Love & Sex Addiction Lesson 2: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Early Recovery
Assuming you have participated in lesson one, we again ask that you observe a few transitional moments of silence. Please refrain from thought, a quieted mind invites a relaxed spirit. Should you feel restrictions around facial areas or body parts know that it is only thru awareness that acceptance can be entertained. Again scan your entire being. Do you feel confined or tight in other areas? Acknowledge the disturbances as distractions rather then discomforts. Here we begin to surrender to our pretentious needs for struggle. We are once again going to clear our minds of thought, while paying close attention to our breathing. Please be patient with yourself. If you fall short of your goal, credit the attempt and continue to repeat the procedure. In time you will have mastered this task. Enjoy being.
Congratulations, you are still with us and hopefully you have begun to experience a calming throughout your day. Remember, you could practice this technique any time, and are encouraged to do so throughout your day. If even for just a few seconds, while enjoying lunch or at the work place, diligently practice the observance of your thoughts.
Pitfalls of Early Recovery
The person suffering from addiction has long evidenced a lack of coping strategies and skills. Let us not put the cart before the horse. For those who have used addictive rituals as a means to buffer life’s happenings, the smallest circumstances may become difficult endeavors. Addiction has been a powerful coping mechanism for the addict, regardless of hurtful consequences. Coping skills are an ability to avoid and resolve conflict with minimal physical, mental and emotional strain or resistance. Coping skills may take form in breathing exercises, a pause or hesitation in thought or speech, prayer, meditation, a phone call, seeking guidance, exercise, walking, reading, music, a movie, nap, etc.
Although all of these are ways of diverting the intensity of a situation they do not address the causes. Those who are willing to undress themselves to get down to the nitty gritty – the cause, should be cautioned. It is often a humbling experience to realize that all the excuses, blaming and rationalization for one’s problems have had little to do with others or external factors. We were not created with a nihilistic attitude or an inherent inability to manage our affairs. This is not an indication that an inability to correct preconceived notions exists but an opportunity to acknowledge how, when and where to practice prudence. One who is willing to admit complete defeat and surrender to the struggles and hardships of past scripts has already begun to dis-identify with their former selves. Those who investage, in juxtapositions are quick to realize the pros and cons of recovery. The painstaking growth of recovery far outweighs the evils of addiction. The recovering addict must know this if they are to succeed.
In a short time one becomes aware that the pleasure they received the night before while viewing a sitcom, reading a book, enjoying a meal, was temporary. Likewise, any pain, no matter how severe or what the cause, is just as temporary. This brings us to conclude that all pain and pleasure principles are temporary experiences and manageable if accepted at face value. This is not to suggest that we glorify the pain of being mistreated, rather it is a reminder that we have alternative choices in how we perceive and react to painful experiences.
Where the absurdities of others once provided us with an excuse to be indignant, hateful, vengeful, gossipy, self-righteous, angry or manipulative, today the spirit remains quiet. We acknowledge hurt, threats, fears and insecurities while avoiding mental persuasions, knowing that it is less restrictive to understand than to be understood. The addict once consumed by skepticism, doubt and self-betrayal, enjoys the amusements of his newly found freedoms. Humor has been found in the profanity of that which once threatened the addict’s livelihood but now enhances it. We have all conquered what seemed to be impossible feats; there was a time we had to learn to walk. If you tried to fail but you succeed which have you done?
One outstanding characteristic of an excuse is its inability to achieve logical conclusions, based on sound reasoning. Despite a history of unmanageability brought about by repeated or similar behaviors, the addict will yield to logic and rational thinking at exactly the wrong moment. This certainly does not imply that the ability to use good judgment has not been entertained or that one is incapable of mastering the skills that lead to good decisions. Unfortunately, those who have managed to slip into such states of denial forgo consequences, therefore finding it a difficult task in redirecting their thoughts. The struggle does not exist in attempting to change the thinking as such, but rather a lack of underdeveloped skills in surrendering to its struggle.
Implementing exercises that increase the opportunity to advance beyond customary habitual thinking will help the addict:
A) Identify thought.
B) Recognize all the implications of its cunning.
C) Acknowledge the task at hand while placing the proper value on its significance.
D) Avoid over-exaggerating a need to feel victimized by letting go of that which has dominated the mind for so long.
There will be pain in surrendering to our addictions; after all, it is what we had become. The pain is not insignificant, but at the same time it has its limit where suffering can be experienced as limitless. Suffering results from the storytelling that goes on in our minds, a trigger taken to extremes. The mind is the birth place of excuses, it’s domination with storytelling distracts the brain from its function of reasoning. Preoccupation implies distraction, tunnel vision, maladjusted and delusional thinking, and an inability to think outside of the box. A transformation in perception will occur as one develops skills in redirecting conditioned thought processes.
The composition of a thought extends beyond its origin, that is to say that once the thought is entertained consciously with it has developed an emotional response. These emotions tend create additional dialog often interfering with the completion of the original thought. It is this interference which results in distorted thinking, if continued maladjusted thought processing may develop. We have all experienced crises in our lives which have involved critical thinking, although emotions may have ran high our thinking remained deliberate. It is the random thoughts that generally produce the drama of negative entertainment in us. By simply acknowledging these scenarios will create focus, lessening the intensity and frequency of occurence.
Avoiding Pitfalls – Recognizing schemes, scripts and patterns
At a young age he had been abused, neglected and tormented by his dad, mostly for placing himself between dad’s fist and mom. As horrific as that may sound, one of his most disappointing memories came about in the winter of 1967. At the age of 11, he was promised a bike for his birthday, but the catch was that he would go to work with his dad who was employed as a custodian and help with the labor. As his birth date approached the boy recalls boasting to his pals about his soon-to-be-enjoyed new bicycle. On March 3, 1967 he was taken to Lydia’s Bar and Grille and given a bag of chips and a soda. He watched his dad play a six-card poker machine while consuming his bike in the form of alcohol and gambling. It was an agonizing incident, yet it would take a distant second to the pain he witnessed on his mother’s face as he attempted to down play the hurt, as if it were of no significance. The true tragedy is not in the events themselves but the conditioning and grooming that have lead up to this event being viewed as acceptable behavior. He was unaware at the time that he was being seduced by the power of victimization while mastering escapism. Many decades have past, some of which he has spent savoring the cunnings of addiction. Ultimately the soul cries out, courage emerges and healing begins.
Many sex and love addicts have been victimized at the hands of those who were relied on to create a warm and safe environment. Being abused and neglected, as a child by loved ones can have a devastating effect on future love relationships. Such experiences can result in maladjusted and disillusioned concepts of love. One may become a skeptic, critic, or cynic – mistrusting self and others while seeking the comforts of love in all the wrong places.
At an age when we are vulnerable to be influenced by others, we are at risk to be misled. It is a desperate soul that experiences love in the form of violent threats, hostility and fear. When one who has begun to acknowledge the self-seeking pleasures of painful relationships, based on reenacting old familiar love scripts and fantasies and has recognized insecurities, healing from within has begun.
We rely on our caretakers to help us develop meaningful love relationships. When we realize that we have developed a distorted view of reality where love is concerned, we become frustrated and feel disconnected, confused, isolated and dependent.
Entering into and staying in relationships for the thrill of painful experiences becomes habitual acts that are exhibited by the love and sex addicts. We are not helpless victims waiting to be rescued. Those who have aligned themselves with the pain of suffering unwillingly have bonded with the betrayer.
The addict has an insatiable appetite to be desired. This is as much of a treat to the addict as the coupling of romantic lovers. The addict is in it for the thrill at any cost. If you were inclined to accept that a high is any state of consciousness outside of your natural state of awareness, would it not be safe to say that both pleasure and pain sensations result in a high?
The nature of the human condition, due to our scenic and biochemical makeup, places us at risk to over-indulge in pleasure-seeking activities. When we continually subscribe to the emotional attachments of pain and pleasure principles, it is important that we attempt to identify the schemes, scenarios, attractions and entrapments of victimization. An outstanding characteristic of the sex and love addict, one that has always intrigued me, is the amount of time, energy, tenacity and endurance an addict will display in seeking harmful partners and staying in dysfunctional relationships.
At an age when girls are concerned with bows in their hair and dolls, boys with bikes and water pistols, Peter was a bit distracted by domestic violence. At a very young age Peter understood the filth, squander and dehumanization of poor housing conditions, being raised in the projects of an inner city where poverty, abuse, neglect, hunger, ignorance and the abuse of power were no strangers. Nurturing in the sense of trust, reliability, and stability were not a part of his world. Where love was concerned, Peter had developed an extremely distorted view of reality, putting him at risk of having a distorted view of love’s concepts. In the absence of love and affection, one will create or attach to whatever is available in an attempt to feel connected. Sad but true, for those embarking on the journey of recovery it is imperative to recognize the cause and effects of past experiences.
To feel pain while creating an understanding that places a proper value on what is being perceived. If you have experienced traumatic episodes at the hands of another, know that it was not personal that they were unhealthy and in need of help, this is the type of understanding that will set you free and open your heart to forgiveness.
True love cannot exist were there is embitterment. “Forgiveness is the scent that a violet sheds on the heel that crushed it” ( Donald Neale Walsch).