On Episode 18 of the Hope Dealer, we have Ed McDonough, GateHouse of New Hampshire’s CEO, Nathan Irvine, GateHouse Founder, and Mike Beyer, a Case Manager at GateHouse. They also did this episode on Facebook live, if you want to watch the video, head over to our Facebook page! On this episode, Ed and the guys are talking about life skills. When most of us hear life skills, we don’t think about doing dishes or taking out the trash. These are some of the most important things that have to be learned in early recovery.
Structure at GateHouse and Accountability
Simple things like making your bed in the morning, cleaning up after yourself, doing your laundry and taking the trash out are all things that are the structure in the GateHouse Treatment program. While these may seem like normal tasks, these are important when you’re learning how to live life again.
Mike pointed out that when he was growing up, his parents did everything for him. He didn’t know that you shouldn’t mix colors and whites doing laundry. Things like that must be taught, but until they are simple tasks like laundry are pushed off and not done out of fear of having to ask someone for help. Having someone like a case manager can help because you don’t have to feel shameful about not knowing how to do these things.
Budgeting in Early Sobriety
Budgeting is something that many people struggle with, not just those in early recovery. Finances are a learning process for many of us. Money for a long time was a means to get more of what we needed. That was its only value; money was used at the moment for what we needed. There was no concept of saving or impulse control when it came to money.
Nathan had to be taught how to budget with his sponsor and his grand-sponsor. He had to be shown that money that wasn’t going towards bills like rent or groceries could be saved and used to do things like financial amends and to create savings.
Case Managers like Mike, help you relearn the value of money and how to utilize what you have. For example, when they go grocery shopping, he helps teach the clients to look for sales and off-brand products taste just as good as the more expensive brand names.
“I was very nearsighted in early recovery; I didn’t realize that an extra $20 or $50 I wanted to spend could be part of a down payment towards an apartment or a better car.” Many of us in early recovery don’t think beyond the here and now. Ed also points out that once we’ve begun to make our amends, we can also begin to make financial amends. Life skills at GateHouse also include living the steps and carrying the principles learned into all our affairs.
Small Acts of Integrity and Accountability
Having a case manager in long-term recovery is beneficial to those new to recovery, it’s not just someone telling you what to do. Case managers are telling you what they’ve done themselves or things that they’ve seen work in the lives of others. At GateHouse in our PHP program, we go as far as having chore lessons. That way no one has to feel ashamed of not knowing how to do things or feel like they have to ask for help with those things. It is offered to them so the fear of not knowing how to ask for help yet, doesn’t hinder them.
Nathan said that he had to be shown how to take part in his own life. Fear can keep us from asking for help and can allow us to suffer in silence until we learn how to ask for help. Opening up to others is something that many in early recovery struggle with, even those with a little more time do too. Nathan also made his walking in the woods analogy. If you’ve been walking in the woods (substance abuse) for 5 years, you’re not going to get out in 30 days.
Learning to live life in sobriety is a process, we’re here to help with that process at GateHouse.
Setting Boundaries While Your Loved One is in Treatment
Case Managers come into play at this point in a huge way. Once clients start working sometimes, parents still want to send them money or send care packages to them. By their parents doing this, they are enabling the clients to an extent. Parents and loved ones don’t want to see them struggle, but at a certain point it crosses helping, and it becomes a hindrance to growth.
The process at GateHouse is to help clients learn how to stand on their own two feet again. Case Managers act as training wheels in this setting; they help you steady yourself and teach you how to do life in the aspects of everyday things. Then the training wheels come off, it’s still a process. It doesn’t stop once a client leaves GateHouse.
Mike said that even at 5 and a half years sober, it’s still a process for him with some things. We have to continue to grow in our life in all aspects, from our 12-step program, relationships, and working on our overall health. No one can do this on their own; we have to remain teachable. All three men point out that it’s okay not to know how to do everything.
Stay tuned in with us for episode 19 of the Hope Dealer!