Category Archives: relationships
I am excited to let you know what I have been doing in the past year. I have partnered with Dr David Forbes to present a Men’s Healing Retreat in June 2018.
This has been a dream of mine to go beyond the retreats I have run in the past. To create an event that goes beyond the twelve steps, beyond mutual support meetings and surpassing traditional therapy outcomes.
On Thursday, June 28 through Sunday, July 1, I am coordinating a Men’s Healing Retreat at the Temenos Retreat House, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The Retreat Registration begins Thursday, between 3-5pm and the retreat ends at 2pm on Sunday, July 1, 2018. For retreat registration information go to: https://www.menshealingretreat.com or contact me at 856-745-4944 or Email me at: killeenmelissa@Gmail.com
The Registration Fee: $985.
The registration fee is payable by using the PayPal application at the Retreat web site: https://www.menshealingretreat.com/
Please join us-or spread the word….
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.
“The sober celebrities taking part in the 2017 Experience, Strength & Hope Awards truly show what can be achieved through the miracle of recovery.”
The 2017 Experience, Strength & Hope Award honored author and TV personality Pat O’Brien for his personal account of recovery in his book, I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir. In an article written by John Lavitt, published in www.thefix.com on March 1st, 2017 Lavitt documents The Experience, Strength & Hope Awards as a premiere event in Los Angeles, given in recognition of an individual’s honest account of their journey through addiction to recovery.
This year’s event was held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, on February 23, 2017. It is the 8th annual installment of the ESH awards orchestrated by Leonard Buschel , a recovery advocate, founder of Writers in Treatment and originator of the Reel Recovery Film Festival to celebrate the redemptive power of recovery. In addition to founding Writers in Treatment, Buschel is also the publisher of a popular weekly industry newsletter, the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin.
When asked his motivation behind these endeavors, Buschel said, “My goal is that any newcomer that comes to these events commits to sobriety because they see a creative and energetic message. The sober celebrities taking part truly show what can be achieved through the miracle of recovery.” The sober celebrities at this year’s event included actor Bruce Davison, musician Joe Walsh, singer Sherri Lewis, comedian Sarge, and the acting couple Ed Begley Jr. and Rachelle Carson-Begley.
Bruce Davison hoped his participation would help demonstrate the freedom that recovery affords an artist: “The big dilemma is that so many artists think they need their suffering or their drug of choice to function. But I’ve found the opposite to be true, particularly in relation to my creative work. This is why this message needs to be expressed. The part of the program that’s important is the part that is shared. The experience, strength and hope of one of us is the experience, strength and hope of all of us.”
Throughout the early reception and into the later awards show, the message expressed was the importance of paving a path for newcomers. Each of the celebrities present emphasized the role of humility in 12-step programs. By leaving behind the instituted arrogance of the bright lights and truly becoming humble, a person has the opportunity to be of service to those in need. Honoree Pat O’Brien highlighted how the people that came before him saved his life when the “shit” hit the proverbial fan. As a result, it was now his job to reach out to others and help them.
When asked what winning the ESH award meant to him, Pat O’Brien told The Fix, “It means that I’ve done the work in recovery up to now. Such work begins anew every day when I commit myself to staying sober and to being of service to others. In the beginning, I was afraid of recovery. Right now, many people out there remain stuck in their misery because they are afraid of living a sober life. They don’t want to lose the alcohol or the drugs. The high has become their best friend, even when it stops working. I discovered that when you finally surrender and embrace recovery, it turns out that it brings forth a life much better than you ever imagined.”
Given his extensive experience as a broadcaster and television personality, it was intriguing that the celebrity chosen to present Pat O’Brien with the ESH award was legendary Eagles guitar player Joe Walsh. After all, what do broadcasters and rock stars have in common? It turns out, a fondness for alcohol and cocaine back in the day. In the lyrics to his 1978 solo hit, “Life’s Been Good,” he sang of the decadence of those years. “I go to parties, sometimes until four/ It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door.” Defying the odds, Joe Walsh embraced the path of sobriety, becoming close friends with Pat O’Brien in the 12-step rooms.
In his funny and moving introduction to the honoree, Joe Walsh started by saying to the gathering of industry professionals and young people in early recovery, “I will be signing court cards after the awards show.” He went on to commend the example set by Pat O’Brien, saying, “A wonderful friend in sobriety and a great example of how someone can help others when they get sober. I don’t really care about all the rules in regards to anonymity. Everyone knows what I did. As celebrities, the best thing we can do when we get sober is talk about it.”
In response to this powerful declaration, Joe Walsh received a rousing cheer from the audience. Later, when speaking in private with The Fix about what was going to be written, Walsh highlighted his main point, “Creativity and recovery are great subjects to write about. Showing the connection between the two will help a lot of people out there. Getting sober and staying sober was really tough for me in the beginning. What I learned by walking through the hard times, however, is that what happens next is a bit surprising because it is so amazing.”
After giving Joe Walsh a big hug, Pat O’Brien happily accepted the 2017 Experience, Strength & Hope Award. On the podium, he spoke about overcoming the dark times, saying, “My friend Michael J. Fox and my lawyers both told me the same thing. They told me to just fuck it and breathe. I know that sounds a bit dirty and out of context. However, right now and moving forward, one day at a time, I simply want to do my best to help extinguish the stigma surrounding alcoholism and addiction. This is a brain disease, and it’s astounding how few people know and accept that fact in this country. It is our job to help change minds and open doors.”
After Pat O’Brien received his award, Leonard Buschel took the stage to speak about the mission of Writers in Treatment and the Reel Recovery Film Festival. With festivals now in seven cities across the country every year, Buschel wants the film festival to eventually have 20 annual events nationwide. Explaining this motivation to grow and expand, Buschel said, “I want people in early recovery across the country to see the true potential of what can be accomplished. What would happen if when people checked into rehab, they were told, ‘If you stay, we promise that you will become a miracle.’ Okay, it might be a bit too biblical for day one, but you all know what I mean. What if we could share our hopes and our dreams? That is what keeps me motivated and that’s what keeps me moving forward.”
Such a message resonated deeply with the audience and well beyond. For example, as the founder and CEO of the teen rehab Newport Academy, Jamison Monroe has been a supporter of Leonard Buschel’s efforts, including the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin, over the years. Describing the reasons behind his ongoing support, Monroe said, “In our teen rehab programs and in our sober high schools, the young people are facing a challenging time in their lives. Can they have fun and be successful moving forward while maintaining their sobriety? What’s so great about the Experience, Strength & Hope Awards and the Reel Recovery Film Festival is that they provide concrete proof that recovery can lead to dreams coming true. Rather than life ending when you get sober, it can be a time of true creativity. This is a powerful lesson for young people everywhere to learn.”
Indeed, the lesson taught by the Experience, Strength & Hope Award show year in and year out is the redemptive power of recovery. No matter how far addicts or alcoholics fall, through the miracle of recovery, they can realize their potential and experience a deep and lasting sense of meaning in their lives. Of course, amends need to be made and wreckage needs to be cleared, but sobriety is more than just about cleaning up the mess left behind. Getting sober offers the creative promise of a bright, productive and inspired future that opens doors and deserves recognition. For providing such acknowledgement, the ESH Award has become a valuable facet of the jewel that is recovery. Such an annual celebration of honest accounts of the path to sobriety reminds both the newcomer and the old-timer of how their inner strength can overcome past bad experiences and lead to true hope today and onward.
This article was written by John Lavitt
and re-posted with permission from http://www.thefix.com