On embracing imperfection.

A foundational aspect of the work of Alfred Adler, after whom my graduate school was founded, is “the courage to be imperfect.”

The courage to be imperfect constitutes a healthy mindset and allows for good mental health, social interest, and meeting the demands of life.  These are all indicators of how a person is doing in his/her life.

I am working on this.  I’ve been a perfectionist as long as I can remember.  I am not proofreading my blog posts the way I used to.  If I notice a mistake after I’ve posted it, I leave it.  This is not a professional site that needs to be perfect.  So it’s ok.

It feels good to embrace imperfection.  So much pressure is removed.  I am imperfect, so what do I have to hide?

I am reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.  It was recommended to me by several different people, so I took that as a message from the universe and started reading it.

On feeling secure and being loved.

I am in a pretty good and secure place now.  My family has had a long stint of illness  this fall; the girls and Alan have had bronchitis over the last 2 weeks, and I have been well.  It’s been tiring to care for everyone but somehow I’ve managed and have met the demands of school and internship without having any major breakdowns.  I am beginning to think that I am capable of handling this thing called life, even when it throws in the unexpected.

I am also beginning to see how many people have my back.  I have had so much support over the last month, from being cared for when I was sick, to receiving words and gestures of love and support from friends, to my school being super supportive about my absences and letting me make it up, to my internship giving me the space I need to care for myself and my family–and no hard feelings or guilt involved.  I think there was an important lesson for me to learn here:

I am taken care of.  I matter.

I really, really like my work as a therapist at Park Avenue Center.  Now that I am doing individual and couples counseling as an MFT student, and no longer doing the LADC work–I just love it.  I know this is what I am called to do, and it makes me feel settled and secure.  I feel like I am contributing and no longer a burden to the center.  I know how to do a lot of things now.  I love working with the clientele at the center I am at. They need this and they appreciate it so much.  I don’t even have to be good for them to appreciate it; I just have to be present and listen to them.  Which is good, because I am nowhere near being a good therapist–but thankfully I am able to listen and genuinely care, and sometimes that is all they need.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this blog and how it’s “all about ME.”  It’s kind of self-absorbed.  And then again, it’s the place I can sort out all of these things I need to sort out so I can figure out my life and myself.  It’s healing and rejuvenating.  I do care a lot about other people, not just about myself.  I also know that I have to know myself and love myself first in order to be my best self.  My blog helps me with that, I guess.

I have been really crabby at home lately.  Really anxious and controlling.  I think it has to do with feeling out of control in many ways, and that my home is a place I can express some form of control.  I want my house neat and clean.  It is soothing to me and allows me to focus.  I wish my family felt the same.  They don’t.  I am still the house manager like I’ve always been, only more crabby and demanding. I’ve also felt confused in my marriage and what is ok to expect and what is not.  This goes back to my “boundaries” work I’ve been doing for a while.  It’s a new layer.  I don’t know what is ok to expect, and what belongs to me and what belongs to him.

The Sandplay training I am working on is going well, and I still feel very drawn to continuing and using it in my future as a therapist.  I think I want to eventually have a private practice with a specialty in healing childhood trauma through the use of Sandplay and other modalities.  That is what gets me excited about my future.  I think I am becoming more drawn to working with children.

Alan and I want to buy a piece of land somewhere in WI or MN.  Private and secluded, somewhere we can have a family getaway and build an off-grid cabin someday.  I think we can actually make it a reality someday soon.  It is really, really exciting and I think about it every day.  We hope it will be quiet, have some water access, either on the land or close by.  We’d like a chunk about 20-40 acres.  Maybe we could even live there someday if it would work for our careers.  We both love the country.  We also want a city close enough, especially one with a co-op so we can get our healthy groceries.  The Superior area is looking rather good right now.

Anna is not super happy about Kindergarten anymore.  We’re trying to talk about it a lot and help her with coping skills, and it seems to be helping somewhat.  We’re encouraging her to make the best of it and remember it is over in 6 months.  After that, I think I’d like to home school her for a year.  We could all use a respite from the craziness of this year.  It sure would be nice.

The other night, Anna wanted to snuggle me in my office chair.  I thought about how it was hard to get the space I needed to do the work.  But how could I resist? Then I picked her up and snuggled her.  She melted into me and I could just feel her love.  I felt how wonderful it was to have this being whom I so deeply love, right there close to my heart, loving me right back–while I do my work.  What a blessing. I love her so much. She is such a gift.

Having children is such a healing experience.  I have been thinking of that since that moment in the office chair.  For those of us who did not feel loved as children, or who felt loved only conditionally, having this unconditional love to give and to receive with our own children is such an incredible gift.  Yes, it is time-consuming and sometimes stressful to have children, and it opens us up and heals us in the most incredible ways, which makes that work and stress melt away.  I am so grateful to be a mother.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  It’s such a beautiful thing to love and be loved unconditionally.

Feeling bad. Feeling broken.

I have had a fever and a terrible cough for 6 days.  I have eaten very little in that time because there is no appetite and there is nausea with eating.  Alan got hit with it a couple of days ago, too, so now we’re both in bed and relying on grandma and grandpa for help with the girls.  I am so, very grateful to have them in town.

Along with hitting rock-bottom with my health this week, I’ve hit rock-bottom emotionally.  I am not enjoying my life right now.  Something has to change.  Since starting this school year and my internship, the way I feel about life has been on a gradual decline.  Now I am at a point where I am no longer excited about school, do not like my internship, and honestly, am freaked out about the career I am signing up for.

I need a hiatus from it all.  I want to quit my internship, take some time away from school, and rekindle my spirit.  I want to be here to see my kids off to school in the morning, see them when they get home, and tuck them into bed every night.

Since I am in a depressed state, I have a “fuck it” mentality.  I can see that I may come out of this, and I can also see that going forward without changing anything is not going to make anything better.  I don’t want to give the next year of my life to an internship that totally stresses me out.

Also, I strongly dislike my LADC track at school.  I dislike the classes and the whole vibe of the field.  Even though my classes are at Adler, they have nothing to do with Adlerian psychology. It is very rigid and rule-based.  I don’t roll like that.  I need room for creativity in my work, and I do not want the pressure that comes along with working with the government for funding.  I despise that kind of work.  An LADC job an office job with deadlines and more work than one person can handle.  Basically that is a nightmare in my book.

So, if I want to do this mental health thing at all, I am thinking just getting the MA in the MFT and see if I even want to get licensed.  Maybe I don’t want to get licensed.  Maybe I just want a cash-based practice.  I don’t know if I want to deal with all the insurance bullshit. I want to make my own hours.  I want to keep my family first.

Growth and Movement

What is life without growth and movement?

In Adlerian terms, movement equals life.  Once movement ceases, there is no life.  We have the choice in which direction and how to move in our own life.  When we fully own that responsibility, we can align with our true selves and live a healthy and purposeful life.

I have been thinking about this lately, during a time of intense challenge that has me growing and moving more quickly than I’ve done in a long time.  I am quite busy with learning and growing and changing, and it is scary and also wonderful.  Challenges are opportunities for growth and change.

I am also beginning the “parting” process between Anna’s babyhood and me.  It’s a process I’ve been dreading for a while, and I’ve seen it coming.  I am a griever.  Letting go is hard for me.  It seems that the more I heal myself, the more easily I am able to make these transitions without getting stuck in the grief process.  I have cried a few times about the “no more babies” topic, and maybe I will some more. And really, we can grieve and be grateful at the same time.  Happy it happened, sad that it’s over, and life goes on.  Making room for the new, all in the name of movement and change.



Inviting healing and positive energy

My friend Alyssa got me to thinking about this, so I have her to thank for this post.

When we’re in pain, we want to express it and feel it, and this is an important part of the healing process.  If we stay in this part of the process, however, we can get stuck here.  Being stuck in feeling the pain and negative energy invites more of it into our lives, and we soon find ourselves surrounded by painful situations.

I’ve come to believe in this Law of Attraction, and although I forget to practice it much of the time, it helps so much when I do remember that we are in charge of our thoughts.  Our thoughts shape our feelings, perceptions, and our lives.  Like attracts like. Our word choices and where we put our energy are very important in this Law of Attraction. When I first heard about this, I did not believe it.  Then I practiced it and saw things change.  Our thoughts and beliefs really do attract or repel people and situations.  Our mindsets and attitudes shape our existence.  It’s wild.

The last couple of weeks or more, I have been in a cycle of some serious purging of old feelings, memories, and beliefs.  My class has a hand in this, and it’s been helpful. I’ve gone through this several times in my adult life, but this time is the most deep and intense healing session I’ve ever experienced. Medical nomenclature would call it PTSD, but since I am not a big fan of labels, let’s call it “healing”!  Let’s also say that I invited this; I put it into the universe that I wanted to heal, once and for all, so that I could move forward in my own life and on my journey to becoming a therapist.  I am tired of that wall in front of me and I am truly willing and ready to let it go now. And that kicked things into full gear.

I have periods of calm between the storms, and that is wonderful and also necessary.  It makes me think of the process of birth, and how we have contractions for a short time and then a period of rest.  Like birth can be, some of it is so uncomfortable and I am not sure I can handle it.  Then I think of my choices: move through it and keep an eye on my ultimate goal, or give up and succumb to the pain, going back to my old ways and keeping my old belief systems.

When I am in the thick of it and feeling like I want to quit or die: if I remember, I do a little bilateral stimulation, affirmations, and/or the “5 things” trick I learned from my friend, Meghan.  The “5 Things” trick works like this: when you are in your right brain, ie all emotion and no rationality, look around the room at 5 separate objects and label them.  It works almost immediately to connect you once again to your left brain and gets you to thinking more rationally.  Still, I have to feel the discomfort until my body is able to let it go.  It’s that discomfort that’s so hard to face.

The crappy result of all of this healing I am going through is that I have a very low threshold for other stress in my life. Needless to say, this affects my family and especially Alan. Luckily they are extremely forgiving, and amazingly, they continue to love me.  Then I have to pinch myself sometimes.  This continued love, despite my mistakes, goes against my mistaken beliefs that I have to be good to earn love.  They love me as I am, no matter what. That’s pretty wonderful and it’s also hard to believe sometimes. I deserve to be loved! I MATTER!

I am visualizing, thanks to Alan’s intuitive input, that there is a dark grey cloud inside of my body and it is slowly coming out, turning to dust and flying out the window.  That really helps me.  I can control the speed at which it comes out, and I can do it at the pace I am able to.  Then I can release it and send it away.

Anna had her 5th birthday this weekend.  Despite my emotional roller coaster ride, plus dealing with the sentimentalism I always feel on my kids’ birthdays, it was a delightful day.  Anna is a bundle of joy and delight, and she fills my heart with love.  Children are such a gift.  Love is such a gift.

Learning intensely

My schooling has been really intense the last few days.  Not so much in the “I’m studying and writing a lot” kind of way, but in the “I am learning everything about myself and it is freaking the crap out of me!” kind of way.

Digging deep and really figuring out who I am, not just who I wish I was or who I try to be or who I think others think I am—but who I really am—is totally nuts and terrifying and also very eye-opening, of course.

The class I am taking now is called Lifestyle Analysis.  We learn how to analyze a client’s Lifestyle, which is a term coined by Alfred Adler.  It shows who a person is, who she strives to be, how she perceives and relates to people and her environment, and why.  It is all very revealing and interesting and gives a clear picture of the client.  A major part of collecting a client’s Lifestyle is through Early Recollections, which is another Adlerian term.  In Early Recollections, a person gives a series of different memories from before the age of 10, in no particular order, and it doesn’t matter if they are factual or not.  They are given in the first person, and described from the beginning to the memory until the memory ends. What matters in the Early Recollections gathering is the metaphorical data and what it tells us about the client’s perspective.  Early Recollections tell us how a person lives her life now, in the present, and how they perceive themselves and the world around them.

My Early Recollections almost all involve me being alone or being only with my sister, doing something that is either a form of escape or satisfying my curiosity and/or my senses.  They involve being outside, and feeling good in the situation.  Through my ERs, I am categorized as a “comfort seeker”, among other traits. It’s unbelievable what little snippets like this can reveal.

Through my Early Recollections and Lifestyle Analysis, this is what I have learned about myself that I didn’t really consciously know until now. These are my Mistaken Beliefs:

People in power and people I admire hurt me.

People I admire cannot be trusted.

I do not want to be hurt, so I prefer to be away from people.

I get comfort through my senses, and not from people.

I use my own power to control my experience.

I take care of myself.

I protect myself.

Men are angry and powerful.

I have value when men approve of me.

There’s probably more to come, but that is where I am now.  The tears have been flowing today.  Once you get to that core and you hit the truth, it just comes pouring out.  Oh my God, and holy crap.  This is the work I have to do in order to become the therapist I want to be.  It’s also the work I have to do to live a full life and be the person I want to be.

I am kind of terrified right now.