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Slip, or Relapse

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Slip, or Relapse

Postby Karlos790 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:05 pm

Hi All,

First time posting here. Looking for support.

I've been in active recovery from Porn Addiction for just under 4 years now, been a long and difficult experience, though my life and relationships are infinitely better than they ever were.

So a recent experience with the Addict Brain has left me concerned if I've had a recent slip, or a relapse. (The latter would break my heart).

Despite the day job, I'm an artist, and (for the sake of my art) uses reference sites that feature female nudity. Now, with 4 years of recovery, the Fine Art photography sites I use to gather reference to no in any way trigger me. There has been no masturbation to the imagery, and I share the list of sites I use with my therapist, the ensure safety and accountability.

However, in the last month, 3 things have happened. I ended up on a Reddit site for artists that features nudity, though some of the images were - shall we say - less than tasteful. I avoided anything obviously pornographic, though visited the site 4 times or so to see if the users had posted anything I might use in my work. (Ended up not being a resource I used).

Then Flickr, another previously safe site I found that suddenly has a lot of borderline porn content, which I have to be clear I stumbled across looking for completely innocent images (eg searching for "bedroom interior" for a composition, and well, you can imagine what came up).

The last straw what an app I use for portrait painting, generally a very safe app as the Admins delete anything remotely nude. However, a user posted a rather explicit image. Wanting only tasteful nudes, I reached out to her user handle on Snapchat (a platform I've never used before) and told her what constituted "safe" imagery on the app. Very quickly, she opened up a conversation about "what a slut" we was (her words) and "would I send her a dick pic". I exited the conversation at that point, and deleted Snapchat. (And the user what subsequently deleted from the art app).

The point is, I feel like I am balancing on the knife-edge of a relapse. My clean time is very important to me, and I know my behaviour shows how the Addict Brain has tried to trick me back into places and situations I should be avoiding.

In a recent discussion with my therapist (the next day after all this, in fact, I reached out straight away for help), I asked if these were a series of slips, or god forbid, a relapse. His response was that a relapse was a "going back to your old ways", and while it might not be that, it's a warning that I'm on a knife-edge of middle vs inner circle behaviour. Beyond that, he wouldn't state the one or the other in terms of clear definition.

With that in mind, I have not gone near porn, not masturbated to any such imagery.

I'm coming up to my 4 year anniversary, and would hate to think I'm starting again. I'd be devastated. I will be sharing this with my SAA group this week to get their thoughts, but putting it to this Forum: Can I forgive myself and consider all this a Slip, or was it a Relapse?

Thanks for your support.
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Re: Slip, or Relapse

Postby Snaga » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:59 pm

Hey there, and welcome to the forums!

I don't think that I would call that relapsing- I do thing you're flirting with it, perhaps. Whether you realised it at the time, or not, I think it has been that old desire dipping a toe in the water.

But it sounds as if you have excellent support systems in place to help you.

We're only human. You've done wonderfully, and yes going back into old addictive habits would be awful, but mostly so if you gave up and didn't keep trying. I don't think you'll do that, you sound rather determined, and again, have your therapist and your SAA group. While you don't want to slip up and look at anything for sexual gratification, I wouldn't be too hard on myself, as long as I got back up on the wagon, so to speak.

Sounds to me that you're being careful and prudent to a fault- my concern is that being an artist that has to deal with looking at nudes, is going to be a problem with tempting you for more- like someone with a gambling addiction having a job that requires them to visit casinos. Maybe not such a great idea. I wouldn't want you to give up your interest, but you might have to channel it into something that will naturally keep you away from sites that feature nudity, even tasteful, and even if you don't feel as if you're excited by them. That's going to be something it sounds as if you'll need to talk over with your therapist.

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Re: Slip, or Relapse

Postby Karlos790 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:18 am

Hi Snaga

Thank you very much for your kind and supportive words.

On reflection, yes, on occasion there are moments where the visuals I come across stir sexual feelings, though the vast majority of the time, they represent nothing but artistic references to me.

That said, I have found myself "dipping the toe in", as you say, looking for nudes or topless imagery I probably know are less than safe for me. Old habits, curiosity. But those moments are stopped very quickly by my self-vigilance radar, and a leave whichever site I've been looking at.

Strangely, if porn does come up in a search, or a pop-up, I loathe the image - it represents a past I don't - and I can't - go back to.

What I take away from your reply is that I should not be too hard on myself (a difficult thing for me to do, I'm incredibly tough on myself to the point of hatred sometimes), consider these as slips to be avoided, and to practise further vigilance to continue my recovery.

The 26th or so of August is my 4 year recovery anniversary. When I think about my old behaviour and inner circle patterns (spending hours a day looking at porn, voyeurism, flirting), behaviour that has since ceased, it's a bitter-sweet victory. I'm proud of my clean time and the progress I've made, but sad at all that wasted time and intimacy diverted from my marriage during those years. But grateful for the changes - all positive.

I only hope that my recent behaviour is not a form of self-delusion, and a reminder that there is always room for improvement.

My thanks to you and this forum again.
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Re: Slip, or Relapse

Postby Aries411 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:01 am

Hey Karlos,

This is definitely not a relapse. There are so many things we can't control in life and even though all these triggers may have come at once, you were amazingly strong and kept your resolve. It sounds like you have put in quite a bit of work in you recovery so thats amazing!

Karlos790 wrote:His response was that a relapse was a "going back to your old ways"

I also believe that is what a relapse constitutes so I think you are good.
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