Today I graduated! However, it’s probably not at all what you’re thinking. I’m not taking any college courses, and I haven’t had any recent certifications — but I have been spending the last several months working one on one with someone who has been teaching me many things.
I’ve been seeing a counselor.
There really is a lot of worry that comes with saying those words out loud. What will people think of me? Will they think I’m just a big giant hot mess? Will they be able to trust me – wait, does that make me not trustworthy or less than?
I want to let you know right now that wherever you are, or if you’re just here to follow along and learn a little bit about me, that there is no shame in my game – and there should be none in yours!
The beautiful thing about sharing our experiences is that it creates space for others to share theirs in a safe place, and to know that we are all undoubtedly human. We make mistakes, we end up in horrible situations, we have humongous reasons to celebrate and giant reasons to cry. But, ultimately, our goal is all the same (I think!) in that we all want to leave a peace filled life, experiencing life to the fullest! So, let’s begin.
I’m 32 years old, and a momma of 4. But, I’ve been through some big trials in my life. I’m a survivor of domestic violence several times over. I became a single mom at the beautiful age of 21. I’ve walked through extreme poverty, job loss, suicide of a family member, and many many losses, including the most recent losses of my Dad and Papa. I’ve had Hyperemesis Gravidarum through 3 pregnancies and the last one was sketchy for a while in my health and wellness. And I don’t say all of these things for anyone to ever feel bad for me, I say these things because this is my truth, and while I can absolutely write this today saying that I know that through all of these things, here I stand with my head held high, knowing that I have a bigger purpose.
But last year, that wasn’t the case. And it all came crumbling down upon me in October.
At that time I was so broken from the weight of carrying this huge bag of emotional damage that I folded. And I thank God for my husband and many many dear friends who spoke truth to me during that time. Who came to my house and stood outside of it at 9 o’clock at night and waited for me to be ready to talk before they would leave. For people who prayed for me and rallied around me. For people who hugged me, and loved me, and did absolutely everything they could to support us during a humongously difficult time.
When I finally got to the point where I was strong enough to reach out to a counselor, I was nervous. Have you ever not wanted to start talking about something because it feels like you’ll be opening Pandora’s Box and you’re afraid if you start it’s just never going to stop? That thought alone kept me out of counseling for years.
Talking about things may feel like it’s doing the exact opposite of healing, however it absolutely is not. You know what is the complete opposite of healing? Holding it in and never allowing the wound to heal. Think about it like this: you get a cut on your hand and you cover it up with a bandaid. It takes somewhere between 3-4 days to have a full scab, but if you take the same cut and keep it exposed, it scabs much faster. Hurts are the same way.
So, over the last few months my counselor has been helping me see that even though all of these things have happened to me, it does not make me. And that I have the power within me to create my space of peace. To know who I am, and Who’s I am. To know that I am allowed to set up healthy boundaries with toxic people – and even with people who aren’t completely toxic, but with people who are draining. That I don’t have to anything, but that I can simply choose to – or not! And with that last beautiful one, that when I choose to do or not do something, that that is my choice but whoever else is involved is allowed to make the choice that’s best for them, feel any way they want, and it is not mine to take on. Their sadness, anger, bitterness and hurt if caused by boundaries is not a reflection of me.
Does that make you breathe a sigh of relief at all? Because, it does me.
Today I ended our last session with tears, because 6 months ago, I’d never have imagined I’d feel so free and full of peace and joy like I do these days. And while I have my moments because I’m still human, I’m living in so much more joy than I have in I don’t even know how long. I’m free to be silly, I’m free to take my kids on rides at a carnival and laugh til I can barely breathe, I can do the floss in the middle of the aisle at Target because I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m just so darn full of joy and the floss makes me happy! It is such a beautiful feeling.
Now, looking back to those worries I had in the beginning, and having read all of this — does this make me any less trustworthy? Heck no! In fact, I’d say this makes me even more trustworthy, because I care enough about my own mental health to put it first so that I can be fully available for everyone I am around, supporting, loving and working with. Does this make me a big giant hot mess? No! This makes me someone who has a handle on seeing the support they need and are ready to take action. What will people think of me? Well, first of all, that’s probably none of my business – but, I hope when you think of me you think: survivor, strong, dedicated, passionate, loving, fun, full of life, living, joyful!
I want to encourage you today, if you need a safe person to talk to – go on over to that contact page and submit the form with the headline “In need of support” and I will reach out to you via email. I can send you references for groups and counselors to speak to in the Phoenix Valley if you need that. And if you are in a situation today that is unhealthy or unsafe, please please know how loved, valued, worthy and important you are and that there are people out there that care about you — including this stranger on the internet, and if you’re not ready, I understand, but there are people out there to help you, and I’ve added links just beneath here.
www.thehotline.org ; 1-800-799-7233 — National Domestic Violence Hotline
www.azhousinginc.org/vista-colina.html or https://familypromiseaz.org/ — Homeless Shelters
1-800-273-8255 — National Suicide Hotline
www.helpHER.org — Hyperemesis Gravidarum information and assistance