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Posted: May 25, 2005 14:11

FROM A CONSULTANT/FATHER

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Judge Mason, IECA
Sedona, Arizona
928-284-5719
Verde Valley School
928-284-2272 x123
www.judgemason.oeg

Dear Folks,

Since Shannon's arrest for crystal meth possession and use and a weeping phone call from the country jail on September 1, 2004, this is our path:

1. In the supportive and sympathetic emails from colleagues were several nudgings toward NOT being our daughter's consultant, which resulted in our hiring Rob Meltzer CO, a very fine choice. He has been both therapist and consultant and has insisted on our participation in Shannon's recovery with his therapy, our own working with an insightful family therapist and consistent engagement in Shannon's programs. Our lawyer, Irish cowboy Tom Kelley, worked the system to assure that Shannon's felony for possession and use would be reduced to a misdemeanor after she completes her programs. However, as we began that process, Shannon reminded me and Holly, "Dad, I AM a Felon, and being a Felon is what saved my life!"

2. Shannon had an excellent experience at Passages To Recovery with her therapist Beth Fogel, and her llama, where she began to understand the depth of work needed to begin to heal, and to begin to internalize the 12-step program. Her llama and the group taught her some indelible lessons and Beth's therapy fit my generic description of good programs: Loving and relentless.

3. Shannon went to Mirasol in Tucson, AZ, an eating disorder program [crystal meth had helped her to lose weight, from 150 to 110 lbs], and there with Becca she learned to examine and value the importance of good nutrition and working out her issues. At Mirasol, she came down from the 'high' of Passages to the earthy practicality of Mirasol, a very supportive and important piece of her recovery.

4. At present [since early December], she is at Dragonfly Adventures in Klamath Falls, OR, - like Mirasol, a small program [seven clients] - where Rob has placed several other clients. Glenn and Mona, owner/operators, have epitomized 'loving and relentless' in making Shannon feel safe, helping her to find a job while answering YES to the application's question: Have you ever been convicted of a felony?, and giving her opportunities to begin reaching out and feeling her strength rather than hiding in her anxiety. She has a wonderful therapist, 'Jewish mother' and clinical director Sharon Melnik. Shannon has a job and her own apartment, passed her six-month sobriety on March 9, and her strength and confidence are evidence both of the environment she is in and the gentle [and relentless] nudging Sharon, Glenn and Mona are providing as she explores the next steps in her life. As I write this, we are in the third and last day of a very hopeful family visit, complete with tears and laughter. Our sense is that she is on track for self-sufficiency sometime late this year.

5. There's nothing like having a child go through these programs to soften the heart of a sometimes glib consultant with regard to the shock, the pain, the anxiety, the sense of loss and guilt and the financial burden that my families go through on the way to their child's health. Each of my clients receives a more sympathetic listen, gets to hear my and Shannon's story and then we march together through each step of the process. And I now understand in depth what I say to clients: When the crisis is over, you will see this focused time of your family's life as a gift your child has given you - the knowledge of the fragility and preciousness of life and the need to attend to every moment of our time together.

6. I told Shannon yesterday at breakfast that there are great numbers of folks out there whom she doesn't know, but who know about her -- in IECA, at Verde Valley School, in my clients' families - who are quietly keeping her in their hearts… She liked that idea.

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