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Megan's thank you letter

To all the staff at MSIC

This is a long overdue thank you gift to MSIC, which means it’s actually a gift to all the staff who work there, because it is you who make MSIC the unique and valuable service that it is, and you who make so many positive contributions to the lives of your clients, including my life. 

I first visited MSIC some four years ago, purely out of curiosity – I wanted to have the experience of using an injecting room – and I didn’t start coming regularly until I got out of jail, when I was homeless, hopeless and in a kind of limbo: I returned to using as soon as I was released, but at the same time I couldn’t bear returning to the using lifestyle, and all that goes with it. So while continuing to use, I began to paint again, and started doing a whole lot of things to rebuild my life.

The land between two lives can be very lonely, because I stopped associating with other users but had not made new friends, and bit by bit I noticed that I was visiting MSIC not just to have a shot, but because while I was there, my loneliness would be eased for a bit, and I felt some sense of connection to people who knew what I was, who saw me injecting (normally such a secretive, shameful activity) and who were unfailingly kind, non judgemental and welcoming to me. Honestly, I don’t know if you realise what a huge thing that is for someone like me, and how powerfully healing it is. You took the time to ask how I was, to talk with me, to ask if I needed anything in other areas of my life, and you listened, sincerely listened. These little pockets of time when I was not alone, in silence, feeling like a failure with no future, were a blessed relief, and there have been many occasions when I would visit when i had no drugs, and pretend to have a shot (just injecting water) because I wanted connection with humans and this was the only place that I knew I would find it (pretty pathetic, I know). Please know your friendly smile hello, your engagement with me as an acceptable person worthy of your time and your service, with not a speck of judgement, (and observing the exact same thing in your interactions with other clients), these ‘small things’ are the threads of reconnection that so many users desperately lack and can be near impossible to find elsewhere. 

MSIC is a safe place – not just a safe place to inject, or safe from overdose, but safe in the psychological and emotional sense – I do not have to armour myself against the shame that arises when I see disgust in people’s faces, or hear the tone of judgement in their voice; I do not have to constantly monitor my body position to hide the track mark on my neck; I can nod off without fear of being yelled at; I do not have to carefully screen everything that is about to come out of my mouth to make sure it’s not too ‘real’ to be palatable for whoever I’m speaking to. And I don’t have to brace myself against the unwanted, unsolicited, simplistic advice or naive suggestions to “just stop using” that shut me down faster than anything. At MSIC I am allowed to be as I truly am, no masks, no pretence, no hiding, no trying to satisfy the demands of others. I can breathe.

And on top of all that, thanks to your annual exhibition – thanks to you seeing us as more than just drug users, and committing the money, time, effort and materials to make the exhibition actually happen – I have seen my paintings hanging on an art gallery wall, and being sold. The opening of the 2019 exhibition was the most euphoric, personally meaningful and significant experience of my life. Then on top of THAT, being asked to speak at the 2020 opening was the first step on the advocacy pathway, something that matters deeply to me, that brings me to life, that seems to access a courage and determination in me that I didn’t know existed. That initial speech has led me to a whole bunch of other advocacy activities and future opportunities. I can’t tell you how wild all of that is – how absolutely freaking wild! – and all of it is thanks to MSIC. 

So, for all that, I thank you, and I know that I echo the feelings of many other clients. If ever you have a crappy day at work, and everything is giving you the shits, and you are tired and wonder what’s the point, and you get home and are just over the whole damn world, I hope you remember that you guys are the heart and soul of MSIC, you are doing so much more than just handing our syringes, that what MSIC does makes a meaningful difference in the lives of your clients, and that it has impacted my life in ways I could have never, ever imagined on my first visit.

With huge gratitude,

Megan

Megan Moses flowers
Megan Moses – Flowers

 

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