Seeking Guidance

This is my first post here. I’m not sure if this is the right forum or not so please forgive me if it isn’t. I also apologize because this is pretty long.

A little history.

I was raised Catholic pre Vatican II and attended Catholic school for 3 years during the period when nuns were the teachers and corporal punishment was practiced.

When I was a teenager, I became pretty wild and rejected Catholicism and in fact all of Christianity due to my pereception that most Christians were hypocrites. I dabbled in Eastern religions and the ideas of karma and reincarnation.

I finally did go back to the church when I got married and since my husband was Protestant went through RCIA with him so we could be married in the Church which we were. We have since been divorced. I was the one who left because I became infatuated with a married man and my husband didn’t measure up to him and I was just stupid.

I was advised by the priest at that time to get it annulled but refused because it was a sacrament and I didn’t see any reason that my sinfulness should render it null and void. I did try to reconcile with my husband but he wasn’t having it.

I continued to attend Mass but not confession or communion.

I also had some bad experiences besides the parhochial school ones that have bothered me a lot.

Our pastor was a pedophile. We never knew this until he molested some boys in our parish and committed suicide by blowing off his head with a shotgun he borrowed from a parishoner. Some of the parishoners refused to believe it even though a meeting was held and everything was disclosed to us.

I took a job as a secretary at a Catholic Church and the pastor there was horrible too. In fact just about everyone was. I was a lot different than them and not the best typist in the world.

I was not allowed to make one single typo in the bulletin which was 10 pages long. If I did the pastor flew into a rage. The nun in charge of the children’s program was always snidely telling me what a good secretary hers was. Insinuating that I wasn’t.

I was called in for counseling. At the time, I was taking medication for anxiety and I took two Xanax so I would numb myself out. I was put on probation for my job.

I went to my doctor and got a slip so I could collect my sick leave and never went back to that job.

Still I continued to go to Mass every Sunday.

Then I relocated to another state in the Bible Belt. I stopped going to church. I began drinking and developed substance abuse problems. I became addicted to opiates, got off them and was clean for 5 years.

In my job, I had access to medication. I began stealing narcotics and once again found myself addicted which only made me steal more and more.

I felt so guilty and horrible about what I was doing that I took a week off to detox at home. I was clean for two weeks and relapsed and went back to stealing the meds.

I was caught, terminated, will lose my license and am facing criminal charges.

During the two weeks that I was clean I felt a strong pull to contact the local Catholic Church and seek reconciliation. I found their website and sent an email. The priest called me and set up an appt.

So I did go to confession and received absolution. For present and past mortal sins. I couldn’t even get into the venial ones because they were so numerous at this point.

I thought I would feel better but I still feel full of remorse and guilt. Rationally, I know God has forgiven me but emotionally it’s not taking. Then I beat myself up because who am I to not accept God’s forgiveness? If He can forgive me, why can’t I forgive myself.

This may be partially due to Post Addiction Withdrawal Syndrome which does cause anxiety and depression for several months.

So do I just wait for my brain chemistry to return to normal? Does everyone feel relief when they receive absolution?

My penance was to read Luke 15 and reflect on it and pray about it which I’ve been doing.

Not everyone feels relief, nor are you necessarily meant to. I do remember sometimes that when I went to confession I still felt guilt or indifferent, feelings come and go.

As far as what needs to be done, I remember I used to pray and fast in addition to what penance was given. You are in a tough spot, but it appears you are doing the right thing by yourself.

First, Welcome Home.The grace our Lord gives to us is amazing.Sometimes,He uses the very things that we choose to try to be independant from Him,to draw us back to Him.Like the young man in Lk.15.This story illistrates beautifully the fact that,even though we are not always faithful in our sonship,He (God)is always Faithful in His Fatherhood.Please don’t beat yourself up over whatever happened in the past.what matters is now,and your future.I will be praying for you,Rocky.

Do you have a good counselor you’re working with now? Glad to see you home, but your post makes it sound at least like you have a few issues that need resolving. Nothing nuns did tens of years ago effects how you behave today, for example, and if you are still associating their actions with yours, that is something that still needs some work.

This could have some bearing on why you are having difficulty with believing in your absolution. If you attribute all of these “other things” as causing your behavior, how can you believe the problems are resolved by an action on your part? See where I’m going?
To “fix” them, you’d have to go back and “fix” all those other people. That’s why it’s not good to hang on to them as the cause. If you accept your own blame, then you can accept your own repentance and your own forgiveness.

It’s not unusual to feel as you do no matter who you attribute the cause to. In fact it is very very common for people to feel that way. Don’t give up on it, stick with it and know God’s mercy is infinite. He can forgive people and things us humans would have a really hard time doing.

Thanks everyone for the comments.

No, I do believe I am absolved. I just continue to feel guilt.

The priest who heard my confession also advised me to get back to AA/NA. I have been in and out for years.

I think that until I make amends per the 12 step program, I will continue lack closure

As for the bad experiences with Catholicism, I do think I have reached acceptance on some level. I realize no religion or clergy member is perfect and some even sin. That occurs to some degree in every religion and probably will forever.

It does leave a mark however and a lot of people of my generation have left the Church forever because of the extreme methods of punishment that existed back in those days.

The worst was when our pastor killed himself rather than face us. He had a history of pedophilia, had received treatment and was then sent to parish with a grade school. Go figure. His mother who he was very close to had recently died.

I forgave him immediately as did everyone I talked to. It was permanent solution to a difficult but temporary problem. It happens as we in the Church well know. We all felt grief that he did this.

I have not been a good person in my life. I felt the work I did in nursing was helpful in atoning for my past sins because, not bragging, but I was very good at it. I was compassionate and caring to the people I visited.

I destroyed the ability to do that and that hurts me. It was something I loved not just a job.

I absolutely cannot be near any narcotics right now. I still have cravings. My brain is still in withdrawal. I may never be able to be around them. Addicts generally can rationalize any opportunity to use.

The priest also put me in touch with another nurse who had the same problem as I did. She told me this post withdrawal syndrome will last for several months and she said she would never take another job where she had access to meds.

But as has been pointed out, the past is now the past, and I need to look to the future.

Tomorrow I will attend Mass and receive Communion for the first time in many years and meet the local Catholic community. I am looking forward to that.


Hello, we all sin, so you are not alone…It is normal to feel guilty for sinning…Jesus does forgive, but you must to continue to follow Him by praying and living your life through Him…God bless you and God be with you that you stay sober…I’m praying for you:)

I advise you to write down on paper all the bad things you’ve done or seen done by others -and burn them. Let them go. Never to be thought about again. Never to feel guilty about again. You’ve already confessed them and been forgiven. Worry about your life from this point forward.

Ask yourself - what does God want me to do now - not to make up for the past, but what is He calling you to do. Help at a food kitchen? Help baby sit for Mom’s House or some other charity? Read to elderly at a nursing home?

Whatever it is. Work to the future. We get into Heaven by Faith AND Works.

Also, you should do the Divine Mercy devotion. Continually Ask for God’s forgiveness, but also be forgiving of others. Trust in Jesus. Hang the Divine Mercy picture of Jesus (with the “Jesus I Trust In You” on the bottom, and the white and red rays coming from his heart), on a wall in your house and venerate it. Believe it. If you can’t believe it - ask to be forgiven for your unbelief. Pray the Devine Mercy chaplet every day.

Slowly you will begin to change. A priest once told me that and it’s true. Try to go through every day not offending anyone and not taking offense at anything someone says or does. Live your life from this point forward and don’t look back.

God Bless you,

John Marie Philomena

Hey GoneAstray, I know that your on the right track just reading your testimony and how open and honest you are about all of your sins. I also was away from the church and living up to my neck in sin like a selfish schmuck (not saying that you are) for many years myself, until one day I started to see the error of my ways. a long answer to your short question, does everyone feel this relief instantly when they confess all of their sins? No, I didn’t. I couldn’t forgive myself for the many things that Iv’e done and I sometimes still can’t, when I find myself slipping up from time to time. with that all being said, I do believe in all of God’s promises, and I believe that God knows when we are being sincere and trying our hardest. Jesus in His human form, fell three times on his way to Galgotha, just remember when you fall, get up and keep moving on. we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy and if anyone thinks that they are exempt from this, well they are liars also. God bless you on your faith journey friend and I will pray for you, as I hope that you will remember me in your prayers as well.

As they used to say in the sixties: Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Welcome Home!! It sounds like you are on the right track now, so don’t let past guilt keep you from your new life. We all have regrets, but the trick is to acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them and keep on going. After all, we are only passing through this life, on our way to Life Everlasting. :dancing:

Dear GoneAstray,

I believe you have taken some major steps on the road of recovery. Please seek the counseling your priest advised. Surround yourself with all the friends and family, that want to help you, you can find. Positive reinforcement and their love will help. Also look into any and all government programs that may be available to you. If you can’t practice nursing then you may need some retraining and funds could be available. Hang in there.

I pray that God gives you all the grace necessary to move on and get your life in order. God bless you.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen

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