Carry the Message:

Doug-OutsideBy Doug Brush, CACII

Recently I had the privilege of leading an afternoon therapy group in one of our men’s residential communities.  As I entered the apartment where the meeting was to be held, I was impressed with the home-like setting, and the sense of safety, trust, and comfort found inside.  One of the residents had commented earlier in the week on what a pleasant surprise it had been to find a setting of this quality in which to begin his treatment experience.

As I entered, eight men who were already seated in a circle around the living room greeted me; one empty chair had been left for me.  As we began the group we celebrated recovery milestones, coming off buddy, receiving phone privileges, and finding a job.  The newest member of the community introduced himself to the rest of us and shared the crisis that brought him to MARR.  Another member shared his anger, disappointment, and sadness after learning that his therapeutic leave request had been denied.  A third member showed the pain, sadness and relief of presenting his first step at Feelings School that day.  And finally, a fourth member claimed time to say his goodbyes as he prepared to move into our extended residential program.  As he began to go around the circle saying a personal goodbye to each of his community members, he affirmed his relationship with each one and what each had meant to him.  One member had brought laughter to the community, another, stability, a third the ability to listen, a fourth a transformation from anger to leadership and trustworthiness.

These men shared in their goodbyes the experience of learning from each other and of moving from their differences to finding their commonalities.  They also spoke of learning how to love and care for each other, and how to get out of self.  They shared the losses of past roommates, and the gratitude they felt for the way those losses had brought them closer together.  The newest member was encouraged to take his time and stay.  The member saying his goodbyes was thanked for completing his commitment and for giving hope to those to follow.

Buddy system, community meals, life stories, feelings school, Big Book studies, 12-Step meetings, getting a sponsor, ARP, cooking, cleaning, making your bed, grocery shopping, menu planning, Spiritual life, worship service, and following all those rules.  All are valuable and important pieces of the community model at MARR;  a simple but difficult process of eight men or eight women finding their way to hope, healing, and recovery through daily acceptance and surrender to the living experience.

Carry the Message:


  • Ken Toney says:

    I went to MARR nearly 23 years ago, best thing that’s happened in my life, love Doug and the staff!!!

  • Michael Ludwick says:

    Reading your story about the group experience gave me an opportunity to reflect back on my time and experiences at MARR. I am now 24 years sober and continue to utilize the tools I learned at MARR. Continue your excellent work and God bless.

    • Ernest Marshall says:

      Just celebrated 19 years of sobriety.MARR is such a big part of that.Thanks for these memories.I still make up my bed each day.

  • John Brazzell says:

    Thanks to all these experiences and “rules” which Doug has referred to, I am now able to be a loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and physician. The MARR experience thought me how to surrender & live life on life’s terms & be comfortable in my own skin. I am still working on getting sober and am so grateful for what MARR did for me.

  • Robert T Cosby, JR. says:

    Tom Cosby
    I was at MARR for severe addiction to narcotic pain meds in 1997. It WAS the turning point in my live. In the 90 days I was
    there I learned things about myself that I think would have remained buried for the rest of my life, had it not been for the
    care, education, fellowship that I was offered at MARR. I was COMPLETELY convinced life, as I knew it was OVER for me.
    They convinced me I was wrong, and they were right. I am happy today, I will ALWAYS remember the people at MARR.
    How can you forget the people who gave you your life back?

  • John McKernan says:

    The process may have been tweaked just a bit from 27 years ago when my life’s choices found me at MARR’s door, but those core principles that for the basis of success and recovery are well entrenched in that process. There are however, four constants…God, AA, MARR and of course, Doug Brush.

    I remain forever grateful that God chose Doug to be the voice that broke through all my bogus objections, deceit and complete disregard for others.

  • Melissa Cannon says:

    Thanks for the reading. Brought me back to my time at M.A.R.R.! What an amazing place to learn about the spiritual malady and the mental obsession. I wasn’t ready when I was a resident in my early 20’s but now 38 I’m finally doing the work. Those promises are being delivered by the grace of God. Thank you Douglas for the words and the memories. I’ll never forget the lake on Wednesdays because of you.

  • James Jackson (J.J.) says:

    M.A.R.R. Saved my life. A.A. is continuing to do so through God’s grace
    Doug Brush has been a huge part of that!

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