“I’m going to shoot it to your straight.” Something I’ve been told a few times over the past month from individuals who have made their way into Will’s Place for one reason or another.
Yes, please. Shoot it to me straight. “Don’t blow smoke up my ass.” Something a 20-year-old girl assured me she wouldn’t do as I was talking to her today.
I appreciate the honesty. The candor. The transparency. And I try to reciprocate with the same. While people in active addiction aren’t always the most honest or transparent about their addiction, they usually are when it comes to willingness and desire to accept or decline treatment options.
You see, the one thing I have learned from my first month open at Will’s Place is that you must meet people where they are—emotionally.
Sure, it would be nice if every single person that walked through the door was ready accept the help they need and live a life free from drugs and alcohol, but that’s not the case. That is not reality and that has not been my experience at Will’s Place. Nor was it my personal experience while struggling with alcoholism. Plenty of people wanted me to get help long before I ever made it to rehab.
People are where they are—despite my desire for them to be in a different mental or emotional place. And if I don’t meet them where they are emotionally and mentally, then I’ve failed them. I’ve lost an opportunity to connect with them. I’ve missed the chance to help them in the present moment and unable to meet their immediate needs. Needs, that if met, may lead to more desire or willingness on their part someday.
The first week we were open at Will’s Place, a young woman walked in and started trying to explain that her sister needed help. It was a little hard to follow and I could smell alcohol on her, but hey…I’m not judging. About 5 minutes into her story (and after telling her what we offer at Will’s Place) she looks at me and says, “Can I be honest with ya? I’m on my way to my attorney’s office and need some mints. I was walking by and saw the bowl of mints on the desk and just came in to get some.” I let her fill her pockets with mints and told her we’d love to help her “sister” when she’s ready.
Okay, not the greatest example of meeting someone where they are, but kind of funny. She needed mints and we gave her mints.
I met a girl today who lives in the woods. My immediate thought is to get her into a rehab that has a program for the homeless and would teach her to live in a safe and sober community and obtain a job and learn how to acclimate back into society. But that’s not where she is. When I asked her how we could help her, she asked for a blanket. And so we gave her a blanket and told her all the resources that were available to her so when she’s ready, she knows we are there to help. And we can be her friend. We can show her we are a safe place and she can trust us.
I want to save everyone. I want everyone to let me help them get into treatment. Because, obviously, I know what’s best for everyone—I always have (ask my parents).
The people I meet at Will’s Place are reminding me that I, in fact, know very little about a lot. When I can acknowledge that I don’t always know what’s best for everyone, I can meet them where they are And maybe that’s with mints or a blanket. And yes, sometimes that’s with placing them into treatment. But more often than not, it’s simply listening. It’s planting a seed. It’s sharing my story. It’s removing the stigma and being real. It’s meeting their hurt with compassion, their shame with grace, and their fear with love. And that’s where the change happens.
At Will’s Place, we invite you to come as you are. Hurt, broken, sad, angry, or scared. We will meet you there. And we will walk this journey with you.