Accountability is vital to recovery. You can’t beat your sexual struggles alone. Yet it’s one of the most terrifying and courageous things you can do. It is so worth it, so how do you do it well?
Here are three things good accountability needs to have
So you’ve decided you need accountability. You’ve confessed, you’re keen and ready to go! That’s great! But, this isn’t going to just fall into place naturally. Unfortunately, that initial confession and occasionally being asked ‘how are you going…with stuff?’ isn’t going to cut it. You need a game plan. You both need to set out clear and definitive expectations of each other.
This is because, as much as we’d like to believe our whole heart is in this, it probably isn’t. Why? Because accountability hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It means revealing your barest soul to someone and risking rejection. Part of us is always going to want to avoid it. It’s way too easy for accountability to fail when we don’t have a clear framework.
It’s important to begin by getting on the same page as your partner. Are you both ready for the same level of commitment and responsibility? Are your relevant values aligned? If not, try again with someone new.
When you find your accountability match, clear and tangible expectations give you the best chance of avoiding ‘The Fade’. The Fade is when busyness, awkwardness and reluctant hearts slowly but surely remove us from real accountability. We begin to skip scheduled chats, the hard-hitting questions become vague and it turns into a hang-out session if we even make it that far. This does our recovery no good. Here, contacting that person in moments of temptation begins to feel ‘too bothersome’. We’re not sure it matters anymore. It’s stopped being intentional. And you’re on your way to relapse.
Do you want to meet up once a week to talk? Make it clear. Do you have a set of questions that you know need to be asked every single time? Write them down. Do you need your partner to be available for emergency temptation text and calls at any time? Ask. Perhaps write this down together, and make a firm commitment to do the hard stuff, kind of like an accountability contract. Because you will start to wander from the hard truths and questions, trust me.
It can really hurt to be honest. The shame that sits within can threaten to suffocate. In secrecy, the lies thrive and we are convinced if we confessed, we would be rejected and seen for who we truly are: disgusting, unworthy and irredeemable. But healing from this comes from confession and grace. When we are received by grace, it reminds us we are worth loving, and that God’s kindness to us stretches further than we could ever imagine.
You need to be honest each time you talk to your accountability partner. Even when your face is red and your shame is strong. And you need to be honest about when you haven’t been honest.
It’s a fight to speak it out.
But the freedom is worth it.
Consistency is key! Again, accountability is not enjoyable! No one wants to swallow their pride and confess ‘I watched porn and masturbated for two hours tonight because I was lonely‘. It’s truly humbling and reveals the tender wounds our hearts carry.
So fight The Fade with consistency. Regularly review your expectations (this is why it helps to write it down) and make them a priority. The life of a woman in the 21st Century is busy. Whether you’re a student, professional, living on welfare or anything else, there are many activities and responsibilities that capture our time. We get tired, sick and cars and phones break. We go away on holidays. And our shame tells us ‘you’d be better off not sharing that stuff anyway…’
Shame makes it far too easy to make excuses. Many times the things that make it difficult to be consistent have a legitimate basis, but more often than not, you can, and you need to work around them. Don’t skip accountability.
If you want to recover, you will make it work. You will find time, and you will keep finding time. All it takes is a twenty-minute phone call once a week at a minimum! Personally, I meet with my main partner for thirty to sixty minutes weekly, and text my other partner, night and morning.
You need to find what works for you. We all have unique histories, struggles, values, relationships and personalities. Once you’ve done the courageous work of confession and asking someone to be your accountability partner, the best thing you can do is figure out the best tools, questions and motivation for you. Stay open to re-evaluating the process. Do some trial and error and try new things, but most importantly, lay down clear expectations, be honest and stay consistent.
You’ve so got this.