“Did I hear you right?” I asked a group member, after he quoted a client who’d long been known for his issues with anger and poor communication.
“Yes,” the group member responded. “What he said made sense. I was facing the same issue today and that’s how I dealt with it.”
The circle had fallen silent for a moment because they had the same epiphany: a recognition that this group member had worked on his issues enough that others were paying attention to his insights.
For more than five years - through four stays at TLC - this client has been known as a chronic relapser. He was a man who’d lived for years along the river banks and in public parks around our city. He’d always been closed up, angry, and defensive.
However, during his past two stays at TLC he began listening. He started attending outside counseling and anger management classes. He found a sponsor and began sharing at 12-step meetings.
While I’ve had a “wait and see” attitude with this client, it was heartening to hear him talk about his small breakthroughs, his recognition that he was the problem, that he had no power over other people or situations. It was gratifying when he spoke of reuniting with a family member after ten years.
Working with alcoholics and addicts is often heartbreaking. But it’s worth it when we can see a client begin to have success in learning how to live differently.