Step by Step version # 2794...

Step by Step version # 2794...

Monday, 13 May 2013

It's All In The perspective....

A couple of weeks ago I went and gave a presentation to a girls youth group at my old high school. The members of this group have challenges with drugs/alcohol and are trying to cut down or abstain from it all together.  Along with that they have the challenges of being a teenager and all the issues and conflicts that go along with it, and I imagine they have issues and challenges that I am not even aware of. 

I had graduated from that school 35 years ago and it was a little surreal being there again. Who would have known that 35 years later, I would be talking to kids the age I was, and letting them know there can be a future. 

As I drove up the long driveway to the parking lot I noticed that the bushes on the left hand side were much larger now. I use to sit behind them when I skipped class.

 As I waited in the office for one of the class facilitators I was amazed at how much smaller the office was. Sure it was arranged differently but I swear when I was a student  it was much bigger than that. As I sat and waited I even studied the construction of the walls to see if it had been changed, it had not. I looked out into the hall where the pay phone use to be and of course it’s no longer there.

One of the group facilitators met me and we walked to the room where I was meeting everyone. As I walked down the halls I noticed they looked and felt smaller and when we walked past the cafeteria I swear it was half the size. The library was in a different section of the school, the lockers looked smaller, and the students looked so much younger.

I met the group and the other facilitator, they were all very welcoming. The young women were all bright, articulate, smart and of course beautiful. They were very open and asked wonderful questions. 

I explained to the group about my D.I.D., that it was a very creative defense mechanism and that in some way it was my way of “numbing” from the world and my reality. I talked about starting to drink at the age of 12 to help numb and deal with what was then my life. 

I told them the same thing that some instructors at the hospital psychiatric adult day therapy program told me when I was talking their program. That I need not be ashamed of the way I had been coping with my life. It may not have been the most effective or healthy way but it was the only tools I had to deal with life, and most importantly it kept me alive.  What they could do was give me a new tool box and new coping tools that were more effective, healthier and could lead to a brighter future. 

I also told them that if they had friends or family members with substance abuse issues, that it was not their fault. They were also not responsible for the actions of these very same people. I gave them examples of how as a kid I believed if I did or said the right thing then my father would not drink and there would be no violence, lack of food or heating. For years I carried around the guilt that it was my responsibility. I now know different.  

I told them that having a mental health issue is not a character flaw, and is not indicative to who you are as a person. 

I talked about how my D.I.D. affects my family, friends and especially my sons childhood years and how any mental health issue affects the whole family.

There was much more I talked about and the great questions they had. I wanted them to know that there is hope, there is help, and there is a tomorrow, no matter how dark the present moment may feel.

I told them that each of us is born with a sparkling, beautiful gem inside us. If we are fortunate to be raised in an environment where that gem is treasured and cherished, or even just acknowledged, we will shine at a very young age and grow and be part of the world and see all the possibilities before us.

Sometimes because of life situations we do not see that gem, or even know it is there. But no matter what happens it is there. People may dump their issues, shame and guilt upon us and we will carry it around, and that gem may be covered up, but it is still there. It’s always been there, and it will always be there. Some of us may take longer to find it- it took me 45 years-but it is there. And when the time is right, it will break through and its energy and brilliance will shine for all to see.

 I then gave each of them a small glass crystal to represent the gem in each of them, to remind them that it is there and when the time is right it will show. 

After the presentation it was the lunch break. A friend- who is a teacher at that school- met me and took me to lunch in the staff cafeteria. I remember this room being much larger then it was. My friend showed me her classroom and we went and found my grad class photo on the wall by the office. It was good to see her again and catch up and I enjoyed our time together.

It was an amazing couple of hours and I spent the next week or so processing my time there, past and present. Who would have known what a gift it was for me to be there again?

When I was attending that school, I was a terrified 17 year old who did not know if I was going to make it through the next day, let alone even think about a future or my school work, I was just trying to survive. Everything was so big, the class rooms, the office, my terror and fear , life was just overwhelming.

Now that I am older, much older you might say, the office, class rooms and the whole school is smaller. But in reality, the school has not changed, I have. I now, as an adult, am able to see the school for what it really is. As this came to mind, I thought about my therapy and the issues I have worked on. 

When I first started therapy I was terrified to look at my issues, but with help and guidance, and a hell of a lot of hard work, I have been able to look at and work through them. And, now, I am able to see them for what they are, and they hold much less power over me. Some issues are no longer bothering me, and some may pop up now and then, but I have support and can deal with them. 

My past will always be my past, that will not change. What has changed is the way I deal with my past, and the fact that I now see it as part of my life, not my entire life. It is not who I am any more then my illness is who I am, it is part of me, but not all of me. I can say I see it in a much different perspective then when I was going to that high school. 
I enjoyed talking to the group and I'd  love to do it again. I like to think that the students now realize they are not alone, that there is help available and there is no shame in seeking help. I hope I have been able to give some of them a new perspective on what their life can be like and that it will not always be like it is now. 

I hope I gave them hope, because hope is a very powerful thing.

I will leave you with the following quote, and I wish you all well in finding your gem.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes."
—Marcel Proust

Those are my thoughts for the day
Cheers and be well



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