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Kevin and the Labyrinth

Every summer I try to carve out for myself three consecutive weeks in the Bethesda Workshops calendar, and I spend part of that time in the mountains of Western North Carolina at a beautiful piece of heaven called Lake Junaluska. I first came here in 1981 before David and I married, and it’s always been

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Consolation of the Hawks

Since I started a recovery process almost three decades ago, I’ve been suspicious of coincidences, which I experience frequently. Even in childhood I always perceived them as something far more than serendipity, some accidental happening unrelated to my life or heart. In recent weeks, months even, I am graced with so-called coincidences with such astonishing

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A Guy Named Kevin

As cases of coronavirus skyrocket with undisciplined reopening and the country learns more about the devasting experiences of Black Americans, the immensity of both realities weighs heavily. It’s hard to respond effectively to either situation, at least as measured by observable improvement, much less to the cumulative sorrows of both. At the risk of being

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Such a Simple Step

According to multiple media reports, Americans are experiencing “coronavirus fatigue,” which is sometimes called “caution fatigue.” People are tired of worrying about an unseen threat, especially those who haven’t personally been infected by it. Across the country, people are deeply divided between two viewpoints about the pandemic: that it is still circulating as dangerously as

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Ignorance and Silence Equal Complicity

Other blog ideas have been percolating in my head for this week: a child’s lost shoe, the satisfaction of pressure washing, recovery-themed tattoos. But they will have to wait for other times. How can I not write about recent tragic events and the ensuing protests across the country? I expect that question has already lost

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Gratitude Counters Comparison

After some hard weeks coping with the pandemic in general and moving our core workshops online specifically, I was more stressed a couple of weeks ago than I want to admit. Overwhelmed. Grumpy. Then I opened an email and did something that made me feel even worse. Something really dangerous for my serenity: I compared

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Celebrating the Children Who Make Us Moms

Historically, Mother’s Day was my least favorite day of the year. I was three years old when my “Mama Dottie” died of colon cancer, and for decades, the requisite happy celebration of mothers cut to my core. I was undone for weeks as the Hallmark holiday reopened the huge attachment wound I didn’t fully understand.

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In the Time of Coronavirus

As one who identifies with the label “writer” more than with any other category, I feel pressure to find words for the experience of living in a pandemic. As a deeply spiritual person, I expect I should be able to wrench some meaningful, theological perspective – something that comforts or inspires. As a person in

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Positive Pants

As the predictions about COVID-19 become more dire and Americans cope with another week of major life disruptions, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. The future looks bleak across the board: isolation, stress from being cooped up at home, restless children, economic impact, fear of infection, separation from loved ones, including during huge events like grieving

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Apart But Still Connected

After you get past the crazy toilet paper hoarding, the coronavirus is perhaps making better people out of most of us. In a mustering of individual and collective unity on a scale that many alive have never seen before, Americans and others across the world are metaphorically joining our washed hands in an amazing communitarian

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Coronavirus Interconnectivity

For the third time, I’m deleting what I’ve written about coronavirus and starting over. By now, if you don’t know the basics of how and why many of us initially downplayed the risk and associated hype, what we’ve come to understand about the dangers that are far beyond individual patients getting sick or even possibly

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God Deeply Loves Dust

Ash Wednesday wasn’t part of the faith tradition of my upbringing, and I was a married adult before I was introduced to the sacred ritual of having ashes imposed on my forehead on the Wednesday that marks the beginning of Lent. I had grown to love the symbolism of a liturgical church, and the ashes

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Will You Be My Valentine?

In contrast to the messages from florists, greeting card companies, and candy manufacturers, Valentine’s Day is a landmine for most people who are connected to Bethesda Workshops. The pain of betrayal experienced by partners of sex and love addicts is amplified by the saccharine atmosphere that supposedly portrays “true love.” Expectations for the day are

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Fear or Courage?

Since early in my recovery journey, which started in 1991, I was certain of God’s call to tell my story, and I’ve shared about my experiences as an abandoned child, sexual trauma survivor, and sex and love addict hundreds of times in various media, including on Dateline in 2004. I’ve consistently received grace, support, and

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Be the One

The family room floor is stacked with boxes of packed Christmas decorations, which spill into the garage where they wait to be hauled into the attic. For the first time in memory, I’m sad to see the festive trappings gone. Normally, I’m so done with the craziness and exhaustion of the season that December 26th

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Life Support

The two women walking in front of me on the lake trail caught my attention. It was extremely warm for late December in Middle Tennessee, and this easy, flat path was crowded on the day after Christmas. These two, though, stood out as they walked slowly 50 yards in front of me. The older woman,

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A Very Personal and Extravagant God

Many years of spiritual direction, which for me is like Jesus-oriented experiential therapy, has radically changed my connection with God. I’ve regularly come to see, hear, feel, and experience the presence of a very personal and extravagant God. These encounters have strengthened and deepened this year as a tender Mama God has shown up for

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Thanks for the Memories

Thanksgiving this year is marked by significant family milestones for my brothers and me. Our mother died 60 years ago this month, which is hard to realize. It’s harder still to imagine what our lives would have been like if she had lived. How can you possibly quantify what might have been? My oldest brother

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Sacred Texts

I saw a story recently on Facebook about a young woman from Arkansas, age 23, whose dad died four years ago. Every day since his passing, Chastity Patterson has texted his number to share about her day. She said it made her feel closer to him and she hoped somehow he was receiving her messages.

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Singing On

Music has always been important to me, but I’ve only recently connected with Spotify. In the garden at Bethesda or at home I stream music through a Bluetooth speaker a friend gave me (another novelty), and I wonder how I ever lived without music at my ear tips. I walk every morning with earbuds and

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On Grief, Gratitude and Consolation

How do you measure the impact of a relationship? We have words that characterize various forms—like parent, child, spouse, colleague, or friend—but some connections defy and transcend easy descriptions. Some associations are too complex; some bonds are too profound, even mysterious. Dr. Mark Laaser, who went Home September 27, 2019, was that undefinable person in

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Climbing a Mountain

Many people have a “bucket list” of significant things they want to do before they die, but I’ve never made one or even given it much thought (other than a long-held desire to be a guest on Oprah, which is clearly unrealistic). At the same time, I’m intrigued by others’ bucket-list adventures. Before the start

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More Frightening than Lions, Tigers and Bears!

Certain phobias are widespread it seems, like the fear of public speaking or of flying. I happen to love both, and judgmentally I can’t understand those who find either activity frightening. But since childhood, I’ve had an equally common deathly fear, and I do everything in my power to avoid any contact with its source,

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The Little Things

Being present in the moment is one of the most precious gifts of recovery. Before God coaxed me into a healing journey, I spent my life spaced out, fantasizing, or obsessing. Shame-fueled dissociation made me oblivious to the world around me. Early recovery, now nearly three decades ago, involved its own obsession with the healing

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