Single life

Single life

It’s Saturday night and it’s just me and my furry kiddos. The norm for me which I’m totally OK with…I have had no interest in dating for the past year and it’s definitely a combination of interactions.

One is that a past client contacted me on an internet dating site. This probably happened about a year ago and I’m still a little scared to go back on any sites…lol.  I just went to see if I kept the messages he sent me but I didn’t so this is going to be a little vague since it happened so long ago.  He started his message writing about his unhappiness with another staff person at my agency. His complaint totally seemed legit so I told him that and that’s when he responded back suggesting we could hang out sometime.  I answered back saying that would not be professional of me to do so and I was now going to block him. Which I did and haven’t gone back to that site until tonight.

Then, I had my worst date ever which I did write about and you can find here: Worst Date Ever

And now while at the jail, I have patients/inmates wanting to write me when they either go to prison or are getting released from jail…Yep, lucky me.

I know having no interest in dating is not healthy.  I should get out there and start dating again. I do get on Tinder every few weeks (which I’ve done the last 6 months) but nothing has come from this site.

So this is my plan: it looks like I’m going to have to move soon…like in the next month or two. I have an interview on Tuesday in a town that would be fun to live in and which would be WAY bigger than the town I’m in now. I’ll move to a bigger town so the likelihood of me meeting a past client will be slim. I know this and because of this, it will get me out there looking again.

Good plan, right?!?! =)

 

What do you choose NOW?

What do you choose NOW?

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Liz grew up with both parents drug addicts. They would spend their nights shooting up while Liz would watch. Hardly ever going to school, Liz talks about how she would be lucky if there was mayo and bread to eat. Liz’s mom gets AIDS and her dad goes to a homeless shelter when Liz is in junior high (Liz is still really not going to school). When 17, Liz realizes “If life could change for the worst, i thought, than maybe life could change for the better…it was possible I could change everything.” Liz went on to graduate from an alternative high school and then was accepted into Harvard and graduated from Harvard.

This is the story I’ve been telling my patients the last few days because this is the book I finished last week. It’s called Breaking Night by Liz Murray and it’s an amazing story.

And then I came across this quote the other day which I immediately saved and will share with patients: “A lot of people feel like they’re victims in life, and they’ll often point to past events, perhaps growing up with an abusive parent or in a dysfunctional family. Most psychologists believe that about 85 percent of families are dysfunctional, so all of a sudden you’re not so unique. My parents were alcoholics. My dad abused me. My mother divorced him when I was six…I mean, that’s almost everybody’s story in some form or not. The real question is, what are you going to do now? What do you choose now? Because you can either keep focusing on that, or you can focus on what you want. And when people start focusing on what they want, what they don’t want falls away, and what they want expands, and the other part disappears.” ― Rhonda Byrne

 

Slowly Seeing More Light

Slowly Seeing More Light

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I’ve been looking at the computer screen lately and wanting to write but not feeling up to writing…I’m going through a funk and I just haven’t felt like myself. I think I’m slowly seeing more light now.

I realize I have no desire to move to Denver so I haven’t been looking at jobs in the Denver area. I’m staying focused on the area I live in…I guess, after 8 or 9 months if I still haven’t found full time work, I’ll start applying for jobs in Denver.

A friend recently wrote this to me: “I am aware that you’ve encountered a variety of hurdles in getting situated in the right work at the right time in the right place, etc. I salute your persistence.” And I’ve been thinking lately why is life so difficult for me?? I’m tired of moving, tired of being fired, tired of being single…So I think these things BUT then I tell myself what I tell my patients at the jail: If I continue to think of all of the things that suck in my life, I’d be miserable. So I have to tell myself STOP thinking about those things and put my mind on something positive (family, friends, my health, etc.) I tell those at the jail this and then I say: “I just met you so I don’t know what will make you feel better, but you gotta put your mind on something else or you are going to drive yourself crazy.”

With therapy, I like to give clients reading material so they don’t feel all alone. At the psych hospital, for those dealing with depression, I gave out over and over again a quote from one of Jenny Lawson’s books. For those who dealt with anxiety, a quote from https://jolenemottern.com/ And now for those at the jail, I give them the following from Damien Echols:

”For those who aren’t familiar with my story, I grew up in West Memphis, Arkansas, and I was sent to death row when I was 18 years old for three counts of capital murder. I spent 18 years and 76 days on death row before we were finally able to do DNA testing that led to my eventual release in 2011.

When I first went to prison, the day that I walked onto death row, there was a man in there who became a priest in the Rinzai Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. Before he was executed he told me, “You can either turn your cell into a monastery and learn and grow, or you can sit in here and go stark raving nuts. You can lose your mind.” And that’s what most people did in there. Most people couldn’t hold it together long enough. There’s no momentum in prison. ..You exist in a vacuum. If you want to keep growing, learning, expanding, you have to make yourself do it. And that was what I decided to do…I was trapped in a cell 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The last 10 years I was in prison, I was in solitary confinement. I had no contact with other people. It made it very, very easy to stay focused on the meditation techniques. Even if I reached a point where I was bored, if I thought, “I don’t want to have to do this again,” it was like, “Well, what else are you going to do?”

When it comes to karma, the number one thing I would like to say is that you can go through life being a victor or a victim. You’re going to have to face your karma. You can go through life with a “poor me” attitude—“Why me? Why this?”or you can go through it saying: “I’m going to honor my life. I’m going to honor my karma. I’m going to come through this. I’m going to be stronger, I’m going to be wiser, I’m going to help spread what I learned from this situation to other people.”

So starting today, I’m stopping the “poor me” attitude and going to honor my life.

 

 

NEVER SETTLE

NEVER SETTLE

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I have had a pit in my stomach the past week because I realize I’m not going to get enough hours at the jail. I think I’m going to have to move back to the city.  And so, I’ve been doing lots of self talk telling myself that I had no issues with living in the city when I lived there before.  I actually LOVED the city. But see, I love the town I’m in now even more and that’s why part of me feels uneasy about moving. Yet, maybe this is the universe telling me that I’m not going to meet my soulmate in this town so I need to get back to the city where there will be more options. Plus, I’ll be close to family; have tons of options for live music, and the friends that I hold dear to my heart will be geographically close to me again.

So my plan is to take a LCSW study session class offered in August; take the test in September; and then start looking for jobs in an inpatient psych hospital after that….as we know, plans can change at any minute, but this is what my brain has been thinking about A LOT lately.

I just recently started following Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook…I read Eat, Pray, Love as soon as it came out 10 years ago. Anyways, I had time to kill so I was looking through her past posts and this is from her March 29, 2016 post on Facebook that I think everyone needs to read:

My mother “was talking about how frustrating she finds it that — somewhere around the age of 50 or 60 — she watched as so many of her peers stopped making goals and long-term plans for adventure and exploration in their lives. Instead, they began shutting down, and making their lives smaller, and their minds smaller, too. She got so weary of listening to them making self-deprecating jokes about how old they were, and how much their bodies hurt, and how bad their hearing and eyesight was getting… She felt they had surrendered to age far, far, far too soon. My mom said, “Nothing is more frustrating to me than listening to people who are still vital saying, ‘Well, at our age, you have to be careful…'”

No. She begs to differ. As you get older, there is no more time to be careful, and no more REASON to be careful — at least as my mom sees it. Instead, this is time to seize as much life and joy and adventure and learning and novelty as you possibly can. As my mom said, “I hate seeing people slide themselves into the grave far before their time. Death will come when it comes — but it’s crazy to sit around waiting for it. If you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.”

My mom thinks that everyone should have a five-year plan for their lives, and also a ten-year plan, and a twenty-year plan — and that every few years you have to revisit your plans to see if your goals and aspirations have changed…and that you should never stop making these plans, even as you age. (Especially as you age!) She has shared with me the travel she wants to do in the next 20 years, and work she wants to finish, the projects she wants to begin, the cultures she wants to explore, the people she wants to enjoy, her fitness goals…

It’s inspiring.

I have heard people speak of their lives as if they were finished at 30, done at 40, washed up at 50, too late to start over at 60, no more chances at 70…

But are you still here?

Then you aren’t done yet.

Don’t make your life smaller as the years pass. If it’s time to start over, then it’s time to start over. If you aren’t where you planned to be, then it’s time to make a new plan….Rise up, everyone, and keep rising. We are still here. There is much to be done and enjoyed.”

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

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Radical acceptance  is one of several distress tolerance skills. These skills refer to a type of intervention in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) where clients learn to manage distress in a healthy way. These skills are helpful for situations where a client might not be able to control a situation, but they need to manage their own response.

I’ve utilized radical acceptance when clients were molested, raped, a victim of domestic violence, or any other horrific incident you can think of happening. I thought this would be a good one to start with today because of the tragic gun shooting in Orlando.

From therapistaid.com, here is what they say about radical acceptance: “Sometimes you’ll run into a problem that’s simply out of your control. It can be easy to think “This isn’t fair” or “I shouldn’t have this problem”, even though those ways of thinking only make the pain worse. Radical acceptance refers to a healthier way of thinking during these situations. Instead of focusing on how you would like something to be different, you will recognize and accept the problem or situation as it is. Remember, accepting is not the same as liking or condoning something. Learning to accept the problems that are out of your control will lead to less anxiety, anger, and sadness when dealing with them.”

Then, I give the following questions as homework:

Describe a situation that causes suffering:

Describe changes you could make to the situation if possible:

Describe what you can realistically change through problem-solving and/or shifting your thoughts:

Describe what you may need to radically accept:

Describe how your life will be different when you have radically accepted this situation:

Describe how you will acnowledge and celebrate your freedom from suffering:

 

Life is Worth Fighting For

Life is Worth Fighting For

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Last week, some friends were getting together but I was in a horrible, shitty, depressed mood.  I was also heartbroken. The job that I loved and looked forward to going to every day was taken from me. I started sobbing.

“You coming tonight?! I want to see you!” A text pops up from my friend Francis. A few minutes later another text, this time from my friend Shannon: “Everything ok? You still coming?”

I wasn’t going. I had no desire to leave my apartment.

But then on Friday, I get the call: The jail wants to hire me as a PRN therapist. My new boss told me that she wanted to hire me for the full time position but since I don’t have my license yet, the higher ups said I could only be hired for the PRN position. And with that, I see a little light. And as much as I loved my last job, I have always been drawn to other populations I have worked with (children, developmentally disabled, seniors) so I am sure it will also happen with this job. Everyone deserves to be listened to…I’ve said that for years and years and I am glad I will be able to be that person for those in jail.

So as cheesy as it sounds, DO NOT give up. It will get better. Just be patient.

I’ll close with two quotes from books I’ve read this past week that I felt was written just for me:

“There was some relief at surviving what you might have thought was not survivable. No one would ever choose to have cancer or to be raped but you don’t get to choose. It is possible at least to understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said something like ‘To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.'” From the book About Alice by Calvin Trillin.

(And of course, I’m not comparing what I’ve been through to cancer or rape…I just loved this thought)

“Without the pain there is no relief. And I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness. I can grab on to each moment of joy and live in those moments because I have seen the bright contrast from dark to light and back again. I am privileged to be able to recognize that the sound of laughter is a blessing and a song, and to realize that the bright hours spent with my family and friends are extraordinary treasures to be saved, because those same moments are a medicine, a balm. Those moments are a promise that life is worth fighting for, and that promise is what pulls me through when depression distorts reality and tried to convince me otherwise.” From Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson