Friday night was the holiday party for the staff of the treatment center. I opted not to go, basic reason was I didn't feel comfortable going. I like my co-workers and all but I am still a bit of an outsider and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of sitting around making small talk. I know I should step outside of my box and be more open towards social events with people I don't know very well on a personal level but the uncomfortable feeling was strong, call it fear for that is what it really is. If this was an outdoors event I would be much more comfortable but being at someones house is very claustrophobic for me.
Since a majority of the staff were going to the party we borrowed a couple of Techs from the half way house we are affiliated with to work that night. My boss asked me to come and work also, he needed a medical tech and also someone the clients knew to be there. One of the 2 guys that worked was a guy I know from meetings but not really well, so it was a good time to get to know him, the other guy use to work for us, so he knew a lot of the basics which helped me out.
Friday nights are in general very easy. The group eats supper and then there is a short group called Community Problems. The first half of community problems has the clients picking phone times for the next day, they are allow three 15 minute phone calls on Saturday. Next we go over basic facility needs like cleaning supplies and tp and such. The last part is for voicing issues, clients can express issues they feel need looked at, like showing more respect or common courtesy. Next the techs address any issues we have with the group, this can also me a time to give the group kudos's for good behavior. All of this takes about 20 minutes, once this is over the group has free time until midnight which is bedtime. Piece of cake right?
This Friday it wasn't a piece of cake. Divine providence decided to give me a challenge. Some of the clients went to a 5:00pm AA meeting next door which is during supper time, the clients eat supper when they return shortly after 6pm. The clients that had kitchen chores for the day started cleaning the kitchen and preparing the leftovers had started, this was prior to the folks returning from the meeting, they were moving tables and mopping when the meeting goer's returned. For one of the goer's this was very upsetting, TK has mental health issues and felt pressure to eat, she came to me and expressed this in strong terms. I told her we would bring it up in community problems and she accepted this answer.
Something about this group of clients, they have a bad habit of side talking and not showing common courtesy and respect for each other. This was brought to their attention during therapy group on Thursday. They were told they need to call each other out for inappropriate behavior, that this was not tattle telling but addressing sick behaviors that can keep people from recovering.
Showing respect and having common courtesy has been a recurring issue with this group during community problems. One of the clients addressed it again Friday night and TK brought up the issue with cleaning the kitchen prior to the people returning from the meeting getting a chance to eat without feeling rushed. When it was time for me to talk, I address the same things and explained the importance's of them. While I was trying to talk, TK and a few others were quietly side talking, it was too low for me to hear since I was in the front of the room and they were in the back but MR did hear it and it was loud enough that she couldn't hear me clearly. MR did the right thing, she raised her hand, introduced herself, all clients are required to introduce themselves by first name and nature of disease prior to speaking. She called out the side talk like she was informed to do by staff. When she was done speaking TK said "fuck you", I told the group once again to please show each other respect.
Myself and the other 2 techs returned to our break area which is where we work out of since we don't have a workable office. MR came down a couple minutes later all stressed out and excited. She had tried to explain to TK why she did what she had done and TK replied " I don't give a fuck and if you don't like it you can go tell the fucking techs". MR says TK used the F bomb on her 5 times and she felt violated and threatened, that she does not like people talking to her in this manner and according to the client hand book does not have to be treated like this by her peers, which is correct. I let MR vent long enough to get this out of her system and then along with the guy I know from AA went down to talk to TK, MR followed which in hind sight was a mistake on my part. MR sat down on the opposite side of the room and I calmly asked TK what was going on and why she was so upset, she then gave me a profanity laced hostile response, MR then tried once again to explain herself which lead to the situation escalating. I raise my hands and told the ladies to please calm down and try and be nice to one another, which stopped the verbal battle.
I left my co-worker with the women and called my on-call counselor, which happened to be our director and the one hosting the staff party, freaking great. She gave me some advise on how to handle the situation basically saying to tell them to give each other room and try and tolerate each other for the rest of the night. TK in the mean time had got together with some peers and was belittling MR, I didn't hear much of what was said. I know TK well enough that talking to her any further would just make things worse, so the best course of action with her was no action unless she was dangerous to MR which I believe she wouldn't be. MR over heard the belittling which just amplified her frustration and anxiety. I explained to her what the counselor had told me, she didn't like the answer and wanted TK punished for her behavior. MR said she was going to file a grievance report over the whole situation, this was her right and I told her if that is what she felt she needed to do then please do so and the director and her personal counselor would review it Monday and discuss it with her.
TK eventually went in the kitchen and played cards with some of her peers. MR came to the break room and filled out the grievance report and talk to myself and another tech. I was filling out my own paperwork about the whole incident at this time and had MR explain once again what had happened so that I had the words correct plus it let MR know her grievance was being taken seriously. We told MR that she has no control over how other people behave, that includes how they except apologizes or explanations for our actions. how we understand how difficult it is to have to live with 16 other people and that sometimes personalities clash. MR said she wasn't in treatment to make friends and was here for herself, which we praised her for. Later in the evening I told MR that how sometimes our language, tone of voice, vocabulary and body posture can be seen as threatening to others even if we don't intend it so. MR used the word "violated" the second time she confronted TK, TK has a lower IQ so she may have been threaten by MR having a strong vocabulary and felt MR was talking down to her. I told MR that I have to be careful of my own vocabulary and phrasing around certain client because they don't understand the words and think I am being arrogant or looking down on them. I explained to MR that in recovery part of what we need to learn is how are words can effect others and the situation tonight was a good example of that. MR appeared to accept all the input she received from staff and she had a good rest of the night. I left TK alone for the rest of the night, when she took her bedtime meds I simply asked her how she was doing and left it at that.
There is a lot about TK that MR doesn't know but I didn't tell her because she would have taken this as me excusing TK's behavior and not used the knowledge to understand why TK re-acted the way she did. TK must have really been stressed out over the supper incident, plus something could have happened earlier which she was not handling well, MR's comment was probably the straw that broke the camel's back because I have never seen TK get this hostile before. Saturday MR did say to me that after talking to a female peer she did understand that TK has health issues. TK was still somewhat resentful towards MR but MR was doing her part to show TK consideration and tolerance. MR seems to have grown from the event, she is a smart woman from all appearances and is willing to take suggestions and input from people who can help her get clean and sober.
Now for Scott. I have followed the prescription of prayer and mediation prior to going work, incorporating the 3rd step prayer, prayer of St. Francis and a focus on the Eightfold Path of the Buddha. I believe that by doing this I was able to handle a potentially voilitile situation with calmness, the actions of these two could have effected the whole group for the evening and not just a few clients. I had no real time to think about a course of action when this initial event went down. My words and actions where automatic, they came from a place deep inside. A place were God resides, a place were living in recovery created a profound change in me. After the first way waves of the situation pasted I was able to use words and action based on concentrated thought which further assisted MR and even TK. I was also able to be available to other clients when they approached me, shifting gears so they knew I was there for them. I was placed in a difficult situation, I didn't have my experienced co-workers there to assist me. The clients didn't know the other 2 guys so they sought out the one tech they trusted and where comfortable with. Yes my God did for me what I couldn't have done for myself. I believe everything we need is locked within ourselves and it is times like this that the strength and knowledge is unlocked. I take pride in handling what happened Friday night but it is pride with a humble knowledge that I was assisted by a power greater than myself. The assistance came from a commitment to living in recovery, from practicing a spiritual way of life that includes the Dharma, the assistance also came from the people in recovery who have helped me along the way.
Friday night as crazy as it was, makes me grateful for choosing this new path in life. The path of service, the path of Right Livelihood which means we receive our needs by doing a job that serves all living creature, that we do a job about giving and not receiving. This may not be for you but it is the way I choose to live. It also reminds that there is no real me/self, that Scott is made up of many things and that there is a Divine inside us as well as one outside of us. Today I see this and I hope I will tomorrow as well.
I hope all is well with you all! Keep your hope alive my friends, have faith in whatever God that assist you in trying times, we never know when we will be challenged and have to be of service to others and to self.
Peace Love and Light
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