Until Inward Grace was created in 2015, I worked in community mental health, specializing in behavioral health and substance use disorders. As a dual diagnosis clinician, I witnessed many clients suffering from behavioral health and addiction, cycle through the "system" from one clinician to the next. These clients were often prescribed medication to quell their anxiety, depression and/or to regulate their mood disorders. Still, even with medication(s) and many hours of therapy, the suffering continued and many experienced deep unhappiness and despair. These suffering clients hoped desperately for their life to change. They wanted to believe an external source, a clinician, medication, inpatient treatment, some external source could "fix" their lives. Please, let me be clear, all the treatment options mentioned can be helpful and at times life-saving however there appeared a need for something deeper within for any lasting change to occur.
In private and non-profit settings, I've observed untreated substance use disorders as a common cause of those seeking mental health assistance. Often those affected by addiction are unable to admit the scope of their addiction, the inner turmoil and the sadness they feel to their family, friends. This emotional state holds them captive until something changes…
Mysteriously, in the midst of addiction and/or alcoholism, the sufferer will somehow "surrender", and a willingness appears, an openness to try something different. This unexpected readiness most often occurs during a major crisis, such as the loss of an important relationship or employment, a serious illness, a criminal arrest. In the midst of this upheaval, a portal opens, and a willingness previously unknown finds its way into the consciousness, some call this grace, I know I do.
As a recovered alcoholic, I recognize alcoholism as a spiritual malady. My untreated alcoholism created a deep selfishness, a self-centeredness, a dishonesty that filled me with fear. I was blocked and my desire to help others, including myself seemed non-existent. Before recovery, I moved through my days, full of resentment and deep sadness, I was, as stated in the Big Book of AA, “restless, irritable and discontent.” Fueled by my own angry willfulness my creativity was unreachable. Finally when totally done in I turned to behavioral health therapy for my depression. Thankfully, my intuitive therapist pointed me toward Alcoholics Anonymous. Slowly, a small amount of willingness (grace) appeared, and I accepted the Twelve Steps of Recovery. I learned within the twelve codified proposals, a personal self-appraisal was needed to find the root cause of my problem. Little by little, I accepted my troubles as spiritual in nature and my alcoholism as a symptom of a deeper spiritual malady. With the support and guidance of a recovered alcoholic; I invited the Divine Presence into my life and together we addressed the years of old resentments and fear. With a fervent longing, my fear and anger faded away and was replaced by acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness for myself and others.
In 2011, upon completion of the Contemplative Clinical Practice Certification Program at Smith College, I considered contemplative guidance as important to my clinical practice and slowly envisioned a deeper offering apart from the mental health system. In 2015, I opened a small private offering, Inward Grace and have found those who appear are ready to consider asking for help to Something Greater than themselves. Then, this year, in 2019, I returned to spiritual studies and completed the Contemplative Spiritual Director Program at the Alcyon Center in Seal Cove, Maine, an amazing program for those seeking a deeper connection with the Divine and its many disguises.
Now, with the support of caring friends, a loving family, and connection with spiritual advisors, the path continues with Inward Grace, a heart open, contemplative resource for those who seek connection with the Divine Source woven throughout this universe and beyond. Love was the answer all along.
*The word 'spiritual' does not refer to religious matters. All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social-if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity.