Time to heal

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    I spent a weekend having great food & drink in a hotel, surrounded by people whose company I enjoy.

    I always feel really low the day after returning from a holiday/vacation. Because it's over....and it means I'm returning to normal life.

    In the past, I would have turned to porn to cope with days like this. But today has been different - I got through it in a more mature fashion. Allowed myself to feel low, to accept it, I didn't try to escape. And crucially, I have continued to take positive actions. Gardening, going for a run, keeping the house tidy, even small acts of self care such as a haircut/shaving - it all makes a difference.

    The wife is going out tomorrow evening so I'll be home alone for a few hours. I will plan ahead to ensure I deal with the alone time in a healthy way.
    UK Don and axebattler like this.
  6. Vanoli16

    Vanoli16 Member

    So true, forlorn.
    Was talking with a friend today about noticing I went to pornography to escape low-grade anxiety. When I was feeling anxious, I couldn’t accept it. I had to “do something” about it. There really was no acceptance of the feelings.
    just calling out your actions - great work.
  7. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    That’s a good sign of progress, that you’ve learnt to cope in a different way, and also that you’re planning ahead to deal with situations where you might be tempted.

    Keep going!
  8. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    I have an amazing ability to avoid doing tasks that appear difficult (or those that don’t offer some kind of immediate reward).

    This morning I was supposed to be working on career stuff but got distracted by online shopping. Wasted 45 minutes researching which salt grinder to buy for my kitchen. :rolleyes:

    Then, at lunchtime a friend called saying he’s in a restaurant near my house with his wife. I could have told them I’m busy (need to learn to say ‘no’, at times), but the distraction proved too hard to resist. So I agreed to pop over and say hello. On the way, I told myself that I’d just stop for a quick coffee (no alcohol) but when I got there they had already ordered me a beer.

    So of course I drank it.

    Need to get smarter and more disciplined. As of tomorrow I’ll be trying a new strategy to tackle the distractions and procrastination. Anyone heard of the Pomodoro technique? The idea is that you split tasks into 25 minute segments. You set a timer and focus on a specific task for 25 minutes. Then you take a 5 minute break. Then you start another 25 minute ‘pomodoro’. The idea is that, tasks seem less daunting if you break them up into smaller segments - and you’re more productive, because that 25 minutes is to be uninterrupted time.

    Thanks for the encouragement guys, yes, hopefully the way I'm learning to deal with anxiety represents a shift in my thinking. I will continue to accept uncomfortable thoughts, process them and try to learn about myself.
  9. Mozenjo

    Mozenjo Well-Known Member

    I think tonight for my first attempt at the Pomodoro technique, I'll take 25 minutes and eat some chicken Pomodoro!
    Seriously, I like that concept. I'm also notorious for taking breaks too often. Staying focused for 25 minutes does seem like an eternity sometimes, especially when on difficult tasks. But immersing yourself in the task with the understanding that it will get less difficult when you actually concentrate on addressing it head-on works, pretty much every time. After that first 5-minute break, when you come back to it, it is often much less daunting.

    Enjoy that salt grinder :D
  10. RadRacing

    RadRacing New Member

    I can endorse the Pomodoro technique, works great and in fact every time I use it, I continue on with the activity well past the initial time set because of the momentum I've generated. Funny anecdote, when I first started the technique my office was near a shopping mall. So I popped over to the culinary store, picked up a nice stainless analog kitchen timer (was really hoping for an actual pomodoro-shaped one that the technique is named after, but this was the only non-digital one they had in stock and I liked the idea of physically dialing in the time I was committing to focus on the task). Turns out, the buzzer on the thing is unreal loud when it finally goes off (like fire-alarm loud). Sure enough after a few repetitions, my staff around me would see me winding up my timer and start hollering, "oh watch out, he's winding up the Klaxon, be ready to have your eardrums blown out in 20 minutes!" We had some good laughs and I switched to a quieter timer. So, in summary, try it out.
  11. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    I also use that technique for a lot of stuff. As I apply time constraints, my mind begins to start shifting into thinking about how it can get the task done in the limited timeframe. I find in particular useful for tasks that I really don’t want to do, as with the timer I know in advance that it’s not going to last forever.
    RadRacing likes this.
  12. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Lately, I’ve spent less time on PMO both in terms of frequency and duration. There have been a few unsuitable Twitter searches here or there (something I need to eliminate) but MO has been reduced to around once every 3 weeks.

    It’s pretty much a functional thing, done to relieve sexual energy. When done in this way, I don’t feel as guilty (or as drained of energy) as I would after a session of bingeing/edging to P.

    And the amount of £ I’m spending on P has reduced dramatically in recent months.

    With my career in the balance due to the pandemic I’m using my time to learn a new skill. If I lose my job, at least I have something to fall back on. But progress is slow and and my mind is filled with doubt. It sometimes feels as if I’m doing it as a distraction. Nevertheless, it’s providing mental stimulation and reducing my anxiety (because my brain thinks I am learning and progressing). The pomodoro technique has worked pretty well so far.

    A few weeks back I took the plunge and joined a local tennis club. Haven’t covered myself in glory on the court, losing against a woman (in my defence, she was half my age). But my overall game play is improving massively and I’m hitting some decent groundstrokes. Plus, from a social perspective. I’m interacting with lots of new people at the club.

    I typically have a couple of non drinking nights through the week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). I do feel better rested on these days.

    Some things have added to my stress this past week (unexpected repair bills & wider family issues) but generally I have been feeling pretty stable.
    UK Don likes this.
  13. Vanoli16

    Vanoli16 Member

    Great check-in. I love this part, because it not only adds to right-sized humility (not shame-based), but also the fact that you are socializing and interacting with others.

    When I interact with others, my day is better and my urges are almost non-existent. But, I don't always set myself up with social activities.

    So, well done.
  14. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Vanoli16

    I am enjoying the activity and interaction at the club - it has forced me out of my comfort zone. I agree that when we're social and feeling connected, urges to act out are reduced considerably.

    This morning, my wife criticized a new photo I'd taken for my Linked In. Then she had a dig at me for eating too loudly, suggesting I go into another room next time I eat an apple. I walked out like a chastised puppy, feeling annoyed at her for having a go at me. Although I feel triggered, I have since reflected on it and realized it's minor. I was being overly sensitive to rejection and disapproval. An emotionally mature person wouldn't allow something so trivial to affect them.
    positivef likes this.
  15. UK Don

    UK Don Active Member

    Great to hear! Tennis clubs are excellent from a social perspective, I played in one weekly growing up. Most clubs offer mens and mixed doubles leagues catering to players of different standards. Obviously these are halted at the moment, but perhaps something to look out for in the future? I suppose it depends on how competitive you are by nature, but having matches every weekend at your own/another club is pretty fun, and of course there is socialising after each fixture.
    positivef likes this.
  16. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    [QUOTE="forlorn, post: 711882, member: 24334"But progress is slow and and my mind is filled with doubt. It sometimes feels as if I’m doing it as a distraction. Nevertheless, it’s providing mental stimulation and reducing my anxiety (because my brain thinks I am learning and progressing). The pomodoro technique has worked pretty well so far.[/QUOTE]

    Progress may be slow, but at least there’s progress. Start looking at what small steps you can take to make it go a little faster. Learning a new skill takes time, so you’ve got to allow for that. Is there a way you can make contact with omeone who has already got the skill you;re trying to learn? Contacting them would be a good idea, you might be able to save yourself some time by talking with them about what they had to do to learn the skill.

    Good idea to join the tennis club.
  17. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    A friend I haven't seen in a while messaged yesterday inviting me to the pub. So we had a beer. And then a few more beers. And then a whisky. Followed by a couple more when I got back home. Not surprisingly, I woke up with a hangover. I then looked at some pornography to try and make myself feel better. Disappointed in myself, especially as it contradicts what I'd written yesterday about emotional maturity. It's hypocritical too - I offer advice on other people's journals yet I'm failing to take my own advice. The hangover and post-porn confusion meant I haven't been able to get into the swing of things in terms of career stuff. After writing here I'll focus on doing active things such as housework and gardening. At least it won't feel like a completely wasted day.

    @UK Don I'm not too fussed about playing competitively in leagues. However, despite Covid we are allowed to play mixed doubles - nearly all the matches I've played so far have been in that format and it's been a lot of fun. I like the fact that tennis isn't just about power, it's also about having control, concentration, good positioning & strategy.

    @Clovis6 Valid point, I need to keep learning and not get discouraged. And yep, I intend to contact someone in the industry to ask for advice so I can attempt to model their success :)
    UK Don and positivef like this.
  18. positivef

    positivef Active Member

    Back on the horse. At least you have the emotional maturity to know when its lacking.
  19. NCBob

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

    I wouldn't be too hard on myself, forlorn. Until we're able to walk on water, we'll struggle at times with walking the walk and talking the talk. This is no easy thing...
    UK Don likes this.
  20. Clovis6

    Clovis6 Well-Known Member

    Always a good idea to keep learning, regardless of our current position .

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