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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Recovering from Recovery: How I Move Past My Slip-ups

Having slip ups are the worst. And don't I know it. Addiction recovery is hard, especially when you constantly demand perfection of yourself but you keep failing because you are not perfect - no one is. It becomes so discouraging for both the person addicted and his or her loved ones. I've had so many people reach out through this blog and tell me, "I was clean for so long and I just threw it all away because of the slip-up I had the other day" or "I thought I was past the addiction, but it always comes back in the end."

I'd like to remind anyone reading this blog that I do not claim to be a professional. I speak purely from experience and from what I've learned from other people's experiences whether told at conferences, group meetings or through email. That being said, here's small insight into what a slip up is like for me and many that I've spoken with:

You experience an exciting high when you're acting out (aka viewing pornography) and then soon afterwards you feel this crushing weight of shame drop on you. Many people experience depression after acting out, which can also be a trigger to act out again, and it seems like a never ending cycle of shame. It's the worst feeling, whether you're in recovery and you experience a slip-up over a long period of time or if you're thick in the addiction and experience it daily.
After experiencing her own slip-up, a friend asked, "How do you handle it? What do you do?"
At the time, I didn't really have a solid answer, but recently I discovered one for myself:
Move forward.
What I've experienced, and what I've seen others experience after a slip-up, is negative self-talk. Imagine someone holding a grudge against your best friend. Maybe your friend did something to deserve it. But even after your friend apologized and feels bad about it, imagine that person calling them names and saying things like, "You're so stupid and weak, you're never going to change" or "You don't deserve to be happy or feel the spirit because you're a bad person." 
We would never let someone talk like that to someone we love. So, why do we think it's OK to talk like that about ourselves?
Here's what I've learned during the last few months of recovery: Heavenly Father loves me far more than I love myself. I can't even fathom His love for me or you. With this love, He often forgives us long before we've forgiven ourselves, which is what makes slip-ups so hard. We often spend so much time dwelling in loneliness, darkness and self-loathing, that we can't hear the Lord calling and inviting us to rise up and stand with Him in the light and warmth of His love.
Jeffrey R. Holland said, " . . . the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength." (Full talk)
Just like we are commanded to forgive, we must not deny ourselves forgiveness. After a slip-up, repent quickly and use it as an opportunity to grow. Every time I've had a slip up, it's eventually brought me closer to full recovery. It's like rock climbing. Sometimes you fall a little, and by doing so, you find a firmer foothold. 
Whether you've been clean for a few hours or a few months or years, and you've had a slip up, just remember: Christ atoned for that. The Atonement doesn't work like a limited pass punch card. If at one time you felt redeemed from your addiction, and you've fallen back into it, Christ can redeem you again. He can lift you out of the thickness of addiction and He can carry you through recovery. Of course, we are imperfect, so that means our recovery will be imperfect, but the greatest thing we can remember is that Christ is always with us through it, even through our slip-ups.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, Cassy! I really needed the reminder. It's true that often to us our addiction or our weaknesses seem overwhelming and too hard to overcome, but our Father doesn't see it like that at all. He always remembers who we are, and He just wants us to let Him help us come back to Him. His grace is sufficient to make us whole and to create beauty from the ashes of our addiction, as imperfect as our own recovery efforts may be. You are wonderful and I'm so grateful for everything you share!

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  2. This was a great post Cassy. I always feel so uplifted when I read this blog. I'm so proud of you for opening up about such an important topic, and I can feel your love when you write. I hope you'll keep posting. Hugs.

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