Editor’s note: This March, scarves are connecting about 100 University of Dayton women across campus. Each woman will spend a day with the scarf before meeting another woman and sharing the scarf with her. After this exchange, each woman will reflect on her experience with with the scarf. This post is the eleventh of the series.
I donned the scarf on the very last day of its travels. It was a Thursday, one of two days per week that I accompany students to Nova Behavioral Health for music therapy sessions with women who are addicted to heroin. When the women entered the treatment room, a few of them complimented me on the scarf. I was tempted to reveal its significance, but I did not want to pull the focus away from the two students who were leading the session.
After a musical check-in, the students introduced song discussion. We listened together to a recording of “Follow Me” by Uncle Kracker, and the Nova residents talked about how the lyrics and musical accompaniment conjured their own life stories. We have engaged in song discussion many times at Nova. Yet, on this Thursday, there was something qualitatively distinctive about the women’s involvement. They were more forthcoming, more genuine, and more supportive of one another. They dove without hesitation into a sea of difficult emotions—feelings of shame, guilt, and anger related to their addictions. The anger was directed inwardly (as it often is), but on this particular day, it was also directed outwardly in a healthy way. For the first time in my recollection, these addicts spoke about being victims of a broken system—a system in which pharmaceutical companies, doctors, nurses, and even family members and friends endorse the use of prescription opiates to combat physical and psychological pain. Four of the eight women in the session stated their belief that their legal use of opiates had led directly to their intravenous use of heroin. Sadly, recent research supports their claims.
I am not one to give in to superstition— in fact, I embrace Humanism and rally vehemently against super naturalism— but I will admit to having had a fleeting thought that perhaps the scarf had accumulated a certain kind of energy from “the sisterhood,” which lent strength, courage, and wisdom to the air.
– Susan Gardstrom