News from Seoul, Korea

Here is a moving testimony from Tsuneo (a Japanese brother living in Seoul, Korea). With great openness and transparency he tells us about the programme he followed with other alcoholics. With them, and with the help of his brothers, he wants to face up to this disability.

It is Spring, coming slowly, and it is also the time to give you some Good News about me.
First, I have stopped working as a sweeper in the city, and, with the kind help of my brothers, I have started to attend a programme in a clinic for alcoholics, organized by the Sisters of Caritas. It will last for 3 months, which seems a bit short.
Earlier, I had difficulties accepting my brothers' proposal, but as the programme goes on, I am coming to see myself more objectively, and I realise what I had become to my brothers due to my habitual drinking.

The programme offers various method: yoga meditation, spiritual counselling based on personal review of one's past, especially one's childhood, which is supposed to have formed, or somehow deformed, our character, and group sharing, the Enneagram, and even psycho-drama. All these demand a lot of work from us, and we are helped and encouraged to express sensitive matters in an intimate and frank atmosphere.

There are ten of us, and we are between 20 to 70 years old. At times, someone new joins and maybe someone disappears. Never mind - the programme goes on with the help of five staff members. Some of them are also alcoholics, with experiences similar to ours.

During the course, we are asked not only to look back on ourselves and become aware of what we are, but also to be reconciled with ourselves and become healthier ourselves. To say it simply, one tries to live today only, without alcohol. That makes us freer from our upbringing and from any of our own unbearable experiences.
My (our) treasure is our awareness of our own experience of complete helplessness, i.e. memory black-outs (often unconscious), violence, loneliness, isolation, etc. And, then what is my personal treasure? It is my total submission to my brothers, for their frank and severe observation of me, and what I have been on their shoulders for years. It may sound strange, but that is what I have kept in my heart as precious gifts from my brothers.
my Korean brothersmy Korean brothers
It has been demanding work, but I am so grateful to my brothers and also to the staff as well as the other members who attend the programme. And also we are invited to examine closely who we are, what we are doing or feeling here and now.

I will add the story of one woman (aged 45), who failed for the second time a few days ago. After her failure, she contacted the centre to tell them immediately of her drinking, which was rather important for her and the Caritas centre. The regulations say that with one's sincere confession one can perhaps be reaccepted after a first failure, but not after a second. Then the next morning, there was first a one-hour staff meeting about her case, since she had appealed to be accepted again on the programme. She begged also for our support because she was afraid that otherwise she would be totally lost without any way out. She knew from experience that alone she was helpless and powerless against alcohol. That is the same for all of us, at least for the near future. Then, there was a wider meeting with all of us, with the staff and of course, the Sister in charge. The woman was asked to tell what had happened, and then we were asked our opinion. We all were moved by her frankness, there were some bitter comments, sympathy and consolation.

On the other hand, I suppose, she could have simply attended our class without saying anything, which she did not do, because it was totally against her conscience. I cannot tell you much about our intimate and heartfelt sharing over her case on that day, but I know that you will see the scene well enough. The decision to give her another chance was taken by the staff. What matters most is her confession and appeal to be helped, even though she might fail twice, or a third time, nobody knows. At the end of the day there was a psycho-drama of her miserable state. She was asked to re-enact the event, and another person replaced her to play a reproduction of her actions, which were observed by herself and us. Such a powerful psycho-drama creates a strong impact not only in our heads, but in the whole body as if we had been shaken in the hand of our Creator. Finally she was accepted into our class as a new member to rise up again.

We are sober today and are pleased to enjoy our happier days and also we recite the prayer of AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) as below :
"God grant us the serenity
to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference."

Tsuneo, the sweeperTsuneo, the sweeperI invite you to pray for her, for us and for the many alcoholics and addicts. I do the same.