HoustonPBS', Ernie Manouse, sits down with Meadows' Senior Fellow, renowned author and counselor John Bradshaw, to discuss his life and work - from the dysfunctional family, to the wounded inner-child. The abbreviated version of the interview can be viewed at http://youtu.be/floo-GIhVEE.
Finding out that your committed partner has sexually betrayed you is like: getting your heart ripped out, stomped on, thrown through a glass window, spit on, and perhaps lastly, smothered with gasoline and set on fire. Then, your partner asks you to forgive him or her; and you don't think you could ever be more furious and disgusted.
This is a common experience for the Partners of Sexual Addicts that I work with on a weekly basis at The Meadows. The stories and behaviors may be different but the underlying foundation of the damage is always Betrayal. Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial betrayal is devastating and gut-wrenchingly painful for a partner who had dreams and hopes of having a healthy and committed relationship. Those dreams are now shattered and the Partner is left with the questions of "Why wasn't I enough?", "How could they do this to me?"; and "Where do I go from here?"
Sexual Addiction stems from a deep rooted intimacy and attachment disorder that often starts within childhood, teenage, or young adult years. Many of the patients I work with at The Meadows have been engaging in some type of dysfunctional, sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or behaviors since they could remember, far before ever meeting their current partner or spouse. Sexual Addiction thrives off of Shame. Often times the addict's shame, due to their behaviors and lies, will be deflected or projected onto the partner and they are the ones that have to carry it.
Because sexuality and being sexual is so important and integral in intimate coupleships, when that is destroyed or taken outside the primary relationship, the partner has no choice but to take it personally and look at it as an attack on themselves and who they are or are not. Many spouses that I speak with will say to me, "Why wasn't I attractive enough, sexual enough, loved enough to keep him/her with me?" My message to them is: "If there is one thing I want you to learn this week, it is that this had nothing to do with what you have or have not done".
So if the partner did not cause the addiction and is not an addict themselves then why be a part of the patient's treatment and come to Family Week? I often hear from partners: "He is the sick one! He gets to go and get help and leave me here at home with the chaos and damage that he created! And now he is asking me to drop everything and come to Arizona for a week to help him?" My reply is: "Come here for YOU."
Within the Family Week program, partners are given resources and tools to start to stand on solid ground. Family Week is NOT about reconciliation, fixing the problem or hearing an excuse about why the patient acted out. The week long program is designed around boundary setting and healthy communication that allow the partner to be heard and protected.
Being betrayed will undoubtedly, for most partners, contribute to feelings of shame and worthlessness that creates a deep, dark wound within them. The Meadows and Pia Mellody define Trauma as "Anything less than nurturing". Sexual betrayal would obviously fit into this category based on the definition and many partners experience symptoms of trauma such as hypervigilance, despair, flashbacks and nightmares, among other experiences. The shame and trauma need to be addressed for the partner to start to heal that wound. Even if the partner decides to move on from that relationship he or she will continue to be plagued in life and through other relationships if not addressed.
Through my work at The Meadows, I have seen amazing growth and strength in men and women who thought that they could have never dug themselves out of the dark hole that sexual addiction created. Recovery work, for both the addict and partner, instills hope, perseverance, and self-worth that they thought they had lost. The Meadows Workshops such as Partners of Sex Addicts, Survivors, and Women's Intimacy Issues are great resources to help partners to gain awareness, understanding, and tools to help themselves and their families.
Lauren Bierman is a Family Counselor at the Meadows working with the Sex Addiction population. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor and has been trained through Patrick Carnes and IITAP's Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) program. Her passion is working with Partners of Sex Addicts in their own healing process and helping them find hope after sexual betrayal.
John Bradshaw, one of the most influential writers on emotional healing in the twentieth century and a Senior Fellow at The Meadows Wickenburg, will be featured on HoustonPBS on August 19 at 9:00 p.m. and August 25 at 5:00 p.m.
The title of the program is "Bradshaw on Bradshaw: An InnerVIEWS Special." Television host, Ernie Manouse, sits down with Bradshaw to discuss his life and work, from the dysfunctional family to the wounded inner child.
For more information regarding this program, visit http://www.houstonpbs.org/schedule/.
Bradshaw is a world-famous educator, counselor, motivational speaker, television personality, author and one of the leading figures in the fields of addiction, recovery, family systems and the concept of toxic shame. Bradshaw has had a long and productive association with The Meadows; giving insights to staff, patients, speaking at alumni retreats and lecturing to mental health professionals at our workshops and seminars. Mr. Bradshaw's work has influenced the treatment programs at The Meadows and Mellody House.
Selected by his peers as one of the 100 most influential writers on emotional health in the 20th Century, Bradshaw has literally changed the lives of millions of people around the globe through his best-selling books and sold-out workshops and seminars. Over the years, Bradshaw has written several New York Times bestselling books, including, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Creating Love and Healing the Shame That Binds You. In 2009 Bradshaw was nominated for The Pulitzer Prize for Reclaiming Virtue.
The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.
For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.
The surveys are in and the 2013 Alumni Retreat held from January 25 to January 27, 2013 is being called one of the best Alumni events in Meadows history! More than 75 people from around the country converged on the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley, Arizona for three days to renew old friendships and attend some great lectures and workshops all while being immersed in The Meadows culture of acceptance, strength and hope.
Even though it rained throughout the event, nothing seemed to dampen the excitement or the experience. On the first evening, Wally P. demonstrated a rarely seen side of the 12 Step model in his ‘Back to Basics” lecture. Wally is known for his extensive research into how 12 Step programs began and although you may think this was just a boring talk about history… those who came would call it anything but that! Wally showed us how you could take someone through all the 12 Steps of Recovery in just a couple of hours. His unique blend of energy and humor kept everyone laughing.
On Saturday, The Meadows staff put on what could only be described as a Meadows Road Show which started with Dr. Shelly Uram’s presentation on “12 Steps, the Brain and You: A Case of Mistaken Identity and the Journey Home.” Dr. Uram explained that the journey home is reclaiming your true nature or reclaiming who you really are. She considers the 12 Steps a thorough method of going “home” because the Steps heal the “animal” brain in all of us. The brain stem is considered the “animal brain” because it is designed to keep us alive and procreate. Pain or discomfort are caused when it gets out of control or becomes unregulated. For those of you who were inpatients, you probably remember Dr. Uram’s presentations on how the brain stem, limbic brain and prefrontal cortex each respond to addiction.
The afternoon featured a series of break-out sessions designed to remind Alumni of the keys to their Meadows experience such as attachment and mindfulness, loneliness and addiction, self-care and self-regulation, and healthy esteem: building connection with self and others. Of course no Meadows event would be complete without a painting room so there was even a session on expressive painting! The rain continued Saturday night but it didn’t dampen the fun. The evening was filled with laughter thanks to two comics, Tony Vicich and Jim Vance who told very funny stories of their recovery while poking fun at members of the audience.
Perhaps the best was saved for last because on Sunday there were two information packed presentations by Dr. Jon Caldwell and John Bradshaw. Dr. Caldwell spoke on befriending our true nature. He described how we attach our identity to things that can go away like cars, jobs, friends and money. However, he says the truth is that to befriend our true nature, we have to create an intention to befriend it, love whatever it is, and then be that love.
Finally, there was John Bradshaw. In what most considered the key-note address, Mr. Bradshaw spoke on gratitude and the work he is doing for his latest book. Perhaps one of the most interesting messages he shared is that it is important for people with traumatic pain to grieve that pain and then move on. He says there is no reason to hold onto it. Yes, it is part of who we are, but it is not our defining quality as he learned many years ago when someone told him that “suffering is ordinary” and that all of us are called upon to do something utterly unique or out of the ordinary.
He then went on to talk about how important gratitude has become in his life and suggested that everyone in the audience create an inventory of gratitude that can be reviewed when times get rough.
Besides the lectures, there were 12 Step Meetings, Yoga, Meditation and Tai Chi classes. There was truly a taste of everything that helps set The Meadows Program apart from the rest. So if you didn’t make it to Arizona for this annual event, be sure to plan on attending next year because we promise it is only going to get better!
The Meadows' alumni staff invite you to attend this exciting retreat in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Franciscan Renewal Center. Come share your experience, strength and hope from your recovery journey as we learn how to step into acceptance.
Please join us to reconnect with your peers, establish balance and serenity for self and what's next for your alumni association.
The weekend will include special guests, fun activities, personal reflection and, of course, our Senior Fellows John Bradshaw, MA and Shelly Uram, MD.
If you have any questions, please contact Morgan Day at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.240.5522.