By TJ Aitken
I don’t fit in to your typical Emergency Room. I’m usually smiling and laughing and I have a lot of tattoos. I greet everyone I see with the utmost respect from the janitor cleaning the floors to the hospital administrators. I walk through the emergency room as if I’m a spiritual spider, weaving webs of hope, happiness, love and empathy. Catching others in this web gives me the opportunity to extract the poison and infuse the light. Hope, Happiness, Love and Empathy are contagious, and I try my best to bring them everywhere I go.
Living in this matter brings me to recoverees who weren’t originally open to the idea of talking with a Recovery Coach. Often times, all it takes is a look from me to open a door. A simple “hey what’s up?” can initiate a life changing conversation. More often than not, no introduction is needed, my vibe and aura has already helped me connect; the empathy so thick in the air you can almost reach out and grab it.
Recently, I had an extraordinary conversations with a deaf recoveree. My active listening skills came in handy. Passing by this older gentleman, I could see he preferred his breakfast by the liquid variety. Just as I used too. A simple wave opened the door. I started by writing my name down on a piece of paper and introducing myself, stating I was in recovery. That’s when the floodgates burst open. He became very open, telling me about his past experiences in recovery and what he did and did not like about 12-Step support groups. Every recovery related activity is more difficult for him because of his disability and how he wants recovery again. Today, we often connect through Telephone Recovery Support (he has a teleprompter like phone) and he tells me jokes and talks about his day to day struggles in life. And I am always there to listen and provide support, never forcing recovery on him.
Spiritual spiders differ from regular spiders. Regular spiders catch things and eat them, they are predators, it’s their instinct. Spiritual spiders release those caught in their webs, ultimately to spin their own webs of Hope, Happiness, Love and Empathy. Spiritual spiders work together and multiply. Spiritual spiders don’t fear regular spiders, our webs are larger and mightier. They are almost impenetrable to negativity.
As a CCAR Emergency Department Recovery Coach , I serve as a Spiritual Spiders.
TJ Aitken is a young person in recovery from opiate addiction. TJ started volunteering at CCAR early in 2017 and currently works for CCAR as an Emergency Department Recovery Coach, providing hope, inspiration and recovery support services to others suffering from addictions. When not involved with commitments to 12-Step fellowships and speaking engagements, TJ enjoys playing guitar and spending quality time with his family and friends.