When I first met Aaliyah it was her 5th stay with Covenant House Vancouver at our Crisis Program. She had been out of foster care for one year and was dealing with a serious addiction to alcohol and crystal meth. Of her five stays, none were over a week. She would often leave unexpectedly and we would not hear from her until she was ready to stay with us again. This recent stay she was determined to get into treatment and she stayed for over a month! Every day without fail she would meet with her supports, and continue to wait on what felt like the longest waitlist for treatment ever. Finally, we got word that she would be getting into treatment and started to count down the days. A bit closer to her treatment day the pressure got to Aaliyah. One day, she didn’t come back. Later we would find out that she went to use one last time before treatment and fell back into the slippery slope of addiction.
Eventually, Aaliyah did make it into treatment. However, one day I received a call asking for an intake. It was Aaliyah. When I met with her that day in our intake office, she told me she had left treatment and was not sure if it was the right decision. She broke down and said, “It was a stupid choice, I always make stupid decisions”. I told Aaliyah that she wasn’t stupid and that each stay is a new stay and that we were here to help her, no matter how many tries it would take. Aaliyah was stronger than she realized. She told me that upon leaving treatment, she walked right into a liquor store. She had a bottle in her hand when she decided it wasn’t worth it and came to us instead.
The next week was a real struggle for Aaliyah. One night in particular seemed especially hard. She came to staff and asked us to help her look for AA meetings she could attend. We found one together but it didn’t start for a few hours. Aaliyah was pacing the floor and I could tell she needed a distraction. I caught her attention and asked if she wanted to paint. Thinking she might need some company I sat down to paint with her. Aaliyah is more of the silent contemplative type. We sat in silence and painted for about 20 minutes. I could see in her body that she was calm. She looked over at my painting and saw that I had painted a word on my canvas. The word I chose was resilience. Aaliyah pointed at the word and said, “One day I will have that”. I looked back at her and said, “You already do”.