An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate
Shortly after I was graduated from University I accepted a Job at a grand mansion turn professional club. Its membership was composed of successful Doctors, Lawyers and, Businessmen. Each morning I would take down the gate and grab my dust bin. I policed the grounds and surrounding sidewalk for chewing gum and cigarette butts. Prior to the lunch rush and during the ladies card club I cleaned the inside of the mansion as quietly as I could. The card ladies grew more forgiving after the first Bloody Mary, so I learned to vacuum last. Over the noon hour I would park all manner of fine cars.
One afternoon Willy, my partner, and I were given a coal shovel and sack. Our Boss opened a large trapdoor. An ancient wooden ladder and dirt floor were dimly revealed. He then told us we were to climb down into the cellar and shovel up all the dead rats we could find. Half way down Willy came face to face with a red strobe light. He yelled up what is the light for? Our boss yelled down: "That keeps the Rats from chewing on the wires". Willy and I silently glanced at each other as if to say "What is to keep the rats from chewing on us".
We managed to shovel up three blotted cat sized rats. With little ceremony we tossed our find into the garbage bin and dowsed it with a pungent agent that smelled like cherries.
The next morning I was picking up cigarette butts and chewing gum as usual. Just then a pair of old black shoes stood in front of me. I looked up to see one of my old professor/Priests. My face turned red with shame. Only a few years prior I sat at the head of his class as he read my blue book essays aloud to the class.
He said "Brian what brings you here?" Tearfully I said I get these nervous spells and this is the best I can do for now. Father said "all work has value". He paused and then asked, "are you doing your best keeping the sidewalks clean?" I said yes Father. Father said, "then that is the beginning and the end of it. Do your best with the situation you find yourself in, and there is no room for shame". Before parting he quietly gave me his blessing.
I think that pretty much sums up recovery. As long as you do your best with the situation you find yourself in, you are recovering.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration,
Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.
© 2016 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA