It is often said that one can become addicted to anything that can be used to numb emotional pain. Drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and sex are all widely recognized for their addictive potential. Addiction to love and relationships, however, tends to be less well-recognized and understood.
Georgia Fourlas, LMSW, LISAC, CSAT-C
Workshop Facilitator, The Meadows
I recently facilitated Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy, The Meadows’ workshop for women with sex addiction, sexual anorexia and other sexual disorders. I was very moved by this group of courageous and strong women. I was also moved by their pleas with me to do whatever I could to make sure this workshop gets more attention.
There is no shortage of women with sexual disorders; but, they often remain hidden and do not have the opportunity to discuss their issues with other women who share their struggles. It is amazing to watch what happens when these issues are openly discussed. They are brought from the darkness in to the light.
Connection with others is vital in recovery. Isolation, withdraw, detachment, and loneliness feed addiction. Connection and healthy attachments enable recovery. Many women are hard wired for relationships and connection with others. However, at times, our culture does not value connection, empathy and emotional understanding in relationships. Instead, these gifts can be seen as defects, and women can be viewed as unable to take care of themselves, overly-emotional, dramatic, and needy. Unfortunately, many women also avoid connections with other women due to their own fears about trust. They cannot trust themselves, and they project that lack of trust onto other women, leaving them isolated and alone in their fear and shame.
Sex disorders among females seem to be particularly taboo and touchy topics ─ not only for the general public, but also for women who are suffering from a sexual disorder. This leads to major challenges in their motivation to seek treatment. It also leads to difficulties for women in seeking support in their ongoing recovery. This means that women often wait longer to get help which leaves them with increased consequences, both internal and external. One of the biggest internal consequences is the heavy burden of shame that these women carry.
Many women who struggle with sexual disorders are also extremely high functioning and struggle with perfectionism as a way to mediate the shame they feel. Addiction and shame feed one another; both hinder the ability to have truly intimate and fulfilling relationships. Women with sexual disorders desire true intimacy, but are caught in patterns that prevent them from finding that intimacy.
The Meadows’ workshop Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy offers women with sexual disorders a chance to work through their shame and begin a healing journey.
Utilizing Patrick Carnes’ model, women have a chance to intervene on their own disordered behaviors and thought processes. Work includes identifying the participants’ own value system, and restoring their life force and their own esteem by providing a map to find their true selves and to their recovery.
Even if participants know where they want to go and have a map to get there, they also need to have methods to help them along the way. This workshop provides tools for recovery and instructions on how to use these valuable tools. It prepares women for the kinds of intimate relationships that they long for and deserve; the kind of relationships that start by nurturing an intimate and trusting relationship with one’s self, and then taking healthy risks by entering into supportive, recovery-oriented relationships with others. We provide a safe environment that allows participants to explore their own true nature, their own heart, and their own humanity.
If you would like more information or would like to enroll in Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy, or any of our workshops, please call our Intake Department at 1-800-244-4949.