Getting Down on My Knees

jesus-mary-magdaleneI get emails from people who wonder if it’s possible to be a practicing Catholic and a full-participant and “member” of AA. To them, I emphatically say, “Heck yeah it is!” One of my FAVORITE practices (traditions) in AA stems from Step 11, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

“As we (individually) understand God…”
This gives me the freedom to use the tools and the fellowship in AA to help me stay sober each day, without compromising any of my own Catholic beliefs.

Most people in meetings truly live this practice—most evident when we “share.” Sharing in a meeting is when someone takes three to five minutes to talk about their own experience with a certain topic or subject. In sharing their experience, strength and hope with others, it helps us each see how we too can get through life’s circumstances without drinking.

Phrases like these included in our shares really help:  “for me, what I do, what’s worked for me, what I find helpful, I can’t speak for anybody else but for me I….”

Sharing like this is an important, unwritten rule (tradition) passed down from the 75 years of alcoholics meeting and sharing with one another.  Never give advice. Never tell someone what they “should” do. Never “judge” another’s way of relating to God. Love and tolerance is our code, we say.

If you’re like me, you hear the word “tolerance” and immediately cringe – uh oh. Tolerance. That’s what is preached politically to mean anything goes, and I can live my life however I want. You must accept it. Change all the laws to accommodate my way of living. There is no moral law. Everything is relative.

This is NOT at all what is meant in this AA practice of only speaking for oneself, in my opinion (ha! See? “in my opinion lol).

God gave me and you free will, so He must think it wise to “allow” us to choose His will or not. He “allows” us to be wrong. He “allows” us to follow the wrong paths, sin, even spend years looking everywhere but to Him for our solutions. I’d say God is pretty tolerant in this regard. He is constantly drawing us to the Truth, but He doesn’t punish us, turn his back on us, strike us down or judge us too harshly for getting off track. He is there when we finally come home to Him, our Father. He is waiting with a fatted calf and a ring!

So, unlike the political understanding of “tolerance,” in AA we all have a God-like understanding of tolerance, which has nothing to do with whether abortion or gay marriage are legal. Each person has the right to be wrong. We trust each other to find our way because the program is built upon the premise that doing God’s will is our goal each day. God’s will for us first and foremost is SOBRIETY.  That we all agree on!  Without sobriety, people like us couldn’t possibly ascertain God’s will. It’s hard enough when we’re sober! So, as we help each other stay sober, we love each other unconditionally, which is the ONLY environment in which one can be safe to explore their character defects (sins) in front of others. We leave all political (and other) topics outside the doors.

And there is a rule we call, “No Crosstalk.” This means we do NOT comment on what the previous person just shared. We just share our own truth. We don’t even really acknowledge the other person’s share, which feels kind of odd at first. Even if that person was crying over something sad during their share, we don’t comment or coddle or speak sympathy or give advice. We keep going.  It’s really beautiful when practiced well.

If I shared my vulnerabilities then people gave me advice on how to “fix” it, I’d be so annoyed. I would never share if I thought I was going to get bombarded with advice from other people. Even though these “other people” have become my friends, I’m not looking for advice. Nobody pretends to be better than anyone else. Nobody knows what someone else “should” do.

Does this make sense? Sometimes I talk in circles, but I feel like this is important for people unfamiliar with AA to know. It’s OK to be Catholic – or Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, even atheistic — in AA. Everybody has the right to be wrong.

I’ll try to think of an example of how I shared in a meeting, which shows how I can be Catholic and a participating member of AA.  Let me think of one…

OK, the other day the topic was “humility.” People shared about when they weren’t very humble and how they work on being humbler in our daily lives. Humility is the principal behind the 7th Step. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. A couple of people shared something passed down over the years in AA— the practice of GETTING ON OUR KNEES to pray.  The act of getting on our knees to pray is a recognition of humility before God. He is God and I am not.

So, when it was my turn to share, I said this:

“My name is ______,  and I’m an alcoholic. I love all the talk about the importance of “getting on my knees” in the morning and at night when I pray. It makes sense and I’m going to start doing this now! Funny, I’ve been doing this my whole life at Church — people even joke about Catholics standing up and kneeling and standing up and kneeling. And I’d never thought of “why” we kneel. But hearing others talk today about getting on their knees to pray makes me recognize that getting on my knees is an outward, physically expression of my inner humility. An outward sign of my inner love for God as my King. I’m not just “thinking” about humility. I’m physically humbling myself before God. Now I have a better understanding of why we did that so much at growing up. Thank you for letting me share.”

And that was that.  I sometimes work my Faith into my shares if my experience on a certain topic is better explained through the eyes of my Catholic faith. This is as the 11th Step instructs, “as I understand God.” And nobody feels threatened by me because I share it all from the perspective of what works for me, how I understand this topic. And then I actively listen when they share their own experience, strength and hope.

The person after me shared about being agnostic and not feeling comfortable about getting on their knees. The person after him shared about how adding this one practice of getting down on their knees first thing in the morning when she gets out of bed, makes all the difference in her day.  She puts her phone under their bed at night so she remembers to get down on her knees first thing when she wakes up (to retrieve her phone!) While she’s down there, she prays.

Nobody gives advice. If they did, I’d probably never go back. I certainly wouldn’t love it as much as I do. Everybody listens. Everybody is safe. Including me, a freakin’ practicing Catholic. I feel safe to fully live my Faith in AA. As long as I remember to speak only for me, no one else.

Will, Willingness, Free Will, Free Willy lol

Warren-Wiersbe-Quote-Will-of-GodHeylo. I don’t really have a lot to say this morning; but I woke up with an understanding I wanted to share! I’ve had too much coffee so my title to this post is goofy, but who cares?

The will of God is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I remember in high school, in Father Dominic’s “Catholic Catechism” class first learning about the “will of God.” I remember being fascinated with this. It made sense to me, intellectually. While all of my peers were just getting through the class to pass, I was enthralled with the material.  It was my favorite class in all of high school, ha! I’m such a dork.

Years later sitting in my seat in AA meetings, all the talk of doing the “will of God” was familiar to me. I knew instinctively this is something to aspire to.  I trusted AA because it was based on this Truth.  And I eventually came to realize how safe it is in meetings to explore “my” Truth—which is all found in the Catholic Faith. Nobody in AA tries to get me to do their idea of Truth. It’s all about me and my God.

So, this morning— before I grabbed my phone and got out of bed (yes, I sleep with my phone lol)—I stopped and asked God to direct my thinking and my actions today.  A form of the 3rd Step, turning my will and my life over to the care of God.  If only I could remember to do this every day!?

And I said to Him, “Thank you for the miracle of sobriety, the gifts of obedience, detachment and forgiveness. I recognize I’m in a more perfect state of obedience to Your will right now, God, so please take advantage of this! I know it will pass. I wish it would last forever, but I know from experience that my human nature and self-will eventually takes back over. It’s a lifelong journey, an ebb and flow, a push and pull with you, God…surrendering and taking back control and then surrendering again. Today, I’m all yours.”

I asked God before I got out of bed, to please take full advantage of me today! Be productive with me! I’m here to do your will. Use me.

I hope He does. Let’s see how the day unfolds.

Happy Fourth, y’all!

Obedience & Freedom

19424044_10213039011391472_7126129926460239037_nI have been walking around with so much anger—or as we say in AA, “resentment.”

AA has its own lingo I learned through attending so many meetings. Like the aversion to the word “sin.”  AA softened that word to “character defects.” The word “sin” has too much of a religious undertone to it, which doesn’t sit well with my AA spiritually high-minded friends.  Lol.  Sorry, I love my AA friends but that doesn’t mean I can’t make fun of their religious bias.

But back to my anger.  It’s been simmering. And lately it’s gone into full-blown horribleness affecting my days, moods and interactions even with the innocent.  And my anger went hand-in-hand with blame.  So much blame.

I think this bothered me so much because it is the opposite of how I see myself, of how I try to live my life. It is the thing I dislike most in others (blame) so seeing it in myself was unbearable for my conscience. Or perhaps it is teaching me that once again I am no better than anyone else. We all have those moral lines, don’t we? The ones we wouldn’t cross? And we can accidentally use our own moral lines to tell ourselves we are better. “I would NEVER do THAT.”

The tolerance of a recovered alcoholic is pretty high. We understand each other, how human nature works and how we can sometimes do bad things.  This dynamic is one of the reasons why I’ve found so much healing in AA, the ability to share my filth without fear of judgment.  We get it.  But still, even the most tolerant among us has lines we think we would never cross.

In my life, I kept having to move my lines.  That’s when you know something is wrong, when you start breaking your own rules! My experience proves the phrase “never say never” has a lot of truth to it.

Long story short: I was in a pretty crappy marriage and over the last few years of it became a shell of a person.  People who love me tell me there was emotional, mental and spiritual abuse going on. I find it tough to use the word “abuse” (I’m a word girl) because there were no physical signs on my body. In my case, the weird thing was I started abusing MYSELF physically in the end. Weird.  Maybe one day I will understand what happened, but that’s for another post.

After the divorce was final, I drank a bottle of wine and took a bunch of pills of whatever I could find in my house—knocked me out for two days and I woke up in the hospital a little confused about what had happened. My sister was there and I later found of she had a local priest come by to give me the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Looking back, I 100% believe the sanctifying grace from that sacrament saved me spiritually and put me on a path the healing I never would have achieved without it. Grace is one thing, but SANCTIFYING grace is one whole other miracle making serum!

But, I’m walking around almost nine months later with all this anger—-my ex-husband and I are getting along okay but it’s really confusing. He says he regrets divorce, which make me happy, of course. But his actions don’t really indicate he regrets it, thus my confusion and anger.  Soooo… what’s my point? Ugh.

My point is I could not forgive.  When he is nice, I feel like I forgive him and I have peace. But my anger was still directed at his parents, his sister, his college girlfriend, his college other woman friend and his other woman friend.  Lol. Usually when I talk about them I put very degrading, explicit adjectives in front of their names, but I’m getting better.

And angry at him for how mean he was, trying to get full custody of the children and in the end getting the house, cars, money but gave me 50% of the physical custody of the boys.  I didn’t have the money his parents had to keep fighting and truly all that really mattered to me was the boys. But, now I find I’m pissed he got the house and money and cars. Asshole.

So, forgiveness.

I’m up at Lake James in Nebo, NC. It’s so beautiful, peaceful. God is loud here.  So loud.  A friend of mine let me use his lake house for a few days, so I took the boys up here to chill.  I do have to work while I’m here; but I decided when I got here I was going to get really close to God and work on forgiveness. It’s really affecting my life, so I have to do something about it.

And I think I’m on to something!  God, in his great mercy has given me insight, or I guess He would call it “wisdom.” And I feel like I’ve struck gold so I had to share!

I don’t have to feel forgiveness. I don’t have to understand it. I don’t have to want it or believe anybody deserves it.  I just have to do it because God says so.  All I have to do it be obedient to God.  Do what he says, even if I don’t understand it or want to. Like a loving parent, He only asks me to forgive because it is in my best interest. He knows I must forgive in order to have peace and move on. I knew this intellectually. Logically, I already knew this, but my feelings were getting in the way. Like a little child who doesn’t want to do her chores…  “I don’t FEEL like it.”

The thing about God (like my parents) is He is trustworthy. Like, 100% trustworthy. Questioning His direction obviously only hurts me. Obedience to His trustworthy direction is giving me freedom.  And I’m now FEELING it. Ha ha. So, the good feelings of forgiveness come AFTER I do it.  I don’t have to have the feeling first. The feeling comes afterwards.  All I have to do it obey God. Easy peasy, right?

So I got this wisdom. My next hurdle was, “Ok God I get it but HOW?”  I “hate” these people.  They are truly awful, horrible, evil people (lol) and I can’t forgive them!  But you say I must, so you’re going to have to help me here. I have the willingness to do it, but only because you say so.

And that was God’s opening into my heart: my willingness.  My willingness to forgive even though I didn’t want to. That was the door God walked through to give me His power to do what I couldn’t do. And two days later, I’m sitting here in freedom for the first time in months. Shocked. I have claw marks on my past, not wanting to let go or forgive. But with willingness, God walked in and performed a miracle in my mind/heart.

He even put in my readings yesterday morning the one about the woman caught in adultery and Jesus instructing the one without sin to cast the first stone. I laughed at this one—ok God, yes, I am a sinner, so how can I condemn these others?  I’m putting my stone down and walking away from the fight.

I forgive only because it pleases God.  I want so badly to please God. He has given me so many good things. He deserves my obedience. I trust whatever He wants me to do is ALL for my good. So, I step out on faith. I pray. I am honest with God, telling him I want this only because He wants it for me.  I am willing to forgive because it pleases you, God. I want to be obedient to God even if I don’t understand it or feel like it.

And voila! Freedom. Obedience equals freedom. And the good feelings that follow forgiveness are overflowing in me right now.  Thank you, again God.  Why do I fight you so hard? Can it really be this easy?

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.

searching

hippoThe other day on the drive home from school, my younger son said hippos were one of the most dangerous land animals on the planet.

I was incredulous, “What?! Hippos?! No way. Hippos are those cute fat animals that splash around and play with their young.”

The most logical next step of any modern family disagreement was to, “Google it.”  So, we Googled it. And he was right. In fact, hippos are actually pretty darn aggressive. I gave him a dollar.

Laughing, my oldest son asked how old I was when I started using the internet. He looked stunned when I told him I was 25.  It was one of those, “I had to WALK FIVE MILES to school in 8 FEET OF SNOW,” conversations we have with our kids to let them know how easy they have it compared to, “When I was your age!”

I told him if we wanted to find out about hippos, we’d have to get our parents to take us to the library, hope the specific volume of encyclopedia wasn’t already in use, and look up hippopotamuses…then find the specific section and passage which mentioned their temperaments. We’d have to take notes if we wanted to take the information home with us because we weren’t allowed to check out reference books.

By the look on his face, I think he actually felt sorry for me. (Mission accomplished, ha!)

What’s my point? Sometimes I annoy myself because I take way too long to get to my point when i write. SEARCHING. Searching is my point. We are all searching for answers…either to academic questions, trivia, lyrics to our favorite songs, or the meaning of the universe. So, we Google it. 

Since I hadn’t blogged in such a long time, I checked the stats on the backend. Even when I wasn’t posting anything, I had thousands of visitors per month coming to my blog. WTF? So, I dug deeper. WordPress gives us the exact “search terms” that are most often used to find us.

Here they are…this is what people are SEARCHING for when they find Catholic Alcoholic through Google:

  • catholic alcoholic
  • alcoholic from a catholic perspective
  • patron saints for alcoholics
  • prayer for alcoholic
  • my husband is an alcoholic, catholic view
  • stop drinking catholic
  • catholic aa
  • help for catholic to stop drinking
  • catholic and can’t do aa
  • is there something other than aa for catholic alcoholic
  • alcoholism catholic view
  • prayers for my son alcoholic
  • catholic addiction recovery
  • catholic alternatives to aa

So, there you have it. We’re all searching. Searching for something, whether it’s why hippos are so angry all the time, what time is the Braves game tonight, or help me I’m Catholic and can’t stop drinking…. We don’t have to call a hotline and speak with anybody. We can do an anonymous Google search to hopefully find what we’re looking for.

Fortunately, questions about hippos have easy, definitive answers. Deeper questions, those that relate to recovery from alcoholism or helping a loved one with an addiction…those answers aren’t solved by Googling. Wouldn’t that be great, tho? If there was ONE right answer.

This blog post is sort of making me sad. I have no answers. I guess all I’d say is never give up, never stop searching. Giving up is NOT an option. Keep trying. Each day is a new beginning. Who CARES what “they” say? You’re worth it. Keep searching.

AA is a big part of my recovery equation. But don’t feel hopeless if you can’t do AA. Please. Keep searching. I can see from these search terms that there are thousands of alcoholics that really want help but can’t do AA. I get it. You are NOT ALONE. I’m not here to sell anybody on my way. One of my dear friends has been sober three years by daily recitation of the Rosary. Another by daily Mass and a commitment to weekly Reconciliation. I wish that was my story. I need all the help I can get. So that’s sort of why I started this blog to begin with…because I felt strange…i needed a Catholic slant to my recovery. I just did. It’s who I am. So, anyways, good night. This post isn’t making sense even to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

well, mercy me

18763MercyHeroWell, mercy me!

I heart mercy.

Pope Francis established this Jubilee Year of Mercy—and I am thrilled. “Mercy” is one of my most favorite words, a borrowed word in English derived from the Old French word “merci,” which derives from the Medieval Latin word “merces,” meaning to pay, to recompense, or to hire.

I prefer mercy over justice all day long. Justice is like tough love. Ugh. No me gusta tough love. From what I’ve read, tough love has been the most practiced way to deal with alcoholics and addicts dating back to Nancy Reagan’s, “War on Drugs.”

Ostracize, abandon, “don’t enable!”, give up on, don’t help, let them help themselves, shun, shame, avoid, forced rehab, jail-time, unfriend, roll your eyes, look down on, judge, etc… tough love. The theory is then, and only then, the alcoholic/addict will start helping themselves. (hogwash)

Prior to THAT, I think we were mainly handled with PITY. Poor you. Sucks to be you. Glad it’s you, not me. I will pray for you. Go to AA and don’t tell me anything about it. I don’t wanna know.

And, prior to that, pre-AA, with EXASPERATION and hospitalization– psych hospitals. The odds of an alcoholic sobering up were so bad, that loved ones would lock us up– either in jails or psych wards. I have a good friend whose mother died in an insane asylum in Milledgeville, Georgia because she was an alcoholic and deemed “insane.”  While it is insane to continue drinking despite all of the consequences we inflict on ourselves and others, the sanity returns once the alcohol or drug is removed. But these types of hospitals will turn us into crazy people. I’m terrified to ever go back to one.

Now, thankfully, the tides are changing so therapists and the recovery community are starting to deal with alcoholics and addicts with MERCY (and medicine).  Not “ignorant/sunny skies mercy,” but REAL mercy. Mercy which can only be offered by a few in an alcoholic’s circle…those closest to her…in order for it to be received. That’s when the mercy has impact.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” This means to obtain mercy, we must BE merciful. We receive mercy by giving mercy to others.  And the more mercy we receive, the more mercy we give! It’s a beautiful circle.

The Urban Dictionary defines, “Well, mercy me,” as meaning: “Well, I’ll be damned, wow!” A surprised kind of thing. ha. Urban dictionary, my friends is tongue in cheek so don’t freak out. I’ll be damned is just part of our lexicon.  But “mercy” is a surprising, humble sort of gift. “Wow. Thanks. I didn’t expect or deserve that. Thanks so much.” The kind of gift that changes hearts over time.

I felt mercy through my Mom. That’s probably why it’s easier for me to accept God’s mercy. Mercy is unconditional love, no matter what—the way we love our own children—the prodigal son is still welcomed back into the fold and thrown a party. (no alcohol served at this party, tho.)

Last month my sister gave me the book, Beautiful Mercy, by the organization Dynamic Catholic. The sub-title is, “Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love So We Can Share It With Others.”  The book claims (and I tend to agree!) it is the “perfect companion for the Year of Mercy.”

I’ll add that IMHO I believe people who offer the most mercy are people who have a sense they have received a lot of mercy. People who are very grounded in humility, in who they truly are at the foot of the cross.

If I had been dealt with by JUSTICE then I’d be dead, in jail or in a mental institution. I’m not saying that to be funny. I’m saying that because I have DUIs and should be dead or harmed others on the road and been jailed…the crazy things I did while under the influence and the effect of alcohol on my brain should have landed me in a psych ward long-term. So, MERCY is awesome. Please keep it coming. And offer it lavishly to others. You just may need it yourself one day.