Staying alive

I sometimes find it challenging to feel alive.

I’ve written about feeling “dead” inside before. Today, I’m writing about staying alive, about feeling alive.

Some years ago, when I was participating in 12-step programs, I found a tool used by Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous helpful. They construct three circles, or three columns, or three categories, of behaviors. In one, I put behaviors that were simply off-limits to me, behaviors that were destructive, incompatible with my health. In one, I put behaviors that were ok, maybe, but that required caution, that were “slippery,” potentially leading me in a bad direction. And in the third category I put behaviors that were affirmatively helpful, healthy – that made me feel more alive.

I was reminded of the three circles this morning as I was reading a particularly good (non-fiction, technical) book. I was thinking, oh yeah, reading! And it occurred to me that many of the activities in which I’ve been engaged lately would be in my “middle circle,” the one where I gotta be careful, if I had such circles.

I looked back in my journal, and I found the circles I developed for myself when I did this nearly a decade ago. The circles were pretty good. Here’s what I wrote, then:

Outer circle (the one that contains “healthy” activities)

  • meditation
  • marital sex
  • family time
  • recovery work
  • reading, and
  • journaling/writing. (This was before I started this blog.)

Middle circle (ok, but caution)

  • masturbation
  • seeking behavior (porn, partners) “outside of the context of a discrete purpose and attempt to make a concrete plan
  • sex of any form, subject to negotiated honestly/limits/disclosure, outside my marriage
  • obsessional thinking about sex, either generically or with regard to a specific partner, place, or event, and
  • porn

Inner circle (abstinence required)

  • dishonesty within my family, or to myself
  • any behavior that is harmful to anyone, or in any way manipulative
  • compulsive sex of any form with anyone, self included (including seeking behavior separate from a discrete purpose)
  • using sex to medicate uncomfortable feelings
  • emotional content greater than de minimus with a partner other than my wife
  • porn at work
  • sexual activities outside of marriage that I don’t affirmatively seek

I’m not sure those circles have changed very much for me, though I suppose I have a few additions, at least for the healthy circle:

  • physical activity generally, but, in particular, explicitly fitness-related activity (I’ve gained a lot of weight recently)
  • random, or not so random, acts of kindness
  • behavior that connects me with others – phone calls, e-mails, etc.
  • meals and drinks and social activities with others
  • writing in this blog
  • writing anywhere

Do you have other suggestions for me? I suspect I’ll be adding to this list in the coming days, as I struggle to find ways to make my cock feel alive. All help welcome. 😉

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