Part 1, The Caterpillar

Today we are going to hear the tale of a caterpillar that has turned into a butterfly. I know, that sounds totally cheesy. Like, very cheesy. I really don’t know any other way of describing what I witnessed the other morning, though. Let’s set it up first.

I’ve mentioned before that I work part time as a teacher at a local inpatient alcohol and substance abuse facility called Gulf Breeze Recovery (GBR). It’s a really cool place. It’s a non-12-step place, because that model doesn’t work for everyone. It certainly works for lots of people and has helped countless folks over the years, so I’m not knocking it. This is different, though, and it’s badass. Instead of 12-step, the paradigm is called Three Principles (which I recently wrote about, and which is what makes the therapy I’m doing work so well. Not for everyone, of course – I’m still working on that and doing my best!). Some of the transformations I’ve seen at GBR are absolutely jaw dropping. And it’s simply the true Self coming out. We don’t have to learn to be a better person; we just have to learn what gets in the way of our most awesome Self, which is built-in. And it has everything to do with the quality of our thinking.

I used to work there about 20 hours a week, and now I teach just one class a week, Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-5:00. And I love it. I covered for another teacher recently in a morning class, and she had already scheduled a past graduate to talk to the group through Zoom, which is a webcam meeting space like Skype. This guy had been out for about six months, and I hadn’t heard anything about him since. Of course I could only assume he was doing well since he was scheduled to Zoom in. I had no idea he was doing this well, though. And maybe what really struck me was how ordinary it all was. You’ll see what I mean. I was just blown away and so happy to “randomly” cover for the other teacher on this particular morning, which I never do. There are no coincidences… So I wanted to share his story with you because it shows the built-in potential for all of us.

He started off simply speaking from the heart, and he said some pretty money stuff right off the bat. I started taking notes so I could go over some of the highlights with the group after he signed off. I wanted to make sure this sank in as deeply as possible with them, because I really want them to thrive when they leave. And this guy is the blueprint. I’ll put this in the best order I can, but it might be a bit random. All good, though.

The first thing was that he was totally authentic and just told his story with no pretenses, no show. He said he was fine as a kid, but by at least the age of twelve he started having some very unpleasant emotions. And note that in a more advanced society, learning about our thinking will be standard education in elementary school. I’m doing some of that now with middle schoolers, and it’s really cool. It’s ready to be more widespread, though. Back to the story… By the age of thirteen, he was drinking and either using drugs or using them shortly thereafter. This went on for the next thirty years, with periods of sobriety sprinkled in here and there. I think he said alcohol was the main thing more recently. He’d go to 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous during the sober times, but nothing ever lasted.

Then there was the not-so-small fact that he was way overly medicated by his psychiatrist. He was on six different psych meds when he arrived at GBR. Six! These are the standard meds for anxiety and depression, which are WAY over-prescribed (remember my previous post about the Anxiety “Specialist” that one of my clients went to. What a freaking joke.). His bosses thought he was on drugs while he was at work. And you know what? He was! And they were the ones that the professionals had prescribed. If a person’s system is that out of whack from that many pills, I can totally see why they’d drink so much!

And then there was his marriage. It was so bad that his wife either sent divorce papers to GBR or was about to. Maybe she was going to and he convinced her to at least wait until he was back home and could do it all in person. I mean, it was that close to being over. Her mind was pretty much made up. I remember talking to him while he was there and helping him really release the outcome so he wouldn’t be acting out of fear. Then he’d be able to put his best foot forward and accept the result much better than he would have been able to otherwise. When we’re crippled with fear that a certain outcome happens or doesn’t happen, and we don’t stop and deal with it, we’re simply not able to put our best foot forward. So I had no idea how the marriage had turned out. It sure didn’t look good, though.

So that was the caterpillar. Sitting in rehab on the brink of divorce, but doing his best to understand more about the mind and find peace. Now let’s talk about the butterfly. I’ve put it in a separate post here since it’d be a bit long otherwise. Enjoy!