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From Weak Family to Family Week at Vista Taos Renewal Center

During Family Week at Vista Taos the families, for the most part, arrive the first day of training rigid with doubt, anger, hurt, and fear.  They are here to support “THEM” they say, and they don’t want to be psychoanalysized or blamed.  They just want to know how to put an end to the madness that substance abuse brought to their lives, and return their lives to a comfortable normal.  They also long for their loved one to be returned to them as they remember them being, in a time long before.  Because they understand they are here to participate in change, most family members are grudgingly compliant.  Mid week of the five day training is the pivotal point when the tension of defiance of family denial peaks, and most often surrender occurs, resulting in a clear understanding of their part in this collage of dysfunction.  Suddenly the trainer is no longer a person to be tolerated, but a source of understanding they now want and need.  Emotions begin to emerge unrestrained; the group becomes self-supportive taking on an identity, as all groups do.

Now, because they grappled with the darkness that falls on everyone close to the disease of addiction, and because they were urged, pleaded with, and guided to comply with the exercises designed to free them from being hostages to the disease, we can now offer a home for the light.  This light is born from a sense of peace, a letting go of anger, an emergence of compassion.  This is the beginning of the families search for an answer.  This is the first step toward a lifetime of recovery for all from a chronic, progressive, fatal disease.

While the training shifts their focus toward healing, the appropriate caveats are also offered:   the need for planning, the challenges of the first year of recovery, guidelines for relapse, a clearer understanding of what it means to “work a program”.  The training ends with a sharing of resources, often an exchange of phone numbers between participants, and with a celebration of completion, a final gift of hope.

Daniel Clothier

Vista Taos Renewal Center

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