You’re supposed to wait until bedtime! Spit it out.
He did, but it was not all in one piece.
The therapy group would meet downstairs.
But first we stood out in the grass
To discuss our plan.
I looked down at our feet.
Water covered our work shoes.
No one else seemed concerned,
So I didn’t mention it.
The plan was to continue.
I slept late this morning which lends it self to remembering dreams. I have no idea who I was with in scene 1. In scene 2, I was with the addiction/mental health counselors who I used to work with. In reality, expanding expectations of computer work became overwhelming and distracted from personal connection. The frequent feeling that I was drowning in paperwork greatly influenced my decision to retire. 30 years was enough. (I love to swim, but do get tired after awhile.)
Others did care, but for various reasons, continued slogging through. One died early.
The dream could apply in general to being in a stressful relationship, or on a bigger scale, to climate change.
Tuesday was my last full day at the job I worked for 30 years. In January, I’ll go back for a few hours to wrap up some paperwork and get the rest of my stuff, and there will be a “retirement” party. But these things will be on my terms and at my convenience.
My husband told me he was proud of me for retiring on my terms. But it was because of him that I was able to do it that way, cutting my hours back gradually, building my courage for the leap of faith, trusting that I would be taken care of. My husband, not wanting to contribute to the commercialization of Christmas, doesn’t like to buy presents from a store, but he loves to make things from wood like candle holders and Christmas ornaments like the balloon above. I tend to agree with him. He’s giving me the best gift of all the Christmas – the gift of retirement.
It was hard to say goodbye to my clients. But it was the right decision for me. Now, I get giggly inside, like a kid at Christmas, as I realize I don’t have to go back to the bureaucracy, to the demands to do more in less time – or bringing work home, or to the witnessing of the wreckage of addiction.
I am forever grateful to have witnessed the triumphs over addiction and for the privilege to be able to help a little. I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned. But I believe I’ve paid my dues. Now, it’s my turn to follow my heart back to its creative home. I’ll probably do a stress management group somewhere, maybe a group with a creative twist! But it will be on my terms.
I will remember all those late nights I drove home exhausted, my hands aching from the keyboard, wondering if I would ever get caught up on the paperwork, wondering if I could make it another 10 years until social security and medicare kicked in, wondering if those benefits would even be there for me in 10 years.
I will remember praying to God for deliverance, telling myself, God has a plan.
Little did I know how marvelous that plan would be. God was watching me, loving me, encouraging me, and doing the same for my soulmate 700 miles away. God waited for the perfect time, when my soulmate and I were ready to journey together. (And in case you didn’t know, I’m writing a book about that.)
Ten years ago, I asked God to take away the desire for a partner, or to send someone who is a good fit.
Today, I thank God for the gift of my husband who is a good fit. And I thank my husband for the gift of freedom to be me. On my terms. And on God’s terms.
I was planning to write my mid-week post about the synchronicity of my first writer’s conference coming the week before my leap of faith into semi-retirement and how that reinforces my goal to spend more time in creative work.
But then I read this NPR article about the hope and controversy of medication assisted treatment for opiate addiction, and I decided to share my experience on this topic. After working as a substance abuse counselor for roughly 30 years, about 20 of those years working with clients on Methadone or Suboxone, I’ve learned a few things.
The most important thing I want to pass on about Methadone and medication assisted treatment, is that the medication is only one piece of the recovery pie. I’ve seen clients who did not change their lifestyles and thinking, did not learn new coping skills, and were not successful on the program.
I’ve also seen clients who followed recommendations and worked hard on their recovery, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. For those people, the medication combined with counseling and lifestyle changes, has worked amazingly well, and often better than other treatment modalities they had tried. These are the clients who have kept me working in the field for thirty years, along with the ones who I didn’t think were going to make it, but they surprised me and turned things around. God gets a lot of the credit, too. I couldn’t have hung in there this long without my H.P.
Now, it’s time for me to step back. Because I’m tired. Not so much tired of working with people who suffer from addiction. I can understand and accept that some people are not going to do the work, and that hurting people hurt people, including themselves. That’s part of the misery of addiction. It’s the @#*!… paperwork that I can’t keep up with anymore if I want to have a healthy life. I’ve watched the amount of paperwork (now it’s computer work, but we still have to print a lot of it out and put it in a chart) grow and grow year after year. There have been times when I’ve felt emotionally buried by the paperwork.
I believe I’ve done my share. But I still don’t want to let go completely. Next week, I go to the writer’s conference, and the week after that, I’m cutting back to just one day a week at the job that paid my bills for 30 years. The other days will be for me – for writing, art, my home and my relationships. I think I’ve earned this time. I’m so grateful to have this chance, thanks to my partner who you can read about on my about page.
I’ve been a substance abuse counselor for about thirty years now. I’m not so much tired of helping people fight addiction, as I am the bureaucracy and the paperwork layered deeper and deeper every time I catch my breath, even if it is more electronic than paper…..
There are people who I have felt privileged to work with. It has been an honor to witness growth and small victories that sometimes turn into large victories. But there are those who don’t make it, those who don’t get that you need more to grab hold of than a slender thread, to save you from being sucked down into the cunning, baffling, and powerful jaws of misery.
Sometimes I wonder how much longer I can keep doing this.
And then today I got a phone call from someone who thanked me for being her counselor. And today, another client gave me a small but meaningful gift of appreciation. And today my group paid attention, and learned new skills, and supported each other.
And today, leaving work, for the first time in my life, I saw a double rainbow.
Is it possible that was for me? Would it be narcissistic to think that?
Several years ago, I was a single parent going through an awful situation with my teenage daughter. I didn’t want to go to work, but I had to. When I got there, a vivid rainbow arched over the building where I work. I knew it was a sign that things would be okay.
I’m happy to share the rainbows with anyone who needed them today. One thing I’m sure of is that we are not alone.
I believe I can keep doing this a while longer, with gratitude.
(I left my phone at home and wasn’t able to capture the double rainbow, so I used one from Wikimedia taken by someone at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.)