Saint Monica: another patron saint for alcoholics

st-monicaI looked at my blog stats yesterday. I hadn’t looked at them in so long but what has always stood out to me when I do is the posts that get the most traffic. This one from 2013 is ALWAYS in the top five of the posts people read or come across when they search for something Catholic alcoholic related on google.  This post about Saint Monica.

So many of us must be seeking help (whether for ourselves or for a loved one) and who better than Saint Monica to ask for prayers from? Heck, if her prayers were strong enough to convert Saint Augustine then certainly they’ll be strong enough to help me, right?  And seeing now she is also the patron saint of difficult marriages, victims of unfaithfulness, and victims of verbal abuse…my devotion to her has taken on another new meaning.  Here you go:

Saint Monica is patron saint of married women, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse.

Saint Monica was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is honoured in the Roman Catholic Church where she is remembered and venerated for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering against the adultery of her husband, and a prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica to have wept every night for her son Augustine.

Monica was born a Christian at Thagaste, North Africa, around the year 331, the daughter of devout parents who educated her in the faith. Augustine gives only one incident from her youth, obviously relayed to him by Monica herself, of how she was in danger of becoming a wine bibber, but was corrected when her secret sips in the wine cellar were discovered and a maid, in a moment of anger, called her a “drunkard.” This stinging rebuke prompted her to change her behavior and develop perseverence. Perhaps this is why recovering alcoholics are among the many groups who intercede to Saint Monica.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Monica
Dear St. Monica,
Troubled wife and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet, you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine; your prayers were answered. Grant me that same fortitude, patience,and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (Mention your intention here.) and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

She was married early in life to Patritius, who held an official position in Tagaste, He was a pagan, his temper was violent, and he appears to have had bad behavior outside the marriage. Consequently Monica’s married life was far from being a happy one. Her mother-in-law was as bad as her husband. Her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. She asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy’s recovery withdrew his consent.

Eventually her husband became a Christian but died shortly afterwards. She decided not to remarry.

All Monica’s anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was promiscuous and partied all the time. And, as he himself tells us, he was lazy. Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her home. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly. She met St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.

In his book Confessions, Augustine wrote of a peculiar practice of his mother in which she “brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine.” When she moved to Milan, the bishop Ambrose forbade her to use the offering of wine, since “it might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink”. So, Augustine wrote of her:

In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor – so that the communion of the Lord’s body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.

— Confessions 6.2.2

Mother and son spent six months of true peace and then he was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.

At the port of Ostia, Monica fell ill. She knew that her work had been accomplished and that life would soon be over. She had such a joyful disposition that her sons were unaware of the approach of death. As Monica’s strength failed, she said to Augustine: “I do not know what there is left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. All I wished for was that I might see you a Catholic and a child of Heaven. God granted me even more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service.”

The finest pages of Augustine’s Confessions were written as the result of the emotion he experienced after his mother’s death.

The “weeping” springs outside Santa Monica, California were named for Saint Monica.

Scaredy Cat

scaredy-catIn meetings we talk about things that “real” people don’t usually talk about. Sometimes I have to redefine words used a lot in the 12 Step program because my definition doesn’t fit. In order to fully grasp the message of the meeting, I need to see some words from a different perspective.

One of those words is, “Fear.” Fear with a capital “F.”  In the AA text book, we are told Fear is pervasive and runs throughout all aspects of an alcoholic’s life.  That was difficult for me to grasp at first because to me Fear was what happens when I find out my brother’s snake is loose in our house or when seeing a scorpion in my bathroom.

The Fear we talk about in meetings is subtler. It’s in our minds. It’s future-based. And, it’s more than mere “worry.”

The founders of AA felt so strongly about Fear that they even made it its own category/column in the 4th Step.  We inventory not only our resentments but also our Fear. If we don’t “conquer Fear” we may drink again to escape it.  I’m on the 4th Step again right now, so this topic (at yesterday’s meeting) was really pertinent for me.

There are some acronyms—AA loves acronyms, I guess because we aren’t smart enough to remember things without them.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real
FEAR = Face Everything And Recover

Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s good when we come across a bear in the woods and we need to act.  But our minds trick us into thinking emotional stuff is like a big bear in our heads.  Do we fight or flight?  When I am walking into a room with people I know don’t like me/are judging me, my brain creates this huge black bear that I am supposed to be afraid of.  Do I fight it or escape?

Escape. All my life I’ve chosen escape in the face of Fear. Drink. Liquid courage. And then walk into the room. No Fear. Now that I’m sober (again) the Fear is back and I’m having to deal with it head on. I’m told to “walk through the Fear.” I do that, but not very well. I tippy toe around it hoping it won’t see me. I make a lot of crazy noise hoping it won’t attack me. I fall into self-pity, hoping it will feel sorry for me and walk away to find another target. But in the end, as long as I don’t drink, I eventually HAVE to face and feel and deal with my Fear.

It’s funny, I used to choose escape/drink/flight—and now I find myself choosing to fight and get angry. The pendulum is swinging the other way, I guess intending to balance itself out eventually. So, this anger I feel at my ex-husband, his “lovers,” his parents, his sister… all that anger is surfacing and it’s troubling me. It’s all still Fear and I still need to walk through it. The Fourth Step is supposed to help me with this. I’m hopeful.

One way to deal with Fear is by talking to other people about it.  That’s what we do in meetings. When we talk about our Fear the thing we are afraid of gets a lot smaller, more manageable to face.

People like me—who think we don’t need help, don’t need advice or need to talk to anyone to solve my problems, who think we can do everything on our own— we do sometimes rely on God but we forget that God send us people to stand in for him and help us, too. That’s one thing AA has REALLY helped me with—asking for help, seeing I need help, acknowledging and discovering that I need people.

So, even if I don’t yet call someone and talk about my current Fear, I do share in meetings. For some reason, sharing in meetings feels less personal than calling someone up and asking them to listen to me talk.  What if they’re busy? What if I’m annoying? What if they are rolling their eyes on the other end of the line? What if they think I’m stupid?

In meetings, that’s what we’re there for. We sit there and listen to people “share.” So, I don’t feel like I’m putting anybody out or being a burden or annoying. And I get it out of my head and into the room, in the hands of people that “get it.”  And the Fear subsides a little.

The scariest Fear for me is the one that grips me and immobilizes me.  Perhaps everyone has something like this? Perhaps not? I do.  And it’s always relationship based—intimate relationship based. It’s usually my (ex) husband or family members that can evoke this type of visceral, gripping Fear. And it’s all in my head. It’s usually based on something subconscious I can’t control, like fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, stuff like that. Something imagined, but very real to me.

And so I panic. And that feels like I’m dying. And I know from experience that a drink will fix that. In those moments, I feel like I am going to die if I have to continue feeling. It really feels like if I don’t make this feeling go away then I will die.  So, drinking fixes that and I never truly face or walk through that subconscious Fear and get to the other side of it. I would just drink and feel better and all would be right with the world! Until I did something awful while drinking and then the Fear and shame were increased.

I’m rambling this morning but I just wanted to get back into blogging.  It’s good for me.  It’s good for my sobriety. Today I choose to walk through my Fear, even the gripping awful Fear I feel when I deal with my ex-husband and think too much about my future. As long as I just DON’T DRINK then I’ll eventually (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) get to the other side of the Fear and realize I didn’t die. I felt it and didn’t die.

I’m told the opposite of Fear is Faith. I’m told Fear and Faith cannot co-exist in a person’s mind. I’m either in fear or have faith. If I’m in Fear, I’m not trusting God that He’s got me. I’m not trusting God will take care of me. God gives me only the burdens and blessings and grace needed for these 24 hours. He won’t give me more than that. I can face anything that comes my way today. Tomorrow He will give me what I need to deal with tomorrow. As long as I stay in the present, not worry about what may or may not happen in the future—what is my life going to look like a year from now? Will I be lonely and old? Maybe, maybe not.

I choose Faith. Trust God and have Faith that everything will work out for good. It will either work out or it will work out.

2 Timothy, 1:7
“God did not give us a spirit of FEAR, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control.”

It’s Not About You

the-best-recovery-blogsCool! Catholic Alcoholic was picked in the Top 80 recovery blogs for 2016 by Ocean Recovery in the UK. I got an email this morning letting me know. I looked at the list of 80 blogs and am honored and humbled to be among these fine folks, many I follow and many I will now follow!

I admit after my initial reaction of happiness 🙂 I had a slight skepticism because the list was compiled by a rehab. I don’t know why that made me squirm a little. But just being honest.

  1. I thought maybe it was a marketing thing.
  2. I’m not a big fan of rehabs. I’ve considered writing a piece of my opinion on rehabs, in general, but I’ve hesitated because…well, just because.

Looking at the list, however, I see they’ve done a damn good job of picking some of the best and the brightest recovery blogs I’ve been aware of for a long time.

And, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised (no, I promise this is not an ad for them—I’d never even heard of them, plus they’re a long way from Atlanta, Georgia!) — I was pleased to see they offer a 7 day thing. A detox/rehab scenario focused on addiction recovery in a positive environment. That is perfect! The 30 day, or more, rehab programs in the US (and I’ve been to two!) are so frickin’ expensive. Also, the alcoholic must take 30+++ days out of her real life — her family, her job, her everything — to go to long-term residential treatment. Goodness, simply thinking about this right now triggers me and makes me want to drink!  I’ve often wondered why it has to take so long-and why is 30 the magic number?

But we’re told, “Drop everything because your life is on the line.” And we’re told, “This is the only way you are going to get help.” And we’re told, “If you don’t go we can’t help you anymore–you’re on your own.” And sometimes we’re even told, “Go to rehab or go to jail!” So, we go. And then we get out and relapse.

11219409_1597194103898500_7358985689213180794_nAdditionally, the LAST place I needed when I was at my bottom (s) was to be locked (seriously, you can’t leave) in a residential hospital with strangers for an extended period. I’m an introvert, a contemplative, and I needed loved ones, not strangers. I’m a free-spirit and very independent, but I’m not rebellious. These rehabs crushed my spirit. I didn’t (and still don’t) know what the best solution is; but rehab was definitely not itfor ME.

Disclaimer:  I need to make this next point very clear: Everything I write about in this blog is ABOUT ME (not you)–I truly have no idea what you should do, what your loved ones should do, or what will work for anybody else. I have no recommendations or advice. I only post about what is or isn’t working, FOR ME. I’m sure long-term rehabs help plenty of great people recover and achieve permanent sobriety, but that wasn’t my experience. 

On the other hand, this Ocean Recovery place is EXACTLY the kind of place I had needed. My “detox” ended up being in a hospital, yes. It was five days–but it was a medical and mental hospital (no addiction help). I had tried to kill myself. I couldn’t quit drinking and I really wanted to. I felt doomed to an alcoholic life, then death.  I had no hope. So, I did what any sane, drunk alcoholic would do when in despair–I took a bunch of pills of any kind of prescription medicine I had in my house. A cocktail of all kinds of things, antibiotics, melatonin, fluoxetine,Trazodone, etc… Then, I had a five day stint in a hospital. Seizures.

A local priest came to do the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for me. I detoxed there. I stayed sober after that.

This 7 day detox/rehab centre Ocean Recovery would have been A LOT more beneficial to me than the mental hospital and certainly more beneficial than giving up everything in my life for long-term rehab. Just sayin’.

I had to set a boundary with a friend who kept insisting I check into a long-term residential recovery program. 8 months or more!  I thought about my life, my business, my children, my family, my dog, my fish, my rental house, my freedom. Christmas! Just because I’m an alcoholic doesn’t mean I should be locked away. Nobody locks cancer patients away like that. As susceptible and easily influenced as I am–and as much as I really try to please people I love, I found the strength in me to tell her NO. But no matter what I said, how much I explained that rehab is not the solution for me, she wouldn’t back down. She accused me of being manipulative, stubborn, only wanting things my way and not “really” wanting to get well.

All of these things were untrue. Saying that meant I was “in denial.” And all of these things were hurtful. I told her I needed to take a break from our friendship. And I immediately felt peace. Like I had stood up for myself, loved myself. This totally sounds weird. Normal people say “No” all the time. I’ve never been very good at it. That’s why strong personalities (those who have a big fat “J” in their Myers Briggs personality profiles) are ALWAYS drawn to me. I’m an INFP to the core and so J’s love, love, love to try to fix me. I’m actually drawn to them, too. The ones who unconditionally love me…these wonderful, logical “J’s” gently, firmly, lovingly guide me back onto my right path. MY right path. Not their path.

I’m happy to report that without alcohol in my system, I am actually quite sane! For the most part, anyway. Alcohol in an alcoholic body and mind tends to twist our thoughts into thinking we are crazy– and thinking there is no hope for us.

And!
And, I’m happy to report I’m not broken! I don’t need to be “fixed.” I love myself. I forgive myself. I’m SOBER. And I say “no” ALL THE TIME now. I may even be a little extreme in my “nos.” But whatever works, eh?

What in the frickin’ world does any of that have to do with this fantastic list of the Top 80 Recovery Blogs?  Absolutely nothing, ha! But as you all know, I tend to write as I think and talk..stream of consciousness stuff. I would apologize for this but my sister is teaching me not to apologize so much.

Sooooo… on to the list!

Here is what the Top 80 Recovery Blogs list says:

“Many of these bloggers are little-known. Many of these people publish their blogs simply as a way to help others who face similar problems with addiction. If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, we have no doubt you will benefit from the advice these people have to offer. When assessing the {below} blogs, we completely discounted the size of the bloggers’ following on social media. Instead, we judged the blogs based on how useful, inspiring and encouraging they may be for people who suffer from an addiction.”

Click here for the whole list!

Mine’s on there at # 15. It’s alphabetical so there is no hierarchy. Click and follow away!

Have a great day, y’all. This was a nice way to start mine.

Loving an Alcoholic

6a00e551f9630d883301a73db4114f970dThis is a painful post to write because I am the alcoholic. I am loved by many, many, many people despite my poor choices, my erratic behavior, my relapses, my promises…. I have continually let down the ones I love.  The ones I love most. I’ve ruined precious relationships because of my choices. I’ve chosen Master Alcohol over everybody else.

Sure, from my perspective, when in my alcoholism, I wanted to beg for understanding…for mercy…for my loved ones to realize that this is a disease like cancer. I wanted them to see that I didn’t mean to be this way. I don’t want to be this way. I didn’t plan to be this way. I spent every day praying God would “fix” me.

I’m not an irresponsible person. I run my own business, have a college degree, two beautiful children…lots of friends. I think people even like me.

But I’m a real alcoholic. I drank alcohol and I couldn’t stop. I tried to avoid that “first drink” and then I succumbed to it. When I succumbed to it I’d do all types of crazy things—drive, emotionally react, panic, exaggerate, was cruel, lashed out, hurt the ones I love most. Cancer patients don’t do this.

Cancer patients—while similarly, cancer does affect the whole family— don’t lash out at those who are caring for them, helping them. Cancer patients appreciate help, are humble and resigned to their sickness. Alcoholics rebel—we fight back. We are confused—we deny and think we don’t have a problem. We think everyone else has the problem. Until we don’t. Until we realize we definitely are the problem.

That’s when things get worse. The shame, remorse, guilt, suicide thoughts…all that kicks in.

I’m writing this post because I regularly get comments from readers/followers who don’t understand why their loved ones have cut them off. I ache for their pain because I understand and get it. I have loved ones that have cut me off too. It hurts so badly. It contributed to my shame, isolation and sense of worthlessness.

I reached out to my best friend to get her perspective. She is one who has distanced herself from me. I am absolutely certain—and I’ve always been absolutely certain—that her distance was out of love. I KNOW she loves me, wants the best for me, wants me sober and believes I have so many gifts to offer the world. She is a Christian and knows God has a better plan for my life, if only I will adhere to His call.

My take on it was this. I thought she was trying to control me, to fix me. I thought she thought if she showed me tough love (withdrew her love from me) then it would somehow make me get sober. Actually, I even thought it was a little “passive-aggressive.” I thought she was trying to get me to do something by withholding love.

So, today, I just flat out asked her.

Why? Why do people shut out their loved ones who are alcoholics? I was afraid to ask her. I was afraid she would get defensive and avoid me more. But I really wanted to know. And she was the only one who I truly loved who has responded this way, I wanted to know why? I knew 100%, 1000% that she loved me. So I never questioned that. What I didn’t understand is why she would abandon me?

And her response…was beautiful and helpful and I wanted to pass it along to my followers/readers. Her response was this:

“Sometimes the people on the other side need to protect their own sanity; and the only way to do that is to walk away. That doesn’t mean they stop loving. It’s setting boundaries. Boundaries are healthy.”

And I understood. My heart opened and I understood. This wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about me being bad and her judging me. It was about her having healthy boundaries, protecting her heart and spirit from my poor behavior. Even though I am sick and am trying to get well, I can’t expect her to hang in there to the detriment of her own sanity and emotional health.

I am so grateful for this understanding. It’s critical to my walk. I hope this helps some of y’all out there? We are LOVED. We truly are loved.  XO

I say, “miracle.” You say, “tomato.”

such-a-soul-quoteI know that’s a stupid title but I have a dorky sense of humor. Bear with me because this might not make sense to anybody but me– lol. I’d struggled a long time with relapse and it baffled me.

I know better.  I had the experience to know what happened when I drank. I had all the consequences that would make someone want to get sober just to avoid negative repercussions. I had two beautiful children worth everything to me. I’d die for them. I’d kill for them! But I couldn’t stop drinking for them. I wanted sobriety. I needed sobriety. I LOVED sobriety. I never stopped trying, but something, something just kept pulling me back to hell. And, no, I’m not exaggerating or overstating by using the word, “hell.”

Ask any of us caught up in alcoholism – or other addictions – how we would describe life when we’re not sober. Hell.

But God has worked a freaking miracle in me. I call it a miracle, assuredly so, embarrassingly because I realize that sounds “hokey,” but it sure feels like a miracle to me. I’ve begged God for a miracle for years; and he (finally) decided to give me one.

I have always had God in my heart. I hear lots of people say they need to get God from their heads to their hearts. I was the opposite! I needed to get God from my heart to my head!

I thought I had God in my head. I have lots of knowledge of God, theology, our Catholic Faith, understood “logically” the will of God, loved Catechism. So, in AA meetings when people said, “Let God direct your thinking,” I really thought I was doing that! But I didn’t understand why I wasn’t changing?

I often said things like, “I wish I could just have a lobotomy.” And, “It’s all my amygdalas fault!” And, “I can’t help it—relapse just “happens!” I did try a hypnotist. I’d even considered electro-shock therapy! I knew, deep in the recesses of my soul, that the problem was in my MIND. God has graced me with a hyper-intuitive mind—so I knew. I knew. I knew there was something not right in my brain.  I just didn’t know how to fix it.

And sober friends would say, “You must not “want” it bad enough.” To which I’d respond (exasperated), “But I really DO want it. More than anything, I want sobriety!” I began to think I was crazy. Why do they think I don’t want it? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Confusion was my constant companion.

So what did God (finally – I say “finally” tongue-in-cheek because I know God’s timing is perfect) do?  He pointed me towards various Scriptures and information, gave me the right consequences, exasperated me enough to where I broke down and begged Him STRONGLY for a miracle. He didn’t do it right away.

It didn’t come until one morning when I woke up with a deep sense of humility and remorse. I poured my coffee, then I went straight to my recovery Bible (not authentically Catholic bible, but I like it because it relates it all to the 12 steps) and I randomly turned to a page. This is what we do when we’re looking for inspiration, right? We just randomly turn to a page and hope God speaks to us deliberately in our randomness, right?

My Bible opened to Ezekiel— particularly Ezekiel 8:17-18, and kept reading through the whole chapter.

This scared the crap out of me. It was all about God’s anger and fury, how He will have no mercy.

This is not the God I know, not the God in my heart. So, I decided to go to another section, assuming that Ezekiel was a mistake—that’s not REALLY what God wanted me to read, right? This time I purposefully turned closer to the back third of the Bible, so I’d be sure to get a book in the New Testament – where God was loving and merciful, right?

Well, I randomly opened to a paragraph in 1 Thessalonians; and THAT sounded like God was angry, too. I shut my Bible and started crying, asking God, “Why are you so MAD at me???”  He didn’t answer me, but I realized in my heart why He was mad—He’d given me so many opportunities to stay sober, sent so many people to help me, given me consequences to spur me, shown me the love of my children to persuade me… But still I sinned, chose hell, chose escape, chose death over life. I fell to my knees and started throwing up—which is normal for me when I feel deep shame.

I was exhausted. I took a shower and went back to sleep. And I woke up feeling light. Weird? Then I remembered what had transpired that morning and I fortified my spirit with these scriptures:

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

So, I looked deeper.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:23
And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds

1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

So, God has given me a “miracle.” Miniscule in the whole realm of miracles but life-transforming for me. In order to change, to truly transform, I can’t just want it. I can’t just commit to it. I can’t just promise it. I can’t will it. I have to allow God to renew my mind--dig out the old shit ways of thinking and replace it with His thinking.  I have to completely turn my thought life over to Him. Rather than let my thoughts come and go as they please—undisciplined and unrestrained… I can turn to God to discipline my thoughts and put them in line with His will.  This is changing my life.

yahoo! My Friend at Sober Catholic is 14 today

33a7053d6bc5390c1c42af7232d3748b0aaa88789eda2112a5172121988ed552I was trying to think of something to write about today. I wrote a boring draft post but drafted it because it was, well, boring.

Then I surfed Facebook and see that my friend Paul at sobercatholic.com is celebrating 14 years of sobriety today!!!!  Big shout out yay you, Paul. This makes me so happy.

Be sure to check out Paul’s blog if you haven’t already. A wealth of a resource for all of us!

Congrats Paul!

New issue of 12 Step Review on LOVE and FEAR

IMG_0641New Issue of The Twelve Step Review (Spring 2016) came in the mail this week. This quarterly newsletter is a publication of the Western Dominican Province and produced by Father Emmerich Vogt. Learn more at 12-step-review.org or call them 800-556-6177. They’re based in Vancouver, Washington.

This issue discusses LOVE. The product of love is peace and joy. But we have to be free from the slavery to sin (and addiction) before we are able to love rightly.

Father Emmerich instructs us the 4th Step is basically an inventory of the Seven Deadly Sins in our hearts and minds. If we’re a slave to any of these sins, we are unable to find peace, to love ourselves or others well.

He goes on to say if we don’t root out our (sins) character defects then we are ruled by fear. Fear in all forms, a “soul-sickness in its own right, for these fears are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build.” {p49, AA, Big Book}

I find this to be true. Before I started working the steps I only thought fear was being afraid of snakes or roaches. But the fear the Big Book is talking about is more pervasive. A “soul-sickness.” Fear of things that don’t necessarily put us in physical danger, but spiritual or emotional danger.

FEAR robs us of our relationships with God and other people, and prevents us from reaching our full potential. Fears can usually be classified into three categories – afraid of losing what we have, afraid of not getting what we want, and afraid of being discovered for who we really are.

A really great acronym for the word fear is “false evidence appearing real”.  Barefoots World (a web site with lots of help for working the Steps) has provided a Fear Inventory Prompt Sheet to help us with identifying our fears.

My biggest lesson in how damaging this kind of FEAR can be for me came last September. I won’t go into all the details but it had to do with a psych hospital and huge trust broken in my marriage. I was in a state of “fight or flight” for a little over two weeks. Fight or flight is an instinct we all have to protect us from true danger. The danger I felt was psychological, spiritual, emotional, and REAL…and it felt like I might physically die from it.  So, the physiological response I had to this very real/perceived danger lasted long enough and was consistent enough and strong enough…that it may have changed me. I felt something in my brain change. My mind tried to protect me by heightening my senses, speeding my reflexes, increasing adrenaline…this is only meant to be a short-term, temporary reaction of the mind on our body in the face of physical danger. But my experience lasted more than two weeks. This caused tremendous anxiety and physical illness.

TMI.

All I’m saying is this kind of fear is REAL and debilitating. The Fear inventory in the 4th Step is important–I’m amazed the founders of AA even came up with it!

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”

Quotes from Saint Pope John Paul II on FEAR: (yesterday would have been his 96th birthday!)

Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

“I plead with you–never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”

“Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
― Saint Pope John Paul II

And this one doesn’t have to do with fear but I liked it:

“The ethos of redemption is realized in self-mastery, by means of temperance, that is, continence of desires.”
― Pope John Paul II, Blessed Are the Pure of Heart

That’s all I’ve got for today folks. Night.

Number 9