Recovery Unscripted Podcast - Episode 8

Featured Guest: Lori Jean Glass, Executive Director of Clinical Operations, Five Sisters Ranch

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Today’s guest is Lori Jean Glass, a renowned relationship coach, educator and expert on love addiction, love avoidance and co-dependency. She joined me at the Recovery Results conference in Dallas to shed some light on these complicated issues and explain why we board the “crazy train” of unhealthy relationships (and how we can get off that train and begin healing).

For Lori Jean, her passion for helping others heal their relational wounds stems from her own personal journey. “I spent a good portion of my early life in and out of many relationships and needing positive regard and having unrealistic expectations,” Lori Jean shares. “I didn’t really understand what I was doing at the time because of the limitations of the wounds that were not getting treated properly.”

As she began to help others, she realized more and more that we often find ourselves on a “crazy train” of relationship issues, but we can’t see it for what it is because we think that is what’s normal. “The reason why we don’t have the perspective is that we’re drawn to what’s familiar regardless of merit,” Lori Jean explains. “Usually that train that we’re riding is very much like the living room we grew up in…and that’s why we don’t know that we’re riding crazy train.”

She has also found that these issues can be very complicated, even when it comes to the terminology that treatment providers, patients and loved ones use. “We just have to be mindful of the labels and mindful of how we use the term ‘love addiction’…it brings about a lot of shame when you put a word like ‘love’ in the same topic as addiction.” Lori Jean says. “You can still have really beautiful love in your life…it doesn’t mean that it’s an addiction and you have to give it up.”

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Podcast Transcript: David Condos with Lori Jean Glass

David Condos: Hey, guys. Welcome to this episode of recovery unscripted. I’m your host, David Condos, and this podcast is powered by Foundations Recovery Network.

On today’s show, I’m joined by Lori Jean Glass, a relationship coach and educator who also serves as executive director of clinical operations for Five Sisters Ranch in California. She joined me at the Recovery Results conference in Dallas to share some of her expertise on love addiction, avoidance, and codependency.

She’ll unpack some of these complicated subjects today and explain why we get on the crazy train of unhealthy relationships, and how we can get off that train and create healthy relational alignment. All right. Let’s get started.

I’m here with Lori Jean Glass.

Lori Jean Glass: Hi.

David: Thank you for being with us today.

Lori: Thank you.

David: Let’s just start off by having you tell us a little bit about your personal story and how you came to work in the behavioral health treatment world.

Lori: Wow. How long do we have? [laughs]

David: This is your time.

Lori: Okay. Well, I actually have been working in this industry for about seven years professionally. I came to this industry via wanting to help demystify the concept of love addiction, that was my original step into this field. I have a long history of recovery and doing a lot of research on helping people change. I’m a certified coach in different modalities and was working as an image consultant with businesses, organizations, and individuals, helping them change. What I kept stumbling over was these challenging relationships that people were in. Everywhere I went people seemed to be destabilized by relationships.

As I started to do the research, I met a woman who was opening a facility for women at the time, now it’s for men and women. She was looking at what her target was going to be. I helped her with branding the facility. In developing where the target was going to be, we came up with working with people with relationship challenges. Then it was history from there. I sold my company, I started working for her and I have just enjoyed it so much, learned so much. A lot of it came from my own personal experiences, growing up with a lot of trauma and getting different labels it didn’t make a lot of sense for facilitating change. It’s a personal journey too, to it’s professional and personal for me.

Now, I do believe fundamentally that people can and do change and that’s why I loved our morning speaker today so much when she was talking about happiness. We all can be happy. And it really does sometimes boil down to a choice and that’s a hard pill to swallow for people that come from deep wounds.

David: Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your personal story and kind of– what this means to you?

Lori: Yes, absolutely. Sure. I’m from West Virginia originally, that’s why I have the two names Lori Jean, that’s where my roots reside. My father and mother were happily married. Unfortunately, when I was a young girl my father drowned.

We were there and that imprinted in a big abandonment button inside of me that the DSM V would note as attachment disorder. My mom’s adaptation to that trauma was to drink alcohol because back in the 60s they didn’t do any diagnosing for alcoholism and she very quickly became dependent on the bottle and ended up dying from alcohol and pills when I was a teenager.

So just a lot of trauma a lot of drama, and I boarded crazy train after that which is a term that I use a lot in my coaching company which is www.lovetopivot.com. Also in the curriculum that we use at Five Sisters and to help people de-board crazy train. When you’re in these relationships that are so fundamentally destabilizing. I spent a good portion of my early life in and out of many relationships and needing positive regard and having unrealistic expectations and all the things that Pia Melody so brilliantly wrote in her book Facing Love Addiction. Didn’t really understand what I was doing at the time because of the limitations of the wounds that were not getting treated properly.

David: I like that crazy train analogy because when you’re in the middle of that situation it can seem hard to get off it. I mean you may not have the perspective of how crazy the train you’re on is.

Lori: Well, I can tell you why. And the reason why we don’t have the perspective is we are drawn to what’s familiar regardless of merit. Usually, that train that we’re riding is very much like little living room we grew up in. It’s the same energy, we are drawn to that energy. That’s why we don’t know that we’re riding crazy train because that’s what we grew up on. Was chaos.

David: A lot of it is kind of what you’re used to. Where your baseline is for normal.

Lori: There is a tolerance that’s way too high for normalcy and that’s why when we step into a room where people say, “Well, just be happy.” It’s like– how do you access that? And that was the question I asked our keynote this morning, how do you go from trauma to happy?

David: Yes, and that was another thing I actually wanted to ask you about, the speaker you’re referencing is Michelle Gillian. She was talking about broadcasting happiness as someone who is trying to help someone go from trauma to happiness. How do you take those steps with them?

Lori: Like I told her when I asked the question this morning, it’s a toll question. First of all, you have to look at the uniqueness of that individual’s storyline. We have to get an understanding of what that person is going to need to be mindful of and aware of, in order to be able to be happy. Like I have attachment wounds, I’m always going to have them. I’m sitting here across from you right now, looking you in the face. I have no challenges. I completely trust you. [laughs] I’m trusting this broadcast.

David: As the host, I appreciate that. I will say that.

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Lori: I don’t have a lot of complexities today is what I’m trying to say. However, if I fell in love with you’d and you left me, the pain that I would feel would probably be a little bit different than just your average person knicker up in a secure environment.

Because I know that of myself. I protect myself and I vet people very carefully when I let them into my heart. That’s how I can achieve happiness. I have to be mindful that I do have the wounds, it’s like when you have skin cancer you’re mindful, you don’t go sit out in the sun. Right?

David: Yes, and it seems like that, would be one of the steps is gaining that self-awareness about, what your vulnerabilities are and how you can move forward and protect yourself in a healthy way.

Lori: Exactly. There’s no one answer because everybody’s just a little bit different. I think moving somebody from living in their trauma wound all the way to happiness, the first is they have to want to be there. They have to want to get there. Then they have to understand what’s going to come up in that process, in that journey, in that walk. Where is your deepest pain going to resonate from? What are you going to call it? How are you going to understand when it’s getting activated? It might sound a little silly on this broadcast to describe it like that, but it’s true.

You have to be able to know when it’s getting activated in your system, as well as you know when you put your hand on that stove, it’s hot.

David: Can you tell us a little bit more about your current role with Five Sisters Ranch?

Lori: Yes. My title is a long one, it’s executive director of clinical operations. Basically, what I have done there is wrote that program, and I oversee the program itself in terms of who comes in? What track they need to be on, I help assess them on the up front. What is it that we’re going to do for you while you’re here?

You don’t have to be an addict to come. You can be an addict in recovery and just really destabilized and put down the drink and the drugs, but not okay with self. I do believe that people relapse often with addictions primarily because they’re not able to get down to what drove them to that addiction initially. So they just keep doing what we know is this cycle. Yes.

David: The specialty at Five Sisters is what exactly? Could you tell us a little bit more about the approach?

Lori: Yes, it’s really relationship challenges. Our specialty is really people that are destabilizing relationships. So you come home and you find out that your spouse is falling in love with somebody that they met 20 years ago through Facebook. It’s just when you get those emotional bombs in life. It’s for people that have been avoiding and terrified to go into relationships. So they just stay saying that they really don’t want to be in one, but yet deep down they do. Anybody that has some deep relational wound where they want to go and really work on that that’s really our typical client.

David: For people who don’t know what goes into a day to day for a patient who’s there working on love addiction, relationship issues, codependency, that kind of stuff?

Lori: Well, first of all, we call them “residents,” not patients.

David: Sorry, “residents.”

Lori: Yes, day to day, it depends on the individual again because we only take six at a time. That’s it. So it’s very, very, very personalized, a lot of movement, yoga meditation, we do equine, you know, the horses. It is an intensive like you will come and you will work on whatever it is you need to work on and for some people that might mean they might need to sleep a couple hours every day [laughs], it really depends on the individual.

David: With six patients, I mean it seems like you’re able to really go in that direction and that route. Or “residents.” [laughter]

Lori: There you go. I was going to say something, but I’m like–

David: With six residents– we touched a little bit on this cycle of relapse and not finding that stability. Why have you found that it’s so important to treat the whole person together as opposed to just treating one part of it?

Lori: Absolutely, because we are whole people, that’s why I do this. That speaks directly to my heart. When I got sober everybody told me to stop worrying and just get out of myself and go help somebody else and deep down I couldn’t access that. I needed to do the work within myself. I did need to focus on self. I think that we need to if we have attachment wounds, we need to work on how we’re going to attach with our sponsors. We need to work on how we’re going to attach it to our family. We need to work on how we’re going to show up for work like it touches every piece of our life and if we don’t incorporate all of that and take a look at how we are biologically, psychologically, physically, spiritually, to me it’s all interconnected.

David: I also want to talk a little bit about your presentation that you’ll be giving here at the conference that is focused on how a person’s relationship with themselves is connected with family, food, and love. Could you tell us a little bit about that and how all of those things are connected?

Lori: Sure. Well, we’re really excited. It’s our first time presenting together as a group and–

David: That’s with Louise Stanger and Robyn Cruze?

Lori: That’s right. Louise Stanger and Robyn Cruze, and Louise has been talking a lot about the family, about family mapping, about looking at where you come from and the importance of bad attachment, and then Robin’s going to be talking about the food. What I love about what Robyn Cruze is all about what she talks about. Most people with ED it’s not about the food, it’s really not about the food. the food is just what they’re using in order to cover up or manage or tolerate or run from or whatever is underneath that. She’s going to be talking about how if you don’t really work on the family of origin issues, how it’s going to come out that play out with your relationship with food, and then I’m going to be talking about how then if you have an addiction, whether it’s food alcohol whatever it is then how that’s going to really show up when you try to show up to have relationships in love.

David: Could you tell us a little bit more about Love to Pivot?

Lori: Yes, I’ve been doing relational coaching for a while and I love conflicts. I do.

David: That’s good. Not a lot of people like that. We need people like you.

Lori: I know. I really like conflict, and what I like about it is because for me, people that have a lot of conflict have a lot of energy and they want that energy to shift, they just don’t know how to shift it. What we call ourselves are advocates for relational change. It’s a process. It’s almost like a training for an individual that they go through with an advocate so that they can show up healthier in their relationships.

David: That’s a great point about conflict because I feel like this isn’t just a modern Western issue, but it seems, especially today, conflict is a dirty word. Everybody wants to avoid conflict whether it’s with family, with a partner or at work or wherever, but its unhealthy as anything else, and you have to push through that.

Lori: That’s right. And conflict doesn’t have to be viewed as unhealthy. Conflict itself, if we’re conflicted about something, why not get curious? That’s been a Brown’s platform, right? What is it that– Why am I deregulated right now? Why–? I use the term a lot of heat, like a last minute, “Wow, it’s a lot of heat around that. Let’s talk about that. Let’s go in there.” I’m German so I love to go in. [laughs]

David: Just go in there.

Lori: Yes, and of course, asking permission and doing all the right things, but it’s true, it’s like, “Ah, there’s so much beauty in that.” And they just need to have somebody help them paint the picture for what it really is like did you hear Michelle [Gielan] speak this morning?

David: I was doing another interview out there, unfortunately.

Lori: She gave a great analogy about these two brothers that had two different houses and they had a lot of conflict, they didn’t talk for twenty somewhat years and both brothers lost their homes in a recession and they found– one of the brothers found out that the other brother lost his home too and he made the decision to call in and give an invitation for them to come back together after 20 years and they ended up coming back together pooling their resources and buying a home and living together. And her whole thing was there they created happiness and I’m in the audience thinking, “Yes, but they also busted through that conflict like they had to lose their homes in order to see the value in their brotherhood.” That’s a great– To me it’s a great analogy not just of happiness but of conflict, it’s what do you want to do with that conflict and how can you show up for it in a way we can still have your voice say what you need to say and then also create change.

David: That’s a great example of how something that seems really negative at the time can be used as just part of your journey to get to another place?

Lori: That’s right. And some people really are taking a risk here, but it’s true, some people really do become addicted to their pain like some people are told talks about and that in a new earth. It’s really brilliant because when you think about it some people really get so used to and accustomed to being in the pain, that negativity is really where they’re comfortable. They don’t they don’t know how to be without that body of armor around them carrying their sword and shield to live, that’s what they’re so used to. I used the analogy of a sword and shield a lot, avoidance carrying a shield, and anxious, attachment wounded people carry a sword, and ambivalent people carry both. [laughs] It’s fascinating when you have them start to put their tools down.

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David: On love addiction, that’s something that I’m not that familiar with personally, maybe some of our listeners aren’t either– Could you just tell us real brief anything that we haven’t covered already to demystify that, what it is and how you treat it?

Lori: Love addiction, really, I feel is more attachment based. It’s like attachment disorder, it can come about through mood disorders. It can come about from different diagnoses, right? And essentially, the reason why I’m careful using that term is like take my story, for example, dad dies and I’m a young, mom outs herself and I’m a teenager, and then I’m told later in life I’m addicted to love. Well, gosh, did I really ever have it? I don’t even really know what it is, what I’m addicted to is I’m addicted to somebody else being responsible for my emotions. I’m addicted to feeling better because somebody else places value on who I am. I’m addicted to somebody telling me that I’m worth it. I’m worthy. That need for positive regard. The characteristics of love addiction are all about using either sex and relationships to alter mood and relieve emotional pain, that’s the heart beat up, right? I think now, moving forward with this next phase of people coming into recovery, we just have to be mindful of the labels and mindful of how we use the term love addiction because it can really– it brings about a lot of shame when you put a word like love and put it in the same topic as addiction. You can still have really beautiful love in your life, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. It’s an addiction you have to give it up. [laughs]

David: That’s a good point. If someone has alcohol addiction they know they’ve had alcohol, now they shouldn’t have it anymore.

Lori: That’s right.

David: I can see what you’re saying, how that phrase can be problematic because it’s really different in that way. We’ll just wrap it up with this last question. You’ve devoted a lot of your time and effort to this field. Is there anything else you’d like to say to sum up why helping people with these types of relationship issues? Why this is important to you?

Lori: Yes. I feel emotional. I think that just watching people step into who they are and their light shine. When you experience that, when you experience somebody stepping into who they’re really meant to be in this lifetime and then you see them a year or two later and they’re really showing up. That’s why I do this. People can and do change. I always say that.

David: Absolutely. Well, thank you, Lori Jean, for your time and thank you for sharing all that with us.

Lori: You bet. Thank you.

David: Thanks again to Lori Jean for joining us. Now I get to conclude this episode by featuring another compelling personal story of recovery in our ongoing segment series called Hero of the Week. This week’s story comes from Ginny P. and is one of over 1,300 stores shared so far on the Heroes in Recovery website. Like Lori Jean discussed in our interview, it can be difficult to gain perspective about our own situation because we get used to what we know. For Ginny, she grew up trying to be everything to everybody and she became extremely codependent before she even knew what that meant. She turned to alcohol to numb the pain. It wasn’t until she received a DUI and joined a support meeting that she gained that perspective and really began the healing process. As Ginny writes in her story, “My journey for the past five years has been one of self-discovery and that the pain you go through is useful. It’s there for a reason. It lets me know that I am not broken and that we all have our own stories and that we all have the same story of needing to be loved, to belong, and needing to connect to others. We all need to know that we are valuable.” Thank you, Ginny, for sharing your story and doing your part to break the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health issues. If you’d like to read Ginny’s full story or share your own, go to heroesinrecovery.com.

David: This has been the Recovery Unscripted podcast. Today we’ve heard from Lori Jean Glass of Five Sisters Ranch. For more information about her work, visit lorijean.com and fivesistersranch.com. Thank you for listening. Please share this podcast, give it a review on iTunes and subscribe for new episodes. See you next time.