Shame, relapse, repeat

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by MissingSelfCompassion, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. A New Man

    A New Man White Knuckle Brigade 2013

    I'd say just see what works. Try discussing your progress with her for a while and see if it helps. If you find it doesn't, tell her you're going to try something else and stop sharing so much with her. If she gets angry or gives you the silent treatment then that's when you need to stick to your guns because she's actually being childish and not helping you at that point. Indeed it could be a clue that some distance is required to get healthy on your own terms.

    I was 3 years into the reboot before i realized that aspects of my relationship with my wife were triggering me. That's about the time Saville joined the board and the way he described his relationship with his wife gave me a way to reframe some of the undermining she was (unconsciously) doing. It didn't change the fact that i love her, but i did have to stop idealizing her quite so much.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  2. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    P-subs and fantasy.
    I've explored thoughts on these subjects thanks to the journals here. I'm so hard on myself that I've never really given P-subs or fantasy much thought. As soon as there was an urge, I'd give in or slap it down by insulting myself. I guess seeing these as gateways, rather than reacting so negatively is a better strategy. Okay, yeah, as I was reading in @A New Man 's journal, fantasy is a problem for me. A stepping stone to P, definitely. I believe I shared before the fantasizing about random women on the street and adding them to the spank bank. So seeing this as something that harms me, rather than just shouting it away in self-hate seems helpful.

    The spouse and I watched a film last night with some unexpected sexual scenes. It was interesting to see my mind start to perform an inventory-- What was that character's name so I can search imdb and see if she has done other sex scenes? Later, in bed, I'm falling asleep and I start coughing. I get up, have some water and my brain starts asking that same question. No, I was just about out, I'm going to bed. I woke up this morning before my spouse. I got up, used the restroom and then sat in front of the laptop and I was on imdb, before I knew what was happening. I found the actress' name and then closed the tab and came here.

    A small victory. No, a victory. I really need to count it as such or I will shame myself until I use again in a self-sabotage.

    As I'm sitting here reading and writing my spouse asked me what my plans were for the day. That made me very angry and scared. I'm typing here, hello? That was the anger, coming from a place of "I'm not important, is that it?" The fear was from the same spot, What would you like to do today? Not liking who I am is my core issue. Changing 45 years of neural pathways connected to this belief seems insurmountable at times. One day at a time, and all the other cliches I suppose.
    A New Man likes this.
  3. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Still working with anger I think. The calendar "x" is not part of my routine, and I didn't want it. I'm resisting it, even though I calmly, and in the moment, rationalized using it again to communicate with the spouse. Maybe I wasn't in the moment. I felt like it though. I wasn't panicked when I discussed it with her. I felt very much like the person I want to be, like the man who would be happy to make an "x" on the calendar. Yet, I forgot to do it last night. So, I should go do it now, but I'm feeling some anger about it. I suppose I'm really projecting onto my spouse. My mind is like, "Oh, I forgot. Are you wondering if I already slipped up? Is it hell for you because you don't know? Good." I'm mad at myself. I'm stuck on the idea that there are men out there who don't PMO and I'm broken. So, I'm angry. Every "x" on the calendar isn't sobriety, but marks another day reminding myself what a terrible person I am.

    Again, my feelings, but it feels like she may resent me journaling here, like why can't I talk to her? Yet, she doesn't want to know. This is a fact and not my perception. This feeds that desire of mine to call myself broken. She doesn't want to know because she's hoping not to be here as well. This is why I keep coming back to Pema Chodron's quote, "Abandon all hope." Wishing for things to be different only sets you back. I'm not accepting things as they are if I'm lost in some dream. This is PMO.

    So psychiatrist always says we're not responsible for other people's emotions. True. I can only fix myself. Damn it would be easier if I didn't live with, cheat on, and have another person in my heart.
  4. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Of course you're feeling angry about it. It's humiliating to have the little woman "check" on your progress. Personally, I would just tell her that you are over the issue with P. Tell her Pema Chodron has really screwed your head on straight in that regard. Are you a school boy who needs checking up on?

    My wife tried to hold the affairs over my head and the fact that at one point I told her I was leaving. This ramped up a lot when I found this place and began the reboot. It crazy, but my wife could feel the status-quo changing and so she started playing games. Once she said "you were going to leave me for that woman." I said "we're doing pretty well now, though, aren't we?" All she could say back was "yes." That ended it right there. I'm a changed man. Yes, I cheated, watched P excessively, sexted endlessly, had cyber-sex with pretty much anyone, but that guys dead. If the wife doesn't like it she can fuck off and divorce me. No woman will ever have my balls again.

    Luckily, your wife married you because you are a great catch, MSC. You have qualities that she admires immensely. Keep your eye on your own ball and soon your wife will be loving the new you. Of course, she'll still bitch and complain, but it will be of a different type.

    Being angry is good. It's motivating. Stay angry and stay off PMO! :)
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  5. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    @MissingSelfCompassion - make sure you read and re-read this!

    No-one is perfect, not you OR your wife. There will be times when you screw-up and piss each other off. They'll pass - and the sentences above will still be true.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  6. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    It's been a long weekend for my wife, 4 days. So she's been around. This triggers my self-hate, as the psychiatrist says, I'm projecting this onto her as I did with my mother. Basically, I spent the weekend fighting the ol' chestnut, "I'm not good enough and I need to prove to her otherwise. Last night, I fought some mean urges.

    I laid awake biting my nails, first clue. I thought, "I'm not tired. I should get up and do something." At this point, I realized there was an urge to look at P. I stayed in bed, just about making my fingers bleed as I nervously hacked at them. "My throat is bothering me, I should get a drink." No. "My stomach is sort of hurting, what did I eat. Maybe..." No. "The forum. I should write these urges down, go to the forum..." No, stay off the computer. I held off for a while longer and then got up with the intention to not fail. I grabbed a book and decided I would read until I was ready to pass out. I hesitated once I was free of the bedroom. I pet the dog on the couch as I tried to remind myself that I was not going to get on the computer. Again, I thought of coming to the forum, but the danger of a web browser open scared me. I grabbed a blanket, got in the chair and opened the book. I read for an hour and a half, until I finished the book. Then, I was tired and headed back to bed.

    My spouse stirred in the bed and I felt that familiar shame come back. "Even though you didn't PMO, why should she trust you didn't?" Again, I was using her to make myself feel bad. She said nothing and was sleeping. I felt the wave of the shame start to beat on me, but I was tired and decided to focus on my breathing.

    It's a success. I'm clearly not used to that. And it feels less successful because this morning I awoke with morning wood and had a brief thought like, "Hey, I made it through the night, but the urge is still here. I'm home alone. Maybe a quick PMO just to get it out of my system? I should reward myself." No. So, I jumped on here, as I'm trying to start my day this way. I may not read any other journals this morning. I think I need to get away from the computer and hit the cold shower and start the day.
    Lowdo, A New Man, Gil79 and 1 other person like this.
  7. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.
  8. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Good job staying the course! These are important steps.
  9. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    The psychiatrist pulled the chair out from under me recently when I was talking about this calendar tracking addiction stuff. I explained that I made the decision to comply clear-headed and openly. When I shared that the self-critic brought the anger in later, a pattern I'm familiar with, she said I seem to be making myself the victim. This has turned my last few days upside down. I mean coming here to mention this, am I behaving like a victim?

    It's been a real mind-fuck. There's precedent, this is how my mother functions. Passive aggressive, woe is me bullshit is my mother's modus operandi. I have also been looking to lay blame on my mother for my behavior, than dealing with my own issues. Once again, it really feels like I need to spend more energy being here, in the now. Worrying about how I was raised and ruminating on a past decision is not being present. Stressing about whether or not I am a victim is also not being present.

    The spouse wanted to get frisky last night, but I was too much in my head after date night. I brought her to a restaurant and a play. When she wanted to make out in bed, she didn't just say, "let's make out," or do it. Instead, she asked me if I remember when we first met. I fucking panicked I was going to get something wrong, even though part of me knew she was just asking to make out. When I shared this with her, yay! Open communication! She responded that she felt she always tried things like this and it doesn't work. Then, I started feeling bad that she felt bad. I really hate that fucking loop we get caught in.

    Back to victim, me telling you all about what happened, rather than just being in this moment and recognizing my sobriety. Rather than focusing on the fact that I know how to be present, I went into that story of the past evening. There's a balance here that I am unsure how to find. How do I NOT bottle things up, as I did in the past, but deal with the emotions in the moment? I guess this involves letting go of this idea that I can control the outcomes. So much of seeing myself as a bad person is about control. If I hate myself before anyone else can, I win.

    I really want to continue reading other journals, but today is not going to permit that. Besides, I've done a ton of mental work today. I need to relax. Thanks for listening, brothers.
  10. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member


    When your wife reaches out, reach back.

    Yes, I know. Blah, blah, blah, anxiety. Reach out, anyway.


    Do small tasks that have no requirement to think about the past. Tidy a corner of the garage, paint the window sill, or wash the car. Do something. Thinking is the enemy.

    If you could think your way through it then you would have done so. The addict wants you to think and think and think. This is called: chasing one's tail.

    Reach back.

    Do small tasks.

    Don't think.

    Thinking is the enemy.
  11. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I need to remember "Thinking is the enemy."

    I had a dream about PMO last night. I woke up with a sense of dread, and then I remembered that was the dream, and that I'm still sober.

    Anxious today. Some unplanned and unscheduled deviation is necessary from the routine I've been keeping. It's not like I'm going to a strip club or anything, but a trigger, nonetheless. I really need to figure out why I get so agitated when the routine is broke. Maybe that's me feeding the victim mentality again? I had things I was going to do, but someone else screwed it up. It's an issue of mine, painting things as an expectation. I want to do this thing, like I want to eat ice cream, but somehow I turn it into "I have to eat ice cream" and I get frustrated. I'm not sure if I'm making sense. The anxiety is having me looking at the clock as I type.

    I suppose this goes back to my self-loathing. I see things as expectations because I'm desperate to impress or prove myself.
    Saville likes this.
  12. Lowdo

    Lowdo Well-Known Member

    Yeah - I went thru a period a few years back where I kept having these. It was bloody annoying but such a relief when I realised it was just a dream...
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  13. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I saw someone's signature, I think @titan_transcendence, which was a quote about masturbation and its effects on a man. That was a bit of a shock to me today because much of the description, from 1916, reminded me of weed. I don't want to debate marijuana, and just like most substances it affects people differently. My best friend was an addict for a long time. I am all about people having a choice, not legislating our personal lives. Yet, pot was always a sore subject to see in public debate because I perceived that my best friend would be so much better without it. After he got addicted he was lethargic, put things off, canceled things, etc. I lived with him in the period and I watched his mind fog up and his sharpness disappear. Like many addicts, he started needing more for weed to even work. It broke my heart.

    Reading the signature made me realize PMO is my weed. When I use, I'm not as sharp. I am hiding from the world, pain, and people around me. After using for a bit, I lose sense of time. I need to do it more often to get to O.

    It's no surprise that addictions can be similar. I just realize that I really did hurt for my best friend. I saw all his potential being wasted. I need to think on this some more, probably. There's a danger of my self-critic, or me, using this to motivate myself-- I'm wasting time and potential. This motivation hasn't worked in the past, but made that critical voice more oppressive. I think I've learned this guilt and shame method I inherited from my mother only keeps me down.
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  14. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    I like getting high a couple of times a year. I find it easy to limit my pot use as it has no hold over me. But, PMO, MO, almost anything to do with sex, another story. Even my abuse of alcohol was easy to stop, for the most part.

    These friends are called "losers." I've had many friends in my life who were talented, smart, funny, but did nothing with their lives. We were all drawn to each other because we were all powered down. I would see them wasting their potential and tut tut to my wife about it...oops, I was doing the same thing. I've now jettisoned people like that from my life. I have one friend who I won't even go for coffee with, anymore. He drags me down. I can literally feel myself powering down and I hate that feeling.

    The key is to let go of our mom's and dad's. It is fucking difficult to do so. They made their beds. And, as you've pointed out, it really isn't about your mother anymore, but the voice inside your own head. The voice uses your mother as a convenient scape-goat so you can stay stuck. Our duty going forward is to break free of the generational curse. My mom was 90 when she died and she was still complaining about her past. She wasted her life. However, we have a chance here to do something really special and exciting. :)

    I had an idea about when your wife reaches out to you. Imagine that you are breaking up the marriage for good. You are both raw as hell, feeling all your feels, and so you naturally and easily reach out to one another, one last time.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  15. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Fear and urges nowhere near Las Vegas.
    Sizing up women on the streets a lot lately. I know this leads to fantasy and can be an issue. So, I'm working with mindful exercises, breathing and scanning my body. I remind myself that I am a human meat popsicle and this is biology. In other words, it's not wrong, no need to bring my shame into this. It's just amazing how many things can launch the addiction brain. In a previous reboot I remember watching women from my balcony as they walked down the street and getting excited. Once they were closer to my building, they were not at all how I imagined. It's a good lesson about fantasy.

    There's like a blue balls feeling happening for me lately. It's not the ache that I remember of actually experiencing blue balls, but something else. Part of me feels like it is a physical trigger, "Hey, doesn't this feel weird? Just grab the shaft and check it out. Please?" I'm sure there's evidence and theories of what's happening in the journals that I may have not read yet. The important part for me is to continue to abstain.

    The wife tried to get me interested recently and we just ended up in tears. I wrote about it above, as part of my exploration of being a victim. I realize with some more distance from that event that I have a lot of assumptions about actual sex to work through. There's a ton of fear that I won't be able to perform. If I don't O, how will she feel? In the past, if I didn't O, I'd just take care of myself with FMO or PMO. I'm afraid of actual sex. I know, I just got to jump into the moment and enjoy it. I've been doing lots of work to be in the moment, in the now. There's still a lot of baggage to work through, I feel. There was something else about fear I wanted to share after reading some more of @A New Man 's journal, but I cannot remember it now.

    I'm finding self-sabotage is a strategy that shame has down pretty well. Basically, I prioritize things because I get easily overwhelmed. I've been telling myself that I'd like to get a routine down to manage the depression and to focus on this. It's a convenient excuse to eat garbage and not workout, as well. "Give me a break, I'm working on my mental health and beating addiction, so let me have this soda and bag of M&Ms. It dawned on me that the work I'm doing here on the forum and with my addiction is about getting healthy. Just as a few of you have reminded me, I want to reshape my abstinence around "getting healthy." Anything else is feeding my shame. I need to work on my health and shed this weight I've gained. *sigh* This is going to be a difficult challenge. Anyway, off to get some weekend doughnuts for the wife and me. Ain't I a stinker.
    A New Man likes this.
  16. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Not trying to badger you, but when will you be ready to have sex with the wife? All the above, all that you write, makes sense, but a lot of it is simply rationalization. You see, we addicts talk an impossibly good game. I'm not meaning to be harsh, just truthful. At least, the truth as I see it. I was the biggest bullshitter alive. At one point I was chatting-up online five different women and fucking two others. How I kept it all straight I'll never know. (of course, it came at a great personal cost as all these things do) I digress! When will you be ready? What are the magic amount of days P-free? When will your therapy lead you to the ah-ha moment when you feel you can go for it? I'm not your wife and even I'm frustrated with you. o_O

    I'm going to answer the above: there is no perfect time; we are never ready. I hated my wife and she hated me. The thought of ever touching her again sexually was the same as thinking about having sex with my sister. (oh, wait, I did fantasize about that once. ;)) I jest! We felt clumsy, awkward, stupid, vulnerable and embarrassed. But, what's an addict gunna do? We're going to just do our best. If we don't cum then we don't cum. The first few times we tried it I didn't even get to fully penetrate the old girl. She would finish me off with her hand.

    This is your journey, but I will tell you what I've seen here on the forum over the past three years. Men who don't engage with their wives will often eventually watch them walk out the door. Women, in general, have much less worry about leaving their man. They will try and they will do so heroically. That way when they decide to pull the plug they can say to themselves that they tried everything. At some point they meet someone else, or just decide that their fragile frigid partner is not worth it.

    Take a risk. Don't think - act!
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  17. titan_transcendence

    titan_transcendence Well-Known Member

    Hi, MissingSelfCompassion. I skimmed a little bit of your journal. I felt much familiarity in it. You seem to have an intimacy issues with your wife. I can not give much advice in that matter, but to tell my own story. In my long relationship we lost intimacy for many years. My SO got quite bit of weight, was depressed and without any spark for life. I was an perfect example of a nice guy in our relationship. I was not a man in relationship, but more as an wounded boy. Of course, the whole picture was more complicated, and my woman has her own issues too (in fact, many of them), but my dysfunction as a man played a big part in our lack of intimacy and hers disrespect towards me.
    I was told many times after sharing my relationship problems in this forum to reach out and start intimacy with my SO. Before its too late. The time was not ever ready for me, because as an addict, Im full of bullshit rationalizations. Just as Saville said. So, the time did not come. My 15 year relationship ended. After we separated, my ex found an new guy in 6 months and got her life back it seems. She lost significant amount of weight, found her womanliness back and started very sexual relationship with this guy, even that he is an violent bully. Me, after nearly 2 years of break up, still lack completely any sex-life. Because, Im still stuck in those same familiar fears that ended my relationship. So, in spite of your fears, I urge you not to delay any longer but try to find back that lost intimacy before its too late.
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  18. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    It's all valid what you're trying to tell me, @Saville and @titan_transcendence. It makes sense and is logical. Unfortunately, this is an emotional issue. One of shame for both me and my spouse. We have seen a counselor and worked on intimacy without sex for a bit. I know she wants more to validate herself. At the same time, I know penetration hurts her and she has little libido. And a failed attempt may bring us closer. Yet, there's fear here as well. So much of her talk after my affair was all about how she knew she wasn't sexual and could understand how I would stray. I'm sure some of that was to plop some guilt on me, but it is certainly in my head now.

    Sure. Sure. Sex up my wife. I gave her some attention at the beginning of the month and I don't think I shared. Most likely because I fought for hours that evening to not take care of myself. A day later I relapsed. Again, excuses.

    It's funny, I used to rally against all the Hollywood B.S. out there saying it's polluted relationships. Every woman wants this story romance, when marriage is work. Yet, I'm waiting to get swept up in some sort of story book sex act, wanting it to happen organically, because I'm too much in my head about all the shit that has gone wrong, could go further wrong, and simply frozen. A testament to the rewiring of my brain, P being something new every time.

    It will never be the right time, but I have to like myself. Right now that's my focus. Progress is slow. I've spent years hating myself.
    Saville likes this.
  19. Outsider.

    Outsider. Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success

    It's crazy how a lot of us are or were nice guys :eek::eek::eek:
    We thought that by being nice toward everyone things will be perfect, we'll be loved by everybody, and especially our wives... What a disillusionment. By being "nice" we try to please everyone. But finally the result is the exact opposite. We didn't have our own opinions, agreed with anyone else. We tried to be "like the others", which is literally impossible as we're all unique. We lacked courage. Courage to be ourselves. The opposite of courage is not only cowardice, but conformism. When we conform, we search others validation. We were used to get satisfied by the miserable crumbs we received by our SOs. We were used not to ask our rights. We always gave their rights to the others, parents, kids, colleagues, wives etc but we didn't claim anything when we didn't get what we thought we "deserved". By acting like a sissy we get treated as one, it's that simple.
    I've never told my wife about my addiction, and will never do. By doing so you only decrease your self esteem again and again. Now it's like you have to report to her, but she's your wife, not your boss or your mother, and you're in the 40+ section here mate, you're a big guy, you don't need that.
    As I think I saw (have to check to be sure), @Saville may have written you to tell her that you're OK now with PMO. I hate lies but in this special case it will release a lot of non necessary pressure from your shoulder. Even if you don't/no longer trust you, work on YOURSELF, for YOURSELF and for sure things will start to improve, starting by your own self esteem.
    Saville likes this.
  20. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    We are taught to not love ourselves. If you do then you expect how dare you? So by not loving yourself you do exactly as you are told and you get nothing. You understand you deserve nothing you are nothing. Well if that's the way you want to live? But you are more fuck them ! A truism" if you can't love you you can't love anyone else including your so or your dad and mom !" Pretty shocking dont you think ? Are you ready to say you dont love your dad and mom NOT live your life like theirs but love them ?
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019

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