square bulletIn the Street and Beyond

March 29, 2018

From Chuck Sve, Acupuncturist and Crisis Counselor, Old Town Clinic

Bundled, broken, bruised, bleeding.

Living on the street wears everyone thin and raw.

Too much pain, too much confusion, just too much.

What do you got, a dangerous stumble around a minefield of pain and suffering, trauma straight up.

A dark dank dangerous space full of demons and ghosts, fear at each turn, assault just around the corner, gotta stay alert by any means necessary.

Hard edges, cold damp wet sidewalks, always loud, unpredictable, no security, no safety, no rest, no reprieve from it all.

Adjust, adapt, struggle to remain alive, reach out for anything to keep this going, but also striking out from all the pain.

Severed connections, frayed relationships, overwhelmed lives.

Clarity is harsh, the wreckage is real, sometimes hearts stay broken, sometimes love is just lost.

A glimpse of help, a steady hand up, a moment of stepping in.

Eyes open, untangle the emotional twists, slip into some sleep, and eat a bit of food, glance of hope, a taste of calm, a moment of measured light.

As the altered states clear, and the body wakes up, the mind begins to twirl, desire begins to swirl, and thoughts begin to clear.

The steps are still heavy, the weight is difficult to lift alone, and the confusion softens, others reach an open hand.

The hurting gathers, the pain collects, last house on the block, boarded up, partly burned but the door is open. Time to walk thru.

From the beginning, intake, expectations, history, questions, goals, medications, counseling, trust and rapport.

We soften the edges, loosen the rules, roll with outbursts, and loosen up expectations, stay grey not black and white.

I find so much value in names and stories, tracking the twists and turns, potent moments to express kindness, deepen trust and relationship.

Welcoming, greeting, inviting, and asking permission. Slowing down, truly listening and responding to needs expressed.

Current and past trauma saturates our clinic as well as resilience and hope shine bright.

We keep observing looking for cues, voices raised, unusual loud sounds all could be signals of escalation, cries for help.

Some days it can be so difficult to slow down and truly be present, to hold space, to settle down enough to accept truly what is going on, the tragedy of it all.

Most of our patients are poor and filled with trauma.  Hopefully by getting into the mix with them this can change. Sobriety can be achieved, health can be stabilized, housing can be secured, employment can be gained, and emotions can settle down.  Thru this process, current trauma can be lessened and past trauma be resolved or at least the effects quiet.  Nightmares are quieter, sleep sounder, relationships more loving, life making more sense, reaching for dreams and coming alive.


Chuck Sve works at Old Town Clinic in Portland, Oregon as an acupuncturist and crisis counselor. Old Town Clinic is a part of Central City Concern