Goals, Focus , and Feelings

Each week, we have a house meeting for everyone living in one of our recovery transitional houses. Last week, Lifer’s shared their feelings, focuses, and goals. Many of the Lifers expressed feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, however, others mentioned strong feelings of anxiety.

It is a hard time for some who are just now getting the opportunity to get back on their feet and go out into the world after years of being incarcerated and/or suffering from substance use. REAL LIFE helps Lifers to get clean, deal with emotions, find employment, and get onto a path for living an autonomous life. Lifers have to want to be here, and many mentioned how blessed and thankful they feel to be given another chance at life. They expressed being thankful to be alive, healthy, housed, employed, and for their families. Some of these things have been enhanced by being at REAL LIFE, but the program also has helped Lifers to realize what they have, and how grateful they should be for the little things, because just having the chance to be alive, out of prison, and striving, every day is incredible.

Goals are something that Lifers are encouraged to set. Just following through on one small goal at a time is useful. Some shared that they wanted to focus on their health, others on attaining a job or following up on opportunities to advance in the company, and others on ideals such as patience and gratitude. Each of these goals gives Lifers something to work towards and look forward to every day. Additionally, mending family relationships and spending time with loved ones is a common goal many have. With addiction and incarceration comes a lot of pain, not only for the person directly impacted, but for their families as well. During the context of the pandemic, seeing family can be hard. One said they were grateful because their entire family had COVID and recovered, and he was able to welcome a new little niece into the family as well.

Some Lifers expressed the hardships that come with recovery. Feelings of worry, anxiety, fear, and sadness can sometimes take over, and make it harder to stay focused. Health and job-related anxiety can be overwhelming for some, and several members expressed how badly they want to be out and working again instead of cooped up inside. One took something that had been a fear for a long time, bridges, and decided to overcome that fear the other day when he crossed one to catch a bus. A step like this is a huge accomplishment, and encourages others to be brave, and take a leap of faith.

Additionally, we discussed the importance of patience during uncertain times. Starting a new journey from scratch and having to get everything together again, whether that be a job, bank account, place to stay, or one’s headspace, can be really hard, but patience can help one to stay centered as they work on one thing at a time. Staying focused on oneself and what is good for each is a mantra that Lifers try to abide by every day. With the New Year, members also feel that now is a good time for a fresh start, and they have many hopes for getting things done. These weekly sessions are something that Lifers seem to really appreciate and benefit from. They express the thankfulness to be able to share what is going on in their lives with the group, and to have people who listen to and care about them at this program. Having support is not something they have always had, but it can really make a difference in someone’s mindset and outlook on life.