Monsters are real
February 19, 2020
This blog post is inspired by the lines below, which are a part of an invocation shared by our CEO Dr. Jane Matheson at some of our events:
We pray for those
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.
‘Monsters’ are real for most of the families and youth in our care. Their monsters are with them in the night – and sometimes, even in the day – hiding in the shadows, under their beds and in their dreams.
The youth and families who access our programs are all looking for something similar – safety from their monsters. It’s a simple feeling that many families struggle to achieve, sometimes for generations. Through the addictions program, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many youth and families who are unsure about what they’re actually seeking from me. In the end, it almost always comes down to safety – more specifically, safety while using (harm reduction), safety in conversations and safety in sobriety.
I was looking for something that would help keep the monsters at bay and provide a barrier so that they could no longer enter our clients’ dreams. The solution came in the form of an addiction dream catcher – woven by our hands, and made with colours representing fear, hope, resilience and remembrance. Silver, for example, represents those who have passed away by overdose or the effects of long term substance abuse. Lavender represents new beginnings and the essence of resiliency, strength and hope.
Along with Deseria, our peer mentor at the EXIT Youth Hub, we took this idea to the streets and to connect with the youth who access Wood’s Homes’ satellite schools.
Deseria’s story is not so different from many of the young people in our care, which really allowed her to engage with them. Even though she was the product of a (sometimes) broken system, she was determined it would not define who she is. At one time, she had been homeless, addicted and scared of the monsters in the night. But when I watched Deseria as she modeled how to wrap fears into dream catchers, I saw glimmers of hope in her eyes. She now has a house, is gainfully employed, a leader in Wood’s Homes Youth Culinary Arts Program, a high school graduate and on her way to university.
When she sat with the F. E. Osborne students, Deseria provided guidance and answered all of their questions. She was able to explain the real life monsters – the ones that lurk in addictions and homelessness – all while using metaphors and tales to engage the youth. This was also the last week of Deseria’s peer mentorship, and I cannot think of a better way to collaborate the experiences she has lived, and the lessons she has learned, in the mentorship program.
At the end of the day, each of the youth who participated in the group were able to take their dream catchers back to their rooms. With the dream catchers at their side, we hope that no monsters will be able to visit their dreams.