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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 5:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 177

Since completing this exercise earlier in the recovery process, I am far more capable of identifying my values and living in accordance with them. Looking back at my previous answers, I am taken aback at how incapable I had become in asserting my own needs. I accepted neglect. I accepted rejection. As a consequence I stopped caring about myself. I didn’t realise my self esteem was so diminished. I’ve come a long way over the past 3 years but the healing process is ongoing.

A.
1. Creativity and self expression (art)
2. Physical health and self care
3. Friendships

B.
1. My creative projects are what gives me my greatest challenges and also my greatest satisfaction and achievement. My art projects have been the biggest casualty throughout my post d day recovery. Recovery is extremely demanding and costly in terms of emotional focus and mental energy. I am slowly making my way back to regular creative practice. No matter how small a gesture, even if I am limited to journaling or taking photos with my phone, these activities are the building blocks of my creative recovery, and ultimately the recovery of my identity, but it’s an identity that’s been changed by experience. It’s tough trying to find my way back to the real me.

2. I’m doing better at looking after my physical wellbeing but I could do better still. My bedtime routine went awry throughout recovery with emotional eating at night. I got into the habit of staying up alone. My bedtime routine is ill-disciplined. These are bad habits that don’t help me. In fact my behaviour is self sabotaging. I eat reasonably well, but I need to be wary of tiredness and boredom, loneliness and thoughts about my husband’s addiction behaviours and the years I spent alone and untouched. That’s when I’m at risk of emotional eating, invariably leading to a very depressed mood. I maintain a realistic exercise routine but there is room for improvement. Sometimes I take a little less care of myself than I should.

3. I need to see my friends more. I need to meet up and go places, share interests and conversations. I feel incredibly free from all burden of the legacy of my husband’s addiction. My friends listen when I talk, they focus their attention on the conversations instead of being distracted by attractive strangers. I am free from that constant burden of wondering if my husband is objectifying someone else. It is enormously freeing to be with people who want to be with me because they like my company and listen when I speak, and allow me the pleasure of listening to them in return. It’s the ebb and flow of conversation I miss — conversations without barriers and walls. I know I need to be proactive in getting together with my friends.

C
1. Make time for art every day (or most days). Don’t go 3 days without making art of some kind. It doesn’t matter WHAT I do, as long as I do something. The important factor is to maintain a regular routine of making art.

2. Work through core exercise routine every day (or a minimum of 5 days a week. Walk/dance every day (or most days). Don’t go more than 2 days without exercising. Practice good self care routines every morning and evening.
Practice intuitive eating and be aware of wanting to eat because of emotional overload, loneliness, regret or anger.
Use the time management apps on my phone and iPad.

3. Keep in touch with my friends. There’s no secret to it. Reply to their texts, send a card to those I haven’t been in touch with for too long. Or send an email. It’s not difficult to do any of this.

D.
During the next 24 hours I will:

1.
Journal
Work on my illustrations
Spend 20-30 minutes with a pencil and sketchbook — draw anything. The important thing is to just do it.

2.
Do my set exercise routine
Add some aerobic activity — start with a realistic, achievable goal. The important thing is to do enough to establish a routine.
Do some yoga/posture work that makes me stand tall and confidently.
Make any routine medical appointments that are overdue.

3.
Send a card to B, the one I’ve been meaning to send for months.
Suggest meeting up. Find somewhere to go together. Yes



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:10 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 177
Exercise 11A: 3 and 1/2 years later

It’s been over 3 years now. I’m still repairing the damage to my what became my fragile sense of self. After 15 years of living in the shadow of your addiction, unseen and unheard, I was lost to myself. I was frightened of my own reflection because I couldn’t confront what I had become. Lonely, diminished and afraid of a future I could not control. You had made your decisions and I had no say.

I found myself awaiting a future that only you could decide. I was excluded. I was passive, powerless, hopeless. I could feel something changing. Or perhaps what I had long feared had already happened. All I knew was that something was wrong. I considered my options — wait and see, or turn a blind eye like I had been doing for the previous 15 years. But I couldn’t do that any longer. I was broken. I had taken too much of nothing. Too much of a vacuum. Too much of what wasn’t there. I had reached breaking point, and so you owned up to your behaviour and quit. It’s been a hard road back to health.

I have slowly built myself up since then. I don’t feel so wretched. I’m not nobody, or nothing, or non existent. I know how I *should* feel — but I don’t. I know that I *should* be able to look my reflection in the eye with some admiration. I know she’s impressive. I know she’s got style. I know she still has some of that swagger from her youth. Yet when I hear those compliments from my female friends and the positive words from others — when that sense of being OK is reflected back at me — I know what they mean, but … I also know that when everybody else could see me, I was invisible to you. You have no idea how much it hurts. I carried that shame for years and I still do.

Our recovery has been fraught. The staggered discoveries. The lies. The omissions. The slips that you haven’t admitted to. If I’m being honest, I expected better from you. I have learned about addiction and I can look at you with compassion, but you can’t quite let go of those addict traits and behaviours. So I remain in this sad limbo, feeling cut down and diminished when you objectify women in public, in a store or a coffee shop, or on a TV screen. I wish you would not do this in my presence. I avoid going places with you because you cannot help yourself. I yearn to be free of this sexist tyranny — that a woman exists to gratify any random man’s sexual stimulation. The behaviours that once made me uneasy and fearful as a young woman I witness you inflicting the very same on others. I never believed I could ever end up married to “that guy”, but here I am today and this is exactly what I have — the man I never wanted. I never believed “that man” could be you.

And this is the constant uncertainty I live with. I have learned I am a poor judge of character. I have lost confidence in my “people skills”. I sometimes don’t know who and what I am. I sometimes don’t know the man I am married to. Sometimes I wish I was married to someone who loves me and accepts me for who I am, who sees the beauty in me rather than writes me off as substandard. Sometimes I wish the person who could accept me is you. Sometimes I wish you hadn’t become addicted to the behaviours that ruined our relationship. But this is reality. Part of me is lost forever — the years that I can never have back.

Yet I am learning and growing all the time. I desperately want to recover my strength and my peace of mind. I know I cannot have the relationship I once believed I would have. There’s no going back to a time of innocence, because there is no ‘before’. I have lost my past and my future. My recovery, and our recovery, remains a work in progress.


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