Where Words Meet Addiction: Part 3

By Anna Joranger: Continued from Part 2.

…The myth of Persephone struck Maia as a relevant theme for her workshop.

“It’s about loss and redemption, transitions, being trapped in the underworld and escaping,” Maia said of her choice.

Each participant worked with Maia for an individualized number of weeks based on her personal recovery program (after an hour with Maia, the girls also participated in an hour of group therapy each Wednesday evening). I asked Maia in January how many girls had worked with her since the program began in November 2011.

“Only two,” she said then; the transient nature of the Youth Treatment Program presented a constant challenge for Maia. A third girl showed up for one day in January but was then arrested.

These first two girls were quiet and reluctant to express themselves. One girl wrote during her time with Maia, I come from my mother’s tears. During the workshop she appeared collected. But the HAS staff member who ran the girls’ therapy session told Maia that after the writing workshop, this young woman spent the next hour shedding unprecedented tears.

Maia tried to choose materials that would leave the door open in case participants wanted to talk about or express their personal stories, while also allowing them to steer clear of personal details and simply discuss Persephone as a metaphor. “I’m open to whatever comes up in our conversations,” Maia said. “But I’m not trying to push.”

A few of Maia’s students have written before on their own despite no formal creative writing classes. Others told Maia on day one, “I hate to write.” Ultimately, though, they all produced. They created a collage utilizing images of Persephone, rescuers, and the underworld as they imagined it. They discussed metaphorical questions and used those questions as writing prompts. If Persephone were a real person, what would she be like? How did she fall into her situation? She was stuck and had no way out. If only she had kept going on her way she wouldn’t have been in a hole. Remember “fair is foul and foul is fair,” you can’t trust anyone because you can’t read their minds by looking at their face. As beautiful as it can seem, it can be ugly as a crow without good intentions.

There were also hopeful words. Falling can be good, like falling out of any bad thing you are going through. Like the leaves falling out of the tree, that means more new ones and a new start will arrive. And when the rain falls it helps new flowers grow. When your fears fall off those sad eyes it’s cleaning out that dark feeling you have. Continued in Part 4.