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Acting Out

ChanceAtLife35 posted 2/12/2021 08:53 AM

The other night in my meeting that i was asked to lead i wanted to discuss the concept of acting out and wanted to know what others do to prevent from doing it. The night before i received some really upsetting news and i immediately had an emotional breakdown and all the negative thoughts i could possibly think of started flooding my brain. All i could think of was how hard i tried and how i am not good at anything. My reaction was worse than it should be and my thoughts were extremely irrational. But in those moments i felt myself go to that place where i was afraid i would act out. My BS was sitting next to me when this was happening and what she did, she really didn't have to do. She helped me calm down and talked to me about how i needed to process why my reaction was not going to help me the next time i attempt to fix what had happened She walked me through and series of questions to help me understand what happened and what i can do different going forward.

I began to think, what if she wasn't here when i got the news? Would i have acted out? It wasn't her responsibility to help me get my shit back in place. My emotions are very unstable along with my thought patterns. I can be impulsive the second i feel like i am cornered or want to escape my feelings. I know this was a contributing factor that led to my affairs. I was taught to bottle my feelings up or deal with by distracting with anything and later anyone to help not face myself or confront my feelings. After our conversation, i calmed down and sat with every word i said. The next night at my meeting, i asked the question. Each person that shared said there is no magic people or for sure way to prevent acting out. Most said keep in touch with safe people, seek a higher power, or simple run like hell from whoever or whatever.

What keeps me from acting out? I picture it, and when i see would could be the possible result, i choose me in the end. What i didn't before, i picture how it would affect my BS and DD/DS. I ask myself what am i getting out of this, is whatever i am acting out with the real solution to my problem. If it's too much, i reach out to safe people. I have always had safe people in my life, i just never chose to connect or build healthy relationships with them. I know why thankfully and i am glad i am in a better place. I still struggle daily especially with being emotionally supportive, but i see so many things now. It took so much for me to get here. I am sorry the one i hurt the most had to be dragged into and take on everything i could resolve myself. No one can ever give me what i really need to build me up and heal any wound i have.

JoshQ posted 2/12/2021 09:33 AM

I can completely relate. I get to that bad place so easily. Listening to sad music can bring me there. Bad news can be such a quick trigger for me. I'm slowly learning to take control of my brain, but we definitely need someone we can fall back on. I texted my best friend just last night to talk me out of acting out and it felt nice to be able to rely on someone.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 2/12/2021 13:26 PM

@JoshQ, thanks for sharing your experience and i am happy for you that your best friend was there in those moments. I am so with you on the sad music. I actually get teased for listening to that type of music. From what i have heard "sappy, heartbreak, and down and out" music. I find that it actually helps me tap into my emotions that i can't seem to identify and process. So question to you JoshQ, if your best friend was not there for you in those moments, what would you have done to help yourself?

I find it extremely important in whatever recovery process you are going through, to have support, or healthy coping mechanisms to turn to in order to avoid any form of harm. My acting out vice is having impulsive sex. I used sex to fill so many voids and holes that had i gained the tools and knowledge before could have prevent using my body in dangerous ways to cope with pain, shame, and what's going on in my head.

Sorry for any typos in my initial post.

JBWD posted 2/12/2021 18:06 PM

Most said keep in touch with safe people, seek a higher power, or simple run like hell from whoever or whatever.

Have you completed the steps yet? My experience with 5th Step provided an amazing experience and perspective that was reinforced by the guide book that I’m using.

The summary portion of 5th Step asked me to consider the sense of inclusion I felt after sharing my moral inventory. It’s yet ANOTHER amazing facet of how well crafted the steps are.

As I see it, the Steps take us increasingly outward- 1st, recognizing our crisis of self, then understanding the journey to that crisis. As we become increasingly open minded and accepting of our flaws, we begin to fear the discovery OF those flaws less and less. As I became more open (not necessarily VOCAL, but open) about those shortcomings, the easier it is to recognize that everyone has shortcomings.

So I ask only because the inputs of your fellow travelers provides lots of good coping tools, but for me a great first step is accepting that it’s happening.

As one of my group leaders stated it, “The program provides a wonderful venue to disprove any one person’s belief that they are terminally unique.”

JBWD posted 2/12/2021 18:13 PM

An additional point-
I have written a lot lately about “sensation seeking” among WS- I noticed that as I healed more and more, I would have to purposely PLACE myself in a place to few really bad. But there were lots of times that I would do that. To include keeping the sad train rolling especially with emotionally charged music.

I learned that as I was emotionally stunted, I couldn’t really differentiate between positive and negative emotions- And so the only way I could validate those emotions was if they were intense. And that place of familiarity meant that I would return myself to it rather than examine or reassess my feelings. It was easier to do the one thing I knew than devote thought or energy to doing something different.

I have since learned to find value in days of equanimity- Where the absence of dizzying highs and lows doesn’t mean I’m not living- But reinforces that I’m living in accordance with my values.

Quiet is not something to fear.

sisoon posted 2/13/2021 12:40 PM

Are you in IC? Are you working on changing your self-talk?

I remember hearing the self-talk you shared, and I remember feeling beyond awful. I can understand wanting to shut the self-talk up and doing it in unhealthy ways.

I'm posting to say that you can change your self-talk. It's not easy, but it's very much worthwhile.

Chaos posted 2/13/2021 12:47 PM

Oversimplified - the answer is simple:

Replace Bad with Good (self talk in this case but anything in reality)

Now while and answer is easy - the execution is hard. To takes hard work, lots of practice and it very easy to back slide.

Eventually it will become your norm. But that takes time and practice and work.

It is worth it. I promise.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 2/13/2021 19:14 PM

@JBWD,
I am currently on the 8th step which I have been on standstill for 6 months because I am not equipped expressively or psychologically for it yet. Plus, I still have work to do with myself and in support to my BS. I use the book A Gentle Path through the Twelve Steps by Dr. Patrick Carnes to guide me too. Step 4/5 was very excruciating, but with the direction and support of my sponsor it allowed me to accept/admit that I am not alone in this and there is nothing “wrong” with only me. I wasn’t aware of what you meant by the “crisis of self,” so I looked it up. I now understand and can identify this concept and how working the steps will help me on my journey to a full recovery and reach sobriety. I do make any effort that I can to engage and be present with others who have completed the steps the tools they gained to reach sobriety from all of their addictions.
“Sensation thinking...”- I actually had to look this up. I can see how this type of thinking can lead to my worst behaviors whether it be driving recklessly, seeking people for sex or attention, listening to music too stimulate my mood and allow me to not feel any negative emotions to name a few. I find myself feeling trapped with my emotions daily and it feels very frustrating because I know they are trying to tell me something. My emotions are extremely stunted to where I can come off cold or heartless when others express their hurt towards me. Honestly, I hate it and in the moment I feel like I am straining to get the emotions to come out. “Equanimity...” – I had to look this one up as well. I am finally tapping into this thankfully especially through meditation. I downloaded the app AURA to meditate daily. It truly helps me especially in moments of somberness. Thank you for sharing your insight and experiences with me, I can practice these methods daily.

@Sisoon,
I had to stop IC in December, but thankfully the Psychologist that I was seeing was out of network and I couldn’t afford the $125/H rate, but she offered me a resolution to help because she strongly felt it was significant that she keeps seeing me as a patient. I am saying this to help anyone that may run into this, she said to work with my Health Care Provider to see me in network as a single case patient. I contacted them and put in a request and I was approved to see her for a year at no cost to me and it would ensure that it does not affect her pay whatsoever. I found this out yesterday so we will talk next week to move forward to continue counseling. She is the only Psychologist who has helped me the most so I am very grateful for her support and guidance. Yes, I am definitely working on my self-talk because the majority of the time is negative and irrational. It’s extremely hard, but I do see progress. It helps not to repeat certain memories and thoughts to myself that can lead me to the negative self-talk. Not listen to sad music or be alone or detach myself from my family and people close to me helps me prevent negative self-talk too.
I believe that you and @ Chaos are telling me the best thing to do. I put myself down so much to the point to where sometimes I don’t even want to live and become so disengaged and dissociated from life. I indeed appreciate all of point of views here. Stay safe and warm wherever you are.

foreverlabeled posted 2/15/2021 17:14 PM

But in those moments i felt myself go to that place where i was afraid i would act out.
I'm curious to know what your definition of acting out is. In addition, I would be interested in understanding what your thoughts were and knee jerk emotion. Also would you be open to sharing what the unpleasant news was?

I'm trying to get a bigger picture as to what set this in motion. Like, does every slight take you here.. Was it something in particular.. Or is it certain things that trigger a specific emotion that send you spiraling?

And beyond that, how have you coped in the days that have passed since? Doing okay?

ChanceAtLife35 posted 2/15/2021 22:17 PM

Hi FL, these are really good questions and i will break the answers down to help you understand what i think and feel in those moments. There are many things that i do that fall under acting out. The worst for me before would be to call the AP. The times that i did, she would answer the phone even though i called anonymously and answer because she knew it was me. She would act like there was never an A. Thankfully, and it took a lot of emotional work and recovery to get here, i don't reach out to the AP or anyone who is toxic from my past. Acting out now, starts off just like with the recent experience, is with my thoughts of thinking i am not good enough and I can't do anything right. I start to think of self-harm ideations, or i want to shut down and sleep it away. Just give up on myself and my life.

I do have a habit of acting out when i am emotionally unsettled or feeling very anxious and irritable by lashing out at my family, avoiding speaking or engaging in any way even with people i work with and i stop talking to my family. I turn to sleeping too. The unpleasant experience was that i had studied almost a month for an exam to obtain a certification, and i failed it. This as my second attempt. 2 days before i felt in my gut i wasn't prepared and i looked at the calendar to reschedule it. However, since i am prone to impulsive and irrational decisions, i reached out to my sponsor for advice on what to do. He told me to go ahead with taking the exam. I felt good after the exam and even felt i finally passed. I told my BS that i had discussed with my sponsor about rescheduling, and she felt i shouldn't have leaned on him to be responsible for such an important decision like this not knowing what i had done up until the exam. He can be supportive, but it's not his responsibility to help me figure these things.

Since that night, i have really been struggling. And today was the start of a new 15 week course to get another certification that is required to go along with the current one i am now having to study for again to to take the exam again. Today, despite it being a snow day in Texas and no work for two days, i have been experiencing small panic attacks off an on and just wanting to sleep the day away. I honestly feel depressed. Doesn't help that i have gained 20 pounds in the last years so i feel uncomfortable in my body and feel very insecure. I am grateful, that i don't want to seek people, but it doesn't help that i am acting out with food, sleep, and isolation. I have been meditating and practicing positive self talk and engaging more with my family here too to help.

Things that trigger me is a problem i have when i exert too much of my energy on too many things at one time. I struggle with wanting to control everything and things having to be done a certain way at a certain time. Also i am triggered when i struggle with active listening with my BS in conversations whether it be about our recovery or any small thing. I miss my family too, so i feel guilt and it triggers emotions that i am letting them down and i think they are upset with me. I am so hard on myself. It's so important that i see things realistically because in my mind a paint a painful picture of something worse every time. I am glad i was able to avoid diving completely into that head space and understand that my situation could be way worse. I am going to be okay, and this is temporary. I really appreciate you checking on me.

sisoon posted 2/16/2021 12:12 PM

I wish I had picked up on 'impulsive' earlier....

Have you seen a good psychiatrist? Some of your posts describe a person who may be ADHD, and there are good treatments for that.

I emphasize psychiatrist - MD with wide and deep knowledge of the pharmacoepia. If you're ADHD, you will be amazed in many positive ways at the effects of the right treatment.

gmc94 posted 2/16/2021 15:25 PM


Hey CAL - PLEASE take this with a grain of salt, as I may be projecting here bc my DD had an ADD/ADHD with impulsivity Dx for years and it was only after a suicide attempt that she received a proper Dx.

So - I agree with Sisoon... but I would also ask about possible borderline Dx.

DD & I both had a hunch about BPD (we could just look at the list from Dr. Google and she met 8 or 9 out of 9 criteria), but her (then) therapist (not psychiatrist) dismissed it. The thing is, that now that she's had a proper Dx, her meds have changed, and she's now with an IC group that specializes in BDP and does DBT (lots of acronyms) and is making solid (albeit slow) progress (I suspect her addiction is probably a factor on this front). I also believe having an accurate Dx has really helped her self esteem, and the more she learns to recognize & can say "this is my BPD talking", the more able she is to calm in the "storms" and the better choices she makes (or even just learning from crummy choices). I think there was something about the Dx that has helped her be less critical/judgmental of herself.

I'm no therapist or MD, but just sharing me experience. My trauma IC hates the BPD Dx bc she believes it is rarely made in a gender neutral manner, in that men seem to usually get a NPD Dx, while women get the BPD. While I agree my IC has a solid point on that front, there comes a time when one wants to focus on healing vs the broader (or political) aspects of a particular Dx.

Again, please take with a big grain of salt... ((CAL))

ChanceAtLife35 posted 2/18/2021 19:20 PM

@sisoon, I did see a psychiatrist but it was one time when i attempted to harm myself. The guy walked in the room and asked me what literally seemed like a few questions, and he was like "Okay, i am going to prescribe you this and this." I was like holy crap, that's it?." I was not in my right mind and this was over a year ago. I couldn't go through with taking meds even though i was quick to take anything to fix anything i felt was "wrong with me". I only stopped because my BS caught me taking sleep aids and i did accept meds for depression from my PCP after D-Day because i was desperate to fix what "was wrong with me." When i was in the second grade, my teacher called my Mom and felt that i should seek help for ADD or ADHD as because i was very active in class and couldn't sit still. Of course, my Mother blasted through the phone "There is nothing wrong with child!!" and hung up the phone.

@GMC94, It appears you confirmed what i already know. I was diagnosed with BPD back in October of last year. I knew something was not okay with me mentally and i kept asking therapists after therapists until the counselor i was seeing at that time had me do some tests and diagnosed me with it. In fact, my BS felt i had it too. I even read a book about it, "I Hate You Don't Leave me!" before this happened. The psychologist i am seeing is aware but doesn't want to focus on the label, and wants to utilize coping methods and techniques to help me heal me trauma and to help me gain tools to identify and process my feelings. I can only speak for myself, but this is the most painful mental condition to live with. Not to discount others, but i feel i am fighting with my thoughts and feelings every day. It's like i care about myself one minute, and the next second i want to -fill in the blank- I know pairing medication with therapy helps, but i want to continue working in depth with the psychologist i am seeing now to focus on trauma. I don't want the meds to cover up my symptoms and dig into the root of my pain.

I have done quite a bit of research on BPD and i won't let it define me or blame anything negative that i go through on it. I had a habit of blaming everything on my anxiety, depression, and blah, blah, blah, but it took my BS and Psychologist to turn it around and look at me.

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