a paradigm shift

first of all, writing this, i have the sneaking suspicion that i’ve used this title before. or maybe i just wrote a paragraph on it or something. oh well, doesn’t matter.

today i’m thankful for this overwhelming confirmation that good things happen when i focus on what i do want rather than what i don’t want. i can directly ask for it, and whether i get it or not, i’ve been true to myself and forthcoming about my wants, needs, and intentions. that is a magnificent feeling!

for me, forthcoming is the most significant piece. i have always been somewhat shy or downright secretive about what i want or need. i’ve gone about getting my needs met sideways or backwards, through carefully crafted requests or statements, through passive agression, through quietly fuming and pulling away. that seems so counterproductive now, but it had been a way of life. so the paradigm shift is about moving from that darkness into the light of assertiveness in myself. it comes through quiet reflection and brainstorming about what i want, trial and error on seeing what fits, then when i’m sure about what i’m looking for, being able to articulate it. this is hard for me because of the previously mentioned sideways and backwards communication. i think i can only be direct when i can accept that i deserve what i want and need.

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number quirks

i think everyone has favorite/lucky numbers right? ever since i was little it has been about 2 and 8. then by default even numbers are preferred. 4 is good (double luck on the 2s). 6, eh, nothing special, but certainly better than an odd number. it feels so weird to put that on paper.

my birthday is 7/23. that’s not very attractive numbers. but somewhere in the past year i started to really like it. i’m not sure what changed. something to do with clocks, maybe because i’m working nights and i see 7:23 on the clock more often? i’m not sure, but now when i see 7:23 on clocks i get a little burst of joy and i let it remind me to be thankful in general, to take a moment to dedicate to myself. i can’t believe i’m writing this down! when i saw it just now i got excited and closed my eyes and made a dedication/wish for my day… to be thankful, to work toward my potential, to do my best.

that’s it. one of the little things that gets me through the day!

bittersweet

what a crazy week! in the past week, i’ve worked no less than four 12+ hour days between work and school and internship. and the other days had at least one of those as a time chunk obligation. thursday was my day off but even that was filled with homework and errands and overwhelmingness.

this has been going on for a while. i’m tired.

so it was a huge blessing when my internship approached me saying they really wanted to hire me, and sooner rather than later. i was over the moon, so excited!! from my first all staff meeting, i knew i wanted to work there when i was finished with my masters, and i knew they were my new family. i had an idea they might hire me, but before i was done with school? that was a shock. it was only in telling one of my managers at my current job about it that i realized… i never even applied. they just asked me. wow! this week i got a packet full of paperwork and there was the application after the fact, after the offer letter, a formality. i’m so very fortunate.

and so here i find myself again. 10 months ago i was saying goodbye to handi medical. as much as i couldn’t wait to leave, it was hard. something i realized this year is that i’m thankful for the work families i have made, and who always last. no matter how i’ve felt about my jobs when i’ve had them, it’s a group of people who you spend a lot of time with, working out problems, hopefully helping and supporting each other, sometimes fighting or having bitter feelings. but it’s still a family. i’ve never really been very good at goodbyes. i preferred to leave without saying anything than to go through those motions. i think i did that because people meant more to me than i liked to acknowledge. so i was terrified to put in my notice again.

with the first manager i talked to, i was braced for shock, sadness, maybe even anger. but what i got was a heartfelt congratulations, and a reprimand for any sad, guilty feelings i had. my second manager was supportive as well, the third one was waiting at the door for me with a stick to beat me with! but it’s all love 🙂 in telling other people it has been nice, too. i feel really thankful that i’m offering myself this opportunity this time to do a real goodbye, telling people and receiving the congratulations, letting go of the guilt and allowing myself to feel other people’s happiness for me.

it’s bittersweet. i’m moving into my dream. sooner than i thought, my job title becomes Mental Health Practitioner. i’m getting paid to do this! i want to revel in that happiness. but at the same time, goodbyes are always hard. i love working at christos. after working at rudolphs for so many years during a really tough time in my life, it was a great experience to go back into serving and enjoy it, to find self esteem in it, knowing i’m good at what i do. and i love my coworkers, i really do! it was about the easiest place to make friends that i’ve ever worked. i will miss them, but i will come to bother them all the time!

so that’s my good news, and my new way of moving through transitions. i’m proud of myself!

working windows

today i’m thankful for driving down the freeway on a hot day – BOTH windows down and the knowledge that they’ll both go back up again! first summer with my new ride. rip 94 nissan sentra with major electrical problems. you were a good ass hoopty.

3 days of group – day 3

by day 3 i was pretty fried, but still able to get something out of this group. i think groups are a pretty good mirror to people, an amplification of the adlerian concept of lifestyle. your lifestyle is the worldview you formatted very early in life that gives you a concept of how to frame yourself in the world, how women/men are, how the world works, locus of control (do i control my life or does it happen to me?), how you have to behave in order to find your safety, significance, and belonging in the world. so fascinating. we are taught that the quickest way to understand a person’s lifestyle is to take an early memory and examine it (not easy, but simple). there are many ways to understand a person’s lifestyle, including spending a chunk of time with them. i’m so happy to have had training in adlerian therapy. i truly believe it’s the best and most direct route for me to understand people and be effective as a therapist.

to work with this group was a somewhat holy opportunity in the way i view spirituality. this group was a safe place to come forward, be present with each other, supportive in discovering meaning about ourselves, our relationships, and our world. to be an observer and participant in seeing how we each operate, which problems we chose to present, and what that says about mistaken beliefs we have about how life works, trying to help each other through it by putting judgements aside and instead encouraging self-reflection and maybe reconsidering the beliefs that have driven our lives… that’s a holy place to be.

3 days of group – day 2

i went in less guarded. let me back up and say this: i want to be a group therapist. in addition regular individual or couples or family focused sessions, i most definitely want to do group. i always had an idea, but after i took the required class on group therapy last year, i got hooked almost immediately. the things you can do with a group, the small microcosm that mirrors real life, the way people get triggered by each other the way they get triggered by people in their “real lives,” and the learning that can come from hearing someone else work through their shit… amazing. nothing like it. a safe place to work out personal and relational stuff? sold. and as a facilitator to watch the interactions, to stir things up, to shape the flow, to encourage people to work together? yes, please.

so yesterday i went in pretty open. i got a chance to be witness to and give feedback on a clash between two of the women. we are encouraged to be present when we’re telling our own stories, but even moreso to be present when listening to other people. what do i feel in my body during their argument? where does my mind go? how do i feel emotionally? being an observer in an argument gave me so much information about myself, and i was bursting with all the feedback i wanted to give them. my facebook status yesterday was, “i watch like an anthropologist.” yes. yes i do.

i did share some personal things with the group, like i was nervous about in my reflection yesterday. it was a little nerve wracking. i was telling on myself, telling my secrets. i kind of get off on that a little bit, telling what i think is so crazy and weird about myself, and then finding out that it all makes sense, that it’s a normal reaction to messed up circumstances. i guess that’s why i believe in therapy. for the way i feel after my secret is out. and with group i think it’s especially powerful; instead of just the therapist who is paid to listen to me and support me, here is a group of my peers completely buying into my life alongside me, reflecting back that i creatively did the best i could with what i had. and here i am, today, ready to try something different. it’s the best, most affirming experience!

the other meaningful experience was about stories.

a back story/an example: at friday night group i became aware of the way i isolate myself because of the way i view my story, the circumstances and my reactions that brought me to the present day. in working with another woman and talking about my history with my dad and meeting him for the first time, she tried to show empathy by relating a story about her experience with her own present but emotionally and a lot of times physically absent father. in my mind i immediately wanted to shut her down by being like, “you’re an idiot! if you think your story compares to mine and that we can bond over daddy issues because yours worked too much, you really are the delusional head-in-the-clouds type white person i can’t stand. oblivious whitey! don’t you understand the severity of my situation???” it’s ugly, but i’m willing to admit, that’s where i go sometimes. it has been an effective way for me to remain isolated, to confirm that no one could possibly understand my particular situation, my particular pain, that i am too unique to make genuine connections. stories are a competition and only certain people have stories bad enough/tragic enough to really get me. this is very lonely.

so saturday morning our instructor talked about the way stories work. the characters, the plot, and the components change and are unique to each person. but the feeling behind them, where they hit our insides, how we store them and make them a part of who we are and how we see the world… that is what brings us together.

you don’t say? that was an epiphany and like… a parole for me! a releasing of this part of me that says you couldn’t possibly know how this feels. i really needed that. it’s not rocket science, it’s common sense that i couldn’t hear until now. life changing stuff.

3 days of group – reflection on day 1

i have a school requirement to participate in both individual and group didactic. it turns out didactic roughly means therapy. i did my individual didactic last summer and it was a positive experience. this weekend i’m doing group didactic. 3 days of it: last night, all day today, and all day tomorrow.

i was the first one to cry. not all that surprising.

timing is everything, right? so evidently this is the time to explore my hypervigilance around social safety, the way i lock people out of my experience, my fear of being exposed in front of people who are apathetic or flippant about my experience. in addition i’ve been deep into going through research for my master’s project which is on mixed race identity development. they are all so tightly wound together in me, outside of me, my work and my personal life. so this is the time to reflect on it. now. this weekend.

even as a therapist it’s so amazing the shit that comes out of my mouth. you would think that i would be so aware and able to articulate, but able to hide what i want to hide because i know how it’s done. but how i am, how i interact socially, it’s everything, it’s so transparent!

so. i’m doing this. i’m scared as hell to share my experience (my fears, my outlook, my problems) with this group of white women therapists, but isn’t this the experience of most people of color in therapy? being open will help them and will help me – personally and professionally, all around. time to gather up my courage like i’ve done so many times before. it’s just more interesting this time because i’m being courageous about discussing the boundaries that i never respected before. good God this is complex.