I have GOT, GOT, GOT to share this with you guys. But before I proceed the person I am about to talk about has given me permission to share.
I met someone the other day at work, I had met them before at a monthly meeting I chair, but it transpired that i’d been totally wrong about this person the whole time she had been coming to the meetings. It transpires that after all this time chairing those meetings I didn’t know “fuck all” about why she was even there.
This person has been coming along to my meetings now for the past 2 years. All of this time, I thought that she was there representing Hallam University in a work capacity, one of the lecturers / researchers.
Now let me give you some context as to why I don’t have much regard for people from the university. Not that I don’t personally dislike anyone, don’t get me wrong, but I think I have more of a dislike about the universities integraty for the subject they are researching, after all these are peoples “fucking lives for fuck sake” Rant over I digress
A few years ago there was this BIG there globally renown addiction professor who had taken a post at Hallam University. I was excited, I had cited this guys work in my dissertation paper and saw a great opportunity for the Sheffield Recovery Community to play am invaluable role, in educating and informing research around Addiction and Recovery, which would ultimately helps us achieve our biggest objective, which is to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. We met, they were excited, we were excited, there was a year of brilliant collaboration, big bids for research projects, we got some financial support for some of the recovery activities, life was tickety boo.
Individuals from the Sheffield Recovery Community were at their disposal, willing participants “guinea pigs” in their pursuit for research. However, three years on and with BIG European bids behind them, travelling all around the world to talk about “their research” we are lucky to get even one of them to the meeting at all now, well apart from the one person I am going to talk about.
This person has been coming along to my meetings now for the past 2 years, she is the chair of one of the research groups. And I would have continued to think that, until she shared something in Thursdays meeting. In the meeting we were throwing ideas around about a launch event, coming up in September, which essentially is going to be a two week art display for people in recovery to come have a look around, take part and share their recovery stories.
Still bliss fully unaware, I’m still thinking this person is her to study addiction/recovery, I have to admit, yes she seem a little more genuinely interested in peoples stories than the other university mob, she attends all the meetings, she participates, she comes up with ideas – Basically it doesn’t feel like she treats us like guinea pigs.
As we were talking/sharing ideas for the art gallery, she talked about how creativity and doing something with your hands can be a big part of peoples recovery, then went on to share about how she herself had taken up a hobby, making felt animals. Everyone initially looked a little blank and we asked what are they?
She she proceeded to explain and look for some pictures of her work on her phone and share them around the group.
They were ace and according to Marianne, my business support, they were very ‘in’ at the moment. She explained how she had made them for friends up and down the country and had sold a few. She bashfully tried to reassure people that making money wasn’t her intention. I wa like “fuck that, if you can make some money, there aint no shame in that”.
It was then that I saw something in her, I saw myself, I saw “vulnerability.” I knew straight away that her sharing this with the group, was a BIG deal for her, something she probably kept private, something she hadn’t shared with many people outside of her close friendship circle. Pretty much like me writing this blog, or writing a book, I mean who’d have thought eh, “Big Bad Fordy” would be baring her soul to the world, or even thinking she is good enough to write a book? I immediately felt the need to encourage her, to be proud of her art, it wasn’t something to be ashamed of and if it worked for her then thats all that matters. “god I wish I was as good as this talking to me sen all the time” I am working on it, ‘I promise.’
Later on in the meeting, she mentions AA groups and the fact that there was a new venue, again I was thinking , “Mmmmm what a surprise, works for the university AND in recovery, just goes to show how judgmental and unaware I can be”
At the end of the meeting, I felt I had to go up to her and tell her, “nice one for sharing that, I could tell it took a lot of courage” she explained that “she just gets a little embarrassed, in fact, she also does Rieki and does it for free for friends etc, and world never dream of charging because she still doesn’t feel in a place where she can call herself a reiki practitioner” even though she has had some great feedback from clients. I was like “well if its free, ya can do it on me, I love rieki” So I shared something private about me doing this blog and writing a book and that I could totally relate to her about not being able to “Put it out there yet”.
I’d decided on the way to my next meeting that I would share my link to this blog, because I think she would get it and not judge. I’m ashamed to say that I also thought, ‘Hell I bet she might even come in handy or know someone who could help with editing me book, when I finally fucking finish it, having connections in the university and all that’. Just being honest
I left the meeting that day thinking to me sen, “See tracey, you think your right about someone and how wrong you can be”.
But little did I know how wrong I was.
Two days later
It was Saturday morning, I was sat typing away, working on the book and I thought ‘ooo I’ll see if she’s on facebook and send her friends request.’ I looked, but I couldn’t find her, the only person that came up was actually someone who worked for the same company my old man sub contracts from. I was thinking , ‘nahhh thats not her.’ I decided to go to a mutual mates page, someone who sits on the same meeting she chairs, they seem friendly? I’ll see if they are mates. There she is again, but theres no reference to working at a university, but apparently she does appear to work at this company our old man works with?
To say I was confused was an understatement, I knew that there was NO way I be able to wait until our next meeting and ask her, I know she doesn’t use facebook that much, because she’d already shared ion the meeting that she doesn’t know how to work it. So I messaged me mate asking for her number, he sent it and I sent a text…
“Hi xxx it’s tracey ford, hope you don’t mind me getting in touch, xxxxx gave me your number x was looking for you on Facebook, found you and it says you work for xxxxxx xxxxxxx is this right? My old man works for them too x”
I could not wait for her reply, and didn’t have to wait long before I got one
“Hi Tracey course I don’t mind. You’re kidding who ? X”
I replied asking her to call me, which she did and “Fuck me sideways“, “slap me in the face with the biggest fucking kipper” – It turns out she doesn’t even fucking work for the university! We talked for ages, and it transpires;
- Yes she chairs the research panel, but in a service user capacity and as a volunteer.
- She works one day a week for the family company, but only works one day a week
- She has been taking time out to work on her recovery, learning about herself
- Been Busy making them felt toys
- Doing a bit of Yoga here, a bit of Reiki there
- She has actually been in recovery from alcohol for FIVE years.
I could actually go on and on about this experience, it actually gave me goose bumps when talking to her. And without sounding stalkerish I reckon we will stay in touch outside off a work capacity, after all I still want me FREE reiki session AND one of them felt toys she makes, to have on me writing desk as a gentle reminder that;
- I don’t know everything
- I can get things AND people wrong
- I will always not just learning about myself, but others around me.
- If I don’t, could be missing out on a lot more
- AND TO TAKE MORE NOTICE OF PEOPLE WHO ATTEND “MY” MEETINGS
Thats it folks, reet I’m off to get me sen ready for a wedding
Have a great Sunday