Punishment or Provision –
This morning, at a County Jail Resource Council Meeting, the group was discussing the different programs and services offered to the residents of the facility. It was stated that we want to do more than incarcerate men and women, we want to rehabilitate them so they can gain the skills and talents to give them the best opportunity to get out and stay out.
One of the programs is an art program. The residents come together and work on a project. A person who works at the jail said the first time he heard the announcement; “…report to the art room,” he thought he was in a school, not a jail. This and other programs offered at the facility have not been without their detractors. “Jail’s for punishing! It’s not for the inmates to have fun, be comfortable, doted on by the staff!”
What most of the naysayers don’t understand is if these folks don’t learn good, responsible lessons from the teachers and mentors at the jail they will learn not so good stuff from each other. I’ve seen the cells, the pods, the lockdown rooms. Trust me they’re far from comfortable. As far our treatment of them, some have never known what it is to be loved, cared for, respected. To understand they are of value is the greatest lesson we teach. If they can grasp the truth that they are of great worth, the rest is easy.
Serving Tea –
I had heard the story many times before. As he started talking I already knew how it ended. He’s an addict. He’s been one for almost as long as he can remember and will be one until he dies. The victory of an addict is not to stop being one but learning how to live life clean as one. He wasn’t living free, some of his old acquaintances had become recent friends.
The big three ways an addict stays away from relapse is a clean (drug, alcohol-free) place to live, a permanent job, and supportive friends. None of them are simple to attain and maintain but in my experience with addicts, the one which is the hardest to do is stay around supportive people. The reason this is so difficult for the addict is that oftentimes their addiction has hurt or destroyed the healthy relationships with family and friends which leave them with other addicts and pushers to be around when they are released from jail or a rehab center. It’s also hard to make new or mend relationships when at first you’re only sober moment to moment, hour by hour.
Wisdom tells us that we cannot stop negative people, negative thoughts coming into our lives and minds. However, we don’t have to stay or take up residence. We can choose to make our lives a priority, take care of ourselves so we can one day take care of others.
“You cannot stop negative thoughts from coming in the door of you mind, but you do not have to serve them tea.” #ZenProverb
Take Care –
Yesterday, during my second lecture at a Rehabilitation Center, a young man challenged me about the ideas and skills I was teaching about getting and staying clean of alcohol and drugs. It started as fidgeting in his seat and then he couldn’t keep his thoughts quiet! He mumbled something out loud and I heard but didn’t understand. I looked at him and asked him what he said. I was interested in a dialogue but he was only interested in telling me how wrong I was about addicts and the ongoing journey to sobriety.
I was careful not to feel attacked nor make him feel on the defensive as I tried to help him understand why what I was saying was true. Others in the group started speaking up and telling the young man he needed to listen. I thanked the others for their support but asked them to let me speak to him so he wouldn’t feel the group of forty or so guys was against him. Unfortunately, the young man was done speaking and listening. My last words to him were; “I’d really like to talk to you about this after we’re done with the lecture.” He put his head down and when we were done he rushed out of the room. I looked for him as I was leaving but couldn’t find him.
This was the young man’s first time in a Rehab Center. He was struggling with admitting he was an addict, putting his past behind him, coming to grips with the truth that addiction is a life long battle. His thoughts, I am sure, swirled between surrender and control, acceptance and resistance, freedom and slavery.
People who have lived with addiction will tell you that the temptation to use begins in the mind, subtle thoughts start gnawing at you and soon, if they are not checked, you are neck-deep in things you said you’d never do again.
Wisdom teaches us that our thoughts and our words are to be guarded zealously for from them springs our destiny.