I saw Ben a 30-year-old man with a long history of substance use disorders. He came into my office a beaten down man shaking and jerking uncontrollably at time. He looked quite sad and quickly proclaimed there was little I could do for him. I had two reactions: 1. With that attitude you are probably right. 2. I need to find who the person is beneath all of this apparent pain and suffering. He had recently relapsed and had attempted suicide, because he was so disgusted with himself and how his life had become so out of control. Tearfully, he admitted that his wife had divorced him and he lost custody of his 8-year-old son. He had not been able to keep a job though he was a certified lab technician. “I am not even sure why I am here,” he stated adding that he was a hopeless case.
“I don’t work with hopeless cases,” I told him.
He seemed quite shocked and hurt almost becoming aggressive, “Why not?” he muttered.
I told him that if I thought he was a hopeless case, I had no business working with him, but I didn’t see him as hopeless. Some part of him got him to come to this appointment, and also I picked up that he had relapsed, which meant there was a part of him that had been in recovery. “Those are the parts that give me hope for you and those are the parts I want to begin with,” I suggested. He perked up a little bit, but I couldn’t tell if he wasn’t totally buying it.
“How long were you in recovery?” I asked.
“Almost three years,” he replied.
“Sounds like your Higher Power was at work,” I said.
“I don’t believe in that Higher Power crap,” he retorted.
“That’s okay,” I said. “I am not trying to sell you on anything but answer me this. How is it you were able to stay sober for three years?”
“I don’t know. My wife is strung out on heroin and is a pretty worthless mom. My son didn’t need me coming home every night all doped up. I needed to take care of him.”
“So you love your son, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“And because you love your son you stayed clean and sober, right?
“So could we say that the love you have for him is a power greater than yourself.”
Yea, I suppose so.
And could we therefore say that your love for your son is a Higher Power?
Yea. I guess you are right. I do have a Higher Power. I never thought of it that way.