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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:18 pm 
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"I also see that some of the areas could be applied to me (eg, all or nothing thinking - I've done well, I've done badly etc) he does think like this sometimes, but doesn't everyone?"

This is a question that comes up frequently enough that I thought it worth bringing to the support forum.

Yes, people who are not addicted are capable of engaging in all-or-nothing thinking, immediate gratification, etc. Such behaviours are symptomatic that addiction is present, but they are not sufficient, in and of themselves, in identifying the presence of addiction.

Addiction, in the health based model, is demystified as nothing more than the development of an unhealthy emotional management system that involves behaviour(s) that the person with addiction feels compelled to engage in. In this model, the associated behaviours of immediate gratification, all or nothing thinking, etc. are symptoms of the presence of addiction, but do not wholly define addiction. For there to be an addiction, there will also be a go-to coping behaviour (i.e. “acting out”) that the person feels compelled to engage in to reduce their emotional imbalance (boredom, anger, sadness, depression, etc. …even positive emotions can signal an imbalance that compels the person to act out). My now estranged husband previously confessed that, in addition to when things were not going well between us, when things were going well was also an "excuse" to act out. The way he described it was that it was an opportunity. However, if he were to inspect himself on a deeper level, he would probably concede that when things were going well (regardless of if this was between us, with work, or just in general) the threat was ever-present that things would eventually go poorly. The positive feelings associated with "things going well" would be internally countered by a perceived threat of some impending "things going poorly", which would swing his emotions in the opposite direction, stirring in him him the "need" (urge) to act out to "soothe" the emotional strife. It is more intuitive to think of urges arising from negative events, but this is not the case--any emotional imbalance (in a person who does not have healthy coping skills in place) can lead to an urge to act out. For a person with addiction, the urge is not recognized as an urge, but as a need; something that must be done to counter the discomfort associated with the situation. Thus, for the person with addiction, there is no separation from the self the behaviour (which in turn feeds into the all or nothing thinking, shame, etc.: "This is who I am therefore I am a bad person").

For a person addicted to alcohol or drugs, the acting out behaviour involves consuming alcohol or drugs to induce intoxication; for a person with porn addiction, the acting out behaviour involves the use of pornography to induce intoxication; for a person with love addiction, the acting out behaviour involves the use of love…. To be clear, this simplified definition in no way means that addition is simple to overcome. The emotional coping system is complex, and often developed over the course of a lifetime. Even if the current “drug of choice” wasn’t introduced until adulthood, the lack of a healthy foundation for navigating life’s stressors was most likely evident since childhood. So, if a person displays similar behaviours, this does not mean that they have an “addiction”, but they may have similarly undeveloped coping skills. A common misperception with addiction is that addiction is about the stimuli (the drug) when it is really about avoidance and escape. It just so happens that a person addicted to sex uses sex to escape, whereas a person addicted to food uses food to escape. Being intoxicated by the "drug" is the manner through which the person with addiction escapes, recognizable in SA (as in drinking or drug use) by the glazed over expression on the face of the person who is "intoxicated".

I wanted to share this for a few reasons. One is that partners often take on more responsibility than is theirs to take. If we recognize within ourselves certain behaviours that are shared by persons with addictions, then we may grant concessions (values violations) where it is not appropriate to do so. Second, learning this about addiction helps us to understand addiction which is critical in healing as it allows the partner to depersonalize the addiction, by illuminating the point that the "drug" is simply a means to an end and does not mean anything about us. Just as snorting cocaine or injecting heroine is the means to the end for the drug addict, watching porn stars perform sexual acts is the drug (the means to the end) for a person with porn addiction. How is this personal? (Granted, I imagine that a partner of a person who is addicted to drugs could internalize their partner's behaviour as meaning something about them, such as they wish to avoid them, which is also not the case). Anyhow, as far as SA is concerned, partners often wonder "why does he want that when he has a loving partner who wants to share themselves sexually". To that I ask, who truly wants to be "a means to an end"? Personally, I'd rather be recognized and appreciated for the entire person that I am, not as a set of body parts that are used for someone's personal gratification, sexual or otherwise.

I invite others to share their thoughts, however I don't have specific questions in mind.

Be well.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:11 pm 
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Coach Mel - Thank you for the post. Since I am a long-time recovered "substance" addict (not a fantasy-based addict), I know that I have some addictive personality traits. On the other hand, I have recovered and successfully kept my substance addictions at bay for 30 years. When I engage in immediate gratification or all or nothing thinking, I do not fear my dormant addictions. For me, what would make me fear my return to addiction is:

1) The desperate need to escape reality (for whatever reason)
2) The need for numbness
3) The need for artifical stimulation

How I see sex and love addiction as being a bit different is that the same issues of above apply, but it is also a broader tool of emotional management. I think there is much more emotional stimulation with the fantasy-based addictions than the substance addictions. I also see much more of an intimacy disorder with the fantasy-based addictions. Granted, any addiction destroys healthy relationships and a personally healthy life. And, while it really has nothing to do with us, the partners, it does have a profoundly traumatizing effect on us (as we well know) that is a bit different than the profound effects of other addictions.

Quote:
Anyhow, as far as SA is concerned, partners often wonder "why does he want that when he has a loving partner who wants to share themselves sexually". To that I ask, who truly wants to be "a means to an end"? Personally, I'd rather be recognized and appreciated for the entire person that I am, not as a set of body parts that are used for someone's personal gratification, sexual or otherwise.


Exactly. Right now I am struggling with my husband's fantasy addictions (be it love, sex, whatever, but I know it is a distorted and unhealthy view of both love and sex as it relates to his view of self worth, value, masculinity, lovability and a completely objectified, selfish view of females). The real woman, me, that is in front of my husband is someone he does not "see". He really doesn't "see" the women and girls he objectifies either, regardless of his claim of his love of females in general and appreciation of their beauty in particular (honestly, is that a distortion or what?). But, do I want to have sex with a man who finds more emotional stimulation with women he sees and falls in love with and wants to have sex with and a perfect life with after about 2 minutes of viewing following by intense fantasy? Why would I? Ah, another struggle that can only be overcome with a healthy partner. Now, all of that struggle makes me emotionally imbalanced and I do hear the siren call of my old addictions. But, RN has helped me to return to the strength of my values and vision for life.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:34 pm 
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Sometimes I feel addicted to him -- in the sense that I have turned to him at times to bring me relief from my troubles, for example, when I am having a bad day at work, etc. But, I think that is "normal" in a relationship? I also think it's normal that most people use things -- substances or people or whatever -- to escape for a bit -- and that *can* be healthy. For example, I exercise regularly to bring balance to my life, but I have also done so when I have things on my mind -- going out for a bike ride or whatever. I think it becomes an addiction when it causes you -- or those who care about you -- pain or endangers your health. It's a matter of balance and of consequences that make something potentially problematic. And if you are ashamed and hide it and lie about it that also is a sure sign that it's an addiction versus a healthy coping mechanism. For example, I think I could possibly live with some of my partner's behaviors if he was honest about them -- and gave me the choice to choose -- but he continues to lie about them. That's how I tell the difference. I don't need to lie about taking a bike ride or staying in bed all day to read a book.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:04 pm 
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CoachMel wrote:
" Anyhow, as far as SA is concerned, partners often wonder "why does he want that when he has a loving partner who wants to share themselves sexually". To that I ask, who truly wants to be "a means to an end"? Personally, I'd rather be recognized and appreciated for the entire person that I am, not as a set of body parts that are used for someone's personal gratification, sexual or otherwise.




Thank you, thank you, Coach Mel!

This really had a profound effect on me! I have gotten over the whole self-confidence thing, and accept how it never had anything to do with me. Maybe this should have been a no-brainer, but I still couldn't stop feeling hurt over him not coming to me to meet these needs, be they emotional or physical. Even thought in my brain I know about addiction, my heart still felt some hurt about not being what he wanted to be soothed by. Maybe that sounds silly, it even sounds abit silly to me now. It was the last little bit of hurt over the past, the last emotional connection to his behavior. But you are so right, I would never be ok with being objectified, being used. I just never thought of it that way. Maybe tomorrow, who knows, something may hit me out of the blue and throw me back a bit and make me feel that old hurt, but right now, and in fact all day, I have been feeling really at peace, actually joyfull! It just is no longer hurting my feelings! So thank you.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:00 pm 
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Quote:
I think there is much more emotional stimulation with the fantasy-based addictions than the substance addictions.
I hear what you are saying and I agree to a certain extent and on the other hand I would challenge the assumption—substance addictions are completely about manipulating one’s emotions, either through dulling them, or heightening them, depending on the “drug” of choice. I think the only real difference is in the degree and direction of intensity. The same is true of people who self-soothe with “less” (dangerous, problematic, subjectively speaking) addictions such as to working, or shopping, or exercising. This is my perspective, derived through both education and experience.

It is great that you are aware of how your own emotional struggles beckon your own self-soothing tendencies. Self awareness is so important in any recovery.

Quote:
I think it becomes an addiction when it causes you -- or those who care about you -- pain or endangers your health. It's a matter of balance and of consequences that make something potentially problematic.
Yes, exactly. If the behaviour or substance is running the show (e.g. if missing a few days of exercise causes you anxiety, it most certainly is not a healthy value of exercise and health (since not engaging in the behaviour, in such cases, is the cause of emotional dis-ease). If the behaviour is an healthy outlet for stress, there will not be the all-or-nothing or need for immediate gratification driving the behaviour.

FYI to the partners reading and participating in this post--Coach B has indicated that he has some perspective he would like to add to this conversation, and asked me first (since it is not a both sides open thread). I let him know that it is ok for him to post, as many partners find his posts insightful and a contribution. If anyone objects, please let me know via pm (so you don't have to voice your objection publicly, if it makes you uncomfortable to do so). Recognizing that this was not a both side open thread to begin with, your sense of safety, security and comfort is most important. I would not want anyone to feel violated by the exception.

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:36 am 
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Hi all,

Great post, CoachMel. :g: I had a few insights on this, as someone who was previously an addict, that I thought I could share and Mel has graciously allowed me to do so, despite it not having been opened to both sides. I hope what I say is educational and doesn’t offend anyone.

First off, I was actually just editing this part of Jon’s Gems and there was this post from Jon about how to identify addiction in another, that's directly relevant to this question of exactly what constitutes addiction; always a good reminder:

CoachJon wrote:
How do I know if someone I care about has an addiction?

This can be tricky as there is no absolute set of rules to go by for every individual. Some people can have affairs, masturbate, view pornography, fall "instantly" in love, etc. and certainly not be addicted to those behaviors. There are, however, a clear set of questions you should ask yourself that will help you to determine whether or not a problem exists.

If you are unsure of whether or not a family member or friend should seek treatment for sexual and/or romantic behavior, ask yourself these questions:

Do the potential long-term negative effects of this behavior significantly outweigh the immediate satisfaction gained from performing it? If, in your opinion, the behavior appears to be a means of receiving immediate gratification, without regard for the lasting effects to themselves or those around them, the person engaging in such behaviours may be struggling with an addiction.

Has the person displaying this behavior ever promised to stop? If the person has voiced a promise to stop performing a behavior, even if they have not been able to follow through with that promise, they should seek treatment. That may seem harsh, but the rationale is valid: their promise to stop is a verification of conflict between their values and their behavior, and such conflict needs resolution. Simply expecting someone to stop on their own is unrealistic, and may actually hasten the addictive process. Can a person permanently stop on their own? Absolutely. But it rarely happens. Encourage this person to seek assistance through a self-management program (like Recovery Nation or 12-Step) or a counselor to assure their success.

Is this a behavior that is being done in secret? Like the promise to stop, anyone that feels the need to perform sexual or romantic behaviors and keep them secret knows that there is a conflict between what is socially acceptable behavior (even in terms of how they wish others see them) and what isn't. Still, they continue to perform the behaviors that they know to be wrong in exchange for the immediate gratification they receive. This indicates a problem that needs to be addressed.

Does this behavior appear to be a part of a pattern? Examine other behaviors that this person exhibits. Look for similar compulsive activities, not just sexual and/or romantic behaviors, that appear to be a part of an addictive pattern. Usually, these behaviors will tend to be obvious in particular areas and will emphasize the theme of immediate gratification over long-term satisfaction. Compulsive shopping, eating, exercising: these are just a few that can indicate a pattern of emotional self-regulation that indicates the need for some type of intervention—especially when found in conjunction with compulsive sexual and/or romantic behavior.

Does the behavior appear to be completely out of character for this person? For you to have discovered a behavior pattern in a close friend or family member that is totally out of context for who you believe that person to be is a strong sign that this person has developed a dual (secret) lifestyle, which can be indicative of a rather advanced pattern of addiction.

Is this person trying to cover for their behavior through lies and secrecy? Just because someone lies about having an affair or how a particular pornographic item was downloaded from the internet does not necessarily indicate addiction. By nature, people try to avoid uncomfortable feelings and frequently do so by lies and avoidance. But, the more pronounced and elaborate the lies become, the more indicative of a pattern of preoccupation and value conflict, the higher the likelihood of addiction—and usually, the more pronounced the addiction. In its extreme, murder and suicide may even be considered to maintain secrecy.


There's a few more things I can add to this.

To really see addiction as it is, you really must look at it from several different perspectives. Addiction really does exist...however, it really only exists within the mind of the person that is afflicted, and is only seen in the patterns surrounding behaviours, not in the behaviours themselves.

As Mel said, addiction is a complex pattern of behaviours that a person has developed to manage their emotions and manage their lives. It is not an individual entity...there is no "thing" inside anyone's head that can be called "addiction". It only exists within that person's emotions, intentions, perceptions, and ingrained patterns of behaviour that have previously been successful in managing their emotions on a short-term basis. However, it can still be conceived of as an individual entity that has attached to that person's identity, almost like a parasite...but a parasite that still provides a function for that person, at great cost to their life and the lives of others. In reality though, this would still not be a single thing, but is a complex chains of behaviour that together form the person's primary source of emotional management. As I explain it to people on the recovery side: addiction is not separate from you, nor is it you. Once those patterns become a person's primary source of life management, and crucially, once the person begins to engage in those patterns not to feel better, but to prevent themselves from feeling worse, is when a person truly has an ingrained addiction and those patterns have attached themselves to that person's identity, such that they become transparent and feel like a natural part of who that person is (even if they may still feel like "something is wrong").

But again, even this still only lies within a deluded perception. In truth, from an absolute perspective, there is no such thing as addiction. How I explain this on the recovery side is: consider if a camera followed you around above your head for your entire life, recording everything you did, both your "normal" life and your acting out behaviours. From this perspective, where is the addiction? It can't be found. You would just see one long flow of action, throughout a person's entire life. And if anyone says "when I was acting out is the addiction", then why can other people engage in those behaviours, yet stop themselves from doing so? Quite clearly, not everyone who drinks, does drugs, watches porn, etc., does so compulsively. Again, this should make it clear that "addiction" only lies within the person's perceptions, emotions (or rather, how they respond to those emotions...) and distorted identity...and therefore, the addict is clearly responsible for all actions they have engaged in, no matter how delusional they might have been, as there is no addiction that can be blamed, (even though the person was basically unaware of why they were acting in such a way beyond "doing what felt good at the time"). While it is in the person's perceptions, that obviously alters their actions and decision-making, which changes their behaviour...which changes the world (which should also indicate how your own perceptions are not separate from the world around you). The actions may be identical, yet the patterns...the ritualization, the preparing of one's environment, the deception, the guilt, etc...are also all essential aspects to the addiction. Still, this should show why "addiction" can never be tabled as an excuse.

Addiction itself really only boils down to delusion, ignorance, emotional immaturity, and a lack of life management skills. At a deeper level however, addiction also serves a survival/existential purpose. For myself and many addicts, these patterns began to develop at times in our lives when we faced overwhelming emotions and/or were struggling with a deep lack of self-worth or life meaning...therefore, these patterns not only manage emotions, they also create meaning, as in a superficial, delusional, immediate gratification way, as the "hunt" as the addict pursues their source(s) of stimulation itself creates a sense of meaning, even if it's fleeting and illusory. Hence why connecting to real meaning and value in one's life is crucial for someone to overcome addiction. Addiction is itself a "symptom", not the cause (even though the patterns eventually become both a cause and a consequence of themselves, driving the emotions like anxiety, guilt and fear that perpetuate further compulsive behaviours); compulsive behaviours are themselves a response to emotions that a person finds overwhelming, when they don't have the skills to cope with them. Not (generally) the cause (there are cases where people can become addicted simply by engaging in a behaviour that they enjoy, which then grows to take on a greater and greater emotional management aspect, until they feel they can't stop...but even there, feeling unable to stop would still be based only on emotional immaturity).

CoachMel wrote:
However, if he were to inspect himself on a deeper level, he would probably concede that when things were going well (regardless of if this was between us, with work, or just in general) the threat was ever-present that things would eventually go poorly. The positive feelings associated with "things going well" would be internally countered by a perceived threat of some impending "things going poorly", which would swing his emotions in the opposite direction, stirring in him him the "need" (urge) to act out to "soothe" the emotional strife.


This is an excellent point. There is a lesson on the partners' side where Jon notes that it is simply a change in emotional state that usually triggers urges for people with advanced addictions, since even that change (even a positive one) can feel uncomfortable. I remember for me, this was completely the truth; even when I felt good, I knew that it wouldn't last (it never did) so this created anxiety; as well, due to self-loathing, whenever I felt good, I honestly felt like I didn't deserve to. These feelings themselves could triggers urges for further rituals.

Quote:
I hear what you are saying and I agree to a certain extent and on the other hand I would challenge the assumption—substance addictions are completely about manipulating one’s emotions, either through dulling them, or heightening them, depending on the “drug” of choice. I think the only real difference is in the degree and direction of intensity.


I would agree with Mel here. Once addiction is understood from a functional basis (ie. from the baseline perspective of thoughts, emotions, and actions), addiction works for the same for anyone, no matter how severe the addiction, no matter what substance(s) or behaviour(s) are engaged in. All addictions are in effect process addictions. This doesn't mean they're all equal...one substantial difference that can be seen in sex and love addictions is that development of a "dual identity", such that the addict is "functional" and can keep their addiction hidden, in a way that someone addicted to something like heroin would not be. But from an emotional level, they all work the same.

For dnell, regarding the differences between substance addictions and fantasy addictions: consider your emotions to be like an ocean, with waves that have peaks and troughs (and this is for everyone, whether healthy people or those who've developed addictions). Waves go up, waves go down. In people with addictions, their ocean is more like a tsunami...where they have high, sharp peaks, and equally sharp troughs, hence they live a very chaotic, up and down, erratic emotional life. For a healthy person who engages in healthy behaviour, their waves are much more consistent and powerful...and the peaks and troughs are milder. But the key point here is, the amount of water is the same...and they have similar emotions to manage The emotions of healthy people and addicts are no different (well...they may be, but this would require additional analysis...what's true though is that each person only has to understand their own emotional range in order to successfully manage those emotions). The latter just use a much more intense, chaotic, short-term emotional management system that yields chaos in their lives.

My guess is that, fantasy-based addiction would have more consistent stimulation, with little “blips” of stimulation with each fantasy that is had (which could be hundreds over the course of a day), as opposed to substance-based addictions, which would have larger "single shots" of emotion (such as drinking at the bar). But even that, would usually just be one part of the person's rituals (which could also include preparing to go out, driving to the bar, etc.). The ritualization, and the environment, is just as much a part of the addiction as is the actual ingestion of the alcohol or drugs...hence why addicts who relapse outside the context that they had previously used in, can overdose, since being in that environment created a perceptually mediated, physiologically based tolerance to those substances. But, a person's emotional content is still within a single range...hence why an person may use hundreds of "little" behaviours which give little bits of emotional stimulation, or several "big", more intense stimulations. Or, a foundation of many healthy activities. Again, the ocean remains the same.

This is also the same reason why people who think they have different addictions struggle to end their behaviours...because they have not yet perceived how the behaviours themselves are ultimately interchangeable and it is the emotions that they're managing that are the real issue. Hence why people abstain from porn...then find themselves gaming. Or think they're "putting a stop to my love addiction", only to find themselves eating and shopping more, or any other immediate gratification behaviour. In each case, the person has just shifted the emotions from one behaviour to another (or multiple others)...and again, just like above...if they are to quantify their emotional content (as is done in Lesson 22 of the recovery workshop), one person may have stopped one intense ritual, and switched to two other less intense rituals. Again, in that case, the true patterns and emotions driving the addiction remain. But the ocean still remains the same. (And just to be clear: I am NOT saying the behaviours themselves don't matter at all here. They clearly do...as different behaviours have different consequences. You clearly can't get cirrhosis of the liver from fantasy addictions like you can from alcohol. But, from the emotional perspective...the behaviours are irrelevant, even though different behaviours can be used to manage different emotions, and this would still be unique for the individual based on how they learned.)

Quote:
I also think it's normal that most people use things -- substances or people or whatever -- to escape for a bit -- and that *can* be healthy.


Yes, it can be, to an extent. Again, the questions to ask are "is this creating negative consequences in my life?", "do I feel an emotional drive to do this that I feel can't be resisted?"; "do I feel guilty or ashamed doing this? Would I feel the need to lie about it to others (which indicates a value conflict)?"; "if I want to, can I stop or do I continue even if I don't rationally want to anymore?"

We all engage in all-or-nothing thinking and immediate gratification behaviour at times (I guess this is what we'd call in journalism "burying the lede". :s: ) But, as I remember Jon saying once: "there is a huge difference between going out to Burger King when you know you should probably cook...and doing something that destroys the foundation of your life". There are definitely "degrees" of such behaviour, and behaviours that you deem "okay" within the context of your life and others that are not. In this way, emotions can be used in this case to help define your boundaries...for instance, if you go to act in a certain way, and suddenly feel a twang of guilt or suddenly feel conflicted...that indicates that you are about to act against your true self and should consider what you're doing and why you might feel that way.

I still act on immediate gratification. Quite often actually. And, I'm still trying to improve this. However, this is within the context of my core self...if I suddenly recognize that I am about to do something that makes me feel guilty, a light goes on and I alter course. And this happens much, much faster than it use to.

Quote:
I think it becomes an addiction when it causes you -- or those who care about you -- pain or endangers your health. It's a matter of balance and of consequences that make something potentially problematic. And if you are ashamed and hide it and lie about it that also is a sure sign that it's an addiction versus a healthy coping mechanism.


Again, this is complex. Neither negative consequences from behaviour nor lying itself indicates an addiction...it can just make one more likely, but there's lots of factors to consider as detailed above. To give you an example...this is like in psychology in the DSM how a distinction is made between substance abuse and substance dependence. When we talk about addiction and compulsive behaviour here, it's closer to dependence (even though no one needs to identify their behaviour as addiction or even compulsive to benefit from the workshop...but in the case of abuse, a person can engage in behaviour that creates negative consequences and lie about it, yet not be addicted to or dependent on it. For instance, a person gets drunk one time, gets behind the wheel, and crashes their car, killing someone else. This is obviously use that causes negative consequences (jail, death)...but that doesn't mean the person is dependent on alcohol.

Quote:
For example, I think I could possibly live with some of my partner's behaviors if he was honest about them -- and gave me the choice to choose -- but he continues to lie about them.


That itself should indicate that the lying is motivated by his need to control his own self-image...to be seen how he wants to be seen...as well as how those behaviours contradict his own sense of self, in the sense that he feels guilty, even though you are "okay" with some of them.

Anyways, I hope that helps people at least get a deeper understanding of how complex addiction actually is as a phenomenon. It is a tough concept to pin down...probably why the word "addiction" is used in many cases these days when it doesn't actually fit. But, it does exist for people and the more it can be understood, the better.

:g:

Boundless

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"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:33 am 
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Coach Boundless - Great post. Really interesting.

I would have SWORN to you that I did not have rituals associated with my substance addictions. But, after reading your post and thinking about how I recently spent some of New Year's Eve in a bar, I realize, yes, I did have rituals. I have been sober for decades, but just a week ago in a bar I had euphoric recall and based on Jon's lessons to partners about understanding and mapping rituals, sheesh, I could do that for myself. So, thank you for your thoughts about all of this. I know that I ended my substance addictions because I did start living by my values and vision. I did not get this until I did RN. Just sort of stumbled on it, I guess. And, since I can go to bars now (but must be careful when I am emotionally imbalnced), I must have been able to create breaks for myself. And, I must have found better ways to manage my emotions. Huh. Who knew?

So, the addiction in me (or should I say, my potential to handle my emotions in an old, destructive, immature way) lies dormant but does not disappear. It does show me the critical imporance of continued monitoring (was Jon brilliant, or what?). It also reaffirms that we addicts need to maintain awareness of our emotions and our thoughts about our emotions.

I think the wave metaphor is a good one. Interesting that over the years people have told me that I am "too emotional." It's not that my ocean was bigger, it's just my description and expression of my waves made them seem bigger. There's something for me to noodle about.

And the dual identity. I can tell you that I kept my alcohol and drug use "secret". (Of course, what nonsense, but I was deluded). I agree it is "easier" to keep sex/love addiction "secret" or in the dual identity until the facade cracks due to the progression of the compulsive behaviors. It is so much easier to "see" substance addiction since it is harder to hide the physical affects. But, I can tell you in my active addict days I very much lied to myself and was convinced that the face I showed the world was not one of an addict. Ah, the lies we can tell ourselves.

But, really good news as you so eloquently say in your post: addiction is not a monster in us...it's us and the way we perceive and mange to our emotions; it's our delusions about the world and our interpretation of "stimuli". We can recover. We can get healthy. But, we do not have the luxury to slip into complacency or unawareness.

dnell


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