How Shall We Escape?

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JerryTX

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@Phineas 808 Haven't been on regularly but congrats on becoming a moderator/staff at RN. Your insights/approach/encouragement and guidance has been and will be extremely helpful to others...I know it has been for me!! GOD Bless you brother!
 

Phineas 808

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Enjoying a cloudy, breezy and rainy morning here where I'm at.

Core Question #5. Are you projecting your future self?

I am, though depending on the issue or what I'm aiming for, there's a different degree of, what should I call it, resistance? Maybe there's an element of unbelief? Do I believe that I deserve a better life? Do I believe that I deserve all toward what I'm aiming, hoping and working for? Is there a degree of self-sabotage taking place?

This may be a weird example, but something as simple as throwing a pair of balled up socks into the hamper I've noticed over the years that a part of me sabotages such an easy shot, almost like I don't let myself make it... When I however take a deep breath, clear my mind, perhaps see myself making the shot, I make it. This is a microcosm of perhaps my overall life, lol... throwing dirty socks into a hamper, lol... Seriously, though, what is it that would take out my own kneecap before I succeed or make it in life?

My practice is to use visualization before bed to either see myself succeeding toward my ultimate goals of being a minister, or my proximate goals of succeeding in my more immediate business ventures. Trouble is, I soon fall asleep... (so if you're looking for ways to fall asleep fast... 🤷‍♂️). This kind of practice works best if you can put intention behind it. This kind of practice preceded obtaining what was to be a 22 year carreer, so... Recently, I'm seeing results along the business lines...

Again, projecting myself into or as the person who does not use porn or masturbates, I'm doing well. This I truly feel is the 'ticket' for me now. To no longer see myself as struggling, as trying, as quitting- or attempting to quit, to no longer see myself as hoplessly uncured, 'still battling this after all these years', etc..., but to see myself as free, as quit, as recovered, not just in terms of visualization, but in equipoise, or attitude of heart, as belief. And I truly feel it, truly believe it. This must be, even if- God forbid- there were a lapse... Nonetheless, to believe it as true of me now, and if the brain needs to catch up, so be it.

Special Question #24. How are childhood and teenage traumas being healed through mindfulness?

This was quite uncanny to randomly get this question this morning. Now these are questions I've created, so that's why they may point back to specific things...

Just last night I suggested a show to my wife we could watch together. Based on previews, it looked like good acting, good drama, a good story line, and good cinematography. Mind you, there was nothing pornographic, no nudity was portrayed, nothing along those lines- visually. But there were elements in the show, and where the story was going (unlike anything in the previews of course) which had strong reminders for me of a teenage trauma that I endured as a runaway.

Earlier that day I was joking with my family about someone being 'triggered' or a 'trigger-word'- not that I don't take those seriously of course, and I understand their role in addiction- but last night I can say that I was triggered, something that was beyond being cued, which is more toward getting us to act on our habit. I had a physiological response, not sexual, but shortness of breath and a heigthened sense of anxiety- which I don't normally feel. Of course we quit watching the show...

To answer my question, I'm wondering if perhapse I should've watched it? I would have to do it alone, get a glass of water, watch it (again, no scenes of nudity), and just breathe through it as a kind of exposure therapy? The moment has passed, so probably won't watch it. But that episode brings to surface this need to heal that past trauma, which became a major driver of my own addiction back in the day. To think, that something which occurred over 40 years ago can still affect me now is incredible.

I am a man who's still healing, still broken, but no longer a child, no longer a teenager, no longer a victim.
I am whole, healed, complete, loved, strong, undergirded by an everlasting mercy, given infinite grace, chosen and redeemed.

I am enjoying the fresh air of freedom, breathing the wide and limitless expanse, no longer confined by a set of behaviors or mentalities.

I'm free! I celebrate my freedom. I count each moment as precious, not taking for granted that this thing is no longer always on my mind.

I will fight to preserve this, I will do whatever is necessary to put my health and wellness first and foremost. If a thing hinders my wholeness and new found freedom, I drop it, I stand on a warfooting toward that thing, whatever it may be.

I am compassionate toward myself. I am recovered, and my brain just has to catch up.
 
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Blondie

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Hey @Phineas 808, great piece.

That's interesting about watching that show and having that kind of "flashback" experience. Maybe it would help you to face that perhaps? I know for me, a big part of me facing my childhood trauma is going back to school and facing those demons on a daily basis. At one moment it can be mind-blowing and at the next, cathartic! So much of my "problems" arise from that trauma from years ago, and yes, it's amazing how something can instantly bring it back - the tightness of my chest, my cognitive abilities shutting down, and yes, sometimes even the ability to speak - all symptoms of trauma.

I always say it's like that scene in Batman Begins, where Bruce Wayne goes back to the Batcave to face his worst childhood fear, bats! To move beyond our childhood fear we must become one with it, to shake hands with it if you will. To realize we were once innocent children whom our environment did wrong, not because we were inherently flawed, but because the world is flawed, and now we can see the truth for what it is. Our childhood flaw was that we thought our whole world revolved around us (ego-centered), and thus, if there was anything wrong with it, there must be something wrong with us.

But now we know, now we know...

Let us all face our bats in our own Batcave!Batcave.jpeg
 
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Phineas 808

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Thank you, @Blondie.

The cave, a hole in the ground... You don't know how close this metaphor is to the events of that unforunate evening. Of course I won't go into details, or say 'what' it was... but, I will say that I was living on the streets as a runaway teenager, and was literally sleeping in a hole dug in my schoolmate's backyard....

Back in 2006 there was some comparisons made which radically gave me an understanding of those times while I read certain passages in scripture. But, my experience began that night with a kind of false-birth, emerging from that hole in the ground- a 'false-mother', a false-father... Forgive my vagueness (of necessity), but seeing how those events shaped a false-identity helped to deconstruct or heal from that into a new identity, albeit, taking years...

This was emtional to write, and I had no intention of taking my post in that direction, but isn't that what journaling is for?
 

TakeActionNow

Respected Member
@Phineas 808 , I can feel some sadness in your words.
I can only say to you is please don't let your past hold you back!
Ironically, bringing up our past over and over is the only way to keep those experiences alive.
There is only so much mental space in our daily life we can carry with us. Let it be the joyful new, not the dreadful old, that we collect and carry with us.
Only when we let go of the old can we pick up and carry the new.

Imagine yourself walking on a straight footpath surrounded by green trees on a sunny day.
This is the path I run frequently on.
This path I often tell myself as my future: bright, straight, green and attractive.
Do we look back when we run? Never.
Nor should you.
Do find the path you would be happy to travel on.

There is happiness in letting go.
There is happiness in leaving the past behind.
There is happiness in looking forward to the future.
There is happiness in accepting yourself just the way you are.

Take good care of yourself!
 

Phineas 808

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Thank you, TakeAction.

Of course I wouldn't want to live there in the past, nor do I.

I'm a forward looking person, and firmly believe that the past no longer exists. However, certain traumas need to be worked through over multiple years, typically to the degree one grows in self-knowledge.

In fact, as a follow up to what I posted above concerning being 'triggered' toward my past trauma:

I concluded that no further action need be taken, as it was something that arose in the moment- the cue- the item in the movie or show- the resultant physiological response- and kind of having to sit with that feeling for a while without reacting to it- that was the mindful healing as regards that past trauma, as per my question.

So, it is what it is. There is no sadness, no regret, only now and what is. That is enough.
 

Phineas 808

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Home alone this morning, as the wife and daughter attended a birthday party clear across the state. They were to return last night, but instead stayed over. This gave me some nice alone time. It was good.

Core Question #4. How are deeper needs being fulfilled?

The answers to this question are important, but before that I wish to answer according to the new paradigm (no-will power approach): it's okay that, at least in the moment, if deeper needs are not being fulfilled. It's okay to sit with loneliness, should that arise, or feelings of rejection, feelings of abandonment, or the needs for affection, or to feel safe or alright.

These feelings will arise, especially until that they can be naturally addressed in further healing and progress. But it's okay. The so called H.A.L.T. acronym, well, it's okay to be hungry (neglected), angry (disappointed), lonely (lack of connection/intimacy), or tired (exhausted from the stress of trying to 'fix' things). Actually learning to sit with these feelings when they arise, without having to fix them, reject them, fight against or resist them, to just be with them- even accepting of them- is how we build resilience and rise above our own brokenness.

But to answer... Of course spirituality comes in to play here, as it has for a while now. However this may be, it still needs to be established that when certain needs arise, or if I'm particularly thirsty for female beauty in a needy way, or am gravitating toward certain behaviors based on a deeper emotional need, to turn to the Lord and drink (prayer, worship, tongues).

Of course, too, human connection (I sound like an alien typing that out, lol...), is a part of that. Connecting on a deeper emotional plane with my wife- challenging, as communication is not our strong suit. So, to work on that will enable things to become more intimate between us, as due to the inability to communicate I've shut her out to more surface level interactions. But this has only retarded the growth we need to have as a couple. But I am challenging myself. I'm speaking out more when she's wrong as to an assumption about me, as a vague example. This will also include connecting with my daughter more, too. We've been through a lot, and things are not where they once were, and it's a good thing.

Special Question #22. During your last sexual encounter, did you rely on fantasy or p-memory to stay engaged?

When my wife and I do make love, which at this point is 1 or 2x a month, usually Ol' Willy is engaged. But sometimes I deal with performance anxiety (not PIED), and he gets all Limp Bizkit. I will say that the last time, yes, I did conjur up images in my mind out of fear of going limp.

I've discussed this topic previously, and obviously it's a concern of mine as it's one of my special questions. But I do see it (for me) as a lesser of two evils, if the need is perceived: that I'd rather 'complete the mission', which is to please her first, before I 'get mine', and have that physiological, emotional and spiritual connection than to fail in the moment. This, I admit, is a fear or anxiety that I need to let go of in the moment, come success or failure. This is only a semi-often concern, and if we make love more often, I'll have more opportunities to just be in the moment. I am, however, addressing this, too, by practicing just the touch, the sight (if it's not too dark), smells, sounds, etc, the reality of it, and fantasized images or memories be damned. This I feel is becoming better on my part, but progress is still needed here.

As indicated above, the wife and daughter were out for the night. I sat in my backyard and enjoyed the night air, had a couple of drinks and a cigar, and quite enjoyed myself. Overnighters have historically been a time of great anxiety, obsessing, acting out, and lack of sleep, going back and forth with whatever... But, in this newer paradigm, thoughts did come up, there were things that I would've judged myself for, and the whole obsessive (not unlike OCD) compulsive behaviors would've emerged, the ritual would've begun. In radical acceptance, however, I didn't place too much emotion, focus, or try to fix nor fight these things, but just let them be- with the understanding as to why they were there (though this may not always be known, and that's okay).

And so, last night passed without episode- but if it did occur- that would've been okay, too. Of course I didn't want to lapse, and I didn't, but in this newer paradigm, it's not a show stopper for me. I will and am healing, a better and better man, one who's in control of himself, and no longer affixed to a decades old 'problem'.

I'll end with this imagery: the Romans used to chain a corpse to a living prisoner as a way of slowly and torturously killing him. The idea is that, no matter where you go, what you do, your mortality, your fate, is unavoidable, inescapable (not to mention the physical struggle of carrying around 'dead weight'). Eventually the prisoner gives up hope, and dies. The old paradigm (will power) is to fight, to pull at the chains, to plan, to fix, and to struggle. The new paradigm (no will power) is to say (this will sound all Matrix), "You know what? There is no chain!" And in living that, being that, behold, the illusory thing falls away, and you are free from death, free from imprisonment. You are free!
 
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Phineas 808

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Hi, All.

It's been well over a year since I last posted in this journal. In transitioning from an 'old paradigm' way of thinking about these unwanted (sometimes wanted) behaviors, it became necessary for me to not talk about them- even though in some form or other- these concerns are a daily consideration.

The question, too, of how to journal here is important. How can I do so and truly help myself? How can I do so as a moderator on RN, and be truly helpful to others? I think I can do both. My series of questions, designed per my 'new paradigm' are still helpful.

I've gone back and forth with counting days and not counting days, and currently I've ceased counting days altogether. I do keep a hard journal which helps me navigate my journey.

To the curious, whether sincere or otherwise, these posts will not satisfy as to outward questions of behavior as such, but I hope to rather capture the inward states and the health of the inner-man.

I am digging deeper into spirituality and a need for heart-repentance as the way forward, without of course legalism or self-condemnation. While practicing 'new-paradigm' ways of thinking, it is the spiritual way of 'radical-grace' and walking in the Spirit that are of paramount importance.

Core Question #6. Are you changing unwanted behaviors with willpower or no-willpower?

The question can be approached from different angles.

'You' is the problem (lol), which is to say, does ego change anything? Even if I could boast of lengthy streaks, isn't it 'I' that's boasting? Or, if there's failure, it's again 'I' that's wallowing in self-pity. Either way, 'I' or the I-thought keeps the behaviors alive. Remove the ego-self, and there's no problem. This is done (for those who believe) through Christ on the cross, Who removed, put to death, our 'I', and now we live- yet-not-I, but Christ lives in us (Ga 2:20). Again, there're meditation practices, too, that awaken one from the ego-self.

Again, our behaviors, our addiction (that is our relationship to them) is constantly changing. Nothing is ever static. Even as old worn-out patterns emerge, we have a different view of it now then we did when we first began our recovery journey. Will-power is ego, and it tends to keep these old patterns alive, and hence, no change is seen. This question is really about my approach, and I'm currently not trying to use will-power as such. Rather, as things arise, if I react or don't react is the question. Whenever I do try and change something, plan something, or exert will-power, it's only temporary change at best. Being as non-judgmental of myself as possible, and let things go when they arise is yielding the best results for me.

Special Question #4. What hobby have you practiced lately?

I draw, paint, write poetry, and play guitar. Yet none of these things are being practiced- which means I'm still holding myself from these things- why? Do I not feel worthy to practice them? I've been thinking about doing something of these lately, and to do them on Sundays. So, I challenge myself (?) to do one of these today, lol...

I am learning languages, which is challenging and rewarding. I suppose this can fall under 'hobby', so I'll take that as a win.

The importance of this question is in being holistically sound in my life, without being 'stuck' somewhere. This clearly needs work. I will 'find the poetry' inside myself again.
 
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Phineas 808

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And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. - Acts 28:5.

You know what that snake is and its poison, but it is nothing compared to the fire you're fueling.

The fiery law is no match for the law of fire.

In lieu of perceived failure, setbacks or lapses- the fire doesn't have to go out, unless you give too much importance to the snake and its venom.

By faith and in Holy Ghost fire, shake off the venomous beast into the fire you're seeking to fuel. Don't let shame or 'all-or-nothing' thinking rob you of the personal revival you seek to have in your heart.
 
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Blondie

Respected Member
Hey @Phineas 808, I saw that you were back recently, but wasn't exactly sure what to say. Is one supposed to say "Great to see you here again!" but that didn't sound right. Not because it isn't good to see you, because it is, but, well were still here, or at least speaking for myself, I'm still here. I was hoping to see you on the other side of the bars. As I'm sure you probably noticed, I didn't quite make it escaping Alcatraz, but I did gave it my best swim, but the damn guards got me almost two years out, I mean, two miles out. However, I did give it me best shot at the time, which is all we can really do isn't it? But it is good to see you here again, and I do hope all is well with you.

As always, your friend, Blondie.

This Time.jpg
 
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Phineas 808

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Thank you, Blondie, for your well wishing.

Of course I'm always interested in how well you and others are doing. I don't follow or track everyone (though I am watchful over the goings on), there are certain folk that I particularly follow their journeys, and you're one of them, brother.

I know you're referencing a Clint Eastwood movie, and applying it to your experiences- I get that. But I have to disagree with the whole premise.

Yes, I know you were almost 2 years abstinent from P, PMO and I've been following your experiences before and after. But I know the thinking, having been there many times myself. Just before you're about to hit some goal, be it 90 days, a month, or 2 years, then BAM! there's a painful lapse.

But it isn't that you nor I are behind bars, or that we're trying to swim out in shark infested waters away from Alcatraz as prison guards are bearing down on us.

Not to sound like The Matrix movie, but,

There are no bars, there is no prison, and we haven't failed to escape the addiction. It may even be debatable whether there is even an addiction.

Yes, I know that there was a habit established and that when the habit becomes overly depended on, it's classified as an addiction.

But really, when the smoke clears, and we quit obsessing- even if for a moment, we have or come back down to a baseline equanimity. This baseline is the truer story of us- that we are free, that there is no prison. When we explore this fact as an idea, as an inspiration, an 'aha moment', we begin to unravel the false confines we've created.

Good to see you, too!
 

Blondie

Respected Member
Yes I get what you're saying. I think some of our philosophies about recovery are probably different, and that's alright, to each their own. But I was referring to myself in this analogy, and I didn't mean to equate you with me necessarily, or that you were still "stuck" on the Rock. It was mostly in regards to myself and how I see things (or can see things), and somewhat of a joke too. Apologies if I didn't make that clear enough.​
All the best​
Blondie​
 
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Phineas 808

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No worries, @Blondie. I knew all this already in your post, but after weighing a response, I still had to say what I did- not necessarily to contradict you, nor to even engage in a 'back-and-forth' about it, as I know we each have our different approaches to this thing. But I felt the importance of making the point.

To be true to principle, particularly in one's own journal, is paramount.
 

Phineas 808

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Reflecting on my journey, where it is today, I find that two major issues that were present when I first began this journal in November of 2020 are today somewhat of a concern:

Saying goodbye to an old friendship; and social media use:

For the friendship, 4 years later, it's still the same friend I'm saying goodbye to- haven't spoken yet this year- but it's still something that is working itself out. The pain is still there, but not as deep or pervasive as before.

For the social media, 4 years ago I had deleted Pinterest, and subdued my use of Instagram. But for 2 years now, the struggle has been with TikTok. This has had it's back-and-forth, but applying what I already know about habit change has been of immense help.

Core Question #5. Are you projecting your future self?

This is something I struggle with back-and-forth, imaging or visualizing who I am and what I am to become. But this is so important! We must constantly be in a state of being and becoming. We have a more perfect version of ourselves in mind, an image, an idea, and we have what we are today. Speaking of the 'better version' of ourselves, we're to not only aim for that in some indeterminant future, but we're to be that today, insofar as is possible.

This is a paradox of sorts, because we're to compassionately accept ourselves, flaws and all, failures (as perceived) and all, while at the same time believing that we're becoming something, transcending ourselves to be that truer version of which we may now be but a shadow.

So, am I? I try each night as I go to sleep, and more often sleep overtakes me before a good visualization session occurs. And, my vision is somewhat opaque, as it appears. But working on making that clearer and clearer, more and more vivid of who I want to, and am to, be.

Special Question #28. Is it a sin-issue (moral), or an addiction issue (biological/behavioral/habitual)?

In my own life, I find it to be both. In 1990-91, I overcame lust and masturbation solely as a moral issue- but just not by moralizing it to myself (I had to learn grace versus law), but by having faith in what occurred for me on the cross. I had to change what I thought about, and recognize what 'triggered' the law-sin-dynamic.

Again, coming out of dating and into marriage (1993-and on) I developed this addiction to P, PMO and MO, which used to involve cruising for prostitutes, etc... (ended in 1994, and p-arcades in 2003). This time I learned about the behavioral and biological issues behind addiction, first through the 'disease-model' of addiction, before learning of a better way years later.

I think for me this issue is holistic, it involves the whole person (and not just Ol' Willy). It's first spiritual, then moral, and then psychological and physical. I won't get into all that now (unless clarification is requested), But as is the problem, so is the solution > only a holistic approach will help.

So, just as we hear talk about a 'whole of government approach', we need here a 'whole person' approach, spirit-soul-and body. Knowing yourself is key to overcoming this, and not just approaching yourself or this thing piecemeal will suffice.
 
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