If you have spent more than a few hours with me you should know this fact about me. I cry at the drop of a hat, when I am laughing, stressed, sad, angry, hungry, tired (tired and hungry is a deadly combination), watching a movie (yes, I cry during 90% of the movies I watch), reading (certain books should come with a warning to not read in public), the list could go on and on.
Well today a first happened in my crying world, I cried at work.
Yes, it was extremely embarrassing and yes we were open and I was working with a guest. After asking my boss if she would have cried in said situation she said yes as well, so I don’t feel as ashamed.
Today on our appointment sheet there was a need of calling the Georgia Crisis and Access Line. This is a 1-800 number for those wanting help with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addiction issues. This specific guest today wanted to start her road to recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. I was extremely nervous about the task seeing I panic in these intense situations (I learned earlier this month if someone is having a seizure you do not want me in the room, hello panic attack!). I have also learned I never know how to respond to people who share their sob stories. My response is usually along the lines of, “I’m sorry”, “Stay strong”, “or “It’s ok” (I am ashamed to admit I use Juan Pablo’s favorite response when people are in crisis mode).
So here went nothing we get to my desk, I dial the 1-800 number and promptly pass the phone to the guest. I have learned this is something I do fairly well, enabling our guests to take action and try to figure things out on their own rather than me do everything for them. We started off ok, then she started sobbing quickly passing the phone back to me. I answered some of the questions (which are pretty intense, and not knowing the ‘street ‘ names of drugs or quantities I struggled a little) before she calmed back down and I asked her if she would like to answer the questions. She did pretty well for the rest of the original phone call with only a few tears running down her face. After half a box of tissues and what seemed like 100 questions later we played the waiting game for 30 minutes before calling back hoping for an answer.
We were then told it would be another hour before she could find out if there were any openings at detox facilities in the area. This is when the water works started. I could tell she was getting upset, she was finally ready to change her life style after 15+ years of drug and alcohol abuse and here she was being told their might not be a spot for her anywhere. Another large sum of tissues later, a monologue by me of how she was doing something braver than I would ever do in my life, a few hugs, one or two high fives, and a few laughs (yes a woman after my on heart, she was checking herself out in the mirror to make sure she wasn’t ugly crying and that her hair looked good) my phone rang. It was an intake counselor from a treatment and detox center in Atlanta, she was in! We got all the details, promptly printed out the map, and got the Marta card ready! We did a little more crying and hugging and then she was on her way with some hope in her eyes and holding her head a little higher. She was proud that she had taken the first step to change her life! And I was pretty darn proud too!
We get a lot of guests that struggle with addiction issues in the center, few that talk about changing their habits, and a handful that are truly serious about it and ask for guidance. I am grateful that I had this experience today. It has given me a new perspective on those who choose to ask for help and answer 100 humiliating questions to a stranger. And in this situation ask a total stranger to help with that phone call. That is an extremely vulnerable position to be in.
As I go to sleep tonight I will definitely be thinking and praying for this woman and all those I know and even don’t know who suffer from addiction issues. I ask you to pray for this guest and all those that suffer as well.