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Friday, May 28, 2010

Losing my Voice

Somewhere between 3 and 4 AM last night I appear to have misplaced my voice. Although as a therapist our main job is to listen, we nevertheless listen most often by talking- paraphrasing, amplifying, observing, etc. So I had to cancel almost all my clients today, suck on some lozenges, and work on mounds of paperwork. Its nice to have a day free and I wish, as I sit on my break before I dive back in, that I could schedule in a day like this one every week.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trusting Again

I have changed, You have not-
my life has changed, You have not-
You who are the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

I am learning to trust You even when everything else is new and different-
because even though I have changed, You have not.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I cry easily as a baby these days,

at every discomfort and slight.

I cannot believed that I once saw myself as strong, disciplined, competent.

Now that I have been plucked from the world I knew so well,

I am at a loss for wisdom, power, and integrity.

All that is left is me, and she is just as weak and selfish as the day she was born, trying to survive in this hostile world against all odds.

Humility seems to be the only virtue left to me, and I seek Your throne in my poverty.

Why I do what I do

I resent giving you the best years of my life.
I resent that in my prime I am sitting in an office counting away the hours.
I resent that you are slowly eating away my youth.

Then I remember why I do what I do-
I do not do it for you.
I do it for my family, the one that's coming,
and for my husband, so he can do what he is called to do.
I do it for God, who placed me where I am,
and I do it for myself, because I wanted to make a difference.

So when I begin to resent the precious hours you take from me,
I remember that I have given them freely,
and I didn't do it for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Starting Over

In the high speed chase against time and failure,
I forgot how I got where I am-
not through the power of man but the strength of God.

So on my own I struggled,
more a sieve than a vessel,
confused as to why I could not seem to carry on.

But you took my hand and lifted me up,
and reminded me that you were my strength all along.

So I start over,
a child, with my hand in my Father's hand,
letting Him lead me home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I like about where I work

In order to mitigate my insoluble whiny-butt-ness, I would like to share with you what I really do like about working where I work.

1. I love my coworkers. They are great. There is always an office to go to if I need help and support.

2. I love my company. The zeal and enthusiasm for helping people is infectious and inspiring.

3. If something goes wrong, there's always the possibility that it wasn't me! Maybe it was someone else. If I was self-employed I wouldn't get the glorious hope that it isn't actually my fault. And if all else fails, I can always blame THE SYSTEM.

4. I really, really like my clients. They are fun and do silly things.

5. I  have my own office, with air conditioning. The only people that don't appreciate this are the people who have never worked: in a kitchen, outside, in fast food, etc, or had to share a space. Having my own office is no small potatoes.

6. PTO.

7. Benefits, most notably, free medical care. I can even have free dental if I'm willing to get on the waiting list.

8. Constant stimulation. My office is never, ever, ever, boring.

9. It is challenging. At no time do I think, "If only I was living up to my true potential!!!!" No, I am there, on the edge of my abilities.

10. People care. They sent flowers when my grandpa died. They forced me to eat cake and sang me "Happy Birthday" even when I was going home sick on my birthday.

11. Already arranged supervision. If you aren't an MFT-intern or a social worker, you may not know how important this is, but it is REALLY important. Also, no problem getting my hours!

There is more, but I have to go stop dinner from burning now.

Shell of Safety

I may not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how my heart desires retreat.

I must not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how fast my heart beats.

For I knew going in this journey was long,

And fraught with perilous ways.

But worth it to me, as painful as it may be,

To have a meaningful way to spend my days.

My shell of safety was warm and soft,

And I could not see how it could be so,

When others were so bruised and battered,

And had no safe haven where they could go.

So I sojourned out into the cold

To see what I could give.

I sojourned out into the cold

So others, too, might live.

I can not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how my heart desires retreat.

I will not return to my shell of safety,

As long as there are people who are in need.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Favorite new quote


Have I become as ill as the fearful who seek me?
Where has my confidence gone?
Gone is the exuberance fed by internal springs of self-belief,
gone are the dramatic dreams of the darling naif.

I thought I found a loophole to crawl through,
but it feels like a noose.

The Junkyard

I first gave freely, happy to be of use in a world where happy endings were scarce. I thought I would not miss what was given, and the more I gave the more I would receive.

But now my giving is laborious, and as I feel my vulnerable layers stripped away, to be used for scrap by unscrupulous dealers, I fear I am an exposed, rusty husk, who has inadvertently given away her usefulness.


I left my mountain at home for the weekend and walked free, breathing deeply without this burden weighing my body down.

Now I am back under it, like Atlas, and I realize that in those few short days I had forgotten how heavy my mountain was. I would like to walk away but I cannot. It is my burden to bear, and bear it I will. I just hope I don’t snap under the strain.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feeling Restless Again

The endless bureaucracy of red tape that plagues health care, especially mental health care, leads me today to feel shackled and burdened down. If you'll remember, the key to checks and balances is that at the end of the day, people don't accomplish much in any direction. This is good when controlling a government, but stressful when trying to provide proactive quality care to my clients. I harken back to the principals of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and I ask, if I'm unable to accomplish the basics of my job, like notewriting, keeping in touch with clients, and completing assessments, how I can I accomplish the big tasks, like client advocacy, family integration, and learning truly good technique? Its hard to learn how to swim when all I have energy for is staying afloat. These feelings led me to compose some prose during a meeting this morning where I learned about a variety of things I should be doing to prepare for our next audit.

Here's one:
I dream of a place where, unfettered,
my soul may inhale, unravel, and be calmed.
Free from messy confusion, vague criticisms, and
the jangled clashing watercolors of my day to day career.

As my head swims with the garish details of redtape bureaucracy,
I know things must be simpler somewhere.
There must be a place where peace and tranquility are fertilized and birthed.

I hope and pray that this side of heaven I'll find a place where my soul can grow.

And another:
The longing in my heart for change has many origins. Some are simply the human characteristic of restlessness, laziness, and apathy that I battle. Others are distinct to my soul, which yearns for success as a creature of light, desiring to rise above the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams of our still beautiful world.
My soul withers in this Catch-22, where I give too much but it is somehow never enough-
Oh that I could soar and be free!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


As I sit, waiting for a client to arrive, I speculate on how much of my professional life is spent trying to figure out what the best use of my time is while I wait. Sometimes clients don't come at all, so when should I stop waiting and start doing something else? After 15 minutes? If I begin to work on something else at that time, sometimes they still come in after 25 minutes and I have to drop what I am doing. I hate the feeling of being interrupted, and what I hate more is feeling like other human beings are interruptions. In this way it is a double emotional whammy.

The other part I hate is the uncertainty. I've never had a job before that was based on whether other people showed up or not. I will plan a session, have some great intervention, and they don't come. Or I will wing a session and invariably, that family shows up.

I don't transition easily from one type of work to another, from phone calls and paperwork to treatment. I would rather just do one or the other. Its challenging to shift, and I think its because both uses different sides of the brain. My abstract and concrete thinking mechanisms don't like being switched off and on like this. And in the middle of my own mental struggle to shift gears, there are real people in the middle to consider. I can't afford to feel grouchy or irritated about my job for too long, because its not fair to my clients. They need me to be 100% all the time, no matter how I feel any given day.My mental health does not matter to my clients, because this is one of the few things they do that is for themselves.

I suppose this is how I will feel when I'm a mother, a strong sense of responsibility to put aside my own struggles and focus on meeting the needs of my child.

So, I wait, and work to temper the frustration that so often wells up, often for no good reason. I listen to soft music and try to be productive while I wait. And when I see their faces, I suddenly have the strength to focus on them and I forget all about my own situation. I suppose there will come a day when I lose this battle and the chinks in my armor shine through. I really hope not, but its bound to happen once. If it does, I'll apologize and check myself, and pray for the strength to remember to treat people like people and not just another task to complete on my never-ending list.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Broken Record

Some people will tell you, "I became a therapist because people were already coming to me and confiding in me and asking advice so I went to school to keeping what I was already doing."

This is not my story, not how I got here. I think I got here to become something I wasn't, like an act of penance. I would love to say that listening was an attribute frequently attributed to me growing up, but it wasn't. I was much more likely to be talking over whoever was trying to talk instead of hearing what they were saying. More than once I heard my father say, "you could be replaced by a broken record."

 Being a therapist, for me, is training. Training to use my ears more than my mouth. Training to wait and contemplate instead of jumping to conclusions. Training to be more interested in what I can learn from others than teach them.  Hopefully one day all of this will sink in and I will become more like the person I would like to be, self-sacrificing, humble, patient, and kind.

The Wounded Healer

Welcome to my blog. I'm a bright young twenty something, trying to make it in the crazy world of psychotherapy. I've been working as mental health therapist for about a year and a half full time, and it's one of the greatest challenges of my life. Which is why I chose it, of course, because that is what bright young twenty somethings do, is create challenging goals and get themselves into Situations. So join me on my journey, whether therapist or client- I'll try not to say anything that will get me in trouble at work, while expressing the heart I have for the people I work with and the people I work for.

First lesson for you- we are less different from each other than we fear. My clients sometimes ask me, "is the way that I am feeling wierd?" I can usually honestly tell them (although sometimes I still get surprised, especially since I haven't been doing this long), "actually, a lot of people I know feel that way."