Wine, beer, tequila, vodka, whiskey … there is nothing I wouldn’t drink.
I was a twenty-something living and partying in the hottest spots of San Francisco. “The world was mine” … until I realized it wasn’t. At all. My wounded soul was expressed in my lawless body. I was like a sad billboard I had seen of a man with a sloppy suit literally drinking in the closet when my lies gave way to a reality of addiction, pain and confusion that seemed to nearly smother me alive.
A decade lost to a horrible disease of the body and soul before being rescued. My pastor shared a homily once about a man who had fallen in a ditch and broken his legs, but knew that he was rescued when he heard the helicopter nearing. Still, it would be a long journey yet to healing.
For me, rescue came when God answered my pleas to be freed from this horrible mess. Being healed, though, would come slowly over years of recovery work and most specifically through my discovery of the Theology of the Body. It has not only healed my broken body and soul, but brought life to new places in me that I didn’t even know existed. From relationships, to authentic love, to service, to learning how to be a mutual gift-of-self in marriage and family, I am renewed daily through the teachings of Saint John Paul II and his profound and prophetic Theology of the Body.
Perhaps the most consequential teaching of Theology of the Body, for me personally, is that the body reveals the soul. A person with a troubled soul will do troubling things to and with their body. A person with a peaceful soul will do gentle things to and with their body.
I’ll always be grateful for a much-needed example of this when I teetered on the edge of addiction and sobriety. My cousin, who had 20 years of sobriety, carried himself with a quiet yet strong confidence, and a serenity I knew was rooted in the sobriety first of his soul, and second of his body. I could see this simply by observation before I learned the language of the Theology of the Body which really put words around it. His bodily presence said much more than “I am physically sober.” It said, rather, “It is well with my soul.” It was exactly this example that led me to reach out to him to start my journey of recovery. And it is what I strive for in living my own example of sobriety today — one of body and soul.