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Letter to and Addict from Someone Who Cares
I decided to write a letter to an addict. It was kind of necessary. A lot of people with addiction don’t like their therapists because they “can’t relate.” In the counseling profession, they are called “book counselors.”
Hello. You do not know me, but I am hoping that you will take a moment and read my letter. Most people who have crossed my path in therapy call me a “book counselor.” You know who I am. I am that counselor who does not share your experience I do not have an addiction so I can not really relate to what you are going through. I am one of those. I am that by the book counselor.
But the thing is, I do not need to have experienced addiction in order to care about you. I do not need to have gone through your personal experiences to understand and to feel your pain. I feel your pain much deeper than you realize.
Your Side of the Story
When you walk into my office, I will wonder why you came. So, I will ask you, “what made you come here today?” I ask because I do not know you. I realize that is a very “by the book” question, but if I do not ask, then I will not get to hear from you what it is you need from me. Most of the time people with addiction feel “forced” to do counseling. Answering that question gives you a chance for someone to hear your side of the story.
With that being said, over the course of your therapy, I am probably going to say a lot of things you do not like. I promise it is not because I do not like you or that I am not listening to you. It is the opposite. It is because I DO care about you.
If I see you headed for a path of destruction, I am going to care enough to point that out to you. I care enough that when I see that I will make suggestions for you to try something else. I am going to know where you are headed when I do not see you doing anything differently than you have always done.
If what you have always done has landed you in my office, something is not working. I know it seems kind of by the book, but I am only asking you to try something different. What could it hurt if what you have been doing has not gotten you anywhere?
I cannot and will not enable you. I realize that is very by the book but, honestly, it is for your own good.
The book counselor and your feelings
Sometimes you will get angry, sometimes scared, and sometimes sad. But, I know underneath all of that, the most difficult feeling you will feel during your therapy is ashamed.
I know it seems by the book to open up that box and show me, but keeping it inside your closet is hurting you. Keeping your box hidden in that dark place continues to give you reasons to keep using. I am only asking that maybe we can talk about those things. It must be difficult sitting in front of someone who can see through that dark box you have closed up and hidden in a closet.
Let me be here for you. Let me show you that you do not have to do it alone. Everything you share with me is confidential so all of your secrets are safe with me. And if you want to cry, you can do that. No one is going to know but you and me. It is only a suggestion. I know I am only a book counselor but I know how to listen.
Please find support
Speaking of feeling alone, I will probably make suggestions for you to attend support groups, get a sponsor, or work towards meeting people you can talk to. I know it sounds by the book, but one of your reasons for not wanting to see me was because I was a book counselor.
You had said that I could not understand because I have not experienced addiction. It sounds to me as if it is important for you to have people in your life that have been where you are; I can only make the suggestion, then, to connect with other people who have. When I tell you that, it is only to help you, not to hurt you.
There are going to be times that you want to drink or get high. I know it will sound by the book when I tell you this, but that happens with addiction. There are going to be times you want to use. I mean, think about it.
When you are in a relationship with someone, fall in love, and break up, from time to time you think about that relationship and wonder how that person is doing. Maybe you miss them. Maybe you are feeling sad and the sadness becomes so unbearable that you cannot help yourself. But, over time, it does get better.
I know that my book answer does not help at the moment. You could, maybe, call someone who understands, though. If you took my suggestion, that is, to meet some people who have been through what you have. They may have some better suggestions for you than I do.
The book counselor believes in you
There are going to be times when you think I am being too hard on you. In fact, I am known for being hard on people. But, I want you to know I am hard on you because I believe in you. I believe in you even when you do not believe in yourself. Sometimes we all need a push to get us over the hump.
I would not be doing you any favors if I let you sit in a sad, hopeless place. I know I am a book counselor, but I can still reach out my hand to you and let you hold on to me. I can still grab your hand and help pull you to the other side.
I wish that I could just grab your hand and do it all for you. But I cannot. It is too much weight for me to carry alone, just as it has been too much for you to carry alone. But, if I grab your hand and pull, and you do not pull back, eventually we can get you out of there.
The book counselor has your back
I want you to know I have got your back. I am going to fight for you, not against you. I am going to be here to listen to you cry, and be here to help pick up the pieces when you do. I will be here when you need to vent and to let it go, and then reason and problem solve later.
I will be here to give you many suggestions to help you along the way. And one thing I will never do is ever, ever, ever give up on you. And I will never, ever, ever let you give up on yourself.
I will see the very best in you and do my very best to remind you of that when I see you are at your worst. I will not let you fall. I will fight for you when the world is fighting against you, including yourself.
I will always do my very best to help you realize your potential. I will do my best to show you that you are loveable even when you hate yourself. That really is not something that we learn from books. That is something that comes from our hearts. And there are a lot of us out there.
So while you are sitting out in the waiting room, contemplating following through with your visit with me, keep an open mind.
There are no books in the world that could ever teach any counselor how to care. There are no books in the world that tell any of us the right answers or the perfect solution to every problem.
Whether we are book counselors or counselors who have personal experience being addicted, the only thing any of us can do is make a suggestion. And there is no guarantee that the suggestions any of us gives will keep you sober.
If you walk out of my office and do not take any of my suggestions, you have the right to do that. I can not do your recovery for you. But, one day, when you are ready, you will remember the things I taught you. And I know you will remember that I cared. No amount of personal experience will change that.
The Book Counselor