Week #3: Replacing One Addiction for Another?


“After decades of living on the edge, Heather King settled into sobriety, marriage, and a financially lucrative but unfulfilling career as an upwardly mobile lawyer.” Amazon calls her book, Redeemed, “An unforgettable, fervent, darkly funny tale of an ongoing, stumbling conversion.” Join us as we read, discuss, and share our thoughts about it in our Fall, 2016 Wisdom Seekers Book Club!

By Sister Mary Core, OSB

“We live in a society that glorifies autonomy. But autonomy doesn’t free us from bondage to ourselves and our desires – humility does.”

We began this week’s lively discussion with that quote (and we jumped around from chapter to chapter a lot).

Many agreed that King doesn’t seem all that humble, especially when you consider her apology to Eric. Although the apology itself seemed to produce a “letting-go” that King needed, it was couched in many negatives.

Many also thought King was not necessarily likable. While some actively disliked her, though, others felt sorry for her. Her addiction to alcohol was behind many of her struggles.

Indeed, our willingness to suffer with and for others is what we are called to do … whether their suffering is caused by addiction or something else.

King writes, “What I didn’t realize was that writing would create me.” Substituting the word “creating” for “writing,” this assertion could describe any creative process. Many agreed that such self-expression is an act of creation … and as co-creators we are called to create.

All along, King’s addiction underscores the text. A couple people noted that it’s hard to understand what any addict is like unless you’ve had experience yourself, or lived with one. Addictions from food to shopping and hoarding to drugs cause torment for both the addicted and their loved ones.

We do get some insight into this in this book, learning that addiction is about the substance, yes, but also about emptiness, and searching.

Addiction is a form of suffering, and suffering is part of life. There’s no way around it.

Finally, we asked the question that lurks on every page: Is King replacing her addiction to alcohol with an addiction to the expression of her new-found Catholic faith?

On Wed. Oct. 5, we’ll discuss Chapters 6-9.

Questions to Consider for Wed. Oct. 5:

King is cynical. Her humor is dark. She switched her alcohol/drugs/sex addiction to hoarding/poverty/money. What do you think of all of this?

How does her father’s death contribute to your overall understanding of King’s purpose to this point?

King reports growing dissatisfaction with where she’s living. She doesn’t like her apartment or the neighborhood. Everything is wrong. She begins to wonder if the dissatisfaction is within herself. What are the dissatisfactions in your life? Onto what do you project your own dissatisfactions?

Chapter 9 is about her relationship with her youngest sister. King is bothered that they are at odds with each other, but seems to be blaming Meddy for all of it. King talks with a priest about it, expecting him to side with her. When he doesn’t, she begins to realize she might have a small role in the trouble. What do you make of this?

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