Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"S" is for Slips: A-Z Challenge

S is for Slips

“What he did is called a slip.”

“No, what he did is called a relapse.”

The discussion about what my husband, Devin, had done three years ago was open for debate.  Thanks to me.

I had no support system so I relied on a forum for partners of sex addicts.  It sounds good in theory, but in reality, it turned out to be a place where there was less healing and more bashing the addict.  (Maybe one day I’ll be able to host a forum focused on healing for the partner, you never know.)

The people on the forum were hell bent on figuring out if my husband had a slip or a relapse.  I wanted to know how to survive the emotional turmoil I felt.  I could care less what it was supposed to be labeled.  More times than not in that debate, I was advised to leave him.  They were convinced Devin would never get nor stay sober.

I’m glad they were wrong.

So, what is the difference between and slip and a relapse?  How do you recover when it happens?

Here’s what I eventually learned: 

Bing!
Much like an alcoholic, it’s what happens after that first return to their addiction (drink, porn, masturbation) is over.   If they realize they’ve made a mistake and immediately quit the behavior, it’s a slip.  When the slip leads into a downward spiral of their addiction, it’s a relapse.  After all, it’s progress, not perfection we’re all striving for here.

I had to learn that his slip was not a reflection of me.  That was truly hard to do when this addiction is so damn personal.  It was difficult not to feel inadequate when I discovered he looked at porn. 

My recovery work dissolved into millions of pieces because it was never built on a firm foundation.  It was built on sand rather than stone and easily eroded at the thought of not being “enough” of a woman for him. 

Once I figured out I was not to blame and had no control over what he did or did not do, I was able to start working my recovery using a brick foundation.  I made sure I had tools to handle any potential slips Devin might have.  I gathered poems that made me feel better, I did yoga and meditation, I utilized my daily reader, I prayed, blogged, and most of all, I reached out to others.

While it makes me happy that Devin hasn’t had a slip in a year, I no longer put my self-worth in his recovery.

What do you do to de-stress?

(I have a doctor's appointment today.  I'll be back this afternoon.)



~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




42 comments:

  1. That forum was anything but a positive influence. Sad. Perhaps you should start your own. It is possible to maintain a positive force like that. (Look at the IWSG.)
    Your value comes from God. A slip by your husband has no bearing on your worth. Men are just drawn to that (and the man who says he's not is lying) and if it's strong draw like addiction, that's incredibly difficult to stop. Total blessing he's made it a year.

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    1. Oh, Alex, that forum was such a nightmare for me. It started out as so informative but ended up being a total downward spiral of destruction. I'm blessed to have climbed my way out of it. I'd love to be able to form a forum of my own but it takes lots of people (and money) who can stick with it. I'm not sure I could find them. Then again, you're right, look at IWSG. A force to be reckoned with. Maybe one day - after I publish my self-help book and know more people such as myself? My values come from knowing God, that's for sure. I'm proud he's made it for so long and sure, if he slips, it will suck, but I won't be crushed nor will I take it personally =)

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  2. I had a slip just the other day. My wife and I have set boundaries on my pot usage. I'm not to be high around her or the kids and if I am to get high she must be informed before doing so. After I got the kids to bed I stepped out to have a couple tokes while my wife was still laying down for a nap. She knew. Fortunately it didn't become a major argument. We talked about like adults and that was the end of that. I think she is more aware that slips can and will happen and has learned not to expect perfection from me, as she did in the past. Our relationship is better than ever now because we have finally found that happy medium. I also feel better about myself when I'm not getting high all day, every day. Just an occasional buzz once or twice a week is all I need. Not too much....just enough to satisfy my needs and take the edge off.

    Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?

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    1. I'm proud of you, Dan. Really proud. You've come so far. I love that you and your wife are able to talk about your pot usage, set boundaries that are acceptable to each of you and then, even when a slip occurs, still be able to communicate without a war breaking out. That's the hard part, I think. Devin wasn't able to come to me when he slipped, I had to dig. Then the big fight would happen. Now, I think he'd be able to come to me and let me know if he was struggling. I'm so happy for you two!!!

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    2. The strange part is that I like pot a lot better when I don't use it every day, being that I'm a serious advocate of weed! I've finally noticed how it affects me when I use it all the time. I would be extremely lazy and less attentive. Although, I do think it really helps get those creative juices flowing...and relieves stress, depression, anxiety, pain...etc. the list goes on and on.

      I find it much better when it's used but not abused!

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    3. My brother still asks me why I don't use it for my migraines. I'm sure I'd be able to get it if I went to visit him in Colorado. But, I'd be afraid. With my past I'm afraid it'd lead to worse things for me. I never had a problem with it before but my luck, that's all it would take. Whenever I visit my family back home, it's around and I won't smoke. Last time I smoked, all it did was make me sleepy. haha If you can do it, control it, and it doesn't drag you down, more power to you!

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    4. I bet it would help with migraines. I can't think of anything it doesn't help with...except for quenching thirst. lol

      But yeah, if you think it could lead to other things perhaps it's best to stay away. But still, I haven't had any pot that could duplicate the same high you would get as doing coke or meth. I've been down that road before (although probably not as severe as you have) and a pot buzz has never made me crave other things other than beer. (see above lol)

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  3. I destress by crafting or going for a walk on the beach. The sound of the water is so soothing. But if I'm home and over the top stressed out, I have to break down and take a xanax. I don't do it often but it's good to know I have that option.

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    1. You know I love the beach! I wish I could have gone today. It's perfect outside for it. But, I had too much to do today. It's not a bad thing if you need meds from time to time to de-stress. That's what they are there for, to help. You're still using other tools too, that's super healthy!

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  4. Wherever there is a need, someone will come along and fill it. It sounds to me like there is A DEFINITE NEED for a good forum. The one you were in nearly caused you to be victimized all over again. Not good. In fact, beyond not good. So, there is definitely a need. I suspect that many churches would allow free use of their facility. Wouldn't it just be advertising from that point forward so that people would know about it? I don't know. I am asking the question. Why? Because I think you would be FANTASTIC at guiding a forum in a positive direction. So, don't rule it out. As you said in your last post, it feels so great to give back and help others. I can't think of a better way for you to give back then creating this very special place for people who need it so desperately.

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    1. We use a church to hold our S-Anon meetings. They accept donations and our group is so small the donations are very small. There is a regional headquarters that takes care of everything for us - posters, phone calls and such as that. What I would like to see is a positive online presence. That's where people like me head - the internet. We don't know where else to turn because we've been isolated through the trauma of the disease. One day I'll do it. One day.

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  5. The fact that you learnt the most important lesson of all- that your worth is not dependent on his self-recovery, is probably the best lesson of all, Elsie. I admire your persistence and your prayer. Much love.


    Shailaja @Doting Mom

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    1. Thank you kindly, Shailaja. I agree with you. Learning that I was independent of him and removing myself from his recovery was pivotal for me! I had to stop being so enmeshed in him. He was the only person I'd ever done that with and I never want to do it again! =)

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  6. Hi Elsie - such a valuable post for us all to read - and thank goodness you can see where you are going and have that positive influence of self in your own life. Things are strange .. and that forum sounds exceedingly unfortunate (putting it mildly) ... but I suspect you'll find others who will support you in your quest to start a forum.

    Your book sounds as though it will be so helpful to many - good luck with writing it and then finishing it and publishing ... and generally all the very best - Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary! So good to see you! Once the A-Z is over, I'll be spending more time editing my self-help book. It's just about finished as far as the writing is concerned. I truly can't think of anything else I can include. Of course, that may change the more I edit. We know how that goes! Thank you for all the well wishes!

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  7. My kids have time out when they act out, so does their daddy.
    If I get so mad that all I can do is scream I go to my room and tell them that daddy needs a time out.
    This worked till my daughter (7) figured out that she could unlock the door with her hair barrettes.
    Now I go in my room and if I am followed by a lockpick, I go in the master bath knowing that she won't risk following me there!

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    1. I had to laugh when I read this. It sounds exactly like something my boys would be guilty of doing - picking their way in to see me. Especially if they are in trouble. Of course, those times are long gone. They are in their early twenties. So, if they are doing any lock-picking, I better get bail money ready. Or let them rot in jail.

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    2. HA! I would hope that would never happen! :-)

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    3. Not if they know what's good for them!

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  8. It has to be harder with this addiction in many ways. When an alcoholic slips and has a drink, you get angry. With Devin's addiction, it would be hard not to take it personally. And then you've got to deal with your painful feelings along with his slip and getting him past it.

    For me to destress I have to do something physical. Playing my drums, doing housework and working in the yard are my main tools.

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    1. Well, Anne, when you're a hottie like me, it's hard to take it personally. I kid, of course =P

      At first, before I had a solid recovery beneath me, I took it as a direct insult. Now, I know it's not me. I could be 5'9 125lbs (is that good, I don't even know these things?) and he'd still slip. It's the nature of the disease, not me. I have my self-confidence back. I didn't have that when I first discovered his disease. It had been eroded over the time we'd been together. Strange, because I'd had what I thought was self-esteem. Turns out, it wasn't as strong as I thought. Now, it is.

      I do house work to de-stress too. I love to look at a clean and shiny tub (although it kills my body/head when I'm done!) or a dust free surface. It feels so good!!! So does playing in the dirt. =)

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    2. It would be hard to separate that out for me and I know it would destroy my self-confidence. I've always known that I have low self-esteem and I still can't completely beat the problem. Been to therapy about that and still it persists. I see people who are truly confident in themselves and wish I could feel like they do.

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  9. Destressing for me can be reading, running or spending some time with the family.

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    1. I commend you for running, Susan. One of my sons is an avid runner. I just can't get into it. Now that the weather is warming up, my bike can get dusted off again….

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  10. So glad you removed yourself from the negativity of that forum. I learned a long time ago that negative is bad for your health, mental and physical! So glad you are offering a positive look into your issues and offering help to others. <3

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

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    1. Me too, Jamie, me too. The negativity can be way too contagious. It is so draining on our mental and physical health. I don't think we realize it until we get ourselves away from it, just how damaging it can be.

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  11. Forums are the worst place to go most times, as people tend to just be bitter and rant and rave, never really helping. I'm sure there are a few good ones, but people would rather bash than not it seems.

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    1. I used to be a host on a forum for migraine. The people who showed up were the worst of the worst. It was only natural. The people who are doing well aren't going to pop in and be all, "Hey guys, just wanted you to know, I'm doing great!!! Here's how I did it!" because they out living their lives. That's how most forums end up. The people with the problems stick to it.

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    2. Yep, and nothing ever gets done except for much more whining

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  12. Glad you're not taking it personal. You've been through a lot. That's for sure. Do you have an interest in starting your own forum?

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    1. I'd love to start my own forum. I'm not sure I'd be able to afford it though. It takes money to host the site and to advertise. Plus, I'd be afraid of people being all, "Who is this Elsie chick?" and then BAM there goes my alias. Bah!

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  13. I love to paint my troubles away, and when I can't, I read. :-)
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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  14. It's really difficult not to personalize things when someone you love does something so destructive to the relationship. You've great strength of character, Elsie. Hopefully, and presumably, you've had strong support from friends and family. Blogland loves you too.

    xoRobyn

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  15. I know every addiction is incredibly hard on the partner of the addict, but god, sex addiction brings in a whole new layer. I don't see how anyone could not think they somehow weren't 'enough' for their partner - and how damaging that could be. I give you much respect and admiration for being able to turn this around, and see this as just another kind of addiction, and one that you had no control over.

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  16. "what do I do to de-stress?"

    I wish I knew. I've tried putting the "walking the dog" poster up at work. Today, the big boss comes over. "how ya doin'?" He says in his loopy Wisconsin accent. I said, "I'm about to snap. Walking the dog won't cut it. Someone may die today."

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  17. I can always de-stress by drawing something with the trusty ball point. I say trusty, but they tend to run out as I draw when I'm not stressed to.

    Thanks for using the pics. It is nice to see them on another blog.

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  18. Well I learned something new today, the difference between a slip and relapse ~ And good for you to know that its not your fault if your partner slipped or relapsed ~ Kudos on the daily writing ~ Cheers for a lovely week ~

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  19. Not sure how many people recover without a few slips. Relapse, however, is a sad thing to witness.

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  20. hope th doctors appointment went well..
    and learning not to blame yourself is huge...that it is not your fault when they slip...

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  21. I see this kind of bashing in some of mine online widow support groups too. I think it steps from the topics being so highly emotionally charged. Sometimes, to destress and not take the burdens of loss of everyone else on to myself, I will step away for a few days, write about my experiences, hit the heavy bag, and try to meditate. As a recovering addict myself, I wish nothing but the best for you and your husband as you work through it together, slips or no slips!

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  22. Very interesting explanation of the difference between a lip and a relapse. I am going to think about this for awhile. Am glad to see you are working it through. Glad to have connected with you.

    Carol @ Battered Hope

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.