“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren
First you need to know what a slip is. The most successful recovering addicts are those who, in the very beginning of their recovery process, establish their bottom lines. Your bottom line is what defines sobriety for you. In other words, you must draw the line on the behaviors that you will no longer participate in, and thus, all recovering addicts do not share a common bottom line. To help stay in recovery and maintain accountability in your marriage, you should report a slip to your partner face-to-face within 24 hours.
Establishing these bottom lines helps you commit to specific behaviors in recovery. It will help you see progress and become accountable to your recovery. Recovery is a progressive journey and, as such, your bottom lines will change as you progress. At first they will probably be about specific behaviors. Later on, they may involve behaviors that are harder to measure, such as dealing with thoughts that linger longer than three seconds, lusting, lying, procrastinating, being able to say no, and so on.
As previously stated, a slip should be reported to your partner face-to-face within 24 hours. As you report you may notice that it is difficult to be clear about what has happened. The details may scare you because you may convince yourself that if your partner knew what you actually did, they would not love you and may even reject you. So you might end up being really vague. This happens because of being overwhelmed by toxic shame brought on by acting-out behaviors. Healthy shame helps us know we are not perfect. Unhealthy or toxic shame is self-condemning and slows or even stops the recovery process.
As you make your way through recovery, it will be crucial to understand the difference between the two. Healthy shame says what I did was not good; [toxic] shame says I am no good. But in order to learn how to manage toxic shame, you need to speak the truth. You need to be specific about the following details of your slip and report to your partner: what, when, who, where, and why.
What: The first thing you report is which bottom line you crossed and how many times you crossed it.
When: The next thing you need to report is when it happened. This is beneficial because it will help you understand when you’re most vulnerable to crossing your bottom lines. This way you can commit to brainstorm with those supporting you new ways to be prepared for those vulnerable times and even plan ahead for them.
Who: You need to be honest about who was involved in crossing the bottom line with you, regardless of whether you interacted with them online or in person. You also need to be honest about the length of time you interacted with them.
Where: The next thing you need to report is where the slip happened. This includes any technology used to act-out during the slip, such as a computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. and where those devices were used. Information like this is useful because it can help you manage the environment around you to make sure it is supportive of your recovery. There are certain things you can learn to stay away from to ensure you don’t slip, much like an alcoholic who has to stay away from a bar or who makes sure there isn’t alcohol on the premises.
Why: The next thing you need to report is why you slipped. Addiction is related to pain we’ve experienced and continue to experience. Addictions are unhealthy ways to sooth pain. A slip is really a form of mismanaging your pain in one or more of the following areas: physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, and relational. Understanding why you’ve mismanaged your pain and recognizing the pain you were experiencing is crucial for long-term healing.
Start today by listing specific behaviors that will define your sobriety—your bottom lines. Share this list with a therapist and/or group where appropriate. Just as in making New Year’s resolutions, when you share your resolve with another, you are more likely to stay committed.
Ready to learn more about what you can do to quit porn today? Download our free ebook, The First Step: Taking the First Step Toward Recovery.