I’ve had the privilege of having the most hard-working and insightful clients throughout my years in practice. This is an edited journal entry from a former client who gave me permission to share with my readers. This entry illustrates the moments leading up to an acting out episode and how past sexual partners powerfully affect the addiction cycle even after years of sobriety. Take a read.
Out of the blue he contacted me last night and all he said was “hi”. Haven’t spoken to him in a year so when the LINE message with his name lit up my phone I almost thought it was spam. I said “hi” back to him and said “what’s up?” out of courtesy. No desire to relapse, no desire to meet, just a friendly hello. But within seconds it dawned on me what we used to do together. I had a flood of dormant memories and an internal stirring of adrenaline. I knew he would send something explicit, and sure enough, 20 minutes later, without any prompting, attaches a recent explicit picture and sent it over. The flood of other memories began. He knew what I liked so I’m sure he was just being friendly too. If I were not in a good place I would be teasing and beginning my act out cycle, but it’s SO interesting how my addicted brain just latches on and triggers such a VISCERAL reaction within me. I havent felt this way in so long. Now it’s 2:00am and the image is seared into my conscious memory and now I’m preoccupied–as my therapist would put it. I cant sleep.
No wonder why people relapse and go out on a bender. The cycle is SO strong once the initial stimulus is there. Boundaries? Haha, “I know” I should just not respond, but these boundaries don’t have to be used often. “I know” I should call my sponsor but it’s 1:00am and I feel ashamed to talk about this. I should cut it off but what’s the harm? I’m giving so many excuses for my behavior but I really thought I was done with this addiction. I was wrong, even after a couple years since acting out, it’s still alive and kicking, waiting for the next “hello”.”
For anyone suffering from long term addiction, a story like this usually ends up in a relapse and it takes considerable amount of effort to prevent a relapse episode. If you have any lingering ex-partners whom you’ve acted out with, you’re never really “in the clear.” A life of recovery is a complete lifestyle change. And continual monitoring and protecting of your hard-earned life recovering from this addiction is the utmost importance.
If you’re trapped in these acting-out cycles please reach out for help.