In our little southern town, the penal system has created a wonderful program called Drug Court. It is an alternative to extensive jail time for non-violent offenders. The program requires two years of day in and day out work. Recovery meetings, drug screenings, therapy, community service, meeting with judges, and continued employment, are just a few of the requirements. Recently I was invited to share The Song Workshop with some of the participants. The outcome was beyond what I could have ever imagined.
We gathered after business hours, in a small brick building off Natchez street. There sat a group of men, all former drug users, all a bit unsure as to why a woman with a guitar had made her way to their meeting. I explained the work we would be doing, that I would be asking them lots of questions. I told them what I tell all of my clients,
everybody has a story and every story is a song
Their eyes perked, as song? Willing to trust the process, they let me into their hearts, their histories, and fears. One by one they revealed their shame, grief, and hope for a better life. As I listened, my pencil turning their stories into lyrics, I wrote. It never ceases to amaze me, that there is always always always a song in the heart. Progressing, it became evident, the song for these men was about a relationship. However, this wasn’t just any relationship. This was the most profound relationship they had ever had, the relationship with their drug of choice. I asked them to write a letter to her, to cocaine, heroine, crack, alcohol, codependency, whatever it was that had held their thoughts and heart for far too long. Like most bad relationships, they had given all that they had in exchange for minimal relief and enormous pain. In a still moment, one of the guys looked at me and said, “why are you here? Why are you doing this for us?” My heart melted, “because this is what matters. You are what matters.”
Sometimes the only thing between us and that second chance we need, is another person, willing to believe we matter, until we can believe it for ourselves. I told them bits and pieces of my story as they told me theirs. I heard about everything they had lost, gotten back, and stood to gain if they could follow through with their commitment to sobriety.
I said to them, “me too. I get it. I get you. I hear you. Everything you gave up for the hope of relief from overwhelming feelings, makes perfect sense to me. I too have desperately tried to escape my own feelings of pain and fear and panic. I too have believed lies about myself and listened to those voices of doubt and impending doom! I too have had to write the letter you are writing, breaking up with the story I was believing about myself. You are not alone. This is both of our second chances. Every day I wake up and know, today is the day I don’t have to believe the story that keeps me bound and in fear. Every moment is a second chance, another opportunity to believe the true story, the new story. ”
Their letters became the basis for the song I crafted for them “The Best of Me”. Together we said good bye. We ended the relationship and broke up with the story that had held us hostage for far too long.
Here is our song.
sending you love wherever you are in the world, Tyler