20 years the social worker for addicted, street-affiliated institutionalized adults.

The therapist. 

       The Helper.      

               2 decades of wonderful daily challenge.


“You’re only a failure if you believe it.”

“I believe it.”

“Which?  What I just said or what they said?”

“No, man, it’s not about them.  It’s what I say.”

“Which do you say?”

“That they’re right.”

(Forgetting about ‘them’) “About what?”

“About me.”

“That you’re a failure?”


“What did you fail at today?”

“Look at my life.  Look at where I am.”

(Firmly & slowly redirecting) “What did you

fail at today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you get up this morning?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Piss?  Shit?  Wash up afterward?”

“Yeah.  ‘Course.”

“Make the bed?  “Straighten things up?”

“Yeah?  What’s this got to do with shit?”

(Keeping focused) “Show up for our appointment?”

“I was late.”

“Are you here?”

“Yeah, I’m here.  What’s this all about anyway?”

(Keeping focused) “Are you here?”

“Yes, I am here.”

(Quietly) “What did you fail at today?”

“If you put it that way, nothing yet, I guess.”

“Did you give yourself credit for any of that?”

“What you did.”

“No, not really.  I mean, it’s such small stuff.”

(Puzzled tone) “You said ‘stuff.’  Usually you say ‘shit.’”

“See what I mean: you make stuff out of nothing.”

(Focused) “You said ‘stuff.’”

“O.K., I said ‘stuff.’  Are we finished yet?”

(Exhale, feel shoulders come down, smile appears)  “Yes.”

“This shit is really crazy.”

“Yes, it is.  Next week?”

“I don’t know…”

“Same Bat time?  Same Bat channel?”

“Same Bat time.  Same Bat channel.”


Now retired:


Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Gived us a break from your stream of consciousness!


    • George,

      This dialog is not “stream of consciousness,” but that’s not what I want to address.

      Two or three times now you’ve urged me to write as you would approve rather than as I desire. Each time I’ve considered your request and, as is evident by your repeated urgings, I’ve failed to meet your requests. Given this history it is my belief that the writings in Welcome! will continue to displease you. Out of respect for your intellectual and aesthetic comfort I will no longer alert you to new postings. Should you find out about them by some other source and then read them, the responsibility for your discomfort will be wholly on you.



  2. Well said. Life is presenting many changes for you, also. Keep on doing what you’re doing…and if anyone does not like what they are reading, they should stop reading it….


  3. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we succeed at. We also don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we “failed at”. Where did all these ideas that we failed at anything come from in the first place? Why is this failure so bad anyway?

    We are surrounded by people pushing us to do things, implying we’re failures if we don’t do those things. But doing all these things is not only impossible, most of them are against our basic priorities. Not doing must outweigh doing. It is critically important to our happiness that we fail somehow, somewhere, for someone.

    Lately I’ve found that if I think down to the person or people who originally defined the nature of the failure, the issue resolves itself. Every priority we have was created at a specific point in time, by a specific person. Is it someone I care about? Is it someone I should care about? Do they have more perspective on this subject than I do? Yes? No? It’s surprising how many of my priorities originally came from brief conversations with silly people. (People I only know from television are the worst offenders.)


  4. You should write a book. You’ve got the time and the talent.


  5. Ahh, Richard. I agree with Emily above. I have a feeling that the jobs list sounds a little like a vacation or a day off. You are much too vivid a person to be littering cats (which I thought was a $75 fine). I liked this piece, it reminds me that you did exceptional work in a Socratic Social Work mode. I’m just getting a soda at intermission and waiting on the next act…


  6. Gee, it’s hard to not be envious of time to do these things. I’m working with this. What can I say???


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