I spent last weekend in a gathering of like minded and similarly afflicted people and by Sunday I was exhausted. It was joyful, maddening, fun, slightly hysterical and flat our invigorating. These people, from various backgrounds and traditions, gather together as members of a 12 Step program, eager to combat the disease that strikes without any regard to race, religion, social status or education.
I have been an active member of this program for 21 years (my sobriety date is May 4, 1992. It is not the day I stopped; rather it is the day I first went 24 hours without a drink of alcohol, a line of cocaine, some marijuana and maybe a pill or two of various colors and configurations. In other words, it is my first SOBER day). I have been back in the arms of Holy Mother Church for at least 19 of those years. I have never been able to turn away from either one; however, I have a keen sense of the necessity to bifurcate the two. One is for my eternal salvation and the other makes my participation in my eternal salvation possible. One will help me avoid eternity in Hell. The other keeps the door shut on that place while I am still walking around on earth.
It is sad that so many people who suffer from the disease of alcoholism cannot find a home in my 12 step program. However, our literature is very specific regarding our place in the world of recovery. We are NOT the only game in town. There are people who cannot stomach the idea of praying to God, even a God so loosely defined as 'a god of your own understanding'. It is just too much for them. There are others who cannot stand the idea of anyone speaking about God as someone other than Jesus Christ or the God of the Holy Trinity. I understand that but have been able to make room in my heart for those who need to give Him another name. I figure it is up to Him to touch their hearts and if the man who once got drunk and tried to have sex with 14 year old prostitutes doesn't do that any more and says a morning prayer to Harold, then who am I to argue with him (unless, of course, he asks me at which point all bets are off. I am, after all, a Dominican).
What I will never understand, however, is why so many of our shining lights want to make vice the thing they are promoting, rather than promoting a life based on love and sound moral judgement. Why make the icky stuff you are doing seem so damn funny? It isn't - and personally, I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is not saying to the newcomer. "This is how we strive to live our lives - and while we may fall occasionally, we do not regard those falls as the highlights...we talk about them with regret. We say we did wrong and we apologize and we try to go forward but even if they SOUND funny? They are NOT funny".
That being said, it is understandable that human beings will try and make sin attractive. Look, I have done it myself. It is called concupiscence and I am just as much a Fallen creature as the next guy.
I think my improvement comes from being able to recognize it faster, to be able to stop my thoughts from going too far down the path of sin and regret and to be able to hold my actions in check. The worse that happens for me is I cry in frustration or feel sort of bad.
I do have a reputation as a crier.
Which is fine. I could have a reputation as a puncher.
The most difficult part of dealing with human beings, for me, is the ones who seem to have no regard for the protection and care of those around them. They prey on newcomers and take advantage of them. They can be male or female, it does not matter. What I see is inappropriate behavior and it bugs the bejeeeezuz out of me.
However, and I mean this in all sincerity, I understand how simple it sounds to say to someone, "Keep your hands to yourself, buddy boy. She is only 60 days sober". Sometimes the heart and will are very strong and I hope to GOD I do not become one of those Bleeding Deacons who want people who make an error in judgement sentenced to 12 Step Prison. I have made pretty dumb mistakes in my own past and no one has ever said to me, "That's it for you - you are out of here".
The difference is, I think, that the people I hung with in early sobriety made my 'repentance' (for want of a better word) an intricate part of my life. If I wanted to stay, and grown, I would acknowledge my error, make the appropriate amends and then STOP DOING IT.
I have to tell you all, it was a fantastic weekend. I loved every minute of it. I loved that my weekend included another 49r win and ended with Holy Mass.
I am so grateful to be sober, to be human and to be Catholic Out Loud!