Time to heal

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

  1. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Thanks both for your support, really appreciate it. And I will look up 'ego fatigue' :)

    It does feel crushing to have to reset your counter after an 88 day clean streak. Slipping up in such a way reminds me of the negative consequences that re-emerged. I lost my self respect. I no longer had peace of mind. It was replaced by a nervous energy, a mix of excitement and anxiety.

    I felt shitty about myself so I was impatient and critical of my partner. It led to us both sitting in separate rooms. I lost money. I was no longer living up to my full potential - everything else paled into insignificance.

    But never mind. As you say, it's in the past, all I can do is live in the present and create a better future.
  2. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    At least when we falter we now know that it's crushing. Being conscious is a gift, but it's a tough gift. We are like athletes that must work on our skill level, always trying to get better.
    MissingSelfCompassion likes this.
  3. Fish Hawk

    Fish Hawk Well-Known Member

    Mistake, mistake as long as you get back in the groove. You will be ok get back up we are waiting for you dude.
    forlorn likes this.
  4. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    That relapse hit me harder than it should have and I used it as an excuse to linger in self doubt. It was made harder by the fact I developed something of an emotional connection with this person online - at least it felt I developed an emotional connection with her (she was only interested in me as long as I was sending her money). In the days that followed I felt empty. But truth be told all I was really missing was that constant rush of dopamine that I had been drip feeding myself for days. I am now moving beyond that stage back towards active recovery. I need to make a more focused effort to come and post here.
    Gil79 likes this.
  5. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Yes. We like it when you're here.

    You certainly identified for what it was: a dopamine rush. I had online "sex" with lots of women. I was hard the whole time, always leaking cum. But, as we all know it's just fools gold.
    Gil79 likes this.
  6. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Spot on.

    My new target is to get until the end of July without the use of artificial stimulation. And speaking of dopamine, my therapist told me our brains use various cognitive distortions as a way of protecting its dopamine supply. We have to challenge these distortions which we use to justify and succumb to addictive behaviours. I'll share a couple of my own examples below.

    Rationalisation (when you make excuses for your behaviour using logic and reason) e.g. "I've got some work to do with feels like a chore. Therefore I deserve a little reward"
    Justification (when you use excuses to defend your behaviour) e.g. "I acted out because I was hungover / or because I was alone"
    Minimisation (a strategy for not taking full responsibility or for staying in denial) e.g. "a little peek here or there won't hurt me". "it's only Twitter" etc

    The idea is that we use this list to recognise our own patterns of distorted thinking and consider replacing each example with a healthier alternative (or counter attack) thought.
  7. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    I've never heard it put that way-- cognitive distortions protect our dopamine. I'm very familiar with the distortions. I tend to use "all or nothing" thinking, or "black and white." It was damaging in my first few reboots. Any failure to stay absolutely clean was the fuel my self-critic needed to drag me down.
  8. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Good observation. I've experienced a v similar thing.

    It was useful for me to analyse the above list of distortions in order to bring them into my conscious awareness.

    I've been anxious over the last few days due to concerns over a lack of work (money). I'm spending increasing amounts of time home alone looking for ways to fill the time. At times I feel helpless and I'm ashamed to admit to my wife the reality of how quiet my work is at the moment. However I'm not going to allow my distorted thinking to drag me into a porn trap. Instead I'm using this free time effectively - to learn new skills, to exercise consistently, to keep on top of housework, to eat healthily.
    Saville likes this.
  9. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    When I last relapsed 30 days ago, I was involved with a woman online. It lasted about a week where I was paying for her attention in a series of private messages. I clicked back on her social media profile recently and saw that she has posted a couple of public messages to taunt me. She's trying to bait me into relapsing so I pay her again. I'm a little annoyed and I know I shouldn't even look at her profile but I'm a little worried this person could expose me.

    During that week I got a rush of dopamine every time my phone pinged with a notification. I'm not falling into that trap again.

    The negative consequences of that week far outweighed the temporary escapism. I lost money, self respect, put myself at risk of being exposed, I couldn't look my partner in the eye, my work suffered, I was a fucking mess. I'm not going back to that hell.
  10. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    If I can reach a period of abstinence long enough to 'reset' the neural pathways in my brain, it is good progress but that alone is not enough. I still have underlying issues to resolve (performance anxiety, PE, self esteem issues and a whole bunch of other stuff). I need to remind myself that this is a journey. Part of the journey involves trying to change the way I behave and the way I view the world. With that in mind, over the following few weeks I will try to adapt aspects of my behaviour. This won't be easy so I'll focus on a couple of statements at a time and gradually build on it

    Practice being more comfortable with closeness and intimacy (be mindful of trying to relax more in relationships to counter feelings of avoidance/fear; resist feelings of wanting to run away. Stay with it and notice how easy/safe it really is.

    Work on NOT worrying about being left or being alone - it's normal in life to be on your own sometimes - enjoy your independence and own company and engage in enjoyable activities while you can

    Be positive about yourself and remind yourself with frequent self affirmations that you are a good person and worthy of being loved.
    Libertad, Gil79 and Saville like this.
  11. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Love everything you wrote above! :)
  12. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Had a lengthy alone spell yesterday when the wife went out. Boredom set in and I found firing up the laptop for some aimless surfing. Thankfully I was able to recognise this pattern of behaviour, so I turned off the laptop and went outside instead. Managed to get some jobs done in the garden, a little bit of planting, tidying, sweeping and general maintenance. There is something rewarding about taking pride in your outdoor space and making it as pleasant as possible. There's always something to do, whether it be tidying, pruning, watering, designing planting schemes.
  13. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Man, this is so good! These small tasks create greater stamina for life in general, I find. :)
  14. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Got triggered after reading someone else's journal on here. He was talking about deleting his old email addresses which were linked to P. It reminded me to check some old email accounts of my own. There was some triggering content and I briefly debated whether or not to erase the email accounts - in the end I did and I'm glad, as keeping them open leaves a doorway to the past. On the subject of triggers, I've realised I need stronger distractions. 'Doing' is more powerful than 'thinking' and it has to be something beneficial/motivating. Since I work from home and am normally alone, the obvious thing that springs to mind is to go out into the garden. It's a nice, calming space and gets me away from the computer. Even if it's cold, raining I will aim to step out for a few moments to either complete a small task or simply to take some time out. It's a way of managing change.

    I'm going to be 43 in a couple of months time. My birthday will roughly coincide with the period where I'm reaching the 90 day mark (today is day 40). I've always hated my own birthdays (another year older yet still no wiser). Presently I cannot visualise myself having a sexual relationship. On some level I think healthy sexual relationships are for other people. The thought of sex doesn't excite me (my brain is desensitised to it) and I don't believe I can do it anyway. In order to progress, I realise this mindset needs to change. But for now, I must remember this is a journey. My brain has become acclimatised to high doses of dopamine and a 3 month break is needed to switch off the brain's neural pathways. After that, I can begin to unravel and work through other insecurities.
    A New Man and Saville like this.
  15. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Felt moody and frustrated these last two days. It stems from fear and uncertainty. I'm afraid that I will have to face up to my insecurities in the coming months. I'm even afraid to raise the subject of re-establishing intimacy with my wife (it's been many years since we tried having sex). I'm fearful that the outcome could be the same, i.e. that I'll get performance anxiety and feel like a failure. On some level it feels safer to stay in a recovery-relapse loop.

    While the above sounds quite negative, I'm pleased I have given it some thought and reflection. My distorted thinking is keeping me trapped by playing the helpless victim card. It could explain why I reached 80 days in my last attempt before relapsing.

    Bought a couple of electric radiators and finally got round to attempting to programme them today, different models both with dreadful user instructions. I spent all day trying to figure out how to set schedules so they automatically come on at certain times. My wife could see I was struggling, I made it pretty clear by moaning about it and telling her in detail about the tests I was running and how most of them were failing. She didn't offer to help which pissed me off even more. She could have read out some instructions while I tried to programme the schedules. It was a real ball ache but I think I've got one of them working now.
  16. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Currently sitting in a cafe having coffee and doughnuts whilst I browse YBR. I've come into the city centre for a change of scene. I generally find cities to be exciting. I love the variety, the choice, the food, the people watching. There's a constant stream of people passing this window, many of them huddled under umbrellas. It's enjoyable just to sit and watch the world go by for a few moments.

    Therapy revealed that I have anxiety about being alone/abandoned/rejected and that I can be quite clingy. Despite being married, I spend a lot of time on my own due to my job. Over the next few weeks I will slowly introduce statements which I intend to actively work on, i.e. I will slowly start to adapt my behaviour in these specific areas. It won't be easy to change my ingrained patterns of thinking so I'm going to take my time over these. To begin with.

    1) Don't allow yourself to be driven by a distorted view that it is always necessary to be close and intimate with others all the time - time alone can be just as safe, you have the inner resources to be alone and independent, and remember many people relish time alone to pursue their own interests

    2) Notice any signs of anxiety when being left on your own or about the thought of being rejected or abandoned and counter-act them by reminding yourself that you're perfectly capable of looking after yourself and enjoying your company

    3) Challenge yourself when you question if you are worthy of being loved. Remember this is a feeling installed by your upbringing and bears no resemblance to the current day. Use logic and evidence to support the reality that people DO like you, love you or care for you.

    4) Try every day to demand less attention from partners and others close to you, give them space and time.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
    titan_transcendence and Gil79 like this.
  17. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    51 days into the cleanest reboot I've had to date. Still a lot of work and healing to be done but it feels as if my interest in everyday things is returning. I'm continuing to focus on my anxieties about being alone/rejected/abandoned. The truth is, I am perfectly capable of looking after myself and enjoying my own company. I'm making a conscious effort to demand less attention from those close to me. Also trying to do things for myself rather than doing things that look good in the eyes of others.
  18. Fish Hawk

    Fish Hawk Well-Known Member

    You're really coming a long Forlorn ! Quite a difference since you started! Rock in bro !
  19. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Sometimes I fantasise about running away on my own and starting life in another city. Not having to answer to anyone. Living life completely on my own terms and not having to live according to how family and society expects me to. I think about where I would live, how I would get around, and how uncomplicated my life could be. But it seems like a selfish thing to do and I feel guilty just fantasising about it.

    I've never had much ambition or a clear purpose in life, it has often felt like I'm just going through the motions. I've recently been wondering if I give too much importance to the fact that I am married (i.e. if we were to separate I could not see a future for myself and that the whole world would come crashing down on me). If it did happen, what would people think and would they discover the truth about me? I'm not sure if I could handle that. In reality my marriage is unlikely to break up, we have settled into an unspoken pattern of non-sexual companionship and accepted that this is what our lives are like. Sometimes I worry that it's too late for our marriage, but another part of me wants to conquer my fears and work towards establishing a sex life (surely this has to be one of the primary goals of recovery). Clearly I need to do some more work about my fear of rejection.

    For me, this is also a journey towards independence and self acceptance. If my marriage were to break up, the truth is, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Even if I were on my own, I'm a valuable individual worthy of being liked and loved by others. And I have the ability, life skills and mental strength to cope with being alone. I am trying to use logic and evidence to challenge the distorted patterns of thinking that have held me prisoner for so long.

    Thanks @Bobo it feels good to be making progress, even if my mind is all over the place as you can tell from the above post.
  20. forlorn

    forlorn Well-Known Member

    Felt a few minor triggers today but nothing I can't handle.

    I've come back into the city again, my new favourite thing is sitting in a cafe with my laptop. It makes a nice change of scene from being home alone for hours on end and it kind of feels like a treat, as if I'm doing something nice for myself. I might need to find a new cafe though, this one is a too noisy - the background music is not to my liking and there's constant chatter from other patrons. On the plus side it's a great spot for people watching.

    I mentioned a few days ago that my interest in everyday things is returning. I'm considering getting back into reading - something to stimulate my mind and keep me away from booze and TV. I haven't managed to finish a fiction book in over a decade. Does anyone have any recommendations? Would be especially keen on books about people battling addictions but am open to other suggestions.

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