image credit… john baldessari
How does it feel To treat me like you do When you’ve laid laid your hands upon me And told me who you are I thought I was mistaken I thought I heard your words Tell me how do I feel Tell me now how do I feel Those who came before me Lived through their vocations From the past until completion They will turn away no more And I still find it so hard To say what I need to say But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me Just how I should feel today I see a ship in the harbor I can and shall obey But if it wasn’t for your misfortunes I’d be a heavenly person today And I thought I was mistaken And I thought I heard you speak Tell me how do I feel Tell me now how should I feel
my understanding is that there has not been client involvement like this at our establishment in a very long time. my impression is that it has been a welcome change. there was a lot more healthy and positive verbal exchange in our hallways and waiting rooms than i can recall in the few years i have been around.
substance treatment has long had a very deep stigmatized and punitive edge to it. it usually comes about when a person has demonstrated the inability to modify their behaviors on their own volition. shame and disappointment are the very first of many self-criticisms that pull up their moving trucks and unpack their bags. and just like cockroaches or other vermin, there are many friends and family members that soon show up to add to the humiliation and defeat upon the foundation laid.
traditionally, our workplace has reflected this punitive aspect. probationers, street-walkers, sex workers, addicts turned thieves, traumatized persons trapped in numbness make up a good portion of our daily participants. at least that is how they appear when they first enter our doors. it is our task to help the remember that they are and can still be much more than a few pigeon-holed labels.
in a rather “medical model” tradition we have treated them with something and sent them on their way, expecting that they will find the other components necessary to remember their higher purpose outside our purview. our workplace has carried on with this belief for a very long time.
but with new leadership, along with healthcare reform, substance abuse and mental health parity, and a burgeoning national grass roots social movement, our society and medical community is learning and incorporating the idea of recovery (and more universally- change) requires more than just treatment. it involves support along a few fronts- ergo recovery support services. and my workplace is following suit.
the inclusion of clients in our current satisfaction survey hopefully represents a much larger philosophical shift within our walls. out of necessity (and some honest desire) we are looking to stronger outcomes, healthier practices, and more trauma-informed care. we have not become experts at recovery, only well informed about treatment. our schooling has not ended.
this week has ushered in another possibility which involves my daily work focus and activities. a very poignant piece of my story resides here- last summer, as i initiated the peer based recovery support services concept, i fantasized about the amazing possibility of implementing such a facet to a large public hospital clinic setting. then life continued to seesaw as is it’s custom, and i let go of that fantasy. but here i am sitting in my chair, contemplating a misplaced idea, and feeling hesitant to embrace excitement.
i only hope i can learn to let go of fear someday..
i felt silly on this friday evening and thought it appropriate to post my favorite cover version of this anthem of my eighties.
but for you hardcore traditionalists, here is a remix of the undeniable classic from new order but a 90’s release on a cd appropriately titled “substance abuse” remixed by dmc.
“let’s have some fun- shall we?”