Hi Everyone! I hope you’re having an awesome weekend. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. It has been a crazy month so far. People have been visiting the blog anyway, which is pretty cool. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions, or anything you want me to address here on the ol’ blog. Hopefully we’ll have some book reviews coming up soon, and maybe even a giveaway. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by!
First I want to say a little about the pic at the top of this post. That's me! I love this picture which was snapped by one of my oldest friends over Memorial Day Weekend. This whole post is about my people, and the thing I love about this picture is that it's a perfect representation of why they are so important to me. Rob Coggin is the photographer. You can check him out here. This picture makes me feel like a friend saw me the way I see myself when I'm being kind to myself. Which was needed and timely when the picture was taken. Not sure if that makes sense, but I love the photo, and I'm grateful that he caught it. Also, I guess in his post-Navy world he goes by Rob. But to me and mine he'll always be Bob...and not simply a Bob, but THE Bob. Just had to clarify.
So, as most of you know, I work with clients who have Substance Use Disorders and or Mental Health Struggles every single day. And what never ceases to amaze me is how much of myself I see in them. Most of the time there is definitely a feeling of “but for the grace of (something) go I” when I’m working with people. I’ve had periods in my life where I was destructive. Bad things have happened to me. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. Made bad choices in an effort to get my emotional needs met. We all do this stuff. Remember, everybody struggles. So what is the “something” that provided the “grace” that has allowed me to avoid going over the edge? What has kept me just this side of serious decrease in functioning due to mental health issues? Realistically there are a lot of factors. It could be brain chemistry. It could be the environment I grew up in, and social justice factors such as my ethnicity. But one huge factor for me is that somehow I’ve managed to build a group of people around me that will not let me fall. My people. Family and a select but awesome group of friends.
You can see them at work in my life recently with all of the change and upheaval I’ve been dealing with. We’re trying to put our house on the market. My sister has been dealing with an illness. I’ve been waiting for some scary news from my doctor (everything turned out fine). Our new home, while not in a flood zone, is surrounded by them. Austin has been getting hit with some bizarre weather recently, and the flooding has been no joke. I got a promotion and started a new job. And, because there is never a good time to do it, Husband and I decided to quit our e-cigarettes, and wean ourselves off of nicotine. There are worse shit-storms to be had. But this one, right now, feels pretty damn legit.
So why am I not curled up in a ball, wrapped around a 6-pack of IPA, and binge-watching Orange is the New Black? Because of my people. I grew up around the 12-steps. The concept of a higher power isn’t foreign to me, but truth be told, I’m not a religious person, and wouldn’t even call myself a spiritual person most of the time. But I love the Serenity Prayer, which is a part of the 12-step tradition. So when I whisper it to myself, who am I talking to? I’m the kind of neurotic personality that demands of myself that I answer that question if I’m going to use it. And while I was having a conversation with a former client recently, it came to me. My people are my higher power. When I’m at my lowest, and I hit my knees with feeling overwhelmed, it’s my people that I’m calling out to for help. And if there exists such a thing as a blessing, the fact that I have these people around me is my biggest one. So here is my revised Serenity Prayer with a few examples.
People, grant me the Serenity...
Of all of the people who do this for me when my head is spinning, and the angst is flowing, and the self-doubt is punching me in the face, the one who does it best and most often is this guy…
Husband (which is my nickname for my husband just in case that wasn’t clear). There does not exist on the face of the planet Earth a place more peaceful than the place where I’m cuddled up with him with my face buried in his chest. ‘Nuff said. Back off ladies...he's taken!
But given how neurotic I am, calming me down when I get all angsty is surely too big a job for just one person. So tranquil vibes abound from several other folks too. There's Mr. Marshall, and Nate, who is on West Coast Time so I can chat with him at 2 in the morning when I can't sleep, and of course Erin, who I don't talk to often, but who always makes me feel wonderful.
Then of course there is this lady. Mrs. Summer Shine Aletky. Full Disclosure...I jacked this picture right off of the Facebooks. Isn't it terrifying that you can do that? Oh well....
She's my sister via her mister. In other words, given how wise he is (see below) my brother went and married her. I like to think I project the image of kicking ass and taking names. Vulnerability is not the place I'm most comfortable. But with Summer, I really don't feel like I have to pretend to have all my shit together all the time. I can tell her it hurts when it hurts. I can tell her when I doubt myself, and feel like crap, and she makes me feel like it's okay. Like it's safe.
Also, she makes awesome juice and is the owner and chief fruit and veggie squisher at Luna Juice Bar. Seriously, the one with the red bell pepper is delicious. And I don't even like bell pepper. If you're in Waco or Temple check her out.
To accept the things I cannot change…
If there is anyone in my life who helps me deal with frustration it’s my clinical supervisor. A seasoned therapist in his own rite, I sit down with Jack once a week, and among other things, talk with him about the frustrations inherent in my profession. He’s guided me through the beginning of my career for almost two years now, and I’d be lost without him. He’s all about changing what can be changed. But he is quick to let me know when I’m bashing my head into the wall for no good reason. Like I said before, Jack is a fantastic therapist. He’s in private practice, and if you want to talk with someone I highly recommend him. You can check him out here and here.
The courage to change the things I can…
It’s difficult to pick one person here. I’m surrounded by courageous people, really. Both in my personal life and in my work. In fact, the most corageous people I know are generally my clients. They impress the hell out of me time and time again. But, in my personal life the person who comes to mind most readily is this lady right here.
Tia is my best friend. She has been for about 21 years. And she’s a badass. She is the most productive, get it done, who cares if it’s hard, do it anyway-type person I know. She’s type-A for AMAZE-BALLS. And over the course of 2.1 decades, she helped me stretch my ideas about what I’m capable of professionally and personally. She is not the only badass woman in my life. I’ve got a badass mom, badass sisters, badass women I served in the Navy with, and badass women I work with now. But she’s the oldest of these friends. The Original Badass if you will. If ever I doubt myself, I know I can call her. And between her grad degree, her marriage, her babies, her various real estate deals, and her other friends, she’ll get back to me, speak some serious truth, and set me straight—probably while changing a diaper one-handed. Tia, if you’re reading this, I still want to get the PB&J Tattoo.
And the wisdom to know the difference…
Brother (this is my nickname for my brother, just in case that wasn’t clear)! So, full disclosure, I’m the baby in my family. My grandmother referred to me as the baby until I was well into my twenties, when she started calling her Shiatsu, John Wayne, the baby. Damn Dog.
Anyway, you wouldn’t have known I was the baby when I was a kid. Okay...you would've known. I might have been a little spoiled. BUT I was super responsible, and I made good grades, and even my rebellion was carefully planned to minimize the chances of long-term impact on my life. And my brother was….shall we say….less responsible. He made a 23 in Art Class. He almost drowned in two feet of water once (that I know of). Turns out he can swim like a champ now that he doesn’t drink or use drugs anymore. Who knew? (Not sure if his drawing got any better). The point is, if you’d asked me when I was 15 if I would consider my brother to be a source of wisdom, I would have laughed in your face, said something witty and intelligent, and then smoked a joint with him behind closed doors where my reputation could remain in tact. And then we would have laughed at you together, behind your back.
But my brother has been sober for about 16 years now. He was probably about six years into sobriety when I called him for the first time with my own problems and fears. He was all like, “I’m your big brother. And I know stuff about stuff. Let me lay some wisdom on ya’. And I love you, and don’t beer bong jungle juice!” BAM! Wisdom. All up in my 23-year-old face. Also…seriously…don’t beer bong jungle juice. He’s a good listener, and a good perspective giver, and we’re good friends.
Now keep in mind everyone. This is not an exhaustive list. I could do a whole post on just the women in my life. I could do a whole post on just my Navy Buddies. I could do a whole post any of these individuals unto themselves. The point is, I got a great group of people. Awesome. But for the grace of my people go I. I love you all. Thanks for taking such good care of me recently...and by recently I mean....my whole damn life :)
Who are your people? Where would recommend people go if they need to find people? Let's start a discussion in the comments section! Also like and share if you know someone who might benefit from this article.