Shame, relapse, repeat

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

  1. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Member

    @MissingSelfCompassion

    I'm curious: on average, do you actually feel like you can get through the day better after relapsing?

    I have experienced this thought pattern a lot. "I have to do X, but it's too difficult with these urges/withdrawals, so I'm just going to relapse first so that I can get X done." In retrospect though, after relapsing, I would either not get X done at all, have more difficulty getting X done due to the effects of my post-relapse climax, or do X at the same level as I would have had I not relapsed at all. These are just my reflections of course, and I would love to hear about your actual experiences with this.
     
  2. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    This is more common here than people like to think. The reason for this is that we have become habituated to picking, and eating, the low-hanging fruit. The little devil inside our brain loves us in this position. "Life isn't so bad. I'm doing alright. Yeah, I'd like to give up PMO, but I like the lift it gives me." This is a frame of mind, a frame of mind that keeps us stuck, stuck, stuck. We must believe in the process and follow through. We must become religious zealots, as it were, with a cause to champion.

    Thinking is the enemy. We are all good at thinking and chasing our tails by doing so. Action is the only thing that matters. If you think about taking a walk: take that walk! If you think it would be good to tidy the garage then that's a great place to start. Nobody can do the heavy lifting for us. At some point we've spoken all the words and need to act.

    Peace, bro'.
     
  3. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    In my experience it depends on the situation, I believe. Is there something that requires my attention and has a deadline? The PMO happens and I accomplished the task. After, I start in with the shame, "how much more could I have got done today if I didn't have to PMO?" However as you say, if there's something I don't want to do because it is making me uncomfortable, or I feel as if there's a possibility of failure, I would convince myself to PMO and then do the task just like before. Yet, I PMO, and PMO, and never do the task. The next day is worse because I am now beating myself up and I fall into a nasty binge cycle of a relapse.

    Thanks for the question @NewStart19 Having to recount how it has worked for me in the past is helpful. Seeing it here in black and white and not in my head is eye-opening.
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  4. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    When I'm in the thoughts I can get lost. As the popular phrase goes, "thoughts are not facts." As noted above, my anxiety can really throw me into a "panic" sometimes. So, I might that believe that responding "wrong" to @Saville right now could lead to him not liking me. I may continue the thought that he will private message others and tell them I am a loser. As the anxiety and thoughts build, I am kicked out of the forum, I have no where to talk. I am the loser I think I am. I'll never beat the addiction and I might as well give up. All thoughts in my head, feeding each other. Being mindful and observing this is getting somewhat easier for me. It doesn't mean the thoughts don't happen, but I'm watching them on a screen, rather than living them.

    A recent thing I read from Brene Brown is the Fives, as I'll call them. Upon doing something incredibly frustrating, sending comments about a jerk to the jerk himself, instead of forwarding the email and comments to her husband, she looked at the event in 3 time periods. Her husband told her to think about how she would feel 5 minutes from now, 5 months from now, and 5 years. It's an interesting exercise for something that makes me anxious. 5 minutes from now, still anxious. 5 months, I'll probably not be all that concerned. 5 years from now, will I remember at all? The fear and anxiety lessens.

    I feel like it would be the opposite with PMO. To think of PMO in this framework-- In 5 minutes of a relapse, it may not seem like that big of a deal. Oh well. In 5 months, I may be ashamed I am still stuck with the habit. 5 years? Seriously? Please don't let me still be here in 5 years.The emotion increases if I look at it this way.
     
  5. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Good description. I've been there and done that; it sucks so bad there isn't a t-shirt for it. I still have such thoughts, but I'm quick to nip them in the bud now. Like what @forlorn said on his journal I kind of say: "wrong answer." The mind (patterns) that got us into trouble isn't going to get us out and so I no longer trust my thinking in that way. I'm like a running back who's job it is to run over or through the defensive line. It isn't important who is the line backer, the defensive end, the tackle, etc. They are things in my way, that stop me from getting to the end zone. I can't believe I used a football analogy as I'm not a football fan at all. lol

    PS: I don't pm others on the board. I've received about 6 pm's in my over three years here and have only once mentioned another member in a semi-negative light. The person in question was no longer part of the forum and I was only using the reference to make a point. Anything I have to say to anyone I just say directly. And, guess what? It does cause me some anxiety when I send something that is strongly worded to someone. I had one particular blow up on this forum, which left me feeling angry, anxious, and betrayed for over two months. However, I learned a valuable lesson from it all. :cool: Most people here run the gamut from emotional wrecks to heavily in denial. So, it is the community that is strong, not just one voice. The power is in the collective. :)
     
  6. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I can relate to such thinking patterns. Especially when in an anxious mood. They suck! If I'm very tired and anxious I can get pretty paranoid sometimes. What's worst is that it can be a self fulfilling prophecy because such thoughts make us close ourselves off. It's not a nice place to be and then it's easy to wanna escape them. I'm pretty sure many many many times when I acted out sexually it's to get my mind off such emotions.

    Anyways worrying what others think of us it never works out. All it does is create a wall between us and the other person. When I am afraid of not being liked, or want so much to be liked, when I feel I have so much to lose, then I don't even interact with the other. I'm just managing the impression I think he has of me. It's a lonely place to be. I'm glad to be able to get out of this mindset, at least sometimes.

    What sucks is the pattern that when I get out of it, I start connecting more with others in a genuine way, cause I worry less. But getting some of that "connection" makes me greedy for it. All of a sudden I have something to lose again and I'm back at trying to manage the impression. Hopefully slowly this pattern will be less strong. And I'll just stay genuine.

    It's good, though, to notice such thoughts/feelings. I think it's going in the right direction.

    Another good thing to remember is that these thoughts are more common then we think among people (in my opinion). I wouldn't be surprised if even confident people get them, but they deal with them better. They ignore it. But they have a lot of "good proof" to back it up. Whereas we're slowly building it, cause we had a lot of "bad proof" piled up in the past. By slowly becoming more ourselves and seing hey we're not that bad. Slowly these "demons" will back down, for us as well. It's important to find self belief. With self belief such thoughts, based in fear, lose they're power.

    Anyways, I actually came on here because you posted on my journal a few times in the last few days and I didn't even think to tell you that I was genuinely happy to see you back on here posting. I had been wondering where you been.

    Keep up that good fight MissingSelfCompassion, you're not alone !
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  7. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    This is so true and a great observation. I certainly find myself operating this way.

    Today, I looked at the calendar and imagined putting an 'x' through my sober streak so far. I've struggled with this already in my journal. Using the counter, or communicating my streak on the calendar for my wife to see, was adding to my shame cycle. I followed advice I received here and stopped trying to share the status of each day with my spouse. Anyway, back to today, I believe I've stumbled onto what seems to be working for me right now. I looked at the calendar and thought, "Hey. I'm doing this." It wasn't some fake-it-until-you-make-it "I can do this!" I wasn't thinking should do this or I can't do this because I've failed before. I was present. I was in the now, that thing I'm always preaching about. Thinking "I'm doing this" is new for me.

    I've had a few triggers the last 2 days. I also had a sex dream and saw the person I had my affair with walking down the road. Yet, still clean.

    I'm having headaches a lot. Still not sleeping great. And, certainly some brain fog.

    Still alive. Still grateful to be here in the forum. Still scared, sad, and working on self-worth.
     
    Thelongwayhome27 and NewStart19 like this.
  8. Outsider.

    Outsider. Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success

    If you really need/want to put x on a calendar why not doing this at work? Print a monthly calendar and put your x every day, and put the calendar in your drawer or everywhere so that you don’t be asked what it is for.
     
  9. breath

    breath Member

    Wow, that's inspiring I have been married for decades .. The phrase 'making love' a nice function taking the small effort to warm thing doesn't hurt eithers up with a little affection.. and not give in or resign to a slumpthat a long marriage may have.Coocnut !! !nut or veg oils certainly make heat - not just lube. A small bit of tadalafil works wonders for me too..
     
  10. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I woke up with some beckoning urges today. I went for distraction in food and tv and when I realized this was problematic I grabbed the laptop to come here. However, all I did was login and my dog jumped in my lap forcing me to put the computer aside. She's not a lap dog. So, I embraced the moment and was simply grateful for the unconditional affection from her. I pet her for thirty minutes before she decided it was time to move off my lap.

    I'm here now, but the urges have passed. I think it has really helped for me to embrace the idea that urges only last seconds, even for an addict. If I see someone attractive on tv or the street I try to tell myself the desire is natural, biological, and human. It will pass. Before (and sometimes still), I would force myself to stop thinking about the attractive person. I would use that toxic thought process to "man up" and not be weak. Basically, I would shame myself in an effort to not be triggered. Now, I'm trying compassion. So far, so good.
     
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  11. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Less urges this morning.

    Over the weekend my partner told me she was feeling insecure about us. I reacted as I always do, in fear and panic. I started shaming myself. However, since I've been open about my emotions, she recognized it immediately and reminded me this is her issue, not mine. That was super helpful. There have been moments in the last few days where I've felt the sting of those words as I replayed them. Though, the reality check is her words after, it is her issue. I could buy her flowers, hold her, write her poetry about my love, pay Brad Pitt to sleep with her, and buy her a mansion. Those things may influence her emotions, but in the end they are her emotions. The best I could do, and did do, is ask her what she needs. I'll never have the perfect relationship with her, or myself. All I can do is continue to work on me. Finding inherent worth in who I am, rather than what I do and who gives me validation.

    Mood wise I am not doing great. I applied for 2 jobs and both gave me a phone interview. The part-time position I really wanted has not communicated with me further after I sent them a thank you email. The full-time job scheduled me an in-person interview. This full-time job is basically the career I left when I fell into depression. So there's a lot of fear about jumping back into the high-pressure world and falling into old patterns. I know that fear has a grip on me. Also, talking with my psychiatrist, I know I am prone to stay stuck, unemployed. It's comfortable because I know how to beat myself up and feel shame. The job is scary because I may experience expectations of others and let them down. Doing nothing always hurts and is predictable. Taking the job means not knowing when the hurt comes.

    Even writing about the fear and exposing it has little affect. I really don't know that I want the job. Of course, my focus needs to be now. I'll do the interview this Friday. I don't have the job yet. I may not get it. All that worry is for a future that does not exist. I'm better left focusing on what I can do in this moment, rather than getting worked up, and trying to predict the future.
     
  12. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I realized that I am still having trouble celebrating where I am at. My jaw hardens when I think of how long I've been sober. It is not a resolve or attitude of resilience in my muscle tension, but shame. I'm still stuck in the past and judging myself for it. I'm still wishing I didn't have PMO in my past. So, I don't allow myself to celebrate. I think some of that is coming from my decision to not communicate with my spouse daily on the calendar. This is my issue and only I can fix it. That much I understand. Rather than be angry at myself, I projected it on her when I had to mark the calendar to show if I used or not. Now, that I am clean, it feels like I've lied to her to get her off my back. Of course, it has always been about me and still is. I am losing an important piece of evidence to prove that I am worthless when I don't PMO. So, now my mind is reaching for something else to fill the hole, I'm a liar, a bad husband. Perhaps I need to sit with some sadness and this fear some more. Maybe I'll be able to celebrate after doing that.
     
  13. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Job interview tomorrow. My spouse asked me how I felt about it and that was difficult for me. I often project on her, so I didn't really want to discuss it with her. I know we could use the money and it would help with building up retirement funds. She just wanted me to talk through my feelings and emotions, the thing I have been preaching about all over the forum. I don't necessarily trust myself. My identity came from my work. My worth has always been financial. Now, that I have been privileged to see this in myself I am scared to go back to my career. I am afraid I will fall back into that well worn path.

    I resolved not to get ahead of myself. They haven't even offered me the position. Why get myself worked up in anxiety about whether it would be good for me or not? I just need to focus on the interview. My partner pushed and I felt like she wanted more, as if I was already disappointing her by not talking. If my non-admission was admitting I didn't want the job. The key there is "felt." I was likely projecting there. Falling into a self-hate pattern given to me by my mother.

    I told her I was scared of repeating mistakes of the past. I told her I was trying not to think about a job offer. If one came after the interview, I would ask for a day to think about it. I wanted learn more about the position and responsibilities. She told me that we could use the money and that we will likely have to tighten our spending if I do not find work soon. However, she would support whatever decision I made. I was already dreading this topic of conversation and fell into the embrace of shame. I told myself this is why I wanted to avoid this conversation. I want to take the job because I want it, for me. Instead, that guilt, expectation, and sense of obligation is digging into me.

    I feared sharing my story here, because I felt everyone would think I am a loser for not working right now. Man up. Support your family. Once again, that is my voice. I am attacking myself and projecting it onto others.

    I suppose it is as my psychiatrist often says, "can it be both?" Yes, I do need to make some money. There is obligation. Yes, I do want to work. Is this the job for me? Can I work it until I find something else? I keep going back to my original thought, one step at a time. Do the interview. Worry about this later. Yet, it is obviously playing to a deeper issue. My self-worth.

    I sat down to give this some serious thought, but I am feeling very emotional. I got to step away.
     
    NCBob likes this.
  14. NCBob

    NCBob The 11th commandment: Thou shalt not peek:-)

    The best thing you can do for yourself, MSC, is to stay emotionally present, and it sounds like you're doing a good job with that. Shame is such a difficult emotion to come to terms with, simply because it runs to our core. Trust the process, and allow yourself to feel during the process. HP will take care of the rest:)
     
  15. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    So the last interview I had was a couple of months ago and it went incredibly well. I was open and authentically me. That is, I didn't spew the bullshit to get the job, but spoke from my heart. In the room was 3 of the 6 person team I would work with. So I felt I was appealing to them on a human level. Plus, as a smaller company, they were casual and relating to me in a similar fashion. I spoke openly about my depression and stated that I felt the position would be good for me and help build me up. In the course of the hour plus chat, I raised questions about the position and since they were opening a satellite in my city I felt the job must be more about day-to-day operations. They had hoped the position would be more of a remote marketing person who also ran the satellite. As we talked the 3 of them started discussing the new position more among themselves and they were already driving 4-5 hours back and forth to maintain the new satellite. So the interview ends, I really enjoyed it. I felt good. A week later, the owner (one of the interviewers) emails me and says that the conversation with me was helpful and that they were rethinking the position. He said they may take on 2 people, but he'd be in touch. A number of weeks later they posted a position again and I threw my hat in. He emailed and said that he felt I wasn't right for the new position they created. Fair enough.

    I'm telling this story because my interview yesterday was almost the opposite. I fully hoped this part of me that exposed himself would come out again. It felt so good. There was a voice in the back of my head asking me if that was self-sabotage. Did I want to talk about my depression and anxiety to not get the job? At the same time, this was an interview with a larger organization and I was being interviewed by HR. Seriously, the questions the panel asked me sounded like they were from a template where HR simply inserts the position title into the questions. It was so dry and because I didn't have experience in their industry I felt like the ship was sinking. I met their qualifications and have the skill set, but my past is marketing and their mainly doing instructional work. So they kept asking "tell us about a time when doing instructional work and" x "happened." I answered the first question about "do I have instructional experience" with a no, but with similar past experience and eagerness to learn. Like there was no "if person answers yes, follow up with these questions."

    Obviously, I was feeling a bit deflated. However, when we concluded the HR person sounded very positive. She was looking at the other 2 people on the panel, fishing with her eyes for recognition, as she said that she didn't believe a 3rd interview would be necessary. The others responded with no. She said next steps would be to call my references and they'd be in touch.

    The position isn't exactly what I thought it was, so I am not super excited, but I need money. It feels uncomfortable. I am feeling stuck. Like I have to say yes. I've often said that I believe I am into a new phase of my life where work won't be my identity. That joy is my partner, art, and friends. So, I want to do rewarding work, but I also want to leave work at the work and not take it home with me. Can I be that disengaged with this potential job? Or was all that I just said simply a dream? Did I want that job months ago because I thought I was impressing those interviewers and that was rewarding to me. In this interview yesterday that didn't happen, so I am scared? Part of me thinks I am not cut out for a "strict" setting within the rigid world of direct reports and job titles. Like I'd rather be part of a team, fellow humans. I like rules and procedures, I just like authenticity and communication more.
     
  16. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    This morning I saw an actress in an interview on a late night show that was very triggering. I was borderline fantasizing about her while watching the video clip. There was no MO, I immediately came here and started reading journals. The strategy worked in that I got invested in trying to help and empathize with others here. Now, I am thinking I should have meditated. One of the issues I have been dealing with for a month or more is that I have found some guided meditations to explore my emotions and that has been helpful and harmful. I have turned meditation into a scary thing and want to do it less. I think I should probably attempt to meditate every day again, but set a goal to limit these emotional exploration ones to twice a week or something.

    I think the possibility of hearing from the job today, or sometime this week was probably behind the desire to fantasize. I'm still feeling stuck like I should definitely take it, even though I am not sure it is the right fit for me. My partner's words are echoing in my head, "No job is the perfect fit." She also said she'll support me no matter what my decision, but I dwell on the negative.
     
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  17. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I'm trying to motivate myself to meditate this morning. In this case, it really does feel like I should spend some time with the emotions around this job opportunity. The reason being is that I have a psychiatrist appointment in a few hours. So, if I am in that frame of mind I can talk it over with a professional. Now, that I write that out, maybe it is better to let it out naturally in the appointment instead of going their with the intention?

    Because of my privilege, I don't have to take this job, but I don't have much savings to fall back on to pay my student loans. Hell, they haven't offered it to me yet. I'm still looking at other positions, but there is truth to my partner's words, no job is the perfect fit. So, would I take this job if I didn't have savings or a partner? Last night, she brought up an interesting point that I would likely lose my psychiatrist and psychodynamic group because both appointments are during the day and this is a full time job. She told me I should bring this up with the doctor today and see about rescheduling appointments, if possible. Then, talking to the employer about leaving early. The first thing I noted was that she was assuming I would take the job again. I know this is her bias. She told me that when she thinks of my opportunity and puts herself in my shoes that she would probably take it because she's always worked and rarely had a job she actually wanted. That is, she had to work her way up to where she is at now. This is all her perspective, but I just felt that old pattern of desiring outside validation kick in. Of course, I have to take the job, for her. I have to take it because it is my responsibility to provide. That's the only evidence I have that my father loved me, when he bought things or worked overtime to keep a roof over my head.

    I feel strongly that I would like a part-time position first, to get myself back into the swing of things. My partner is right that I am focusing a lot on finding a 'perfect' job. I am also frustrated to go somewhere and start at the bottom, as she eluded, but this opportunity is not at the bottom. It's just not what I want. I think part of me wants a part-time position because I think it will be less responsibility, a job that I don't take home with me. Plus, I'd like to continue to look for freelance writing opportunities and continue my art passion that I have found. Though, I suppose, part-time or full-time is not the issue. It is me. It is how I perceive myself and the work. I am the one who cannot leave work at the office.
     
  18. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I've herd the primary task of a human is to make decisions. Constantly we make decisions. It can easily become nerve wrecking. I have a lot of anxiety from indecision and the fear of making the wrong choice ; and I end up in analysis paralysis. That's when I need to surrender a bit. In the end, it's good to remember sometimes (always ?) all we can do, really, is let things unfold. And the best we can do is to show up for whatever is unfolding. And try to work with that. Life is complex, how much can we really influence it ? I wish you luck on whatever you end up going, back at full time, or finding a part time position. Be good to yourself, cause navigating such choices is not that simple, at least it takes a zen master to be at ease with the navigation, and you're here trying.
     
  19. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Ugh. Sex dreams this morning. Once I realized I was having a sex dream I started to panic. Though, I was still in bed, eyes shut and trying to sleep. I spent some time trying to convince myself that FMO would be okay, but I fought the urge. Then, I was up and getting ready to look at P, but actually I was still sleeping. That's right, I was dreaming that I was going to PMO. I woke up again, for real this time, and had breakfast. The urges lessened and here I am.

    I am going to try a yoga nidra class today to see what that's about. I had a fantastic conversation with my psychologist yesterday and a close friend who has just started seeing a therapist. It was nice to speak openly about things with him and get empathy, not judgement. I hope all of you have successful days today.
     
    Gil79 likes this.
  20. nuclpow

    nuclpow Active Member

    Thanks for your comments to my journal. I think you're doing good work. You're right, you have a lot of feelings dragging you down, such as shame. I think I used to have it partially as bad as you did, and I'm mostly recovered from that. I think you can recover from shame too.

    I get intense dreams a lot, even at least one where I was looking up porn, but it was only a dream. I'd suggest trying to process the dream while you are awake and alert and not likely to be triggered. I think this would minimise the chance the dream will cause a slip for you.
     
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