Today was an interesting day. Interesting is not the right word to use, but I can't think of an adequate word that expresses the emotions and experience.
I met with many of my clients today who were in for their regular report day. When something happens to another client - really good or really bad - it seems to spread like wild fire through their community.
The clients themselves expressed sadness and confusion over the death of their peer. They shared stories - some were heart warming and some were just reminders of the stark reality of drug addiction. My one client said to me "You know, the first time I got high on heroin I bought it off of -----"
We processed this a bit and then moved on to other topics. This client recently returned from a residential drug treatment program and is living in a halfway house. He has a 6 month old daughter and is lucky enough that this halfway house - which we work closely with - is extremely supportive of family. So while this guy's significant other works in the evenings, my client gets to have his daughter at the house. He laid down on the couch and apparently fell asleep last night with his daughter curled up on him. Another resident in the house took a picture which he showed me. This client is like 6'5". So the sight of him crammed into this smallish couch, sound asleep, with this tiny baby curled up on him - I couldn't help but smile.
I thought about the divergent lives of these 2 heroin addicts - who had crossed paths many times as addicts and from dealer to customer. One tragically dead before his time and the other sleeping on a couch with his first born child curled up on him.
I know that I can't take ownership of my clients' successes and failures. In fact, when I started this program from scratch in this area, I had the shop we get their graduation plaques from put this quote on each plaque:
"A new beginning may give you the seeds, but you have to plant them..."
And that's my job - to give them seeds. But despite some people's apparent belief that I am self centered for feeling some measure of failure when they fall and some measure of pride when they succeed, I am not a robot. These clients become entwined in my life - it is the path that I have chosen, for better or for worse.
And despite times of indescribable heartache. I wouldn't - couldn't - change it. Not for anything.