Back against the wall

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Bezoechow, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Thanks for replying TLH, I really enjoy your contributions! Yeah that seems to be the road forward. I have to learn to manage my dopamine. These weeks I've been burning straight through whenever there was any saved up and it's only the last couple of days that I'm succeeding in keeping a little in the back pocket.

    War and Peace is one of my all time favourites. If you like big stories with lots of personalities and depth you're going to love it. It's quite a commitment though. I remember it would feature in old American cartoons as the proverbial big book. :D
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  2. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    Hey man, thanx for the eloborate response. Really cool that you decided to become an elementary school teacher! In a society where it seems we should go after the most high valued thing we can do I think that's a really underrated job. I think it's a job that can give a lot of meaning to your life and where you are able to really make a difference. Kids are the future, but we pay way too little attention to them. I have had great teachers in secondary school and university, but the teacher that has had the biggest positive impact on me was in elementary school. And besides that it can really be a fun and motivating job.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  3. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Not to mention those nice long summer vacations :cool:

    My vote goes to staying on this current path and not thinking too much about the old academic ambition of your ACT research (I think you posted a bit of romantic reminiscence about it in Living's journal). This current path sounds more sustainable and harmonious. Academia can sound romantic but when you find yourself in it, it can quickly become a kind of hell haha. And then you sure need to know why you're doing it.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  4. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Tiny check-in because I'm exhausted. First time group therapy was very tough. Though my own therapist was present, a sex addiction specialist led the gathering, and he was very confrontational. I strongly disagreed (and continue to disagree) with part of his method, so I stood my ground and voiced my point of view as much as time and energy allowed. It was about abstinence, the 100 days no sex/M idea. What made me angry was that he treated me as a priori untrustworthy because of my addiction. "Who are you," he said, "to say anything about normal sexual behaviour?" This goes to the core of what therapy is about and I'm convinced that even with addiction, even with pathological liars, there has to be an a priori, unconditional measure of trust. If you won't trust me to have a worthwhile opinion on something that is very important to me, indeed the very reason I'm even here, than what is the point of our relationship?

    Well, he didn't seem an unreasonable man and I recognised the protocol he was following. So my anger is directed to this protocol rather than the man himself. It was good that I was able to be angry and to show it in a controlled manner. Writing this down has helped me process the emotion so I'm confident it won't cause a huge relapse. Still, this was a very difficult day.

    Edit: So that I don't forget: he also said that I was angry because he was attacking my addiction. When the whole point of my addiction is avoiding anger at all cost. If I was protecting my addiction I would have smiled and kept my silence, like I've done hundreds of times before. This only strengthens my belief that there are multiple kinds of sex addiction. To no surprise whatsoever he later focussed on O as the addicting agent, when for me it is clearly P&M. I wouldn't be surprised if O addicted people do get angry when their addiction is under assault. It's a whole different set of chemicals and a different underlying emotion. But who knows, maybe I am lying to myself. How do we explain then this great improvement in my health over the last four weeks? I felt better today than I've felt in at least eighteen years! Surely I'm doing something right, even when I'm not abstaining from M&O at all or even (rarely) PMO. It's crazy what protocols do to people. I just hope my own therapist doesn't get swept up by his misguided confidence.

    Edit edit: And even when I shared how difficult getting angry is for me he doubled down. I mean come on. That I can't easily forgive.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  5. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    That doesn't really sound like a good session. It makes sense that group therapy can be a bit complicated like that, but despite that the things you describe seem to go beyond that. Most of all, trust is indeed crucial therapy and that goes both ways. If you don't trust this guy or his approach how is this going to benefit you? Perhaps something to talk about with your own therapist.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  6. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Thanks! I've been enjoying it a lot. The idea of supporting a group of kids in their education and development seems a very valuable and fulfilling job. We'll see how it goes however, I've got a lot to learn still.

    I think you're right TLH. Any job is a bit hellish I guess and for every career path I've ever considered I've had people warning me against it. Teaching however just seems to fit me very well. Much more harmonious, as you say.

    Your support here is very much appreciated. I definitely will be bringing this up next individual therapy session. My therapist was there so we should be able to get to the bottom of the matter. It's a tricky thing indeed, and group therapy is a different beast like that. For now I'm not sure if I really don't trust the guy. He showed good and bad signs. At this point the main benefit is having someone to be genuinely angry about, someone who can take whatever I'll throw at him. Better an addiction specialist than one of the kids in my class! The question however is if he'll truly allow and accept my anger and this is what I find difficult to assess. In my mind, no one wants my anger, because my parents never did. I know now that this isn't true and in fact that it is very likely that a therapist would enjoy and encourage such a show of emotion. If that's what he was doing than he did go a little too far though.


    While I won't take back anything I've written in the previous update, I've calmed down. At first I was catastrophising thinking I'd have to leave the group or that I'd have to set an ultimatum or something. By now I see that it was mostly a good thing, a good environment to be angry. I don't really have people around me that allow me to get angry so that's where this specialist is actually doing a very good job for me. I still completely disagree with the content of his actions but the form at least gives me a very useful space. And everyone deserves a second chance. I'll go next week and I'll be angry again and I'll be just like the stubborn, annoying kid I was before I got into P. :D

    While anger is still very difficult for me, it's getting easier. I was able to get to sleep without acting out yesterday which was great. Today I installed instagram for the first time, partly out of interest, partly out of rebellion. I've read about rebellions like this in @nuclpow's journal. I just wanted to go against all this patrimonial BS and do the very thing that I believe isn't very dangerous for my sobriety but is apparently an unholy sin in the specialist's book. It was very tame as it goes though limited to at most one hour of browsing sexy instagram models spread over two bouts of M&O. By golly but instagram is much worse than I thought! It's a very well made vessel for addictive behaviour and the soft P is just right on the doorstep. Not to mention the almost immediate invites I got for groups from apparent women that wanted to sell their attention. Whatever the case I really don't care much about photos and this whole world of fashion and sports and lifestyle so there is little justification for me to engage much with it. Similar to tinder, in that respect.

    What was making matters worse yesterday is that I had planned both individual and group therapy on the same day. This won't happen again! It seems already a lot for an otherwise energetic person but for me it's really tempting the fates. While I was very energetic for the first round at noon, when I returned for the second late in the afternoon I was feeling quite worn out. That I made it through the day in good shape is very encouraging, but I'm sure it impacted my performance (that's what she said) during the group.

    Individual therapy was good. We explored my gaming addiction a little and then with my therapist's help I relived my childhood trauma, which was very emotional in a good way. Finally we looked into my fears which was a little surprising to me, as I've never felt much difficulty in dealing with anxiety. However, upon reflection I realise that with me avoiding anger and sadness, fear and pain were the only negative emotions left and I was using them to keep me from getting angry or sad. Indeed I feel fear and pain whenever I try to show anger or sadness. The EMDR therapy that will start soon will be focussing on this barrier of fear. My therapist was a bit concerned as taking it away will make relapses more likely but I'd rather have them now. The more I allow my anger and sadness to surface the easier it gets so I just need to practice, to put in the work.

    About group therapy I won't say much more. Obviously anything concerning other members is completely secret and I want to be careful about that.

    The rest of the previous week I've been researching my gaming addiction. With the focus so strongly on P addiction I didn't have the opportunity before but now I felt like getting into it. First I was shocked because my approach towards P didn't work with gaming. As I explained before this seems to be a different kind of addiction, tied with sadness rather than anger and using overstimulation as a tool to make me withdraw and hide from the world. As I thought about it I realised that what I was doing was classic escapism, leaving my body and retreating into fantasy. Where with P I'm going up, inside my head, with gaming I'm going out, outside my body. In that sense I'm again breaking the connection with myself only this time in a different direction. When I got to this point I learned that I could indeed use the same strategy as against P. If I make sure to stay inside my body and hold onto that connection, I find that gaming or other overstimulating activities don't have the same grip on me any more. As with P, it makes the addiction powerless for as long as I stay connected and as long as I keep within my limits. I'm very proud of myself. Hard work paid off again! :D Of course I haven't had much chance to test this plan yet so we'll see how the next weeks will go, but I'm feeling optimistic.

    Lastly dopamine is still returning at a good pace and at this point I'm feeling better than I've done for the last eighteen years, ever since I got into P. The focus and energy that I'm getting now is so strong that I can fully concentrate on my activities which shows in the quality of my piano playing and my reading. It still depletes at the end of the day and that's a little hard to accept, but I'm slowly getting used to it.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  7. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Congrats on going to group therapy and also writing on here your honest thoughts and feelings about how it went. Well done also on going to bed instead of PMOing last night, while you were tired and worn out after the group therapy (which is very understandable I would think). We can't always trust our minds when we are tired and angry. After some rest, a good night of sleep, we see things a little different.

    Sucks the conductor kind of negated what you were saying but maybe he felt a bit attacked by you contradicting him right off the start ? I don't know I wasn't there but I imagine this could explain it a bit. Good on you for not holding it against him more then necessary while also taking note of the fact you don't fully agree (the fact you say you saw good and bad in him). Who knows, maybe if you keep going a few times, you'll get a different impression and see if this is helping you or not. Maybe it was the shock of the firs meeting.

    I also agree that it's good you can discuss it with your own therapist who was also present.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  8. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    I think you're onto something there. I suppose I was taking a somewhat combative stance and I did feel like he wanted to assert his dominance. Apparently he has worked with sex criminals for a long time and I can imagine you'd have to go tough on the first meeting with those guys. I'll definitely give it another chance.
    Living and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  9. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Been on low dopamine the last couple of days. Pretty sure I was conserving energy for a possible three times of therapy this week. Didn't pan out that way quite yet as the start of EMDR therapy is pushed back until next week and my therapist didn't succeed in planning me in for Wednesday. That means Friday will be double therapy with group at the end. That's gonna be crazy! Today however dopamine has come back strong and right now I'm feeling like the golden god:


    Heh, anyway. Anger is becoming a more normal, regular part of my life. I'm still scared of it, still apprehensive of letting it out in public or against people, but it's constantly there pushing me on, motivating me. Little things that used to be such obstacles are getting trivial, like taking a shower or washing the dishes, but also calling customer service, calling family or joking around on whatsapp. It however goes up and down. Whenever there's something difficult coming up my body starts conserving energy and during that time I'm back to zero again, sitting in my chair with no desire to do much of anything. There's a bit of jet lag to deal with whenever that happens but thankfully it's very predictable.

    Porn or gaming aren't much of an issue right now. The biggest problem I find is that I regularly have the desire to masturbate but lack the dopamine to keep it going until orgasm, which makes me want to turn to porn to finish the job. It's not a big deal but I'd still like to avoid supernormal stimulants as much as possible. When I've got plenty of dopamine I can delay masturbating until I'm horny enough to need no outside stimulation which I guess is the natural way of going about it.

    What's on my mind the most is dealing with my parents. It's seems clear to me that the work I've been doing in therapy and in recovery will eventually bring me into conflict with them. I'm angry at them for manipulating me for so long, for being so passive-aggressive all the time, for their distrust of me and their lack of affection. I don't want to hide it and I don't want to manipulate them in return either. I've had a good talk with my brother about this last night and he's adamant I should engage my parents only with a mediator present. I don't know. I'd like to blow it up a little bit first, get some action going before taking a calmer approach. Something to talk about next therapy session, certainly.
    Thelongwayhome27 and NewStart19 like this.
  10. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I relate well here (thanks for pointing this out). When I feel overwhelmed (a bit like these days actually) and with upcoming stressful things I become an uptight different type of person. Even home alone I'm edgy and there is this underlying tension nagging me. It impacts my capacity to socialize because I am in a much less relaxed mood (for example if I get a message of invitation it stresses me ; how will I say yes, or no, etc.) I also notice myself becoming more OCD needing to check things a lot. And the fantasies come stronger in such moments of course because mind is then asking for relief from this tension. It is somewhat predictable as you say and hopefully just the fact we are noticing such patterns is already a good step forward. A workout sure does help to blow out some of this tentions though. Added bonus is then we can sleep a bit better.

    It's very clear to me how my inability to disconnect and relax (in a healthy way) when needed is a problem. Add this with life's daily stresses and it's a dangerous mix. And even the recovery feels at times like a full time job. Doing all the positive habits and so on.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  11. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    One other thing to take into account: you are a smart guy with a background in psychology. While that can be a benefit I guess it can also be disrupting for a therapist, especially in group therapy. I noticed that with my own therapy sessions sometimes and I don't even have a background in psychology. Sometimes having less informed clients can make things a whole lot easier:)
  12. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Well, well, well. Feeling a little out of it today. Yesterday was very intense so I guess I'm just catching my breath. @Living and @Thelongwayhome27, you guys were totally right. There was a lot going on here.

    So yesterday was double therapy day. I had conserved a ton of energy throughout the week, and with my dopamine still on the rise I was pumped up and ready to go. All in preparation for a possible worst outcome: both therapists taking the 100% abstinence side and pressuring me to comply. This would prompt huge amounts of anger and sadness within me and could've lead to leaving this therapy all together. With me having just realised that my brother also wasn't trusting me and had taken my parents' side, that might've been a heavy hit for my sanity and my sobriety. But I've felt powerless for long enough and I wasn't going to give away my newfound agency so easily, so I went there determined to fight for my life. Back against the wall!

    Thankfully, and boy what a relief that was, my own therapist completely took my side. He talked me out of my worries, showed that I wasn't alone in my self belief and that I was right to distrust my brother's and the sex addiction specialist's line of thinking. While he did think we should be a bit more focussed on monitoring my abstinence, he defined it in my terms: avoiding bingeing and edging. I thought that was fair enough. We cut individual therapy short so that I could make a walk outside to prepare for group, which was planned straight after. This is really the last time that that will happen.

    Again I won't go too much into what happened in group therapy because of the necessary secrecy around it. What I will say however is that I was in top shape. Bezoechow 2.0: completely present, connected and confident. With my therapist I had agreed to avoid conflict with the specialist and to focus on the positives. This went much better than expected and the group was interesting and helpful. The specialist was much subdued and in the beginning I noticed that he even seemed a little scared of me. I felt dominant and in control, I think because I had successfully processed the negative emotions I had towards him but he had not done the same. In accordance with the agreement with my therapist, I decided to utilise this position to keep up appearances that the specialist was still leading the group, and in doing so allowed him to regain his confidence. That resulted in him attacking me on the ideas I had shared during the previous session which was very unpleasant. Still I absorbed and endured his assault and continued my positive contribution to the group.

    This experience was immensely important for me. For the first time in 25 years I was on the top of my game. I found that I could small talk effortlessly, that I could easily take the lead of a group and that I could be in complete control of my (negative) emotions. These were all major insecurities I had surrounding my goal to become a schoolteacher. The fact that showing and processing my anger had such positive effects was also mind blowing to me. I now feel completely secure that I'm on the right track.

    Next week three times therapy. I have a few important e-mails to write as well, and the week after I'll have a meeting to talk about getting back to my studies. The pressure is still on but I'm only getting stronger. Let's go! :D
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  13. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    ... And I relapsed last night. A little bit, but still. I couldn't sleep because I couldn't relax and I couldn't relax because I wanted to masturbate. I couldn't masturbate because I was too tired which frustrated me and in the end I got up to get relief from a porn game. This led to two M&Os over the course of four hours in the middle of the night. I kept it to one very vanilla porn game but it was clearly not healthy behaviour. I ignored the massive headaches that my body conjured up as a warning and I felt compelled to finish the game when there was no reason to do so.

    Of course today my addicted mind started pressuring me because of it. Apparently I should force myself into more "healthy" behaviour to avoid relapses in the future. Yeah that bird's not gonna fly. I'm doing fine, thank you very much. As I'm typing this I recognise my mom's voice in those thoughts...

    There's just so much going on. While physically I'm getting in better shape, the emotional turmoil is wearing me down mentally. Especially these whiplashes when energy levels jolt up or down are hard to deal with. I feel like I'm sailing into the wind and constantly have to watch my head for when the ship suddenly tacks to the other side.

    Tomorrow EMDR therapy and in preparation my mind is bringing up a lot of anger and sadness aimed at my family. The fact that my brother let me down recently has shaken me deeply. I've relied on him and imagined him to be an ally but it appears it was only imagination. I'm starting to realise that the strain of dealing with my family is holding me back from pursuing healthier relations. At this point I'm looking forward to cutting ties with most of them. Many of the posts on the subreddit JUSTNOFAMILY are hitting home right now.
  14. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    But probably you wanted to masturbate because you couldnt relax in the first place? With all the stuff going on and therapy it is extremely difficult to calm down. Acting out helps temporarily, but on the long run not so helpful as we all know to well.

    It is very familiar to me. Actually we should just not go to bed when we're not relaxed. First calm down by taking a long walk, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, cold shower, reading a novel, etc. What I find tempting but counterproductive is TV, youtube, eating snacks after diner, or sports in the evening.

    Think I am going to do some breathing exercises myself now, cause also still busy in me head.....

    Keep it up, you're doing really great. It takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing. What tou maybe need most now is patience and confidence that the path you have taken is the right one. You don't have to take any big decisions right now. You keep focus on the life you want to live and the world around you will change accordingly.
  15. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Wise words. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

    I should just accept it when sleep (or orgasm) isn't coming because then the right choices will come naturally. However I was feeling impatient. Fed up with low dopamine. How ironic that it made me grasp for the one thing that keeps it low!

    Yes, I'm on the right track. The strength of it will pull my friends along and push my enemies astray. I have to keep believing that it's right for me to do so, to do what is mine to do.
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  16. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Family issues can hit deep at our core issues and provoke many of the difficult (unbearable even) emotions we are not that good (yet) at handling (but can learn to get better at handling :)) And, on top of that, the therapy must provoke a lot of emotions as well ! When you get excited, also remember it can sometimes turn into irritability or restlessness after. Something to watch out for (I know many report being very euphoric sometimes in they're recovery, for better or worse :D).

    You're doing good so keep going :). As @Living posted on my journal recently, progress not perfection !
    Bezoechow likes this.
  17. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    This sometimes happens to me too and it's pretty damn frustrating. With me it's never something that suddenly occurs, but something that has been building up (often for a few days). What mainly helps is finding more relaxation in general and to be more aware of stress when it occurs. That last part I still find hard, but I'm getting better at it:) Ofcourse that doesn't help you when you are lying in bed frustrated. When that happens I often try to do a bit of meditation or urge surfing. Although I can't use them as often as I'd like Headspace has some pretty nice sleepcasts that might help in situation where you find it hard to get back to sleep.
    Bezoechow likes this.
  18. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Family Shmamily haha nothing but trouble. This picture that came along on the justnofamily subreddit quite elegantly puts words to my situation:

    I'll get back to you on the emotional front. Got some news to report. I do recognise the issue with euphoria though which can be tricky to handle.

    I guess it had been building up for me too. Usually I can handle it pretty well: I'll put on my headphones and play some piano, read a book or fill in a sudoku. This time I just wanted to act out, heh. Well we live and we learn!


    So EMDR is actually magic. It's very effective. I went this morning and I think we were busy for two hours, exploring my trauma and digging up all the emotion connected with it. EMDR works through visualising and reliving the trauma while at the same time following a moving object with your eyes. Because following the object takes up some of your working memory there isn't enough space for all the emotion to overwhelm you. This allows you to process the emotion bit for bit until there's nothing left and the trauma just becomes another memory.

    During the process it became clear how much the trauma had been affecting me and that it did so in many different ways. The connection with my family was very strong and there were many emotions to work through. Fascinatingly I consistently ended up at forgiveness. Forgiving myself, my parents, my brother and any of the other idiots that do idiotic things. I had read about forgiveness in a few journals, specifically @Gil79's comes to mind, but only yesterday I was still pretty damn far from forgiving anyone.

    Now I'm feeling a little awkward. All the emotional turmoil of the last couple of days is gone. Clearly I was still connecting everything that happens now with what happened in the past. I still try to do that but it's not working any more. There's nothing in the past that's responding. I'm just in awe. Is this how healthy people feel all the time? This calm? I won't be needing porn if this keeps up!
    Gil79 likes this.
  19. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    One therapist suggested EMDR to me once and I was really curious about. I haven't experienced any real traumatic events, but she had this idea that the way I dealt with certain things was very similar to how traumatized people deal with trauma's and that perhaps I've created my own trauma. I was really interested in that, but in the end we never got to that point. I still find it a shame, I was really curious if it would work:)
    Bezoechow likes this.
  20. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    That's a shame! I did have a really good sense of my trauma which is why my therapist was convinced this would be helpful. Maybe it wouldn't be as effective if the client doesn't have a clear picture to work with.
    Pete McVries likes this.

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