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In my work with clients/patients I sometimes use the written word to help process what they are feeling and what I am feeling about working with them.  I worked for years at a residential drug/alcohol rehab center and wrote a short poem about one experience.

1. We walk together
toe to heal
In the way we came here

Youngest to oldest – Male to female –
Opiate to alcohol – Forceps to stone

2. We all
Everyone of us
walk for a reason

3. Up the hill
we reach the top

4. around the pond and into the trees
A shelter – A holding
in the environment

5. Close your eyes
Notice your breath – As you inhale – as you exhale
Feel the wind – notice the smells – the scent of the earth

The sunlight and shadows sway back and forth to the rhythm of the branches moving in the wind

6. Don’t be afraid – shiver- cry out – weep – scream
We are all killers inside
We are all healers inside
Our blood runs through the veins of our ancestors
And is here to stay – an echo of times now gone

A dream of times yet to come


1. Today I took my clients outside to the park. We walked in a pecking order; the client with the most time were in front followed by the others in order of time, drug of choice, sex, finally by age. It was a metaphor for their life journey, of their choices and circumstances thrust on them from birth.

2. In the clients (and us all) our journey is a reflection of who and where we came from. Our personality and our history. Our wants and needs. Our understanding of these things. In this residential rehab clients have come because of an intersection of factors, both internal and external.

3. The walk with the clients took us up a sharp and steep hill, the last little leg of our walk before we reached the park and the pond. The walk of addiction is a mighty hard row to hoe in the discovery of the self

4. The clients were very happy to see the pond and dogs and people, and we headed for the trees to find some sanctuary. This little stand of trees I felt would be a good holding environment to do a movement meditation in a public space.

5. I led the group through a meditation in the environment, giving them a chance to be calm/passive and feel nature, with its enormous power. Like that higher power that 12 step teaches. Also nature has a rhythm that we, as earthlings cannot escape, it is deep inside us, with us since the womb.

6. In the mediation I encouraged the group to go to where it was safe and to go a little beyond safety, to a new place. Being different (clean/sober) in a setting (park) that is familiar is challenging. They will face that challenge when they leave the rehab. As addicts they must accept their dark side, and they must recognize their light side. This killer and healer is the story of being human, told by all cultures since we first lit a fire and huddled together. It is this story telling that teaches us to remember the mistakes so we know what to do if we make them and know how to avoid them.