Category Archives: body image

Recovery Coaches working with sex offenders

Legal Consequences Crisis Management Team -Recovery coaches working with sex offenders

It is 5:30 am and a band of FBI and local sheriff authorities pull up to a New Jersey suburban house in a development not far from Philadelphia. Adorning Kevlar vests, and windbreakers with the yellow letters FBI on their backs, they storm past a toy doll stroller in the sidewalk. They bang on the door with their fist, demanding “Open up this is the FBI”. After a few more wraps, a bleary eyed woman about 40 years old opens the door a crack and peers out. With a burst of energy, five FBI agents and two local police enter her foyer, issue her a search warrant and spew out demands, only one she actually hears, “Your husband is under arrest for child pornography…where are the laptops, tablets, cell phones and computers?”

Emily, (all the real names in this story will be withheld for privacy purposes) is dazed. She is in her bathrobe, and slippers, her hair is mussed, her eyeglasses crooked. She is barely awake. She glances at the stairs. She sees her two children at the top of the stairs, as a troop of agents make their way up to them. The agents ascend, as her girls descend. They are squeezing towards the wall making way for the army of six foot tall, 250 pound men barreling past them. They are asking “Mommy, what is happening?” A sheriff from the local police department asks where her husband is. She says he is at work; he works the midnight shift at a local hospital. The Sheriff gets on his walkie-talkie and bursts out some demands, checking on a similar event at her husband’s workplace.

It is 6:00 am, and Tom is just wrapping up from his shift as a nurse. His supervisor walks up to him with a force of blue windbreakers flanking him on either side. “Tom,” his supervisor says, “these gentlemen want to see you in my office”. As they turn to go to the office to FBI agents take Tom at the elbows and nearly lift him off his feet. He is escorted to the supervisor’s office, is placed in an arm chair and the door slams. Tom hears the words he has feared for the past two decades. “You are under arrest for the possession of, and the suspected distribution, copying, or advertising of images containing sexual depictions of minors.” For some strange reason, Tom is relieved. He thinks “It’s over, it is finally over.”

An unlikely band of brothers

It is Monday night, a steady stream of middle aged men drift into a hospital conference room, and take a seat. One of them opens a gym bag and starts to place books, pamphlets and tri-fold fliers on the table. A clear plastic envelope stuffed with one dollar bills is placed next to a thin loose-leaf binder. He sits down, opens the binder, checks the time on his cell phone and says, “Welcome to the Monday night meeting of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, my name is Ken, and I am a sex and love addict.” The seemingly normal cohort of men reply, “Hi Ken”.

The Monday night meeting of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous begins. The reading is on Step Three; made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God. During the share a newcomer, Tom, tells his story about what brought him into the rooms tonight. He is not sure he can be helped. He knows he has been a porn addict for all of his adult life. He says he has just been found out and he has no idea what will happen next, to his life, to his marriage, to his kids. He was advised to go to a 12-step meeting for sex addiction and luckily, he saw this meeting listed when he searched online.

The members of this unlikely band of brothers looks at Tom. His head is down. His focus is on the ravaged cuticles of his right thumb. As he raises his thumb to his mouth, a tear rolls down his cheek. They know how he feels. Each one of them have felt this same despair. Joe raises his hand to share. Joe is almost 45, yet one would think he is no older than 35. His Goorin Brothers Slayer cap is on backwards, his flannel plaid shirt is unbuttoned revealing an LA Dodgers vintage t-shirt. Appropriately ripped skinny jeans end in a pair of Vans slip-ons. He gets current, talking about his therapist, his groups and what the third step means to him. Then he looks directly at Tom. “I know there is no cross talk in this meeting, so let me just say this, Tom, can we talk after the meeting?”

Joe knows what has happened to Tom. Tom need not even say the word ‘legal’ for the subliminal message to be delivered. Joe knows because it happened to him, less than two years ago. The Cop Knock. The end of life as he knew it. The opening up of a new world. A new life without any more hiding. Relief.

The start of a new life

Joe and Tom walk to the hospital café and Joe buys Tom a soda and a sandwich. It is the first thing Tom has eaten in two days. The café is empty, they find a corner table and sit down. After just a few minutes, Tom’s experience from the last week is told. Joe’s head was nodding the whole time, but he lets Tom talk.

Before an hour was up, Joe had given Tom the names of three men, Michael, Steve and Jay. Also, the phone number of an attorney and of a therapist that specialized in treating sex offenders. As they walked out of the hospital, Joe said the first call should be to Michael. Michael will coordinate everything. And Joe was right, Michael coordinated everything.

Michael answers the phone at 9:30pm, and Tom was on the other line. Michael was already informed by Joe, just minutes before. By 10:00, Michael had assembled the Legal Consequences Crisis Management Team on a conference call and briefed us all. The attorney appointment will be made by the client, Tom. The therapist introduction will be on the phone, and the first group therapy meeting is tomorrow and Joe will bring Tom. Michael will coordinate the lawyer and therapist calls and speak to his parents. Jay and Steve will call Tom daily, for support. I am assigned to work with the wife. All of these recovery coaching services will be free to Tom.

Doing service to give back what we have freely received

Every one of us responds to this call. It initiates a recruitment effort that rivals the Avenger’s response to Ultron’s threat to eradicate humanity. This Legal Consequences Crisis Management Team is committed to respond to any sexual addiction crisis- the family affected by a patriarch’s incest, the individual devastated by sexual trauma, or the man that has heard the “Cop Knock”. We know they feel alone, whether they have been abandoned by their family, abused by loved ones or in this case, arrested for an illegal act. Tom needs this “Avengers” team to help him, because this is territory he is not familiar with. However, this team is very familiar with it; the family dynamics, the law, the courtroom, treatment and therapy, prison and the re-entry process. They have walked this path, and emerged on the other side, as healthier and better people for the experience. So, we are there for Tom, in order to keep our own sobriety, we are doing service to give back what we have freely received.

This band of Recovery Coaches comes to the aid of individuals dealing with the crisis of legal consequences of their sex addiction in the New Jersey, Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Addiction, Addiction Recovery Posts, alcohol, Alcoholism, body image, Drug Abuse, Family Dynamics, Gambling, internet addiction disorder, love addiction, mental health, Opioid addiction, Parents, Pornography, pornography addiction, Recovery Coaching, Relapse, relationships, Research, Sex Addiction, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Loss, Sponsor | Tagged , | Comments Off on Recovery Coaches working with sex offenders

Getting through the tough times

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As a recovery coach, I often see my clients need some help getting through the tough times, without using drugs, picking up a drink or acting out. Recently, I personally encountered some rough patches in my own life, so I went to my library of recovery books. Reading books on recovery is an import tool I use regularly in my practice. Several years ago, I was curious about Buddhist recovery, so I became an avid reader of the books by Pema Chodron.

Pema Chodron Celebrates 80 Years

Pema Chodron, is a Buddhist nun, she was born in 1936, in New York City, and is celebrating her 80th year. After a divorce, in her mid-thirties, Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Buddhist teacher Lama Chime Rinpoche, and she studied with him for several years. She became a novice Buddhist nun in 1974. Pema moved to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1984, ­­­to be the director of Gampo Abbey and worked to establish a place to teach the Buddhist monastic traditions (waking before sunrise, chanting scriptures, daily chores, communal meals and providing blessings for the laity). In Nova Scotia and through the Chodron Foundation, she works with others, sharing her ideas and teachings. She has written several books, and in my time of deep spiritual need, I went to her book “When Things Fall Apart”.

Drawn from traditional Buddhist wisdom, Pema’s radical and compassionate advice for what to do when things fall apart in our lives helped me. There is not only one approach to suffering that is of lasting benefit, Pema teaches several approaches that involve moving toward the painful situation and relaxing us to realize the essential groundlessness of our situation. It is in this book, I discovered a simple breathing exercise I can use during these chaotic times so I can move into a better space. Pema advocates this tool as a breathing exercise, although this exercise could also be considered a mindful meditation.

I use Chodron’s tool whenever and wherever life hits me below the belt. I share this tool with my clients. It is all about breathing and consciously repeating words to yourself to accompany the breathing. Since we breathe every day, it is indiscernible whether you are using this tool as you travel on the bus commuting home from work, in a conference room with your boss, or when you are feeling low and want to curl up in a ball and die.

Breathe

Pema explains in her book, when things get way too complicated; step back and breathe. When the force of the world, the politics of the U.S., Great Britain or Italy start weighing heavily on your mind, breathe. When you look at all the pain around you and feel powerless to do anything, breathe.

Pema explains, inhale and say silently to yourself breathe in the pain, then exhale and say breathe out relief. Then, inhale, and say silently to yourself breathe in the relief, and exhale and say breathe out the pain. I find I need about 15 minutes of conscious breathing in this way. After doing this, I find I have new energy or something else crosses my path to move me into a different space.

If I continue to be in that negative space of worry or feeling powerless, then absolutely nothing will be accomplished that day. I know we all have something to accomplish every day, whether it is just getting out of bed, taking a shower and brushing our teeth or running a Fortune 500 company, this exercise gets us from zero to ten in fifteen minutes. Chodron’s exercise moves me to the space I need to be in, so I can function. It is what I need.

So, I invite you to try this simple exercise…and remember…keep breathing.

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Posted in Addiction, Addiction Recovery Posts, alcohol, Alcoholism, body image, Drug Abuse, Family Dynamics, Gambling, Health, internet addiction disorder, love addiction, mental health, Opioid addiction, Parents, Pornography, pornography addiction, Relapse, relationships, Research, Sex Addiction, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Loss, Sponsor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Getting through the tough times

I am most vulnerable when I am naked

As a recovery coach, I approach my clients as a peer, as someone who has suffered the slings and arrows of addiction and emerged into a life of recovery, and sober from drugs, alcohol and some behavioral addictions. As a peer I have the experiential knowledge to help my clients walk the pathway to recovery.

However, there are some clients, I cannot seek to help. These clients are the ones that identify as having eating disorders. That is because, (I have to be truthful here) I struggle with disordered eating. I am an overeater. Carbohydrates, dairy and processed sugars are my heroin and I have not overcome this addiction.

I also spent my formative years, from age one until well into my thirties, in the grips of body dysmorphia. In Wikipedia, body dysmorphia is defined as Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known dysmorphic syndrome, a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one’s own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it. I saw myself as a fat person. When I looked in the mirror I saw a person three or more dress sizes larger than I really was. I thought I was fat, when all along I was a person with a normal sized body.

What’s Underneath Project

This blog post will not go into my years of body dysmorphia, but rather on a recent awakening: how to accept me as I am. Just last week, I was viewing a www.thefix.com article on Tallulah Willis, Bruce Willis’ and Demi Moore’s daughter and her recent stay in a treatment center. There was a link to a video of Tallulah that I clicked on. I was introduced to a whole new way of seeing myself, through the “What’s Underneath Project.”

Seven years ago, Elisa Goodkind, a veteran fashion stylist, and her daughter, Lily Mandelbaum, a former film student, created StyleLikeU as an alternative to the fashion culture’s crippling status quo. Launched in 2009, StyleLikeU is home to a series of intimate video portraits that redefine our culture’s notion of beauty, called the What’s Underneath Project. These simple videos, show unapologetic individuals who are true to themselves in both their style and in their lives. Individuals, gay, straight, recovering from breast cancer or transitioning to their true gender, exude confidence in their own skin. And the viewers are empowered to discover that this same sense of confidence and beauty can be their own.

As I was browsing through the videos, and I clicked on Olivia Campbell’s (a well-known British plus style model) video. I cried when I listened to her journey through bullying and sexual abuse. I came to the realization that I am still beautiful, even though I am over sixty, thanks to Jacky O’Shaughnessy’s video. I was transfixed that her story, was exactly my story, one of poor body image and how it affects my relationships. Jacky’s statement that she feels the most vulnerable when she is naked in front of a man, and she feels the most beautiful when she is naked in front of a man, was so honest. Because underneath it all, I felt the same thing.

A Viral Phenomenon

The What’s Underneath Project strips everyday people and celebrities down to their bra and panties to open them up, exploring the power of genuine self-acceptance as they undress. Since its launch in 2014, the response has been monumental. The videos went viral, and have received over 9 million YouTube hits, international press, while fan mail floods in from people wanting to help, donate funds and participate. The What’s Underneath Project has produced 70 plus videos, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes in length, and has posted them on YouTube.

In November 2014, the What’s Underneath Project launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the production of a documentary film that will capture this viral video series. The campaign was a wild success and in just 18 days, exceeded the initial goal of $100k. By the end of the month-long campaign, the What’s Underneath Project raised a total of $135,655. The upcoming documentary film is in production and the What’s Underneath Project documentary film will be released in the Spring of 2017.

The What’s Underneath Project is on the road to becoming a global movement for self-acceptance.

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