Lately, I have been craving artichokes. It's not like artichokes are like chocolate where they melt in your mouth like Reese's Pieces. But, for some odd reason, I have been craving this salty-bitter tasting vegetable.So, this weekend, I cooked an artichoke and decided to savor the entire experience. Not much to my surprise, as I began to slowly peel each layer back, my blogger mind started to wander to the work I do with the clients that I help to heal.

As a therapist and expert in the field of sex addiction and other process disorders (work, food, money), I work daily with some of the most courageous men and women and their loved ones as they peel layer after layer in attempt to understand the many facets to this complicated process disorder.

There indeed are so many layers necessary to explore in order to get to the heart of the matter; the actual truth in one's heart. I call this truth "authenticity," or one's "Functional Self" (FS). Once folks start to operate from their FS, they experience true and lasting recovery.

A person often enters treatment for a sex addiction (like any other addition, really) with many layers covering up who they truly are; primarily out of fear of rejection. Hence, the Protective Addict (PA) shows up to my office and is defensive, angry, argumentative, and guarded.

Many individuals wearing their PA masks will posture at times in an effort to keep their tough and bitter outer layer around them, not realizing that their illusive shell is transparent. Although it doesn't actually protect them, especially in treatment, they struggle to peel that initial layer back for fear of being exposed, judged and ridiculed.

Throughout the recovery process I gently (sometimes not so gently depending on how strong ones' addict's voice is) and continually remind folks, that recovery starts with realizing that with the sweet comes the bitter, and with the bitter comes the sweet. In time, and with a lot of practice, it gets easier to deal with each issue underneath the layers.

As we know, sex addiction is not about sex. It is an attachment disorder and an intimacy disorder that creates a need to escape and/or control challenging emotions such as vulnerability and shame.

Therefore, recovery is a matter of surrendering, of allowing yourself to trust the process along the way, even though it may taste bitter at times, especially as you explore your past trauma and the addictive behaviors that have resulted.

As each layer is uncovered, you will start to realize that there is a clear sense of why you chose this particular addiction-sex, love, relationships. You will start to understand the relationship between childhood trauma (big and little traumas) and your choices of coping via porn, compulsive dating, chatrooms, anonymous sex. You will begin to gain insight and clarity into yourself and what it takes for you to have lasting recovery.

As you peel back layer upon layer, you will also realize that you must do so in consultation via a therapist, an on-going therapy group, and SA, SLAA, SAA and a Principles group. As we know, in isolation the addict's deviousness and deception takes hold. It is through consultation that we stay accountable in our recovery.

As you near the heart of your recovery, your relationships will improve, and you will be able to demonstrate the honesty and vulnerability necessary for true and lasting non-sexual and sexual intimacy. You will no longer crave the same old escape routes via sex, but will practice having real connections with your partner, loved ones, and peers.

Once you connect with your heart, you will begin to linger in happiness and inner peace longer, realizing that what you once tried so hard to escape from was an innocent child; YOU. You will savor the bitter as it has given you the sweet and allowed you to become the bright, shiny star that you always were.

You will come to realize that when you stay connected to your heart center, you remain in recovery. By now, your drive to continue to practice your healing tools will outweigh any addictive thinking or behaving. Although you may still have triggers, you will have gratitude for the layers, for the bitter tastes along the way have brought you here.

Today, see what layer you need to peel back to start or continue your recovery process. Can you find the sweet amidst the bitter taste it may bring with it?

Remember, as always you are worth it. Namasté, Candice

Note: We have some really exciting things happening at Namaste Center for Healing! Check out our website: namasteadvice.com, "Groups/Workshops" for more information.