A Mentor, A Friend

One of the best things I have done for my son D. was persuade him to meet his future mentor. It was the push he needed to begin the journey back to himself (after months of hospitalization and drug abuse).

If I were to ask

What is a mentor?

Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”. http://aas.sagepub.com/content/39/6/719.full.pdf+html

Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenge.The person in receipt of mentorship may be referred to as a protégé (male), a protégée (female), an apprentice or, in recent years, a mentee.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship

There is a wide range of available mentoring programs. You can find mentors for students, teachers, people with disabilities, minorities, women, pregnant or parenting teens, foster care givers and recipients, prisoners, senior citizens etc.; there is professional mentoring, business mentoring, management mentoring, community mentoring, art-based mentoring …
http://www.mentoring.org/
http://www.asha.org/students/gatheringplace/MentBen/
http://www.mentors.ca/mentorprograms.html#RETIREDEXEC
http://www.management-mentors.com/

So, about one and a half years ago, D. was using drugs (https://heilablog.com/2014/01/10/group-therapy-contact-outside-the-group-meetings/) He floated in a brainpower-dimming haze, oblivious of his surroundings and totally neglecting himself. It was near impossible to communicate with him. As soon as he was halfway sober he’d rush to get the next smoke.

I had to find someone who could reach D. and help him get out of his isolation.
And, I needed to find a way to get my son to agree to meet this someone.

One of D.’s favorite pastimes and the only thing he did even when he was on drugs was play backgammon. Backgammon, the magic word! The call was for a mentor who likes playing backgammon. And who plays well!

I found Yaron. Yaron, 53, was so relaxed (and handsome! I wouldn’t have thought twice if he’d offered me his services … 😉 ) and obviously experienced with problematic youngsters and mental health issues. Yaron was not shocked by D.’s dirty appearance. At their second meeting he simply asked D. to change the shirt he hadn’t taken off since the last time they had met.

In the beginning of their mentor-mentee relationship D. and Yaron would meet in our place once a week for about an hour (later on they spent more time together) and play backgammon!  Sometimes Yaron would take D. out to eat or to some other place. And they communicated! Yaron was a magician! I was not present at their meetups so I don’t know how he did it. I just saw the gradual change in my son, his opening up and the fact that after some time he no longer waited for Yaron to call him but called him himself to fix a day for their next meeting. He wanted to see Yaron!

About two months into their acquaintance D. quit the drugs. He says that it was thanks to his ex-girlfriend who told him that he had turned into an aimless drugged bummer with no aspirations in life, words that shook him to the core. I have no doubt that Yaron deserves a fair share of the credit for my son’s decision to give up drugs.

Yaron became one of the most important people in my son’s life and, according to D., one of the few truly intelligent people he ever met (Today they talk philosophy…). Yaron even found D. a job.

To a certain degree Yaron also became a father substitute. (The last time D.’s real father felt the need to see his son was about two and a half years ago, when he visited him ONCE during the several months of D.’s hospitalization. Since then, their relationship consisted only of phone conversations. Until recently, when my son asked his dad whether he didn’t miss him and didn’t long to see him. The answer this emotional cripple gave his son was: “I don’t understand why a [young] person needs to see his father.”!

Since then, D. says he has no father. )

In Israel, psychiatric and psychosocial rehabilitation services funded by the Ministry of Health include mentor services. However, to be eligible for these services an applicant has to be free of drug use for at least six months prior to receiving the service. So in the case of my son, I had to pay for the mentor service out of my own pocket for over a year.

It was worth the sacrifice and I am so happy I did it!

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23 Comments

  1. You are a good mom, continuing to be involved in the health and welfare of your son. but I guess that’s what we moms do…without thinking it’s a just…a job. It’s more like a life’s passion.

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    1. Thanks dear Hugmamma. Lately, however, I am becoming less of a good mom. I lose my patience quicker and often find myself just wanting to be alone, with noone needing me or wanting me to do something for him. But yes, we moms can never really stop caring about our children’s well-being. Hugs, Heila

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  2. Hi Heila 😀 Firstly. I like your new theme. It’s so different !
    Secondly. What a great relief for you to find a mentor for your son whom he likes and looks forward to seeing. It must take a great weight off of your shoulders as you can see such an improvement in your son. I do hope because of this mentor your son will come out of his dark place for good. Hugs. Ralph xox 😀

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  3. heila, great post ……. made Tubularsock happy. What a journey you and your son are on. His father must be carrying some major personal hurts. Too bad for D but you seem to be directing this rather well. Pretty powerful direction.

    Thanks.

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    1. Thanks dear Tubularsock, your comment puts a huge smile on my face (which I need badly right this moment. Our life is definitely a roller coaster ride and sometimes I just want to get off and out.)!!

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  4. There are just some things you can’t put a price on. A life free from the grips of drugs is one of them. It’s rare that we get to channel our inner god and save a life. never forget your capacity to impact

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  5. Great you found such a wonderful mentor for your son, who did the best for him. You seeing the change must have been a very rewarding feeling. We all try our hardest to do the best for our children. Hugs

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  6. Well-written post. I have been fortunate enough to have had wonderful mentors in my life, and am now on the other side of that, giving back wherever I am able by mentoring others who request it. I wish the best for you and your son both, and hope he may one day find himself on the other side of the backgammon board, the more experienced player (in the cleaner shirt, yet), with sufficient excess of patience, acceptance, and motivation to share. All the best!

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      1. Heila, I’ve been mentoring a young woman, now at university, since her second year of high school. It has matured from a mentoring relationship to wonderful friendship. I also occasionally mentor young writers remotely when asked to do so, and occasionally not-so-young people who are in difficult circumstances of one sort or another. (I am physically disabled and home-bound these days, so all my mentoring actually has to be done via the Internet now — but it allows me to continue to be of some small service and interact with the world in ways I would otherwise miss, and is thus a blessing.) –Laura

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