The Fatima Morgana Effect

by Jean-Paul Thorne, Educational Director

It’s a type of mirage. I’m sure you were wondering. It’s a special type of mirage seen over oceans far, far in the distance, on the horizon.  It creates the illusion of a city on the clouds, hazy and far-away. It’s not real.  It’s just a play of light dancing off the curvature of the earth. It’s called a Fatima Morgana. It derives from the Italian name for Morgan Le Fay, the Arthurian sorceress (in case you were wondering that, as well).

My addiction is far behind me. For that I am thankful.  In fact, after all these years, it actually surprises me when I do think about drugs and alcohol. It’s so rare, so far in between.  A full-on memory, or an urge to use, is very uncommon these days, and with nowhere near the power and effect that used to cause me to cringe or shudder. At most, a faded thought or a fleeting emotion, which passes, sometimes before it’s even fully realized. For this I am thankful, also. There was a time, in the beginning of my recovery, when I wondered if that was even possible. And I talk to many in the beginning stages of recovery who believe they’ll never get over what, to them, seem overwhelming and permanently inescapable thoughts of using and feeling the need to use. These impulses fade, with the right support and focus, over time. I know this to be true because it has happened for me and countless others.There were some things I had to do to make this happen. First, and most importantly, was get away from it!

I had to remove myself from the elements that were feeding these urges. What this means, to be clear here, is get into a program; a residential one, especially if you’ve gotten as deep into addiction as I did.  Then I had to be willing; willing to change my thinking and let others, who were living successfully, support and help me in doing so.  To sum it up:  one way or another — get help.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

It took time, but my thinking began to change, my hopes began to be restored, good feelings and a vigor for life steadily came alive in me.  It can for you, too. Today, drugs and a desire to use them is a faded reminiscence. I’m glad they are at the farthest edges of my thoughts, just close enough to wisely remind me that I never want to go back there, but far enough away that the fullness of life in Christ, my relationships, and joyous living take up greater space and are in close proximity to the center of my thinking. It can happen for you, too.

The illusion that substances and the urge to use have an inescapable grasp on you are just that…an illusion; a Fatima Morgana, as it were.  Escape…and freedom… and resortation… and HOPE are possible, very much so. Recovery takes you on a journey to a horizon where the land is very real, and with very real joys.

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