The Road Of Life Can Be Very Bumpy

Yesterday I was sitting with a client doing a two-hour history and assessment and I thought how can this person ever get past the abuse and trauma of her life. Her self- medication/drug abuse has gotten her here for treatment but if there are no drugs, how will she cope with all the emotional upheaval in her body and mind. Counseling for these sorts of issues will take years and probably several years of sobriety is needed before this kind of help is even recommended. These times with clients give me such great respect for the courage of their journey.

Doing this intense type of work can be traumatizing to the counselor. There is a secondary trauma that affects the listener as I attempt to help them maneuver through the rough waters of their lives. I have to take care of myself or the weight of this work can bring me down. Daily workouts and quiet time are essential for my health.

My therapy group last night was focused on what is possible in their recovery rather than looking at deeper emotional issues. This positive direction is to help balance out the chaos of so much that gets stirred up. Real change is made possible for those in recovery with a balance between exploring deeper awareness, daily survival strategies, and time to integrate.

People early in recovery are raw with emotions if they are doing any real inner work. This process of coming back alive can stir up lots of unfinished business. This unfinished business is usually extensive as most addicts come from unhealthy and abusive childhoods. As they thaw out and begin to really feel again, there is often too much to handle emotionally. As a counselor one must move this process along at a rate that both honors the struggle and still encourages the growth. Recovery is often a series of attempts until there is enough inner strength and clarity to take back their lives and work a strong and supportive program for long term healing.

When I listen to the pains of others and look at my own life I feel even more grateful for all the positives I have experienced. From this added perspective it is easy to appreciate, what seems in comparison, a very good life with manageable struggles. There is no haunting past, no uncontrollable urges, no incredible loss, no dealing with the criminal justice system; instead there is loving relationships, work I feel good about, steady income, health and hope for a continually improving life.

Take time to appreciate what you got and remember there is so much going for you.