Time to heal

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

  1. forlorn

    forlorn 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. Bobo

    Bobo 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 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.
    Gilgamesh 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.
    Gilgamesh likes this.
  6. forlorn

    forlorn 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. 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 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 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 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, Gilgamesh and Saville like this.
  11. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Love everything you wrote above! :)

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