Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.
Ha, ha! No, I'm a long way from there, but I would surely love to visit one day!
Right now I'm reading Happiness is an Inside Job, by Sylvia Boorstein, which says the secret to happiness is: "You do the best you can, then you live with what happens."
Along with the acceptance: "This isn't what I wanted, but it's what I've got."
She writes: "If. . . there is enough equanimity in the mind to fight of confusion, wisdom can prevail. Then the mind can respond to ordinary (neutral) situations with goodwill, to frightening (unpleasant situations) with compassion, and to beguiling (pleasant) situations with relaxed, non-troubled appreciation."
It got me thinking about about the Buddhist three poisons - passion, aggression and ignorance - and how seamlessly they arise from basic emotional reactions.
There are only three emotional reactions to pretty much everything we come across: something is either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. They become the three poisons because we long for the good stuff, fight what's unpleasant and simply don't notice the neutral. Pretty much anything we come across gets us like a hamster on a wheel when we are reacting to things in this way. It's not the emotion, it's the flight or fight response. It's the lust or anger or daydreaming it triggers.
So this is what I'm going to try over the next few weeks. Having observed that anger is out of my body in 90 seconds, and anything longer is just me holding onto it and telling myself some kind of storyline, I want to see if the same is true of other emotions. When I'm craving after something, am I just telling myself that this will be the one thing that makes me happy? Is it the storyline that I'm craving?
I'm not scared of emotions, just trying to avoid getting caught up in them. I'll start off by trying not to daydream.
Had a relaxed weekend doing family stuff - spending time with the children, mostly.
I told myself not to think of the other stuff I could be doing, and actually had a great time. This is what life is: family. It's not buying stuff, no matter how much the ads promise instant happiness.
I am learning to focus on what I'm doing without some kind of inner storyline. I'm watching, observing, and not focussing on getting away to do my own thing. It's the happiness starts now idea, not some far off time in the future.
My knees are cleared up now, but I didn't get to run - I'm fine about that. I'm going to get back into running for the enjoyment of it without thinking too much about my times and weekly mileage.
Also I'm working harder at work. If nothing else, it makes the day go faster. I also like the feeling of achievement when you get stuff done.
So that's it, really. No great problems, no sudden illumination, just training myself to be more aware and more open to the people around me. Learning to be content with what I have.
Good luck to you all on your own journeys.
This has been huge for me this year and critical to my staying sober.
Another busy work week and a weekend of yard work that got me out in the sunshine, doing stuff. I ended up on the roof, cleaning the gutters. (It's stopped raining in Vancouver - yes, really!)
I found a recovery term earlier in the week: slowbriety.
It means accepting that recovery won't happen overnight. I've been rebooting more than three years now, but today is only 41 days since my last PMO session. It seems frustrating. It's really tempting to think that I should be further ahead right now. . . but I've got to stop regarding this is a race. I wasn't healed just by reaching the magical 90 days, and I won't be at 365. Instead, I'm learning to be stronger and happier one day at a time. It's OK to have goals, I guess, but the danger lies in thinking that I could be there now if only I'd worked harder, which is a trap - beating myself up about not being happier!
Thinking about it, the major part of addiction is demanding instant gratification. Expecting a magic solution to my problems rather than facing up to reality and growing as a person. I'm finding that in order to recover I have to take the long view. If I'm having a bad day, it will pass. If I'm worried about something happening, chances are that in three months time the whole thing would have been and gone and not even merit a memory.
Accepting where I am is a key part of this crazy rebooting journey. I've made a lot of progress, especially in my personal relationships, and I'm a happier person the bulk of the time. As I mentioned earlier, the secret to happiness is: "You do the best you can, then you live with what happens" and "This isn't what I wanted, but it's what I've got."
This last week I've thrown myself into whatever I was doing at the time: getting stuff done at work, mowing the lawn, family stuff, not falling off the roof. . . I've been teaching myself to be content with what I've got. I've been telling myself in my morning meditation to go into the day with my eyes and heart open. I'm trying to observe other people rather than following my own storyline, and to understand them, or at least accept where they are coming from. Everyone's fighting their own battles, it's not like I'm the only one.
It's a long process, and at times it's disheartening. I massively relapsed so many times, and yes, I would be rebooted too if I hadn't, but it's all part of the healing process.
We can only live in one moment at at time, which is the real secret to life and beating addictions. You're counter may be 41 days, but you're kicking some serious ass!
Slowbriety.............excellent Wabi. That's exactly what it is.
That's the ticket.
Ha, ha! I love it!! I'm going to embrace that, thankyou.
And once again you have explained things, beautifully, Wabi. I've got that book "Start Where You Are" and look fwd to diving into that, soon.
I find this really helps me to be grounded in the moment, to be less caught up in my own shit. Cheers for the reminder, Bro.
That's a fact. The counter reflects not at all our progress, in real terms. What's truly important is the effort we're putting to understanding ourselves and others, into learning and growing... and, you said it: acceptance.
Rock on, Wabi. With Slowbriety.
Thank you, 40New30. You've been a constant feature of my journal, supporting and encouraging me since the very first page.
I'm pleased to see that you've recently gone a full year without PMO. I'm delighted for you, because you're a great guy and deserve to live a complete and fulfilling life, and also pleased for the rest of us at the forum because it shows it's possible for us. We're all together in this.
At one point, early on, I was jealous of your day count. Now I celebrate it! Actually, that's a turning point in my own reboot: learning to be pleased for other people. To be able to say "Good for you" is up there with "You do the best you can, then you live with what happens" and "This isn't what I wanted, but it's what I've got."
As for my own relapses. . . I've been making progress, as every relapse has taught me something. I'm actually pleased I had this addiction, as it's forced me to examine my life and start learning to be happy. It's a skill - something to be learned - along with confidence, charisma and communication skills. . . and all the rest.
So this morning I had a meltdown at my teenage daughter, which, strangely enough helped me on my stumbling journey to self acceptance.
Funny how the universe sends you what you need, not necessarily what you want.
It was breakfast and she was needling everyone. Saturday morning, after a busy week, I just wanted to sit and enjoy a coffee and a bagel, but I was having to put up with a stream of insults from a child. She knows how to push people's buttons, and she knows mine: my parents, over in the UK, not coming over (largely because they find my wife difficult). I can't afford to visit them, and when I asked them for help with air fair at the start of the year they were as broke as me - their car and freezer had just packed in. Anyone who has emigrated will understand. Suddenly your parents are in their seventies and getting frail, but you are thousands of miles away because you want to make yourself a better life, feeling guilty about being unable to do anything for them.
I walked out the room rather than be triggered, and started tidying the kitchen. One final insult pushed me over the edge, and went into the room yelling, pointing my finger into her face. She bolted, I calmed down.
Like I've said before, you are only angry for 90 seconds. I watched it. The chemicals left my body and I was left feeling silly for having lost it.
I got thinking about the differences between our children. The youngest is an introvert, like me, our oldest (the one I yelled at) an extrovert.
When I first came to this forum as a self-hating porn addict I figured I drew a shitty stick in life for my introversion. Why was it some guys were hardwired to be chick magnets when all I was good at was reading about it in books?
During my three-year healing process I read up on introversion - a Jungian term for people that get their energy from ideas. Turns out extroverts feel the same pain from social involvement, but push themselves forward because they enjoy the reward of recognition more. I get more enjoyment from reading a book than being on stage. I don't need the applause.
I've noticed extroverts at work are really needy, and seem to set out to soak up management time. They have to be noticed all the time, they need constant affirmation. They'll ask questions they already know the answers to, just to get that yummy attention. You'd think they'd hold off making themselves look dumb, but their need to be noticed overrules common sense.
Anyone rebooting who thinks they need to be more alpha is setting themselves up for a fall. Alphas are prima donnas, strutting around in the spotlight because they need the applause. The way ahead is by learning to be content with where you are, right here and right now.
This is what I am, and I don't want to be anything else. I know my strengths. And weaknesses - immediately after my meltdown, I had a strong urge to relapse. I observed it - welcomed it, actually. It slinks along after strong emotions, but recognizing this helps me steer my way through this rebooting landscape. Urges tell me when I've touched pain, and then I know that I'm feeling temporarily low because of pain, not some kind of cosmic failure. Actually, by not giving in to the urge I'm left feeling stronger.
The urge tells me I've just been through a learning opportunity. It tells me I can embrace the message or I can try and hide from it for a few hours of frantic self-hatred.
Coming out on top of these internal wrestling matches is huge. Daughters and wives will push buttons. I view them as two years old now when they misbehave. Not always easy, but it has saved my bacon a number of times over the past year. You're right, we men explode and then it's over. However, the women hold onto it for the rest of the day and it's all they can talk about. My wife, who most definitely has anger issues, tells me rather often "why are you so angry?" She will say this over some trifle, such as if I say "fuck" when doing something. Before that would set me off, but now I see a child just making noise.
I'm both an introvert and extrovert, but hopefully not a pervert. Somewhere there's a balance between being an Alpha male (dickhead) and Beta male (emasculated pussy). I know, for instance, that I was too beta in the sack, always making sure whomever I was with came first. Now, it's about me cumming, because in that frame of mind I feel a generous power within. Just my thoughts.
Just reading over your last 10 posts or so and ... wow. So much of what your experienced and are experiencing as you quit PMO resonates with me as well. I really like your examples of introvert vs. extrovert personality. I , personally masked myself as an extrovert and did some pretty weird and extreme things to convince myself and the world that is who I was.. such as playing football, rugby, boxing, motorcycle and car racing. It was all fake, it was all a mask for how painfully shy and introverted I really was/am. And , of course the real me knew the Truth and this disconnect caused more discomfort which I medicated with PMO...
Thank you for sharing so much wisdom and pieces such as this... "Right now I'm reading Happiness is an Inside Job, by Sylvia Boorstein, which says the secret to happiness is: "You do the best you can, then you live with what happens.""
Billy B, Saville and fcjl8 - thank you for your support. It means a lot to me.
I was feeling low at the start of the week, feeling pressure both at home and work. In the past I'd have relapsed, but. . . I'm gradually building inner strength. Actually, it's awareness that I'm developing (knowledge is power!). I'm becoming able to observe my feelings in a more detached way, and not get caught up in a whirlwind of emotions. I'm starting to take the long view when difficulties come along: things get better.
Rebooting has been an inner struggle between my spiritual self and the immediacy of my cravings. I'm embracing what I really am.
Monday was difficult. At work, I'm part of a team that's not had a pay rise in years, watching a new layer of management being created - all on top dollar. I know part of me is feeling threatened by change, but from where I'm standing it really looks like our loyalty is seen as weakness.
One guy just bought his 16-year-old daughter a $30,000 SUV. I admit I was jealous. I know anyone can get anything on credit these days. Also, it's absolutely nuts to give a kid high class wheels - I've never been bought, I always stood on my own two feet. . . and I've always driven a beater! But I still let it get me down - I know my daughter feels inferior to girls at school in designer gear.
And then, with jealousy, sexual fantasy started. And, next thing I new I was sitting looking at my monitor wondering what search terms I could use to find pics of hot women - some innocuous term that wouldn't even count as a stumble, let alone a relapse. . .
Somehow, and I don't know how, I didn't. I knew, from bitter experience, that every relapse starts this way. And that I am powerless once I start down that road: I'm looking for pics of hot athletes, and then, just a heartbeat later, it's 3am and my eyes are bleeding from staring at filth.
It's not that I white-knuckled through the urge. . . I didn't want to go there. A line from Pema Chödrön jumped into my head about "seeing neurosis as neurosis," which really helped. (She writes: "This is an interesting point, to be able to see what we do without hating ourselves. We could see what we do with honesty but with gentleness. It’s the path of the warrior, seeing what we do without turning it against ourselves.")
During the week I progressed from depressed to angry, and now I'm back in control. It took a few days to work through my system, rather than the 90 seconds I write about here! But I'm going to move on, career wise - if it takes a while I'll at least learn how to play the game from watching the bullshit bingo crew. What have I got to lose? It's not as if I'm being paid less - just that they are on more than me. So I've got to catch up with their salaries the way they got theirs, by gaming the system.
I feel strangely victorious. I stood and looked over the edge, but backed off. Another lesson learned. Neurosis seen as neurosis.
Summer has arrived in Vancouver - tho' it might not last! As in, what do you call three days of sunshine in Vancouver? Summer!
On top of that, we got a long weekend. Victoria Day, to the amusement of the rest of the world, is a statuary holiday (bank holiday if you are in the UK) to celebrate the birth of Queen Victoria. They gave us a day off in 1845 and since then no thieving politician took it away from us.
I spent a lot of time getting yard work done outside or just sitting in the sun. Doing family stuff, and away from a computer monitor. I feel recharged, and more relaxed about my sometimes dysfunctional home life (wife's anxiety) and my work situation (low pay, new management). Overall, I've moved on from the fantasizing I started late last week, although I know from experience to expect echoes of it over the next few days as my brain tries to pull me back in to the abyss.
By not hating myself for fantasizing, and not fearing relapse, I think I've taken the edge off it. Actually, I find the prospect of relapsing boring more than anything else - having to watch the same old YouTube videos all over again. . .
What's interesting is that no matter how you feel you've changed your life, how much happier and at ease you feel, this thing always wants to pull you back in with the same old lies. Actually, feeling good about yourself can be a trap, can make you lazy enough to fall for click-bait links. It's odd to think that I have to be both relaxed and vigilant at the same time.
In one sense this is Day 55, but really it's just anther day on my journey to self-acceptance.
Outside work in the sun is awesome.
Quelling the self-loathing is fundamental. It's so easy to get defeated.
Another great post, Wabi.
I've discovered the work (writings, recorded talks) by Pema Chodron fairly recently and find great resonance with it. The point you made of not hating ourselves for having wasted so much time in a state of arousal and denial (speaking for myself here) is so impressed to keep coming back to.
First off, just wanted to mention you are one heck of an inspiration to me. I've lurked in and around your journal, finding nuggets of gold here and there. I even wrote down titles of books you keep mentioning. Not trying to make you blush with all the adulation!
What you said about children receiving presents of the kind you just described makes me wince. This is a first world problem, to say the least. I know it's hard on your daughter who is constantly having to compare herself with her peers - but still. This is just a thought: if I ever have kids, I will impress on them a philosophy of simplicity. Deluxe cars, monthly stipends and all that jazz... I don't know. I guess I was brought up in an environment where money was never in abundance. Point is, if I were to make a very good living, I wouldn't want to teach them to lay back and let the good things fall on their lap. Ultimately, I think your daughter is better off for not receiving 'gifts'. She's learning that she can't have everything - it may seem like nothing, but it will prepare her well for the challenges life will bring her. That girl who got the 30,000$ car? Unlikely to cope well with the no's she will have to face in her life.
Thank you, Saville - for your long-term support. It seems bizarre, looking back, just how much I used to hate myself. I'd not introduce myself to hot chicks because I saw myself as a loser, and then I'd get even angrier over my cowardice and rip myself to shreds. And so it went, deeper down into the hole. And it's just plain nuts that my self-hatred over my porn use just made me surf for more, and hate myself all the more. . . a horrible spiral.
More than two years ago on this forum I saw the following Pema Chodron quote: "Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent. . . we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter. . ."
Things fell into place for me when I read that. It's my life story! I've literally done that with alcohol, drugs and porn, and I've moved across the UK a few times and them emigrated to Canada. . . and always the same problems were waiting for me. I couldn't hide and I couldn't run. I'll always be grateful to porn for making me shine a light in my dark places, and push me to learning to be happy and at peace.
Mendoza, I love you - thank you for your praise. You have lifted me after an emotionally tough week.
Spiritually and politically I don't believe in throwing money at children. And a 16 year old is a child, too young to be driving a high-end SUV. Every rich kid I ever spoke to in later life said the exact same sentence: I just wish my dad had been there for me - he thought he could buy me, when I just wanted him to show some interest in my life. Driving a great tank of a car immediately after passing your test is a huge responsibility; I've always driven beaters. Even now, in heavy traffic I'm happiest being the guy with the least to lose. Always pull out in front of the newest, most expensive looking car you see, 'cos he's going to stop for you!
But, despite what I knew in my head, in my heart I wished I was able to get my girls brand name clothing. Personally, I don't care for logos, but my deepest fear is that they will go through life with low self-esteem like I did. I never fitted in at school, and it pains me to think that I'm setting them up to fail. Although, if I'm honest I'd have to say I'd still not have been in with the cool kids if I'd been wearing expensive clothes. Actually, it's apparently really bad for you to be the popular kid at school because you are not set up to cope in the real world.
As for this week. . . it's been difficult. The Manchester bombing really hit me hard - seeing all those screaming girls the same age as as mine, and reading about the dead and maimed children. I cried at work this morning, reading about the Queen visiting the children's ward. Actually, blubbing helped, because I'd been angry for days, but I couldn't articulate it. It was bizarre on Facebook how people divided into two camps: the mosque-burners and excuse-makers. As ever, I'm between the two. People, or often their parents, come over to the West for the economic freedoms but then freak out at the social and religious freedoms - without realizing they are entirely connected.
I've been overloaded at work, and then, on top of it all a friend got diagnosed with cancer. I was able to talk to him about it, to ask how he was doing (it's not hit him yet). Oh, and then our oldest went to Starbucks this evening with friends and then disappeared with her phone off, and the wife had a meltdown.
Coming here helps, and so does the knowledge that I haven't had any urges. I'm learning to deal with stress.
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