Husband Material

Why You Need A Recovery Action Plan (with Nick Stumbo & Trevor Winsor)

August 14, 2023 Drew Boa
Why You Need A Recovery Action Plan (with Nick Stumbo & Trevor Winsor)
Husband Material
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Husband Material
Why You Need A Recovery Action Plan (with Nick Stumbo & Trevor Winsor)
Aug 14, 2023
Drew Boa

How do you take action after relapse for growth and healing without using shame or punishment? After a porn relapse, what do appropriate consequences look like?

Nick Stumbo and Trevor Winsor are members of the Executive Team at Pure Desire Ministries. Together, they host the popular Pure Desire Podcast.

Free tools mentioned in this episode:

Register for the Pure Desire Summit at puredesire.org/summit!

Nick Stumbo is the Executive Director for Pure Desire. He has been in ministry leadership for over two decades. He was in pastoral ministry at East Hills Alliance Church in Kelso, Washington for 14 years. Nick has a Bachelor's in Pastoral Studies from Crown College, an MDiv from Bethel Seminary, and is a certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional (PSAP). He has authored two books, Setting Us Free and Safe: Creating a Culture of Grace in a Climate of Shame.

Trevor Winsor is the Marketing Director for Pure Desire. He has been in ministry leadership for 10 years. Trevor is a certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional (PSAP). He has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Corban University, a Master’s in Ministry & Leadership from Western Seminary, and is a licensed pastor. Trevor is passionate about integrating trauma and addiction healing with spiritual disciplines to produce holistic healing.

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How do you take action after relapse for growth and healing without using shame or punishment? After a porn relapse, what do appropriate consequences look like?

Nick Stumbo and Trevor Winsor are members of the Executive Team at Pure Desire Ministries. Together, they host the popular Pure Desire Podcast.

Free tools mentioned in this episode:

Register for the Pure Desire Summit at puredesire.org/summit!

Nick Stumbo is the Executive Director for Pure Desire. He has been in ministry leadership for over two decades. He was in pastoral ministry at East Hills Alliance Church in Kelso, Washington for 14 years. Nick has a Bachelor's in Pastoral Studies from Crown College, an MDiv from Bethel Seminary, and is a certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional (PSAP). He has authored two books, Setting Us Free and Safe: Creating a Culture of Grace in a Climate of Shame.

Trevor Winsor is the Marketing Director for Pure Desire. He has been in ministry leadership for 10 years. Trevor is a certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional (PSAP). He has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Corban University, a Master’s in Ministry & Leadership from Western Seminary, and is a licensed pastor. Trevor is passionate about integrating trauma and addiction healing with spiritual disciplines to produce holistic healing.

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Hey man, thank you so much for listening to today's episode about Recovery Action Plan. This is one of those tools that can really support you on your journey to freedom from porn, specifically in helping you plan for what to do if and when a relapse occurs. Nick and Trevor have so much wisdom about this and it was really convicting for me. I feel the need to update my own plan and have some intentional conversations to make sure that I'm continuing to grow as life changes. I think this will be really challenging for some of you guys who are intimidated or feel shame about the idea of consequences. This is an empowering, grace-filled approach that I think you're going to love. Enjoy the episode. Today, I am joined by Nick Stumbo and Trevor Windsor from Pure Desire Ministries. Welcome to Husband Material.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, man, I'm glad to be here. Yeah, thank you, drew.

Speaker 1:

I'm glad to have you back. It has been a long time and I also wanted to say thank you. You guys really helped me get started when this podcast was just a baby.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean I feel like you've been pretty consistent posting stuff. You know what I mean. You've kept it up. I know the difference between us and you is we've been an organization longer, we have more staff. So the fact that you've been able to pump out that much content with really it just being you is impressive. So well done, thanks.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I'm glad that I could bring all of my technical know-how and experience to really benefit now.

Speaker 2:

Oh, was I not supposed to laugh? Are you joking? You're joking right, completely, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, pure Desire offers so many resources, so many tools, so many opportunities for healing, both for men who are out growing porn and for betrayed partners. And one of the most helpful, important tools that you guys have developed and refined is called the Recovery Action Plan. Why do we need a recovery action plan?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's a great question, Drew, and something that I think many of us have found to be very instrumental in our healing process. And so, for those that are new to the concept, the recovery action plan is essentially just our pre-stated plan of what we're committed to doing in the case of a relapse, and so I know some people are a little resistant because they feel like, well, aren't you planning for relapse? And it's like, well, no, we're making a plan when we're in a good state of mind in community, really looking at our values, principles and ideals, to say, if that were to happen, here's the steps that I will take to work towards recovery so that it's not just more of the same. Because most, if not all, of us that have struggled with sexually compulsive behavior have been stuck in that binge purge relationship with pornography and we're used to the purge side of, ok, I feel really bad, I confess, I delete my history or whatever I need to do, and I'm like, ok, that was the last time, and I make promises to God and myself and maybe others, but then we found that really didn't change anything because it was just about trying to feel better and deal with the guilt versus actually looking at.

Speaker 3:

Why did this happen? What do I need to do about it? And, in my mind, most importantly, how can I retrain my brain that relapsing really does have a consequence to it? It has something that is painful to me and helps me then actually avoid going back to it. And so that's why a recovery action plan is so key, because there's kind of a Murphy's law principle there, one of those ideas that if you have it, you may not need it, yep, but if you don't have it, you're going to need it. And so when you put in a recovery action plan and you've predetermined here are some consequences I'm willingly going to face to learn from my relapse then you know those things. And when you're headed down that old, familiar pathway, you're starting to feel triggered. You're feeling tempted, something has caught your eye and those old voices that, well, to be just this once, this will be the last time, it's no big deal. Then your brain works with you and goes Er, wait a minute, we've made a plan here. If I make that choice which I can do, if I make that choice, though, here are things I've agreed to do, I've committed to it. And if I married to my spouse, to my group, to other people who are in my life and I'm aware of the decision I'm making, has some weight to it. Now we're.

Speaker 3:

In the past, it was so much easier just to listen to those voices and excuses because we'd say, yeah, I don't really need to tell anyone. No one's really being heard, it's not a you know, I'll deal with it. But now it's like no, there's some stuff that's going to happen, hopefully painful enough to me that I don't want it to happen. And now I look at a relapse and go you know what? It's just not worth it. And so even if you believe, man, I'm healthy and I'm never going to relapse again, well, god bless you. I hope that's true. But there's wisdom in having a plan that, if that does happen here, so I'm going to face it in a way that is responsible, that shows growth and maturity, and not just being one more format of that binge purge cycle.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I do think that it's something that gives you the opportunity to not like.

Speaker 2:

When this happens let's say, a relapse happens when you have a plan like this, the consequences that we'll get into or the reaction isn't going to be, as in the moment, reactionary you already know you're going to have a plan and so the stuff that in the moment, if you don't have a plan, the consequences that you experience may feel punitive.

Speaker 2:

You realize it's not because it's something you've established with your partner or, if you're a single person, you've established it with your group, like no, no, no, if this happens, this is our plan, and so it's a lot easier to accept the plan you've already put in place than feeling like, whoa, hold on a second, why are all these consequences coming out of nowhere? And so I feel like what it does, is it? I think in some ways it actually the idea that we have a plan makes the idea of I don't want to be careful, I say this. It doesn't make relapse good or like okay, but it almost makes relapse seem less of a scary thing because we know if it happens, we know what plan we need to follow to make sure that safety is created again, to make sure that trust is being built, to make sure that proper guard rails and boundaries are put back in place. So it makes it a lot less reactionary and more proactive, for sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and to make sure that if we do relapse and I say if, because there are some that don't experience relapse if they really follow a program, they're staying in community. It is possible. But if there is a relapse, it's a way of knowing this can be part of my continued growth and change, not just like a restart, because that really is true and you've got a recovery action plan. You will learn from your relapse, you will grow because of it and you will look back, as maybe some is, again. We never want to say, well, relapse is a good thing, but I know for many people in their story they say it was a relapse that actually took my healing to another level, because I started to see some things I hadn't seen before. I had to walk through that process.

Speaker 1:

It sounds like a plan can really help you make the most when the worst happens.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, totally yeah. I mean, if you think about it, it's kind of like having triple A you know car Picture.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's true.

Speaker 3:

You don't ever want your car to break down, but there's kind of a reality of life that it happens and it's good to know if it does, I know who to call, I know what steps to take. I'm not just going to be sitting on the side of the road going what do I do now? And that's the same idea for relapse Like I've got a plan, I know what to do and it's actually going to help me avoid it because I'm already prepared ahead of time. Yep.

Speaker 1:

It sounds like even just making a plan can help us realize the gravity of what's at stake.

Speaker 2:

Totally and in some ways, like I already know what's going to happen if I make this decision, and so it's not like, oh well, maybe if I make this decision I can weasel my way out of it or manipulate the situation or justify it. It's like, no, if this happens, this is the plan, like this is what's going to happen and so, yeah, definitely is a good deterrent for sure for relapse. Yep, I automatically. Yep, good thing I did here is kind oflegally seasick as the final one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and when you talk about consequences, there are two types of consequences natural and logical. What's the difference between natural consequences and logical consequences?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so natural is, honestly, it's a result of the choice that you made and it's not someone like imposing it on you. And this in our recovery action plan. This is documented in that and I know Drew will link to it. On our tools page you can find that. But it's something where it's like well, naturally, trust is going to be broken at that point, your relationship is going to be injured, there's going to be a breach of trust and then you're going to have to rebuild. That's a natural consequence.

Speaker 2:

Another one is the guilt or shame that you may feel because of it. That's an easy one. I mean, that's just a normal thing that you might have. But then also looking at other consequences that might be natural cost of your time, money, energy, whatever it may be so that's natural. Those are the no-duh type of consequences that you think of.

Speaker 2:

But a logical consequence are reasonable, necessary decisions or consequences that come from this. So let's say I use my smartphone to relapse and a logical consequence we can put in place is that I'm going to actually have to get rid of my smartphone and for six months I'm going to put a dumb phone in my hand. And for those who don't know what that means that's just basically phones before the iPhone, maybe even before the BlackBerry sidekick, whatever. I'm not going to date myself too much here, but it's taking active steps to then work against what happened with that relapse, and so that's one of them.

Speaker 2:

Another one too could just be like my group right now is going through the lesson actually tonight on the Matrix of Addiction. So what's our cycle? And for me, my cycle tended to start with social media just the browse, the explore page on Instagram, things like that. And so if relapse happens and it happened because that's where my pattern started then a logical consequence I might put in place is, if that happens, I deactivate or delete my social media accounts for a certain period of time, and that's something that's agreed upon with my spouse so that they also have that safety.

Speaker 3:

I think the phrase logical consequence helps us to not just make these punishments because I think that's something we do want to avoid that I'm not just beating myself up because I made a bad choice. I'm trying to retrain my brain, I'm trying to learn that my choices have consequences, even if I have to choose some things to reinforce that message. And so the logical consequences is just is there any way I can connect the decision or the behavior to the consequence? Like Trevor was saying, with the device I was on, maybe the way I chose to isolate the things that I was avoiding. Now, instead of because I chose to avoid or isolate or use that device, now I have to do the opposite, something that's hard or painful or unwanted, but while I'm doing it, that's the very pain that will change me.

Speaker 3:

So if you can help your brain connect I'm having to do this because I did that and it's not just a random punishment that I chose to say shame on me or look at that bad choice I made, but to really relearn like this is a painful thing to myself and to others and relationships. I don't want to do it again Now. I'm going to be able to avoid it in the future. So that's where a logical consequence really helps us keep it separate from just being another, you know. Again back to that purge idea. It's not just another purge session where I'm beating myself up until I feel like I've paid penance and now I can move on with my life.

Speaker 1:

It seems like having a recovery action plan could be a choice that's made with honor. It could be something that actually helps you feel a sense of integrity, but for so many of us it could just feel like more punishment.

Speaker 2:

I think in some ways you know to your point about growing up in the church. I think sometimes it is like a right or wrong, black or white, like shame on you, shame on me type of perspective, but really like, without consequences, we wouldn't ever make any change. Like if Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God didn't cast them out of the garden, then, like, sin wouldn't have the weight that it does, it wouldn't be something where we're trying to actively work against. And so I think, in some ways, in order to well, and here's what's kind of funny we feel pain or discomfort in life. Those are the things that tend to push us toward one of behaviors, and the thing is is that in order to actually work against those behaviors, we have to learn how to sit in the discomfort and in the pain and understand why we're feeling that, find healthy ways to meet those needs or to soothe that pain and then move forward rather than numbing out.

Speaker 2:

And that's kind of one of those things where, like I get that consequences are tough, but in some ways, the consequences sometimes being broken relationship or painful emotions that we're experiencing are the exact thing that we need in that moment to actually take our next step in health, and so I mean I don't know if we're jumping ahead to the toxic shame question we can talk more about that but I just think it's something that we need to be aware of. That consequences aren't bad. I mean, we all have kids. We know what it means to discipline our children. There are consequences for your decision, but because if I don't do this, you're not going to learn how to obey the Lord better, how to be respectful of other people, how to not be self-centered, there's a lot of positive on the other side of consequences.

Speaker 3:

I think a difference to shame, punishment are rooted in words like I'm worthless, I'm no good, I'm a mistake, I'm just a bad person. Because having a pre-planned recovery action plan can be rooted in words like I'm accountable, I'm responsible, I'm taking ownership for my choices, I'm being a person of my word, because I've told my wife or my family or my group that I don't want to do this again and I'm committed not to. And so, if I do like, being a man of my word and growing is taking some ownership for that, to work on change and not just stay stuck in the same pattern. I think it's also helpful to note the biblical foundation of, particularly in the Old Testament, covenant, and I know Old Testament, new Testament, like, well, now we're under grace, yes, but the Old Testament also gives us some really deep insights into covenant relationship. And when we think about the sacrifices that the people of Israel were required to bring, it wasn't just because, well, you're a bad person, you're a sinner, so now you have to pay for it. It was terms that God gave them to stay in good relationship with him, and so things that we see. Like you know, if someone stole an oxen, then he had to go and if he was caught he might have to pay back for oxen to repay or to pay retribution and to show that he was still going to be a willing participant in the covenant relationship with God and other Israelites. And it was in that example that they learned to steal no more and that other Israelites saw, oh, stealing my neighbor's ox when there wasn't you know much established law in the prehistoric world like that.

Speaker 3:

It has a cost, there's something to it. That man, we don't want to go down that road because we just saw so and so have to pay back for oxen for what he'd done. Wow, I bet he's going to learn and not do that again. And it's kind of that same principle of if I have that idea that I'm going to pay back in terms of making up for what I've done so that I stay in healthy relationship, well that's a really good thing.

Speaker 3:

And so I think we see it throughout the Old Testament. You know, when Jesus encounters that kiosk, we see it in his life that he says I'm going to pay back four times as much. In a sense he was seeing that his decisions had an impact on others and he was paying back what he had done with the interest on top, so to speak, to really show that there was change in his life. And so I think that's another aspect of this, that our recovery action plan, if we relapse, is a way that we show maybe our spouse or our group that there's change happening in my life, because in the past I just hid it, avoided it and ignored it, and now I'm taking steps to own it and pay back essentially for what I've done, so that I learn and stay in healthy relationships.

Speaker 1:

I love that these rules are not for rules sake. They're all for the sake of relationship, and I also hear that behavior is important. Like oftentimes, there's an over focus on changing our behavior, and recovery is about so much more than behavior, but it's not about less Sure.

Speaker 3:

See, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So this is so good. I am already taking so much from this conversation, so let's get really practical about some of those appropriate action steps. Obviously, we're not dealing with oxen here. We're dealing with sexual choices. So what are some examples of appropriate action steps?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So you've got the natural consequences, which is just that reminder to you. Here's what it's going to cost. No matter what it's going to hurt my relationships, it's going to. You know, it grieves the heart of God because I treat people like objects. So you've got that list in front of you. When we think of action steps, it's more really those logical consequences. So it's commitments like who am I committed to telling within 24 hours of the relapse? Because being honest with a spouse or a group is essential to the whole plan. So that commitment to honesty. Many people will have a commitment then that I need to reach out to a counselor or pastor or mentor, someone who is essentially above me in my journey that I'm reporting to, to let them know and to seek their counseling guidance. Then Trevor already mentioned some of these, but you know ideas like if the relapse occurs on a device, whatever that device is, I lose access to it.

Speaker 3:

If the relapse happens during a certain time of day, someone may make choices that they're not allowed to. You know, be on a TV alone at night, for example. I know for many spouses when a relapse occurs, there is kind of that that other spouse needs time to grieve or to figure out how they're feeling, and they don't necessarily want you in the bedroom, and so there may be consequences of sleeping in another room or on the couch for a period of days. So that that's another part of it too. Those action steps involve, if I'm married, what does my spouse need to recover and to heal and to process this? And so I may choose some consequences that are not necessarily for me but are more for them but are still painful for me. One of those you know on my plan my wife.

Speaker 3:

If there's a relapse, she doesn't want me in another room, because then there's still the issue of like well, what's he doing? What's he looking at? Is he on his phone? He's in another room. She still wants me in our room, but I have to commit to sleeping on the floor for three nights, or three nights per however many relapses there were. So that's a very unc. I don't get a mattress or anything, I just get the floor and a pillow. It's like well, that would be uncomfortable Totally, but it allows her space, like I don't have to deal with him right next to me, but I can still see that he's in the room. So that's an example. I know others that they feel like boy. If I've turned people into objects, then I want to do the opposite and I'm going to financially support organizations that are fighting sex trafficking or anti porn groups or ministries like Pure Desire.

Speaker 3:

So I have to give them my finances in a positive way, where I've taken my resources in a negative way. So those are a few examples of things that I've seen on a lot of different plans.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think too I mean part of the process too is creating an escape plan. So when we are triggered or we're tempted and this is another tool that's on our resources page that you're literally putting a roadmap together of if I feel triggered or tempted, okay, I already have a plan in place. Here we go. Another thing, too, that Nick was talking about, with those consequences. I think it's important to identify that these are things that together, if you're a single person, you do it with your group or the community of accountability that you have. If you're married, it's something that you do with your spouse. But if you write them down, that's going to pay off much better than like okay, let's just talk about it and agree on it, and then, let's say, six months down the road, a relapse happens and you guys can't really remember all of them or you disagree. That something was like actually on the recovery action plan. So if you write it down, it's like there's no arguing with the plan. This is the plan we talked about when we weren't in crisis and we weren't at each other's throat. It's like let's just, you know, let's do this.

Speaker 2:

But I love what Nick said earlier. In my mind, it's a reframe of why we're doing this, and so one of the things that is important in this is writing out your desired outcome, like what is it that you're after? What do you want this plan to help you accomplish in your relationship? How is this plan going to help you become a man or a woman of integrity? How is it going to help you become someone who's honest and trustworthy, someone who can manage painful emotions when they experience it, who can manage being triggered? You know things like that, so I think that's another important piece. In my opinion, it's the most important piece because it's your why. It's the true north of why you're doing this. Why you're writing this stuff down, why you're putting really painful consequences on paper, is because you want to become more of who God's called you to be, and a better partner, a better friend, a better sibling, whatever it may be.

Speaker 1:

When you're making a plan like this and let's say you have to use it a few times, how do you know when to change the plan or how to respond to multiple ruptures, multiple reopses?

Speaker 2:

Probably not in the middle of crisis Like, hey, I really feel like we should change this plan, maybe, you know, after some safety and trust has been created and rebuilt. I think it's something that both whether again a single person with their group or a married person with their spouse, having that conversation and knowing that it's something that everyone needs to agree on to make the change it can't be the addicted partner saying, hey, look, I really want to get my you know iPhone back and I want to like, do sorry, nick Android phone, and I really want to get back into this. Can I do it? And the partner's not comfortable with it. Then you don't change it.

Speaker 2:

It's got to be something that you both are okay with, and the same thing with your group. If you're a single person, it's like look, I think I want to get Snapchat or TikTok back on my phone again. What do you think? And the group's like I don't know about that and here's why. Then again, this is why you're doing it with another person or a group, because it's easy to justify those changes in your own mind, and so, again, it's trying to create safety and integrity and trust, having that built again. And so, yeah, that's why I think it's important.

Speaker 3:

I think it's good to note that it's kind of normal if we do have a relapse, because we're feeling the guilt and shame again, even if we're, you know, making progress, it's just natural that some of those old feelings come back. And it's very common that for the guy or the gal who's relapsed, they look at that recovery action plan, it's like whoa, wait a minute, I don't, I don't really have to do all these things, do I? And they realize in that moment that maybe they made the plan in a very ideal way and kind of that bravado and maybe in kind of the purge idea of I'm never going to do this again. And so if I relapse, I'm going to give away my car and I'm going to move.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to go all the and then they live under a bridge.

Speaker 3:

I can't really do that I don't have to do these things, do I? And that's why I think the creation of the plan is so important that you look at it and read and with you know, your group or a mentor, your spouse, you, you really look at it and say, am I absolutely committed to doing these if I relapse, and we encourage people you know, sign your recovery action plan, like sign and date it and say this is my signature. I'm in because some of those feelings are going to come if you relapse, like wait, I, I have to sleep in the guest room for two weeks. I don't really have to sleep that long, do I? Like we didn't really mean this, like no, we, we did. And it's an opportunity for you to really show I am committed to my recovery and healing, whatever it takes. And I'm not looking for shortcuts, I'm not looking for the easy way around.

Speaker 3:

And so what I've said to you know, men or women in this position, is, if you relapse and you're not great with what's on your recovery action plan, you need to do it anyway. You need to completely fulfill it and then, when you're you're done, like maybe a couple of weeks down the road, you've taken all the steps you've implemented the logical consequences, then you might come back around and say, hmm, here's some ways I think this could work better for me, for us, and and talk about making changes then. But you don't get to do it after the relapse because like, well, this isn't really what I meant or I thought it would be different. It's like you got to just do it and then after that you can look at making changes. And might that be painful? Yeah, but remember, that's the whole point. You're not gonna wanna do it.

Speaker 3:

It's not supposed to be easy, it's not supposed to be convenient. And if you're like, maybe you committed, if I relapse on my laptop, I'll get rid of it for 30 days, and you relapse on your laptop and then you're saying to your spouse, like, but I need it for work and I've got all these things, and like I'd have to, like, go to the library to answer email, spouse might be like, yep, okay, okay, they're not that concerned that it might be inconvenient for you, but you're gonna. I can almost guarantee you're gonna have some objections in your own mind that you hadn't thought about when you created the plan. And I would just say that that's okay, like you've got to face it and if it's harder than you thought it was gonna be, you know, step up, be a person of your word and do it, and then come back around and look at maybe an adjustment for the next time and to move forward.

Speaker 1:

So good, I gotta beef up my plan.

Speaker 3:

We all probably do that and that's, you know, a good thing. You could keep in mind the recovery action plan. Even if you haven't relapsed, probably once a quarter or twice a year, you need to make sure you pull it out, read through it and answer the question am I completely committed to this? Because if you're not, it's not gonna work for you.

Speaker 3:

Now, when you're in early recovery, I have encouraged guys in my group like you need to have your recovery action plan somewhere you see it every single day, so that throughout the day you know this is a commitment I have made and if I relapse, these are things I am committed to doing. And don't let that, you know, end up in a drawer where it's a month later and, like Trevor said, I kind of forget what I put on there and what's that big a deal? I mean, maybe you've got a couple of years of sobriety, you might not be as familiar with it, but that's where I'd say, every couple of months, pull it out, read through it, make sure you're committed to it. But in early recovery, I think this is one of those documents you just need to be looking at, daily if possible, so you keep it in front of you and really get the traction that you need.

Speaker 1:

Pure Desire has dozens of free tools on their website and I'm going to put a link in the show notes so that you can find the recovery action plan, relapse prevention plan and all of these worksheets that can be both helpful for addicts and also for partners. And in order to define what is a relapse for me, what is a slip for me, how do I know if I'm in the danger zone or if I'm in a really safe, healthy place, there is a tool called the Three Circles that can be really helpful. What are the Three Circles?

Speaker 2:

Okay, so the Three Circles tool is something that, and it literally is Three Circles you have a inner circle, which is red, a middle circle which is orange or yellow, depending if it's printed in color, and then you have a green circle, the outer circle, which is the bigger one, and the inner circle is relapse. So it's the behaviors that you don't want to go back to anymore. And so, in this context, porn, masturbation, sexually acting out if you're single affairs, whatever it may be, and I would say, over time, in recovery, what ends up in that inner circle may change. It may be watching R-rated movies by myself, and you can get fuzzy into the middle circle, which I'll get to, but just know that those are the behaviors I don't want to do. That's what I'm trying to avoid. And then the middle circle is guardrails. What are things that I need to put in place so that I don't end up in my inner circle doing those behaviors I don't want to do again? And Nick says this great line I think it's in our course, sexual Integrity 101, that guardrails are not set up at the bottom of, like you know, the cliff. They're set up at the top to help us not go over the cliff, and so the idea is guardrails are put in place back here in the OAs so that I don't even get close to that inner circle, and so those are important as well. But then the outer circle and this is where I've been living in for the last few years and really, like I feel like that's the season of life that I'm even just focusing on these.

Speaker 2:

These are the healthy behaviors that you do in replacement for those unwanted behaviors, but they're also things that you do like self-care, building relationships. How am I pushing into community more, finding things that put me in a better mental space or help my relationship with the Lord? And these are the most important things for two reasons. One, self-care and taking. You know, really just taking care of yourself and managing yourself is a very active thing. It's not passive and is also something that you need to be really proactive, because I think that doing self-care only when I'm triggered, like okay, sure, that makes sense, but also it's something you need to do in advance, like I need to be working on doing self-care so that when I get triggered, I can manage that in a healthy way.

Speaker 2:

And then the other thing about the outer circle stuff is in his book the Talent Code, daniel Coyle talks about, that we actually are physically in our brain, unable to unlearn a behavior. We have to replace it with something, and you see that in Colossians taking off putting on the idea of replacement behaviors. And so it's not just stop looking at porn and masturbating, it's also when I feel triggered I go to a group member or I make a phone call or I go on a walk or I journal or, and so it's finding those replacement behaviors. I know for you, drew, you're an outdoor guy like you love going on hikes and runs and you're crazy and I don't understand why you do those. But they're good for you because they're things that help you manage holistically your health. And those are replacement behaviors from looking at porn, from masturbating, from sexually acting out. And so that's a brief overview.

Speaker 3:

That inner circle is really important, where we define what relapse is. And I think it's important that we write it out and that, if we're married and our spouse is engaged in the recovery process, that they're clear on it too, because there's, you know, typically on a you know plan, someone might write pornography and masturbation. Well, there's a lot of gray area beyond what is pornography. And so if you were at a gas station and picked up a Bikini magazine and looked at girls in swimsuits for a few minutes, did you relapse? In some cases in marriages, people would say absolutely yes and other people would say, well, no, that's not, I'm not worried about that.

Speaker 3:

So in your story and with your spouse and what you're committed to, you need to know what and being very clear, because I think what will happen? In our old nature, in our flesh, we will tend in those moments to try to tiptoe right up to whatever the line is and we will listen to thoughts of like well, this isn't really a relapse, because you know dot, dot, dot. And so we need to be crystal clear like no, this is a relapse. When I do this, I'm relapsing and I've stated it. It's clear, there's no way around it. So that's where that inner circle becomes really really helpful, because it becomes this picture of what am I committed to avoiding. And then that middle circle of the boundaries kind of handles those gray areas Of where do I realize when I'm veering in that direction I'm in dangerous territory and so I'm making a plan to live differently. And then that becomes the outer circle.

Speaker 3:

In some of our sessions, at Pure Desire, I've taught this, like as part of the three-legged stool of recovery, that you've got the relapse prevention plan, which is kind of my this is my day in and day out commitment to how I'm doing life in a healthy way. The second leg is the escape plan, that this is what I'm committed to doing if I'm feeling triggered, if I'm feeling drawn back to that old stuff. What do I do in those moments? And then the recovery action plan becomes what do I do if there is a relapse? And so those three working together I think really is key. If you only have one or two of them you're gonna be limited because they you really need to have all the phases thought through Day to day life, moments of trigger or temptation, and then what do I do if a relapse does occur?

Speaker 1:

This is all so proactive, not passive, and I have found that whenever I find myself drifting, it's not in a good direction. We don't drift toward God, we don't drift towards being healthy.

Speaker 2:

Unfortunately, heh. Wouldn't it be nice, oh gosh, so nice.

Speaker 1:

And for me, I am in the most dangerous susceptible place. As soon as I think I can coast, as soon as I think I've arrived, my work is over. That's actually a setup.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And all of these different tools can be helpful in maintaining momentum rather than settling.

Speaker 2:

Totally.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. And that's where the three circles become kind of that barometer and that's where I've said, you know, a lot of couples will ask like, well, what should I be sharing? What shouldn't I be sharing with my spouse, what's too much? And I think that three circles plan is a great tool for couples to know so that your spouse is aware. Here's I've clearly defined relapse and here's the boundaries that I'm committed to, and I even give you permission if you see I'm ignoring one or not following this. These are my commitments.

Speaker 3:

And then that green circle that they can see oh, you're committed to exercising more or you're committed to, you know, going to group every week. Those are your outer circle habits and when our spouse sees us doing those things, it builds their confidence that recovery is happening, and so I think it's just a great communication vehicle and something that every week we could just be looking at. In fact, I've had a lot of guys in group that they'll put it on their wall or their mirror, just like every day, looking okay, here's my plan. And they'll say, if I stick to the plan, I do really well, but it's when I forget the plan, ignore the plan, like I said, just start drifting into things and it's what's not. You know, it's not porn or it's not relapse, what's the big but? But I remember like, oh yeah, when I'm just scrolling social media I'm moving towards my old, unhealthy pattern and I need to keep that in front of me. So I keep making wise choices, even in those really small areas.

Speaker 1:

Another way to say that would be forgetting priorities.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, totally.

Speaker 1:

Starting to go down the faster scale.

Speaker 2:

Another tool that's on our website.

Speaker 1:

So many good tools, can you share a success story or two of how a recovery action plan has been really helpful and accomplish the purpose?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think about one of the guys that I was in an early group with who had come up with a very unique logical consequence and I've shared this in other places, but they recognized as a couple that when he had to share about a relapse, it made his wife feel uncomfortable, icky, confined. She just didn't like how it made her feel. And so they were like, being creative, well, what, what makes you feel that way? And he has kind of a claustrophobia thing. And so he said, if I have to crawl under our house because they have pipes down there that occasionally need some kind of work or maintenance, I feel confined, icky, gross, hate it.

Speaker 3:

And they're like okay, if you relapse, you have to spend an hour under the house, you know, working on those projects. And you know, as it happened, a couple months later he had a relapse, had to be honest with her and I was part of the plan that he had called me and checked in and he went under the house and did that work and he was like it. He said I knew I would hate it, but there was something powerful about telling myself you know, the reason you're doing this is because of the choice you made to look at pornography and he said the way that just kind of took my awareness of this matters.

Speaker 3:

There's something I'm doing and I don't ever.

Speaker 3:

You know, it took it just to say, well, I'm never going to do it again, to like, I really don't want to have to be back here because this is as unpleasant for me as maybe what my wife is experiencing, obviously in a very, very different way, and and you know, for him it was just one hour, was a part of that lesson. So that's that's something I feel is really helpful to see that on our recovery action plan, most of these logical consequences we have can be accomplished in a relatively short time period. But if it creates lasting change, isn't it worth it, you know? Or if in a, if in a day or two, we can experience even a level of the discomfort and pain that maybe our spouse feels from the broken trust, wouldn't that be a good thing if it creates lasting health for years and years in your relationship? And so it's. It's kind of choosing that short term pain for the long term gain. You're not to be pithy with that, but I think we all see it was good when we make those choices.

Speaker 3:

If it creates lasting change, it's worth it. And I yeah, I shared a little bit of my own story. There was a relapse a couple of years in and it was. I had that reaction that I shared like, well, I do, I really have to do this. It's, you know, it's been so many years, and it was like no, you know, having to sleep on the floor for several nights like, okay, this is real and I don't like this. And it was a way of opening that conversation.

Speaker 3:

And here's the other thing I'd say I think it really empowered my wife to feel like she had a voice in it, because that was something she had put on the recovery action plan, like I want you to sleep on the floor. And when I did that and I did it willingly, if not with a bad attitude she was like, oh, you know, there I have some role to play here, that I'm not just a victim of his choices, that I can see ways that we maybe could work on this together. And so it actually, in the long run, was was helpful for us, because it brought her more into the process in a way that you know she never had been in the past. In the past it was just I would purge and part of my purge was confessed to her blog. Get it all out there. I feel better, she feels terrible and we just kind of moved on and and to have it happen in a way that wasn't more the same was really really helpful in our marriage.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I've heard stories like that too, where the betrayed partner feels more agency, feels not like relapses ever comfortable or okay or justifiable. But it's like you know, I've seen some betrayed partners and if anyone who is listening is a betrayed partner, this is not necessarily normal, but this is a possibility where it's just like, okay, you relapsed, we know what to do. Work the plan, you know. And it's not a dismissive thing, it's something where it's like look, we've put this in place, we know that this works and so let's work this plan. And then, once I've worked through that plan to start rebuilding trust and safety, then we have conversations on why it happened.

Speaker 2:

And again, this is something that would help encourage both the addict and the betrayed partner to be in groups, to be in an environment where you are working through what you're going through. Why did you relapse? How is this betrayal making you feel? How can you process that? So I think it's important to also be connected to community, as, like this is not a tool to do by yourself. Period, these tools that we're talking about are things done best in community.

Speaker 1:

Hey man, Pure Desire has groups for men and women on both sides of the struggle. I will also put links for it in the show notes.

Speaker 3:

We appreciate it. Yeah, we do.

Speaker 1:

You're welcome. Thank you for providing so many free resources and making healing more possible for everyone. Nick and Trevor, what is your favorite thing about recovery?

Speaker 2:

Oh gosh, I saw your questions this morning and I was just like this question sucks because there's just like. There are days where I'm like, I don't like, like there's nothing favorite about recovery. But I think just and I'm leading a group of young guys, all 20 somethings right now, and I know in this context I'm seeing a lot of it more but I think, whether it's in myself or with other people, seeing those moments of self-discovery, those like aha moments where light bulb goes, where something connects and clicks like, oh, I had no idea that the reason why I react this way or I go to these behaviors is because of my relationship with my mom, or because when I was a kid, my parents got divorced, or because I, you know, for me, like whenever I feel stupid or I feel dumb, like that's a huge trigger and I can point back to moments in my life that I've seen those. So when I make those connections, I can be like, okay, all right, remember like you're okay, you're safe, you are cared for.

Speaker 2:

Some of the things like and I've recently done this where I had a coach tell me to find a picture of myself, and the coach was like look at that picture of that innocent, that sweet, that very valued and cared for kid and remember that's who you are. And so for me, what was helpful is like being able to remember those moments, and so I like being able to I mean, we've talked about it with you before like the re-parenting stuff, you know your inner child, but when self-discovery happens, there's a lot more awareness, and for me, when I have those moments or I see those moments happen in other people, shame the level of it just drops. Like you become, you come to accept yourself more and understand how valued and loved you are by the Lord and by other people. And so when I see that stuff, man, that's like this is why I do what I do, this is why I love leading groups and this is how I feel cared for from the Lord when those moments happen in my story too.

Speaker 1:

Let's go.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think my favorite part of recovery is just getting to meet you, drew. These kinds of conversations wouldn't happen unless we were all in some kind of recovery and having community with people that get it, that get your story, that you feel like I can talk about just about anything, and they can relate and be like yeah, I understand what you're saying in areas of our life that with the average person, like, well, I'm not going there, but in recovery, as you meet people on the journeys, you do group with them as you get to, you know, behind each other's podcast there's just a relationship connection of like man, this is real and this feels like what relationships are supposed to be like in all of our walk of life. And yet we're not currently experiencing that, I think, in many places. So I do love the relationships, the community.

Speaker 3:

I would echo what Trevor said too, that the way that in my own life it just feels like it's all connected, because I think when we're, when we're just struggling with pornography on our own, we're trying to battle it, we're in the binge purge cycle, we kind of see this as a separate part of our life, like, yeah, over here I have this one problem, but then my real life is over here. And then what we find out is in this journey is like oh actually, no, it's all connected my family of origin stuff, my trauma story, the voices I listened to where did those come from? What's God trying to say? Who did he make me to be? It's all wrapped up even in that behavior and what led to it.

Speaker 3:

And when you start to see all those connections and there's all these kind of aha moments along the way, it's like holy cow, I never thought of it that way and they still happen. You know, we're I'm 13 years into this journey of recovery and we still will do a podcast with someone and they'll say something in a new way. And it's like, well, I've never thought of my story through that lens, like that, wow, that's really insightful. And those moments like, well, that's really cool. It's cool the way that our story connects and then we can use that story to connect with others and really enjoy those relationships.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, amen, guys. Thank you so much, and if you would like to hang out with Nick and Trevor and some other people in recovery who get it, that's right. Go to the Pure Desire Summit. It's happening one week after the husband material retreat, so you could even make a West Coast trip out of it, as a couple of people have done. Yeah, that's right. Go to the Pure Desire Summit, get more relational. This is our whole life and God is doing something amazing. Yeah, and recovery action plan can be a part of that.

Speaker 2:

Yep, okay.

Speaker 1:

So don't forget to go down to the show notes for a motherload of awesome free resources and tools.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And always remember you are God's beloved Son and you he is well pleased.

Creating a Recovery Action Plan
Understanding Natural and Logical Consequences
Developing a Recovery Action Plan
Relapse Prevention and Recovery Action Plans
Recovery Action Plan Importance
The Power of Recovery and Community
Pure Desire Summit

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