The post on my last relapse was one that I didn’t really want to write, but it seemed necessary. (I don’t like to relapse.) I was hopeful when I wrote it though. I really felt that by doing the things in my action plan, that I would be able to stave off further relapses. So far it has had not only that effect, but has helped me to feel better about myself in general. (This is no small feat, given my unemployment, and accompanying glut of free time.)
There have been a couple of things that have been particularly helpful. One of them is the Relapse Prevention Sheet. This sheet is provided by LifeStar, and is meant to help analyze the reasons behind our thoughts and feelings. It consists of asking us to look at the triggers that led us to relapse, the emotions involved, as well as the thoughts that lead us through the progression towards relapse. It then asks us to come up with a rational response to the automatic responses, and a statement challenging the original thought.
The last part of the sheet deals with the behaviors that preceded the relapse, the negative consequences, as well as the recovery techniques and the new behaviors that I plan to implement. Lastly, it asks for the positive consequences that will come from those changes.
I would like to share with you the things that I wrote on my sheet last Thursday. (I didn’t get to the sheet right away.)
- Feeling disconnected, even if I am interacting with others. Feeling like I am separate from the rest of the group.
- Desperately wishing that I could connect with someone on an emotional level.
- Someone from the web either initiating or responding to contact
- There is a website I frequented, which has a chat function. I chat with overweight gay guys on there, and when someone I like either responds to my contact, or initiates it, it seems like the fulfillment of what I’m seeking.
- Whether this is simply because I feel I can’t turn to anyone, or whether it is real, it feels very real.
I need to reach out to someone who will reciprocate my emotions.
Not all emotions should be reciprocated, and even when some are, they bring others that may compromise judgment.
The cost of emotional reciprocity varies from person to person. What is the cost with this person?
Notes: (this is not part of the sheet, but it’s my blog, so I’m adding it…) One of my friends in group put it really well. I am looking for emotional connection, and end up giving physical stimulation, where the others are often looking for physical stimulation, and are willing to offer the price of faux emotional connection.
I need companionship, and my friends are busy.
I have more than one friend. If KZ was booked, you would turn to UK, or NH, or KH etc. Finding new friends can be costly, and can often be avoided.
Is there anyone else locally (either physically local, or figuratively i.e. someone I’m already close to emotionally) that I can turn to?
Notes: When I shared this in LifeStar, my therapist interrupted, and pointed out that the first part of the automatic thought was true. I do need companionship. He wanted to mention that automatic thoughts may include truths, and that it is important to recognize the true parts, and not just reject the whole thing out of hand.
It would be an imposition to go to my friends.
My friends will let me know if I become an imposition. They can evaluate the costs of our relationship and choose accordingly. I not only don’t need to choose for them, I shouldn’t.
Your friends have said they’re there for you. Are you letting them in?
My friends will spurn me because I have not been able to regain control. Their patience and love will have been exhausted.
While few hope for disaster, many rejoice at the opportunity to help. They will likely be more willing to help if you ask than if you are a monolith.
If the readers of your blog stick with you online, why not on the phone as well?
Notes: This challenge statement is a reference to the fact that many of the people who read this blog are my personal friends.
New Friends are better
While new friends are exciting, and are less likely to be disappointed in your past failings, they often don’t have the staying power that the established friendships have already evidenced.
The unknown, while exciting, brings higher risk. The known is safer. We cannot predict well what our actions will be once we are emotionally excited.
Notes: This challenge statement is a reference to experiments done by Dan Ariely in which he had people predict the likelihood of engaging in certain behaviors under two conditions. The first prediction was made when “cold” and the second was made during sexual arousal. The predictions made when “cold” were much lower than those made when aroused.
In the days and weeks leading up to relapse, I had been putting no real effort on my dailies. I was still reading the Book of Mormon, and saying my prayers, (I’ve not missed a day since I started that agreement with my bishop) but that was the extent of it.
I had been staying up very late, and very consistently.
I’d been online a lot, looking to meet new friends. (some may wonder if I was actually looking for someone to have sex with. I was not. I craved the emotional, not the physical.)
The week before the relapse, I told my story to my LifeStar group. Most were very supportive, and reached out to me. Some indicated that they were not put off. While they certainly meant this as a show of support, in the moment, in my emotionally fragile state, it felt like abandonment. Either way, I did nothing afterward to rebuild myself. I went on without adding support in healthy ways, and sought connection on the site I mentioned earlier.
I didn’t really fill this section out. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was looking for, and I find it a bit depressing, since I already know what many of the negative consequences of my actions have been over the last several years.
Recovery Techniques and New Behaviors:
I told both of my home teachers about my situation, and pointed them to this site. I asked them to check on me from time to time, and one of them even took down the info needed to follow my twitter feed.
The reporting of my dailies on twitter was a direct result of the relapse, and wanting to implement those in my life. Two of my friends are following on twitter, and others are checking periodically online. One of them has made frequent comments via twitter, texts, etc.
To see my dailies, take a look at the list on my last post.
Once I started reading again, I found I had more things I wanted to write about. Writing is something I enjoy a lot, and I’m glad to be out of the funk of writers’ block that I had been in for some time.
My exercise regimen is not perfect yet, but I have missed three non-consecutive days over the last two, nearly three weeks. I’m not any thinner, but I feel like I’m accomplishing something. (emotional feeling, not physical.)
The encouragement from my friend who has commented on the twitter feed has been wonderful. It has buoyed me, and helped me want to continue.
When I first started filling out the Relapse Prevention Sheet, I was dreading it. Once I got through it, I found I actually enjoyed it, and particularly enjoyed the insights I gained from it. I hope it has given you some insight into me, and perhaps into your own thought processes as well.
I’ll be posting a letter I’m writing in a few days. The letter is from me to future me. It’s really good, just not finished yet….