Sex and Relationship Healing is pleased to partner with Lacy Bentley, host of our Tuesday Women’s Sex/Love Addiction drop-in discussion group and our Thursday Women’s Porn Addiction drop-in discussion group, for our Summer of Love (Addiction). This wonderful series examining women, love addiction, fantasy, pornography, and healing is drawn from Lacy’s book, Addicted to Love.
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In my previous post to this site, we discussed how becoming accountable requires vulnerability, and the fact that vulnerability is something that most love addicts (and people in general) tend to struggle with. This week, we are looking at the related need for you to recognize and track your triggers and lapses into romantic fantasy.
As you develop accountability as a cornerstone of your recovery and healing process, you need to be fully honest about your triggers and fantasies. The topic of honesty will be covered in-depth in a later blog, so I’m not going into it too much right now. Just know that without it, you’ll struggle to be accountable. (You’ll also struggle with most other aspects of healing and recovery.)
In recovery, we need to be accountable to supportive people for our behaviors, fantasies, and other habits that are not in alignment with a recovered life. We also need to learn to account for not managing our environment and triggers (such as our emotions). These things are our responsibility, and it will help to talk about them and find the patterns.
Being accountable for our compulsions and how we manage them can help us identify triggers we may not have recognized sooner. I like to keep tally marks on the back of my hand for whatever I am tracking. It gives me time to pause, and it helps me remember to report to my accountability partner later.
This tactic works well with addiction triggers, though to start I recommend you use it to count only your compulsive thoughts. You need a baseline count to understand how many times a day you get sidetracked into obsessive thoughts. I suggest you use this technique to track these distractions for an entire week to gain a baseline sense of your issue. After all, your thoughts eventually become your actions, so catching them now can save heartache later.
Ultimately, the compulsions you obsess over are not what you really want, so tracking them and meeting them head-on moves you in the right direction. Once you get space from your behaviors (your “drugs,” if you will), the compulsion dies down and you can see your addiction more clearly. Then you can recognize and sort out your triggers a little easier. For starters, though, it is best to focus on tracking compulsive fantasies.
Eventually, when compulsive thoughts flare up, reporting them to a support person helps you identify what might have triggered them. At that point, your triggers can be identified and addressed more effectively.
Lapses (crossing a bottom line put in place to keep you from relapse) and relapses (acting in or acting out with one of your compulsive behaviors) should also be reported. An addict truly seeking a recovered life is willing to discuss what led to the lapse or relapse, identify their part (because we are always responsible for our lapses and our relapses), and make plans to do better in the future.
When you cross your own boundaries in any form of intimacy or allow someone else to cross them, that needs to be discussed as well. By discussing boundary issues, we learn to tighten up, we see the need for new or adjusted boundaries, and we can get valuable ideas from someone else.
A friend once told me that believing what I think just because I think it is dangerous. Now I’m telling you, this is why we check these things out with others! As a coach, I have my clients keep a log for a few weeks, then report at each session. Usually a daily log coupled with a few minutes of personal introspection and meditation before you get too tired in the evening will bring most things back to your attention.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with love addiction, please check out the FREE Women’s Sex/Love Addiction Drop-In Discussion Group on this website, or, for males, any of the FREE Men’s Drop-In Discussion groups for addicts. (Most of the men’s group are listed as sex/porn addiction, but love addicts are welcomed and generally benefit.)