"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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stages of Recovery

   I've been thinking about the stages of my recovery and healing. Is there a pattern to the process? Can we follow certain steps and trust this road map in our own healing? In 12 Step recovery, we know there are, well...12 steps. We begin with one and go through all 12. Could these be considered the stages of recovery?
   There is another idea that I've been thinking about related to stages of recovery.  As a facilitator in women's healing work for over twenty years, we often speak about these women's weekends as initiations for the women participants who come to them. Many years ago we did inner child weekends and encouraged the initiation of the Inner Child with the Adult Woman. Then we did Wise Woman initiatory weekends in which we initiated the Wise Woman into our Consciousness. Before I had ever heard of Shadow Work®, I was facilitating weekends with women and men on initiating our Offender Patterns into our own consciousness as well. There is ancient knowledge in any discussion of initiation and this belief about the wisdom of these rites of passage are timeless. 
   When we speak of initiation, we speak of the three stages that one will go through including a separation, then ordeal or descent and finally a rebirth and transformation. In the rebirth and transformational stage, there is also a reconnection as someone who has gone through the ordeal. We are a changed and reshaped in this new connection. In recovery work, grief and family of origin work, this means that we are reconnected to parts of ourselves previously shut down or frozen. This also creates a different connectedness to others. As we are changed, our relationships are changed as well. 
    Recovery and family of origin healing is very much like an initiation and can be placed into stages as well. I remember finding great comfort in this when doing family of origin grief work and episode writing with a professional counselor. I kept asking her why I was doing this work because it was painful and sad to experience these losses from childhood that I had been in denial about. Wasn't denial an option? She said it was, if I wanted to choose denial. But I also recall her telling me that there are stages in this process and I will come out the end with more of my authentic self.  Today I realize the truth of this. As a result of my own initiation in recovery and healing, I see three distinct stages. I see the benefits and necessity of each.

1) Separation from my own family of origin allowed me to see things with a new set of eyes. Whether this separation is actually physical, emotional or spiritual, I believe we must allow ourselves this great gift in order to confront denial and see with some objectivity the reality of our family systems. We must break the enmeshment in order to choose our connection with our family in all our relationships. We must separate in order to find out who we really are outside of the roles we were crafted into from the emotionally immature family and societal system from which we were raised. We learn to bring our own power, values and choice back to ourselves and our relationships with others. Separation can be painful but in order to individuate and initiate ourselves into our own authentic selves, it is a necessity. 

2) Descent/Ordeal/Grieving is the next necessary stage as an initiation into maturity and our own authentic selves. This requires the descent and grieving work that allows us to feel and know the reality of what was missing in our lives and what set us up in addictive behavior. These addictive behaviors may include substance abuse, overspending behaviors, constant crisis, self-centeredness, compulsive care-taking, objectifying women, sexual abuse, etc. In co-sex addiction, giving ourselves over to a relationships in order to fill the emptiness within is the primary addictive behavior we engage in. Addiction is simply a way to avoid feeling and when we intentionally and consciously enter the second stage of initiation into maturity and authentic expression, we give ourselves this gift. This is the gift of embracing our full expression, our full emotions. It means coming into honest reality about the ways in which we were abused overtly or covertly in our family of origin and the institutions we grew up in. We learn how we have come to tolerate and recreate these relationships in our lives. When we honestly grieve our childhood losses, we can begin to see our current behaviors in ways that do not serve us and we are able to choose behaviors that do serve us. Our esteem of self grows and we begin to attract available, kind, respectful partnerships, friendships, colleagues and support into our lives. People that will tell us the truth and support us in our descent and rebirth. The descent and ordeal is painful and requires courage. But the rewards remain immense as we emerge from this stage reborn and transformed. 

3) Rebirth/Transformation is the third stage in our self initiation and involves reaping the fruits of our labor and grief. We come to know ourselves more fully, separate from our herstory and history and fully awaken in our own lives. This is an opportunity for us to use our power to serve and care for self in powerful and purposeful ways. In our transformation, we learn what environments and relationships nourish our continued consciousness. We choose with intention how to use and focus our energy for purpose and healing, service and contribution. In our rebirth, there is an honoring of our own holiness and we radiate and model this for others. 

   There is nothing of great value that does not require effort. The stages of initiation into maturity and authentic self require this effort. 

*There is great courage in separating ourselves and individuating from our family of origin relationships. 
*There is great self love that keeps us connected to our grief and an authentic expression of our losses and abuse histories. 
*And there is spiritual and emotional generosity in the rebirth and transformation stage when we connect with our own Divine Purpose and intention for service to others. 

  Wherever we are in our own initiation into spiritual and emotional maturity, together and in our spiritual connections, there will be rebirth and transformation. 

Blessings and love on your journey, 


Sunday, May 17, 2009

It is better to receive that to give?

   I grew up hearing that "it was better to give than to receive." This was a value from my family of origin. We were a close knit Italian family and we were generous. If you came to our home, at any time of the day or night, you were fed. There were always pizzelles and biscotti freshly baked for coffee or a shot of brandy if that was your preference. We were generous and what we had we shared, even if what we had was not much.
   Being Italian and Catholic, there was also a strong value of justice in my family. We always gave to the poor, knowing that charity was an important act of faith. I grew up with my family giving to charity, volunteering with the elderly and even as a young high schooler, there were young children from the neighborhood that I spent time with on Saturdays and tutored during the week. All of this is good and I am grateful for these experiences. 
   Today, as an adult woman, I know that while "giving" to others is part of my calling, of being of service, I also know that I can not "give" what I do not allow myself to "receive." I've found that in the last few years, my prayer and meditation practice has led me more and more to the rather bold and less socially acceptable belief that "receiving" is my Spiritual Calling of the time, especially as a woman. This contradicts a very deeply embedded belief in our patriarchal culture that covertly  and overtly conditions and expects women to give and focus on others.  
   As women, we are conditioned to give - give -give and then give more. We often develop a self esteem and sense of control by our volunteering or being needed by others. It becomes an automatic way to actually avoid dealing with our own low self-esteem and beliefs that we are not good enough. We hide behind our unconditional giving and never venture out into the courageous realm of receiving. We do not learn authentic giving by first learning the depth of our own value. One who does not allow themselves to receive does not really learn how to give from fullness within. Giving becomes an automatic behavior and can actually be a way to hide and avoid dealing with our own low self esteem. We must learn and practice authentic receiving in order to truly give from our fullness and authentic desire to gift another
   There is great vulnerability and trust in opening ourselves to receive. I think it takes more courage to receive than to give mostly because we are not in control when receiving. It also requires us to have enough esteem of self that we are able to allow ourselves to be gifted, given to and blessed by another. There is much more called for from within our spirits and soul when receiving is asked of us, rather than giving. I think often others hide themselves in giving rather than the vulnerable and courageous act of allowing themselves to receive. 
   This is yet, another, paradox of recovery, especially co-sex addiction recovery. While we must heal from our self-centeredness and self-obsession when we first enter our healing journey of recovery, as years go on, I believe we are called to maturity through receiving. We begin to reap the benefits of our recovery and our spiritual program and Higher Power wants to bless us more and more. This blessing becomes what we offer and give to others. We learn to love ourselves with great depth and forgive ourselves for our imperfections. In receiving Divine blessing and understanding for all of these things, our maturity deepens and we are able to give these blessings in return to others. 
   While for some it might be better to give than to receive, I believe our Spiritual maturity will eventually call us to welcome deeper and more profound gifts and blessings for ourselves. This spiritual calling to receive requires the healing of any old messages of not deserving and begin to believe in our own treasured and beloved value. Giving from this place of knowing our own cherished value deep within ourselves will truly bless others.
   Today I remind you to allow yourself to receive, to be blessed and showered with gifts from your Spiritual Source and from those that love and care about you. From this deep self of fulfillment within, your giving will be even more precious.

   Blessings to you on this journey of learning to receive and receive abundantly,