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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:59 pm 
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Lesson 16 Exercise: What is the positive (short-term) role of addiction in your life?

In the short-term, I have used fantasies, obsessions and romantic delusions as a stress-management technique. When I am overwhelmed with work and parenting, I can easily escape in my own mind. It’s free, it can be done on the subway or while driving, in my few spare moments, when I haven’t had time for much else. I have used romantic relationships to escape from the endless chores and labour of being a (half-time) single parent of two kids with disabilities. I have also been able to literally escape from my own home, which has been very chaotic itself, following a high conflict divorce and parenting a sometimes explosive autistic child, into the arms and calm, quiet home of my lover. In the early stages of romance, I return to parenting refreshed and happy.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:05 am 
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Hi WG,

A couple of things...
Quote:
I want relief now.

Instant gratification is indeed at the core of many addicts: wanting the relief now, vs using our values to manage our lives. Think about using this feeling and urge as a cue to pull out your values card.
Quote:
I’m also having a hard time with the daily health monitoring because I am sometimes failing to behave in the healthy ways I identified and I don’t want to face my own failure on top of job rejection.

Coach Jon writes in Lesson 14:
Quote:
It is not intended as a checklist to measure your success/failure. It exists instead to provide you with ongoing focus and awareness. And, to establish a mechanical monitoring process that will eventually become an internalized, natural monitoring process.

You have not failed, WG. You are just beginning. As a writer and reader, perhaps you'll find value in reading "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron. It may provide some additional tools for the feelings of failure/rejection you mention often.
Lastly...
Quote:
I have been using the honesty question as a proactive tool to evaluate my behavioural choices. How would I feel if my friends, family, etc, knew what I am doing/thinking about doing? The fantasies are in my private head and this tool doesn’t work as well for them, because I would never share any of my sexual fantasies with most friends/family.

Don't forget that absolute honesty isn't sharing everything about yourself with everyone. "Selective hyper-intimacy" is a form of acting out for us LAs especially when we expose "warts and all" for attention, gratification, and stimulation. Honesty isn't always about the deception of others, but more often the deception we do to ourselves. As you know, LA/SAs will continue to play mind games and justify our thoughts and fantasies.. "no one knows about it because it's in my head so it doesn't hurt anyone..." Well, it does hurt you. And you are the most important person it hurts. So if you were to re-frame your honesty question tool to include yourself instead of the image seen by others, what would that look like?

Regardless, you know yourself best. So please take what you like and leave the rest.

Be well,

Anon


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:57 pm 
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Thank you Anon. I have actually been listening to a lot of Pema Chodron's audiobooks! Love her so much. I agree that honesty with myself is most important above all else. Interesting that you've pointed out my preoccupation with failure and rejection. I want to be aware of my self-talk and try to catch myself with these thoughts that you have so helpfully reframed. Onward...


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:22 pm 
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Lesson 17: Elements of the Compulsive Ritual

When I fantasize about a student, the fantasies are elaborate and can go on for weeks and in some cases even months. I often use the fantasy as a way to relax before falling asleep at night and sometimes in the morning before getting out of bed. If I am particularly stressed, I may engage in the fantasy during the daytime as well. My fantasies are usually delusional in that I believe that she is ‘the one’ and that I am in love with her, at first at least, from a distance. The fantasy involves danger, because I could lose my job if I actually carried it out in reality or at least my credibility. In the fantasy, I am putting myself at risk of being accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. The fantasies also involve a great deal of suspense. I create the suspense in the fantasy itself as most of the fantasy is about how to get alone with the girl, how to let her know that I am attracted to her and find out if it is reciprocal, how to initiate the first kiss, where and how to have sex. There is also an element of suspense and danger in the fact that the student really does exist, I see her every week, and I might cross a line. There is definitely an element of power in this fantasy, where I have a lot more power than she does. I am older, wealthier, and her teacher. There is also an element of accomplishment, when she confesses to being attracted to me and agrees to meet and eventually have sex. It’s pretty clear how this fantasy is a reliving of my own sexual trauma as a child only this time I am the one who holds the power. I was groomed for abuse by an older brother, a brother I admired and looked up to, the way the student admires and looks up to me. He used his power to bend me to his will in a way that it almost seemed as if I consented to the abuse, just as my student ‘consents’ to the relationship with me. I use the fantasy to orgasm during the danger/suspense phase and I often repeat this part of the fantasy in elaborate ways that don’t include the student and I actually having sex. The pleasure I get from this fantasy ends once I imagine the student and I having sex because I can no longer sustain the belief that sex is consensual, based on my own memories of how violent and degrading the act of consummation/rape was. Often I feel guilty and degraded once the fantasy reaches this stage. I then try to fantasize my way out of the bad feelings by going back and reimagining our relationship as nonsexual. I imagine myself resisting the temptation and behaving more ethically and responsibly and not abusing my power over her. Usually the fantasy only ends or the guilt over the fantasy when I get involved with an actual lover who is my own age and there is a more equal power relationship. Often I have rushed into an actual relationship specifically to prevent myself from doing something really risky and dangerous and unethical with the student that I have been obsessing over.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:06 am 
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Hi WG,

There is more than one way to skin a cat but if I may be permitted to make a suggestion to you please in terms of layout of your responses on Rituals? As I know what lies ahead for you in the future lessons you might find it helpful to list the various stages of your Ritual in bullet points as a list. The actual content of what you have written shows that you have got the idea of what is required but if you see this displayed as a list then it will be easier for you to recognise the Ritual as a series of separate steps, whereas being shown as a paragraph may not make that appear so obvious and this point will be important moving forward. There is no need to restate this response but perhaps think about a different layout for the lessons moving forward?

Your choice though, if you prefer to keep things as they are then that is your call. Keep up the good work!

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L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:31 am 
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Thanks L2R good tip! WG

Exercise 18: Understanding Addiction III


Time: In romantic fantasies, where I hold the power, the longer I can hold off before imagining the first kiss or the first sexual act, the longer I can put off going over the threshold. I can derive stimulation almost continuously, on a daily basis, if I can postpone visualizing explicit sexual acts and focus on the emotional attachment. In rape fantasies, where I am disempowered, I reach my threshold much sooner, and can only use these kinds of fantasies rarely, every few months, and for only one day up to a few days in a row.

Intensity: I have become very skilled at managing the content and frequency of the fantasies to derive maximum stimulation from them. For example, when I was younger I used rape fantasies to become aroused but I could never orgasm. I learned that I could use a rape fantasy as ‘foreplay’ to become aroused and then switch to a romantic fantasy to achieve orgasm. Eventually, I stopped needing the rape fantasy to get aroused and could use romantic fantasies almost all of the time. I have become very skilled at incorporating consent even into my rape fantasies which has allowed me to use them to achieve orgasm. For instance, I might imagine hire a sex worker in advance for a staged rape scene, where I am ultimately in control. I can now orgasm from this kind of rape fantasy, but it’s not as satisfying an orgasm as through romantic fantasies, and is sometimes physically painful and always emotionally painful.

Habituation: I now add subplots, backstories, change settings, create dialogue, etc, to maintain the romantic fantasy as long as possible. I restrict my use of rape fantasies and limit my use of porn to stimulate these fantasies because it can quickly turn from pleasurable stimulation to disgust and pain. This allows me to prolong the fantasy longer than I would if I used standard ‘rape porn’. When I become habituated to a romantic fantasy, I switch to a rape fantasy to 'spice things up'. When I become disgusted and no longer derive pleasure from the rape fantasy, I go back to romance.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:34 pm 
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Exercise 20: Mastering your addiction

The early foundation of my sex/love addiction can be found in the way I buried myself in books during my childhood. Escaping into stories was how I escaped from a situation that was inescapable, the sexual abuse that I endured in my home.
During my twenties, I used alcohol and cigarettes to manage my emotions, but I was never heavily addicted. I could always quit or take breaks. I mainly used them to manage social anxiety. I also used healthy coping mechanisms. I was in a long-term stable relationship. I got cats and a dog and I engaged in therapy in my 2os.
I enrolled in a master’s degree and had 2 children in my 30s. During this period of time, I quit smoking and drank minimally for over 10 years. Although I had been very sexually active in my 20s with my partner, our sex life pretty much died in my 30s. After healing significantly from PTSD I had figured out how to have an orgasm and I had stopped using rape fantasies as a sexual stimulant, most of the time. I had a very private sex life with myself. I used romantic fantasies to help myself fall asleep at night, during the last few years before my long-term relationship ended. I had started doing a PhD by this time. I would fantasize that my partner had died and that I was a professor and a student would make a pass at me in my office. I did not acknowledge even to myself that I was having these fantasies until after the relationship was over and then I saw them as a warning sign that I had ignored.
In my 40s, my partner had an affair which I found out about and our 21 year relationship ended. Our kids were ages 4 and 8. Her affair was like a match to my repressed sexuality and from the time we split up, I was ready to have sex at all times. I was falling apart, as I did not know who I was outside of this relationship. I had also been financially dependent when it ended and was broke and trying to provide a home for my 2 kids which we shared custody of. I had a lot of free time on my hands when the kids were with their other mother. But when the kids were with me, I could barely cope. I sought out one night stands during the first 2 years and also fell madly in love with a woman who became a very close friend. I enjoyed feeling sexually alive and I pursued sex intensely. The pursuit was the fun part. I rarely had sex with anyone, 4 one night stands. After 2 years of being single, I got a position as a professor. This was the beginning of my intense fantasizing about students. For the first time in my life, I constructed an entire imaginary world around a student. It scared me so much, that I entered into a relationship with someone my own age to get over the obsession. I thought this girlfriend was ‘the one’ but that relationship ended fairly quickly. I quickly met someone new. I thought she was ‘the one’. The sex was fantastic. She did not turn out to be the person I thought she was. She had addictions herself, and that year I used alcohol in unhealthy ways. We both smoked, but secretly, because we were ashamed of it. She also had a shopping addiction. I became very depressed and was nearly hospitalized and ended up on very heavy duty antidepressants that sedated me. The year after that relationship ended, I developed my second obsession with a student. I spent many hours obsessing over this very young very beautiful woman. Finally, I started a new relationship with a woman 10 years older than me that I was barely attracted to. I had to plug my nose to kiss her. I finally quit smoking while I was with her, but she drank every day and so I drank most days I was with her. I know that drinking is not great for my mental health but I usually go along with the crowd. This relationship, like all the others, was turbulent, with yelling and door slamming from time to time. By the time I got out of it, I was a wreck. I had insomnia for months. This time, I thought for sure, I will just stay single. But soon, there was another student obsession, the third. And within weeks of this new obsession, I fell into a relationship with another woman my own age. A woman I didn’t know at all, but felt sure, instantly that she was the love of my life. I even announced it on Facebook a month after we started dating. The sex was incredible. She was my perfect sexual match. She was also a survivor of sexual abuse. Within 3 months, things blew up and she broke up with me. She tried to extort money out of me. She threatened to have me and my daughter charged with assault. Even though I could see that she was more damaged than anyone I had ever dated, I was devastated, even more than I had been with the longer term relationships. I was also shocked by my own poor judgment. Because I could not tolerate the intensity of pain and loneliness I felt on my own, and the immense responsibility for my 2 special needs kids, I had repeatedly jumped into relationships without knowing anything about the people I ended up dating. I had also entered into them for the wrong reason - to escape from my own self and my life and hoping that I could get help with the parenting. Inevitably, the escape bubble would burst and I’d be right back where I started but worse off, with a huge mess on my hands. I worked as a contract professor this whole time and after 7 years I still couldn’t get a tenure track position. I don’t know how much of this had to do with my lack of career focus. All of my focus was on either parenting or sex, getting it, losing it, imagining it, reliving it.
As my last relationship was ending, a few months ago, I lost even my contract job, and hit rock bottom. This time, I did not start smoking. I drank daily for me for a few weeks, and then quit drinking. I haven’t entirely stopped fantasizing, but I am aware at every moment how fantasizing harms me. I am sitting with the pain of being me, and of all of the many ways I’ve hurt myself and abandoned myself to escape uncomfortable feelings. I spend a lot of time feeling uncomfortable and honestly facing the consequences of my emotionally-based instant gratification decision-making, for myself and for my kids. When I was a child, other people hurt me. When I was a young adult, I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to make good choices for myself, but I began to learn. I began to build a values-based life. When that life fell apart, and when the demands of raising two special needs kids by myself were too much for me to bear, I returned to those early patterns. Sex, cigarettes, alcohol, spending, travel, living beyond my means, status. Living dishonestly. It’s been 9 years since my long-term relationship ended and I should be able to create the life that I want for myself. A life I can be proud of.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:47 pm 
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Exercise 21: Recovery Goals


a) The largest goal I have attempted in my life is to get a tenure track job. I mainly failed due to the job market. However, I can also see things that I could have done differently, for instance, a different research topic. More time spent on publishing.
b) I did succeed at many of the steps along the way, the main one being the PhD itself. I had a moderate degree of success as a contract professor. I was supported in that goal by my partner at the time. I worked hard, stayed on track, and had many other people support me in the academic field.
c) I would like to complete this recovery program by January 15. Initially I had set a goal of November 30 but I find some of the exercises take longer than I expect. Also my job search situation gets in the way and I have to prioritize my immediate survival needs. I am aiming for 3 lessons each week. I also want to maintain daily recovery monitoring. I find this hard to do and will consider myself successful if I do it five out of seven days.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:08 am 
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Hi WG,

I was interested to read you last couple of posts.

Quote:
c) I would like to complete this recovery program by January 15. Initially I had set a goal of November 30 but I find some of the exercises take longer than I expect. Also my job search situation gets in the way and I have to prioritize my immediate survival needs. I am aiming for 3 lessons each week. I also want to maintain daily recovery monitoring. I find this hard to do and will consider myself successful if I do it five out of seven days.

A few things occur to me to share with you.

Firstly, don't become too preoccupied with target dates for completing the programme. The programme is important but it is the first step on a journey that will take you through the rest of your life. I would place more importance on how regularly you do the lessons and if you can commit to something achievable on that side then the completion of the programme in due course will take care of itself.

Secondly, when setting yourself a target for anything (e.g. frequency of lessons) please try and choose something which is achievable. CoachJon warns against setting ourselves up to fail with unrealistic expectations of ourselves. You also make mention of the exercises taking longer than you expected, that is a positive thing as it shows you are thinking through the lessons carefully and taking time to reflect, you will achieve far more by that approach than seeing the lessons as an exercise to quickly tick them all off.

In Lesson 13 in relation to an SA showing Healthy Recovery Patterns CoachJon says
Quote:
"They realize that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present."

You have had a difficult few years but you have taken responsibility to change. That is an important step you have taken of which you should feel proud. You can choose to beat yourself up about what has gone on before or decide to draw a line in the sand and move on. By looking ahead rather than back and by drawing on the learning from the lessons you will see yourself recovering incrementally. Over time those small steps will take you a long way and lead you to where you want to go so make those steps manageable by not biting off too much and try to keep a positive outlook on where this journey is taking you.

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L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3815
Location: UK
Hi WG
remember writing
Quote:
Why I want to change:
I want to bring my writing projects to completion and into the world
I want to be present and live in the here and now while my children are still living with me
I want to be a better role model to my children
I want my children to feel safe, secure and stable and for them to trust me
I want to have self-respect and feel pride in my choices
I want to feel in control of my choices and take responsibility for them
I want to be honest with myself and live with integrity
I want to have peace and stability in my daily living
I want to be present to my friends, co-workers, acquaintances
I want to be connected to nature and my higher power
I want to work consistently towards my goal of running my own successful business
I want to live in reality and be aware of all of the unique and changing dimensions of reality in each moment
I want to experience inner joy and contentment
I want to have more love to give and more time to give to the people and projects that I value
I want to experience genuine intimacy and love in a committed, lasting romantic relationship[


I am sure that you still want these
but they need effort and consistency
it has been a while I do hope that you have not given up :pe: :pe: :pe:

_________________
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 Mar 13, 2019 11:06 am 
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Lesson 22

Ritual: Fantasy
Primary Elements: Fantasy, Moral Conflict, Suspense
Secondary: Accomplishment
Accessory: Orgasm
Number of elements: 5
Fantasy = (3+8*3+8*3+4*3)/5=12.6
Moral Conflict = (3+9*3+8*3+3*3)/5=12.6
Suspense = (3+10*3+10*3+7*3)/5=18
Accomplishment = (2+8*2+10*2+6*2)/5=10
Orgasm=(1+3+5+4)/5=2.6


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:08 am 
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Lesson 23

I find it interesting to observe which elements of the fantasy give me the greatest emotional stimulation. For instance, I would never have pinpointed ‘moral conflict’ as a source of arousal or even ‘suspense’ but I now know that these are two of the key elements of my ritualistic chain. I don’t actually like the feelings that my renewed fantasies are giving me and I don’t understand why I have returned to these fantasies at this point in time, after I have made so much progress towards creating a values-based life and have felt so stable and at peace. I think that understanding the role of suspense, in particular, is helpful in keeping me from pursuing someone in real life, because I’m pretty sure that I would be doing it for the suspense of the chase and would be immediately disenchanted after the accomplishment of having sex and then finding myself in an actual relationship. I am not ready for the demands of an actual relationship and have too much work to do on building my own healthy emotional management skills and a values-based career and getting my children through difficult periods in their lives. On second thought I do understand why the urge to relapse is so strong. Things are very intense at home, with both of my children having active mental health problems. I keep telling myself that the next year or two years will be very intense and that I can get through this period of time and be a good parent, but the urge to flee and escape is very strong. Their pain and anxiety and neediness are overwhelming.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3815
Location: UK
Hi WG great to see you back
Quote:
I do understand why the urge to relapse is so strong.


understanding is a big part of the battle, choosing to deal with urges and then actually doing so if the next step

Choose wisely and choose now, you have everything to gain and its there for the taking

_________________
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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