Friday, December 23, 2016

Be the light

What a month...

It started with the election, then the full moon, then the start of "the Holidays"...

So many broken wounded souls. So much pain. So many tissues.

I love my job, I truly do. Being a therapist is an honor for me; to be privy to another's innermost fears and pain is a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly. To be trusted to hold space for such fragility humbles me daily. I find that I am stronger than I knew and more vulnerable than I ever dared to be.

I can truthfully say I love my patients. I want to be their safe person. I want to help them, heal them, hug them.

I realize that all I have experienced in my life, the good and the bad, was preparing me for this vocation. It really is a call to holy orders. I have learned to set boundaries and by setting boundaries I can serve others in a healthy way. Having limits does not mean I don't love them. Having boundaries means I empower them instead of enabling them. I have learned from my own mistakes and at times I share myself with them so they know I am human and broken as well.

I may not be a "by the book" therapist; others may know theory better than me, others may have a lot more education or experience in the field... but I can offer up myself, my own brokenness and let them know healing is possible.

When I worked at a veterinary clinic there was a period when there was a lot of Death and I felt so helpless that I could not save the animals and someone told me "You can't save them all, but you can love them all." I have discovered that applies to humans too...

Let us all be lights in the darkness, for even the smallest flame can light the way...

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” 
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gwennifur, Gwenners, Gwen, Gwenner Gwenner Chicken Dinner

She was rescued by a friend as the last remaining kitten of a litter that was killed by coyotes. Elisabeth found her tucked under the porch mewing, just a small bundle of black,white and gold fur.
She took her in to live among pitbulls and Old English Sheepdogs who she ruled with an iron paw!

Due to her attacking the OES, Edgar, who was getting frail, the cat had to go elsewhere.

She was then fostered by my friend Trish and was spayed and vaccinated. All attempts to place her failed. I couldn't take her because my elder cat, Kizzie, was dying of cancer and I did not want to disrupt her final days...

Then one week after Kizzie had died, when the snow was going to be horrid, Trish and her cats and Gwen came to stay with me. Gwennie bonded with my cat, Sir Snowball Flufferbutt and once the weather was better, Trish and her boys left and Gwen stayed on.

I am so thankful for that.

She embodies several of my favorite traits of cats that have long since died. She is a licker, like Kizzie and Sniffypie were. Gwen awakens me by gently licking my face. She also curls up and sleeps on me like my Mo did and sometimes she lies beside my head purring like Buddy Love. She is about the size of Maggie and has her raspy mew.

I started to realize all these traits in one cat was pretty special. Instead of being sad about my cats who have passed on, Gwenners reminds me of all the love I have experienced through them. I feel as though they are with me still in spirit, channeled through this little girl.

The series of events that brought her to me are amazing in some ways, involving reconnection with an old high school friend, last minute aborted adoptions and a friend who was willing to foster before moving away.

She is a small cat making a huge impact on my life...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My cup runneth over

I woke up feeling grateful today.

I have a home. I have a soft warm bed I share with two purring, snuggling cats.

I have a coffeemaker that makes coffee in 2 minutes!

I am greeted by 3 dancing, hopping dogs who shower me with love and kisses.

I have a car in my driveway that takes me to a job I love.

I have a phone on which I can contact friends and family in an instant.

I have friends who "get" me, make me laugh, dry my tears.

I have a family that has my back and loves me through all my trials and triumphs.

I am happy. I am blessed. God is so good.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Light in the darkness...

Where do we find out light in the time of darkness?

This week has been an emotional ride for me as a therapist and a human. My schedule is packed. I start my days at 8 am and often don't leave until after 6:30 pm. But that's ok for now. It will thin out after the Holidays I am sure.

This week I saw a young man whom I hadn't seen for a few months. When he first became my patient, he was seeking insight into how he could improve his well being. He has an extensive trauma history (as do many of my patients) and had isolated himself from relationships other than work related ones.

He appeared on my schedule as an "emergency appointment". When he came in, he looked defeated.
He told me he had tried to commit suicide 2 days previously. There was a long involved story that led to his being so in pain, so tired, so defeated, that he decided to end it all. But in those final seconds, he sought intervention, called a friend who called 911 and got him to the ER where they took over...

He sat before me and I thought of others in my life who had been in his place. I have several friends and family members, past and present, who have attempted to kill themselves. I have never been in that spot so there is much I don't understand, but I do know that there can be pain so deep, that death seems like the only answer. I know I cannot save someone if they choose to end their life. I have learned through experience that choice is theirs alone and I cannot carry the blame for their actions.
I can be angry, sad and grieve but I cannot carry the weight of their personal darkness.

I can listen, be present, try to help them discover reasons to live, try to find healthier ways to ease their pain and sorrow... but I cannot make their choice for them.

Do I feel helpless? Yes, at times I do.

So where do I find my light?

I have a great therapist who helps me find perspective. I have a strong connection with my family. I have great friends. I have my church family and my faith. I have my dogs and cats. I have connections filled with love. And for that I am so grateful.

I have learned to seek the light within myself. I have learned that healing happens.

This is what I sense most of my patients are missing and long for: connection. Finding unconditional love and acceptance from others and from themselves is often the missing piece of the puzzle. Often they have grown up believing they are not worthy of love. They have no role models of healthy relationships. They have no concept of their innate goodness and worth.

I have another patient who hasn't experienced abuse in his family but who was taunted and teased and firmly believes no one will ever love him because he is "fat and ugly". He is a brilliant scholar, wise and insightful and empathetic. "But will anyone see that?" he asks.  I can't answer that question for him. I wish I could. I understand, to a degree, his struggle. I have always wished I was prettier, thinner, taller, etc. I have at times focused so much on my physical shortcomings that I failed to see my value as a person. I spent a long time in romantic relationships where I felt "not good enough"; where I felt put down, labeled as a bitch, always lacking in some way... it's taking me a long time to see myself otherwise, but I am getting there. So I am trying to use what I have learned to help others.

I want to be a light in the darkness. I want to share the light that others have shone me. I know that darkness can be overcome. It is not easy, it is not quick, but it can be done.