Back from the Dead


It’s funny, therapists spend so much time touting the value of self-care to clients, but somewhere along the way on my journey toward graduation I lost sight of my own needs. I kept telling myself that if I could just make it through, I would have the rest of my life to feed my creative hunger. Just three more years, two more, just an internship, and then you can go back to the things that make you feel fulfilled.

And here I am, at the end. I made it. But I’m depleted, and disconnected. My body has suffered and I am looking at beginning again on my journey of health. There was so much pain, so much creative starvation, and why? Perhaps if I had set aside more room for passion I would not feel so much like I am back at square one.

Don’t get me wrong. These four years have been amazing. I’ve made friends, I’ve developed¬†outstanding skills. I am competent and confident in my ability to be a therapist should I choose to pursue licensure. I have a degree that will assist in my current career. I fell in love.

But I also shut away a part of myself, tricking myself into thinking if I did not acknowledge it that it would go away. This is dangerous. There were times when I could not get air, I was so strangled by yearning. There were moments when I wished I could quit, just to have some semblance of my artistic life.

And yet, I’m here.

Wiser for my mistakes. Beginning again. Promising that I won’t forsake myself along the way. Hoping that others will hold me accountable.

I know I did what I needed to in order to survive, but pure survival is a very bleak life.

An artist without art is not a truly Living thing.

So hello, my dear friends. I’m back.

Begin again flowers

Sincerely,

Emilie

Full Moon Moments


In Developmental Theory we discussed the concept of the “full moon moment”, or a time in which we are shining with accomplishment. In that moment, if caught at the right time, praise and acknowledgment can help propel us forward. Or, if not caught, can lend to an even deeper need for acknowledgment, as well as developmental stagnation. I think I’ve been very fortunate in this area. There are so many moments that, when I look back, have helped guide my trajectory in a positive way. I know my strengths. I also know many weaknesses. I am so often surprised at how many people are able to rattle off weakness after weakness, but are stumped when prompted to list their strengths. There is also a difference between a true confidence, and an area of sensitivity hiding behind hubris. This is not to say that I am free of those moments–I certainly have as much ego as the next person. I also know what it is like to be genuinely confident without being enslaved by ego.

I am grateful that I have had many advocates, many supporters. In addition to family members, my encouragers have most often been educators. People who meet me now are often surprised that I am an introverted observer, and was once painfully shy. That is until they see me at a party, or, heaven forbid, in a potentially flirtatious interaction. The tremendous personal growth I have made is due to a lot of hard work, but also due to the potential others have recognized in me. I am lucky. Without those honest but unexpected nudges, I know I would not be where I am at currently. Teachers from elementary to high school to college and beyond have lent me the courage I needed when I did not have it, as well as the permission to know what I am good at. I also know the feelings that occur when my full moon moments are denied or deflated. Again, and I cannot say it enough, I am so grateful that those experiences have not formed the majority of my meaning-making.

I wish I was better at affirmation and acknowledgment. I am a recognizer and encourager of strengths, but I am not good at the gooshy stuff. As a matter of fact, flowery affirmation still makes me uncomfortable when directed at me (even though I appreciate it later). While I can intellectually see other’s emotional needs, I am not always equipped to meet them. I am an excellent listener, and I can be steadfast in times of chaos or need. I am not an empathizer. It is my mission this year to be more cognizant of other’s full moon moments, so that rather than squashing them with a correction or dry joke (no matter how entertaining) I can be a nurturing element in their lives. I’m not a social worker, I have to be jealous of my energies because I am so easily depleted of them. I am an educator at heart. I am an encourager. I want to help others help themselves.

So, as cheesy as this sounds, thank you to my supporters. Thank you to my teachers (in and out of the classroom) and supervisors who have recognized my talents before I have, to my advisors who have encouraged my interests and drawn out my talents and personality. Thank you to the community members and family and friends and advocates–for your patience with my areas that need growth but mostly, thank you for the gift of knowing me. This is a gift I will always cherish, and hope to pass on to others:

The gift of self-knowledge, the gift of self-worth and self-respect, the permission to honor the self as one would honor others.

So often in the culture of care, the self is the one person not taken into consideration. Which, unfortunately, depletes the self’s ability to care for others.

It is not selfish to think of oneself.

It is self-hurting and disingenuous not to.

Sincerely, Emilie