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Chris Salomons - Red Deer Advocate

As the kitchen coordinator at Potter's Hands, I am witness to plenty of strange, weird, funny, tragic, and wonderful happenings. But the greatest part of this work is the people that I meet. In this blog, I will introduce you to the people and things I observe, experience, and deal with as well as some of our plans for the future.

On a tear

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Red Deer Advocate

I love the English language in that we have words that are so incredibly apt to describe an action even though it was not originally used in that manner.

Take the word crack (the drug). It derived its name from a process of manufacture, but when looking at the results of it, the word is so meaningful for the results it produces in the user; it leaves their lives cracked and broken.

On Monday morning one of my favourite girls came in for breakfast which was already strange in itself.

At least I thought she had come for breakfast. She looked a little rough around the edges, and she was a bit jittery so I knew that she had been using recently. That was a bit disappointing, because she had been doing so well in the last while.

As she approached the serving counter, I reached over and took hold of her hands which were cracked and dry and looking directly at her mentioned that she looked as if she had been up all night. With some people I can be very honest, because they know that I am not criticising or judging. “Julie “is one of these people.

“My best friend just died”, she explained in a monotone voice, “and it really bothered me, so I went on a tear.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that”, I said, “that is always very hard to take; I’ll bet it hurts a lot doesn’t it?”

Nodding in the affirmative I noticed the beginning of tears, and the jittery behaviour increased.

So I asked, “Did it help to go on that tear?”

“No, it did for a wee while, but now it hurts even worse than before.” By now she was fighting to maintain control, so I gave her some assurances and let her know that anyone of us would sit and listen to her if she so wanted, then I gave her some cinnamon raisin porridge which I told her I had made especially for her. She knew better of course, so she gave me a brief hug and off she went.

After she left, I began to think about what she had said about going on a tear and that after a brief respite from the pain, how the pain came back if not even a little worse than before.

That’s when I focused on the word “tear”. Once again I found that a word with its origins from another meaning, so aptly described the results as well.

As far as I could determine, the word was originally used to describe going out on a reckless drinking binge, but has evolved into a term used to describe any time a person gets high on whatever.

When Julie said that it helped at first but then hurt worse than before, made me realise that having gone on that high to dampen the pain, allowed it to make changes in her body and her mind that made the pain worse than before.

This would make some sense, because when coming down from a high, the body hurts and in a way makes you believe that more would make it better. So in a sense, going on a tear is an appropriate word, because it tears away the ability to deal with a hurt or a problem, and so you have lost something in the process.

I now believe that Julie did not come to the kitchen to eat, but rather to talk a moment and maybe receive some encouragement to stay away from whatever substance, and just be able to hurt a while like other people have to.

That’s how I saw it on Monday

— Chris

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