This was a letter I wrote for a recent Breakout Recovery reunion at Hope Mission:
Memory is an interesting thing – it twists and turns, layering itself over time with new understandings of the past, sometimes even attaching events with each other that perhaps weren’t really attached. So it is with this disclaimer that I write about my memory of the time that the Breakout Recovery Program began.
I came to Hope Mission in 2005 as Human Resources Manager and Teambuilder. My background was in counselling- specifically Narrative Therapy. Everything that I worked on came through this lens – clients were the experts on their own lives and their stories always needed to be heard over and over in order to catch the new memories and unique outcomes (or sparkling moments).
I observed the 3 month treatment program from afar. The current staff had their own ways and reasons for doing as they were doing. I was okay with that. Then the manager of the Herb Jamieson Center, went to a conference, returning with excitement for the new things he had seen. And I knew that we would be moving things in a new direction that would fit with my own understandings of healing, brain theory and change.
Along the way, I had the privilege and challenge of working to transition staff and differing personalities to facilitating a one year, live-in treatment program. It had many bumps and the team experienced many moments of grieving the losses while trying to grab on to the new ideas. Through it, I watched not only many successes from the clients but also growth for each of the team members, including myself.
One of the most ‘growing’ experiences for me was to lead, while mentoring staff, group therapy sessions. The men in this group were able to be amazingly vulnerable in sharing their journeys of pain and struggle. As I listened I was overwhelmed and sad, wanting to take each person and re-form their memories. Yet as I continued to ‘sit with’ the group, I watched a beautiful and amazing strength and resilience come out of each participant. These stories began to co-mingle together forming a bond of solidarity and strength that only community can bring. Today, I stand back and watch these men do amazing things as they care for those who are in similar situations to what they had been in. I learned about pain, I learned about healing, I learned about addiction and motivation, I learned about friendship.
For me, community is the key to healing. If anything is remembered through the years about the Breakout Recovery Program, I hope that is this: Take time to listen to each other; listen deeper than assumptions; listen with curiosity and see what rises out of the ashes of our brokenness and pain.