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Guidance Through The Mire

In the 9 months I've spent employed as a recovery coach, I've noticed a trend that I should have seen coming from my own experience in early recovery but really hadn't thought too deeply about. I remember when I first stepped on this path, it was a dark, foggy, trail in the woods, filled with brush I couldn't see through and pits around every corner. Early on, the path to my destination was cluttered and undefined, but after a while, the paths seemed clearer and more accessible.

I didn't know where to begin. My dad told me that he'd go to an open speaker meeting with me that was held in the basement of Munson Hospital at the time. To be honest, my knowledge of recovery at the time led me to believe AA meetings were probably the only avenue for me anyway. People who went to rehab had real problems... or something like that. And if that's what I thought about residential treatment, I obviously wasn't thinking along the lines of needing a therapist, getting a mental health evaluation, psychiatry, sober living, integration into the recovery community in Traverse City, spiritual enrichment, and so on and so on. So, when I finally realized that I indeed could go to treatment and signed myself up, I was shown all the pieces of the puzzle that were available to me, and honestly, part of it was overwhelming. To just throw myself at everything would have overloaded me for sure.

I remember a few times, generally at detox, the term "Recovery Coach" was mentioned at different times. Usually something along the lines of "If you would like a recovery coach, we can provide one for you." I didn't have enough experience at the time to figure out why I would need this extra guy on top of the therapist and case manager that were going to be assigned to me at rehab and also the AA sponsor everyone said I needed to find on the outside. As it turns out, I didn't need one. But, if I knew then what I know now, I have to believe that there is a chance it would have saved me some of the pain. Maybe not. But probably.

So now, back to what I realized. Following through with a recovery coach that isn't required, is rarer than I hoped for. I'm lucky from a business standpoint that we get interaction with new people in early recovery extremely regularly compared to a typical recovery coaching organization because we have a little different niche, but to get people to continue a consistent interaction doesn't happen as often as I'd hope.

As a recovery coach, I don't tell anyone what to do. I don't have years of schooling where I learned about people and how to handle them and what all these terms mean. That wasn't my path. The experience that I've walked myself is all I have to pass on. I kind of look at it this way. If you're walking through a swamp and your path gets flooded out and you ask for help, a sponsor is going to tell you what the only way to get across is, a therapist is going to get you to figure out which way you want to try crossing, and a recovery coach is going to say, "well I went for that log first but it broke and that's why my left boot is full of mud but after I jumped for that log and it held. Might not hold for you, but that's what worked for me." And I'm not here to say which is best but I believe different people benefit from different things and I think recovery coaching has a unique place in the treatment world and I just hope it's part of the growth I see in the awareness of the importance of recovery in general these days.

I think the best way to wrap this thought up is to mention that the people I see consistently engaging with us seem to have positive growth. I'm not saying it's because of recovery coaching but it goes back to the importance of the community. I believe the community was a main factor in my ability to find recovery and have hope for the results of it. We are just another source for building that community and for some, it's just a less abrasive option from what I've heard. What I truly believe is that the more options that are out there for people to find that hope to save themselves the better off we're going to be.

I see the world working to come together on this issue more than ever and it's been a beautiful thing to witness ever since I've been in this world. I'm blessed to be a part of it.

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