Learning to be myself

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Thelongwayhome27, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Good to read something here again. Have you ever tried a day-by-day-approach? If I understand you correctly you are kind of expecting a relapse in the future and you know that this would be detrimental and painful to you.

    I often find myself thinking about my past and regretting what I have done to myself. And that prevents me from enyoing the present moment. It seems that you have a similar problem but you dwell on the future (or what that future could be) instead of the past. Maybe it would be a good idea (at least in regards to this addiction) not to look further than the end of the current day. You do your best on the current day and that's it. Tomorrow will be a new current day.
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  2. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    6 days clean of PMO/MO

    Today was tough. I started the day with positive energy and optimism but once I had to interact with colleagues things went downhill. I felt disconnected even from pretty good friends. When I spend time alone I feel like I find myself better and then once I go back out ''into the world'' I am unable to be that person with others. I feel others will find me arrogant if I act that way (but I'm not sure if it's all in my head or not). Then I have to start acting nice and change my personality in order to fit in. When I'm calm, on good days, I can find a bit of a middle ground (between too fake nice or too closed off) but today it was difficult to find that ground ; either I would not talk at all with anyone (close myself off) or if I tried talking it would feel like I would be acting. Even smiling was hard. Things went in a downhill spiral and as the day progressed I had trouble to keep appearances. I don't know if this is PMO related (withdrawals) or weed withdrawal related but there are strong chances this had an impact. It's funny how it always seems I have to ''pay the bill'' once I stop the bad behavior and get sober. If I keep PMOing, or smoking up or drinking I'm numb and safe from such occurrences. Until the drugs don't work anymore and you need to go to something stronger (which I guess is why drugs are a short term strategy which screw you up more long term). Although I went through these unpleasant social emotions and mood swings (from the high of the morning to the downward spiral during the day) I reminded myself that I have to accept such moments and that they are part of life. Everyone has bad days and that's okay. What sucks is I become a lil paranoid and I really lose my judgment and groundings socially ; I have no idea if I look aloof or strange or not or it's all in my head. But I feel people stay away from me when I'm like this more then usual. It's like I give off a bad vibe or something. Maybe I look arrogant or something. But deep down I'm not ; maybe I am on a superficial level though. It's my personality though, it's who I am. It's me.

    I noted the following emotions and feelings I was going through right then or had gone through a little earlier : Self conscious ; Agitated ; Not connecting ; Over confidence at first ; Overly excited ; Overly optimistic ; A little manic ; Narcissism (covert) ; Social downward spiral.

    You can see the swing from high to low.

    I was followed home by non stop negative thoughts and emotions I had trouble shaking off. Everyone around me seemed like they were in a bad mood. The public transport felt like a dangerous place. I felt super alone. I tried to remember Echkart Tolle and the Power of Now but it was hard to apply.

    These are the emotions that make PMO very enticing, the kind of days that, when they add up, will make me relapse if I'm 3 weeks clean. But to PMO is to go down the same usual path. It's not the solution.

    I can accept a day like this humbly when I've fed the bad wolf a lot. But if I feed the ''good wolf'' for 2 months and get a lot of days like this ; then I can't handle that and I will ''rebel against destiny'' by relapsing. But that's just the thing, I have to change my mindset to the fact that I have to take the negative emotions and life's challenges somehow, for a longer time.

    But let's try to put an end to the negative chatter and simply say this was a bad Monday and that tomorrow is another day. Perhaps a better day.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  3. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Hey Luke thanks for the input. It feels good to be back on here and I was planning to come back even when I was off the wagon.

    I do have anxiety for the future and a lot with the purge and relapse cycle indeed. Most my efforts in the past have ended in relapse so I'm scared of that indeed. I also have melancholia and depression about the past.

    I've tried the one day at a time approach but I like the way you put it here :

    It's radical but it could work. I'll try to keep this in mind and give it a shot. It can help, especially on tougher days.
  4. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I think I overreacted yesterday and even my post on here shows I was in a negative mindframe. I have moodswings sometimes and I can let things hit me hard, especially on the social anxiety problems. I couldn't fall asleep until about 4h am and i missed my alarm this morning. It's a new day though, there is sun out there and I hope things will get better. And I'm one week sober.
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  5. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    It probably is. Due to decades of PMO, I consider myself hideous looking and unlikable; a monster. It has, at times, gone to the point where I don't consider myself worthy of being around other people. I don't think I'll ever be a social person, but I'm positive that I can eventually become content with who I am.

    Good! I always find the first week to be the slowest and worst.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  6. PathToGrace

    PathToGrace New Member

    @Eternity I've felt pretty hideous lately too (over the last couple of months), ashamed of my weakness although nobody really knows about it. Although I walk by people all day long who don't even know they're struggling...but the thing is, once you gain that awareness, you realize that you're just on the same level as everyone else you walk by, except you actually know about what you're struggling with!
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  7. PathToGrace

    PathToGrace New Member

    My motivation tends to come from my deep longing not to experience emotional suffering again. A few months ago, I experienced the worst emotional month of my life because for years, I just continuously and unapologetically used porn, even through years of dating my girlfriend. The thing is, my girlfriend is completely pure-hearted and much better than me about self-control, and one day I realized that she doesn't deserve this. She doesn't deserve me looking elsewhere for that kind of "love." It took me a whole month to finally decide to try to stop. I hope you find your own motivation :)
  8. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    This is something that seems to help me when I think of it. If I pmo, I will go through the same sequence of events that I always do. It will not help and I’ll be right back where I started, but actually further down.
  9. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    10 days clean

    This week has been a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally. Since I stopped ''cold turkey'' both the mariJay and the PMO 10 days ago, it's hard to pin point clearly how much each element is a factor in these mood swings. But I guess it's a pretty safe guess to say that the pretty heavy indulging (both on PMO and weed) I did during about 2 weeks is at least partially at cause here. Which, in a way, is good to remember because it means I'm not just ''naturally crazy''. It's like I have to pay a bill for the unhealthy lifestyle I went through and hopefully if I take care of myself and live healthily now things will get more balanced.

    To make a quick recap, Monday I had that big psychological down after feeling I couldn't connect at all with colleagues and acquaintances. Tuesday I felt very connected to a more ''spiritual and graceful'' element of life ; I naturally felt less the need to be approved, simple decisions were easier to make, and I felt like I belonged. I felt more like myself ; neither overly needy, but neither overly judgmental or critical (in a self defensive way). However both Wednesday and today I had mixed moments of both feeling calm and able to connect with people but also moments of panic attacks, irritability, impatience and a bit of paranoid thinking (feeling there is a lot of tension out there, a lot of agression). So it's safe to say I'm a little bit neurotic these days. Not psychotic, neurotic (lol). So I guess that's a positive ...

    Another factor that must have played a role is the fact I slept very bad this week (3 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours, 4 hours - something like that). Of course this cannot help feeling balanced.

    Concerning the social frustration I felt Monday (looking at it with some distance), I think I often fall in the trap of expecting too much from my current group of acquaintances. Because I'm lonely I have a strong need to connect (perhaps already a little pathological) and hence when I cannot find that I will experience strong frustration and maybe blame it on the exterior more then necessary. The solution would be to accept things as they are now, try to see the good sides of the people and friends I have (realize things could be worst) - and use it in a positive way (for example, at least I can practice my social skills, and at least we have some things in common). And, most importantly, go out there and try to make new connections, meet new people, and slowly go towards creating a circle with people I have more in common with, with people that I would click even more. For this I have to face my inner critic and my fear of rejection and I need to be compassionate with myself and accept that I cannot be perfect (socially) right away. I have to take chances, accept being awkward maybe, and take it as a learning experience. So basically in a way I am unfair with my current circle and feeling anger towards them rather then achieving a clear understanding of the situation is not the good path. This doesn't mean I have to be walked all over, or be overly submissive.

    An interesting element to note is that I think that this ''calm reflection'' (and these conclusions) after the down I had Monday would not have occurred if instead of feeling the pain I would have numbed it with, for example, PMO, weed, alcohol (or any type of unhealthy escapism). That's why it's so important to try to accept the pain and feel things naturally (as much as one can) instead of escaping the hard emotions. But of course, it's not always easy. Sometimes you are so down you really feel you're going crazy.

    The cravings are back today pretty firmly, I could feel the need for a PMO release when I got home. This right after having a bit of a panic attack during my day out there. If I am mindful of these moments it's so clear how PMO is an obvious automatic response for dealing with strong fear. I guess the key is then to learn gradually and practice new and healthy ways to deal with the uncomfortable sensations, while also in the same time slowly tweaking our life situations in order to create a more supportive environment (instead of loneliness). It's like turning a couple of vicious cycles into positive ones.

    Another lil idea I had this week is that, with respect to my trouble connecting with women (strong shyness and fear of rejection), reading pop PUA type of literature (as I have sometimes in the past) is not the right way (for me). It serves to make my inner critic stronger by giving me all these ideas of how I should be and how I need to act. I think that relying on basic psychological self help, such as learning how to deal with my inner critic and working on developing self compassion is a much better path. My theory is that my issue with women is simply the worst aspect of my social anxiety, it's where my inner critic is the strongest. If I am able to work on being more relaxed around the, (by facing my fear gradually) then I would learn all the stuff PUA tries to teach us on my own and naturally. So basically at this point reading PUA has more chances of making me even more lost.

    Aside from the mood swings, I also had a lot of ideas and insights this week. At times it's almost a bit overwhelming. I've been trying to note them down here and there. But at some point I have to take a break, disconnect, and accept I may forget some ''lessons'' and have a bit of trust that things will work out. I can't become overly self absorbed either. It becomes, ironically, part of the problem. The fight to get more balanced becomes so intense it makes you more unblanced lol. So .... fight, take a break, fight, breathe, trust, fight some more, take a break. When you fall, come back.

    As a final note, I stumbled upon this quote this week which I found inspiring and deep :

    "We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known."

    @Eternity - Yep it's exactly my feeling I'll have as well in my worst moments. I think a lot of it is a strong inner critic we project onto others when we are scared. It's hard to tell how much is in our head and how much becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Hopefully, with work and not giving up we can gradually solve this riddle. A lot of it seems to be a mind game against ourselves in the end.

    It is extremely frustrating for me to see how my own fear is covering my true personality out there. And how this contributes to me being lonely instead of developing the relationships I need and crave. But I need to accept this with some philosophical calm, not give up, and keep working. I have to believe that if I work and practice and don't give up, I can improve slowly.

    @PathToGrace - Thanks for the support ! Finding and clarifying our own ''why'' for doing this is so important indeed. I can relate to what you write here since I've also had similar experiences in past relationships. It's hard emotions to deal with.

    For the motivation to not feel emotional pain anymore that's definitely a strong one, unfortunately for me I seem to forget that emotional pain at some point once I get in a ''better place''. I lose the humbleness and I fail to find a rational ''why'' to keep me going. The emotional element loses it's strength and I relapse sometimes because of this. I have to figure this out more. Work on my why more.

    @PathToGrace - This is pretty profound ! Rings true to me. Hell, any struggle could be a secret blessing. Maybe our pain is our own personal opportunity and challenge to grow as an individual. Thanks for this insight.

    @Merton - Hey Merton thanks for dropping by. I agree 100%. I try to tell myself the same thing. After all it's actually true. Especially if we look at past experiences of this. It's always the same cycle. I've even reached a point where sometimes when I am about to relapse I know I'll go through the same crap but I'm in so much pain I decide ''why not''. This was the case with my last relapse which was kind of a conscious decision. I am not helping myself like this though and delaying my opportunity to recover and become a healthier individual. In the same time a relapse is an occasion to remind ourselves why we want to do this. I can see from your journals you have been working hard on clarifying your motivation to recover from this, working on the foundation. I am also kind of in the same boat. Hopefully we can figure this out! I guess relapsing once the emotional boost to recover wanes down is a sign our ''why'' is not clearly enough defined. Perhaps also a sign we are expecting the inner peace we seek a little to early. I think in my case this is a factor, I expect things to get better after 30 days. As a result I lose my humbleness and get overly frustrated too early on in the process and thus go back down instead of pursuing further in the recovery effort.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  10. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    We will make it man! About the clarity of our goals: Mark Queppet says there are 4 types of relapses and the first is where you make a conscious decision to look at porn. (No struggle.) I have also been there many times, and within the last couple of weeks. He says this type of relapse indicates that you do not have your priorities straight. He says in such a situation you need to figure out why you are even trying to get away from porn in the first place.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  11. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Makes a lot of sense ! And yea we can make it. Sometimes in dark moments I forget that this is actually a true logical possibility. Why not believe firmly into which is possible but positive rather then believe firmly into which is (sadly also) possible but negative ? We got this man ! I'm gonna look into Mark Queppet. Another ressource I really wanna exploit is Recovery Nation. Maybe a lesson a week.

    As a side note it seems there is a battle between the pain we can take (without relapse) and the strength of our ''why'' ; a battle that amplifies the further down we get in early recovery (the first 90 days). We seem to lapse because of painful emotions that have accumulated (not counting the regular use after relapse which isn't even relapse anymore but simply a return to the old behavior). The stronger the why, the more resilient we can be towards the hard emotions I think.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  12. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    3 weeks clean of PMO/MO

    I have been quite busy so I haven't had the time to post. This is mainly to signal that I'm still around and trying to keep going. Taking it one day at a time but it's not always easy. I can see how will power is a limited ressource and it's a valuable skill to know how to invest it, when to push and when to take a break. Staying away from addictions also has the interesting effect of showing me just how important this behavior has been, over the years, in giving me comfort and emotional support. Walking the right path for a while shows me how tiring it is (after the initial euphoria) and how difficult it is to find the emotional satisfaction one is looking for in a healthy way. So you can go back to the addiction for comfort and start again or keep pushing and constructing a better reality for yourself, slowly, gradually with self compassion. Wish I could write a little more but so darn busy. Courage to all my brothers in they're journey.
  13. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Great post. I wish too that you could write a little more. Interesting what you write about will power as a limited resource.....
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  14. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks man ! Well it's something I have read in different places (probably even on journals in here) but I think I can confirm and observe it in my own experience. If I push myself too much out of my ''comfort zone" and "status quo" in different areas (social, work responsibilities, doing "good stuff" such as cleaning around, working out, etc.) at some point I'll be stretched thin and this makes me at danger of relapsing more. On the other hand it seems that it's through gradually challenging my comfort zone that I become stronger and more able to deal with life in the way that I would like to. So it's about learning how to gauge the right amount I guess.
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  15. Eternity

    Eternity Patience

    I think this is important. This is something that cannot be rushed for many. As you say, overloading may cause everything to crash.
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  16. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Eternity I really agree that it's important. Understanding it can be slow, is self compassion I think. I used to think that I can change my issues very quickly from will power. That led to frustration against myself and "life" instead of slowly advancing.

    Not long ago I noticed how a certain type of mood I fall into can precipitate an urge attack.

    It seems procrastination when I have time to do something important is an early sign of danger. The procrastination can lead to boredom, a negative thinking spiral (about stuff such as problems in the world), which leads to feeling more and more "lost" and "needing comfort". From this state I can sometimes jump to communicating with someone but it will be from a place of agitation rather then a place of peace. As a result it will make the communication strange and unfulfilling which will further fuel the negative pattern. And suddenly I can sense how the P is calling more and more.

    It seems the first step in the solution is to become aware of having fallen into this ''little rut'' (while knowing I can get out of it) and then to somehow forcefully (yet gently ... always that self compassion needs to be there, at least in my case I think) pull myself out of it. By doing easier "good things" at first and then building back out. As a result, slowly going back towards a more positive, calm and balanced state. And just as I do this I can sense myself becoming more grounded and the urges going back down. The more I do this, the more I show myself I can surf an urge without using P for comfort.

    It's really interesting to observe how the addiction plays out and learning more about it. The observer's standpoint really is a good tool.

    When you start walking astray, even on a small path astray (not yet the binge relapse boulevard) there is this pull to keep going that way. Awareness helps in reminding myself that's not where I wanna go and not only that I should snap out of it, but that I actually can.
  17. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    26 days clean of PMO/MO

    Some bouts of great sadness. Sometimes out of nowhere. After a good day, after a bad day. Perhaps it's a good sign. A sign of emotional processing and dare I say healing. A lot of musing and reflection lately, in between the busy mornings, afternoons and evenings.

    I've learned that I must not reject my "bad" attributes. I must seek to understand them. They are unskilled sure, sometimes, like a naive child trying to be happy. Unskilled because they probably do not lead me where my heart desires. But they are me and I must deal with them in a smart yet gentle manner (hard to remember "in field"). A "big" ego is often a hurt ego.

    I've also noticed how I often feel subtly guilty when people treat me correctly.

    Also, I'm still trying to work on the self regulatory skill of learning when to push myself more and when to give myself respite (yet trying to keep it healthy respite). This element isn't easy to master and it feels like a key skill for me to keep practicing. I must understand this may take some serious time to get better at. This element is especially "visible" in stepping out of my social comfort zone in order to lessen my social anxiety and improve my capacity to create authentic relationships with people. Sometimes (venturing out of the comfort zone) it feels forced, other times it's surprisingly okay, sometimes it's exhausting, at times overwhelming. Roller coaster. Get some rest. Buy another ticket.

    So ... Many things to work on indeed. There is Work to do. Work rather then PMO.

    Therefore, every time I manage to stay away from PMO I give myself the chance to witness this more lucidly and as a result to deepen my understanding and practice life skills.

    Hopefully this isn't too forced, but I am trying to be optimistic.

    A good week to all.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  18. SeekingWisdom

    SeekingWisdom Member

    Agreed. It can difficult know when to push yourself and when to give yourself a break. Especially for those of us like myself that has spent so much of his life chasing comfort and safety. But my hope is that it will be just like any skill. The more I practice pushing myself out of my comfort zone, the better I will be at recognizing when to push myself and when to protect myself. I'm sure there will be plenty of mistakes along the way as it is a skill that I have not developed. But I have hope that as I continue I will get better at recognizing which route to take, as well as have a greater tolerance of what is in my "comfort zone".

    Good luck!
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  19. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thank you SeekingWisdom. That's a good point I didn't think about. That another bonus of challenging ourselves constantly enough (enough but not too much) is to get a better understanding and feel for what we can do and what we can't and where we stand at this moment. Basically get a better vision of our current level of "comfort zone". Good luck to you as well !


    28 days clean of PMO/MO

    As a side note, I had a sexual dream last night featuring a fetish of mine, it's the first one I remember having on this current streak.

    I will be more aware today and if I get more urges I'll remind myself the dream may be causing this and that they will pass sooner or later. Good thing I have a pretty busy day today!
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  20. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Always good to be aware of the urges. That's the first and maybe most important step. We learned to act on autopilot over the years and it's not easy to be mindful about the cravings.

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