Borderline Personality Disorder has been in the press more often in the past few years. Along with awareness also comes some confusion, some identification, some shame, some relief at finally understanding themselves or a loved one.
I have never really liked the Personality Disorders category. The symptoms maybe but the use of "personality" has always been disturbing to me. Personality is something that can define us. To name an illness with that word has always struck me as a little shaming. It is our "personality". Given my feelings, I have wondered if the symptoms should be under other disorders or simply a different name.
Personality disorders typically develop to dysfunction in our lives. Trauma, depression, disrupted family life- we live in chaos, healthy responses, natural responses don't always work in chaos and we develop alternative ways of coping. Not particularly healthy ones but coping nonetheless.
Though there are many different types of personality disorders, overall, these disorders are marked by issues with relationships and/or self image. When I have clients who talk about having a personality disorder, I try to remind them that facing an unhealthy relationship in childhood means we have to develop a response and it is not likely to be healthy. Given this, we can learn to be healthy, let go of unhealthiness and understand that personality disorders aren't your personality but your response to the bad stuff that creeps into life. Like any mental disorder, treatments are continuously being developed to help people on their path of healing.
I encourage folks out there to let go of labels that don't serve them and recognize that unhealthy can be transformed into healthy regardless of what the thought, behavior, or relationship may be.
If you are anything like me, that meditation thing sounds realllly good and I never seem to get into it on my own. I admire those folks who say they can sit looking at the sunrise and meditation, close their eyes, anything like that.
Instead I sit down, notice that there are a few dishes on the counter to put away, so I do that for a second and I'll go back to meditation in a sec. Then I think I need water, hydration right? So I get water and realize the water pitcher needs to be filled so I fill that up and now its getting late and I have that appointment and I will then drive to work cursing myself for being "soooo bad" at mindful meditation.
I realized that what I need is something to focus on and not a sunrise or chimes but someone helping me through a meditation. Enter YouTube. The internet is great, isn't it? Searching around brought up countless meditation videos and there are plenty off of YouTube as well.
Having the voice to guide me through helped. When my mind wandered, I was able to refocus on the words and follow along with what they were saying. On my own, with just music or silence, focusing on my head, means I notice a headache and then I wonder if I have run out of Tylenol and then I start composing a grocery list in my head. *sigh*
I've pulled out a few videos here for you to check out. There are TONS more to suit all kinds of tastes, male or female voices, accents, music types, some with visuals to follow- like so many things in your healing process it is important for you to find what works for you, not simply what is here or what someone else tells you is "the best".
These ones below are short meditations. Jumping into something brand new and expecting to be an expert right off the bat. An hour was too intimidating for me so I suggest working up gradually. Shorter meditations have the added benefit of being able to fit into our busy day while an hour might be too much.
The Honest Guys have several videos on YouTube. This particular one for anxiety and worry is a nice one though I have used several of their videos for my own practice and in groups. They post regularly so if you are a YouTube user, I encourage you to subscribe to their channel if you are interested in seeing new content. I appreciate that they start the video with a brief message to inform the viewer before starting.
I have trouble focusing sometimes. My mind is trying to prioritize things and I can't always figure out what to do first. Of course, that often means I end up doing nothing. I found this one during a random search and related to sitting at the desk, trying to focus but not succeeding. I tried this out and it worked. My mind still wandered more than a few times, but I was able to bring myself back quicker. I try to use this on days when I can't get myself together. At 10 minutes, it is quick and less time by far, than what I used to waste trying to focus.
Confidence and self esteem seem to be a universal problem. During a difficult time, when struggling with emotions, it is natural to feel a little down, a little weak, and it might not always be easy to build ourselves back up. This video aims to address confidence and self esteem and give you some meditation time.
Remember that meditation may not be for everyone. Meditation moments can sometimes cause emotions or memories to surface that may traumatize rather than provide the peace meditation aims to provide.
It also is not easy, even with these guides, so practice. Practice and setting the intention to bring meditation into your life will allow you to improve. Remember that old saying- no one said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it.
A new year, welcome 2019! This is the time when many people reflect on the past year and think about what they want for the year ahead- "New Years resolutions" (which I put in quotes because it has a reputation!). New Years is a natural time to take stock of things. According to the reputation of resolutions and a whole lot of articles floating around, New Years resolutions often fail before January is out....leading to many people saying, "My New Years resolution is to not have any resolutions!".
The New Year may be a good time to set intentions, send out the motivating and positive energy. Here in New England, and in many parts of the world, January is also a cold, usually icy, usually snowy, with long dark afternoons and nights, not really the optimal environment to stay motivated. Change in general is tough, even when desired and positive. Change means our typical ways of coping might be out the window. Change may mean overcoming some tough stuff like changing eating patterns (guilty stress eater here!), working out more (or start too work out), save money, travel more, "find myself"...is any of this easy??? Nooooo!!!
We are talking about difficult changes and often we set these goals that sound great but we don't even know exactly how to reach them.
You may have heard about "SMART" goals from the business world: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. When I was learning more about goals and motivation and life change, I had to learn the difference between "goals" and "objectives". Goal being what we are changing or striving to do/be, objective is the HOW. Yeah, I heard about figuring out "how", I heard about "chunking" goals into smaller pieces that are less overwhelming but I hadn't really done any of that. You don't have to follow the acronym SMART but take the concept and apply it to your resolutions. For example:
Pick one resolution:
I want to work out more.
Yes, great, work out more. How? What are you going to do? What does "more" mean?
I want to start running.
Good! Now we know what "work out" means, you want to start running. Have you ever run before? If the answer is no, then you are setting up a lofty challenge and need to start slow, building on your strengths.
I want to run every morning at 7 am, going around the block 2 times.
Better. Now, can you run the 2 blocks? Or do you start with walking, building up to running in say, 2 weeks? Are you a morning person? Do you get up and greet the day with energy or is afternoon or evenings more your time? If you are an afternoon person and you set a goal of 7 am but usually get up at 9 am, and have just enough time to get out the door, maybe 7 am is not the most realistic and after work/school is better. And is the 2 blocks good? If I were to set that for myself in January, I know that I would be done super quick. The first snowy morning I'd cuddle under the comforter and tell myself "tomorrow". Tomorrow would be delayed because snow plows have drifts covering part of the street...etc......etc......
I am going to run 1 mile every morning on the treadmill in the living room.
Great! Now we are really getting somewhere!!! Last suggestion- time frame. When do you want to start and when will you be ready to build up to the next step?
I am going to run 1 mile every morning starting on Tuesday on the treadmill in the living room. I'm going to run 4 times each week for the next two weeks.
Now I know what you mean when you say you want to work out. And this looks weird because it is SO specific and detailed but I know what I am working towards and I know how I'm going to do it.
My favorite quote is attributed to Mary Pickford and says,
You can have a fresh start any time you choose because this thing we call failure is not falling down, but staying down.
Miss a day? Pick up again- it was a speed bump, not a stop sign. And ANY time you choose- you don't have to wait for New Years or a new week or the first of the month to start working on what you would like for your life. You can have that fresh start any time you choose. Just get up, don't stay down.
Years ago, there was a PSA on TV by Carroll O'Connor, probably best known as Archie Bunker. Mr. O'Connor's son died as a result of his addiction and this ad was one of the few that has stuck with me for years and had an impact on even a teenager who really didn't care too much about some celebrity's kid or drug addiction, "I don't know any addicts." I will never forget this one though. Maybe it was how real it was. Maybe it was because I had seen his son as an actor, sober, and I realized the risk and reality that relapse happens. I don't know. I just know that it got me thinking and has been the focal point of my work with addiction.
I feel compelled to post this video and this post because I have resources on my website that are various organizations and business, some non-profit, some not, and honestly, in this world we live in, if I saw that on someone's site I would assume they were getting a kick-back and scroll on.
I will put any resources on that page that I can if it is reputable, profit, non profit, volunteer, whatever. Because we all have to get between addiction and people ANY WAY WE CAN.
We know now that anyone, anywhere, in any circumstances, can fall prey to the disease of addiction. It is not something that is deserving of shame or punishment but compassionate care, healthy boundaries, and creative treatment. By creative I mean getting rid of the "one size fits all" mentality. There are a lot of treatments and treatment centers. They are all good treatments. They won't work for everyone and we don't know exactly why. But we are still learning and trying to figure that out. In the meantime, it keeps the struggle on family, loved ones, and those struggling with addiction to figure out what to do.
Rehab- works! Not for everyone
AA- works! Not for everyone
Medication like methadone and suboxone works! Not for everyone
Heck, art therapy! Why I have this website- works! Not for everyone.
The point is that any of these can and do work but the person who is being treated needs to have something that works for them. Take medications for example. Say an anti depressant works for someone but the side effect is weight gain. They gain 50 pounds, they diet, they exercise, they do EVERYTHING they are "supposed" to do and the weight persists. Now they are depressed because of that. Sometimes people stay on that medication because the trade off is worth it for them. Sometimes people ask, "what else can we do?" because both things bring the same kind of pain and sadness.
AA is a miracle and amazing and beautiful. And sometimes it can trigger people and hurt them. And sometimes it is the miracle that brings people back to their lives and their loves free from addiction.
I can't tell you what will work for you. All I can say is GET BETWEEN ADDICTION and YOURSELF or YOUR LOVED ONE ANY. WAY. YOU. CAN.
FAIL AND TRY AGAIN
Do anything because the rewards for your hard work and your fighting and your surviving is life. Beautifully imperfect, fantastically flawed, and breathtaking life.
I want to say thank you for our guest blogger today! Sometimes I feel hampered by the need to keep this blog professional and educational rather than providing my own opinions on things. The neutral(ish) stance is a necessity for a therapist. That being said, there is a special connection that can come from hearing from others who have had their own struggles and experiences and learn that we aren't alone. The human connection exists even at times when the world seems incomprehensible or scary and perhaps our mind more so.
With that being said- please read and I hope you find these posts as helpful and interesting as I have!
Glad to be here to have a space to practice my writing and share some thoughts! I am a graduate student right now and maybe that means I am in full on researcher mode and lost in some ideal world of academia that honestly doesn't always match up with what people experience in the regular world.
Today worked out pretty well because I woke up today to read an article on this quote of Mr. Rogers about helpers that got me thinking. It is an opinion article so I suppose it achieved its purpose- to make people think but I admit that it angered me too.
You can read the article here, "The Fetishization of Mr. Rogers's 'Look for the Helpers'"
One thing I do support in the article is that we meme ourselves waaay to much. Take a look at anyone's social media or a peek at their email or text messages and you are probably going to see a meme.
In the interests of transparency, I did grow up on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and went through the rapt adoration of a 5 year old, to a contemptuous 10 year old, to an adoring 17 year and beyond. In my adulthood, I appreciate (re-appreciate) the kindness and sincerity of a man who was hopeful, kind, caring, and treated people, young and old, of all races, cultures, and with any differences physical, mental, or otherwise, with respect and caring. I can't claim to know if Mr. Rogers was always this paragon of virtue that I believe him to be and I'm sure he wasn't! He was, after all, a public figure, and we have a way of making public figures into what we want them to be and sometimes forget that ultimately, they are just...well, not like us, they are us, with good days, bad days, some nice thoughts and some not so nice thoughts.
In grad school, we learn a lot about research and how to read things critically. Even in this opinion piece (mine or the Atlantic I guess!), we are cautioned against making assumptions. "What do you read, what do you know" is something a professor of mine said. If you read, "the world is round", then what you read is "the world is round" not "the world is round and people have always believed that and always will". Well, I read "the world is round" and I accept the evidence "the world is round" but some people will argue that saying it is "round" perpetuates a myth and that the world is really oblong. Others will argue that the earth is flat and they are serious (it is in their FAQ linked here). So my addition to "the world is round", that this is a universally accepted statement and it is what all modern society believes, that is wrong. I added that part in my mind and yet all I read is "the world is round". That is kind of a weird way to try and explain how to read research critically but I hope gives some kind of explanation.
t’s a powerful notion for kids, especially very young ones. Fred Rogers Productions maintains a resource for parents on talking to children about tragic events that explains why. Children are small and fragile. They rely on adults for almost everything, from daily care to emergency rescue. “Look for the helpers” is a tactic that diverts a child’s distress toward safety.
Kudos to the author for noting that the advice was "never meant to be used alone". Most memes and quotes are taken out of context in some way or other. The quote above for example, it is one small piece of the article and should be contextualized as part of the whole (so here's a link to it again!)
Children are small and fragile.
Wow, um, I don't know what kids this author is talking about but I don't think I have ever actually met a fragile child. Maybe I understand the word "fragile" differently. To me, that suggests that children are easily broken, easily frightening, even a hint of a suggestion that kids are weak.
Besides the fact that ANYONE has to be pretty darn strong to survive at ANY time during Earth's long history...kids are incredibly resilient and incredibly strong.
Check out this article:
Why are some people able to become happy, well-adjusted adults even after growing up with violence or neglect? Their life stories – from 1950s Hawaii to the orphanages of Romania – could provide answers that will help more children to thrive. By Lucy Maddox.
Here's a research, evidence based book by Goldstein and Brooks- Handbook of Resilience in Children.
Recognize any of these names? Anne Frank. Ryan White. Malala Yousafzai. Jazz Jennings. Ruby Bridges. Alfonso Calderon.
A Holocaust victim, an early AIDS activist, a child who survived and won a NOBEL PEACE prize, a school shooting survivor and advocate for gun control, a pioneer in gender identity, a pioneer in school integration and all- ALL children. Children who survived horrific circumstances. What about the Kennedy family? Rich, well known, and tragedy after tragedy- the kids all exposed to it. What about ANY genocide survivors? Jewish, Rwanda, Armenia....and too many more to count. What about kids who are in abusive households? Who have survived sexual abuse? Who have survived bullying? Foster care? Neglect? Violence? Poverty? I could go on and on but you don't need a Wikipedia entry to be a survivor of horrific circumstances. and THRIVE. Probably half the people in the grocery store with you at any given times could tell you a childhood tale that would leave you counting your blessings....even if you also struggled to survive...and here they are, in the grocery store, shopping, raising kids, working, playing, dreaming, living. Tell me those kids were fragile. I guess I just don't see how someone can be called "small and fragile" and still survive and thrive.
Ironically, when adults cite “Look for the helpers,” they are saying something tragic, not hopeful: Grown-ups now feel so disenfranchised that they implicitly self-identify as young children.
The next chunk of the article builds on the above quote. Here is an instance of an author using their own opinion as widespread fact, "tragic not hopeful" and "self-identify as young children". I do not identify as a child and I don't feel particularly disenfranchised either. I'm an adult. I get it. And I am not saying anything that I feel is tragic. I suppose the whole point of my post here is to say what I think and believe when I read, hear, or share that Mr. Rogers quote.
When I turn on the news, increasingly rare for me these days, a big part of the broadcast is all of the bad stuff going on. Yes, its news but its 30 minutes of negativity shooting in my direction. Personally, I struggle with that. The last few minutes is usually some kind of fluffy piece about a dog show or a kid with a lemonade stand. Maybe something to "ooo" and "ah" about before getting back on with our day? Its not enough for me to purge the horrible feelings I have from the first part of the newscast.
When I read the Mr. Rogers quote, when I say it, when I hear it- it reminds me that even if we don't hear about it, for every bad thing that happens, there are people coming in to help, advocate, change, grow....but we don't always hear about it. THAT'S when I feel disenfranchised or lost, when I hear about something awful and don't hear about the people rushing to help.
So with due respect to the author of that article, I submit that is the author's opinion, not fact. And I respect that people can see things and understand things differently. For me, I have to know, I have to believe, that there are good people out there, people with hope, people who care, people who are strong and smart and people, people doing things that make the world worth fighting for and worth living in. The helpers.
One of my hopes when starting a blog to add to this website was that I would be able to have guest authors (Bloggers?) I am delighted that I have enticed a few people on board. Some have chosen to remain anonymous for various reasons but all are welcome to have this forum if they desire.
One of the great benefits of guest authors is their ability to add a more person, more human, touch to this space. As a professional, there are certain boundaries and standards that are necessary which means the individual experience, sometimes the more emotional experience, is missing. One thing I have learned is how important the sense of community and belonging is to all of us, not just the healing community. Over time, I hope to include more and more of these guests and make this space a forum for all different ideas and experiences. A lofty goal perhaps but the stars exist that we might know how far our dreams can go.
In my last post, I talked about my conviction that addiction is a disease.
Shortly after that, a friend posted a quote that is so simple, so basic, so illuminating, that I was stunned that I didn't think of it before.
Honestly, reading this, I was ashamed. I got so caught up in my determination to promote the biological and neurological impact of addiction- the disease component- that I forgot that what matters, during treatment, for loved ones, for the one with addiction, is to get help. People are dying. People are suffering. Sometimes the better path is to treat and then let other things unfold as they need too.
I don't mean to say education isn't important. It is. There is a time when learning more about addiction is important. Professionals learn how to treat better, more effectively, safer, stronger. Individuals learn more about what is happening in their bodies and minds, what keeps addiction ticking, what keeps sobriety ticking.
This quote was the proverbial lightbulb moment. I thought of the number of times a group therapy session or family session therapy went into the "Choice v disease" debate and started to wonder if this argument was a way to deflect other issues. Consciously and subconsciously, we try to avoid pain. Exploring the personal reasons WHY addiction came into someones' life, exploring the impact of addiction on life and relationships....this is heavy stuff. Painful stuff. Jumping into a depersonalized and academic debate of the nature v nurture variety takes the personal element out of healing.
For me personally, it is a reminder of focusing on the right thing in the right time. Noticing when treatment is more important than advocacy or education and when those things can co-exist. It is also a reminder for me to always keep my mind open to learning and growing. Listening and really hearing other thoughts and ideas because one never knows when those things will change your life.
Be well and live, breathe, love, create your best life. You deserve it!
Addiction is a disease.
Yes it is.
Saying that does not mean that one is not taking away personal responsibility- we can't break down anything into simple black or white- addiction is no different. There is our responsibility and there is what is inside us. There is environmental and there is biological.
Heart disease- We eat right and exercise after the fact, admitting that we should have done so all along while people around us empathize and say they should do the same and how difficult it can be, trading tips...but not shaming.
Diabetes- rarely do we say "...maybe you should have laid off the sugar fattypants...".
Asthma- "Well you dumb f&ck, why did you stay in the house when you were 7 if your parents were smoking? You should have gone out into the fresh air! And for gods sake, stop running around! You'll have an asthma attack and that will be your own fault."
Now those in the "addiction is choice" camp are saying- NOT THE SAME.
YOU decided to take a drink or try that drug.
YOU decided to keep doing it even knowing it was bad / illegal.
YOU decided to keep going as the world fell apart around you.
YOU were selfish.
YOU didn't care.
Picking up a drink or a cigarette, buying a scratch ticket, going to the casino, online shopping, sex, marijuana, food....all things that can become addictive start like anything else- we try it. Food is a necessity, alcohol can be pleasant and fun, scratch tickets are a guilty little pleasure, no harm, you can't win if you don't play, thousands go to the casinos daily, shopping gets us the things we need, sex...well....
point being that these things are fairly normal but not for everyone. And you don't know if you could become addicted before doing any of the "optional" items like scratch tickets. You might know of a family member who had their own issues and that maybe it would be higher risk for you but you don't KNOW. Because we don't know yet! Science hasn't quite figured that one out.
But what about things like cocaine, heroin, meth...you KNOW those are bad for you and illegal!
Yes, you have a point. And in those cases, there are times when it is not purposeful such as a person getting opioids from their doctor legitimately and then become addicted or there are times it is purposeful but is secondary to something else....maybe inhibitions are down because of alcohol use, maybe a person has gone through some kind of trauma and the pain of that experience is so big that taking drugs is the best way they know how to deal with it- maybe it is peer pressure "to be cool"- which is a sad social commentary to my thinking as I clearly remember times in my life when I wanted desperately to belong, feeling so out of it and bad about myself that I would have done almost anything to fit in- to have friends. I'm not saying these are good reasons or bad reasons- they are reasons that are understandable.
By the time things start getting bad, you are already hooked. Your brain has already undergone changes that LITERALLY alter your ability to think, plan, and do anything "normal".
The key in the image is "brain response". Your brain is changing to adapt to that drug or alcohol or thing that is creating pleasure (this could be food, shopping, or gambling like stated above). Your judgement is impaired...meaning you aren't able to make decisions as well as you used to and impulses are harder to control. Your brain literally changes.
Actual structural changes. The healthy brain has the wrinkles and lines we see on drawings and so on. The addicted brain is dented and riddled with what almost looks like potholes.
To look at it another way, below is brain scans that show areas where the brain is lit up, active, and areas where it is not working normally.
These scans are for slightly different things and I use them here to illustrate the changes based on different substances: nicotine, alcohol, food, and cocaine. Other drugs also impact the brain in similar ways. An internet search pulls up images of methamphetamines, heroin, marijuana- anything you can think of.
Typically we think of cancers of the lung, throat, and breathing diseases when talking about smoking risks. In the infograph, you can see that the brain is impacted as well. The blue areas are low function areas. The non smoker brain is crackling with energy, yellows, greens, red- the smoker brain has more dark areas and the colorful areas are not as bright and pronounced. You can see similar light changes in the other substance brains- areas that aren't as bright or active, more blue areas showing low activity, and more black areas- no activity.
What does this all mean? It means that an argument can be made for anyone struggling with addiction STARTING their addiction with some purpose. And the majority of people with addiction I work with take responsibility for that...and usually more, taking responsibility for the part that happens when the brain damage has already begun and the ability to make logical and reasonable choice is gone. It means that the person who still eats sugary foods after a diabetes diagnosis, or fast food after a cardiac incident, is either equally at fault OR we can have an equal amount of compassion.
Most of us know the struggle of trying to avoid chips and desserts, of trying to get in some exercise, get to the gym so maybe we find it easier to have compassion for those things. Imagine if we could have similar compassion for every disease, every issue- even "invisible" illnesses like addiction. Compassion doesn't mean absolving someone of responsibility but it does mean that instead of screaming in someone's face that THEY are bad or THEY created this problem and THEY don't deserve kindness, you can notice that someone is trying to change that- to change their lives, to change THEIR BRAIN. (and the good thing is that our brains are remarkably pliant throughout our lives- it might be harder later in life but we CAN heal our brains). Maybe instead of people slinking into buildings without a sign, that everyone KNOWS is a methadone clinic, we simply let them live their life and notice how amazing it is that they have decided to do anything and everything to be BETTER. Maybe instead of "anonymous" meetings, we can have a world where someone can just as easily say "drug addiction" as "heart attack" and elicit the same compassionate response and helpful (or maybe not so helpful) hints, tips, and support instead of a sour slightly disgusted look.
Bottom line is that we all need to work on having compassion for others whether we understand or not. Compassion and support- relationships- caring- this is crucial medicine for addiction. AA has steps and meetings but also is CONNECTION and relationships for those struggling and that is a big part of the healing process.
Many people may still be convinced that addiction is not a disease as surely as I am convinced it is- but the true plea to this post and to everyone out there is that regardless of what you believe- compassion and kindness go a long way- for everyone and costs us nothing except the chance to make someone else's life a little bit better.
“I BELIEVE COMPASSION TO BE ONE OF THE FEW THINGS WE CAN PRACTICE THAT WILL BRING IMMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM HAPPINESS TO OUR LIVES. I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION OF PLEASURES LIKE SEX, DRUGS OR GAMBLING (THOUGH I’M NOT KNOCKING THEM), BUT SOMETHING THAT WILL BRING TRUE AND LASTING HAPPINESS. THE KIND THAT STICKS.” The Dalai Lama
September is National Recovery Month sponsored by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. Each year, SAMHSA uses the month of September to bring attention to recovery. This year the theme is: Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.
Note the word "recovery"- a focus on recovering and healing from addiction and mental health issues. It is a beautiful thing to focus on strengths and positives such as the exciting prospect of healing from addiction. The road is difficult but is achievable. May the odds be ever in your favor!
This year's theme of health, home, purpose, and community is dear to me since I am a huge advocate for integrated and whole body care. I firmly believe (and research is backing me up!) that true healing can only come from applying healing to all areas of your life, your physical health, mental health, spiritual satisfaction, and more. What will you do for your physical health? What will you do to nurture your soul? What will you do for professional satisfaction? What will you do for learning and stimulation? How do you want to live your life?
These are great questions for anyone to ask and especially during any healing process. Substances take up a lot of time and effort and do provide some relief. They wouldn't be addictive if they weren't! What will fill in the void, help you cope, help you live a life that is satisfying and loving? These are important questions and ones that SAMHSA is exploring. The website www.recoverymonth.gov is set up to provide a lot of resources, testimonials, and hope to anyone impacted by addiction. There is an almost overwhelming amount of information on the website. Use the search engines to focus on the things that you need. Believe in the possibilities of the future!
"I wish I was a superhero" said the child.
And the child grew up to be a nurse. And that nurse held the hand of the family member crying when their baby was born and when their grandmother died. And that nurse cleaned up when that person was sick and felt helpless and lost. And that nurse did everything from fluffing a pillow to providing medications to being first on the spot when the unthinkable happened. That nurse worked 12 hour shifts, holidays, weekends- missing some things with their own families to be there for others. And that nurse was a nurse even when NOT working, answering everyone's questions, gracious when someone says, "Oh, you're a nurse? Can you look at this and tell me what it is?". That nurse is always a nurse, working or not.
"I wish I was a superhero" said the child.
And that child grew up to be a plumber. And when the new homeowners were excited to move into their own place but the pipes were leaking, that plumber helped their dream of owning their own home come true. And when the drains were plugged up right before the family reunion and they called fearing they would have to cancel and lose the chance to see family members they had lost touch with, the plumber came out on that Sunday afternoon and fixed everything. And that plumber gathered their equipment and trudged to the truck hearing that family whispering about how much the job would cost and "that plumber is so lucky, getting so much money". Pretending not to hear since the money was already spent anyway on college bills for the oldest child and medical bills for the elderly parents and the mortgage and the new roof and the car payment and maybe, just maybe, a few dollars for the retirement fund. No one thinking what it might be like if that job wasn't done- and that plumber wasn't available or no one went into plumbing anymore.
"I wish I was a superhero" said the child.
And that child became a teacher. A teacher who managed a classroom everyday and graded papers every night. A teacher who spent summers preparing a warm and welcoming classroom, usually without a lot of money. A teacher who tried to make each student feel special, tried to give individual attention to each with an overfilled classroom, made time for help after school, field trips, parent teacher conferences, and made a difference in so many lives...while always thinking, "Maybe I could have done more".
"I wish I was a superhero" said the child.
And that child grew up and was a manager. And that manager juggled the needs of employees with the needs of the company. That manager tried to create schedules that allowed people time off but also covered the work to be done. That manager went to the company when the alarm went off in the middle of the night, right after Thanksgiving dinner with a quick wave to the family, and had to go to work whenever called because that's what it means to be a manager. And that manager heard complaints from corporate above, from staff around, and from customers within. And that manager kept the doors open so people could get food and supplies they need. And that manager never thought of their job as that important or that glamorous and it was just a job, another job with too much to do and not enough pay and wondered what else they could have done with their life and didn't really think that they were open that night when that mother had two coughing children at home and needed cough medicine, or when that couple flew back from their honeymoon late at night and realized they had nothing in the house to eat and were so grateful to grab something and that person who didn't have a place to go for the holiday and simply wanted to be around others...not be alone, and so slowly walked the aisles, glad to have someplace to go.
"I wish I was a superhero" said the child.
And the child grew up to be an artist, even though everyone said that you can't make a living doing that. And the artist created pieces that were challenging and beautiful and thoughtful and sometimes uncomfortable. Pieces that made you think and made the ordinary extraordinary. Pieces that bridged the gap between the myriad of differences that separate us from each other and helped to stitch us back together. That artist brought vision and color and texture and movement and sound. That artist left a legacy that shared a story of who we are at that moment in time, in that place in time, and created something more lasting, more powerful, and rich as all of the arts which have defined, inspired, and taught us all throughout time. And that artist made NO money. And that artist was working side jobs here and there, and eating a lot of Ramen and drinking tap water, and was always a little behind on things, often questioning why they had to be an artist, wondering if it mattered, then finding out it does matter, then questioning all over again. And not always seeing that child looking at the artists work with shiny, awed eyes, thinking maybe that could be them someday.
I was a superhero
I was a superhero
I was a superhero
Extraordinary skills- that is part of the definition of a superhero.
We are all superheroes. As much as we foster independence and individualism in this country, we are all pieces of a bigger thing- humanity- and we each play a crucial role in making existence the best it can be.
So whether you know it or not, whether you feel it or not, whether others notice it or not, you are a superhero. Anyone who is working hard and being present in this life, which can be tough, stressful, crazy- that is a superhero to me.
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