Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The other day I was working with a client in Northern MN, and his family for the very first time was going to join us. He was nervous, (ok to share-leaving the names out for confidential- Addiction Services is very fortunate that some of our clients and families allow us to share their stories- many do not!) The family was anxious too. The parents were very skeptical of how their grown adult son was going to make some positive choices in his life. The family subsystem was doing everything they could to help their son. The family session was reaching a full two hours when, people started to unload. I decided to let some of the negative energy flow, and cautioned everyone in the room to be respectful but share their feelings. The father was angry, and upset. Mother more passive, but wanted to support her husband and it appeared try and be careful to what she was presenting to her son. Dad came back strong again with more past challenging behavior and words. The family has been through family therapy years ago and apparently went to some group support with their son. The son, was a bright, educated, older man who was very successful at his career. However, like most gamblers, (self included) there were many unmet needs that steered the gambling addiction cycle. The family had known for years that their son was a gambler. They did not know how many years of financial, and insidious destruction it can cause. The father continued that life was hopeless and he was backing out from emotional, and spiritual support. I started with this new client five months ago. The family stopped bailing him out when I started, part of our recovery plan. Then the conversation, (as expected got directly pointed at writer) this is where as a helper you really need to listen to the upset parent. Names and clearly anger words were unloaded at myself. Mom was trying to apologize to me as dad continued to get out all of his negative energy. All of a sudden, something happened that this writer was not expecting. The client stood up, and began to talk, but he could not find the words. Dad stopped yelling at writer, mom was in tears, and our client looked at everyone in the room, and slowly began to talk. If I remember correctly, he talked for about 20 minutes and was dating his behavior from 20 years ago. It was amazing to see his Mother recall each negative experience and his father listen, just listen, not one peep of feedback. I slowly sat down in my chair, and watched my client and his family communicate and listen at the same time. My client sat down, and his father came up to me. Now at this time, I really was not sure what was going to happen. My personal space was invaded. In the corner of my eye, I could see his wife wondering if she was going to make a mad dash to my chair. He got closer, I decided to stay in my chair, and just as reached his hand to me, I stood up. I went to shake his hand and he pulled me in closer. Dad was a minister, (human just like the rest of us) and he kind of just held me, did not say a word. My line of work can be filled with family destruction, and verbal attacks from all kinds of people. I am a firm believer that when people unload, it is meant for change, and my higher powers way of a person trying to let of go of their negative energy. Sometimes it can be healthy unloading other times it appears the unloading can be destructive. The point is that when a family and client can be honest with their feelings, healing begins to create a balance. Permission to speak one's mind can be a healthy outcome if the client can be honest with their self, where they are at this second. This particular client has not worked our program with all of his capability. The parents knew it, (they were paying the bill) the client deep down I think understood it. As I share this blog, I reflect and ponder why the client decided to let out all the negative at that time too, but he did, and granted his family permission to speak. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.