The Sound of Silence and the Path to Recovery
The world is a noisy place. Think about it: on any given day, you’re bombarded with the sound of honking cars, text alerts, ringing phones, TV commercials, background music at the local grocery store, and so forth. A lot of people walk around with earbuds in, trying to drown out the sounds of the world with sounds of their own choosing.
One of the better parts of getting back to nature– a part we don’t discuss much – is how the noises change. The woods can be a pretty loud place, too, but it’s the sound of birds chirping, twigs snapping, and wind rustling the leaves and the grass. The ambient noise is the sound of the earth: off-beat, slightly repetitive, and gentle. You can move at your own rhythm, because everything else does. And if you stand still for long enough, eventually you can hear your own body moving in time with the beat of the earth.
It’s pretty cool. But it’s not the type of noise we walk to talk about today.
What we want to talk about is the deafening sound of silence between two people, or between a group of people, who don’t know each other all that well.
One of the first things we do when new residents come to a Little Creek Lodge group session is ask them to tell their story. Inevitably, the resident rushes through his history as quickly as he can; sometimes he mumbles, sometimes it’s like he’s trying to get all the words out in one breath. When this happens, we ask him to stop, to take a breath, to slow down – and then, we ask him to start again: clearly, slowly, and patiently.
For some men, the silence that follows can feel like physical pain. We’re so used to filling up silence with words, with sounds, with music. Most people cannot abide silence in any form, and that natural urge to speak or scream, or do ANYTHING at all to fill the void can be really, really strong when you’ve just allowed yourself to be vulnerable with a group of relative strangers. (Heck, it can feel just as uncomfortable when you’re with people you know and trust, too.)
So why do we do this? Why do we force people to contend with the silence?
Because one of the most important steps in the recovery process is learning how to be present in the moment. Only when you are present, can you allow yourself to feel. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol? They’re trying to avoid feeling something. Maybe it’s physical pain. Maybe it’s guilt. Maybe it’s loss, or depression, or anger – maybe it’s all of these things, or none. But when you have spent months or years abusing alcohol or drugs to avoid having to feel, acknowledging those feelings can be terrifying.
Will I be judged?
Do they think I’m a bad person?
Will they hate me?
Am I going to be punished?
Are they mad at me?
Do they think I’m a loser?
Do they think I can’t be trusted?
Will they push me away?
Our founder, Any Pace, always says, “The most valuable gift you can give someone is your time.” At Little Creek, this is part of our mission: to remind you that you are a person who is worthy of our time, so you can start to work on yourself in a safe and healthy way. To us, addiction is not just a physical transformation; it is a spiritual malady. And when you are afflicted with a crisis of spirit, it can be hard, if not impossible, to overcome that crisis without support.
You will always be safe here
We’re driven to be good listeners. Most of the world is very distracted: social media, gaming, texting, online forums. The Internet has made it possible to avoid making real, human connections with one another. Addiction almost always keeps you from forming those connections, too. And now, suddenly, people are listening intently to your story, and seeing you intimately, when you are most vulnerable and open. The silence in these group meetings and one-on-one sessions is often uncomfortable, and people get frightened and anxious.
But then something amazing happens. Over time, as you continue to tell your story, and you realize that you’re not going to be judged or criticized – that you are being heard and seen – that urge to self-edit lessens. You being to trust more, and you can feel that trust being sent back to you. The more open and honest you are, the more you feel that honesty and openness reflected back to you.
That is what makes Little Creek Lodge different from other places. We are here to guide you on your path to rediscovering your truest self. We’re not here to mold you into someone you’re not; we’re here to remind you of the potential within you, and to help you become you, again. We’re here to listen. We’re here to help you learn to carry your burdens, and to become strong from them. We’re here to help you become empowered to make choices that are healthy. When you’re ready to take that step, ours is a safe place to do it. Please call 570-630-9354, or fill out this contact form, to learn more.
We promise: we’ll be here, ready to listen.