Thursday, July 09, 2009


One of the Soldiers I've been corresponding with via modern technology has been home from a long deployment in Iraq (his second in five years, and he's a Reservist) for a few months now. It turns out that he's been sober from alcohol for a number of years, but he's having trouble with another addiction these days, which could well lead him back to drinking.

He's in a lot of pain.

I suspect it's the way the effects of his many trips outside the wire are manifesting themselves. If I'm correct, it's yet another instance of deployment stress response (I prefer that designation to "post traumatic stress disorder" since there's nothing 'disordered' about a powerful reaction to a powerfully abnormal situation).

He and I have been exchanging emails and talking on the phone since before he redeployed. Recently we were chatting by phone because he was in a lot of psychic pain, due to the consequences of his present addictive behaviors compounding (rather than relieving) the heartache of his deployment.

This Soldier has been in the military a good many years, and would seem to me to be a model Non-Commissioned Officer. It breaks my heart to hear him in so much distress, and to be powerless to change that for him. My friend Elizabeth, who goes to a lot of Al-Anon meetings would remind me that "messiah is not part of my job description."

He wanted not to be acting out in his addiction, but was afraid that day would be like any other. He was also losing faith in God, he said, because this other addiction was so difficult to overcome, as compared with his alcoholism.

I suggested that he could, in fact, give himself permission, just for that day, *not* to act out. I encouraged him to think of some other behavior(s) he could engage in which would help him to feel better about himself and his situation. The gym, perhaps? Soccer? Running? A movie? Gardening? Playing an instrument?

He responded by saying that he might go to the store and get himself some canvas and painting materials, because he'd not done any art during his deployment. That sounded like a great idea to me.

I sent him some money electronically, with a note suggesting he might use it toward his art.

While I don't have a whole lot of money (this pesky vow of poverty, don't you know?), I find that the more generous I am with what little I have, the more I have to be generous with.

What's up with *that*?

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Meetings, meetings, meetings. 12 Steps worked over and over and over. I am approaching my 38th anniversary of abstinence, and have had many "reasons" to drink again, but remembering that Step 12 says "...practiced THESE PRINCIPLES in ALL of our affairs" and means do the Steps on EVERY issue...Really Works!! Service work, Steps, meetings...

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