Bill Miller, Allen Zweben and I decided to write a second edition to our Treating Addiction text.

It all seemed like a very good idea except for one thing — the writing part. I wasn’t sure where to fit it in. My days are full. My evenings and weekends are reserved for family. I talked with Bill and said I wanted to do it, but didn’t know how to find the time with my schedule and my work and family commitments. Bill listened and empathized and paused — in the beautiful way that he does — and asked me how I could make it work.

I needed to create some time. The day wouldn’t work, but as I began talking through my schedule, I said Monday nights after the girls went to bed and my husband was exercising would be some time I could commit to each week.

Monday arrived. I was driving home from the girls’ swim class after stopping for pizza and wishing very much that I had not committed to this writing time. I didn’t want to write. I felt tired. It had been a long day. Netflix sounded like a way better plan.

As I drove past my neighbor’s house, I noticed him sitting at his desk and working. The glow of his computer stood out against the white shutters of his office window. I don’t know why, but in that moment I realized I could do it — that I would do it. If he could sit and work, I could sit and work. I went home, put the girls to bed, and then sat in my office and began. Every now and then I would smile, thinking of my neighbor and I both working while the rest of the street was quiet.

Today we sent the copyedited text of our Treating Addiction text back to the publisher. The book is finished. My neighbor doesn’t know the encouragement he gave me so many Mondays ago. Some encouragement is like that, I think. We never know who’s looking and what difference it might make.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.