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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I’ll just put this bluntly: I have a problem trusting God. I just can’t trust God’s providence. I see God as always angry with me, and the failures in my job and lack of progress seem to be punishment for my great sins. I haven’t been diagnosed, but I fit many symptoms of borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder—envy, jealousy, pride, suspicious of others, secretive, all of that.
     I’m a Catholic convert, but born and raised Protestant. Converted three years ago when I was 29. Attend weekly Mass, sometimes daily Mass, go to confession semi-regularly.
     Recently, I’ve been getting more pressure at work, and all I’m doing now is failing.
     I’m having emotional breakdowns, and I just blame God and get angry at Him because He claims He takes care of us (like the birds of the sky) but I’m at a crisis point with no help in sight. The success of others makes me insecure and envious. I don’t desire great success, just enough for my station in life and vocation. I’m just tired of the constant failed expectations, disappointments, and false hope.
     Recently I’ve been having suicidal thoughts, just thoughts, not actual will to carry it out. I wonder how my body would look splattered on the ground, or if I shoot myself how the blood spray pattern would look. Maybe I’m being overly dramatic and catastrophic.
     I just don’t know how to cope anymore. God who I thought would take care of me is just standing by watching me suffer with great anxiety and fear. He told us not to worry. Well, it’s not like I want to worry. It just happens.
     I pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy and Rosary every day.
     But there’s no way out of this. I just don’t have the energy anymore to gather together the little bit of hope left in God...only to be disappointed...again and again and again.
     How do I trust God? I know I’m supposed to but I can’t.

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• The False Beliefs Behind the Curse
• Without Blame and Anger

 
Although you will be surprised to hear it, the truth is not only that God has not been punishing you, but that you have been punishing yourself. Throughout your childhood you experienced complex emotional pain, but, just like a multitude of others who are afflicted with the same problem, you find it terrifying to admit that your parents could have mistreated you. Consequently, you have been unconsciously trying to protect your parents from responsibility for their failures, and you do that by labeling yourself as the failure. It’s as if you have put a curse on yourself to shield your parents from any accusation of their wrongdoing.

This is actually a common psychological problem in some cultures—for example, Asian cultures—where it is unthinkable to say anything negative about one’s parents. It’s also a common problem in the Catholic Church regardless of culture, simply because the Scriptural admonition to “honor your father and your mother” is commonly misinterpreted and distorted into the idea that parents can do no wrong and that a child owes them total allegiance no matter what they do.

But when parents are domineering or controlling they cheat their children of the healthy autonomy and individuality necessary for the children to work out their salvation, and the effects, as you have so clearly described in regard to your story, amount to a pernicious curse of repeated self-sabotage and failure. Even though you don’t want it, it just “happens” because it’s all unconscious.

 
The False Beliefs Behind the Curse

Behind the curse is a fundamental unconscious false belief that you are defective. This belief usually gets expressed consciously as “God hates me.” Underneath this belief, though, several other beliefs work a secret havoc. “I’m not worthy.” “I don’t matter.” “I don’t deserve to succeed.” “I have no right to be independent.” “I will die without my parents.” “My obligation is to serve my parents.” “My parents need me.”

These are all false beliefs, and they work like poison against you.

They can, however, be overcome.

Elsewhere, I have described the process of refuting negative beliefs. This can be done in psychotherapy, and it can also be done on your own through study, meditation, and prayer. Regardless of how it’s done, though, one key element in the process must be carefully acknowledged: you must feel the pain now, as an adult, of the mistreatment inflicted on you in childhood. It’s not sufficient to “know” intellectually what was inflicted on you; you must feel the pain into the depths of your heart. Myriads of tears must be shed; let them speak.

Let your tears speak openly of the pain. Bring the pain before God through prayer.

 
Without Blame and Anger

Yet be careful to not fall into blaming your parents; that is, state the facts of what good they did for you, as well as what harm they did to you, and what they failed to do for you—but always remember that you must take responsibility for remedying the deficiencies within you. You must take responsibility for paying the price of remedying those deficiencies. You must take responsibility for doing the hard work of the healing. Moreover, it must all be done without blame and anger.

Furthermore, be careful to not fall into blaming God. God has been giving you all the graces you need to heal from the pain of your childhood, but, despite all of the Masses you have attended and all the prayers you have said half-heartedly and out of duty, you have been throwing those graces onto the ground, spitting on them, and trampling them into the dirt. All that ingratitude was all done to avoid the terror of admitting that, throughout your childhood, your parents did not love you in the true sense of Christian love for a child. To avoid that terror you put a curse on yourself: you convinced yourself that you had to serve your parents at all costs—and, sure enough, the cost has been you.

 


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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.