Blade Runner, Meet Maria Faustina of Divine Mercy

I have two marvelous books to share with you.  The first is Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?  If you have visited this blog much, you know I love absurd humor, theology and philosophy.  Let me quote from the other book, by a woman who wrote only one, but a great one, nonetheless.  What she lacks in absurd humor, she makes up for in mystical revelations.  Her book is a diary called Divine Mercy in my Soul.

“Only love has meaning,” wrote this author, Maria Faustina Kowalska.  “It raises up our smallest actions into infinity.”  Let’s follow this logically: if her statement is true then love becomes the sine qua non, absolutely indispensable and essential for our lives to have meaning.  Maria’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, was written for the sole purpose of introducing the world to the ocean of mercy that is open everyone who needs a miracle.  And who doesn’t need a miracle?  Can you think of anyone you know who may need one?

Her diary contains revelations. But wait, you may be philosophically skeptical.  Good!  It’s not philosophy, it’s hope in diary form.  Philosophy is a wonderful discipline, but it may not be what you need now.  You will not be disappointed spending a little time looking through it.

Phillip K. Dick is also a writer who does not disappoint.  He is the late great master of the philosophical sci-fi novel.  He penned the original story that the movie, “Blade Runner (1982)” is based on: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  

“Blade Runner 2049 (2017),” the sequel, starts with the character K (Ryan Gosling), who moves the plot forward.  We learn that K is a blade runner, an officer who hunts and removes other rogue androids, called replicants.  In the course of his investigation K learns he might be human.  To discover the truth about himself becomes K’s burning quest, and ours.

K’s quest for meaning is also his quest for love.  For K, if a human, he could know love, give love, receive love.  His life then, through love, would be given meaning, as Maria Faustina reveals only love has the power to do.  Maria Faustina Kowalska and Phillip K. Dick cross paths here on this ground of truth.

K is ordered by his superior to find Richard Deckard (Harrison Ford) the hero of “Blade Runner.” Although Deckard is played by Ford as a crotchety hermit, love takes over his story also.  In the end, he finds his meaning when he begins his quest for someone he loves after K enters his life.  In his own earnest seeking K lights the way for another soul.

Maria Faustina, as a result of her visions, was compelled by Divine Mercy and Divine Love to write her book for nothing less than to shift the destiny of mankind toward eternity, infinity and our reason for being.  Mercy is the quality of the Supreme Being, God.  He is the original Giver of monumentally enormous generosity.  Mercy is the greatest thing about God for us to understand, before anything else, she proclaims.

Maria, a simple, cloistered nun, was asked to proclaim to us the greatest attribute of God, which is His mercy, and to reveal that every good thing we experience is a sign of His mercy.  All we have to do is to open the chest containing this everlasting treasure. 

Thanks for visiting this space and please come again soon.

 

 

EMOTIONAL SCARS FROM CHILDHOOD ARE NOT PERMANENT

EMOTIONAL SCARS FROM CHILDHOOD ARE NOT PERMANENT 

by Ron Houssaye, LMFT, SASA, licensed psychotherapist

No matter how devoted, few of our parents were able to respond perfectly to all of our needs. We all had some parts of our childhood that were tough, even perilous. Every child experiences a “primitive anxiety” that the world is not a safe place.

There’s a group that was created for adults with emotional scars from childhood, and those who are recovering attest that their scars are healing.  The group is Adult Children of Alcoholics.  I was a member for nine years and I can tell you that during those years I uncovered my own wounds, many of which are healed.

I no longer worry too much about what people think of me.  I no longer spend my weekends feeling I must go out and party to feel accepted.  Instead, I can stay in and read a good book, or go out to dinner with someone, then come home to my nest.  It’s because I now feel secure inside, so the outside doesn’t matter as much.  In short, I no longer fester in the wounds of my childhood.

As a therapist, I know that people enter relationships with the expectation that their partners will magically restore to them a feeling of wholeness.  For those of my readers who may be in that category, I recommend this book: Getting the Love You Want, by Dr. Harville Hendrix.  He explains The Imago, which is the psychic image inside each of us that leads us to our “perfect partner,” although that unconscious mental picture is merely a composite of the positive and negative characteristics of our parents.

Once in the relationship, when we are beyond the romance stage of about six months, the chickens come home to roost, so to speak, and we must confront the reality that our partner is flawed in many ways we did not see before.

Then often begins the call for healing inside both people in the relationship.  If they seek help and don’t blame each other for the psychic aches inside them they can make it.

So don’t give up when you realize your parents weren’t perfect.  None of ours were, that’s for sure.

The Confessions of an Anxious People-Pleaser

It’s hard to resist people-pleasing.  People pleasing brings rewards, perks, even material advantages sometimes.  I’m a people-pleaser and I’m going to be completely transparent.  Take a glance at that photo of me below.  I look like a people-pleaser, don’t I?  I know I do.  Look at that smile and you can tell right off.

May I take a stab at defining this?  People-pleasing is acting in specifically contrived ways so that others will like or approve of you.  You may relate to this or you may not, or you may know someone who people-pleases.  Maybe you are a reformed pleaser and escaped it somehow.  If so, good for you.

I am “in recovery” from people-pleasing.

I used to believe that my life was about becoming what others wanted me to be.  I craved acceptance at any cost.  I tried so hard to make you like me.  Today, if I sense someone doesn’t like me, do I obsess about it?  I wish I could say I didn’t.

I still do obsess, but I’ve stop obsessing as much.  I mean I don’t obsess about it as long.  I used to obsess days and days, even sometimes weeks and weeks when I sensed someone didn’t like what I did, or didn’t do, or didn’t like what I said, or didn’t say.  Now, thanks to a wonderful therapist, I only obsess hours and hours about it.  Okay, I am not fully cured of people pleasing.

I’m in partial remission, which means I’m in a training-wheels stage.  I don’t call my therapist between sessions to talk about the last session “in more detail.”  So I’ve made progress, which is good, because that drives therapists crazy, believe me.

“Can I buy you a latte?”

Do my insides match my outsides now?  Not really.  I’m calm on the outside but nervous on the inside most of the time.

I’ve come a long though.  I used to believe the entire purpose of my life was to become the best replica of the person you wanted me to be.  Not true anymore.

My anxiety about whether you like me or not is still the same as it was, truth be told.  Sometimes it goes through the roof because now I refuse to pretend who I imagine the other person wants me to be.

Today it matters very much to just be who I am.  Writing helps me do that.  Who has the time time to play around with projecting images to others?  Let me know if you have any thoughts on this issue of people-pleasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having Compassion for Oneself

Self-compassion is giving yourself kindness, empathy, understanding and forgiveness.  Psychologist Kristen Neff has touched many with her research on self-compassion.  After learning of her work, I was moved to feature self-compassion on this blog.  I hope you find what follows encouraging for you, or for someone you know who needs it.

Imagine an elderly woman walking along any street in America.  You can’t see her face because her head is bowed over a can of cold beans.  The beans are her meal today.  You may feel her need.  You may imagine the tiny room she lives in, the crummy neighborhood, the crime there, and the danger she lives with, day in and day out.  Perhaps you feel for her.

Now think of the need you have inside.  You know it’s there, but you may not have really looked at it before.  Does it have a name?  You may have expected others in your life to meet your need.  They may have failed you.  They may have ignored or neglected you, or forgotten you.

But you did not deserve to be ignored.  Yet, that may have happened.

What have you always needed?  What is it you need right now?  It may be to feel secure inside, to like yourself, to have good friends, to have a more comfortable life, a better job, or to feel you belong, to feel you are worthy of love, to feel you fit in, or to have some of the good things life has to offer, for you and for your children and family.

Or, you may have stopped caring, or almost stopped caring.

Right now try to talk to yourself with kindness.  You can do this silently or out loud.  Tell yourself that you are worth it, worth being loved and cared for–respected, even honored.  If the dear lady in the photo is worth it, my friend, so are you.

Peace.

(No copyright infringement of this photo is intended.)

 

Addiction’s Ripple Effect on Family Members

Yes, Mercy for Our Families main mission is supporting family members affected by addiction in the family. I come from such a family, so I’ve been there. My Dad was an alcoholic in recovery. My family suffered as yours may suffer, in all the ways we can suffer. And the addiction that you suffer from can be anything.

Addiction is defined as “any related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment.”

You can be addicted to a drug, a liquid or an activity, like video games or other games. Or it could be social media, your cell phone, spending, gambling, sex and romance or something else. The board is open.

Yes, the board is open. Here I’m talking about intense games, such as chess. You can be addicted to that “royal game,” which I “played” for over thirty years. Before I quit it had become an obsession, which centered, like all addictions, in the brain.

You can easily spot someone who is addiction if you know what to look for. Look for the following:

Loss of control
Compulsion
Continued use despite serious negative consequences
Obsessed thinking about the substance or activity

Addictions reveal themselves when the victims of them try to hide what are impossible to hide, which are obsessive-compulsive behaviors, such as:

Staying up all night occupied with the addiction
Doing it multiple times during the day or night
It’s the main thing they enjoy doing, far beyond others
Person is unable to limit how much time they give to it

If you are a family member of a person with an addiction, you may have once thought there was nothing wrong, then suddenly or gradually you realize there is something very wrong with your loved one. You then became stressed and obsessed with their behavior. That is what we call “the family disease of addiction.”

If you see signs of this in yourself, don’t hesitate to get help. Once you get that help, you will be in a better position to help your addicted loved one.

Mercy is God’s Gift to all who are in trouble. Seek out someone who can help you. Pray about it, even if you’re new at praying. That person sent to help you will appear. He or she might be your pastor, a therapist or someone you meet in the grocery line. Grace and Mercy will find you.

Please note: quoted passages from this blogpost are by Chris Tuell, Ed.D., Clinical Director of Addiction Services, Linder Center of Hope, Dept. of Psychiatry of the University of Cincinnati.

A Special Invitation to You

A therapist’s number one job is to relieve or reduce the pain of a person, couple or family, normally though a proper assessment, a diagnosis, followed by a course of treatment.  Often, especially in the cases of abuse and trauma, those suffering carry the burden of shame.  Therapy is a form of mercy, as is forgiveness.  God is a Father first, but I also think of Him as a Divine Therapist, whose primary intervention is mercy, which the psalmist tells us “endures forever.”
What is mercy?  Mercy is the goodness of God, His free act of choosing persons to receive His grace, leading those persons to Him.
When one bestows mercy upon another, they spare them a consequence of misfortunes that otherwise would have come upon them.  These may be consequences they had coming, such as embarrassments, humiliations or the baggage of emotional pain owing to shaming they did not deserve, even errors they brought upon themselves.  These are forgiven and forgotten.
The guilt which ordinarily would have befallen them is removed when mercy is given.  Such healing can be delivered by just listening compassionately with all of your attention, focused only on that person.
The truly merciful act signifies a virtual nullification of that which has shamed someone.  “Forget about it, it’s okay,” is heard someplace in the wounded heart of that individual.
This is what they hear:  Don’t worry about it.  You’re fine.  You’re okay.
God sends mercy and grace directly or indirectly, through anyone, you or me.  Consider, then, why should God, omnipotent and entirely self-sufficient, invite someone into the heartbeat of his being, literally the center of his heart?  After all, God is the living source of life itself, the totality of all that is pure and holy, who needs nothing outside of Himself, yet chooses to create beings in His image.
There can be only one explanation.  Love.  He gets absolutely nothing for His efforts except the joy that every giver gets, which is the joy of expressing their love.
God’s Mercy imbues a special kind of meaning to anything.  In fact, in ordinary human experience, when we choose to inject the name “God” into a story or event, it elevates it to the extraordinary.  “God, I can’t believe that actually happened to you!” is exclaimed without consciously thinking about God, but nonetheless God belongs in it somehow because there’s something mysteriously wonderful or amazing about it.
You may have tossed God out of your life, either recently or a long time past.  Though you’ve been disappointed by something you feel He’s done or has failed to do for you,  give Him another chance.  He gave me many, many chances to rise above my shame, and He will do that for you, too, if you ask Him.

How Addicts are Portrayed on TV

Television and movies are full of addicted characters.  “House” was about an opiate addict, played wonderfully by Hugh Laurie.   The new “Kevin Can Wait,” stars the very talented Kevin James as a lovable junk food junkie.  The character is seen to have just a “weight problem” that dieting should take care of, but not if you have a real addiction to food.  In real life he’d have a high risk of heart disease and depression.  The reality is, addicts are usually full of shame and act out to cover it.  Family members usually have no idea what’s really bothering the person, so they sometimes seek out an addiction professional who specializes in family work.
TV sitcoms really should create more therapist characters to treat their addicted characters.  Of course therapy would have to fail in the end, to keep the characters interesting.  That would be TV Logic, not Real Life Logic.
I am an addiction family therapist.  You have to love theater to do it, due to the extraordinary amount of drama.  The seeds of my career began when I was a boy, watching my battling parents argue all the time.  There would be a few days of peace, then something would set off an explosion and create a conflict that would last for several days.  I always took a ring-side seat.  I wanted to understand what was going on.  It was also a great way to begin learning about alcoholism, which my father had.
My favorite cartoon strip about the hazards of childhood is “Peanuts.” The luckless but loveable Charlie Brown is a brilliantly devised character and relatable to most of us because we all can feel like a victim.  Lucy is his supercilious, irritating gal-pal.  I had a Charlie Brown part and a Lucy part of me.  Seeing the world from my Charlie Brown part, I was sad about my parents’ conflicted marriage; they could never seem to get along.
Fortunately my Lucy persona would rise inside of me and I would become their secret psychologist:  my grand plan was to help them find happiness together.  I had to figure them out first, of course.
Quietly, never attracting their attention, I studied them for hours on end, trying to find the key that would save them from the living hell of their tortured relationship.   It was a childish, absurd proposal to suppose I could untangle their marital problems.  I’m sure that early desire was my impetus to become a marriage and family therapist.
A trained, experienced relationship therapist can work wonders, but I had no chance then to confer happiness on my parents.  Even a therapist can’t create happiness, but can often find a door or bridge so others can find it, with the assistance of grace.
Psychology attracted me because it was the new young science that might finally solve the puzzles of our human condition.  I believed we did need something to unravel our myriad of maladies, so I ventured into the world of Freud and Jung.  Two more different doctors of the mind there could not be.  Freud embraced atheism and Jung slid away from Papa Sigmund into mysticism and the “alchemic view of the soul.”  I came to prefer Freud, though I’m a theist, probably preferring him because of the strong father figure he represented.
Beyond explaining the problems of human beings, I searched for meaning and truth in a wide range of literary forms, including poetry, plays, novels, philosophy and spirituality.  Most recently I found Confessions by  St. Augustine.  Augustine rigorously analyzed himself and the human condition in that great work, concluding the human race was badly flawed but redeemable.  He put himself at the very top of the Absurd Humans List.
“O Lord God, grant us peace, for Thou hast granted us all things,” he pleaded for all of us.  He saw that we get into absurd situations rather routinely, which takes away our peace of mind.
I was on a treatment team helping a female heroin addict, a young lady in residential treatment.  She had not used drugs for eight days, had detoxed and was just starting to get her appetite back.  She was very anxious about the family session with her parents in a few days.  She made me promise I wouldn’t tell them about her last drug binge.  I made her promise that she would be honest about everything else.  I felt I had made a good bargain because usually honesty is the hardest lesson to learn in pre-recovery.
You may have a partner, parent, child or some other relative whom you think has a problem with a substance or behavior, but they don’t think so.  What you want to know is, “How can I help them?”  You may be the only person in your family who thinks there’s a problem.  You may feel very alone.  But don’t lose hope!  Because Grace and Mercy abound in the world, if you keep looking and asking questions you’ll eventually figure out what you should do.
When I’m in session with an addict or an addict’s family, if the Gift of Grace is with us it will be a successful experience for them, because Grace is a God-given nsystem leading to human connectivity.   Only good can flow out of what happens.  As the therapist, all I really have to do is follow my prayerful intuition, or, if you will, the Holy Spirit.
The most painful thing about our self-destructive nature as human beings is, we tend to do the same things over and over again expecting different results.  If you’re in Twelve-Step Recovery you have probably heard that before.
Grace is a much-traveled spiritual force.  I invite you to look it up and research it.  Briefly, its’ history began roughly 5,500 years ago, from a mysterious language out of which all languages are thought to have come, the Proto-Indo-European.  The phrase from which we get “grace” is a verb form, “to favor.” It’s a special force or spirit that “sings, praises or announces.”
Fortunately for us the universe abounds with two marvelous forces, Grace and Mercy.  The universe also contains large galaxies of The Absurd, upon which occur massive tidal waves of absurdities flowing from human behavior since The Creation.
This spirit of Grace enters the stage of our lives unexpectedly, unscripted, as it wills, and it rewrites the plot of our lives in our favor.  I’ve seen it happen many times and I want to share how that can happen.  The pages ahead are sprinkled with stories of lives that have been either touched lightly by Grace or pinched by The Absurd.
Our lives can feel like both a tragedy and a comedy.   A few therapy sessions can reduce the pain of a harsh pinch in the rump from The Absurd.  More therapy can even build a bridge to Grace, helping the client find renewed hope and meaning.
Grace soothes our wounds, while The Absurd causes us to laugh at life and ourselves.  Both can be medicinal and help us to keep trudging The Road of Happy Destiny.