Shame, relapse, repeat

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

  1. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    It's been a trying day. I got the call and the job offer. I turned it down.

    Talking with my psychiatrist, I went in circles. I wasn't sure if my desire to not take the job and find something part-time instead was me chickening out. The fears manifesting about relapse with addiction, depression, etc, might be me trying to stay stuck. It's familiar. The doctor listened and then told me I am not the same person as before. So, I shouldn't judge myself too harshly or believe things would turn out the same. Then, she continued and said that perhaps my revelation about wanting to try part-time first is more evidence that I am seeing things clearer, reality testing my anxiety, and setting myself up for a better chance of success.

    When the call came, I was back to being the screw-up son. It was very difficult to stand my ground against all the self-hate and loathing that I've done for years. Of course, things would be even more difficult to share with my spouse. I did some painting after turning the position down. So, good on me for using that strategy to refill my energy. I had a lot of tension when I saw my partner. I told her and she was very supportive. She said that she was impressed and not upset "as long as" I continue to look for work. That got the shame boiler going, but I spent some time telling myself this is old pain from my youth. I'm not that kid anymore.

    Later, when I tried to finish up the dishes she started, she came into the room and told me to stop. She would do it. Ten minutes later, she was clearly frustrated as she did the dishes, when I tried to talk to her she said she was overwhelmed with the work she was doing this evening and is not prepared for tomorrow. I offered to walk the dog so she could get more done and she snapped at me that she would do it. In my head, none of this had to do with her work. It was all my failure. Or, maybe she's stressed about work because she's the only one working. Damn, I suck.

    She apologized and we went to bed. Moments later she shared that when I ask if she wants me to walk the dog when it is already past her bed time that it is not helpful. In my mind, I don't like to ask because, well, look what happened when I took the initiative with the dishes. I didn't say this. I decided, like me, she's probably frustrated with herself. As she first shared, she is overwhelmed at work and feeling under prepared. Possibly she's projecting onto me.

    Yet, I cannot sleep because I am very busy self loathing. This old pain runs deep. I'm not sure I am in the right space to sit with the emotions. Of course, when will I ever be "ready?"

    In other news, I picked up a book @-Luke- quoted, MOMO. I am really enjoying it a lot. Maybe I'll read that until I get too tired.
    Thelongwayhome27 and -Luke- like this.
  2. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Successful urge surfing this morning. I had a some porn like dreams and when I got up I had breakfast and did some reading instead of heading to P. Then, I came here and read replies to my recent posts. Yet, the urges to PMO were still there. I was in a debate with my mind.
    "Fantasy is okay, right? Maybe erotic fiction? What if I only...Wait, is it realistic to think I'll never MO again? Come on!"
    So, I decided it was time to take the dog for a walk and get away, but then I stopped myself. I sat here with the feeling, with the urge. I started to intellectualize it, "Hey this is biological. I just want to spread my seed." That's thinking, and sort of making excuses. What does this feel like? I sat with the urge without trying to excuse it or shame it. In a matter of seconds it was gone. I wanted to get up and walk the dog anyway. After all, maybe that was a fluke. Except, I stopped to record this here in my journal. It's possible. I did it. I can continue to do it. Even if I relapse later, I can do this again. Speaking of, my streak is growing. It feels good not to have a date hanging over my head. I just know that it has been around 3 weeks, maybe. I know sober dates can be important for many, but at this point I am still working through shame and any math like that makes me regret the lost time in addiction.
    NewStart19 and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  3. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Try not to dwell on these self deprecating thoughts in the middle of the night. When I can't sleep I force my brain to focus on something constructive e.g. perhaps something I've learned earlier that day. This way, I might be awake but at least it feels like I'm doing something mentally beneficial. Reading is also a good strategy.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  4. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Nightmare woke me up. I was not fitting in, getting dirty looks from authority figures, and feeling completely alone. I was somewhat curious if this was sparked because I left the bed to sleep in a recliner for my back. Often, my PMO happened late at night, when everyone was asleep. Did I manifest the nightmare because I was tapping into that shame of being alone in the middle of the night? It's a long shot of a thought and probably not healthy.

    We're social creatures and we need that belonging. I loaded up a guided meditation on difficult emotions, but I still feel as if these fears are sitting on top of me. I'm down. I suppose that is okay, but I am fighting it. What we resist, persists. I was hoping that talking about it, or writing about it would also offer some relief, but I cannot quite put this feeling to words. Maybe that's a sign that it may not be as substantial as I think it is. Or, perhaps feeling this way without explaining it with thoughts is a good thing?
  5. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    A very tough week that disrupted routine of coming here. I had appointments in the mornings and poor sleep with some stressful situations weighing on me.
    Unfortunately, I found myself trying to M and even opening some P. Very quickly I saw it was not working and I ended it. The added pressure of the past week certainly revved up the desires to slip back into old habits. I found myself ogling people throughout the day and trying to add them to the 'spank bank' for later fantasies. It feels like a real relapse. The disappointment and shame might have very well stopped me from continuing, though maybe there was something more. It seems like if I had been fully shaming myself that I would have gone full on PMO, but I didn't. Hmm.

    Being absent from here was also a contributing factor, I'm sure. That's why I said my mornings were busy, because I have been trying to come here in the morning to set a tone for my day. I'm sad. I'm not sure that I am quite ready to handle the things for the coming week. I suppose I should look for some self care or express my desires for help to others. Maybe more journaling to take some of the overwhelming stress out of my head and into real, tangible concerns and tasks.
  6. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    You've been absent again for a few days. How's your week been?
  7. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member


    I just noticed your signature. If you ever have the time, I would definitely like to hear which guided meditations on Insight Timer you recommend.

    Take care
  8. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Stressful. I've certainly been keeping a lot in, I think. The spouse's new position has been very demanding of her time. Same team and location, just a lateral move into a newly created position which means she has a lot on her lap. Probably not a good time to go back to get her Masters, but when is? So things have been falling to me a lot. Or, at least I feel like it has. My goal for inktober this year was to create some small art each day that I might sell in a craft market in the future. I've stuck with this goal well enough and I should be proud, but it has also given me some anxiety on top of all the other things happening. Plus, I got a writing gig out of the blue and some other freelance at the same time. Again, I should be happy, but it is all happening at once. I know I'm spiraling a bit even in this post. At least I'm noticing it.

    Sleep has been awful the last 2 weeks. Even now it's late and I got out of bed because my stomach is upset. I have been very much in the prioritizing panic space. That is, once I get the writing gig done, then I can worry about the other things. This is a sound strategy logically, but emotionally it is a fuel for my friend shame. Even up above when I acknowledge that I am catastrophizing or spiraling a bit, I am thinking "What a loser. That's not a lot of things to do. What is your problem? You're pathetic."

    First, I wanted to directly link to the ones I like in my signature, but it just brings people to a download the app page. So that frustrates me about Insight Timer. I don't have my phone handy, but I can share some off the top of my head. My preference is pretty straightforward material. Spiritual and visualizations in guided meditation typically are not my thing. That said, Sarah Blondin does something for me. Much of her stuff is journals, but in a poetic way. Again, I'm surprised I like it, but it works for me. I listened to 4 of her meditations almost daily for a few months. I enjoy Tomek's work and I cannot remember the other 2 I regularly listen to at this moment. I love that there is such a variety on Insight Timer. I often search a subject, like shame or compassion and read a few reviews.

    Like this valuable resource, I've been ignoring my meditations as well. When I get in that anxious space, I just don't let myself have the time for self-care. This is a family trait, that sort of codependent caretaker bullshit of my mother's combined with the masculine culture idea of pain is good and a motivator.
    NewStart19 likes this.
  9. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the recommendations. I haven't done any guided meditations for a while so I think it'll be a nice change of pace to do so. I found both of the people you mentioned on YouTube thankfully.

    If you are worried about having less time for meditating, you could always try combining it with chores, walks etc. I have been doing almost exclusively walking meditations twice every day for around a month. I really like sitting meditations, but decided to combine meditation with my daily walks because of time constraints. I hope you can find some meditation variant that works for you.

    Wishing the best for you and your spouse.

    Take care
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  10. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a busy time for both you and your partner but a certain degree of stress can be a good thing. Congrats on getting the writing gig as well as doing the artwork, definitely something you should be proud of.
  11. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member


    The state of overwhelm is familiar. I am realizing there's some emotions about my past bubbling up. Since I was raised by a mother whose family was critical and taught lessons through teasing, I treat myself this way. My father was a genuine person, but never expressed love to me in any way. I never knew where I sat in his eyes. So, I have become this self-critical perfectionist. I am shame.

    When I was a teenager, I behaved as teens do. I put off responsibilities at times and made things worse for myself. If I quit a job, I would hide that fact from my folks. I would gather cans to get gas money and save and scrounge to pay car insurance. When I was working more and more, I let my college grades go. I eventually left school to work full-time, but still lived at home. I felt like I had disappointed them. In those early years, well throughout my life, work was a huge part of my identity, and I would almost always burn myself out climbing the ladder. I would move from bus boy, to dishwasher, to cook and quit. From stock boy, to sales person, to key holder, to assistant manager, and quit. Each cycle repeating itself for many jobs. Each cycle ending in months of unemployment. Likely, I was recovering from the burnout.

    I think this is where I am finding myself now. I am in that familiar space in between jobs. I want to hide in my bedroom. Except, instead of parents that I fear I am disappointing, it is my spouse. The weekends are so very tough for me. I am scared to be around her because I am in this pattern. I need to tell myself that I am no longer that kid and she is not my parents. ugh.
    NewStart19 and NCBob like this.
  12. NCBob

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

    Hey MSC, thanks for your post. I can relate to those feelings of shame and guilt over not meeting expectations of authority figures in my life. I've since learned that jumping through other people's hoops is just like jumping through a big, fat zero. In the end, I come up empty handed. The best thing that you can do for yourself is what you're doing here. Getting in touch with and expressing your feelings. If you have a support network in your world, take advantage of that as well. The compassion you gain from doing this will give you some clarity as to how to do things differently going forward:)
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  13. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Absent for a while.

    Things haven't gone horrible, but there have been urges. Especially lately as life gets busier. Going to continue reading and catching up with the journals. I've missed this.
  14. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Agree, it certainly is a tough task. I'm currently facing a similar battle - to try and forgive myself for my past behaviours. I don't know the best approach yet but what I do know is that it's not going to come about through hope or one off meditation exercises. We need to be consistent, after all we're dealing with multiple decades worth of self deprecating behaviour.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  15. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    My absence is felt within me. Journaling has been a big part of my forward strides. Yet, it is a difficult task, seeing things as they are without engaging the inner critic. Like many things, the more distance between myself and journaling, the harder it seems. I will do my best to return to daily journals here or even my blog. I know it is helpful. I am growing sad just thinking about the time I wasted not doing it. That's the critic, ready to beat me down. My first instinct is to sign off and leave this for another time. I suppose this is the pattern I have fallen into lately.

    Where I am at is depression. There is a "why bother" attitude that fills me and influences my decisions and behavior. Going deeper into this feeling is scary, but I will press on. I am feeling unworthy and undeserving after the holiday season. I am sad and frustrated with who I am. I feel like a burden to those around me.

    What I have done to weather some of the challenges is continue to be creative. I made gifts for friends and family, and have taken up loom knitting as well. The gifts were late. So, that became food for the depression and my inner critic. While the feedback from those who got their gift were positive, those who have not mentioned it count as negative in my brain. That far outweighs the 4 thank yous. This pattern is well-worn. I often turn doing something for someone else because I want to into a "have to." Additionally, I must be perfect.

    And so, I am deeply sad. I am frustrated with where I am at. I am overwhelmingly wanting to be alone, free of the expectations of others. Of course, the clincher is that the expectations I fear are those I make for myself.
    nuclpow likes this.
  16. nuclpow

    nuclpow Well-Known Member

    Your post was written well. I thinnk I had shame at one point, not as bad as yours, and I think I got out of the habit of listening to my inner critic and it eventually turned off. Maybe this idea might help a bit. As for depression, shouldn't you be on medication? It could help you not waste months of your life, anti-depressants don't work if you're not depressed.
  17. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Last night I started thinking about what attracted me to the affair I had. There are parallels to the porn I watched, but what was behind that? I wondered if it was the disconnection. The affair, like porn was safe because love wasn't involved. Like porn, I orgasm and walk away. I've been here before, realizing that the affair and porn were "safe," but what is different now? I am trying to find ways to love who I am. I am finding it difficult because what I wanted as a child and what I got were two different things. I wanted to be held and cherished. I got criticism "to make me a better person" instead of unconditional love. So, love is not something I understand. I thought I did. I thought the songs and movies had taught me what I was missing, but I think my biological father leaving before I was two has stunted my ability to bond with others. That coupled with my mother's criticism, and the man who came into my life at age five and became my father was stoic and loved through putting a roof over my head has compounded the issue. I worry about sharing this with my spouse because she keeps asking how I know I want to be with her, even though it has been a few years since the affair.
    nuclpow likes this.
  18. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Dreams of failure. I suppose they are nightmares. I see myself at my old job, in cooking competitions, helping my in laws in the garden and failing in some way. It's almost like the more I learn to deal with shame in my life, my mind continues to desire it and sends me dreams to reinforce it.

    Of course, there are those that think dreams are part of our brains rewiring. That's a nice idea. Personally, I know that I am "comfortable" in shame. It is a familiar state for me. My porn use was a daily dose of adding shame to my well. If things were going well, anxiety told me I deserved a break and PMO was relaxing. However, I felt like a disgusting loser after. A hidden taboo secret that I could use to beat myself up. Of course, there's nothing wrong with healthy masturbation and porn use, but I am not the type of person who used this in a healthy way. That's why I am here in this forum.

    So without PMO, I keep having these nightmares as if my mind is finding new ways to deliver the shame it feels comfortable with. I imagine I need to work on some self-forgiveness to let go of some of this desire for shame. I wouldn't be so comfortable with it if it didn't have a pull on me, right? Hmm.
  19. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Things are well. I have an appointment over the phone with my psychiatrist in a few minutes and feeling the pressure of needing something to talk about. So, are things well? I'm getting a handle on some tasks around the house and in my creative life. I am training to answer calls on the local suicide line. I am changing my eating habits to be healthier. Furthermore, I am working with my doctor in this endeavor.

    What's not so well? The pandemic is a source of anxiety. As a 'loner' type it should be fine, but I have my partner in the home 24/7. She is working from home in the space that I usually work. It certainly helps me continue my sobriety, but also brings on moods that make me want to use. I used PMO as a coping mechanism and escape from life. We are communicating well enough, but I am frustrated that I lost my work space, especially now that I am feeling better.

    I have become better at labeling emotions and feelings instead of being carried away in rumination. There is a fear that I am pushing the emotions away, as I did in the past. Or, perhaps this is the fear manifesting in a new way.

    My partner had a difficult time sleeping the other night and asked me to tell her a story from my university years. All I could think of instantly was my many failures. That was surprising. It took me a good 5 minutes to come up with something story-worthy that wasn't about a tremendous fail.
    Gil79, nuclpow and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  20. breath

    breath Member

    I just came across this. i'm really down in the dumps right now... more from my mean unloving wife... but what you said in this post is somewhat inspiring.. at least i can work on my ownself

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