is a guide, not a solution. Life management is the solution:


Quote:
RN will always be a part of my life because I choose to use the tools it provided to assist in finding and rebuilding myself.


Quote:
It’s about a guide of evolving OPTIONS to continuously improve my life management skills and fulfill my life purpose. I really feel that it's becoming ingrained.


These few words say so much I believe and sincerely hope that all who read them can and should take inspiration from them, I have, thankyou

_________________
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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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:55 am 
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Kenzo,

Thank you for the encouragement and affirmation!

I shared these reflections with C and it opened up a conversation around my progress. Her observations match my own reflections. To be on the same page is a great feeling... to have her support and confidence. But also to know that what I'm feeling and noticing is true (since I have in the past had a hard time with clarity due to my delusions/guilt/shame). This lead into a discussion around my overall progress in regards to leaving my addiction behind.

My urges to act out have really subsided. Although fantasy does occasionally drop by for a visit, I choose to create a break and not pursue it. When it does carry on longer, I ask myself, "what am I feeling right now that I'm trying to avoid with fantasy?" More often than not it is agitation, boredom, or social anxiety. And, C and I discussed how in social situations it's my Borderline coming through. To that, she is incredibly compassionate. She and I understand that it's a disorder/issue/symptoms/reactivity that are out of my control. HOWEVER we both acknowledge this isn't a get out of jail card and must try my damnedness to manage it. The boredom I must manage by either allowing myself to feel it, or distract and stimulate with healthy choices. The agitation? Well that is an excellent segue into Lesson 33..

Lesson 33 Exercise:
1. The insights you are searching for throughout this exercise will be in relation to the finite qualities of emotion; the lack of fear/anxiety that comes with developing confidence in being able to anticipate emotional intensity; and the confidence that comes with the same.
2. Each day over the next three, share a few insights relating to these topics in your personal thread. Insights that you have gained from that particular day's focus.
3. At the end of the week, assess the level of effort you put into this task. Did you remember to consciously seek out such developmental opportunities each of the seven days? Post your assessment in your thread.

Providing a brief recap as this skill has been ingrained and practiced on a daily/hourly basis. The finite qualities of my emotions have been one of the top 10 lessons I've taken from RN. Understanding my emotions on a scale, realizing that they are always changing, and that I get to choose how I respond to them. One example from this weekend:
Brother in law stayed with us for a few days. He is triggering to C, and she took out some of her agitation on me. In addition, she and I both have been working on ending generational patterns we disliked. Seeing her slip back into her old ways of treating him poorly was tough for me to watch. I felt the emotional imbalance and agitation. These situations lead to me retreating, taking things personally. I recognized my behavior and what I was feeling. I noticed myself being snippy with her. And I didn't like it so I stopped. I pushed through the discomfort and stuck to my value of nurturing others. I put myself in her shoes, If it were my brother I know i'd do the same damn thing! What she needs is support. Not condemnation. I wasn't perfect in my execution, but ended the retreating and connected with her. I was able to let go of those emotions much quicker than I have in the past. I still have work to do and wish I had done it sooner, but I am constantly learning and was able to understand the finite aspect of the emotions I was experiencing.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 292
12/4/18

I spoke with my therapist regarding some of the fantasy thoughts I still have. He asked about the content of them…pretty much flashbacks of my affair. Quick replays of converstaions and events. Not really for the purpose of stimulation or entertainment. But I have them and experience fear/guilt/shame then create a brake. I know Coach Jon has mentioned this behavior in the lessons as a form of INCREASING emotional imbalance so that the soothing effect of acting out and immediate gratification is even greater.
We all have thoughts. We choose to follow them, let them continue, or act on them. We also choose to create a break. I do believe that these are just thoughts—not my love addiction hanging on. Mostly because I don’t allow them to continue. I accept that I’ll always have them. I cannot erase memories.
But my therapist mentioned an interesting point.. that what I was describing sounded very much like trauma. And that made me think. How could I have experienced trauma—I was the one that traumatized my wife. She is the one with PTSD. But he pointed out that I did have self-induced trauma—the trauma of withdrawl. A heroin addict in withdrawl experiences severe trauma: fear, urges, physical pain, emotional discomfort.

When you take away the one thing that was soothing you and a healthy replacement is not yet in place? You’re faced to deal with all the shit you’ve been running from. And that is traumatic.

I remember reading the chapter in the SAA book about withdrawl and copied it here for reference
Quote:
“Many of us experience a period of intense emotional upheaval and physical discomfort when we stop our addictive sexual behaviors. We call this withdrawal. We may be assailed with powerful memories, feelings, and physical sensations. Other withdrawal symptoms can include intense mood swings, physical pain, anger, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, insomnia, nightmares, or acting-out dreams.
In withdrawal we often feel a powerful urge to resume acting out in order to stop the discomfort. We may find ourselves repeatedly confronted with temptations to sabotage our recovery, or mysteriously drawn to new sexual behaviors that we never thought would interest us. Yet we know that if we ac out again we will only postpone or prolong the inevitable withdrawal.
No one can go through withdrawal for us, or take away all the pain… We need to be gentale with ourselves, honoring our needs for self-care, comfort, safety, nourishment, rest, exercise, and affirmation.”
It doesn’t get more accurate than that. I’d never go through it again for another. But know I had to do it to be where I am today. Labor pains, really.

But the thing is that trauma occurs when there is an intense loss of safety… my addiction was my tool to keep my emotions in balance and safe… take that away? Safety gone. D-Day? Safety was gone—I was sure I was going to lose the safety of my home. Lose my marriage. My children. My life. So in addition to experiencing the physical/emotional symptoms of withdrawl, I had the added trauma of not feeling safe. I was the perp and the victim all in one. I’m realizing that the next step in my recovery will include healing from this trauma.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 292
Lesson 34 Exercise:
Just a few takeaways to note from the lesson text:
Quote:
“And what did we learn as a child in such an environment? That we were responsible for finding ways of comforting and nurturing ourselves. That we were on our own to comfort ourselves in whatever way we could — as soon as we could. And until the pattern of wanting to make ourselves feel good — until immediate gratification — is understood and changed, it will continue.”

Quote:
“you need only to learn how to derive enough stimulation from your actions so that your values-based behavior is capable of sustaining fulfillment and managing crises.”

Immediate gratification plays the primary role in the lives of most people who struggle with addiction. In your Personal Recovery Thread, share the following:

A. Describe a time in your life when the "Immediate Gratification" principle has come into play:
My first run through of this exercise/lesson I discussed how the majority of my life decisions were based off of immediate gratification. Of course, I described my affairs and how they soothed emotional imbalance “NOW”.
To look at current day behaviors I think that my social media use is worth mentioning. Any time I post, I’m constantly checking my phone. How many notifications did I get? How many likes? Who liked it? How many views? The marketing/business of social media has me sucked in for sure. Tiny boosts of emotional stimulation now, instead of reaching out to people individually to connect by taking the time towards building healthier relationships.

B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Be specific. Compare it to other feelings of anxiety that you experience. The purpose of this exercise is to begin to define the limits of your emotions — and where your compulsive urges stand within those limits.
My previous entry to this still stands as accurate. Pasting below.
Quote:
To better compare these anxiety provoking events, I’m going to just rate them on a scale of 1-10 on their emotional intensity. 10 being an anxiety attack.
• Resisting an urge (4)
• Public speaking in a new environment (6)
• Anxious thoughts while doing chores (3)
• Emotionally intimate conversations (9)
• Physical Intimacy (6)
• Self-doubt of previous work conversations (3)
In this basic analysis, I can see that resisting an urge isn’t all that bad. My emotions in regards to my urges are manageable—the urges are just a habit.

C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Is it a trance-like feeling? Is it a hyper-alert feeling? If someone could get inside your mind as you were experiencing such a ritual, what would they find?

When I’m in sensory overload, I soothe by scanning. I’m hyper-alert.. as if I can read the minds and intentions of my targets. (love addict delusions)
When I’m sneaking around with my behavior it’s trance like. Numb to all reason.
Utilizing both those feelings are forms of immediate gratification. It’s my perception that I need to use the hyper-alert energy to scan. It’s my perception that to wake up from my trance I must act out for stimulation. But all emotions come and go, I get to decide if I’m going to believe the perceptions of them.


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