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Pride At Work: A Poem by Channah VanRegenmorter

June 16, 2021

cindy

The following poem was sent in by one of our Eleanor Health team members in celebration of Pride Month.

 

Pride at Work

By Channah VanRegenmorter 

 

I slip the mask, bright teal, over my mouth.
Its loops tugging at my ears.
Its words spell “Eleanor Health.”

“You treat me like a human,” he says, 
swirling cream into the cup of coffee I handed him.
“It feels good.”

“You are a human,” I say. 
“We are so privileged to have you here.”
I mean it.
We unpeel his urine drug screen result, together.
We tell the nurse what it shows,
and he falls into the rhythm of his visit.

I go back to my computer and start reading.
“They talk to you like a person and are real with you.”
I think of my colleagues,
proud, strong, clear-sighted warriors.
They talk to me like a person too.

I am a woman with a wife.
14 years ago, I told my then-supervisor,
“I’m getting married.”
“No, you’re not,” she said.
“That’s not marriage.
I will pretend you didn’t tell me this.
Don’t tell anyone else.”

I’ve since learned the weight of silence,
and I say no now, to any job that requires silence.
My now-supervisor goes far beyond acceptance.
She celebrates — with rainbow emojis, cheers, and grit.
Her bold ally-ship is startling, fierce, and firm.
She celebrates my family, with sincerity, with joy.

When I was a 13, being called “lesbo” and slammed against lockers,
the gym teacher was fired. 
It was because of her hair, they whispered.
It was because of her chiseled chin, they said.
She had a roommate, they said. At 30.
It was against G-d, they said.

I go back to work, reading our reviews.
“Everyone cares. They don’t beat you down.”

There is a terrible myth in this work —
that people with addictions need harshness, not love,
judgment, not acceptance,
that if you beat out the addiction, that it will go away.

This is a story that sits on chests, 
That hunches shoulders,
Stills speaking,
Suffocates sparks,
and drips shame into all of the sacred places.

I’ve been beaten in body,
a shattered wrist, bruises blooming on my shins,
and I’ve been beaten in spirit, the words dead before they hit my lips.
Scar tissue is stronger than soft flesh,
but the strength comes in the healing, not from the beating.

“Truly judgment free, and you can be honest.”
Knitting one’s soul back together is possible,
but the yarn is made not of fabric but of truths
spoken and shared and tangled together with others’ truths
and colored with compassion and the light that comes from being truly seen.

 

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Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

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