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.
David Briick, instrumental in opening five substance abuse and behavioral health treatment centers including The Meadows, Cottonwood Hill, Cottonwood de Tucson, Cottonwood de Albuquerque, and Cottonwood de Austin, died a few days short of his 81st birthday on Friday, June 7, 2013, at his daughter's home in Nunnelly, Tennessee.
With over 41 years of long-term recovery, David helped thousands to change their lives and heal from addiction. He remained active in the recovery community and spoke openly about his triumph over alcoholism until his death. He served as the Executive Director of the Councils' on Alcoholism in both Pinal and Pima Counties in Arizona.
In 1992, David began his battle with cancer and his public campaign through Arizona's Tobacco Free Ways, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association to educate school children and adults about the consequences of nicotine and substance abuse. Through numerous speaking engagements in and around the state of Arizona, he shared his story until the summer of 2012.
"David Briick was a pioneer in the development of alcoholism treatment centers back in the 70’s. He was originally the person who hired me to work at The Meadows and had a very positive influence in my life. He will be missed," said Pia Mellody, Senior Fellow and Senior Clinical Advisor at The Meadows.
A celebration of life will be held at the Arizona Inn, Tucson, Arizona, September 8, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. For more information, contact Cheryl Brown at email@example.com or 931-996-3747.
The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host an alumni workshop in Dallas, Texas, for alumni on July 9, 2013, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. by Cole Adams, LCSW, CSAT, will lead the discussion on "Perfectly Imperfect." It will be held at Preston Place at 12700 Preston Road, #140.
Adams is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker and a certified sexual addiction therapist. He received training from Patrick Carnes, considered the foremost leader in sexual addiction, and Pia Mellody, one of the preeminent authorities in the fields of addiction and relationships, and a Senior Fellow and senior clinical adviser for The Meadows Wickenburg. Currently, he is the owner of Bluffview Counseling in Dallas, Texas.
To register and learn more, visit http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1102470. For more information, contact Morgan Day at 800.240.5522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host monthly alumni meetings in Texas and Arizona. Meadows' trained professionals lead these inspirational meetings and focus on topics including renewing the language of The Meadows Model and reclaiming commitment to its principles. The Meadows Model is a therapeutic model that comprehensively addresses trauma resolution.
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.
By: Nancy Bailey, PhD, Clinical Director at The Meadows
As we enter into the beautiful desert summer - I was reflecting on my professional journey with The Meadows. When I was hired at The Meadows in 2008 as a Workshop Facilitator, I knew that I was entering into a program of excellence and world recognition. After being in the field of mental health and addiction treatment for almost 20 years, when I stepped foot on the serene surroundings of the campus, I knew I was going to be part of something special.
The significance of the deep work offered to the patients at The Meadows is profound. During those first few years here, I was astounded week after week to see miracles occur and inner shifts transform peoples’ lives. I had been part of providing education and treatment for several years prior and spent many of those years focusing on treating complex women's issues. This work was deeper.
Transitioning from Workshop Facilitator to Intake Interventionist was the next step for me at The Meadows. This position offered me additional experience and multi-faceted perspectives in working with the referral resources, families, and patients at onset of their journey to find healing. This journey had many paths; often hearing and working through challenges of anticipatory anxiety, denial, minimization, extreme pain, and sadness; hoping that the loved one would take that huge step toward healing. Working side by side with the Intake Coordinators provided me with a newfound respect for the skill set needed to be relational from a distance while still engaging with therapeutic alliance and boundaries. Once again, The Model proved to be a hands-on and ongoing tapestry of daily living skills.
As The Meadows leadership continued to recognize the need for excellence, not only in patient care, but also in customer service - my position morphed into a clinically based business development role of Senior Clinical Liaison. Providing the bridge between business development, referral resource, interventionist, and clinical department again offered opportunities for personal and professional growth. Once again, Pia's Model provided a foundation for communication and boundary skills.
After a brief sabbatical to complete my PhD, I was honored to return to The Meadows in my current role of Clinical Director. Since taking the position as Clinical Director in September, many program enhancements have occurred and I continue to work with our Program Development team to assess and integrate better programming. I have the opportunity to work directly with some of the best thought leaders in the world in the areas of clinical excellence and research, as well as the pioneers who blazed the trails for family, codependency, and trauma treatment. I also have the support of a forward thinking and extremely accessible administrative leadership team and board of directors to help me to integrate new treatment modalities and program enhancements to the already world renowned program The Meadows has been for over 35 years. Pia Mellody's Model still lays the foundation of The Meadows treatment. Cutting edge research and Senior Fellow advisors help me to develop and enhance our program to even higher levels of excellence. I am so excited to be a part of such a system of healing!
Professional journey imitates recovery journey - Life journey imitates recovery journey. As we remain engaged in a program of recovery, one day at a time, we will realize life "beyond our wildest dreams." Please stay tuned to our website and blog for ongoing events, announcements, and educational outreaches. Thank you to our Alumni and business professionals who continue to put your trust in The Meadows for excellence in patient care.
By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC
In Part III, we discussed The Secondary symptoms that are caused by immaturity in The Core Issues. Trauma in Column I, (The Nature of the Child), leads to immaturity in The Core Issues. Trauma and immaturity leads to The Secondary Symptoms, as discussed in Part III. All three; trauma issues, immaturity and secondary symptoms lead to Relational Problems.
In this last installment of Breaking Down The Model, we will explore Relational problems that have been caused by trauma, immaturity and secondary symptoms. Relational problems can stem from any extreme in any of The Core Issues, as well as from the secondary symptoms. In other words, due to trauma, immaturity and the secondary symptoms, we can develop relational problems. Let's explore each of the relational problems.
Relational esteem can be a problem in one of two ways. We may overvalue our partner or the relationship when we believe we are less than. We may overvalue ourselves and undervalue our partner when we believe we are better than.
Enmeshment and Avoidance Issues
Enmeshment and avoidance have to do with boundary issues. When a person has no boundaries, he may try to enmesh or use the partner in some way. When a person puts up walls, he will avoid intimacy. This can lead to relationships that are either stuck in love addiction or stuck in love avoidance.
The simple truth of relational problems when it comes to dishonesty is that we are living in a lie when we believe we are better than or less than someone else. In other words, when a person cannot be real because he believes he is worthless, he will not be truthful with his partner. When a person believes he is one up or better than, he may believe he is a god and, therefore, distorts the truth of who he is.
Problems with Interdependence
Interdependence has to do with allowing yourself to self-care first before taking care of someone else. When you cannot care for yourself in a proper and functional manner, you cannot be functionally interdependent, Self-care creates the necessary energy to ask for help and give help appropriately.
When a person has no boundaries or is walled off, he is draining the relationship. This can create either chaos or a sense of deadness in the relationship. Chaos in a relationship is created when the person is out of control or not containing his spontaneity as a functional adult. Deadness in a relationship is created when the person is controlling.
Now that you have learned about The Model of Developmental Immaturity, let's consider what recovery looks like. As Pia Mellody says, "There is no recovery without Core Recovery." Characteristics of a healthy person begin to emerge as a person gets into recovery. These characteristics are:
Finally, let's take a look at things you can do to support your recovery. These are suggestions for you to consider:
Life is continuous practice in all core issues. Recovery is about getting to the center in each of the core issues, as much as humanly possible on any given day. We can live our lives with hope and happiness!
Resource: Mellody P. (1989). Facing Codependence. New York: HaperCollins.