Ironwood Maine Web Update

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zag Zaglar

            The Ironwood program is hard work, for both guardians and residents alike. It can seem easy to lose faith and give up hope in the program. But really, if one does that, they are ultimately forfeiting on themselves and their recovery. Finding little things that bring joy and a sense of self-fulfillment can really keep you going throughout this program. Even tiny milestones or slight glimmers of light can be just enough to keep someone from giving up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to get there in order to see it.

            New residents are always coming, which can be a challenge not only for the arriving teen, but also the Frye group as a whole. However, Frye is the most pivotal point in a lot of people’s programs. It is where residents accept that they are here, have things they need to work on, and that there’s no way that they can get out of getting help. Once someone is ready to embrace that, they are ready to take on the program, which is a big kick starter to many people’s journeys of healing. It takes some longer than others, with some taking only several weeks to make this discovery and others taking several months. Everyone is different, and true growth cannot be rushed. Be patient, and don’t give up hope. Even if it takes longer than expected, your child will get there. 

            The groups down at Frye are working on being responsible. Individuals are learning about taking accountability, and understanding how their actions can affect themselves and their futures. With that, they are creating the foundations of a strong work ethic, along with learning cooperation and the basics of contributing to a community of like-minded people.  

            Because a large part of Frye is being outdoors, residents are learning competency in their fire making skills. Due to the reflection area being moved a few months ago, the wooded area does shield residents from wind, which makes the fire starting a bit easier. Fire making, although seemingly futile at times, is actually an amazing lesson of self-reliance and accountability. Additionally, it can really make someone feel good if they get a decent, sustainable fire going on. 

            Because new members are always coming up to join the Farm House community, the group dynamic is shifting. Yet, this is always the case and can be a wonderful change if embraced. Being able to get to know different sides to people as we all independently grow into healthier versions of ourselves can be exciting, and even help you become closer to those around you. The groups will continue to evolve with departures, as well. With two back to back graduations scheduled for this week, everyone has been busy creating scrapbook pages for the two soon-to-be graduates. Any time that there is a graduation, even though it can be hard in many ways to see someone go on to the next phase of their life, it is ultimately a major source of inspiration and a joyous moment to see a friend successfully better themselves.

            Although there was a lot of snow a bit earlier in the winter season, this week has been warmer than weeks prior. All of the snow that only a few days ago shrouded the Morrill area in thick, conglomerated coats is completely gone. Yet we are still setting up for Christmas, with the downstairs of the Farm House looking as though “Christmas threw up in here.” as an upstairs resident astutely observed. The house has been adorned with a myriad of decorations. Lights are webbed all over the ceilings, tinsel lines almost all of the windowsills and ornate Santa dolls are seated upon the tops of the bookshelves. The advent calendar gifts all of us with daily goodies, and each day at lunch, a student opens up a door and reads aloud the privilege that we’ve been granted. This most recent Sunday, the Farm House community left campus to chop down a tree from a local orchard. We returned with two, and one has been placed inside of the house, while the other resides in the garage. They have both been adorned with ornaments. Our community has truly been enveloped by festivities.

            The therapeutic groups at the Farm House are really honing in on interpersonal effectiveness and conflict resolution, as such topics are being discussed in therapeutic groups, and have been for a few weeks prior. Social skills group is really helping us master nonviolent communication. The DBT group is helping us recognize our own defense mechanisms, where they stem from, and how to combat them with mental re-framing and self-awareness. DBT is helping us in recognizing other people’s emotion, how to read body language, tone, and facial expressions.

            In the Farm House recovery group, we have been talking about how certain seasons, events, and/or times of year can stir up memories or feelings that were prevalent years prior. For a lot of us, the holiday season can bring up difficult emotions and unpleasant memories and regrets. In recovery group, we’ve been discussing how to move on from that struggle, while also validating ourselves and not suppressing how we feel. 

            The skill of awareness and radical acceptance isn’t only prevalent to recovering from an addiction or seasonal based trauma, but can apply to anyone. Learning to address the past, to accept it and move on without harping on it for weeks or months at a time, isn’t something that can be rushed or forced. But when you don’t fight the wave, rather learn how to sail alongside it, using the natural tide of emotions to bring you right back to the shore, you can truly let go of those negative feelings that are resurfaced by situations, and begin to enjoy those situations once again. 

            Recently, the Farm House has been working on first aid skills, and working towards all of us becoming Red Cross certified. Chris J. is facilitating the classes, which will help all of us to know what to look out for in a time of need for others, and possibly how to save a life in the future. Whether you want to go to medical school, are a fan of “Grey’s Anatomy” and are convinced that you know how to do brain surgery from watching it, or know nothing about any sort of medical things; knowing the basics of what to do when a health crisis arises can be more than beneficial for anyone.

            As we are exposed to new activities, learn new skills, and pick up new hobbies, we ultimately learn more about ourselves along the way. It may be hard to see it now, but every day is one step closer to the end goal. Every epiphany, every therapeutic break through, every folder goal completed, is your child encroaching closer and closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. But really, that light that they are working towards is a mirror, reflecting the brightness that your child held within them all along. 

*All of us at Ironwood wish all of you back home a very pleasant weekend. 😊