"Pletcher and Bartolameolli are undisputed experts on the subject of co-sex addiction.  They know more about it than anyone I know and have presented  an expose that with great clarity supersedes anything I have read before."

– John Bradshaw

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spiritual Awakening

One of the promises of working a 12 step program is that having had a spiritual awakening as a result of working the 12 steps, we carried this message to others and practiced these principles in all areas of our lives. Of course, this is a process and we learn to make mistakes and love ourselves through the mistakes. This is perhaps our greatest learning in our spiritual awakening, the process of self-love and self-forgiveness when we hurt ourselves or those we love.

Integrating these principles in all areas of our lives is as well, quite challenging. It requires a sense of presence and awareness. It requires deep breathing and slow movement so that we can choose our behaviors, rather than react to our own thoughts or feelings. Being able to hold something inside of my own mind and heart, allow thoughtfulness and prayer to be in the mix of it all and then to choose with discernment what to do or say, or not do or say, is a great gift of our spiritual awakening.

A continued maturity that I notice in myself and others on this journey is the practice of self-responsibility. Whenever I strongly react, judge, criticize, blame or feel fear about someone else in my life, I know that there is an old distressful recording from childhood replaying. It is often easier to focus all my energy on someone in my life today, pull away, judge, gossip about or make wrong-rather than to really let these emotional reactions stir inside and take responsibility for their origins in my life. It often seems easier to judge a friend, than really own how they are mirroring an abusive behavior of my mother or another family member. It can seem there is less at stake when I put all my fear on someone in my life in present time, rather than look at my history. When I look at my family of origin, I can honestly see the ways I was used and left in unsafe situations by my family of origin and original caregivers. The strong emotional reaction today is about what happened back then.

In my experience, continued maturity along our path of spiritual awakening requires that we keep our focus on our own histories and primary, earlier relationships as the source of our deep fear and shame. To become mature in this spiritual journey, we must take responsibility for doing this work with them, rather than focusing it on others in our lives, who can often be our soul partners and spiritual companions on the journey. We push away the people along the way who love us with great purity and power because it brings up those wounds left unhealed from our history. This is a great loss and tragedy that occurs on this journey. We must be aware that old hurts will emerge and in our spiritual awakening, look within to heal, rather than hurt those loving us in our lives and in our recovery.

A Spiritual Awakening sounds really lovely, in so many ways, and it really is in many ways. But, spiritual awakening also comes with mature responsibility to look within and be willing to go to any lengths for our continued deepening and growth. Looking honestly at our childhood set-ups for addictive and harmful behaviors takes great courage. We can trust that we will be provided all we need along the way to do this and we learn self-forgiveness when we make those mistakes.

Remember on this journey of great challenge and great joy to breathe deeply, walk slowly and drink lots of water. Going within allows for authentic and deep connections without.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mature Self Reflection and Conflict Resolution

Clean and honorable communication takes emotional and spiritual maturity. When difficulties and conflicts arise in our relationships, a whole host of past, often unresolved issues arise as well. It is the nature of intimate and close relationships.

As we allow ourselves authentic connection with another, all the ways we may have been hurt in the past will rise to the surface for healing as well. This, unfortunately, does not always happen in a conscious way. When a conflict arises in our present day relationships, we do not suddenly become aware of past hurts that are triggered from our original connections as children. It may also seem logical that our strong reaction and frustration is only about the person we have the current conflict with. After all, they had no right to treat us this way and their behavior was inappropriate! We can easily justify the level of anger we have too. This can be an automatic response as a way to avoid dealing with the real pain of past hurt.

Looking within to the source of the majority of pain will lead us to deeper and more acute grief. Again, often unconsciously, we avoid this in favor of blaming all that we are feeling in the moment on the person we have the present time issues with. This can become a vicious cycle, when we do not choose to look within. I believe it becomes a vicious cycle because of the spiritual drive to heal. In this drive to heal, our spirits consistently attract individuals in our life and we will deal with the same issues again and again. When we welcome the emotional maturity that leads us to looking within and go to the source of its original pain, the issue in our present day relationships has less and less power over us. Our reactions are that of a mature adult, not a reactive child. This issue is perhaps an ancient one and until we go to the source of our pain, it will resurface again and again. Here is the place of great courage and maturity.

Here are some tools for getting to the source of the pain rather than continuing on a cycle of having the same issues surface in our relationships again and again:

1) Be willing to go within. Embrace the idea that all difficulties and issues that surface in our present day relationships that cause us deep pain have a much earlier source. Do inner child work and connect with the age that the wound first occurred and be willing to do HEALTHY SELF PARENTING whenever this issue arises.

2) Seek counsel outside of yourself when you are unable to discern what is part of present time relationship issue and where the original hurt occurred. Create a support system that not only provides great nurturing and listening but is also willing to take the risk of holding you accountable to look at your own shadows and recreated hurts.

3) Do personal Boundary Work. The best place for this is Alanon and other 12 step support groups that focus on boundary work. A good therapist can assist with this as well.

4) Assume that all reoccurring issues in your current relationships are 15-20% about what is going on in the present time and 80-85% is about a past wound that's been triggered. This creates a mind set of personal responsibility for what you are attracting into your life. It also creates a belief in the spiritual healing of the Universe; that we are on a path together and there is deeper meaning on the journey. The deeper meaning is that all difficulties happen for the purpose of healing and transformation. When we embrace this value, we stay out of blame and reactivity, or over focusing on our current relationships. We look within for our healing which also has us discern appropriate boundaries and responsible communication in the conflict resolution.

5) Stay Aware of your expectations of others and their responses to your communication. Often we unknowingly expect people to say and do what we wanted our parents to say or do as children and this responsibility gets layered over our adult relationships. While asking for what you want once a communication happens is perfectly appropriate and clarifies what may be an underlying expectation, other people in your relationships are not obliged to accommodate this request. Asking directly is mature behavior, but so is knowing you may not get it even if you ask upfront. There are no guarantees in our human relationships.

6) Be realistic in your expectations of others. There is always a stage in any relationship in which we betray each other and hurt each other. This is the risk of close connections with others. We all bring our wounds to our relationships and hurt will happen. Healthy SELF PARENTING, when we are disappointed, is our responsibility. This assures we are not putting others in the role of parents we never had, with expectations that they are bound NOT to meet.

7) Develop a strong Spiritual Practice. Our human relationships will always disappoint us, but our Higher Power/God/Goddess is a never ending source of love and support. Developing this relationship within ourselves with our Spiritual Guides/Resources will meet the need for self approval and affirmation that we often seek from others, who will only disappoint us. In developing this healthy spiritual connection within, our relationships with others will take on a more mature and realistic, authentic connection. Our healing always happens from within.

There is freedom to choose in healthy relationships. Even if we do everything right in handling a conflict that comes up in our lives with another does not insure that they will respond as we want them to respond.

Being honest with ourselves about expectations we may have, looking within for the original hurt that has been triggered and taking responsibility for self parenting rather than looking to others to fulfill the wounded child's wants and needs are a great beginning in creating mature, healthy and authentic relationships in our lives.

Take these risks with your own spiritual and emotional support circles in place; within and without. Go into the conflict resolution knowing that other human beings will always disappoint but our Spiritual Source is never ending and abundant.

With courage and love on your journey,


Friday, February 6, 2009

The Power of Powerlessness

I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of accepting my powerlessness. In a world that has oppressed women for centuries, it goes against all that I know in my mind to believe I am powerless. Yet, there seems to be miraculous happenings when I breathe into this concept of powerlessness. Here are some of the paradoxes:

1) When I use my precious energy attempting to control or alter that which I do not have power, I am wasting this precious energy and missing opportunities for service and contribution.
2) Once I am humble and allow myself to see clearly my futile attempts at controlling something outside of my power, choice and possibility emerge.
3) In surrendering to that which I do not have choice over, I immediately see clearly many options and choices that I do have. Accepting Powerlessness births choices and options that were once clouded.

There are many paradoxes in recovery and in the spiritual journeying we are all a part of. One of the greatest is the paradox of powerlessness. Once we accept that over which we have no power, all that we have choice and power over emerges. Our acceptance of powerlessness gives us our own personal power and choice.

Humility is accepting things as they are and as they are not. Humility is standing in the truth of something.

I believe it takes great humility to accept our powerlessness.

I also believe that it takes great humility to accept our power in the places we can make a difference.

The more that we rely on a Power Greater than ourselves, the more self-reliant and mature we become in our spiritual journeying. Another paradox of this work that we do.

Blessings to you on this paradoxical and mysterious journey,