I want to help people who feel broken inside find their new normal
I know my posts lately have been dark, sad, and filled with grief. (I promise this one won't be too sad and dark)
I am trying to cope with Erik’s death. It is not easy because he is constantly on my mind. I have to concentrate on concentrating. Does that even make sense? I have to work hard to focus on simple tasks. Some days I am better at this than others.
Fortunately, I have a lot of things going on to keep me busy. Between work and family, that should be enough to keep anyone busy. But I decided to add something else to the mix.
Last year I decided tackle a goal I've been thinking about for quite some time. I enrolled in a master's program at Southern New Hampshire University to pursue a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I'm very excited about it.
I started the enrollment process in July but after Erik’s accident, everything was put on hold.
A few weeks later I began to think about the conversations he and I had about my plans to go back to school. He told me how proud he was of me for going forward with this goal. We talked about the degree program and what my end goals are once I become licensed. I recall the smile on his face as he offered me words of encouragement. But most of all I recall how good it felt that Erik was proud of his mom. I hope he saw me as a role model in some way. As parents that's what we strive to be isn’t it? I want to be a role model for both of my kids. It made me feel good and it made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile in his eyes. Remembering that feeling, I called my academic counselor and told her I was ready to start the program. Honestly, I didn’t know if I was ready or not. I did know that I needed to do something instead of sitting home feeling sorry for myself every day. I began classes in October and it felt good to begin. It felt good to work towards something.
In January I completed my first residency in New Hampshire. Let me tell you what… it is freakin’ cold in New Hampshire in January. Coming from Florida I froze my ass off every time I stepped outside which wasn’t very often. I'm extremely grateful that almost all of the classes and activities took place in the hotel and I did not have to go out into the weather very often. The residency was challenging and rewarding. During one of the demonstrations the story that was being told hit some trigger points for me and I had to leave the room. One of the faculty members, who is also a counselor, found me. He sat and spoke with me for a while. We talked about grieving and how I was feeling.
I explained how I'm trying to get better, pick up the broken pieces as they say, and put my life back together in this new normal for me, this new way of living a life without Erik in it. The counselor was kind and comforting as he listened.
He asked me if I was seeing a counselor of my own. I told him I was, and that I also went to a support group. But it was not the right fit as it was predominantly older people who were married or had a partner for many years and their loved one passed after a long illness. While I'm sure they were grieving and sad it just didn't feel like the right place for me. So I began to search online and look for support groups that might be a better fit. I found a couple of Facebook groups and I joined them. Initially I even participated in the conversations.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I no longer fit in those groups either. The people were kind and supportive but many of the them who came into the groups had just experienced their loss. They were looking for a place to share, be supported, and comforted. For me it was like repeating that awful day of the accident over and over every day as new people came into the group telling their story about how their loved one just passed.
I found myself avoiding the posts more and participating less. I was afraid to get stuck in my own depression, I searched for a group to help me move forward. I was unsuccessful. So I left all the groups and started one of my own.
I created Joy from Tears as a way to not just help myself but help others find some peace with and discover ways to find joy in life after experiencing such a deep loss. Let me tell you that is not an easy goal to achieve but I am trying. Currently, my little group is just a handful people but I'm working on growing it. It makes me feel good even if it only stays as a small group.
Anyway, I was explaining all of this to the counselor, as I'm sitting there in tears talking about all of this stuff and I told him I'm trying all of these things to heal myself. I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to pick up the broken pieces. I told him about all of the things that I've done so far and all of the things that I've read, all the groups I have participated in, and how I keep trying to reach out.
The biggest take away during that conversation was when he said, “But you're not trying, you're DOING it.”
YES! I am!
What would otherwise be a simple statement of support really resonated with me. I'm slowly getting better. I have good days and I have some really really bad days. But I'm not just trying to get better. I am doing it little by little, piece by piece, I'm getting better. That's not to say that I miss Erik any less because that could not be further from the truth, but I am slowly healing.
The counselor I spoke with that day helped me regain my composure and realign my perspective. His demeanor, patience, and words of encouragement were calming. But something even more powerful happened. He reaffirmed that becoming a professional counselor is what I want to be. I want to help people who feel broken inside, like I do now, to find their way to their new normal in life.
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