Don't call it "relapse?"

Submitted by freedom on
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Relapse seems a bit negative to me as if one must relapse or relapse is inherently bad. Relapse is normal and part of learning and healing. Unless you are planning to be completely abstinent for your entire life you will relapse. If we all relapse, then it doesn't seem to be relapse at all because we are moving forward, not backward which is implied by relapse. Since it is more like succumbing to urge, we could call it succumbing or yielding. However, both of those also imply that the urge is stronger than will power. One could try defer which implies a more voluntary choice. However, in actual use, such as I defer to your expertise, the implication is that the expert knows more. We don't want to empower the brain against us.

So what can we call it other than relapse?

Relapse Is A Big Deal

I prefer to think of relapse as a “breakdown.” A breakdown occurs when we make a promise to do or not do some action, but seem to be unable to control ourselves or actions. For some people making a promise in regards to their sexual practices, especially a public promise such as posting it here on your blog, is likely a very difficult thing to do. We are so accustomed to the idea that breaking one's promise (word) is a bad thing and that when we do so we are bad people. The result of that cultural belief , meme, is that we do not risk making promises and therefor miss the opportunity to have real breakthroughs in our lives. A breakdown, especially a declared breakdown, is one of the surest means to creating breakthroughs in our lives.

My upset is more around people in any recovery program who treat relapses as “no big deal.” A relapse seen as normal is of no use for learning. Just my opinion.


Breakdown seems more

Breakdown seems more accurate than relapse. One can breakdown and pick right back up. There is less negativity and a greater suggestion of control.

One could never drink alcohol again. Could one really abstain 100% in regard to p/m/o? Porn is everywhere to some extent and we can't control that 100%. Orgasm just happens sometimes. Masturbation is a better candidate for complete abstention.

Breakdown is not "no big deal," but it is almost inevitable. Why can't one learn from it while knowing it is inevitable and therefore quasi-normal?

Use slip or lapse but not relapse...

The word relapse suggests that recovery has been halted; therefore relapse is a bad word to use. For example, if someone who had problems with alcohol were to give up alcohol and then later start drinking again, this drinking might be considered a relapse. It is different from a slip or lapse in that it implies a return to previous behaviour patterns, as opposed to a one-time occurrence.

We are only human beings after all. We might be triggered to into a lapse or slip by all sorts of things that go on in our lives. If, in spite of our best intentions to avoid a previous addiction we slip up, it's not the end of the world as long as our objective not to return to the compulsive repetition of the addictive activity remains the same.

We must mentally distance ourselves from the slip up, think of the progress that's been made prior to it and put ourselves back on track. This is where discipline comes in. In the words of the poem: "If you the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings - And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss"

It's quite an old but well known poem, but still rings true in my book. Believe - when you next a slip up, that have lost nothing but gained experience - and in the grand scheme of things you will have won. Do not let the reptilian brain and the limbic system overrun your brilliant rational thinking process. Have strength.

thanks for reading,


IF..... by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!