The Recovery Run Team - Coming Together
Walking through the doors of the Guiding Light Mission first thing in the morning is an unusual experience. I am, by nature, a bright-eyed and bushytailed sort who likes to mix it up when I walk into a room. However, when you enter a mission, it’s best to check your enthusiasm at the door.
Men stand or sit here and there, not saying much at all because, as I learned quickly, most addicts and those who live on the streets, like to maintain their distance. Still, I was here to find a crack in their code and to get to know a handful of guys who had agreed to meet me 3 times a week to run.
John - The Alcoholic
John was the first to open up. The pure runner of the bunch, a guy who was a Division one college prospect in high school, ran his mouth as fast as his feet. His addiction was alcohol and he told me he used booze to mask his inability to let people in. A self-professed “poser,” a guy who built his identity around a job as a top mechanic and all the material goods it afforded him, John was more than ready to talk about his new way of being. He was doing well in the rehab program and, as the weeks clicked by, I discovered that I would learn a lot from John.
Rusty - The Crack Addict
Rusty was the next guy to share. Here was the classic example of how it can all go so terribly wrong in a puff. Rusty branched off from a family business where he would get daily calls for high end auto restorations and the dollars flowed - $200-$1000 a day.
Financially, he was very comfortable, but the dollars couldn’t smooth over his troubled past - an overbearing dad, a wonder about sexual orientation, and self-professed low self-esteem. Rusty’s path to the bottom started with one random meeting with a former childhood friend packing a crack pipe.
Sad story, but it got progressively happier as I got to know him through these runs.
Neil - The Quiet One
Neil, the third member of our troupe, is an easy going sort - soft spoken, addicted, but hopeful. He showed up for the runs, held his own, but kept to himself. I had hoped that he would loosen up, but he never did. But that’s not to say something good didn’t come out of Neil’s joining the group. He took the runs seriously, and I watched as his body slimmed and his muscles grew. That’s a positive step for anyone.
Jay - The Angry One
And then, there’s Jay. At the end of the previous blog, I left you hanging by saying that I had no idea the turn that this team would take. “All because of a man named Jay.”
Well, Jay is a man who beat addiction and homelessness - interesting twist here.
He had an unsettled childhood where he and his family bounced from place to place and staying with whomever might offer them a room or a bed for much of his childhood. The constant drifting created an anger inside Jay that had to be vented.
In Jay’s case, his addiction was violence. I was floored when I came to learn this. Jay seemed nothing but kind. He’s a husband and a father. He operates a storefront where people who have little can come to get the clothes and household goods they need for free. When he heard about our running group, he called me and put his giving ways to work for the team. Jay transformed the group from a few guys putting in miles and sharing life stories, to a team on a mission.
It was a mission far beyond the simple plan I had in mind when I took my first steps with the team.