RHW Podcast Episode 12

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode Twelve of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: Sober Solitude. We all may not live alone, but we do all have times of solitude. The question is: How are we using our solitude?

I began contemplating this question last night as I was retiring. You see earlier yesterday I had a stressful conversation with a co-worker. After that conversation I had several hours of solitude before my husband returned home. During those hours I was dealing with some emotional pain that resulted from the stressful conversation. As it’s been my habit for most of my adult life, I ran from the emotional pain to a television program on Netflix.

A few hours later, when preparing for sleep, I thought about my behavior that evening. I had once again wasted some precious time of solitude.

Why did I fall into that old pattern? Why did I allow my mind to dwell on a past conversation that couldn’t be changed? Why did I insist on using my time to imagine future events, which encouraged even more anxious thoughts?

And if that wasn’t enough wasting of my time, I numbed out on social media and on an old television program.

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. ~ Thomas Merton

Until we spend time, sober time, (free from any mind and emotion numbing substance or activity) and get to the root of why we are running from our feelings, our addictive behaviors will just switch from one to another.

I recall a story about a grandmother who had her 4-year-old grandson with her in church. As with most young children, he was fidgeting, squirming and kept standing up when he was supposed to be sitting down during the sermon. The grandmother quietly disciplined the boy and he reluctantly sat down. After which he remarked to his grandmother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”

Isn’t that how it is with most of us?

God has convicted me of a behavior that may have at its root an emotional wound from childhood. Rather than dealing with the root issue, I insist on ignoring the potential emotional growth time available to me in solitude, and instead avoid the feelings once more. Like the grandson, I may be sitting down (free from alcohol and drugs on the outside) but I’m standing up on the inside by continuing to use other behaviors to numb my emotional pain.

So I made a decision to remove Netflix from my Smartphone. This keeps the mind-numbing habit further than a click away. I will be far less likely to turn on the actual television to watch a program.

Before I close today I want to make mention of this week’s lesson at Celebrate Recovery which was on Relapse. One of the most important things I learned to help prevent relapse is the process of taking a Heart Check during my daily inventory. The acrostic for the word HEART asks: Am I…






If in my daily inventory I see that I’m turning to anything other than God to deal with or resolve any of those areas of struggle, especially in time of solitude, I’m not walking in sobriety or freedom.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you will check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

Running on Empty

Those who have been a follower of Christ for any length of time understand the highs and lows of faith that come on our journey.

My husband and I have been in life transition for the last several months. During this time I have failed to take the needed time to keep filled up spiritually. 

Now I find myself running on empty… never a good thing.

It’s not that I don’t know what to do to repair the situation but I’ve got to want to be better first. I know it will come with some extended time of solitude with God.

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A Monk in the World :: SOLITUDE


In ancient times the early monastic father’s heeded the call of the Holy Spirit and withdrew themselves into the Egyptian desert to battle their inner and outer demons. This type of solitude is unfamiliar and possibly frightening to most of us.

Modern humans haven’t a clue what true solitude entails. We are so consumed by the external chatter that we can’t hear our own thoughts much less the Holy Spirit.

Not only are many of us spiritually unconscious and deaf to God’s voice, society has taught us to create a false image; a self that is built around a compulsive need for admiration. At its core lies a trembling fear of failure. 

Solitude is the furnace where the transformation of this false self takes place; where we are transformed by Jesus Christ. 

For me solitude usually includes a book or a magazine, my dogs,  maybe some music. But this is not the transformative solitude that we are learning about here. Only when we can completely remove ourselves from social and worldly influences can we find the true healing. 

Henri Nouwen says the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ.*

It’s up to us to create our own desert. We must set apart a time and place where we can tap into our inner hermit and find the healing presence of our Lord.

The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri Nouwen*

Image credit: travnikovstudio / 123RF Stock Photo