Friday, January 25, 2013

Your past will control you if you let it....

We all have the friends (or maybe you are the one!) who say repeatedly how X happened to them as a child/teen/adult and so they think that today they do Y because of it. In fact I used to be one of those people. I used to allow my past to control my future (and in some ways I am still). It was easy to do much easier than admitting that I was giving control to something and someone that wasn't me. It is far easier to blame someone else for what is wrong than to look at yourself in the mirror and point the finger right at you. I don't discount the impact that past wrong doings can have on you....some of them can literally bring you to your knees. They are real. They happened. They left a mark. At some point though we all get to a place to where we have two roads we can go down one with the past hanging around our necks by a chain and the other where we take off the chain and walk freely without so much weight.

I had an instructor who once asked me what going back and having someone from my past say they were sorry for doing X would do for me and you know what I honestly couldn't answer. I had spent so much time and energy into thinking about how wrong that person was and how wrong it was that they did X to me that I hadn't given two thoughts to what it would mean to let it go. I clung to it. I shaped my life around it. I acted in ways that I shouldn't have because of it. I excused my behavior because I blamed it on (insert name here). What would it mean to you if you heard I am sorry from someone in your past? Do you really believe that hearing that would change everything for you?

 I  have to be a realist here and tell you that it most likely won't. You might get some small sense of relief by hearing it but it won't bring to you the peace you think it will. What will bring you that peace is accepting that it happened, that the person might have been wrong and then allowing yourself to move on knowing that humans are prone to mistakes sometimes HUGE mistakes. It doesn't mean you think what they did was right, it most likely wasn't, but what it does mean is that you are taking back to power of controlling your own life.

Forgiving your past is hard. Trust me I know I am still in the process of doing it but once you start chipping away at all those past hurts it really does free you. You begin to see what you have been missing out on and in some cases the hurt that you have caused others because of it. I have said many times on this control you even if you don't want to admit that, you are the only person who has any control over you. Not your past :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What am I up to?

As you know by now my practicum has now begun. I have been at my site a few weeks now (both of them!) and just yesterday I got to become involved in what I really want to be involved in: addiction treatment. Some time in the near future I will be leading a teen recovery group and will begin working one-one with other addicted people who are both beginning rehab and who are already well into their recovery. I am excited. Super duper mega excited but nervous at the same time. I am grateful that my practicum site apparently sees in me what I believe in myself and is giving me this amazing opportunity to grow further in my work with addicted clients and the opportunity to learn from those at my site who have years of experience on me.

My courses have officially begun as well and so far they are looking pretty good! This semester I am taking a Cognitive behavior therapy course, group counseling and my practicum of course. It was nice to log into my courses and see familiar "faces". Part of our practicum is using a live interactive web based program and interacting with each other on a weekly basis at a set time to discuss our practicum experience and learn from each other in different areas.

So far so good and I can't wait to get in there and get busy!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Choice In Addiction

The other day I was taking part of a chemical dependency group at my practicum/internship site. The facilitator decided to show a video of what addiction does to your body and your brain for the 5 group goers. In this video it showed how addiction works in the brain and also talked about what it can do to your body mainly major organs etc. As I sat watching this video they talked about the disease model and it stated "it is not a choice". I immediately wrote down in my journal (which I have started for my practicum/internship).....Is there no choice in addiction? What are the consequences of believing that way?

Now I have talked many times before about how once someone is addicted there comes a point in time where I believe the addiction chooses for them. They continue using because biologically they must in order to avoid the nasty withdrawal that most addicts fear and sometimes they continue to use to avoid actually dealing with whatever they are self medicating be it emotions, thoughts, whatever. But does that mean that addiction and recovering from addiction has no choice whatsoever in it? I am honestly not so sure. If you take away the ability to choose do you take away the ability of the person? Maybe it is safer to say that you have no choice in addiction but you have the power of choice in recovery? That is how I am leaning.


To me it looks like this...when you are addicted the drug of choice makes the choice for you however once you have detoxed you then have the power of choice back and you are responsible for your own recovery. Only you can change you. Of course you need support along the way but ultimately your recovery is yours and it becomes your choice how you live out your recovery. I believe that recovering addicts have to take back the choice and control over themselves in order to be successful in their recovery. So yes in some ways you have choice in addiction because you have choice over your recovery which is part of your addiction.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Infant loss and grief work

I honestly can't remember if I have shared this part of my personal life on this blog yet. If I have forgive me and if I haven't well keep reading! I met with a few girls who will be interns with me at the counseling agency for lunch today and tried to chat about our interest. While it didn't get far there I have been thinking about it all afternoon. Oh and forgive my lack of images for this post as none seem appropriate.

 I have a variety of interest but I do believe my main pull is to substance abuse although I am also drawn to working with soldiers who have PTSD issues, couples (not families), and I am considering infant grief work. This is where the personal part comes in.

In 2005 my husband and I lost a son at 23 weeks gestation due to pre-term labor. He lived a brief time after he was born but died I believe mostly because of the location we where in not being properly equipped to handle a 23 week infant.  I have spent the last 7 years working through the grief of loosing Zachariah (named after the book Z is for Zachariah) and I have always wondered if as a counselor I could offer something to parents who have been or are on the same path as I.

It was and is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in my life. I say is because there are times it hits me harder than others. I have accepted that I can't change the past and wondering the whys and hows does me no good as it takes me a place that I don't need to be. I have accepted his death in the only way I can that still allows me to live my life. The only way that allows me to move forward while still knowing something is missing in my life.

Losing a child is one of the hardest things any family may have to face. You have to give up on the hopes and dreams you had for them, on wondering what they would look like now, what kind of person they would be, who would their friends be, if they would get along with their siblings...would you even have siblings if they had been alive. You see where I am going with this? Losing a child leaves so many things many it can be unbearable.

So as a parent who has been there and a future counselor I wonder if I can give back and offer a glimmer of hope in the dark. But I also wonder if because of my past experience I would be to close? I really can't decide.

Oh and for anyone who is reading this post who has recently experienced an infant loss in your family here is some things to NOT SAY to the parents:
  • Don't say it was God's will or say the baby is better off because they are with God unless the person you are speaking with is extremely religious. Most of us myself included are not comforted by least not while the pain is so raw.
  • Don't try to act like it didn't happen or that the baby was not well a baby. No matter what stage of the pregnancy to those parents that was their child. 
  • Don't try to avoid talking about how hurt the parents are because when you do you make the parents feel like they need to be strong to save your feelings and in that moment they should feel free to turn to you with theirs. 
  • Don't avoid talking about the baby. This might be different for some but I wanted to talk about Zach. I wanted him to be acknowledged as to me it helped me see that he was gone and to begin the process of healing.
  • Don't offer to remove the babies thing from the house or to take down the nursery they had set up for the baby. When the time is right for the parents that will happen and removing traces of the baby doesn't do anyone any good and for the most part makes the parents feel as you want to pretend their child never existed. 
  • Lastly, don't change the subject. If the parent starts to talk to you about losing their child don't try to get them to talk about something else. If they choose you to talk about it with it means that they feel like they can trust you with their true emotions and that they feel like you are there for them. If you don't know what to say just say this: I will sit here as long as you need me to listen but because I lack experience I will not know what to say. But my ears and heart will be open. 
If you are a parent who has recently lost a child:

  • Speak up about what you need. Everyone around you really needs direction as most people do not know how to handle these emotions and feelings. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. 
  • Seek out a grief counselor
  • Seek out a grief support group (we did this and it was really good for us)
  •  Turn to and not away from your partner. Remember they are the only other person in your life right now who truly will experience the loss most similar to the way you will. At times it will seem like they don't get it but trust me they do. 
If anyone reading this post wants to contact me leave me a message. I would be glad to speak with anyone.