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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:01 am 
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I spent several days reflecting on the last one. It was really fascinating to see how truly every behavior is driven by an emotion. Every emotion is driven by a thought.


Lesson 20
This exercise may take you twenty minutes or it may take you twenty days. The value in it will be found in the clarity that you are able to achieve in defining the roles that addiction has played/can still play in your life.
You are now tasked with applying what you have learned to your own addiction. There are two ways of approaching this:
1) Examine your addiction and the role(s) that it has played in your life to date. Look across your life span and identify the progression of the addiction, the sustainment of it, the absence of it and/or the stifling of it. Look at the major transitions that you have experienced (childhood to prepubescent teen; prepubescent teen through teenager; teenager through young adulthood; young adulthood through adulthood; explore also any major traumas that you have endured (parental divorce, sexual abuse, moving to a new school or neighborhood, etc.) and identify the role that addiction (or the rituals that eventually developed into an addiction) played in helping you through that time period.
Your goal is to develop a fluid understanding of just how these patterns progressed from early sparks (harmless fantasy, etc.) to an eventual wildfire (e.g. addiction).

No evidence of any reliance on ineffective emotional coping mechanisms in young childhood till moving to teenagerhood. The main use was of fantasy to cope with parents issues. Fantasy being made up stories about things and people, life, etc. No sexual component.
Teenager: as teenager, began to feel distress about identity and fitting in. Realized queer attractions and felt out of place. Struggling with religion inner conflict. Discovered masturbation and sexual fantasy. Sexual fantasy allowed more gender alignment and began using it as a way to fit in and cope. Both masturbation, fantasy, and porn became part of sexual expression. Became a regular escape to chats and an instant feel good. In a way, while it became a big part of life, it was also the only way to express sexuality in a repressive environment, so it wasn't out of the norm in anyway for a teenager. Established erotic pallet with feeling taboo, excitenment of risk and danger being sexually active in an environment that doesn't allow any healthy or unhealthy activity.

Teenager through young adult: Moved to a new country. Experienced the expression of a healthy sexuality. Started a relationship and having sex. Enjoyed having sex as a part of an intimate committed relationship. Found fullfilment and discovered self more.
Young adult through adult: struggled with sexual identity issues again. felt uncomfortable letting go and enjoying sexual relationship intimately. Less and less able to enjoy self without a lot of conflict. Began experiencing lots of life pressure and less sexual comfort in relationship. Found new sexual identity and attraction to men and experienced a lot of conflict about it.


Major traumas:
Parents divorce: sex didn't play a role. Mainly fantasy. Lying and making up stories about life so others can accept me as someone else other than who I am.
Relationship: experienced a lot of guilt due to being with an older married figure. Felt trapped being in what was an abuse of power relationship. Experienced a lot of distress and used sexual desire, risk of being sexually active in a taboo manner as a way to distract my feelings. Sex became an expression of revolting, and for feeling alive as well as a place "I go to" to feel less. developed ability to separate sex from emotions.
Moving to a new country: fell in love. moved into a healthier more honest life. began representing myself as who I am and becoming more authentic. continued to struggle with some shame.
War: Masturbation and porn were a part of coping but didn't feel like I over indexed on them in anyway. Used casual sex once to rebel and feel more alive as well as distract from other emotion. first infidelity.
Head of family: More stresses taking care of a lot of people. Began feeling inauthentic again. struggled with sexual identity and expression. was looking for more novently. began exploring sexual attraction to men again.
Stomach issue: experienced a betrayal. Sickness and frail body caused body image issues. Struggled feeling good and finding myself as well as healthy stimulation from my life and work. struggled feeling disconnected from partner. Porn came back into my life as a way to express a repressed sexual identity and interest for men. More discomfort with body caused less enjoyable intimate sex. Casual sex became an expression of revolt and a way to deal with feeling limited, controlled and just not alive. Behavior slowly started causing more internal conflict, and as a result, more shame and guilt and feeling out of control. Began getting afraid of how much it is affecting my life and whether I was still in control. Began trying to change behavior but had difficulty giving up the novelty and illicit excitement, as well as most importantly the avenue to express sexuality without experiencing the stressful levels of dysphoria since casual sex and masturnation felt less emotionally taxing
Surgery



2) Look to future transitions in your life. Divorce. Death of a partner. Death of your parents. Death of a child. Loss of a job. Retirement. Having another child. Empty-nest syndrome. Consider many different situations that you will possibly face in the remaining years of your life. Situations that could potentially cause major instability to an otherwise balanced, fulfilling life. Explore the role(s) that addiction could play in helping you to manage these times. What would it feel like for addiction to come back into your life? Would it be a rapid collapse or a subtle progression? What signs would you look for? What actions would you take?

Having a child: Could show up as a way to manage feeling out of touch with partner. Less attaction and vitality. Could show up as a way to distract from feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. and feeling simply like a cog in a family machine. Could show up as a way to find excitemnent in otherwise what feels like mundane life. Turning to porn more could feel like an easier way to find sexual fullfillment. Slowly began less sharing of myself. Slowly begin finding an avenue that isn't at first noticeable, but that injects a certain amount of novelty. Novelty would feel at first healthy and legitimate.

I don't see other potential life changes as much of an issue. I think I'd cope well with children leaving. With retiring. etc. Major life trauma that would be most difficult to cope with is losing a close family member. Experiencing a major sickness in myself or family member. Major financial stress. All of these would begin as me feeling less like myself. Less alive. Less vital and capable to find happiness and fulfillment. All of these would begin by expressing less parts of myself to those who are around me. The more I can express all of my range of emotions, the less likely any unhealthy behaviors would step in to fill the gap. This isn't just about sexual behavior - truly, it's only one small facet of unwise emotional management. Ah - mainly personal health issues seem to be tricky now that I reflect more. The main trick is emotional vulnerability. The more I share of myself, the less likely I will find an avenue to just channel than energy into something else.

This was a helpful reflection. It helped me recognize a lot of good things. First of all, sex hasn't been bad in my life. I've expressed so much of myself through sex and fantasy. It allowed me to live as my authentic self, and find my sexuality and who I am. Many times in my life. And despite porn being a part of my life, I truly didn't over index on it until very recently in my journey. It has been an area that allowed me to find more of myself, but it also began bringing bad habits too. In my case, unlike others perhaps, my sexual life wasn't just about emotional management. IT was about identity and dysphoria management. What became untenable last when things felt out of control was how much I began to use that part of my life to find fulfillment. And how much shame/guilt I began experiencing due to it feeling less like an authentic part of my life.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:06 am 
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I gotta add one last reflection. Untreated/unaddressed ADHd in my life seems to bring the most stress and difficulty managing emotions in a healthy way. The more I feel unable to be in the driver seat in my life (i.e out of control with regulating time, emotions, etC) the more I am at risk for using unhealthy stimulation to run away and cope with the emotions that arise. These coping mechanisms don't have to range to addiction or get to a point of feeling out of control to be unproductive. It seemed like that's an area of my life that I need to monitor above a lot of them, because if I am addressing it, I have fairly healthy way of managing life big stressors as I've been through a lot. I am emotionally connected to a lot of people and for my age, I've been able to grow many emotional maturity skills. Procrastination, feelings of failure, lack of emotional regulation with time/values/etc is really key to be prevented in the first place.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:39 am 
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Personal update: In the last few days, I felt curious about my past relationship with porn. As I reflected, I wondered if it was unhealthy or not. In a way, it is hard to see if it was affecting my life negatively - at least that piece. I used to watch it for 20 - 30 min. Sometimes daily. Sometimes less. It never felt like it took over my life, work, etc. it was never clear to me how much of it was compulsive, vs it's just easily available and pleasurable. It felt no different than checking instagram.

I had been training myself for a while to not measure my progress by the number of days/time I had been abstinent. To be clear, that is not to give myself a free pass in any way. I have a very hard line on my unhealthy sexual behavior, which was nsa hookups. So I ended up watching some porn for 20 min yesterday, then again today. Over the past 1.5 year, I watched porn about four times. Two about 1 year in to see how it felt, and now this.

My conclusion - I don't really know if watching porn is part of my compulsive behavior or not. What I do know is that I don't really want it in my life. I enjoyed the experience, but I felt like it doesn't really fit much with my values. porn degrades people. It is violent. It is super visual, and it is easy to leave left over of it in my brain. Finally, it is easy to feel like having a little porn time is a nice way to relax after a long day. It is easy for it, not just in a compulsive way, but for most people, to become an easy way to emotionally "manage" feelings - such as relax, kickback, etc. And I really want to live my life using better management tools to do that.

So in conclusion - I don't really want to resume watching porn. Trying this twice made me realize that I feel perfectly happy without it and that it has been the right decision for me to choose to leave it out of my life. Maybe there is moderation, and masturbation falls into that for me, but porn is a habit that I don't want in my life.

So now I wonder - was that a way that my mind found an excuse to go back down a certain path? Was that "an urge" so to speak? I don't really know the answer. I feel personally that I haven't regressed as the values I am holding on are still there. I am still super mindful of my values, and able to self-correct and decide what fits within and what doesn't.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:50 pm 
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Lesson 20

Additional thoughts. Here are a few major trends I'd see showing up as a potential where unhealthy behavior starts showing up again:
* Lying/hiding parts of myself
* Less value driven - making more impulsive decisions
* Less focus on self-care and healthy emotional management
* Starting to entertain/fantasize about doing something sexual and hiding that part of myself

Basically - using less of the skills that I've learned consistently for a while. Unconscious living.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:11 pm 
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Lesson 21

A. What large goals have you attempted in your life and failed? Why do you suppose you failed?
I do pretty well with large goals, but examples of large goals I attempted was starting a business. Or getting A in courses after going back to college. I think I failed because a) I wasn't committed fully to succeeding b) I didn't have a realistic plan c) I didn't create good habits to follow the plan regularly

B. What large goals have you attempted in your life and succeeded? Why do you suppose you were able to succeed?
Starting a successful business. Getting a great job. I was able to succeed because I was passionate and focused. I was also adacious in my goals. I reached far and didn't let fear of failure stop me. Sometimes I didn't have a great plan, but I adapted and continued learning

C. List one recovery goal that you have and break it down into as many smaller, measurable tasks as necessary for you to manage it successfully. If you find this difficult, then you are probably starting off with too general of a recovery goal. Make it specific.


I have so many goals. One in particular though would be to finish this workshop by end of December of this year. Breaking it down a little further:
There are 74 lessons. I've already completed 21. That leaves 50 lessons to be completed over a period of three months.
So here are some good ways to break this down:
* complete 3 - 4 lessons a week from the workshop
* Complete 15 lessons a month
* Complete these lessons early in the morning first thing before working

Of course, to measure recovery progress through the lessons:
* Regularly using values to make decision
* Daily monitoring showing consistent honesty


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:14 pm 
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Alright - it's official. I'd set a goal to when I'd like to finish the workshop. I have been working through the lessons since June. When I first started, I was doing many. I've been consistently making progress but haven't pushed on this when I started school again. Now I feel like I'd like to push through the motivation of completing it and learning all the tools. So over the next 3 months, and by the start of the new year, I aim to complete this workshop.

One quote I like a lot from the last lesson:
"There is a reason why you are encouraged not to set abstinence as a primary goal in the early parts of your recovery. To achieve a permanent recovery, you are going to come face to face with the processes and emotions that trigger your compulsive behavior. This is good. This is healthy. You are going to look at these processes and see them for what they are"

Upon reflection - I am going to stop fretting about what's compulsive, what's addiction, etc. I spent too much time thinking about that. I don't care if it's addiction or not. Is it healthy emotional management? Do I want in my life or not. Period.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:23 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:29 am
Posts: 391
Hi LC,

You made a number of posts yesterday which i am assuming relate to lessons where you have been doing the exercises over several days and then have posted them all at the one time? If so that's great, if not then just be mindful of how much you can digest in one sitting.

On that note i see your target of having the workshop completed by the end of the year. That is a challenge and maybe you need that focus to get there, i certainly went on the basis of doing a lesson a day when i went through the first time which is doable but please don't be so preoccupied with the timing that you miss the objective of each lesson. As Kenzo often says, it is a journey rather than a race. Better to get there in Jan or Feb having understood it all than be there by Xmas and be confused. A regular visit to the site and doing lessons is definitely recommended though.

I also picked up on a theme through your recent posts about you being confused about what is compulsive, addiction, etc. With my journey i have spent a lot of time agonising over what i should and should not do and it can end up tying you up in knots. I would perhaps suggest you should try looking at it in a slightly different way. The workshop starts with you being asked to set and assess your list of values that you want to live your life by. For now, when faced with a decision of should or could i do or not do something, just run it quickly through your values set. If you think it supports them then go ahead and do what you want to do, if it doesn't then it suggests it is something to avoid. Meanwhile you can crack on with the lessons and pick up the other tools you will need on your recovery.

Good luck and i look forward to monitoring your progress.

_________________
L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:30 pm 
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Hello L2R

Thanks for stopping by and providing feedback.

In terms of doing the lessons, I’ve been reading these lessons and thinking about them every few days for a while. I sat down and wrote my responses in the last two days but I made sure to digest over a while. I usually have everything in my phone and read it multiple times.

Thank you for commenting on the goal. I was just trying to come up with a recovery goal hard on the lesson example. Maybe that’s not the most helpful one. I will try to think of something less restrictive and more doable. I guess generally I am making steady progress and that’s all the matters.

Finally - thanks for sharing the piece about getting out of defining what’s compulsive and what isn’t and reminding me of using my values list. That’s a great way to put it.

Thanks again for stopping by - learned a lot from your post


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:26 am 
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Personal update:

I've adjusted my goal of finishing the workshop to make it more realistic and more focused on actually making sure I internalize things. I will be aiming to finish the workshop by end of February. Posting as regularly as possible.

In the practice of being honest with myself: I think I've observed a bit of backsliding this week. It's slight and it didn't cross the major boundaries that I've set to myself, which is doing anything that I don't feel comfortable sharing with my partner. It was more like returning to watching porn and realizing that the excitement from that and the stimulation was very noticeable and hard to resist, especially since I am alone and not sexually active. And realizing that in one or two of these instances, I wasn't using my values to choose and rather just using stimulation to make the choice. I think L2R gave me really good feedback. Focus on making the value based choices, and the rest doesn't matter.

I noticed that with just this feeling of not following my values, negative feelings showed up. I was more anxious, less satisfied and less confident. I also recognized that, as it turns out, the most challenging stressor for me over this past year and a half, despite all the difficulties, is school related stress. It seems like if I did what coach jon advised - thought about what thoughts/emotions has driven my decisions, I'd notice that it all started out with "feeling behind on school work", feeling like i am not able to catch up. These thoughts then generated a lot of internal anxiety and avoidance of doing the work, in which case the resulting actions where to find stimulation elsewhere and distract from this incredible amount of avoidance that had set in.

Thankfully, I am not discouraged. I won't use as an excuse to continue building up more anxiety and let the shame set back in. I have more tools in my toolbelt that I can use. this is just a reminder that I need to keep working on things, and that value based descision making requires a lot of practice, especially when things get hard, and when life doesn't give you the right support structures due to stresses, etc. I was proud of myself for stepping in last night, when I felt like I was bored/free again, and wanted to watch a bit of harmless porn. It may be harmless, but very evidently it is not causing positive emotions and positive thoughts in my life, so how is harmless? So I finally used value based decision making and asked myself if this what I really want to do. What helped the most is that, out loud, I broke down the action into it's different component: This is producing excitement, because of the "finding a video" that allows me to fantasize better about sex with my partner. There is also the orgasm and the accomplishment of finding an exciting video. These were the main elements and as soon as I broke it down like that, It was much easier to step back.

One thing I also appreciate - after all of this time, I realized that my brain has really been untrained. Now my instinct was to look for something that allows me to fantasize about my partner and I. And I really like that fantasy was connected to my partner and in a positive way. I recognize that watching more porn would naturally change that over time as I'd watch different things and that would become less the norm of my brain. So that was another benefit I had recognized from removing porn from my life for the past 1.5 year.

So in summary - a bit of backtracking but I'd like to think that I am making progress by learning how to use the tools I've learned. Will keep posting in the next few days and doing monitoring.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:48 am 
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One last small update for today that I had forgotten to include and would love feedback on from coaches. Honesty - I've made incredible progress in this area. However, I am still not where coach jon had said - manage my entire life through honesty as if the opposite is not even an option. I feel like I've done that in my partnership well so far. But in certain situations - social or work, I am still not fully there. Last week was one of the first lies I told in a while, and I became aware of it right afterwards. I was sad about it. It was a situation at work where I had made up a story in the past about an injury I have, and I was asked about it again, and told the same story. I am deeply uncomfortable now with this lie, but it lives on since people ask me about my injury and I can't change the story. However, I was sad because I elaborated again. What is a good way to deal with situations like this? I was thinking that next time it comes up, I just say that I'd rather not talk about it. Unfortunately, setting the record straight would be very damaging at work at this point.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:19 am 
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Lesson 22
In your recovery thread, share a brief summary of what practical uses the skill of measuring compulsive rituals can have in your recovery. Don't just copy the headings of this lesson, take a minute to see how you can practically use this information in YOUR life.

This has been a great lesson. Because a) it summarizes the learnings of all the last lessons very well. b) it emphasizes the process and how one can engage in breaking down behaviors into elements, as well as how important this is because it brings objectivity vs being driven by emotions.

For me, I've already seen in practice how this can help. Last week I employed the technique of breaking things down when I was choosing whether to watch porn again or not. I didn't break it into as many elements as I would if I was pre-planning, but in the moment, it was effective and lead me to make a value based choice. In terms of doing this for variety of behaviors in my life, it will allow me to see the precursors for the behavior - emotions, thoughts, etc so awareness can set in early. As my therapist has illuminated for me recently - If one wants to change a behavior or learn from a mistake - they gotta start way earlier than when the event starts. What emotions and behaviors lead to that even before the decision is made. That's where intervention and different choices set in. So i see this tool coming as a valuable tool for a variety of things in my life, and being valuable for breaking down habits to more objectively see the elements at play, and figure out where it's most effective to intervene and interrupt the elements/patterns that exist. I am excited for the next lesson which asks me to do this for any existing behaviors.

In terms of measurement too, the lesson emphasizes figuring out which of these elements play the strongest role in providing emotional stimulation. I think this is key because that's going to highlight what really is at the heart of the behavior and what elements may be strongest in their influence. Finally, I really like the idea of doing this imaginatively for things that one doesn't even do or have, to put in practice in how the mind can create new pathways once one has found a way out of specific behavior.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:15 pm 
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Quick check in; things have been going well so far. OVerall, I am noticing that I am really exhausted and haven't been doing good self-care with the last few weeks of travel. So this is where my attention is going to be. I may not be able to get a lesson in for the rest of the week, but I am still thinking about the lessons and internalizing it.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:26 pm 
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Update: It is so easy for business and life to take over. It's been over a week since I posted. It seems like I've let some form of porn (written) come to my life and be acceptable, with the idea that this isn't as harmful. However, that is not 100% commitment on my part to manage my life and my sexuality according to my values. I think the piece that I struggle with is that I don't have anything against reading an erotic story, for instance, from a values perspective. it doesn't corss any boundaries and isn't harmful to me or anyone else. So the question then become - why does it matter if so? I think my answer to that it matters because I want to build a foundation of healthy sexuality that is not based on heightened stimulation that any type of porn provides. That's really my personal reason for not wanting that. I think reminding myself of my goals: which is managing my life according to my values AND living my best life. And to that end, the experiences I want are not high stimulation from anything but the relationships and things I value most in life, that add more meaning to my life.

So I guess this is all to say that I am reaffirming my commitment


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:30 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Location: UK
Hello LC


Quote:
Last week was one of the first lies I told in a while,


Quote:
Unfortunately, setting the record straight would be very damaging at work at this point.

consider the damage being done to you by yourself in continuing the deceit

Quote:
I am deeply uncomfortable now with this lie,

what is more important to you, your relationship with work colleagues or your relationship with yourself

I am not suggesting a path for you to follow simply throwing up food for thought and subsequent choice

_________________
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: Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:10 pm 
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Coach kenzo

I appreciate your thoughts. I don't want to compromise my integrity. This is why I am here. I agree with the fact that I'd need to learn to take the consequences in order for me to fully change. I don't think doing so at work is the right approach. I do think making a commitment to be honest is key. I am better, but not where I want to be yet. I think this is one of the biggest cornerstones of change for me. I am still searching within me as to what's stopping me from being 100% honest vs 95% or whatever I am at. I've been honest where it matters, but I still keep an if/then. And it's usually self-protection due to being a discriminated against minority. Being a part of the LGBTQ community means that I have a challenge others don't get or understand. I've felt unsafe for a lot of my life, for good reason. It's been painful to say the least. and sometimes, hiding apart of my identity is a way to protect myself that comes from real experience. So how do I strike that balance? Where do I create the personal boundary. It's still something not clear.


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