"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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Boundaries and Accountability

Co-sex addiction is so much more than being addicted to someone addicted to sex. It is one of the reasons that I often write on topics that are seemingly unrelated to this specific area. In our book, we discuss co-sex addiction in all arenas of living including money challenges, women's relationships to one another, body image, empowerment and boundaries, etc.

One of the most challenges aspects of my own woundedness as a women shows up in my relationships with other women. I find myself in roles with my women friends in which there is an intensity and projection of their own mother wounds and fear of closeness with friends and peers. I also can honestly reflect on my own history with other women in my life in which they were in the role of my mother and I tested and pushed and projected my family of origin wounds onto them. As I look back now, I notice that there some relationships that ended that really were best to have ended and there were relationships that ended because I did not know how to have a mature relationship with another woman. I pushed those women I loved away. It was all I knew how to do.

Recently I communicated in a note to a friend that I wanted her to be aware of something as she spoke about me. I knew after I sent it that there was a charge of energy with it and I worried about it for a few days. I wondered how she would receive it, if she would be hurt or angry and I was angry with myself for not dealing with my own emotional charge around it before communicating.

This woman very graciously responded and owned her part. Then she asked if there was anything more that I wanted or needed around this issue. I spoke with her about it later and asked if she noticed an emotional charge in my communication and she stated that she did. She also knew that there was nothing she could do about what was going of for me. She knew she could only attend to her part.

Good modeling for me. I often feel defensive and get scared when I notice someone has a chargeĀ with me. I personalize it and immediately begin to protect myself. From what, I am not certain, but I do believe it is an old reflex and one that does not serve me or my relationships with others today.

My closest friendships today are characterized by these qualities:

*There is a level of self honesty in the communication. We are vulnerable with one another and share both our dreams and our challenges.

*When there is conflict or emotional charge in the relationship, each person looks at their part in the difficulty without blame or over focus on the other person's behavior. This is a true sign of maturity in relationships.

*Boundaries are respected and advise is not given, nor is feedback, unless it is requested. Being able to detach when someone else's behavior affects us is important. It is also important and another sign of emotional maturity to be able to hold within ourselves our own opinions and perspective of how another should live their life. This mutual respect characterizes wisdom and discernment.

*Varied and strong support systems exists outside of the relationship or the context of the relationship. This is important. I believe that emotionally healthy relationships are made up of emotionally healthy individuals and a characteristic of health is a strong and varied support system, outside of the relationship. Professional counselors, separate support circles, sponsors and mentors are all places that an individual can go to seek perspectives without an agenda. We all need places and people that are willing to be honest with us and support us in seeing our part in relationships. I personally have various resources that are not connected with one another in any way. This greatly supports healthy emotional boundaries in our lives as well.

*Lastly, whenever there is an emotional chargeĀ or difficulty in relationships, it is best viewed from the perspective of our historical relationships. How is this person my mother or father? Where am I expecting this person to behave in a way that heals these old hurts and thus projects expectations unfairly? As a shadow work facilitator, it is also essential as a behavior of one committed to emotional and spiritual maturity, to ask the question, "How is this person's behavior a reflection of my own? Where do I behave in the way that I am accusing them?" This is, perhaps, the most mature question one can ask.

Our pain, fear, deep grief or anger is happening inside of our own emotional networks. Those women or men in our lives are a mirror to our own unhealed places within. When we are challenged in our relationships with another, the answer lies within. Often those friends who are the most emotionally available, will be the ones that we push away or project the most upon. Their clarity and emotional presence reflects most clearly that which we do not want to own about our histories and selves. And when we do not want to look inside, we blame or break the mirror. It is the only other option.

The road to emotional and spiritual maturity dares us to look within courageously. It is not a path for the weak of will or heart for it calls forth the greatest bravery and willingness to risk our own righteousness and belief systems. Often it also calls us to confront those caregivers and family members that our very lives once depended upon. It is the most heroic and gallant of tasks.

As with anything requiring great effort and courage, the value of doing so, of looking within, is also great. We are rewarded with relationships that not only support and comfort us, but challenge us to grow and deepen in maturity; both spiritually and soulfully. This is the kind of development that leads us to our Divine Destiny and Soul's fullest expression.

Today I am grateful for the women in my life who not only hear me with eager and applauding hearts but who are willing to look within to their own blocks and intimacy challenges. We grow together in maturity and spiritual expression.

Blessings to you and all your relationships. May you have the courage to look lovingly and forgivingly into the mirror offered by those closest to you.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Generosity of Selfishness

We are conditioned in our culture that selfishness is bad. From an early age,we learn that sharing is good. And while I think this can be true, I also believe in other contexts, these beliefs do not serve us, nor do they serve others.

In the wisdom of the 12 steps, we learn about looking within, seeing our part, owning our behaviors and keeping integrity in all our relationships, including our relationship with self. I've also come to believe that only when we put our relationship with ourselves first in our lives,can we truly give to others. In attending to our own needs and wants first, we are filled up from within. From this fullness within, we are able to give to others out of choice, not obligation. This is authentic giving.

Here are some tips for honoring healthy selfishness:

1) Make spiritual, physical, financial and emotional self care your first priority. The question first and foremost when making decisions is, How can I best take a stand for myself in this situation? What is the best way to care for myself here?From this place of self care, there will be an abundance of energy within from which to give others.

2) Joyful fulfillment begets joyful fulfillment. As we follow the joys and passions that are calling us from within, fulfillment of life follows. From this place, we are able to give to others and encourage them to follow this joyful passion from within. As we all do this, an abundance of joy and generosity will develop around us. We become able to give to others from a place of fulness within.

3) When we are tired, resentful, agitated or unhappy in our own lives, how can we really be of service to others. Filling ourselves up with what brings us balance, spiritual connection and inspiration means we have this to offer and share with others.

There is great generosity that comes from selfishness.When we are bold and courageous enough to receive all that there is to receive from within and without that brings us joy and passion, we have this to offer and freely give to others. It is with great fulfillment and ecstasy that we choose to be of service to others.

Another paradox of this spiritual journey; the generosity of selfishness.