pointing it in

2745655_0Last year in college I still had no clue what I’m going to do with my life. Following an advice of the school counselor, I figured the smartest thing was to volunteer in a couple of places around the city and then see. I wanted to go change the world, you know. Ha.

I started working at a shelter for people who had no place to call their own. My experience was many people needed sobriety just as much as home. But to get better they needed to act accordingly to what the program of recovery was telling them. I worked with some of these people and the more it went, the more it seemed to me they were not ready, for any recovery or sobriety. It appeared they didn’t care to hear.

It took me years to realize they did hear. But besides the recovery message of care and support they also heard other stuff. They were homeless and thirsty. Every day was a day of coping and surviving. Not just surviving the street, looking over your shoulder, sleeping with one eye open, knowing your friends, knowing surroundings and places where to eat, shower, score whatever you need.

No. Surviving the day of projected blaming. Finger pointing. Many of them lived a lifetime of lecturing. I never pointed finger at them. Not on the outside. But I did it in my head. I guess they felt it. They listened to me and my coworkers, but they were not hearing because the life outside of them was not hearing them. Them and their inside story.

I worked with the people for eight years and those I could reach, some of their lives got better, because me and my colleagues heard them and showed it. We couldn’t change them against their will, but we showed them we heard. Being an addict makes you relate to another addict. We’ve brought empathy and relating to the table, instead of salvation. And we’ve brought some food too. Carrot cake, you know.

I think I’m still a judgmental asshole, like many others out there (see? right there!) but I keep reminding myself of that, so I try to keep my inside finger pointing to a minimum. Even if  I don’t think it is, or I don’t mean it, it is still there, just like in this image I found for this post. Pointing fingers doesn’t do anyone any good, unless you show somebody which road to take when they asked about. Now, that’s a helpful thing to do.


image was copied from https://www.teepublic.com/fr/art-mural/2745655-uncle-sam-hand-pointing-funny-patriotic-government and put on it’s head by me. thanks.

Miracles of Blame

blameIt is always someone else

There is always a stranger to pick on.

All is well in the pack

Until something out of the ordinary happens.

Sick babies used to be thrown off the cliff,

Crazies were banished off the land,

Or kept out of the village’s business.

 

These days it is not so different.

You are addicted to substance everybody knows is bad?

Your own fault, go and burn your mind ‘til there’s nothing left,

But don’t come close to my house.

You couldn’t handle life and tried to kill yourself?

It must be your weak nature, grow up already.

Crazies are still kept away, aren’t they?

Isolation and blame, however, never work well.

It only keeps the pain alive,

No one seems to think that this can happen to them as well.


the image was copied from https://www.gapminder.org/factfulness/blame/ thanks.

Yes, You Can Write

painFor me writing is like breathing air, just as vital. I started writing stories, poems, connected ideas in my early teens and never stopped.

Also, writing became as easy as breathing air, although I don’t think I took it for granted, because I was always dedicated and practiced writing endlessly. No, I haven’t mastered it, and I still haven’t written a bestseller, but words are laid out easier these days, and ideas come out clearer with less effort. So, if I am asked if I write well, I answer that it’s up to them to decide, but it goes well, and it goes effortless more often than not (I better not jinx myself here).

Having said that now, I must admit I’ve met quite a bit of people who said they cannot write. Cannot write for the life of them. I met the majority of these people in recovery program where I was the counselor and they were the clients, and the conversations were about writing down thoughts, frustrations, resentments, and keeping a diary. I pressed on the importance of letting out the negative, the overbearing and lasting sorrow, as well as desires, ambitions, unrealized plans, and hopes for the future. I suggested to submit all these to paper. I urged my clients to write and keep the positives, to jot down and save the negatives that are good to refer to and compare “then and now” experiences to witness the progress of recovery. I proposed putting down particularly nasty ideas that they’d want to say to others and after all was written down, destroy it so it would be out of mind, out of sight, and out of the room.

And they just wouldn’t do it. They said they would try. They wrote down relapse prevention plans OK, but they wouldn’t write down a diary or destructible material. Because they couldn’t write.

Which struck me as odd. Granted, some people don’t get enough schooling for whatever reason, and then whatever education they did get, they didn’t have a chance to practice it. But people who did get it, they wouldn’t give it a try either.

I carried that in my head for a while, as one of the usual wonders. And I still kept meeting people in recovery, at work or not, that said they couldn’t write like me, although they never read whatever I wrote, because I am really not that famous yet : ) To me, writing is just… what? You take a pen and start jotting stuff down. OK, these days most people type. No problem. You type, adding a word to a word, because you still have to get your resumes and shopping lists done, right? So, you can do that. You come up with an idea, and you just follow up with it, one thought clings to the other, and the tale of whatever you want to discover starts unfolding. It may take you half hour or three days, but something comes out on the paper, or on a digital document from under your fingers and there you go. How hard can that be, I mused, no matter what you write, an essay, a poem, a ten-sentence summary of your life?

And then I had a conversation with a person who had to confirm that all the people I talked to about writing were in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. And she pointed out that people who go through recovery are not there because their life was so great and she reminded me how much does that have to do with childhood and teen trauma. This person said that people who are enslaved by addictive and destructive behavior most likely were talked down to, get bullied, so often in the family when they were young. Statistics prove that. These people were told they (or sometimes they wrongly perceived the message) that they are worthless, dumb, and good for nothing. Many of them would have witnessed terrible and nasty things happened to their family and/or they were taken away from their families. They wouldn’t do good in school, in relationships, at work, etc. How often would they blame themselves to be the reason of what was happening to them? What kind of understanding of self could they get out of that? Whatever skills and talents they may have acquired through the years, they may have given up on them. And if they never were encouraged to seek and develop such skills, they would never come to see themselves as good at anything, including writing down a ten-sentence summary of their life.

I thought about that, how lucky I was to have a better life and being able to put my ideas on something where I can keep them and make sense of my world through doing so. Was I taking things for granted until now?

At least now I think I can understand people a little bit better. And yes, I will still encourage them to write.


the front image was copied from http://www.myniceprofile.com/emo-60059.html. thank you.