Dealing With Breakdowns: Coming Back From A Relapse
This just may be the most important lesson when it comes to your recovery process.
Breakdowns happen in life. You make a plan and things don’t go according to that plan. Knowing how to handle life’s breakdowns makes you a powerful human being.
It’s tough to face a relapse. Moments after having the slip you come out of the fog and realize what you’ve done. Guilt or shame is a common response. Even hopelessness or feeling jaded.
How you come back from a relapse speaks pages about your commitment to your recovery. In those moments where it’s hardest to fess up, hardest to reveal yourself to others, are you able to do so? Are you able to brush off all the voices in your head — saying what a failure you are, how dumb you are for messing up, how you’ll never make it — and try again? Are you able to take an honest look at what was missing in your defenses and make adjustments accordingly?
There’s one number that gets all the attention when it comes to recovery — the streak. It’s a proud accomplishment to say, “I’m 200 days free from porn.” How long you go without porn or masturbation speaks a lot about some of the things you’re doing right.
However, focusing only on this one number has some pitfalls as well. After having a relapse, have you ever felt discouraged that you were “starting over”?
Focusing only on your streak is like only paying attention to the score in a soccer game. It says a lot, but not very helpful for getting better. How many shots did your team make? How many saves did your goalie make? These are the kind of details that tell you where you’re strengths and weaknesses are.
Here are a few other numbers that provide valuable information about your progress:
Good Habits – How often are you engaging in your green circle activities? Are you engaging in life-giving activities? Are you keeping up with recovery activities — checking in with your AP, reading recovery resources? These are valuable things to track.
Check-Ins – How often are you honestly checking in with your AP and group members? There’s a strong correlation between these two. There’s a good chance that your relapses are related to you disconnecting from your support people.
How quickly you share with someone – How long does it take you to fess up to your mistake? Do you need a couple of days to compose yourself? Maybe you convince yourself that after you make it a week and show you’re doing good, then you can share that you slipped.
How quickly you get back on the horse – How long do you take to pick yourself back up? Does it take you a week to finally get back on track? Do you end up going off the deep end and binging for three days? Reducing the time it takes you to get back up is a huge sign of recovery progress.
Here’s a goal to work towards — 30 minutes. Within 30 minutes of having a slip, you’ve reported what happened to your AP and group members. Not only that, you bring to the conversation what new actions you can take to get back at it.
Total Victory Days – How many days were you clean throughout the past month? 26 out of 30? How does that compare to the month prior? If you’re reducing the total amount of days you’re watching porn then you’re on the way. Fantastic!
Average streak – How long does a typical streak last for you? Do you never seem to be able to make it past a week? This is valuable info! You know the exact day you need to be on high alert. Let your AP and group members know.
“I usually slip up on day 8. That’s coming up tomorrow. Check in with me if you can please, I could use some support.”
That’s a powerful request to make, and one your support team will be honored to accept.
Triggers – Keep track of what external and internal triggers set you off. If you gather enough info then you may begin to see a theme. That will provide useful insight into what you can do to do better moving forward.
You don’t have to do all of these. Pick the ones you believe would be most useful for you and keep track of them. Get a calendar and mark each day with whatever metric you will track.
Here’s an example of someone’s calendar. They tracked victory days with a “V” and non-victory days with “NV”. On NV days they also tracked their emotional state (internal triggers).
What metrics will you track? Comment below!