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Stories Restoring Hope: Jim Mello

Issue 26

Recovery Purpose and Self

Jim Mello is a man of many passions and pursuits. On Sundays, he’s a Methodist minister in Dover Foxcroft, Milo and Atkinson, but you may also recognize his voice from Colby College’s “The Cosmic Mello(w) Mix Tape,” which used to feature rock, folk, indie and classical music. Or you may have known him when he taught substance use counseling at the University of Maine-Farmington.

His name also graces the cover of three different poetry books. And perhaps most importantly, Mello has been a substance use counselor and Certified Clinical Supervisor in the Bangor and Waterville area, and through telehealth online since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opioid epidemic is something that weighs heavily on Jim Mello, who became an addictions counselor and clinical supervisor after his own period of addiction in his young adult life. He describes those years of grappling with substance abuse as his “dark night of the soul” and wrote this poem about it:

Jim has been in recovery since July 30, 1975. In his blog, “Recovery Ink,” he wrote: “I believe in recovery, even more now, in this current time of distress, and in this phase of my life. We should never stop learning and growing. As Bob Dylan said many years ago, ‘He who is not busy being born is busy dying.’ Wise words then. Wise words now.”

Born in Rhode Island in 1950, Jim spent his youth dreaming of being a singer-songwriter, drawing inspiration from artists like Dylan and Paul Simon. He played bass guitar in a small band but confesses to being neither talented at singing or playing bass. He claims to have “heard the lyrics before the music.”

Jim first dabbled in the written word while studying speech theater at Rhode Island College. He penned his first poem, “Winter Solstice,” in 1990 while serving as the minister of a Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Washington County. Writing poetry became a redemptive way of expressing the lyrics of his youth.

Jim occasionally reads poetry publicly and has a public Facebook page, but rarely puts his work on the Internet. Most of his 1,000-plus poems are handwritten, existing only in his notebooks and books.

When Jim earned his master’s degree from Bangor Theological Seminary in 2013, his graduate project was about spirituality and recovery: He explored the use of spiritual mindfulness in addiction therapy in a methadone clinic, a church setting, and within the Bangor Area Recovery Network. For Jim, spirituality in recovery is greatly tied to self-care, sense of purpose, self-value, and emotional wellness.

The winding path of Jim’s experiences have brought him to a place of self-awareness, expression, and compassion. Although his career as a poet started late, his recent success proves that it is never too late when it comes to art.

He has used his passion for the written word, theology, and spiritual discovery as tools to help guide others through addiction to recovery of their purpose and self.

Jamie Lovley
Jamie Lovley
Jamie Lovley, a graduate social work student in the Midcoast and working at a residential treatment facility, is the Substance Use Prevention Specialist at Knox County Community Health Coalition. She’s passionate about writing recovery stories that fight stigma and inspire hope.

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