Thursday, 5 February 2015

A slip but not a slide. Learning from mistakes. Breaking addictive routines and spotting patterns.

I had a slip in my porn abstention today. And then I had another one. That's OK. Or rather, that's not OK, it's very much not good. But I stopped myself and my slip didn't slide into a binge. I'm determined to learn from this - that's what this is all about. 

If I look for triggers they're easy enough to spot. Some minor stress. A rather hyper feeling last night. Feeling full of energy and that I was doing really well may well have inspired complacency. Loneliness and boredom are dangerous and I'm still woefully short on company. Some minor stress - really just an unexpected email. 

Visually, I've been lucky. I honestly haven't seen anything very suggestive at all. I don't watch much commercial TV and my online friends don't post anything porny. 

I did see one image on Facebook. A "glamour" rather than a porn image of a woman someone posted as a joking response to what was, I suppose (I've never thought about images of men in this way before), a "glamour" (topless, muscled and oiled) image of some guy. I was annoyed at the time and I wonder if it planted a seed. 

I didn't have a shower this morning too. That might seem an odd trigger, but I think it is. Starting the day with a good, healthy morning routine is a massive goal for me. It's one I've been doing much better with. Working at home and alone, it is very easy to let things like that slip a little. When I was drinking I gave not a flying fig for such things. Letting myself go in that way sends internal signals that I'm not worth very much really. That it doesn't really matter. 

Seeing Mag getting dressed this morning was another. I'm pleased about that. Mag is not an image; she is real and she is my lover; that's as things should be. I want more of that, though not as a trigger for relapse.

I've also taken action in response to my slip. I went straight to my online support sites and wrote about it. I changed the password on my blocking system to a random string of numbers that I now have no idea of. I really am locked out. Good. 

I'm trying to learn. I'm not back at the beginning. I've taken appropriate action to respond. The effects are swift and, while not devastating, not good. It's the awful lethargy and tiredness that I hate the most. In stopping myself after the first lapse I came close to getting the shakes. These are very strong, very strongly set behaviours. 

I've noticed how quickly the whole routine returns. This is the old pattern: relapse - feel bad about self, oh well... go and have a cigarette, not good either, make a cup of tea... return to computer... feel bad about self, can't face work... second relapse... now feel terrible about self, dirty and nasty... run a bath... soak in bath... more time wasted... third relapse... 

This time I interrupted the routine. After the relapse, I did have a fag and a cup of tea (almost unconsciously; that's how these things are, how many times have I spoken of "coming to" or "finding myself" at the off licence as if in a trance?). But when I came back to my room I cycled for two minutes and went to my support sites. The second lapse wasn't instant as it would have been recently. After that I had a shower. 

Baths are bad for me. They're not about getting clean, they're about that feeling of warmth and safety I'm so addicted to. I have the water far too hot, it's bad for my eczema and actually causes me pain - there's an element of self-harm in it, very small but it's there. So this time I had a shower. That was a struggle too. Really. I know - if you're lucky enough not to have experienced addiction - that this will sound ridiculous. It feels ridiculous to write it. It's true nonetheless.

I've got into another habit lately. I read it somewhere online as something like the "flinch test", Life Hacks I think. Basically, you give yourself a blast of cold water at the end of your shower. It's a way of showing yourself that you can change routines and that a bit of what you've thought of as awful might not be so bad after all. I've been doing this for a while whenever I have a shower and I now almost look forward to it. Yes, really. 

So I emerged from my shower much fresher into clean clothes and on with rescuing the rest of the day by working and cooking. There was no third relapse. 

I managed my workout, which I'm pleased about, I really put some effort in too. I've slipped, but I've tried to learn from this slip, I've sought help, I've looked for patterns, I broke a routine, I stopped my relapse from being as bad as my previous behaviour. 

All good stuff. I don't think a good addict can reasonably do more than that. I'm limited as to what I can do about the trigger of loneliness at the moment. Stress will come too. So, it's changing that coping mechanism. Cycling and some alternate nostril yoga breathing are both useful, as is inhaling from my new aromatherapy blend. 

I'm confident that tomorrow will be better. 

If you spent it, thank you for your time. I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment or drop me an email.