Archive for December 3rd, 2019

December 3, 2019

Christmas for SYM Clients

Merry Christmas!

   As the time to share that greeting rolls around each year, I think of the 3,000+ clients our ministry has served since we began in 2008. What kind of Christmases will they have?
   Thanks especially to social media these days, we know more of the answers. Some clients have excelled, and they’ve written us. A few lives ended tragically. Other clients intrigue us – they surface periodically to say “thanks” or share news, infusing us like the episodes of an old-fashioned serial, complete with cliffhanger endings.

   Such a continuing story this year was shared by a client whose street name was “Powder”:

   2012-13, off and on – Powder attended a few of our events back before we had our Drop-in Co-op, and he came to the 2013 Christmas party at All Saints Episcopal. He was using drugs at the time, and he ran around with friends using street names like Merce, Grinch and Bean.
   We hadn’t seen Powder since 2013, then he resurfaced three years later with a Facebook message:
   1 a.m., June 16, 2016 – “You probably won’t remember me. I hung around for a little while in 2012-2013.  I remember speaking to you multiple times at the Drop-in. I don’t know how many success stories you hear, but I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t done dope in 2 1/2 years and I just bought my own house in a suburb of Kansas City.”
   I checked into his records and finally ran into an old photo that summoned memories. What I didn’t know was how deeply we had changed the direction of this young man’s journey. Powder and I had the following Facebook exchange, edited for space:
   Terry: “Well congratulations on all that! … I always love hearing from people who are doing well. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) to know that it’s a whole lot of people!
   Powder: “I was pretty nondescript and tried my best not to be noticed.  If you don’t remember me that doesn’t hurt my feelings, I remember you and the rest of the staff and how much the simple things y’all did for me helped. It made me feel like an actual person.”
   Terry: “I know your face. I don’t yet recall your street name Powder. I’m really glad we were able to love on you a bit and that it helped. What made you decide to retire and get sober and all that?
   Powder: “I just got tired of living that way. I went to jail for a few months, then a psych ward, and then a rehab program. After that I just decided I wasn’t going to go back and live that way again, so I got into a halfway house and got a job and all that.”
   Terry: “Cool. I’m glad. I assume it’s better for you? Doesn’t have to be, but is faith a resource for you at this point?
   Powder: “I struggle with faith and spirituality. I have had a lot of things happen, seen things and whatnot, but it just doesn’t seem to “click.” I haven’t had the spiritual awakening or whatever you want to call it.”
   Terry: “I’d say be patient with yourself and stay in touch with that part of you that knows or wants there to be something bigger than us. It doesn’t hurt to hang around people who are further along than you are, but not to let them tell you what to think. Just to learn and see and feel how it is for them. I’ll be praying for you in that regard. Any other way I can be praying for you? Also, could I use your words to encourage others? I wouldn’t use your name unless you want me to. Recovery is a long road and it’s great for those who feel like it may never happen to them to hear from people like you who were around quite a while but are recovering!”
   Powder: “Yeah sure, I appreciate all your help, past and present.”
   Fast forward three years, four months. I heard from him again:
   11:08 p.m., Oct. 5, 2019 — “Touching base again, Terry. I just want to say again how helpful the Drop-in was to me at a time when I needed it the most. I’m still sober, haven’t touched drugs or booze since January 10, 2014. I’m still bouncing around, but I’m in much better condition than I was back then, physically and spiritually.
   “I have a skilled trade. I’m a butcher. I work full-time and I can’t help but feel like I’ve left that world behind. It’s for the best, but some of the happiest moments of my life happened on the Drag. I’ve noticed that it’s almost like a class graduating: people I knew ended up dead, in prison or clean, and a new generation came to replace our spots.
   “Now I’m sitting on the couch in a home that I ‘own’ and watching cable. I’m not in Missouri anymore. but that’s where I learned to butcher, in a family-owned shop that was looking for some help during deer season. I managed to leverage that into a union full-time job at a grocery store. I’ve tried to settle down a couple times and it just hasn’t worked out. I think I just enjoy being a rambler.
   “I’m still not sure where I stand on my beliefs. I go back and forth a lot. I’d like to settle down somewhere, That’s the big one. I want to continue this trend of “living a normal life” without being too boring. Maybe I just need to find a hobby. I’ll get back in touch with you again when I think about it.
   Terry: “How old are you now?”
   Powder: “I’m headed toward 27, I was 19-20 in Austin.”
   Terry: “You’re right on track. I find a lot of people who hit the road for whatever reason start settling things at about 26 or so.”
   Powder: “That’s nice to hear, honestly. I had a lot of people ask me when I was in high school  and “full of potential” what I wanted to do with my life, and when I would say “ I don’t know,” I’d get the same long and boring lecture about needing to do something important.
   “I wish someone would’ve told me, or I would have known that it’s totally OK to make $35,000 a year cutting meat and going fishing every day before work. I’m never gonna have a lot of anything, but I have enough of the stuff I want and a plan for the immediate future, which is to move someplace that has trout and moving water so I can learn how to fly fish.
   “I just wish I could’ve started on this path five years ago and not be struggling toward it now. I suppose you know what they say about wishing in one hand and doing something in the other. I just have to remember I’m not that old yet, and there’s still time. Pleasure to have met you, Terry.”

Read on… for the follow up story of Powder  

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