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What are the passions?
"The passions are the feelings, the emotions or the movement of the sensible appetite--natural components of human psychology--which incline a person to act or not act in view of what is perceived as good or evil. The principle passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger."
(Compendium CCC, 370. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2006) The Compendioum's source on this topic is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Last Tuesday, I posted an excerpt from Saddled by Susan Richards. Sitting in an A.A. meeting, she notices that most of the attendees are capable of doing something all human beings are created to do, but evaded her all her life--feel. She comments, "The men and women didn't sound numb anymore. They were angry and scared and depressed. They were also hopeful and funny and grateful . . . The word that came to mind was whole. After years of shutting down all parts of themselves with alcohol, they were finally whole human beings."
Today, I address the other side of the "drinking coin." Drinking to feel. This was big for me. I remember well, the struggle to experience grief as I attended therapy for survivors of sexual abuse. I couldn't cry; couldn't grieve. Even as I abstained from alcohol, I was numb.
And one evening after group therapy, after all the reality I could stand, I drove to the liquor store. I drank, and for the first time in a long time, I felt. I felt overwhelming sadness. Ancient tears streamed down my cheeks and with those tears came relief. It felt good to cry. The only problem was, I couldn't cry without alcohol. I was incapable of letting my guard down without a few drinks.
I did what I always encourage you to do. I told God everything. Over and over, until one day I realized that I didn't need alcohol to cry anymore. It was safe to feel sad in the presence of a God who never once judged me or told me to go away and come back when I didn't smell of vodka.
He loved me then, just as I was. He loves me now, just as I am. I focused on Him and sought after Him with all my fears and all my flaws. He made me whole. He awakened me to how wonderful it is to feel angry or sad or embarrassed and it not be attached to the memories of abuse. He freed me to feel. He transformed me into a whole human being.
The man-made ways to feel or not feelinclude everything from shoes to Chardonnay. So if alcohol abuse/addiction doesn't apply to you, what does? Do you shop to feel? Eat? Starve yourself? Exercise compulsively? Spend hours on Facebook?
How do you attempt to numb or feel? Focus on the One who does not condemn you. Focus on the One who loves you now, just as you are, whose love will bring liberty from the ways you cope. Whose love will make you whole.
Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 @ 11:01 AM CDT
Not long ago, I was browsing through a bookstore and noticed the memoir Saddled, by Susan Richards. I love horses, so the beautiful horse on the cover inspired me to peek inside the book. "This is a story for anyone who has ever loved an animal enough to keep on living." [excerpt]
I love animals! Sold!--to the woman who loves animals! Memoirs fascinate me. Reading a memoir is the closest you'll ever get to walking in someone else's shoes. And the best ones offer words that inspire you to get on with walking to freedom in your own shoes.
It turns out, Richards is a re-covering alcoholic with a beautiful horse named Georgia. Goergia becomes her inspiration to continue to place her feet on the floor each morning and show up for life. (I love how God uses animals to heal ancient pain.)Today, I'm sharing an excerpt from Saddled. Here, Susan is invited to an A.A. meeting after achieving one year of sobriety by herslef. If you battle alcohol abuse/addiction, I encourage you to read, read, read this book.
"I didn't know that becoming sober meant really changing. Not drinking was the least of it. It was the rest of me that was the problem, the part that wanted to stay numb. The men and women in that room didn't sound numb anymore. They were angry and scared and depressed. They were also hopeful and funny and grateful. They were all over the place. The word that came to mind was whole. After years of shutting down all or parts of themselves with alcohol, they were finally whole human beings.
I sat in a corner with my arms crossed and my mouth shut and listened to what whole human beings sounded like. Evidently being human was a messy business. Not a single person said Everything's fine -- my stock response since I was a child to any question about my state of mind. It had never been true, but that didn't keep me from repeating it for the next twenty years. I thought that's what you were supposed to say. I thought that's what you were supposed to feel. Anything else meant you were a complainer or worse -- a bad person, a wrong person, and wrong was just a code for crazy. I didn't want to be bad or crazy because I was already on shaky ground in the wantable department. So the sweet smiley girl became the sweet smiley woman who drank liquor to help keep the lid on anything that didn't reflect how fine she felt one hundred percent of the time. Never mind the on-and-off suicide fantasies going back to the fourth grade. Doesn't everybody have those? I was fine. " [end excerpt] Copyright 2010 by Susan Richards
Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 10:26 AM CDT