Monday, December 7, 2009

Coming in from the Cold

In a support group for co-occurring disorders, I listened to a client (clean this time for 14 days) articulate his reasons for being grateful that he has just moved into permanent clean and sober housing. Until this, he had been on the street for three years.

He said, It’s getting cold out now, and I’m tired.

It was such a simple statement.

Tears welled up in the corners of my eyes, because I realized his words are probably true for all of us, in one way or another. There may be a part of our lives—sometimes well hidden from others--where discomfort or discontent, confusion or pain, has nagged at us for so long that we could also say, It’s getting cold out now, and I’m tired. We may not all be trying to put down crack, but most of us are trying to put down something in our lives that we realize is causing us grief.

Where do we go with the unsettling realization that our version of reality is not doing us any favors, and that we need to make changes?

This client is making choices minute by minute to set aside a multi-year crack habit. He knows how many times he has tried to do this in the past. He knows how often he has relapsed. But his will to overcome his habit is now driven by a new set of emotions. He feels tired, and he feels he is living on the slippery boundary between the things he can control and the things he cannot. He is beginning to sense the wisdom that allows him to know the difference. This is where God lives in him. The scales are tipping in favor of his staying clean. His reasons to quit are coming from within.

The support this client gets at the mental health clinic has helped him reach the point of being able to respect and value his own mental health. Now he is moving into self-reliance as he realizes he can provide himself respite from being cold and tired, by staying clean and beginning to look for part-time employment, while continuing to take advantages of services at the clinic.

He may not succeed in these goals all at once. But he has cleared a significant hurdle in realizing that he feels his need to come inside and get warm by the light of the spirit. This is not a man attempting to follow someone else’s rules or suggestions: this is a man acting from felt need, who is starting to regain control of his own life.

I plan to talk to this client after the meeting this morning to see if he would like to make an appointment to explore these new strengths he is demonstrating.

Where do you see signs of newly emerging strength in your life?

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