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Monday, September 1, 2014

What Normies See

I am thinking today about what those who do not suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction see when they look at people like me.

It has to be confusing to them.  We seem to love being in trouble - we love 'the sin' in their eyes.  We choose drugs and alcohol over family, friends, work, school.  It has to be confusing.

It has to be confusing.  People like me promise over and over again to stop and to get our acts together.  We mean it too.  We mean it when we say it and we mean it when we are trying so hard to not take that first drink or make that call to the guy who has the magic powder.  Yet, over and over again, we take that first drink or we make that call.  It has to be confusing.

Today I read a very intelligent woman's comment about people like me loving the sin more than we love the Lord and I cannot speak to other alkies or addicts but I can tell you without reservation that was not true for me.  I was horribly miserable the last two to five years of my drinking.  I wanted more than anything to be a woman of grace and dignity.  I wanted to go back to The Church.  I wanted to be someones wife, someones mother.  All I could seem to do was drink and smoke cocaine and I remember sitting in a closet, weeping because of the horror I had become and the absolute fear I had that this was it.  I would never be anything but what I was - a loser, a complete total loser.  A gutter drunk.  A woman who had killed her own children rather than stop.  A woman who had walked so far from God and His Church that I knew those people there would never welcome me back.  I was hopeless.  I was the worst thing on the earth.

It has to be confusing.

Something that most Normies (those who do not have the abnormal reaction to alcohol I have) never consider is that people like me are stone cold sober each time we drink.

Why?

I can only speak for myself.

Being sober, for me, is a painful experience when it is just me, just Leslie, trying to traverse the world.  I never understand what you people are doing, thinking or saying.  You all seem so together, so smart and happy.  I try so hard to fit in, to be a small part of a greater whole, and quite frankly I just cannot do it.  You all scare me.  You are smarter than me, and you are dumber than me and you think your better and you think I am worthless and I am better and I am worthless and you seem to have the answers and I cannot even formulate the questions.

It is all very, very confusing.

And when I drink?

All that goes away....and I am just fine.

Why would I not continue to do that?

I never meant to get drunk, I just wanted to feel normal.  What I did not know is that when I put alcohol into my system, it flips a switch and I cannot stop drinking.

And when I am sober - and it is just me, just Leslie - I feel scared, out of place, confused,weary and so very, very alone.

So what happened to change things for me?

I heard someone else say almost the exact same thing - and I suddenly realized that what he was describing was what I was experiencing and what he was describing was alcoholism.

Who knew?

I know it is confusing...I get it.  I understand.

For some reason, hearing someone else describe what I was feeling gave me hope.  See, this man had been sober for a long, long time and he claimed he had done it through the appropriate 12 step program...and that is where I found my sobriety.

Because of my sobriety, I found my way home to Holy Mother Church.

Because of being home, I found my way to The Order of Preachers.


Today I have over 22 years of continuous sobriety.  I go to three meetings a week, sponsor 14 people and I am in service.  I also am in service in my Parish - as a Catechist, a Lector and a member of Parish Council.

Sometimes, when I am sitting in a meeting or at Mass, I think to myself, "WOW - how did this happen?".

And I know....it is because I am no longer sober just me, just Leslie...today I am sober through the grace of God.

Today - for me - it is no longer confusing.  And when I see intelligent people being confused, I can understand.

Please pray for those of us who cannot find their way home.  They don't mean to hurt you .  They do not love what they are doing more than you.

They just cannot stand to be sober.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Death of a Journalist

One of the reasons I take my time before I comment on a situation is my attempt to practice 'restraint of pen and tongue'.  Too many times I have reacted only to be given information later that changed my opinion or, at the very least, gave me a different way to interpret the events.

Thus when I got the news that James Foley had been beheaded by Islamist currently torturing, crucifying, murdering, raping, and otherwise behaving exactly like they have always behaved when given half a chance, I kept quiet.  I felt such grief, such anger, such incredulity at the response to this whole situation by the rest of the world that I was afraid I would open my mouth and just start spewing.  I did not want to do that; it is unCatholic and it is wrong.

I am glad I did refrain, because today I can look at that horror through the eyes of Faith and I can see why God allowed that evil to happen.

James Foley is a saint.

He is a martyr to freedom of the press, to the ideals of American culture that shaped his upbringing and to his Catholic Faith.

That's right, people.  James Foley was a Catholic.

James Foley was not just a Catholic - he was a Catholic during his imprisonment under Ghadafi and he was a Catholic under the lash of the evil now pervading the Middle East.  He was a Catholic, praying the Rosary out loud with fellow prisoners and doing so because that is what he had been taught by his Catholic parents.  He did not walk away from Jesus in the Eucharist because The Church did not embrace whatever political agenda or current social fad is the grooviest.  He stayed faithful in the face of the sword.

Was he perfect?  Of course not.  No saint is perfect and despite what some  believe the saints are not proclaimed simply to make the rest of us feel bad about ourselves.  The Church proclaims saints for us to look to and emulate - St. Monica, struggling with alcoholism and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal brought about by the behavior of her son, Augustine.  St Theresa of Avila, dealing with migraine headaches and dumb male members of the clergy questioning her desire to reform the Carmelites because her family were conversos.  St Catherine of Siena, struggling with her own personal vanity and her lack of formal education in an Order that prizes learning.  These people, saints one and all, struggled every day to stay faithful to teachings they did not always understand and may not have even agreed with but they did it because for them how close they could stay to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist was more important than getting their own way or 'being fed' by a homily.

James Foley, Jesuit educated and Catholic to the core, stood strong under conditions I am blessed with not having to endure.  What can I learn from him?

I can stay faithful despite being scorned.
I can stay faithful despite the loneliness.
I can stay faithful despite being misunderstood and misjudged and disliked.

In other words, the little slings and arrows I experience as a result of being active and Catholic Out Loud in a culture that looks at that as some sort of personal attack cannot become my focus.  I must be willing to put on the armor provided me by the Sacramental Life of Holy Mother Church.  I must be willing to speak and to ask for help and to pray without ceasing when I am told what I do is not very valuable.

My heart goes out to the Foley family.  What I hope is that they know the time they spent instilling the proper values into their son was not wasted time.  What I hope is that other parents do not become discouraged when they are laughed at or scorned for doing the same thing.  What I hope is that they know they will see their beautiful boy again, and that when he went to the gates, that son of theirs heard the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the kingdom".

St James Foley, pray for us.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Healing and Responsibility

This morning I am praying for the grace to stop hearing that which is not said.

I react to what I hear in a tone of voice or email. It is starting to cause me more and more problems and thus, is no longer a salable good.

Sure, I can point to my past and make a very strong case as to why I do this - understanding the 'why' is not the issue. What I am trying to do, however, is more than simply understanding why I react the way I do. I want to knock it off, I want to get better and I want to grow up.

In December I will be 59 years old. In my mind, a 59 year old woman who still blames her childhood for her inner turmoil is someone who doesn't have a lot of credibility when it comes to trusting God.

And that's the thing, people. I do trust Him. I know, despite the roller-coaster stomach, the pain of losing family, the fear of what is going to be blamed on me next at work, that Jesus Christ and His Bride, The Church, has my back. I am not alone and I never will be alone. I am a Catholic, I am sober, I am a Dominican - the myriad of support I have on this earth (and in heaven) is overwhelming and powerful. I have nothing to fear.

So why do I keep getting my roller-coaster stomach?

I think, and I could be wrong, that one of the things I have overlooked in my journey is asking for a specific healing. I have never taken the time, in prayer, to ask The Divine Physician to heal the wound left by careless and cruel adults on the soul of a six year old. Because of my failure to do so, I struggle with the after affects today. Like a polio victim who survived the initial onslaught due to good medicine (12 Steps, The Sacraments, Prayer) I am still limping. The illness that pervaded my childhood left me with a weakness and it is time to apply the same powerful medicine to that weakness.

I don't want to limp any more - I want to walk with grace and dignity. I want to stand strong and run the incredibly fabulous obstacle course that is Life with a smile and enthusiasm.

Perhaps today I can begin by asking to have this defect removed, and then go forward with determination to just listen to words and not the tone. The people around me are not responsible for treating me in such a way that I can be comfortable; rather, I am responsible to God, His Church and to myself to forgive, to be kind, to go forward.

Responsibility for health, for growth and for learning must be my responsibility and I am not going to shirk it simply because it is difficult to do.

This morning I cannot help but feel deep concern for our persecuted family in Iraq and how they are suffering. I think of how they need our support, our prayers and our determination that they will not fall prey to the evil, demonic forces surrounding them right now masquerading as lovers of God. This horror, this ISIS, is not something of God - it is the manifestation of sin. It is evil.

From all evil, comes great good. I believe this; I believe that from the blood and suffering of Christian martyrs will come a grace and love and healing for the world. It may be years before we see the fruits of their steadfast love for Christ in the face of destruction but like the Christians murdered under other evil governmental structures, there will be beauty springing from their blood.

To not help them would be sinful. I am grateful the President ordered military action and while I get it that he does not want to send in troops it may come to that - we have to defeat these monsters in a very practical way. I don't want our men and women killed, but this evil that is ISIS must be stopped.

There is much to be praying about today. I get to go to Mass, unmolested, and spend time with good, loving men and women. I get to participate in the Liturgy of the Word as a Lector.

Today's reading reminds me - God may not be heard in thunder, lightning or the roar of jet engines flying supplies to the oppressed.

God is heard in the quiet whisper of the wind.

My job?

Listen.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Wacky Wednesday

I am tired.

Physically, I am really tired. I had a very busy weekend and it has been hecka tough at work this week. A myriad of personnel issues has be wishing I could meet Prince Charming, win the lotto, move to Denver - anything but come to work and deal with what is right here in front of me.

I have been trying to pray a simple nine hour novena and get to the third hour, get super busy and forget the next six.

No wonder Jesus shakes His head and smiles at me.

Tonight, I get to be of service in a room of like-minded and similarly afflicted people. This is going to help, I am sure, to get me back in balance. It is always good for me to be with my tribe when I get this tired.

As always, I will feel so much better when that group gets together. As always, I will feel safe and happy and then, because I am restored, I will sleep better tonight.

SO...Wednesday is a good day. It is mid week and it means renewal.

Tomorrow I will have another go at that Novena.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Passions of The Heart

The Catholic Church teaches:

1772 The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger.

1773 In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appetite, there is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as they engage reason and will, there is moral good or evil in them.

1774 Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or perverted by the vices.

1775 The perfection of the moral good consists in man's being moved to the good not only by his will but also by his "heart."


As always, Holy Mother Church cuts right to the chase and demonstrates how much God the Father respects His Human creatures.

To understand that there is neither good nor evil in the passions we have is a comfort. We feel. We feel because we are human. We are human, made in the image and likeness of God and so our feelings, our passions, cannot in and of themselves be either good or evil.

Ah, but when those passions engage our reason and our will, then either good or evil can manifest. Our emotions can be either virtuous or perverted by vice. It is our choice.

I am sure we have all met that grown up Catholic who tells us that they were taught that 'thinking about committing a sin is the same as committing it'. I can vaguely remember being taught that as well - and thinking the same thing as a child. Shoot, if thinking it is the same as doing it then why not just do it...I am in trouble either way.

However, as a mature Catholic I can start to understand the difference between thinking about wanting to grab that person's stuff and running off with it and then stopping my thinking and realizing doing so is a sin and just sitting and dwelling on taking that stuff. Playing with the idea. Planning the heist. Thinking over and over how much I could use it, how they don't deserve it and I really really want it. Even if I pull myself back from the brink and do not commit the act, I have taken myself so close to the edge of sin it is important to go to God and ask for forgiveness.

Why?

Well, the obvious answer is because I offended God. The less obvious answer is that I receive the Sacramental Grace to not go there again. I receive what I need to unite my thoughts more firmly with the Will of God the Father, my sufferings with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and my actions in adherence with the Love and Will of God The Holy Spirit. I become more likely to live a Trinitarian, Sacramental life.

I have less chance of hurting someone. I have a better chance of forgiving those who may hurt me. I have a GREAT chance to be appreciate what I have, what great gifts I receive every day in the form of friendship, laughter, opportunities to serve.

I have a better chance of living as I should live - as a Catholic Out Loud.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!