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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Meadows acquires Remuda Ranch

 The Meadows is pleased to announce the acquisition of Remuda Ranch. Remuda Ranch is an Arizona inpatient and residential center for women, adolescents and children who are suffering from eating disorders and related issues.

Established in 1990, Remuda Ranch offers a full continuum of care at its Wickenburg and Chandler locations. The Remuda Acute Care Program, located in Wickenburg, overlooking the mountains of the Sonoran High Desert, provides a high intensity inpatient program for all age groups. Remuda Ranch offers an equine program in addition to a challenge course with both high and low ropes and zip lines. The Remuda Life Residential Program, located in Chandler, provides transitional care between eating disorder inpatient treatment and home.

 According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. In particular, anorexia nervosa has a higher mortality rate than any other cause of death among females between the ages of 15 and 24. Additionally, the chances are great that individuals who have suffered traumatic events will develop an eating disorder as a means of controlling or coping with their circumstances.

“The Meadows is pleased that Remuda Ranch will join our organization and provide us the opportunity to expand our services to the ever-growing need for patients who suffer from an eating disorder,” said Jim Dredge, CEO for The Meadows. “Remuda Ranch has been a leader in this industry with its world-class medical and clinical teams and its excellent clinical outcomes.”

According to Dredge, The Meadows plans to incorporate its trauma treatment best practices to help patients with eating disorders in their recovery process. Dredge adds that Clinical Professionals frequently provide feedback that the trauma work pioneered by The Meadows and its Senior Fellows provides meaningful recovery and sustained healing to patients. For more information visit www.themeadows.com and www.remudaranch.com

The Illusion of Control

The majority of gamblers who tell their story to a group, truly believe that they accumulate experience and learn from their errors when gambling. In truth, this feeling of personal efficacy is a considerable handicap and any gambler who believes their actions influence their chances of winning are victims. They maintain the illusion they will beat the industry by defying the negative winning expectancy and recuperating their financial losses. Those gamblers have illusions of control or mirages of the mind which reinforce their motivation to continue playing.

Winning the Jackpot: An Enigma
In pursuing this objective, they integrate elements of logic, superstition, observation, or calculation. Compulsive gamblers quickly develop personal strategies, adopt ritualized behavior, imagine risks, or create systems in order to increase their chances of winning. Gamblers who believe in the use of strategies only maintain, in fact, illusory thoughts since there is nothing that will allow them to overcome the obstacle of independence of turns. Since strategy or mastery of a game has no relationship with chance, these kinds of activities reflect and “illusion of control.” Memorizing Blackjack cards, studying statistics concerning the Roulette marble, or choosing anniversary dates for lottery are examples of behaviors whose purpose is to foresee the unpredictable.

As gambling activities are not games of skill, no mental or physical skills are necessary when it comes to betting. However, the majority of gamblers are convinced it is possible for them to acquire some form of mastery in order to solve the enigma posed by these games. Each gambler develops personal strategies and those who can win are thought of as masters. Games of chance are falsely transformed into games of skill and gamblers are more deceived about the nature of the gambling activity. It is obvious chance occasionally favors gamblers; but, regardless of the strategies used, the wins they pocket are based on nothing but chance.

Gaming sessions are rich in coincidences reinforcing the idea of mastery in gamblers’ minds. Pure coincidences between behaviors and prizes won — eventually convince them certain chance events are not chance. The more they play, the more they adopt the false sense of belief their behavior has a real impact on the winning pots. It is a double edged sword: reward with a sense of personal pride winning and profound shame when losing. Curiously, repeated disappointments do not manage to destroy their illusions of mastery. In fact, they accentuate them.

Financially, when it comes time to bet, gamblers only need the financial capacity to risk capital and lose it over time. However, the cognitive universe of the gambler is much more complex than the apparently banal game lets on. In fact, there most certainly exists as many illusions of control as there are individuals who gamble.

Rarely do gamblers object to the idea of illusion of control and many even understand it easily. But, when they leave a therapist’s office or the therapy room, and they remember the experiences of past games, dissonance (lack of harmony) resonates through them. Happily, the therapist will have strategically warned them that this dissonance might happen and it is merely a sign of change.
Along the same lines, all gamblers’ objections are important, in that they allow for the discovery of other illusory thoughts. As long as gamblers speak of the game strategies and mastery, they are demonstrating they do not understand the implications of independence of turns. For this reason, it is important to frequently review this principle.

In order to free themselves from their destructive passion for gambling, gamblers must not only combat their own illusions, but also those suggested to them. Since the gambling market is extremely profitable, the industry benefits by taking advantage of gamblers’ illusions. Studies reveal the more gamblers actively participate in a gambling game, the more they fall prey to illusions of control. The majority of games found on the market are conceived and fabricated in such a way that gamblers confuse them with games of skill. It is not surprising that current games of chance offer an abundance of choices.
Illusions of control, which appear to be a natural reflex for gamblers, are generally reinforced by a game’s appearance. These illusions of mastery over the game are taken advantage of and exploited in certain non-scientific books that address methods of winning at gambling games. These books only spread false ideas by encouraging gamblers to count on their skills. Even if illusions of control sometimes appear to be of a knowledgeable character, they are often based on ludicrous suggestions or magical perceptions. Superstitions count among these disconcerting ideas that give gamblers the impression that they are increasing their power over the game.

Here are a few examples I have heard from clients:
“The 21st is a lucky day since it’s composed of the number 7 three times.”
“I often win right after having eaten a sandwich. True, it sounds bizarre, but it works.”
“When I don’t try to win, I win. My desire to win makes me lose. I must learn to play for pleasure.”
“I gamble with my deceased father’s watch. It guides me.”

Is it possible that gamblers confound real life with games of chance? Is it possible they wrongly believe their intuition could be used to their advantage in games whose long-term results are determined beforehand? In this way, gamblers are induced to understand they are committing an error and are not stupid to have superstitious thoughts. Thus, they find themselves free to maintain this belief in other realms of their life and their thought structure is saved. After all, who are we to pretend there are no situations in which intuitive thoughts pay dividends?

What Love is and is Not!

Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. says, “Love is force of nature. No matter how much we want to, we cannot demand, command or disappear love”

It’s true, you can’t make someone love you and you can’t really stop them either. I do believe however you can create love. Love is the most powerful force in the Universe and therefore it is also the most fearful.
Ownership, which many confuse as being love, prevents freedom — however love encourages it. If love could speak it would say... “I am so grateful for you, please just be fully who you are and let me hold a sacred space in which you can unfold.”

Standing in that space feels like a gift to both people. So clearly love is not ownership, manipulation, compromising one’s self, violence, contempt or fear. Nor is love just lust.
People also mistake love as something that should only be given to a partner, husband or wife. Actually, love is something that should be given freely to everyone, including ones self. When it is given freely, it leaves little room for depression, loneliness or desperation. These cannot co-exist with love.

I ask participants at my seminars to raise their hands if they have ever been in love. Only those people who have partners raise their hands. Then, I ask, who here has had a best friend, a child, a mom, a brother, a sister a mentor or a special teacher? Who here has eaten chocolate or peppermint ice cream with hot fudge sauce? Who has had fresh baked bread or hot buttered popcorn? Who here has run in the rain, been blown open or inspired by a truth or been moved to tears by genuine caring? I believe if you have ever experienced any of these, you have been in love. Love is not limited to anyone or anything. That means, of course that we can fall in love everyday. In fact, you fall in love every time you are able to see the Divine, Spirit, God or whatever you want to call it, in anything or anyone.

When see your friend’s spirit, or you see spirit in your child’s smile, or your mom’s love…you have just met love. You see love is a choice. You can make love happen just by seeing the beauty in everything. Author, Erich Fromm says we make it happen in four steps by caring and demonstrating active concern for each others growth and life; by taking responsibility for or actions and reactions to each other and our expressed and unexpressed needs; respecting each other’s unique individuality and supporting and cherishing that, and finally by what he calls knowledge, in other words caring enough to really take the time to invest the energy in getting to know each other at a deeper level. Most of us say, “How are you,” not really caring or “Let’s have coffee,” then we go home and within  20 minutes we have disconnected completely. Some of that is because we are overwhelmed in our own lives, but acting in this way, disconnects us from the very thing that would fill us up…deep connections. True love is connected, attached and committed, no matter what the form.

Obviously, not all the forms of love will come from just one person, so it’s important to connect with many people and create lots of opportunities to both give and receive love. If you are afraid to receive love, find a good therapist. They will remind you if you have been hurt in the past or have lost love and are now refusing to be open to it again...that’s a bit like saying “ I once had either the best or the worst sushi in the world, so I am never eating food again.” Whether you eat sushi or not, you get the point.  I am sure whatever your experience, you no doubt learned a great deal, so now go and put that experience to good use and find someone to love.

Here’s the deal. Find the people in your life who see your soul — not just how sexy you are. Find the people who care about your character not just who you know, where you have been or what you own. Find the people who stay when you disagree and hear you even when what you are saying is different than what they know to be true. Find the people who can say, ” You’re right, I’m sorry.“ Find the people who want to grow with you, grow old with you and who will lie under the stars and listen in the silence to your heartbeat. Find the ones who will hold your hand and stay even when they are as scared as you are. Then love them and yourself like crazy. Happy heart day from all of us.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Is it Love or Codependence?

By Ken  Richardon BSW, LISAC, CADAC &
Mary Richardson, M.Phil., LISAC, CADAC
While February is thought of as the month of Love, Romance and Valentines, it is also the month of Expectations, Fantasy and Disappointment. So, what better time to talk about relationships?

Nearly all of us desire love and loving. We have heard how love heals all wounds. That love is the answer. Love fills the heart and soul. That we are here to learn how to love and be loved. There are numerous love songs playing on the radio at any given moment and books and movies about love. In many spiritual teachings it is said that love is the answer. We are surrounded with TV and magazine ads that promise if we dress a certain way or use a particular product, we will find love. Or if we look a particular way, have the right credentials, the right car…..then we will be lovable. Human beings love, love. It is the Holy Grail…..to love and be loved. 
And understandably, human beings are relational by nature. We relate to each other, ourselves, a Higher Power, the earth, our pet friends, our cars or any other thing we have connected with. The fact is, we are relational.

Some of us have been blessed with love in our lives and some of us have not. Instead we have experienced rejection, hurt or abandonment. But the desire to love and be loved never leaves. It may be buried deep inside where no one can touch it, but it is still there….the desire for loving relationships.

One of the greatest detriments to loving relationships is codependence. Codependence is the “dysfunction” in dysfunctional relationships. It is the “fantasy” in romance. It is the “enmeshment” in oneness and it is the “avoidance” in independence.
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“Codependence is learned patterns of unhealthy and dysfunctional thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors which adversely affect an individual’s relationship with themselves and others. It is cyclic and progressively results in mild to chronically severe consequences. Co-dependence is primarily learned in childhood through experiences of abuse, abandonment, neglect or enmeshment and/or a significant traumatic event. Codependent thoughts and beliefs generally manifest in moderate to extreme passive and/or aggressive behaviors, which may include avoidant, enmeshing and/or controlling behaviors. Codependence often develops into and is masked by addictions and other compulsive behaviors and is generally seen as the underlying cause of addiction and relapse. Codependence is treatable and generally results in an individual’s progressively healthy and loving relationship with themselves and others.” Ken Richardson and Mary Richardson
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In codependent relationships we take from others to fill ourselves up — or avoid because we are afraid. In recovering relationships we practice loving boundaries, giving without fear, needs or expectations of outcomes and lovingly allowing ourselves to receive what is given, always as enough.
In our years of working with alcoholics and addicts and their families and friends, we have come to understand 8 primary steps that help these relationships move from codependent dynamics into progressively loving and healthy relationships.

8 Steps to a Healthy Relationship 
1. Know your history and keep it separate from the relationship — Move from Fantasy to Reality.
Each of us brings an incredibly unique history of experiences and perceptions from our entire past to a relationship. As such, there is a risk of pasting our past on our present relationship and not seeing our present relationship for what it truly may be. Learning to bridge those two histories and create a relationship reality which includes a common ground for communications, intimacy, closeness, loving behaviors, problem solving, loving confrontation and mature conflict resolution, while maintaining boundaries, empowerment and our true sense of self, is what codependence recovery is about. In this we progressively move from fantasies, whether negative or positive, about the relationship into healthy, loving and mature relationship reality.

2. Be conscious and mindful of your thoughts
 We are, each, fully responsible for our thinking. Being mindful and conscious of our thoughts and “changing our minds” from fear based thoughts to loving respectful thoughts about ourselves and others, especially those we love, is a major step toward greater respect, compassion and intimacy in our relationships.
To do so, we have to be mindful of, responsible for and intervene on our thoughts if we see them as blaming, helpless, judgmental, critical, and fearful, etc. and are creating assumptions, expectations, projections or suppositions. If we find them to be, then it is our responsibility to create thinking that is respectful, empowered, loving and compassionate, based in equality and lovingly allowing for one another’s differences.
Our thoughts create our feelings. If we don’t like the way we are feeling about ourselves and our relationships, we need to change our thoughts. The choice is ours.

3. Know and be honest with and accountable for your feelings 
For many this may mean discovering, developing and practicing emotional awareness and empowered responses. It means recognizing and being accountable for our own individual unique emotional reactions (whether over reacting, under reacting or avoiding altogether) and learning healthy, empowered, emotional responses instead of reaction or withdrawal. 
It helps to look at emotional intensity with a scale of 0 to 10. When our emotional reactions are a 5 or more on the 10 point scale or when we are at a 2 or less in our emotional response, all real and effective communication stops and our emotions and defenses are now controlling the communication. Effective communication can take place when we monitor our emotions and keep them in a 3 to 4 range. This is called responding emotionally as opposed to either reacting or withdrawing emotionally.
Emotional reactions in relationships are generally indicators of a back log of unresolved emotions, whether the back log is from the past in the relationship or the greater past that we came into the relationship with, or both. Our goal is to move from reaction or withdrawal to effective emotional responses.

4.   Establish and maintain healthy 
Boundaries are our personal definition of what is okay for us to experience and what is not, whether that is individually or in relationship. It is important for each individual to define their physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual and spiritual boundaries and to communicate them lovingly and clearly to each other. 
Boundaries are different than walls or defenses. Walls and defenses are generally fear based, creating impenetrable blocks to communication and intimacy. Boundaries define what is acceptable or unacceptable within the individual or within the relationship.
When we are identifying our healthy boundaries, they allow room for us to change, evolve and grow individually and within the relationship. They are not written in stone. We may change some of our boundaries as we grow and change throughout our life. We can honor our personal boundaries while honoring another’s boundaries without it harming the relationship. Boundaries are based in a love for ourselves, which enhance our self empowerment and self esteem when communicated in a loving, empowered and compassionate manner.

5. Identify and Express your negotiable and non-negotiable desires.
We all have desires. In the past, they have been described as needs and wants. In recent years we have come to understand that need is an illusion and drains us of our power. We simply have desires. To know and identify our desires, it helps to determine them emotionally, physically, sexually, intellectually and spiritually and to classify them into two categories: negotiable and non-negotiable.
When we negotiate our emotional, physical, sexual, intellectual and spiritual desires with our partner, we are teaching them how we want to be loved in all those areas. When we don’t negotiate our desires with our partner, they have to guess at what we want and they have a 50/50 chance at guessing rightly or failing. These are very poor odds.
Ultimately, we are responsible to fulfill our hearts desires. We achieve this by being simple and clear about them, negotiating with the other person how we want them to be fulfilled and by not attaching expectations to the outcome. If for some reason they did not follow through on what they agreed to do or not do, then we lovingly confront this issue.
As love is both words and actions, when we talk about our desires with our partner, we are loving ourselves. When we negotiate our desires with our partner, we are teaching them how we want to be loved. And, when our partner agrees to fulfill the desire and then does so, they are expressing their love not only in words, but more importantly, in actions.

6. Practice empowered loving communication.
 Communication is the only way we will let others know who we are, how we feel, what we desire and what we think. Empowered Loving Communication is about communicating with love, compassion, honesty, clarity and assertiveness and is without any shame, blame, judgment or criticism of ourselves or others. We share with “I” statements and not “you” statements about how we feel and think and what our desires are. 
Many times we may be fearful of sharing our truth out of the fear that we will not be heard, that we will be judged, or that the other person will react negatively to us. This is where the development of boundaries both emotionally and intellectually comes into play. It is important to share and listen with boundaries so we do not take on the reactions or realities of others and to share and listen without expectation. 
Learning to communicate with love and empowerment is a skill that takes time and practice to become proficient at. We have to be willing to let go of any fearful needs and expectations of outcomes and instead be willing to share our truth clearly without these needs. Empowered Loving Communication allows us to communicate in a manner that is both loving and respectful of ourselves as well as to the other person. It gives us a greater sense of confidence, self love and self esteem while allowing others to know us.

7. Strive to maintain greater levels of intimacy and spirituality
Relationships feel better and better as we each develop a common ground for the relationship which allows us a sense of safety for each of us to be and express who we are; express even greater respect for one another and practice the tools and skills of their unique relationship recovery. The difficult areas become farther and farther apart. And as they arise, they are much easier and quicker to move through and learn from. 
Like each of us, relationships are always evolving. They never “arrive”. This is part of our individual human/spiritual nature and that of relationships as well. It is important to remember that as each person feels better within the relationship, complacency can creep into one or more areas of the relationship emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually and/or intellectually. To guard against complacency, it is important to create daily and weekly practices of communication and intimacy in the relationship which will allow for the continued evolution and growth.

Codependence has been seen as a conflict in gods. 
Our true sense of worth, self, well being and happiness come directly from our relationship with our Higher Power. When we expect another person to give us our sense of worth, self, well being and happiness we have given that power over to them. The priority in relationships is first with our Higher Power, secondly with ourselves and lastly with others. Just as our human relationships take time, attention and energy, so does our relationship with our Higher Power. Lovingly growing and evolving this relationship on a daily basis and sharing it with others will help us in our ability to progressively love and create intimacy with ourselves and others.

8. Seek support to grow your relationship through outside support systems
It is helpful to develop a relationship support system of people committed to you both and your relationship successfully evolving. These may include 12 Step Programs, Relationship Sponsors and Counseling, if necessary. Discretion in choosing your relationship support system is critical. It is helpful to avoid those who may find it difficult to not choose sides and instead to seek out those who are committed to supporting the best interests of you both and the health, growth and evolution of the relationship.
Reaching out beyond the relationship helps to keep the relationship open and to bring fresh perspectives, new insights and greater energy to grow your loving and empowerment in the relationship. 
In our counseling practice and intensive workshops, we teach couples a variety of tools and skills in all 8 areas above which are adapted to each person’s unique human way of being in relationships. Developing healthy, loving and intimate relationships is a process that develops over time. It is not an event. It first requires us to develop a loving relationship with our self and with a Higher Power. We can’t give what we do not have.
Creating a healthy loving relationship can be an enjoyable exciting journey of discovery, change and evolution. With desire, commitment and practice, the rewards of relationship recovery, those of progressive change, love and intimacy, are absolutely indescribable.

Ken and Mary Richardson have maintained a private practice since 1987 and conducted workshops and retreats throughout the United States and the United Kingdom and provide services in the areas of counseling, consulting, education, workshops, seminars, treatment design and development. Ken and Mary have developed and facilitated the “Relationship Recovery Workshop”, the “Advanced Relationship Recovery Workshop”, “The Relationship Recovery Retreat”, “The Body, Mind, and Spirit” Workshop, Weekend Intensive Workshops and “Your Healing Journey Workshop” an innovative intensive individually designed workshop. Currently they are in private practice in Scottsdale.  For more information contact Ken and Mary Richardson at 602-230-8994 or visit www.rccaaz.com

Flash Before Your Eyes

Before I was in recovery I don’t think I ever heard of the word codependent. On my sober journey I asked what it meant. The only answer I recall is — “someone else’s life flashes before your eyes.” At first, I didn’t get it — and honestly it has taken me years to comprehend the meaning. 

Through my personal work on this topic, I am coming to learn we can be codependent in many ways in all of our relationships — not just the romantic ones. From friendships to families — probably all human interactions have a tendency to become codependent depending on the health and boundaries of those involved.
Believe me, I’m no expert on the topic, but I am coming to recognize patterns instilled in me from childhood had everything to do with my emotional development. Since I didn’t come from the healthiest family – my emotional growth was stunted – and that’s why the time has come for me to work out some more of the kinks now.

If I put someone else’s needs or wants before mine, have expectations of them without speaking up on what I need, base my self-esteem on what someone else thinks of me, or put my life on hold to do whatever it takes to make another person’s life easier, I am probably codependent. These are just a few examples.

If I am interdependent in my relationships, then we are mutually dependent on the other.
 Today, I prefer an even playing field; I find joy in giving, yet am still learning how to receive. Life is smoother when truth and honesty are the foundation in my relationships. 

If I am watching someone else’s life flash before my eyes then I am missing the magical moments in my own.

A very special thank you to Mary and Ken Richardson for offering their insights and knowledge on the topic of codependency for this issue.