Thursday, April 29, 2010

When the effort is worth it...

I've known since high school that I wanted to be a counselor - before I ever had a day of therapy on my own, before I ever had any diagnoses, before any hospitalizations, etc. I somehow (umm... the somehow is probably God and being DID) managed to keep all of my crap together during semesters and use holidays for hospitalizations long enough to obtain a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Counseling. Once I actually did finish school, sh*t pretty much hit the fan. Best I can tell my system was tired of keeping everything together and appearing normal and was exhausted from all of the unhealthy coping skills we were engaging in.

On more than one hospital stay I was told I would never be able to be a counselor. It would be better for me to give up that ideal and focus on something I might enjoy that was within my realms of capability. So, for 4 years, I worked a job doing research at a university. It wasn't a bad job, but it wasn't glamorous or exciting. It was a no-brainer and allowed me to spend a lot of time on therapy and doing the work I needed to get things more on track. Plus, being a large corporation, I was able to get away with 2 hospitalizations while employed without the fear of being fired thanks to FMLA. Throughout this time I never gave up on my hope/dream of one day being a counselor.

Last Spring I decided I felt ready. I started applying and interviewing for counseling jobs. No full-time jobs panned out, but I got into a local university to get my Ed.S. degree in School Counseling and I was granted a graduate assistant (GA) position in the Student Counseling department. Since I already had a Master's in Counseling they gladly set me up in an office and started assigning me a caseload. Talk about jumping in head first!

It was a bit nerve wracking at first and I was very unsure of myself. However, other than issues with a co-worker that I had in Fall semester, this has been one of the best jobs of my life! I love coming to work and meeting with my clients! Tomorrow is the last day of my GA. I would continue to keep working but my contract won't let me. Since tomorrow is my last day, I'm terminating with clients and hooking them up with other counselors in our department.

I got a letter from one of my clients today b/c she said she was afraid if she tried to speak the words she would cry too hard and not get through it. She asked me to wait and read it after she left. I did. Her words touched me so deeply. Not only because we've faced some tough struggles together in her life over the past 9 months but also because her letter told me that I CAN be a counselor and a half decent one at that. It may be childish but I feel like calling up those people who told me a couldn't and sticking out my tongue and saying "na na na na! Could so do it!" Silly I know, but I'd still like to do it.

My client's letter is below. Obviously names are removed for confidentiality reasons. I don't know why I feel so strongly I want to share this letter with those of you who read this. Maybe it's just to toot my own horn. I'd like to think it goes deeper than that. I'd like to think it's another example of someone who's struggled for so long but is continuing to fight b/c someone helped her feel less alone on her journey.

Dear Bravehearts,

Well, it seems like this year has just completely flown by. Things have gotten pretty shitty for me at certain times and at other times they were great. I am so thankful that I had you to help me through my roller coaster. I have learned a lot from meeting with you for counseling, most importantly I learned that there are people in the world who make me feel less alone on this tiring journey that I have been on.
One thing I have always looked forward to was coming to our appointments. It was like a water break during a marathon.
I'm sure you remember how I felt when I first started seeing you. I have convinced myself that if I did not succeed in school then I was done - no more trying. Well, I have most certainly failed (academically - I guess), yet here I am, putting one foot in front of the other. I want you to know that you have helped me find the steam to keep walking. Thank you for that help.
I am very sad that I will not be able to come sit in your office every Wednesday at 1:00pm, but I do feel somewhat hopeful that I can find something to do that will make me feel proud and less empty.
You have a gift in what you do and I'm sure whatever way you choose to use it will make a difference to many more people, not just me.
Thanks so much for your help and much needed support. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!


Wow! A letter like that makes all of our difficult sessions and extra sessions worth it. No doubt in my mind that this is what God has called me to do, and I love doing it. Enough said.

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