As a clinician and recovery coach, one of the greatest inspirations I draw from is the resilience embodied by those I serve.
Despite unimaginable suffering, folks carry on, overcome, and eventually flourish. I never cease to be amazed. Supporting addiction recovery requires baring witness to suffering, past and present. I have never become desensitized to suffering, but many things have simply lost all shock value.
I no longer stare in disbelief when a mother I know loses a child.
As a parent, I have empathy. As a person, I want to ease their suffering. As a therapist, sometimes the very best I can do is sit and cry with those who have experienced unimaginable loss.
What I have seen more and more of lately are families who have faced unimaginable loss, only to experience further losses. In our grief we ask rhetorically, “When does it end?”
There is a long list of memories – sounds and statements made before me that never leave me. I process them with colleagues to ensure my well-being, but they are unforgettable. I imagine them as tattooed upon my brain. Highest among these is the sound made years ago by a mother upon learning that she had lost a second child to an overdose death.
There are sounds no human being should ever have to make.
We are collectively overwhelmed by addiction. It is so multifaceted and insidious that most of us don’t even know where to start in combatting it. Yet, until we view it as a community responsibility to take action, we will continue to bury our children.
If you have time, talents, money, or simply a desire to understand, seek out leaders – real leaders in your community who are helping others become free of this terrible disease.
NO ONE knows more about addiction than those with long-term recovery from it and it’s high time that those in power learn from my brothers and sisters who are “hope dealers.”
Go to the Bangor Area Recovery Network or your local grassroots community center. Offer what you can. Get educated. Fight against stigma. Help people not die.
Its that simple. The problems may be complex but the solutions are simple. Show up. Give of yourself. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do – just connect with those of us who are in the trenches trying to ensure that the disease doesn’t keep taking away our loved ones.