Couples Retreat: Healing from the Stigma

Our mission at Stigma is to help people heal from the shame of addiction, poverty and homelessness. Facing any of these challenges is difficult enough without the need to also battle the associated societal stigma. Our programs are designed to help people climb out of the pit of despair, and find hope and freedom moving forward.

Addiction to alcohol is a family disease. The denial and deceit affects not only the drinker, but the spouse, kids, parents and other loved ones. When the drinker gets sober, the loved ones must trudge through the process of recovery as well. The process is daunting, and it meets with failure far more often than with success. Many married couples learn to manage in active alcoholism only to find the pain too great and the scars too deep to avoid divorce once the alcohol is out of the relationship.

My wife, Sheri, and I know all too well about the challenges of recovering our marriage from my alcoholism. There is a recovery cycle that we had to move patiently through. Resentments of the past had to be individually addressed, the kids had to be involved, sorrow and forgiveness had to be found on both sides of the relationship, and the foundation of trust had to be rebuilt from the ashes. Love and intimacy are impossible without trust, and addiction is one of trust’s greatest enemies.

We made it. There were no shortcuts, and we processed all the pain associated with each step in the process. Now we are sharing what we learned with other couples in early sobriety from alcoholism.

We are thrilled to be hosting a couples retreat in the Colorado Mountains February 21st through the 23rd. We will spend a lot of time on the process of relationship recovery from alcoholism, and also talk a lot about addiction nutrition and the foods we can eat to help us heal. The couples retreat is being co-hosted by our good friend and addiction nutritionist, Kelly Miller. We will have great food and great conversation in an authentic and rustic cabin in the woods in Grand Lake, Colorado.

What we are putting together is both unique and really special. I’m not saying this as a selling point. I never want to come across as slimy or salesy. But I’m almost as proud of what this retreat will be as I’m excited to be there and feel the experience myself. I’m explaining this from a position of raw authenticity. If you read it as a sales pitch, I’m sorry we can’t get on the same page.

This beautiful cabin has majestic lake views from the four-season porch and down on the boat dock. The living room is cozy and rustic in log cabin feel, but the house has full heat, electric and wifi, so there will be no roughing it. We will spend many of the sessions sitting by the wood burning stove in the living room. We were looking for an intimate setting to enhance our listening, learning, sharing and experiencing the messages of recovery. We found it.

The house has five private bedrooms. If you join us, you’ll have either a queen or king size bed in a room decorated beautifully in authentic log furniture. There are two and a half bathrooms. We will do everything possible to ensure your privacy and comfort as we schedule bathroom time and work together.

We chose this house because it has the potential to be transformational in a way no hotel with a sterile meeting room ever could. That’s not who we are, and that kind of retreat would not interest us to host any more than it would interest us to attend. This cabin is special. We want the experience to be special, too.

Meals

Both Sheri, and Kelly’s husband Josiah, are trained and accomplished culinary professionals, and our meals will be healing, practical, exemplary and delicious. The retreat will start with dinner on Friday evening; we’ll share breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; and have breakfast together on Sunday, February 23rd before we conclude the retreat and depart the cabin. In addition to the meals, we will have plenty of nutritious snacks available – foods that generate neurotransmitters and improve our abilities to recover.

On Saturday evening, we will all cook together. Josiah and Sheri will lead us in preparing a meal while Kelly explains why the ingredients enhance our brains’ own abilities to heal. We will cover everything from shopping for the freshest and most nutrient dense ingredients, to preparation techniques, ideal kitchen equipment and timing. It will be as informational as it will be fun and delicious.

I will be your mixologist while we prepare and eat dinner together. We’ll enjoy some delicious craft mocktails that will convince us we are not missing out when we leave the liquor out.

Sessions

Addiction Nutrition

Is your mouth watering? While I’m on the topic of food, I’ll tell you about the rest of the nutrition programming. Kelly will lead us in two different sessions about how our brains work, and how the foods we eat can speed our recovery from addiction. She’ll cover brain chemistry and neurotransmitters, amino acids and co-factors, blood sugar regulation and many more topics that affect how we heal from cravings for alcohol. I’ve seen Kelly present this information a number of times, and it is fascinating and interactive. The information she has shared with me has changed the way I will eat forever, and has improved my mood in ways I didn’t realize were possible. There are no exotic ingredients, no restrictive eliminations and no difficult cooking techniques. When she finishes explain the “whys” and “hows” of addiction nutrition, you will be excited to incorporate this delicious simplicity into your routine.

Relationships in Recovery

I thought sobriety would be the greatest challenge of my life. Little did I understand at the time, sobriety fixes nothing and just exposes the carnage long caused and hidden by my abusive drinking. Sobriety didn’t make my marriage better. In fact, sobriety nearly tore my wife and me apart. Sheri and I have learned a lot. Frankly, all the psycho-babble we read didn’t help much. Now that we are making it and our marriage is back on solid ground, we want to share our experience and all that we’ve learned.

We’ll talk about the resentment, sorrow, forgiveness, trust and love cycle that can only come in long-term sobriety. We’ll discuss the impact we’ve had on our kids, and our opportunity to be the generation to break a family legacy of drinking. We’ll talk about timing, patience, the differing recovery schedules of the drinker and the spouse, intimacy and addiction transference. By the end of the weekend, it is our goal that a lot of very complex issues are more manageable and understandable. We won’t solve all of your problems at this retreat, but we hope to arm you with the empathy and compassion to bring the love back.

Our talks will take place in the cozy living room by the fire, or on the four season porch overlooking the lake and mountains. I can’t make any promises about the future of your recovery or your relationship. But I can promise the setting and honesty will give you the best possible chance to succeed that I can imagine. As someone who has been there and is doing it, I want to create an environment for us all to grow.

Since this is the first time we are offering this program, we are welcoming you to join us for just $800 for the couple for the weekend. That includes the accomodations, all meals and snacks and the programming. It is our intent to charge over $2,000 for this program the next time around, but we’ve got to work out the kinks, so we are discounting the retreat for our first-time guests.

If you have any questions or comments, or you would like to book your spot in the retreat, please contact me at matt@theStigma.org. We’d love to have you join us for a weekend of relationship recovery at this beautiful lake cabin in the woods!

Published by Matt Salis

Matt Salis is a high-functioning alcoholic in recovery who is working to end the stigma associated with addiction and related conditions such as homelessness and mental illness.

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