Caritas: Sharing, Connecting and Igniting Hope In Me For My Littles Brothers Journey Back to Himself

There are experiences in our lives that reach us, connect us and allow us to be in the moment together.  The experience that is created when we allow ourselves to share our stories.  They are the moments where the sharing of similar experiences bonds us as human beings and connects our souls to the greater work of life.  The work of human connection, understanding and the power of that bond that brings us into the bigger picture, that we are all a part of together.  Sunday was one of those moments for me at the Caritas School of Life's, Together Event. 

I had an opportunity to share my story of mental illness and the work in progress of my recovery with the young men enrolled in the 24 month recovery program as they were reunited with their family for the first time in 6 months.  The program creates a family environment for them with healthy boundaries, communication and respect for each other.  They contribute to the farm where they reside for 6 months together and they face consequences when they don't adhere to the codes of conduct and respect that are set out.  They get the opportunity to join in a family from scratch, with healthy, respectful, kind and compassionate behaviours taught to them throughout the course of their daily life. They have opportunities to be heard, to express their feelings and to bond with each other in their shared experiences of mental illness and addictions. Whether they are at the dinner table or doing chores around the farm, the coaching of those skills is constant, consistent and they have many opportunities to practice and change past learned behaviours.  They learn from counsellors, staff and each other how to interact with themselves and each other in healthy, meaningful and authentic ways.

From listening to the energetic shares that the young men offered, it was evident that they were immensely grateful for the program and they were especially grateful for the tenacity and kindness of the counsellors and staff for their patience with them to make the changes needed in their behaviours.  Again and again I heard the young men saying "I am a better man" or "I am proud of the man I have become and I have never felt this good".  They thanked their families for not giving up in finding them the program at Caritas.  The parents' shares of gratitude were colossal, saying things like "thank you Caritas for giving me back my son" or "you brought my child home to me".   As a mother, listening to the parents acknowledge the depth of the gift of their sons recovery was deeply moving and filled me with immense joy for them. As a sister, their shares gave me hope for my longing to "get my brother back".  This longing has been held in my heart for 29 years.  Longing for the day when my little brother will choose to enroll in this program and begin his journey of recovery.  His journey back to himself, to his sons and to all of us, for a life of living in the gift of the present without the pain, suffering and burden of the past that has kept him from moving forward.  From my mouth to God's ears.