This is the conclusion of a two-part entry written by “Patrick Fitz”, an anonymous member of Courage International. Read Part 1 here.

I found myself living with my aging and increasingly more fragile mother. Dad and she were now separated, and he had ended up spending a lot of his later years street-drinking. With the help of a local politician, I got him into the care of a nursing home with the assistance of an aunt for his final years. Unfortunately, he had developed cancer and died three years later. He died sober, in comfort and with the Church’s sacraments. We were happy again at last. The Lord had definitely returned what the locusts had stolen for those brief few years before he died. I still feel the bitter pain of his loss as I write this and I miss my father very much. 

Meanwhile, my own nightmare went on as I struggled badly after his death. Prescription drugs worked for a while, then I grew immune to them. Hospitals and recovery trips didn’t work, they only made me worse. The Irish psychiatric hospitals were Dickensian. It was a particularly bleak time; a living death. Archbishop Sheen felt that a significant part, not all, of neurosis was down to unconfessed and unrepented mortal sin; I agree, in my humble opinion. 

What was my fundamental problem? Essentially, I had no conviction in God throughout all my years up to that point due to my overall parental experience. Without even being conscious of it, I had seen God the way I saw my parents; often remote, busy doing something else, seemingly indifferent to my very existence, capable of violence (though it was rare), out to get me (like some siblings seemed to be), non-interventionist, quick to anger and most definitely disgusted at my ssa inclinations. I either couldn’t or wouldn’t let go and let God rule my life absolutely. The self was dominant, and the self always wants to be fed on impulse, be it food or sex or whatever. In short, I couldn’t get myself out of the way to let God take the reins, as I had been so used to living in my head as an escape from the emotional pain of past and present. What worked as a child, escape through fantasy, no longer worked as an adult.  

When my mother fell and broke her back, I was suddenly called into action. Then, I had a renewed purpose. With that purpose, and without the years long worry that plagued me about Dad, a large amount of both physical and mental health was restored. Many thought I was a walking miracle; a new man. In truth, I was. The consistent praying of the Rosary and the Memorare played a massive role coupled with new purpose in my overall recovery. However, I still hadn’t properly looked at my ssa or even tried to tackle the continuing slavery to self-impurity.  

Alas, my mother’s health then took a serious turn for the worse and the care of her mostly on my own became even more intense. It became too much and I lapsed back into SSA activity for a week or so before I reached out to Courage in sheer desperation. Within days I was at my first meeting through Zoom in the United States. For the first time in my life, I heard myself say out loud that I experienced SSA. I was forty-one. A definite weight fell off me and the members and Chaplain were great to me. I had dragged, what had felt like to me, a shameful and dark secret out into the light. Suddenly the pull lost a lot of its power. I was no longer alone. No longer white-knuckling it.  

Although the temptations still resurface, I now have solutions. Courage friends and meetings. That’s where I get my medicine, through the ears. But more importantly I had discovered that I also have God right beside me. He never left me. I just couldn’t see or hear him in the maddening crowd or “the widening gyre” that was my life. I now saw that in the past I had been reaching out like a drowning man to people who hadn’t got the ability to save me. I was waiting to be saved, and angry and resentful when they couldn’t or wouldn’t, not realising that ultimately only God can truly save. 

I began to realise that throughout my life I was relying too much on mere mortals and not enough on Almighty God. I thus began to learn new approaches in dealing with temptations and thereby staying out of sin more often, like running to Jesus first and verbalizing the temptations that come with the ssa condition to Him out loud. This new approach was starting to bear good fruit in my seeing a marked increase in my own purity. Now whenever I feel temptations rise, I go to Him immediately in prayer and talk it out before a picture of the Sacred Heart, on top of calling a Courage friend. 

In truth it was also Our Lady who brought me back from the abyss on more than one occasion. The praying of her beads was essential and is a must for me. Her intention is always to lead me to her Son. You can never love Mary more than her own Son did as Saint Maximilian Kolbe said. Her love is the light which makes all things come right. 

Everything is far from perfect in my life as I write this. As poor Angelo at the Courage office knows only too well, believe me. I have been housebound through illness for the last several months. Mum remains fragile but can now putter around and, would you believe it, had to nurse me for a while. We often tell each other, “I love you”.  

Throughout all of this ordeal, which will eventually pass, one thing is for sure, I remain very grateful to God for revealing Himself to me and for directing me to the Courage Apostolate, and for sending me His Mother to snatch me out of the abyss I was falling into spiritually. Her light, and the light of Courage, has been the light when all other lights went out, as Tolkien would say. 

 Lastly, I know now that I never felt truly loved, and love was something that I craved desperately and sought out in the wrong places, in a low-level search for God. He truly is what Francis Thompson called Him, “The Hound of Heaven”. He never gave up on me. He is truly Love. I am slowly and tediously learning what it is to love and be loved. 

It’s one day, one hour, one minute at a time.  


Patrick Fitz. 

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The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.