After 24+ years of working with addicts I've developed patience.
I try to give everyone an opportunity. Just show me something says the voice in my head. Give me an inkling that you might possibly - maybe - perhaps - want to change. Shed a tear. Just a hint of humility. A little scrap of willingness so we don't have to put you on the streets.
Sometimes I ask myself why I'm not tougher. Why I can't act like the boss and send unwilling clients on their way.
But, unless they're a threat to the safety of others - or else bring drugs into the program - my first choice is not to throw them out.
And I think one of the reasons is that way back in the last century a few people showed me a lot of patience. Compassion. Kindness. Love.
And as a teenager and a twenty-something I was a lot like many of our clients today. I was angry, full of suppressed rage. Confused. Thought the world was out to get me. I sometimes hated everyone. No one understood me. I felt sorry for myself.
But I remember some of the kind people who tried to help. My family. Therapists in the State Hospital. Teachers. Parole Officers. School counselors. They reached out and told me what would happen if I didn't change. But I was too angry - and much later realized that most of them were right. And a lot of them hung with me as long as I let them.
So today, I recall the kind people who tried to lift me up in spite of myself. A lot of people spent hours showing me compassion and kept coming back.
Today I try to pass that on when dealing with a difficult client.
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