By Caileigh Smith, MC, LAC
Have you ever sent the wrong text message to the exact wrong person? I have. In fact, I did it recently. I sent a message about a person TO THAT person—the horror! The consequence? Well, besides being cut from that person’s Christmas card list, I suffered a complete and utter shame attack.
The Meadows has been facilitating its signature workshop, Survivors, for more than 30 years. Many people’s lives have been changed by the opportunity to confront the deep emotional impact of their childhood trauma.
Dr. Terry Eagan, a psychiatrist and Senior Fellow at The Meadows, is often asked by his clients and colleagues, “How can I positively impact this world when there are so many difficulties everywhere I turn – so much ill will and destruction, so much tragedy, so many people suffering seemingly insurmountable odds?”
By Nancy Greenlee, MAPC, LCPC
“I am hurt and I’m devastated. Being married to my husband is like doing yoga on one leg,” said a recent workshop participant. “I’m trying to hold things together, but I keep crashing down.”
In one way or another, to the outside world, you are a picture of success. Chances are you have several things in your life to be grateful for. Maybe you are a leader at your company or in your industry. Maybe you have a great spouse and great kids who you are sending to the best schools. Maybe you have the nice car, and the nice house and the vacations and all of the other spoils that make up the American Dream.
But, in spite of all of this, something doesn’t seem right. You keep making the same mistakes in your life and relationships over and over again. You’ve noticed that you often can’t concentrate, are highly irritable, or are inexplicably sad. You’re starting to wonder if you eat too much (or too little), drink too much, rely too heavily on sleeping pills at night, or watch too much pornography. You’re starting to worry about people finding out your “secret,” and about losing your spouse or partner, your friends, your job, or your livelihood.
Or maybe you’re in recovery, but feel like you’re starting to slip. You know you need to do a little more therapeutic work to get to where you want to be in life.
“What is going on with me?” you wonder. “And, what can I do about it?”
The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers intensive workshops that can help you through either of the above scenarios and many more. The workshops are designed and led by some of the nation’s top behavioral health experts. In a relaxing and restorative setting, you will explore the root causes of your troubles and begin to resolve the negative thoughts and feelings from which unwanted and self-defeating behaviors arise.
If you are struggling to achieve your goals and enjoy your life in the same one you once did, we want to help you stage a comeback. So, from now until September 30, we’ll give you 25 percent off the price of a Rio Retreat Center workshop when you book overnight accommodations at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse.
The Rio Retreat Center is about an hour away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Those who stay at the on-site Bunkhouse have the added benefit of free transportation to and from the airport—no need to worry about the hassle of renting a car!
The rooms at the Bunkhouse are purposely free of the distractions that often accompany hotel lodging such as TVs and phones. This helps makes your stay more conducive to the process of healing and recovery. Bunkhouse occupants also have access to the swimming pool during certain hours.
Space in the Bunkhouse is limited, so don’t hesitate to book your workshop and your room. Call 800.244.4949 today. You must mention this blog post when booking your stay in order to take advantage of the special offer.
Book a room at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse and receive 25% off the price of your workshop.
By Nancy Minister, Therapist, Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows
If you have ever done any work at The Meadows—either in an inpatient program or in our Survivors I workshop — you likely have had some experience getting in touch with your inner child.
So, how is that young part of yourself right now?
Go ahead: close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Feel that child’s energy.
Are they content? Restless? Sad? Scared?
Experience the warmth and love that you have for him or her in your body. Take a moment to provide for their needs, which could include anything from reassurance to a promise to go for a walk later.
Your child may need for you to go ahead and feel any feelings of fear, pain, or shame so that you can get in touch of where those feelings are coming from and address them.
One of my favorite things about facilitating the Survivors II Workshop at the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows is helping folks to revisit their relationships with their inner children. The child part of themselves that they rescued in Survivors I probably feels happy, safe, and loved; but, it may be helpful for that person to also connect with an inner child from a different time. Having gained a greater sense of themselves, they are often ready for more trauma work.
Sometimes people return to The Meadows for Survivors II to address adult issues such as ongoing or past relationship problems, traumatic experiences, or addictions. Often, they need another layer of healing from childhood abuse or relational trauma.
Because of my passion for inner child work, any way you slice it, the Survivors II workshop is going to include some connection with that inner child. Yours could be a fearful, sad, and wounded child or an adapted child that is rebellious, angry, or shut down.
By checking in with your inner child in a deeper way, you can learn more about the wounding—the feeling energy and the messages that you still hold inside. Often, the connection people make with their inner children is very sweet.
We use various modalities to get in touch with the underlying source of the issues that people come to address. For example, your homework at the end of the day might be an inventory, a letter, a collage or other art project. The aim of the homework is usually to get in touch with your underlying feelings and the age at which your trauma issue underneath those feelings was set up. Rescuing the child and releasing the feeling energy tends to bring much-welcomed relief. It’s fun for me to be creative and match the homework with the person’s goal for the week.
I have had this blog post in my mind for a few months now, but my own inner girl has not been happy with the idea of me writing a blog. She is scared, having had some social trauma as a teen. Even as those fears come up, I breathe and allow my functional adult to affirm that I have boundaries and I can protect myself (and her). What do I need protection from? It turns out it is my own thoughts that “make-up” all kinds of crazy things about betrayal, judgment, and shame.
What is truly exciting about this work is that it is validated by neuroscience. We hold relational and survival experiences in our limbic brain in the form of implicit, procedural memories. When we go back in time and access the feelings and experiences of hurting, neediness, abandonment, rejection, fear, or worthlessness, we are retrieving them from that part of our brain.
As we heal by letting go of the feeling energy and then re-parenting that child part, we literally change the neuropathways in our brain. Focused attention on loving that child part of yourself creates new neuropathways. This means creating a felt experience of warmth, love, protection, even physical nurturing by—yes—hugging a pillow.
So, check in again… How is your inner kiddo right now? If you’re finding that he or she could use a little extra nurturing, it might be time to join me for the Survivors II workshop. For more details, call 800-244-4949 or contact us through the Rio Retreat Center website.
By Tracy Harder, MSC, LAC, Survivors Workshop Facilitator
Do you remember the one question you missed on that fourth-grade science test that kept you from scoring 100 percent? Or the word you missed in every spelling bee you were in? I do.
In fact, I am very clear about the fact that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and I am not a big fan of the words centennial, hippopotamus, or receipt. I have suffered from most of my life from perfectionism, which to me is no joke. Feeling shame about making a mistake and having the initial reaction of wanting to hide it is not fun. In fact, just the thought of writing this blog gave me anxiety. How can I possibly measure up to the people who have written blogs and have Ph.D.’s and more experience than me?
My perfectionism developed and honed from a very early age. I remember when I turned four or five my parents took me to a fancy restaurant for crab legs. (What the hell?) I remember sitting there, prim and proper, with my hands folded in my lap. I remember people telling my mother what a wonderful, well-behaved child she had.
My mother beamed, and basked in the compliments. I figured out quickly, “Aha! This is how I earn my mother’s love and approval!”
From then on, I strived to make perfect grades and to always toe the line, always trying to be “good enough.” For you see, my beloved mother is a perfectionist herself and her perfect little girl reinforced her need to be good enough too.
Pia Mellody, in her book Facing Codependence, says, “Everybody’s poop smells. To be human is to be imperfect.”
She goes on to say that functional parents do not hold themselves up as the higher power in the family—the god and goddess if you will—and that when they make a parenting mistake that affects their children, they own it and make amends. But, what about those of us raised in a home where our parents were the god and goddess reigning supreme? A home in which mistakes were not okay?
I love my parents and through my own work, which has included going through The Meadows’ Survivors I childhood trauma workshop myself, I realize now that they were parenting out of their own trauma brought on by dysfunctional messages they got from their parents.
Perfectionism has been a friend and a foe in my life. As a friend, it helped me a few years ago to organize and plan from the ground up what I must say was a pretty amazing wedding –although I was a complete and nervous wreck the day of. It also enabled me in some ways to complete a difficult counseling program and earn a Master’s Degree, but it took repeated attempts.
As a foe, it literally drove me to drink. And then, even after getting sober through a 12- step program, I continued to attempt perfection in my step work, which resulted in a relapse. Trying to be “perfect” can also alienate me from people, because my attitude becomes, “ I want to be perfect and am sure you must want to be as well, so let me show you how!” In respect to the core issues of The Meadows Model of Development Immaturity, this attitude is indicative of “better than” self-esteem, invulnerable boundaries, good and perfect reality issues, and containment issues of being out of control with controlling others.
Or, as Pia would say, I turn into “a tight ass.” This is not good for my relationships, to say the least.
For those of you reading this and relating, here are a few helpful techniques I use to alleviate the stress of perfectionist thinking:
The pain of the five core development immaturity issues mentioned earlier, and relationship issues drove me into therapy and 12-step programs. Both made it possible for me to practice these techniques.
As a result, there has been a considerable improvement in my relationship with myself and in my relationships with others. After all, who am I to think I could ever be perfect? Through the practice of admitting my mistakes to others I have realized that, for the most part,I am the only person who is not okay with my mistakes.
This corrective experience illuminates the fact that the people in my life now are understanding and forgiving. More often than not, they share their experiences with similar situations, thereby increasing intimacy and strengthening these relationships.
Perfectionism will always be a part of my personality, but the good news is that through insight and action it can definitely be managed.
The concepts and therapeutic exercises that comprise the Survivors I workshop, are the same ones that drive the overall treatment philosophy for all of The Meadows programs. Participants explore the childhood trauma that fuels self-defeating behaviors such as addiction, mood disorders, and troubling relationships. They also work on processing and releasing negative messages and emotions rooted in their pasts, and find the freedom to fully embody their authentic selves.
Those who register for Survivors I—or any of the Rio Retreat Center’s other 16 workshop offerings— on or before June 30 will receive a 25 percent discount. Call today at 800-244-4949.
The following letter was written by a woman who attended The Love Addiction/Love Avoidance workshop at The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows. At the end of the workshop, participants were asked to write a goodbye letter to their love addiction and to the walls they had put up around themselves as a result. You can learn more about the workshop by calling 800-244-4949 or by sending us an email. Those who register before June 30 will receive a 25 percent discount!
Dear Soul-Sucking Newly Identified Issues,
First, I'm going to dismantle my wall one brick at a time. I will remove each brick and grind it into dust. I will then reform the dust into something useful, like a bird bath that I will place in my garden where the wall used to stand. I know I will occasionally feel the need to start a new wall, but I will only need to remind myself that maybe a short, temporary fence can serve the same protective purpose. A fence is something that two people can lean on and talk across until they both decide that any kind of barrier is unnecessary.
While I am dismantling my wall, I am also kissing the fantasy goodbye. Rumor has it that men are mere humans, unable to leap tall buildings, and that their ability to read my mind and fulfill my every wish without a word from me has been overstated by both Hollywood and Harlequin. Given that I've been duped by mass media once again, I'm going in search of a better story. There's something to be said for that thing called reality programming! Instead of holding out for the glass slipper, I'm putting on my hiking boots and starting the search for this creature they call a perfectly imperfect human man. You can no longer keep me captivated with stories of happily ever after. I'm willing to strive for "really good" after a lot of hard work, knowing that some days are still probably going to suck.
So, Fantasy Life, I say this: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to reality I go.
Terrie was a child born from an extramarital affair. Growing up, she felt like she was unwanted by everyone in her family except her mother. As an adult, she found herself reaching a low point in her life, and tried working with several different therapists. Because of her family history, and because of her skill as therapist herself, she was able to mask her true feelings really, really well. So, her attempts at individual therapy failed.
Feeling hopeless and desperate for change, she went to The Meadows. Learn how the program helped her find her power and break free from false beliefs and love addiction.