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.


  • Ruth Riddick says:

    Lovely – thank you!

  • John Palmer says:

    Great to read your blog TJ. You continue to impress with your spoken and now written message of Hope, Happiness, Love and Empathy. I am a bigger fan after having read this today…. Lots of love……

  • JOhn Makohen says:

    I can relate to this thoroughly, except my experience was in NYC parole offices. I have that look to not sure if I’m a parolee or officer trying to be hip with tattoos. Further inspection would prove the tattoos tell a darker story, though. But when the connection is made it transcends the halls of whatever institution recovery coaches are found in. In my experience, I find it easier to speak with me because I am not threatening and forcing a choice: inpatient or violation. Instead, like you, I’m there to ask them what they need today. Thanks, for the post

  • Art Woodard says:

    Gr8 article Tj

  • Barry Richardson says:

    Man that’s some good stuff It’s wonderful to be able to spread spiritual healing in a place where it’s so needed

  • Jim Higgins says:

    Nice job, TJ. You are a natural as a guerrilla warrior and you carry a great message.

  • Jacqueline Kelsey says:

    TJ –
    How awesome to see how far you’ve spun your web since our time together in the Recovery Coaching program.
    I love the idea of attracting with connection, spinning with love and releasing with hope!!!
    I am blessed to consider you a friend.
    Much love & Gratitude
    Thank you for all you serve!

  • Scott Aitken says:

    That’s so awesome to carry this message of hope the way you do..

    Love you

  • Love This take on Recovery Coaches ..I teared up and smiled – Feel the Larger & Mightier – my vibe and aura has already helped me connect – Reaching out to help the connection!

    *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.

  • Marilyn Lynes says:

    This was truely an amazing article full of hope, love and most importantly truth!! They say the truth will set you free and everyday you live the truth!! You inspire and guide with a gentle and loving heart and you make me proud to know you!! Tj you have been there for us and our family and walked the walk right along with us and we will always be so grateful for that!! We are blessed to have you in our lives!! Love you!! XOXOX

  • brian morris says:

    “reach out and grab the empathy….”
    ….words to live by.
    well-played, tj.
    keep on spinning that groovy web of yours.

  • Tonya J. says:

    I read your blog aloud to my mother and she was as impressed as I with your eloquent spiritual spider analogy. You’re such a fine, young gentleman. The EDRC , CCAR, and those you weave into your web are lucky to have you!

  • Michele Richardson says:

    Thank you so very much for your insight and analogy of the web you weave. Your spirituality exudes through your words and captivates the reader, sending one into a trance like state of mind. Your work as a Recovery Coach saves lives and inspires souls to to waken and be free. Thank you again and best wishes for you and your fellow”spider’s”.

  • Conrad Sienkiewicz says:

    You are a Spiderman! Good stuff!

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