Setting Bottom Lines

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1 Setting Bottom Lines

2 What are bottom lines? Bottom lines are self defined activities which we refrain from in order to experience our physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual wholeness. Bottom lines are the boundaries between our addictive lives and a new life of fulfillment, richness and mystery Step One: We admitted we were powerless over sex and love addiction that our lives had become unmanageable. Recovery begins by admitting that our addiction is making our lives unmanageable and that we are powerless to stop. Each person in SLAA has different addictive behaviors and acts out differently. So our bottom lines are self defined, recognized and set with the help of a sponsor and a higher Power. Bottom lines are those activities that WE are powerless to stop, which are making OUR lives unmanageable. This workshop is based on the SLAA pamphlet Setting Bottom Lines 2

3 I. Destructive Behaviors We start defining our bottom lines by first looking at our destructive behaviors. These generally involve sex, love, romance, or unhealthy avoidance of them. Destructive behaviors are those activities that render us unable to maintain self-control or predict our own behavior. Destructive behaviors are usually those addictive activities that bring us to SLAA; those things that cause us pain and loss, or cause our loved ones pain and misery. Some examples of this may be? Having an affair Romantic intrigue Staying in abusive relationships Paying for sex Fantasy relationships Compulsive masturbation Anonymous sex Internet pornography Compulsive avoidance of social/sexual or relationship activity What consequences may result from these behaviors? Spiritual, mental, physical harm to self and others Lowered self esteem Loss of job STD s Broken relationships Divorce Loss of family Financial ruin Depression, anxiety, suicide Legal problems 3

4 Destructive Behaviors Consequences 4

5 Destructive Behaviors Consequences 5

6 II. Addictive Patterns When we review our destructive behaviors we can see certain patterns of behavior emerging. These could be patterns in the activities you choose, the type of partners you choose, how you plan or alter your schedule to act out, where you act out, etc. Your personal patterns may not be immediately apparent because it can take time to get to know yourself and to be truly honest. Working closely with a sponsor or trusted friends in SLAA may help you to uncover your patterns of addictive behavior. It is important to recognize and admit your part in your behaviors. How do you contribute to putting yourself into slippery places, or staying there. How do you set yourself up to act out. For example your qualifier may contact you in various ways: phone, , text message, giving you the excuse to respond and re-engage. Identifying addictive patterns is VERY IMPORTANT to staying sober. It helps to prevent relapse and finding new ways to act out. The equivalent would be that of an alcoholic switching from scotch to brandy; you might switch from Scott to Randy, or replace prostitutes with compulsive masturbation. Examples of addictive patterns can include: Always choosing unavailable partners Confusing lust with love Being sexual very early on in relationships Having fantasy relationships with people who show you kindness Dating people who remind you of your mother or father Ending relationships when they become too intimate Objectifying people as mere sex objects Using your Destructive Behaviors worksheet, try to identify your personal patterns of addictive behavior. 6

7 Addictive Patterns 7

8 III. Accessory Behaviors Accessory behaviors are warning signs that you are in danger of acting out. Accessory behaviors are not destructive themselves but they support your addiction. Accessory behaviors may seem innocent but in fact they set you up to act out; they include rituals, obsessions and triggers that may set you off. Accessory behaviors include strategies we use to get relationship or sex partners or materials for acting out. It is a good idea to consider your motives before doing anything that might be an accessory behavior. Ask yourself what outcome you are hoping for. Examples of accessory behaviors include: Cruising for sex. Going places where you may accidentally run into your qualifier. Using drugs or alcohol. Dressing provocatively. Listening too, reading or watching romantic or sexy songs, books and movies. Rejecting all social or dating invitations. Flirting. Innocently contacting ex partners. Obsessively thinking about qualifiers or reviewing contact information. 8

9 Accessory Behaviors 9

10 IV. Bottom Line Behaviors Bottom line behaviors are self defined activities which we refrain from in order to experience physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual wholeness. Bottom lines are based on patterns of behavior. Bottom lines should be clear so that you know when you have crossed them. Examples of bottom lines may include: No getting into a new relationship before ending a current one. No lying to my partner. No having sex on the first date. No masturbating with pornography. No unprotected sex. No pursuing inappropriate and unavailable people. No sex or intrigue with a married person. No contacting qualifiers or trying to find out information about them. No using prostitutes for sex. No going to strip bars or peep shows. No stalking an ex-partner or contacting a qualifier who wants no contact. No cheating on my partner physically or emotionally. No fantasy relationships. No compulsively avoiding sex in a committed relationship. Looking at your patterns of addictive behavior and your accessory behaviors, come up with your personal bottom lines. They should be clear, concrete and easy to remember. Engaging in any of these behaviors is considered a slip in your sobriety. Once you have your bottom lines, with the help of your Higher Power and the Fellowship, refrain from these behaviors one day at a time. 10

11 Bottom Line Behaviors 11

12 V. Healthy Behaviors Many members find it helpful to list healthy, appropriate behaviors that are personally relevant. These healthy behaviors fulfill and nurture us, take the place of addictive behavior, contribute to our spiritual growth and recovery, and bring joy into our lives. Examples of healthy behavior include: Prayer and meditation. Journaling. Working the twelve-steps. Using positive affirmations. Having a dating plan. Calling program members. Going to twelve-step recovery programs. Going to fellowship after meetings. Consulting my sponsor before engaging in some slippery behavior. Leaving the house. Taking care of our health and cleanliness. Eating healthy food. Routinely partaking in exercise. Taking a class in something that interests you. Engaging in a new hobby. Making self care a priority. Learning to say NO. Based on these examples, define some personally relevant healthy behaviors. 12

13 Healthy Behaviors 13

14 Twelve Characteristics of S.L.A.A. 1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved, with and/or emotionally, attached to, people without knowing them. 2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves and God. 3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time. 4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued. 5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contact. 6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care and support. 7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others. 8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies. 9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable. 10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities. 11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual or emotional anorexia for sobriety. 12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations. The Twelve Steps of S.L.A.A. 1. We admitted we were powerless over sex and love addiction that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 14

15 10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves, praying only for knowledge of Gods will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sex and love addicts, and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives. Signs of Recovery Individual patterns of sex and love addiction vary. Patterns of recovery also vary. Generally, recovery form our bottom-line behavior means the return of choice, sanity and personal dignity through working the S.L.A.A. program of recovery. As we work the Steps and use the tools of the program including meetings, our sponsor, S.L.A.A. literature, telephone contacts, and giving service we begin to notice some of the following signposts on our road to recovery: 1. We seek to develop a daily relationship with a Higher Power, knowing that we are not alone in our efforts to heal ourselves from our addiction. 2. We are willing to be vulnerable because the capacity to trust has been restored to us by our faith in a Higher Power. 3. We surrender, one day at a time, our whole life strategy of, and our obsession with, the pursuit of romantic and sexual intrigue and emotional dependency. 4. We learn to avoid situations that may put us at risk physically, morally, psychologically or spiritually. 5. We learn to accept and love ourselves, to take responsibility for our own lives, and to take care of our needs before involving ourselves with others. 6. We become willing to ask for help, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and learning to trust and accept others. 7. We allow ourselves to work through the pain of our low self-esteem and our fears of abandonment and responsibility. We learn to feel comfortable in solitude. 8. We begin to accept our imperfections and mistakes as part of being human, healing our shame and perfectionism while working on our character defects. 9. We begin to substitute honesty for self-destructive ways of expressing emotions and feelings. 10. We become honest in expressing who we are, developing true intimacy in our relationships with ourselves and others. 11. We learn to value sex as a by-product of sharing, commitment, trust and cooperation in a partnership. 12. We are restored to sanity, on a daily basis, by participating in the process of recovery. 15

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