” This is a Place Where We Re-humanize Ourselves”

Benjamin Fyten contributes this article.  He has been a founding participant at our peer center in Winston-Salem, which began in early July, almost 18 months ago.  To learn more about the t GreenTree Peer Center or contact NC CANSO.  
We began as a handful of acquaintances, all of us consumers of mental health care.  By now, we are a pool of individuals empowering each other in friendship.  As one of us summed it up: “This is a place where we re-humanize ourselves.”

A person unfamiliar with the challenges that most consumers face may wonder what it means to re-humanize.  For the consumer, the best definition of the word is: the initiation or restoration of the authority to make personal choices in all departments of life.

 We are not different from the general public in this sense.  Liberty carries responsibility, and to the degree that a person willingly undertakes the task of being a good neighbor and citizen to his fellows is the degree to which societal satisfactions will be theirs for the asking.  What we are rapidly discovering as a group, however, is that, for the consumer, the means of constructing a purposeful life have been blocked and limited at virtually every level, and by a variety of infrastructures.

 For example, when a consumer seeks employment, it rarely matters how thoroughly they qualify for the position.  Instead, they encounter the employer’s assumption that they will not be able to hold the job.  Faced with this brick wall, many consumers allow themselves to surrender to a false sense of resignation.  Many consumers even come to share the working world’s opinion of them, and to stop acquiring skills through education, volunteer work, and the like.

It doesn’t stop there.  Consumers may become their own worst enemy.  Blending difficult family dynamics (often consumers hold a scapegoat role), the many defeats brought about by excessive medicine and unnecessary confinement, skepticism from the general public and the police which regulate it, and many other such harrowing elements of a daily existence, consumers frequently forecast generalized failure for themselves.

Green Tree Peers offers an alternative—a true and viable alternative!—to those of us who are willing to take the first few steps toward recovery.  Honesty in self-disclosure within a community, a community that can relate to the problems of an individual without pronouncing judgments upon them, is very important as a foundation of recovery.  One of us estimates that he has seen over a half dozen fundamental changes of attitude in participants—and countless incidents of a one-time guest turning toward hope.

 As we aim more accurately toward the creation of skills and employability, what remains most important is the healing bond of loving friendship—and we invite any consumer to experience for themselves the tremendous power of trust in fellowship.  Whether you stop in occasionally, or make a commitment to complete seminars designed effectively to expand horizons in life across the board, you will benefit from the process involved.

 Friendships empower friends.  As it is truly said: “Love never fails.”




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