Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Today's word of the day is "Relapse."

I've now been visiting "Emerald City" enough to know and love these men and women in a way that I never would have understood a couple years ago and am humbled now to do so with my whole heart.  

As I made my way down the line of men and women under the Conrail overpass, some with needles in their arms or necks as I visited, many living in dome-style tension pole tents, every twenty feet or so, I was being greeted by a man or woman who I knew had just gotten out of jail (and detoxed while there), or out of detox and some degree of rehab. 

One was a woman who I took, at her request, to a crisis center a couple of months ago.  After not seeing her for all this time, I figured she had moved on to her new life.  Just this past Sunday, I redistributed the blankets that I had washed and was holding for her.  And there she was this afternoon, sitting on the sidewalk with her big beautiful smile broken by feelings of shame as she shared with me her slip back into those little blue packets of white powder.

Another was a man about my age who credits me with saving his life when I identified a medical issue brewing.  It turned out to be advanced pneumonia.  During his medical recovery, he detoxed and was doing great.  Tonight, his tall frame was curled up in an old discarded office chair while being hugged by my partner in this ministry as tears ran down his life beaten cheeks.

And then there was the artist.  She stood on the curb, far under her "Emerald City" move in weight, awaiting her ride to the only "job" she can find after relapsing post-incarceration.

Finally, after months of getting to know one resident of the streets of Kensington and a family member, this one young lady who had been showing incredible potential for a magnificent future and reunification with her quickly growing young children is, tonight, sitting in a sheeted cardboard box to high to communicate with me and to filled with shame to look at me as I told her that I still care and that I'm not angry at her for a situation that will never be described in these blogs.

The Final Finally:  Before leaving Lehigh Avenue, I checked in by phone with another young person.  She spoke to me in her dope sickness and couldn’t focus on anything other than getting her medicine and getting well.  She too has detoxed a few times over her years of drug use only to find herself relapsing.

How does relapse happen?  I'm new in this ministry. I don't know.  I think we're missing something between the behaviors of the addiction and the human body's reaction to addiction.  If we could identify that missing component, these dear people would not be suffering in their addiction as they are on this cold and rainy night.

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