Goodbyes are hard and I’m feeling sad — again. Two days in a row now, not my best week.
My Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) worker went on placement as part of his further studies back in May and at that point, we kind of ‘broke up’. I had been sober nearly two and a half years and really, unless I was at risk of lapsing, his time was going to be better spent with others who needed him more. In saying that, although my file was officially ‘closed’, the option to come back in and see him at any time after his placement finished, was always there. This week, he returned and we decided that a ‘maintenance and follow up’ appointment would be appropriate — even though we probably only wanted to catch up for a coffee. What I didn’t realise was that this would most likely be the last time we’d sit together at the community health centre, because he’s moving on.
I started working with J in November of 2014, when I was still drinking heavily. When he first contacted me for an intake interview, I remember thinking I wouldn’t like him much. He sounded flippant and rushed and I couldn’t possibly imagine having any sort of connection with him but that changed the day I walked into his office. From day one, I felt free with him, able to talk, to share, to be honest, without fear of judgement. During that first appointment, he drew me a diagram of a little boat holding two people, going back and forth between two shores. He said that he and I were in that boat together and that our journey would continue back and forth across the water until one day, I was ready to get out of the boat and continue my journey without him. I was always working towards moving on alone but never really imagined my world without him.
Maybe this sounds dramatic to some. I mean, it’s not like either of us are dying but to me, he is and always will be, one of the most important and impactful people in my life, no matter what the future holds. He gave me hope, courage, strength and a safe place to talk about my darkest thoughts. He stood by my side during the breakdown of my relationship and guided me through hideous amounts of stress and uncertainty when my life would have otherwise fallen apart. He listened to my parenting woes and supported me as a mother and as a woman in recovery. He shared with me some of his own amazing life experiences and inspirations and fuelled the fire within me to choose the path I have taken into the world of social work. He lifted me up when others knocked me down and never once doubted my ability to get sober, get my life back on track and be the best person and mother I could possibly be.
I know that people change and move on and I know that his time has come to do just that. The path he is taking is beyond courageous — choosing to work with people at the end of their days — and to be honest, if it were my time to close my eyes forever, I could think of nobody else I would rather have by my side, guiding me to the end of the journey that is life. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the impact he has had on my life, which is beyond frustrating. But how could I possibly thank someone who literally saved my fucking life? My post feels tenuous in comparison to the emotions flooding through me today and perhaps I’ll need to come back and add more to it when I feel able. But for now, I’m going to sit with the sadness and revel in the world around me, which would be vastly different if it weren’t for this remarkable, kind man.