Super Heroes, Mercy and Recovery, Take on a Super Villain, Addiction

Fighting with Addiction Science

Addictive disease both fascinates and horrifies me, as an addiction professional and as a human being.  Poetry and philosophy I need for my soul because they uplift me.  There was no satisfaction for me to teach high school English, so I found a new career, which by the grace of God I do enjoy.  Over the years I have learned to wield the powerful teaching tool of addiction science to combat addiction, which I think of as an evil super villain.
I will speak to any group, anyone who will listen or needs to hear the message.  People need to understand how addiction mercilessly hi-jacks human brains, especially those of teenagers.  Without treatment it causes brain owners to die painful, lonely deaths–most of us are very aware of that.   So I preach and teach compassion for persons with the disease.  I admire the discoveries of brain science, which have been advanced by the study of addictive processes.
I highly recommend, When Society Becomes an Addict, by Anne Wilson Schaef.  She exposes just how deeply addiction permeates American Society.  Creating addictions which people initially enjoy, but sooner or later suffer from, appears to be very good for business.  Far too many of our best and brightest have fallen prey.
Expertly marketed addiction traps are all around us now.  These traps, in whatever form they arrive, have fooled us, but we shouldn’t be fooled any longer!  The developers of the new, legal addictions don’t care who their products hurt, even kill.  So it seems the best way to escape their oppressive clutches is for people to bring recovery into their lives, as a defense against the commercial onslaughts that launch out at us day and night.
To illustrate the real dangers that exist today for unsuspecting young people, I suggest you access an article that appeared in the Economist, “The Scientists Who Make Apps Addictive,” by Ian Leslie, published in the Oct/Nov 2016 issue.  The scientists identified here are neuroscientists.
Introduction to Mercy, an Eternal Good
Theology is compatible with addiction science in this way: both fields of study involve Mercy.  Theology is the study of God and God’s relation to the world.  My favorite theologian is Dr. Scott Hahn, an astute scholar, yet a grounded, “regular guy,” whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a men’s conference in Milwaukee, where he was the keynote speaker.  Dr. Hahn is a witty author who writes about heavy theological questions very light-handedly somehow.
His style belies the fact that he’s an expert in biblical and mystical theology.  I’m enjoying reading his book, Lord, Have Mercy.  God’s Mercy inspires me, but it’s not my addiction, even though this blog is called, “Addicted to Mercy.”  Through this title I want to express that I’m passionate about God’s Mercy!
What is Divine Mercy?  It is a spiritual force, which engages human beings when someone, anyone, without deserving it, is gifted with what they most need at the exact time they most need it.  It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, along with a love letter, because Divine Love is the source of it.
I hope you will someday know the pleasure and excitement I got from reading Divine Mercy in My Soul, the diary of Maria Faustina Kowalska.  It’s all about her direct and repeated experiences with Divine Mercy, as revealed to her by God, for the sake of all of us.
St. Faustina is a very different sort of saint, because she did not feel saintly at all. In fact she struggled greatly with self-doubt.  She was often downcast because of her sense of unworthiness of the part she was given to play by divine providence.  However, she was in fact chosen to reveal Divine Mercy to the world.  Her diary is about how that happened, back in Poland in the 1930s.  You can read her diary online, by going to https://archive.org/stream/St.FaustinaKowalskaDiary/divine-mercy-in-my-soul_djvu.txt.
I believe that we as individuals and the world as a whole need a transfusion of  Divine Mercy, which the saint writes is an “Ocean of Mercy,” unlimited and unfathomable.  Why do we need a spiritual force of that magnitude?  Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t be perfect.  We fail, we sin, we get lost in the dark.  The diary proclaims factually, through real events in Faustina’s life, that God’s Heart waits eagerly to rescue us from the Darkness.  He will not force us to receive His Mercy, however.  God is not a tyrant.
I will keep writing and talking about my greatest passion, Divine Mercy, and sending out warnings and cautions about this addictive society we have.  Those mood- and mind-altering chemicals and activities that are traps set to catch us and our families, are in that group of lower or least worthy goods of life.  Mercy and Recovery bring goods of the highest worth, which in turn bring joys and delights which do not harm.

 

Real Love comes Through the Door

I knew I had a “broken picker,” meaning I had no talent for picking a healthy partner.  So when Mercy brings real love into your life it takes you by surprise.  That’s how it was for me in 2004.  My licensing exam was about a year off.  I was a lowly intern and had been gathering training hours in Stockton, CA.  I left a fairly menial social worker position for a “real therapist job” in Sacramento–an upgrade in title with the salary about the same.  I was hauling boxes out of my office to the car and it was getting dark.
I thought everybody had gone home.  I was almost done; just a few more boxes.  I had turned in my keys to the office manager, so all I had to do was lock the door behind me and be on my way.
I walked back to the building to get another box, but was shocked to find the door had swung shut!  Now I’d have to call the office manager to let me back in.  However, just then a bright and shining face appeared through the glass.  It was Arleen from Marketing and she was still in the office! 
When she opened that door my life was changed.
“Hi,” she said warmly, “would you like some help?”  I wondered for a second if she meant help with my life.  No, she must mean with the boxes, I thought, but as a matter of fact my life did need lots of help.  Arleen, I would come to learn, is someone who’s always at the right place at the right time.
“Yes, I would like some help,” I said.  We got some dinner and after that we started dating.  I had recently surrendered my addiction, was attending recovery meetings, had a sponsor, and now my first ever healthy relationship found me!  To think, if that had not happened, I would have collected my things and left her behind.  I didn’t because of Mercy.  The first Promise (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 83) of the Twelve Promises states, “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”  It’s true!
We eventually fell in love and got engaged, married and moved to Wisconsin.  If that sounds weird, moving from California to Wisconsin, that’s okay, because it did to everyone else we met.  But for us it was the greatest good fortune and still is.  What followed was an amazing spirit of hope and a sudden shift toward healthy change, reconciliation, surrender, acceptance and forgiveness.  In short, a new life.
 
 
 

Grace and Mercy in Therapy

Ellen’s Story
“This should not have happened,” Ellen said to me, and I didn’t disagree, because it made no sense that she was scornfully tossed aside by her husband of twenty-three years for someone he met at work.   I had been seeing her for four months, helping her through the stages of grief following the loss of her marriage.  Ellen was a survivor, a strong person who refused to waste her life living as a victim.  Her former husband was addicted to drugs and sex.
“I gave that scoundrel my heart and soul; we raised a wonderful daughter and son.  I gave up a career and stood by him all the way for all those years.”  She was fuming, sitting in my office, eyes burning with homicidal rage and righteous indignation.  Then she did something I didn’t expect.  She laughed.
“And you know, I should have seen it coming,” she mused.  “Before me, all his relationships were pitifully unstable.  Just before we got engaged he told me, ‘You’re different from the others, Ellen.  You wouldn’t desert me like they did.’  And he was right—I never would have. ”
In those four months Ellen had screamed and swore and cried and by this time had recovered her self-esteem.  It was perfectly absurd that she was tossed aside when she had such a golden heart. Yet, the Grace bestowed on her was her children.  She told me that bringing them into the world was more than compensation for her disappointing marriage, which she survived.  She would remarry, this time to a wonderful man who was truly worthy of her.  I believe many times people overcome profound traumas and tragedies through mystical events of Grace and Mercy.
God’s Mercy imbues a special kind of meaning to anything.  In fact, in ordinary human experience, when we choose to inject the God into a story or event, it often 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 the mix of ideas somehow, because there’s something mysteriously wonderful or amazing about those special, mystical events.
You may have a very vague, almost non-existent and even unflattering concept of God; yet the word “God” will promote itself in our minds in these numinous experiences of life.
“God, that was close!  An anvil dropped down out of nowhere and almost flattened me!” is a statement that raises getting that close to death, but yet somehow eluding it, to something incredible or miraculous.
Those kinds of situations I have re-worked from real cases with real people I have treated to share with you, my reader.  I hope you will add your own stories of life’s miracles to them as we go.  And if you haven’t had a miracle happen to you lately, if you need one, they are available to you, because no one is excluded from God’s amazing Grace and Mercy.