Today did not go as planned. I had plans with my mentor that were thwarted by life. Before things went awry with my day I did have time to myself to paint this morning. I have been thinking about a piece to create for my supervisor/internship agency as a Thank You for the learning experience these last 9 months.
This is what I came up with.
The light house is the symbol used at my agency to give our clients hope for their future. There are light houses all over at my agency. Hopefully this piece will find it’s home among the other light houses.
This week I have started working with two new shadow pieces that have popped up; blame and denial. As I work with all these shadow pieces that are surfacing (entitlement, self-righteousness, blame, denial, judgement, manipulation) I am fully aware that they are all connected to something bigger: victim mentality. Victim mentality seems to be the big one, at least right now, and all of these shadows I am getting to know and learning to have compassion for I think are bringing me closer to my real work which is around my own victim mentality.
So, what I am learning about blame and denial so far. What I have found as I work with my shadows is that when they first pop up it is easier for me to get to know them by projecting outwards first. After this projection I am able to clearly see where I exist in all of it and how I use these shadows in my own life. I did this as I was getting know entitlement, I did this as I was getting to know self-righteousness and manipulation. It is hard to bring these shadows home and embrace them. If I speak in generalizations first I think maybe it is easier for me to see them objectively and then I can invite them in and make it personal.
When I first started working with denial I thought about everything I have learned in terms of triggers. Often we become triggered by some outside stimulus and want to blame the stimulus for triggering us rather than take any accountability for our own feelings and the work we should be doing around these triggers. This is denial, right? This is also blame.
Our triggers are our mirrors. Denial is refusing to acknowledge the mirror exists. Blame is acknowledging the mirror but refusing to see ourselves in it.
I know this to be true because I manipulation, and entitlement, and self-righteousness were some of my big triggers and I can see where I personally followed this pattern of denial, and blame, and victimhood throughout my life when it came to these shadows.
This is all I have so far with denial and blame but I am sure as I continue to work with these two shadows more will surface that will bring these two shadows home.
Let me start by saying math is the absolute worst. It is a form of torture so awful I would not wish it on anyone. And my math teachers lied, I have never used algebra “in the real world”.
As I was writing all of that I totally heard my husband’s voice in my head negating all of it.
No it’s not, math is the best. You’re just whining, try harder. I use algebra all the time.
For context, my husband is an engineer who loves math. Loves it, the weirdo.
So much so in fact that he reads math text books for fun and stays late at work to teach himself math and watches free Harvard math videos online before bed.
Last night I was not feeling good (I have a cold) so I took some Nyquil and decided not to read my books (right now I am rereading Couplehood by Paul Reiser because it is hilarious, the third and final book in my Thickety series, and one of the Humans of New York compilations because it restores my faith in humanity after social working all day).
So I was laying in bed awake but resting when my husband crawled in. I didn’t feel like reading but the Nyquil hadn’t kicked in yet so I told him I would watch whatever video he was getting ready to start. It was a three part lecture series on probability.
Needless to say I now know the different between traditional probability definitions, empirical probability definitions, and subjective probability definitions. It also helped me fall asleep because the second he introduced letters into the numbers I mentally checked out and fell asleep.
I had something close to a break through with a client today. This is a client I am working with for the second time. They were in our program lat year and returned recently after AWOLing from another program. I was sad to discover this client had regressed considerably since the last time I worked with them. Then after observing the client in ways I had not had the opportunity to previously I started to wonder are they regressing or did I never know the full story?
I worked with this client for only a few days last stay, this time I have had them for weeks so I am definitely uncovering more.
Session started on an intense note today. I had to assertively set boundaries with the client on multiple planes before we even started session then the topic was not an easy one to navigate which led to a lot of gentle confrontation with the client. Ultimately by the end of session we had turned a major corner and I was able to build the beginning of a bridge with this client on an issue they have been struggling with and taking next to no accountability for up to this point. It was a little glimmer of what is possible with motivation and empowerment.
I am grateful that my supervisor trusts me with complicated cases. I am grateful that I have been challenged and made uncomfortable so often during this internship that it has given me the opportunity to step into my own place of empowerment. I am also thankful that I have been working with a population who are mandated to receive counseling services based on how our program is funded. This is not the ideal situation for clinicians, typically you want clients who want to do the work, when client’s are mandated they are not always willing participants. This internship has presented so many awesome obstacles for me to work through and overcome.
It may have been an uphill journey but you better believe my social work muscles are strong as hell thanks to the path I chose to walk!
When my husband got off work today he called, as he always does, and we talked, as we always do.
How was your day?
Update me on this..
Oh hey! Guess what..
I have news..
What’s for dinner?
I can’t wait to see you.
I have so much gratitude for the stability I experience in this relationship. I never knew someone like me, a creature of change and unpredictability, could find so much joy in the little everyday goings on of life. He is was makes the difference, it is in him that I find the joy.
I would rather discuss how his conversation went with the fence company than do anything else with anyone else.
My gratitude for tonight is for him and our life. He has brought love and joy to everyday chores like cleaning the bedroom and going to to the grocery. He has brought laughter and ruckus to tasks that previously felt tedious like washing the car or doing laundry.
I am grateful for our everyday moments. Conversations about this and that, plans for the weekend, updates on this situation at the office, creating a grocery list.
My friend and I were talking about how sometimes you feel yourself slipping into that nothing is ever good enough place, that place of comparing your life to the highlight reels of those around you.. She said something beautiful about how even when she falls under a cloud she knows she is okay because she can still see the beauty happening around her. Yeah! I totally get that.
I fall under my clouds or get lost up inside of them from time to time but I am still able to find love and joy in the everyday goings on of the life I created with this other person. That is how I know I am okay because as much as I would like to have it all figured out and perfect I can look around me and be so in love with a moment where we are just chopping vegetables together.
I got another call today about an open position I could potentially be considered for. I am maybe more excited about this opportunity than the one that popped up last week. This position is a clinical contract position that depending on your point of view can be good or bad.
I choose to see it as good. I have heard mix reviews about contract positions, one aspect I like the idea of is making my own hours. I dont always thrive in a traditional 9-5 environment. I like flexibility and options, this would offer that.
One possible down side is in the area of benefits. In terms of healthcare that is not a concern as I am insured through my husband. Lack of benefits in terms of vacation I am also not too concerned about; I am thankfully in a position where taking unpaid leave would not hurt our financial situation much. Lack of benefits regarding maternity leave is somewhat troubling but that is still a little ways off so I don’t know that it would be a deal breaker especially if this is the kind of job I am looking for out of college.
I had hopes of getting hired on with an agency in a clinical capacity where I would be providing traditional therapeutic services. If I am going to be paying to get myself trained on certain models and techniques I would like to have an environment to work on these skills in. Although, truth be told I had somewhat resigned to that fact that I would very likely be doing casework straight out of college because the field is competitive and I do not have much of an edge over licensed social workers when it comes to these open clinical positions.
Clearly I have a chance though because that is the second call in a week for an interview for a therapeutic position. I still don’t have a real clear sense of direction in terms of the immediate future of my career (outside of the trainings I want to sign myself up for) I am excited to have options. This is not a bad place to find myself in.
It has been our favorite kind of weekend: quiet. Saturday we spent time with family. In the evening I stepped out back alone and wandered through my parents garden sniffing basil leaves and picking small red tomatoes sweet from the sun. As I flicked a tomato into my mouth I looked up to see a group of birds flying over head away from the sunset, I decided it might be a good time for a walk.
Hubs and I took Lu and my parent’s pug Scout for a walk to the lake near their home. On the way I loaded the pockets of my overalls with rocks and stopped to pick flowers. When we got there Lu on the shoreline while hubs threw rocks across the lake and Scouty sniffed the clovers. I love watching hubs throw rocks across the lake. He has a good arm from all those years playing baseball, he would disagree with me but that’s what I think anyway.
Today we went to the grocery early and got the makings for black bean burgers and vegetable orzo soup this week. When we got home I set myself up with my sketch book and got to work. I have been wanting to finish my Thickety painting since I stepped away from it but I have never drawn or painted a deer, I was nervous that I was going to mess up my beautiful forest with any attempt I make. I tried a few different drawings in my sketch book before I finally started painting on my canvas.
Truth be told I like my sketches better. It is a solid first attempt though and although my little deer did not come out as I had planned I do not think it ruins anything either. What I really like about him is how I was able to mirror the diseased fungus that plagues the rest of the thickety. In the book it describes so vividly how every living thing is covered in the moss and rancid fungus.
Next weekend I am going out of town with a few girlfriends from school for our last hurrah before graduation. I am looking forward to laying by the pool and relaxing for a few days.