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After the Retreat…

BALM | November 9, 2020


Did you hear?

We held an online retreat in the BALM community this weekend. With almost forty of us filling the Hollywood Squares of our online Zoom rooms, we shared an unexpected intimacy without a physical hug or held hand.

It was almost uncanny.

And yet, there we were, strangers, acquaintances, and friends, moving in the direction of inner peace and loving conversation preparation for the benefit of our struggling loved ones and ourselves.

Of course, we had no idea if it would work without physical, in person contact over a 2 1/2 day weekend…

After all, last year, we did the same retreat in person. By the end, former strangers felt like long held friends and old ways of thinking began to melt away. Family members left prepared to hold challenging conversations with troubled loved ones. Courage and love filled the air. We walked the grounds of the beautiful retreat center together, eating scrumptious vegetarian cuisine, and staying in comfortable light-filled rooms. The meeting room was cozy and yet large enough for the 15 of us to spread out on sofas and chairs. A large living room  with  white boards and a movie screen  provided the light, warmth, and comfort needed to create the perfect environment to free us to grow individually and together.

How could we possibly equal all of that on Zoom calls? Yet we did…our days were long and highly structured and included required classes on the 7 Steps process along with optional coaching sessions, meal times, and extra activities designed to deepen the experience and the camaraderie. And they did…

This year, in addition to hours and days of learning together, we even had a highly attended musical concert and movie on Saturday night with Folksinger Storyteller Matt Butler who wove his songs and stories of the world of active SUD and the growth of recovery in a way that deeply touched and inspired participants. We honored Sasha McLean, Executive Director of Archway Academy of Houston  after the concert  and then watched the renowned documentary about her school and the teen recovery movement in Houston, Texas.  And Fed Up Leader and BALM member, Tony LaGreca, joined us to share in the music and movie.

I have to admit I’m still on a high from the weekend. After interacting with the 28 amazing, courageous family members and 10 BALM Family Recovery Life Coaches in attendance, I found myself inspired to deepen my BALM recovery and to continue to help others do so.  We hugged through internet walls, loving on each other, growing together, smiling, laughing and crying together as we went.  We may have slept in our own bedrooms, but we dwelt together for the weekend in an almost palpable way, encouraging the journey from chaos to calm in each others’ lives. Participants asked for a list of each others’ names and numbers to allow for continued contact and many asked for further coaching after the retreat. Clearly, this weekend was a beginning of greater growth for all of us, individually and as a group.

The loving path of BALM family recovery asks us to be our best, most loving selves so we can get our lives back and help our struggling loved ones get theirs back. When we gather together to do this work, whether in person or online, we greatly multiply our own inner strength and the loving power of our community members.

So grateful to all of the BALM family members who joined us and the many coaches who came to help them grow in their family recovery. To my co-facilitator Michael DeForbes, our Retreat Administrator Lori Bolen, and our tech team Jerico Ang and Joan Geocadin, we couldn’t have done it without you!

All of your commitment to family love and family recovery is a living testament to the power of love and connection on the recovery path.

With love and best wishes for you and your families,