Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recovery and balance

“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains, if friends stay true.” Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring.

The quest for sexual health, for recovery, for life is a journey requiring balance. And yet, balance is the aspect that is missing the most. Until balance is discovered, recovery is at risk. It doesn’t take much to push the individual off the edge resulting in damage, hurt, and pain both for the individual and his/her network.

Individuals in early recovery struggle with the concept of balance. Regardless of the type of compulsivity/addiction, an individual losses balance in their life. Like a spinning top, an addict’s life is spinning more and more out of control until it crashes. When the addict picks up the banner of recovery, he or she may start the recovery with the same fervor of the addiction. Instead of 90 in 90, they go to 90 in 90 volunteering as trusted servant, 8 sponsors and by day 90 have 3 sponsees. There is a move from multiple sexual acting out to absolute abstinence that denies the sexuality of the individual. This spinning top of “recovery” continues until a relapse occurs because of the lack of balance.

Three strategies for developing balance are:

1) Develop a plan.
As you start the recovery process, with your treatment team and support network it is important to develop a recovery plan. In that plan you need to define what recovery will look like for the next 90-180 days. Components of the plan include arrangements addressing living, treatment, relationship, and aftercare aspects of recovery. Obviously a higher level of structure and insight into the plan are important.

2) Follow the plan.
Once you have the plan, FOLLOW the plan. If you and your team develop a plan that you don’t like, say so at the beginning. If you agree to the plan, follow it. This sounds obvious, but I’ve seen plenty of plans that are not followed leading to a relapse.

3) Follow the plan.
What, he just said that. Too often, people will change the plan because they don’t like it. I encourage people in early recovery to stick to the plan unless there is imminent danger. Yes, it may be work, uncomfortable, or disliked. But sticking to the plan is about addressing the factors leading to the relapse. Making quick changes is a warning sign. Changes that are reactive are a concern. Changes that are reflective are possible when discussed. When changes are necessary, the changes need to be reviewed with your support network and treatment team.

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