By Dan Griffin, MA, Senior Fellow at The Meadows
Here we are again: One more tragic tale of a good man, with a good heart, being destroyed by addiction, trauma, and the effects of toxic masculinity. The world—including those closest to former NBA player Lamar Odom — were waiting for him to die just a couple of weeks ago. It is clear now that drugs played a critical role in Mr. Odom’s near-death experience. It is also clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the trauma this man has had to deal with has been eating away at his soul and affecting every facet of his life. Because that is exactly what trauma does.
But, of course, real men don’t have trauma. Star basketball players? They don’t have trauma, and if they do it has helped to make them who they are. It only destroys the weak ones. Those traumatic experiences are unfortunate parts of his life that have helped him become the [add superlative of choice here] athlete he is – or more appropriately, was. (The verb tense means everything to the context of the story and how the story is told.)
This is not a new story. It is playing out right now in the lives of thousands of men across the country. Thousands will die this week because we live in a culture with such warped ideas of masculinity that you can have an owner of a brothel—where a man’s reckless behavior was enabled and lead to serious, nearly life-ending consequences— shamelessly show up in the media and act as if he was just a guy having a good time.
The truth is that this was a man scraping a barrel for some morsel of happiness where there is none to be found. Yet, our society still tells men that it will not only make us happy, but affirm our masculinity and cure our pain.
Mr. Odom apparently has been saying for some time, “It seems death is following me.” He is right. The experiences of trauma that Mr. Odom has lived through would leave the strongest and most resilient men scarred.
This story is getting old. I am tired of the tragic stories where we all lament the men after they are gone. The same news outlets that were pillorying Mr. Odom for the past decade were the same ones oozing compassion and empathy as his life hung in the balance. You see, two weeks ago was the time for everyone to trot out the long list of traumas as part of the conclusion of Mr. Odom’s story.
Yes, he is talking now. It really is a miracle. Yet, any of us who have been immersed in the world of trauma, addiction and recovery for some number of years have known that even miracles such as this rarely provide the necessary wake-up call to give a man in the downward spiral a new life. I have buried men – including my own father – after sitting with them in the hospital room when their second, third, or fourth miracles had being given to them, only to watch them dance with the devil again. And lose.
As preposterous and insane as it seems, that is the logic of addiction. So it makes complete sense to those of us who understand the narrative. Events such as Mr. Odom experienced a couple of weeks ago offer such an obvious opportunity for a happy ending. Yet so many men haunted by trauma rarely find it. Mr. Odom seems to have been given a second chance. But there are contingencies. The most important condition is that at some point if he wants to find peace – let alone recovery from his addiction(s—he must hug the monsters.
Mr. Odom needs to find people and places safe enough for him to stand still in the storm and trust something bigger than himself. He has to trust that he can get through it without the drugs, prostitutes, or any other illusion of connection. And at some point our society, that is merely reflected in the absurdity of our media, will have to truly grapple with the fact that we wait for men to be dead before we finally create enough space for their pain and are willing to honor their real story.
The Meadows is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 21st Annual Counseling Skills Conference, taking place September 24 – 26, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. The conference is hosted by U.S. Journal Training, Inc., and addresses the most relevant and cutting edge topics for today’s mental health, addiction, and helping professionals. Professionals who attend can earn up to 21 credit hours for continuing education.
The conference offers an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the interactions among trauma, addictive disorders and relationships, and allows participants to build skills in their areas of interest through a series of plenary sessions and in-depth workshops.
This year, three Meadows Senior Fellows and the Claudia Black Young Adult Center Clinical Director will be on hand to offer their insights through presentations and workshops:
• On Thursday, Claudia Black, MSW, PhD , will give a presentation on The Complexity of Treating the Young Adult and will conduct a workshop on The Family as The Client. And, Claudia Black Young Adult Center Clinical Director Leanne Lemire will offer a workshop on Honoring the Survivor Within.
• On Friday, Patrick Carnes, PhD, CAS, will address conference attendees with a presentation titled The Paradigm Crumbles: Science Struggles with Addiction, and will conduct a workshop called Heroes and Fame: Signifiers or Canaries in the Cage.
• On Saturday, John Bradshaw will give a presentation on Post-Romantic Stress Disorder and will conduct a workshop on Twelve Plus Experiences of Healthy Shame.
Conference attendees can also stop by our booth to learn more about our trauma, addiction, young adult, eating disorder, and outpatient programs.
To learn more about the conference, or to register, visit the U.S. Journal Training, Inc website.
On September 25, Pia Mellody will speak about addiction, relationships, and the spiritual path to recovery at The Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. The event is a benefit for Beacon House, a nonprofit treatment center for people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Tickets are available online or by phone at 831-620-2048. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to support Beacon House programs. Her presentation at the event is sponsored by The Meadows.
Pia Mellody is a Senior Fellow and senior clinical advisor for The Meadows. As a pioneer in the field of recovery, Pia's theories on the effects of childhood trauma have become the foundation for The Meadows' programs, and are a major reason for their success.
Pia is widely known as one of the preeminent authorities in the fields of addiction and relationships. Her work on codependency, boundaries and the effects of childhood trauma on emotional development has profoundly influenced the treatment of addictions and the issues of forming and maintaining relationships. She is the author of several influential books, including Facing Codependency, Facing Love Addiction, and The Intimacy Factor.
Beacon House is Northern California's leading drug and alcohol rehab facility. As one of the first treatment centers in the Western United States, the Beacon House has helped thousands achieve lasting sobriety from alcohol and drugs. The Beacon House understands what is necessary to achieve a lifetime of recovery. As a nonprofit we invest all resources in delivering the highest level of individualized care at affordable prices. Located on the scenic Monterey Peninsula, the Beacon House promises a supportive environment for adult men and women seeking to realize a lifetime without drugs and alcohol.
The Meadows is proud to be a platinum patron of this year’s Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders (CCSAD). The conference takes place Sept. 10 – 13, 2013 in Hyannis, Mass.
As a patron, The Meadows will be sponsoring the welcome reception on Thursday, September 10. Additionally, Sean Walsh, The Meadows Chief Executive Office, will be doing the honor of introducing opening keynote speaker, Dan Griffin, who recently joined The Meadows team as a Senior Fellow. Mr. Griffin is an internationally recognized author, thought leader and expert on relationships, trauma, addiction and masculinity.
This four-day event is dedicated to continuing education and networking in the field of addictions, and draws hundreds of regional, national, and international participants, lecturers and faculty. CCSAD combines workshops and seminars on timely industry topics with an unmatched showcase of the industry’s products and services.
Staff from The Meadows will be available at Booth 18 in the Exhibit Hall throughout the conference to answer questions about their family of behavioral health programs, which includes Gentle Path at The Meadows, The Claudia Black Center for Young Adults, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows and The Meadows Outpatient Center.
On Friday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., and again on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m., visitors to the booth can meet Dan Griffin. They can also enter to win a sign copy of his latest book, A Man’s Way Through Relationships.
The Meadows will also give booth visitors a chance to attend a free Survivors Workshop – their signature, life-changing workshop that delves into childhood issues and their impact on a person’s daily life.
For more information about the Cape Code Symposium on Addictive Disorders go to www.ccsad.com.
The Meadows recently announced that Dan Griffin, M.A., will join The Meadows as a Senior Fellow. He is an internationally recognized author, thought leader and expert on men’s relationships, trauma, addiction and masculinity.
Dan’s work and life is dedicated to exploring and redefining what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Dan is dedicated to helping men be better men by understanding the impact of the Man Rules on their lives and finding the success in their personal lives they are striving for in the professional lives. Griffin’s newest book, A Man's Way through Relationships, is the first book written specifically to help men create healthy relationships while navigating the challenges of the "Man Rules™," those ideas men internalize at very young ages about how to be real boys and men.
Griffin has worked in the mental health and addictions field for more than 20 years. He is the author of A Man’s Way through the Twelve Steps, the first trauma-informed book to take a holistic look at men’s sobriety. He also co-authored Helping Men Recover, the first comprehensive gender-responsive and trauma-informed curriculum for addiction and mental health professionals. He earned a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas where his graduate work was the first qualitative study centered on the social construction of masculinity in the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Griffin grew up in the DC area and lives in Minnesota with his wife and daughter. He has been in long-term recovery from addiction since he graduated college in May of 1994.
He says that being in The Meadows environment, which normalizes the experience and treatment of trauma, is a refreshing and powerful experience:
“It is incredibly humbling to find myself joining a group of distinguished experts comprised of many of my heroes and those upon whose shoulders I have been standing during my own career. I have an enormous amount of respect for The Meadows commitment to dealing with addiction and trauma together and for the leadership it has shown for 30 years in raising awareness about the almost epidemic-levels of trauma in our communities.
I think my take on men and masculinity as it overlaps with trauma and recovery is a fairly unique approach and I think that there will be a great synergy between this approach and The Meadows model, by looking through the lens of gender in a thorough and nuanced way.”
Sean Walsh, CEO of The Meadows, says he’s thrilled to add Griffin’s perspective to the roster of industry-leading trauma and addiction experts:
“We are thrilled to have Dan join our team to help us better treat the men we are privileged to work with. Dan’s passion and drive to better understand and therefore better treat men is contagious and inspiring. I have no doubt our male patients, the families who love them, and our entire team will benefit from our partnership with Dan.”
Additional Meadows’ Senior Fellows include: Pia Mellody, John Bradshaw, Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk, Shelley Uram, and Claudia Black, Patrick Carnes, and Alexandra Katehakis. Each Meadows Senior Fellow is involved in world-wide practice and research in their area of expertise - lecturing patients on clinical works, publishing works in numerous professional publications, and providing their teachings and expertise to the patients and therapeutic staff at The Meadows.