“Well yeah man, that’s the nature of marriage. Don’t take it personally. She can’t hear it from you. In fact, she can only hear it from other people.”
That marital advice did not come from a sage, a guru, or my sponsor. I didn’t pay Tony Robbins a king’s ransom to have him publicly undress me and somehow, miraculously, save me from ruining my marriage. Nope, that advice came from an Uber Driver.
I’d spent the better part of six weeks trying to convince wifey of something – for the purpose of this article let’s call it A+B=C. But after many years of walking hand-in-hand with my wife, she can’t hear certain things from me. As such, I can’t hear certain things from her. “That’s the nature of marriage. The unspoken guidelines. That’s the nature of human beings”, Mr. Uber Driver, Chopra calmly explained to me.
Guidelines All Treatment Centers Abide By
Addiction treatment centers are tasked with an enormous and seemingly insurmountable mission. Piercing through years of denial, layer upon layer of justification, ridding one of a lifetime of negative self-messaging and limited beliefs, changing dysfunctional family dynamics, and healing a Lake Michigan sized pool of other mental, emotional and psychological conditions.
Aside from providing support and structuring, a clinical staff’s most crucial responsibility to its clients is to provide consistency of message and to vary the nature and delivery of that message.
Create Consistency of Message
Addiction recovery to a large extent is a re-education process. Anyone who lives recovery would undoubtedly agree with that statement. Recovery took what I thought I knew about myself, about life, relationships and human interactions, and body slammed it. Recovery, done effectively, shatters the misconceptions and miseducation we received and sold ourselves.
But, like it or not, we all come into recovery from substance use disorder with historical prejudices that prevent (or seriously hinder) the opportunity for us to receive the messages of recovery. An addict entering the early stages of recovery cannot hear certain truths about themselves because of how the person delivering the information looks, how they speak, how they hold themselves, their age…whatever. Their primary programming will not allow the message in.
Indeed, over many years teaching addiction recovery I’ve learned a certain percentage of people lay outside the reach of my megaphone. And I carry a BIG megaphone! They can’t hear me. It’s just not going to sink in.
That’s ok. In fact, as Uber Driver Chopra said, “that’s human nature.” Therefore, ultimately the success of a clinical staff lies in how effectively it delivers a singular message in multiple packages.
Provide Different Packaging
Somewhere around years four and five in my journey of self-discovery, I found myself yearning for something more than 12 steps. Along with the sometimes not-so-gentle guidance of my sponsor, we’d completed a comprehensive study of the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions (applied in group and individually) and the 12 Principles of Service. Longing for more, it occurred to me it was a good time to read the self-help books people had been gifting me over the years. So, I read the self-help books. Lots of self-help books. Do you know what I learned? They all say the same damn thing. Different titles, different verbiage, slightly different approaches, but same glowing white teeth on every author.
Maintain Universal Truths
Most self-help books, religions, mythology, storytelling, transformative programs (12-step included) are essentially the gathering up and regurgitation of Universal Truths. Universal Truths represent aspects of life or concepts of the human experience that are overwhelmingly recognized as valid. As such, mankind accepts them as collectively true – even though we struggle to abide them.
Addiction’s Universal Truth
A life lived outside of the parameters of reality creates incongruency, lacks authenticity, leads to a generalized sense of emptiness and eventually produces enormous pain and suffering. Substance abuse fills the void temporarily but progressively becomes the agent that enhances and intensifies the pain.
In many addiction science circles, addiction is described as ‘an aversion to reality-based living’. A denial of reality and a refusal to participate in it.
At Costa Rica Treatment Center, our singular mission is to bring our patients into a state of wellbeing fostering the ability to establish and participate in a relationship with reality. Our message is simple: A life based upon and grounded in reality – one that allows you to embrace and express your true self – is one worth living, one worth fighting for.
While the rules seem simple, the execution is not easy. Breaking down years of denial is an unpleasant and arduous task. We are tasked with finding a myriad of voices, characters and personalities from different disciplines, backgrounds and methodologies to package and deliver that message in the hope of penetrating the dark, lonely recesses of the lost soul.
Wifey is a woman who possesses a brilliant, logical mind. She regularly astounds me with her clarity and singularity of vision – seasoned lightly with an impressive helping of open-mindedness. But for those six weeks she couldn’t accept A+B=C because of who she was hearing it from. Me.
A different voice, a different package, a different message successfully delivered.
A+B=C became crystal clear. Thanks Uber Driver Chopra!