michael picucci



OCCUPATION: Addictions Therapist, Presenter, Researcher and Author

"We live in a world of untold suffering that is being perpetuated by, I believe, a fundamental evolutionary though cultural deficiency. This schism between sexuality and spirituality (love) is the root of addiction, war and emotional suffering."

"Healing is to enter, with understanding and compassion, that which we have withdrawn from in fear, anger or judgment." STEPHEN LEVINE

Complete Recovery: An Expanded Model of Community Healing, 1996
The Journey Toward Complete Recovery: Reclaiming Your Emotional, Spiritual & Sexual Wholeness, 1998

Ritual As Resource: Energy for Vibrant Living, 2005

EMAIL: Michael@theinstitute.org





Defining the Experience
I don’t think the word healing came to me until I was doing research in the mid-80’s from Stephen Levine in reading one of his books on death and dying . . . So, once I started to find it, then it was a word that I could relate to. His definition of healing was to “revisit with awareness and compassion that which we have withdrawn from in anger, fear, or judgment." . . .
From that point on, healing was a word in my vocabulary that I used, and felt like I experienced and understood. Then I could look back and see the experiences I’d had as healing experiences. Prior to that they were just what happened at the time, that were like, “oh, wow!”

Issues of Grief and Guilt
Grief was one of the first issues I faced. I was married when I was 19 and my wife died of cancer when I was 21. The only time I was sober was when I dated her and was married to her. When she died, the way I dealt with the grief and confusion and all the feelings from that, was that I went back to using alcohol and drugs. Without even realizing what I was doing, that’s what I did.
So, one of the first things that came up for me in that healing process . . . was the grief from that, which allowed me to begin getting closer to people at intimate levels that I wasn’t even aware that I wasn’t able to do . . .

Emotional Turmoil
The second issue I was faced with was coming out again. I mean really wrestling with feeling terrible about being gay . . . And, there was no support for that from my gay friends . . . It was really a year of tumult, just wrestling with who am I sexually, and how do I feel about it? And this was after getting a jolt of feeling good about being gay from the Advocate Experience and everything. Then, all of a sudden, this backlash of bad feelings came up, I guess from years of my own internalized homophobia that was in me somewhere.

Seeking Honesty
I’d been a policeman back in my early 20’s for six years. Being gay and using a lot of drugs is what stopped me from being a policeman. I had thirteen commendations for outstanding police work, and I was just about to be made detective, and it was crawling in on me. I was almost 27 years old, and I was living with a man. Back then, the only other two gay cops I knew of both committed suicide, with their own guns. It was not a place to be gay.

Creating a Personal Framework
Now, looking back, I have some grasp on healing processes and structures, but back then, I had no clue what was the next step. I found therapy very unfulfilling in that regard, because I had no idea where we were going and what the purpose was. I was in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and I had a good therapist . . .but there was no understanding. I was very frustrated by the fact that I didn’t know where I was going and I had no framework.

A Releasing Voice
The guide, or the resource I used, was my own intuition. It was a voice inside of me. There was all the wrestling from the voices, feelings, and energies I had gotten from the world over the years about what being sexually different meant. And, after a year of allowing those to surface and acknowledging that I had them, not knowing what to do with them, finally, a voice inside of me gave me the answer. “Hey, who do you look at, boy?” Almost like, “Let’s get real!” With that came just a total release and acceptance.
Before the acceptance there was tumult, despair. Coming into my sexual wholeness brought joy, absolutely . . .
Eventually, little by little, I read as much as I could, but I still found it difficult. So, for years I’ve been creating my own framework and my own understanding to be able to share with other people. This is why I write, and why I do the things I do now . . .

Being Whole Without Shame
From the Advocate Experience, and the little rough spot I had after it, I really came to terms with some of the deeper negative feelings I had in myself about being gay. As they surfaced and I came out of that, and made this little litmus test for myself, spirituality came from a part of me that I’ve really come to trust, an inner voice.
From that point on, I no longer felt ashamed of being sexually different. What has followed from that is taking shame off of sexuality in all its dimensions. Not that I’m quite done with that, I’m sure there may be more, because I keep growing and finding all kinds of hidden valleys and tunnels in myself. But, the more I can take shame off a pleasurable desire, or a sexual experience, the more whole I feel . . .

Serious Illness
In 1983 I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a very serious, very aggressive fast-growing lymphoma . . .That began a two-year period of being seriously ill . . .

Depression and Pain
The most severe experience of extreme loneliness was after my cancer treatment, and also after a near-death experience that was part of my cancer treatment. I dropped into such an immobilizing depression. It was the blackest hole I had ever seen and it lasted for close to a year. What I put my partner through for that year was really terrible. I was in such pain. I was like a little old man. I prayed that some day I would have the strength to do the laundry. That was the prayer--that I could just be normal enough to do the laundry . . .

Inability to Pray
During the darkest times of this depression, I couldn’t pray. The voice that would go on in my head said, “Well, if you can’t pray, there is no way out of this.” I just couldn’t do it. I was too debilitated to even pray. From the minute I woke up in the morning I couldn’t wait until nighttime when I could take the sleeping pills so I could go to sleep again. To live through the day was torture. I had to be rushed to the psychiatric emergency . . . As I came out of that, and as the cancer appeared to be in remission, and I started going back to school, I had a really deep connection to that little story of Footprints in the Sand. That was a time that I didn’t believe there was a God. When I couldn’t pray, it felt like there was no God. Then, when I came out of it and my cancer went into remission, I truly felt carried . . .

Hidden realities
I began to believe in, what I now call, invisible, or unseen, realities. To me, all of spirituality in some mysterious ways, is hidden in these invisible realities, which are senior to physical realities for me now. Before they were these strange little phenomena, but now I trust them more. They are more important to me that the physical realities are.

A Time of Challenge
There have been so many difficult and challenging times. Probably five, six years ago now, I had the heart attack and triple bypass surgery . . .On some levels I was in despair, having been through as much as I’ve been through with illness over the years, and holding other people’s hand through illness and death. I wasn’t afraid. When it looked life threatening, I can remember coming to terms with myself, and realizing there was only one little piece of my life that I would feel undone with if I went. It wasn’t that significant, so I was okay with it. But the recovery was slow and painful, and put my partner through great discomfort, which I had to watch.

A Lonely Process
Recovery from any serious illness or loss is a very lonely process. No matter how resourced we are. It can be great to have good friends, or good therapists, all that helps by all means, but it’s still a lonely process. Yet, it’s like creativity . . .
I’m glad that I don’t live in a linear world anymore, that I can accept the contradictions and live with them . . .Whatever my life choices are, whatever is crystallizing inside of me, and whatever my inner struggles, I’m sure would be much worse if I didn’t have such good friends. I’m blessed that I do. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our very lonely moments.
I learned from a Catholic priest author, Eugene Kennedy, a new understanding of loneliness. He defined loneliness as a continuum in the human condition -— that there is no way to not be lonely. We are lonely to the extent that we can’t share our inner processes with another human being.

Accepting Loneliness
The reality is that most of us, on some level, have something going on that isn’t even crystallized enough to share, or that we are not prepared to share. So, loneliness is just part of the human condition. I’ve come to accept it as such. It’s okay. That doesn’t mean it feels good, but it makes sense to me because it’s my experience that what he says is correct. I’m as lonely as the amount of things that I can’t share with another human being. Particularly if I feel shameful for them and can’t share them for that reason, that just makes the loneliness worse, and erodes my self esteem at the same time. Fortunately, there isn’t much of that in my life.
It’s a daily practice of remembering that what is, IS, and it’s okay. It has become easier and easier, but a daily practice, is still practice. We live in a culture that is so opposite than the real issues of life, and you can’t help feeling the energy of the culture and getting caught up in it . . .

Living the Question
I saw on the Healing Bridge material, the Rilke quote about living the question. That’s what I’m doing, I’m living the question with it. What is it all about? . . . The truth is, at the moment I don’t really know, and that’s okay. I’m just going to keep living the question for now . . . I have visions of where I’d like it to go to help me move in that direction, so I stay true to them, but I’m willing to shift to where ever the universe shifts them and me . . .

I would define true healing as an inner feeling of openness. My experience of healing is that it’s always accompanied by an inner experience of feeling a little more whole, of feeling a little more open to connection, to the universe, to the trees, to people. In it’s simplicity, that’s the best I could say, that whenever healing happens, so does openness.





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