Time to heal

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by forlorn, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    This morning, the wife announced that she's going out for a few hours and in that moment, I felt a brief trigger. I sensed a window of opportunity for some uninterrupted P viewing. Now she's left the house I feel anxious and jittery, but I am not going to look at P. Doing so, would only provide temporary relief. And by looking at P I'd be hurting our relationship and my self respect - and of course afterwards, I'd feel really bad about it. Instead, I will sit with these feelings of anxiety, let them wash over me and try to understand the message. A few days ago I identified that I felt anxious about certain tasks that I had been putting off for ages. I managed to make a start on those tasks (the low hanging fruit) and I'm certain it made me feel better, as over the next few days I felt less of a need to escape.

    Am also conscious that I need to start addressing some of the deeper underlying issues that came up in previous therapy sessions. Feelings of abandonment and defectiveness.
     
    UK Don likes this.
  2. UK Don

    UK Don Active Member

    Putting off tasks definitely strengthens urges to escape and view P, I have found this is probably my main trigger. Perhaps those feelings of anxiety towards certain tasks can be used to prioritise them (as long as no other real world deadlines are approaching for other tasks). By tackling these head on, I often feel much better afterwards too.
     
  3. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    I get what you're saying @UK Don - anxieties are a sign that something isn't quite right and if we're smart, we can use that knowledge to take action on those specific issues, which in turn will improve our mental state.

    I'm becoming more aware other sources of anxiety too, such as my feelings about the way others perceive me and when people display behaviour that I think is rejecting towards me. A few days back, after a couple of drinks, I sent a message on a group chat to close friends which at the time, I thought was funny. Nobody responded to my 'joke' and on reflection, I think I misjudged the tone. Since then I've had lingering anxieties about it ("were they pissed off about what I said?", "do they think I'm an idiot for sending that"?).

    However I am trying to change the way I react to stress and feelings of anxiety. Instead of catastrophizing, I'm trying to use logic and evidence to challenge my (distorted) thinking, and see how things really are, e.g. with the previous scenario, my friends probably aren't particularly upset with me, they're just busy with their own lives. And while I misjudged the tone of the conversation, I know I didn't act in a callous or hurtful manner.

    The way I'm slowly leaning into my anxieties and uncomfortable emotions feels oddly empowering.

    Another thing I'm finding useful is an affirmation video I found on YouTube a couple of weeks back, I've listened to it almost daily since. As someone who has no spirituality whatsoever in their life, I find this to be quite a soothing experience.
     
  4. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    This journal feels like a ramshackle collection of ideas, ever-changing strategies and broken promises. I fear there's not enough consistency. But I suppose in some ways it represents the muddled thoughts of someone who uses drink/drugs and porn to escape from reality. I may as well continue journalling in this fashion now, writing here helps to keep me focused on recovery. I haven't PMO'd in over a month, but have had the occasional peek, which somehow I am justifying.

    I don't believe I have a problem with social anxiety, but I have had a couple of slightly awkward encounters lately, firstly with a gym owner and secondly with a new neighbor. A parcel was delivered to my house for the new neighbor and I when I went round to drop it off, she clearly wanted to talk. I was polite, but stand-offish and didn't make any effort. By the time she said "it was nice to meet you" I'd already turned my back.

    It feels good being back in the gym, my strength is returning. I hated feeling physically weak during lockdown. It reminded me of how scrawny and powerless I felt as a teenager. Being in my 40's I've given up exercises like deadlifts so now mainly stick to machines plus a few free weights for shoulder exercises.
     
  5. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    You’ve had some good insights into anxiety there which will really help you. It’s definitely empowering when you start to learn more about anxieties and uncomfortable emotions.
     
  6. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    On Sunday I relapsed with PMO, the first one in some time. The warning signs were there, I was feeling tired and hungover. At one point, it could have gone either way - the wife was going out and she asked if I wanted to go with her. I chose not to, I chose to stay home and act out. I'm disappointed but am determined not to beat myself up about this slip. I will try to practice self compassion, to briefly reflect on my mistake and then move on.

    In a previous post I mentioned that finances and career stuff is causing me anxiety therefore I'm currently working on a new idea. It will mean a lot of hard work but I'm excited about it and am ready to put the required effort in.
     
    positivef likes this.
  7. UK Don

    UK Don Active Member

    Chin up, forlorn. Your PMO's are so infrequent nowadays; you've made so much progress on this journey.
     
  8. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Well-Known Member

    Get back on the the horse, if it throws you again get back on again.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  9. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    Good point. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we relapse, however, if they are becoming less frequent then progress is being made.
     
    Mad Dog likes this.
  10. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys, I appreciate you reminding me to keep going. In fact, your comments just motivated me to take positive action. I was working on some career stuff earlier - after experiencing what I deemed to be a little success, guess where my mind wandered for a 'reward'? It wandered to a fake Twitter profile that I told myself I only kept open for 'debating' purposes. Finally, I have deactivated the profile. While I did use it for debating, in truth, it partially existed for masturbation purposes! Stop rationalizing Forlorn, it wasn't a healthy reward and the closure of the account is a good thing. The intermittent peeking was hurting me, lighting up those neural pathways, providing unnaturally high doses of dopamine. It was also a huge drain on my time, an all too convenient distraction.
     
    positivef and UK Don like this.
  11. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    The mind is really tricky at rationalising!

    It’s good that you are catching yourself doing so.

    Keep going!
     
    Boxer17 likes this.
  12. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Working on career stuff last week and getting things done made me feel positive going into the weekend. Had a busy few days, a night out with the lads, an evening with the wife visiting other friends of ours and finally an evening of hosting at our place. It's been an enjoyable, social time in which personal problems were largely forgotten. I feel a little low today, 3 consecutive days of drinking have taken their toll but at least I had a good sleep. I haven't been in the right frame of mind to get any work done but I will return to that tomorrow. Since I'm feeling low I've decided to spend as little time online today as possible. Instead I'll be taking care of other tasks around the house/garden and then off to the gym to lift weights.
     
  13. Boxer17

    Boxer17 Active Member

    Good choice. Feeling low is tough to deal with
     
  14. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Another slip today, a temptation to peek this morning resulted in a swift fantasy MO later in the day. Immediately after the MO, I dismissed it and tried to get on with my day, but now, an hour or two later, the feelings of misery have suddenly caught up with me. I think the slip stemmed from the fact I was struggling whilst working on a new career project. I became frustrated by my lack of creativity and it felt like I wasn't using my time effectively. Now I feel moody and deflated. It's like a phone battery that has suddenly dropped from 90% to 10%. Think I will have to write this off as a bad day and start over tomorrow. Need to remind myself that this will pass, it's temporary, it's just a bad feeling.
     
  15. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Feeling better today. I've forgiven myself for the slip that occurred earlier in the week.

    Still struggling with creativity on a work/career project but I have to accept that it's part of the challenge. Nothing in life comes easy. I've been trying to focus a lot on career stuff lately and by doing so, it has reduced my anxiety. I have something to do with my time - and it feels exciting to be learning new skills. I'm going to continue with this learning every day, as with other things in life, consistency is key.
     
  16. Boxer17

    Boxer17 Active Member

    Yes. Having something to focus on is definitely a positive approach
     
  17. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Boxer17 Working on career goals has helped in some ways. It's given me something to focus on, and it's not purely a distraction, it's something important. If we're going to stress about stuff, it makes sense to stress about the stuff that really matters. I'm still worried about my career/finances but slightly less so now that I'm taking action.

    I felt a wave of fresh anxiety this morning. It stems from the fact I'm in a sexless marriage and that I'm not doing anything about it. I bury my head in the sand and think the problem will just resolve itself. But of course, that's not true.

    We never had much of a sex life mainly due to my performance anxiety/lack of confidence. But at least we used to try. Now the intimacy has vanished entirely. We live like friends rather than lovers. It's been about 5 years since we even attempted to have sex. I think she's accepted that this is how our lives will be, although deep down she resents me. I don't know how to repair this damage but I think the first step has to be communication (I'm even nervous to bring it up with her). We don't talk about or acknowledge the lack of our sex life. I've always been more aroused by fetishes than by a desire for sexual intercourse but part of my brain tells me that's wrong and I that I should try to pursue a healthy intimate relationship. I already feel deep regret about not trying to establish a sex life but I'm paralyzed by a fear of failure.

    It was painful for me to even write this post but important that I acknowledge the truth, so I can be held accountable, by myself - and by others on this forum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
    Boxer17 likes this.
  18. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    So while the thought of having sex doesn't fill me with excitement, I think part of it stems from feelings of defectiveness/unworthiness ("I'm no good at it / a sex life is for other people").
    It's almost like I feel I'm not built to have sex. Yet I do desire intimacy and closeness. My thoughts around this are muddled and distorted.

    -----------

    A few weeks back I observed my father's behaviour when I stayed over. Although he's retired, he has a busy, active life. People reach out to him for advice. He helps others, works on his allotment, eats healthily, takes pride in whatever he does & looks after his own mother. In the evening, he relaxes with a drink, safe in the knowledge he's had a productive day. I'm trying to get into this mindset, to stop drifting, stop wasting the hours and looking for distractions. I have noticed lately, on days when I have been productive, I feel less anxious in the evenings. So although it sounds like a cliche, making every day count really does make a difference.

    To me, making every day count means - staying in good physical shape, doing those little tasks I've been putting off, keeping my house clean, active recovery, working on career goals.
     
  19. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I can relate to the lack of sex you describe. In my case it really has to do with inner-shame. On the other hand, the times we do have sex, it feels good and the shame disappears. It has been more than a month ago that my wife and I had sex and actually the period before that was really good: we interacted so well and were intimate in general. It is worth and important to invest in this and reading what you wrote above makes me realize that I have to make an effort again. Is there a way that you could pick up with intimacy in a more gradual way? I can imagine that 'having the talk' is quite difficult and awkward. Would it work to touch and kiss more or tell her she's beautiful?
     
  20. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    I do know what you mean @Gil79 - when I think back to times that we tried, even if the sex wasn't great, we still felt a closer connection to one another. Maybe I will try a more gradual approach with her, as you suggested.

    It's better to try and fail than not to try at all. Quite confusingly, one of the porn related fetishes I developed was pretty much the opposite of the intimacy I'm seeking. Videos of women telling me I'm worthless and how they're going to have sex with other men who are better than me. Watching that genre of porn delighted and disgusted me in equal measure. But I'm drawing a line under that. I actually feel better about myself now than I have done in months, possibly years. I'm starting to forgive myself, I am starting to heal.

    Got a family reunion coming up this weekend. It will mean returning to the town where I grew up. I think it will stir some painful memories but some pleasant ones too.
     
    Gil79 likes this.

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