It's been forever since I blogged and let me tell you why- my house literally fell apart. Seven leaks since May and for over a month I wasn't able to live at home. I have been beyond stressed and I am sad to say that other parts of my personal and professional life took at hit.
When I finally came up for air I realized that although I spent many months cursing and yelling about life I did learn a few things along the way.
1) I wouldn't have made it without my friends and my colleagues. Really! They banned together to help support me emotional and financially I crashed on their couches, they offered to let me shower in their homes, they let me drop off my dog so she could be out of the house, they didn't yell at me when I made mistakes at work or even got behind, they let me use their scanners so I could send pages upon pages of documentation to insurance companies and lawyers, they were and still are my constant support and safety net. When we are in school and we learn that everyone has basic needs to feel good- shelter, food, etc. I think we forget just how important the connection with others is. Some of the students I see that are struggling the worst are those students with poor peer interactions, that don't know how to develop these relationships, or don't have them. This experience has made me focus more on helping give these students one of their basic needs.
2) You just can't focus when life sucks. There have been days I entered my office and stared a wall for the first five minutes. One day I drove to work and turned into the wrong lane of traffic because I was in the middle of a panic attack. You can't think about anything else that the crisis when you are in one. You just can't and if you aren't thinking about it you are shutting down. So how can we ask our students to care about spelling or reading if their life just plain sucks right now?
3) Counselors needs counselors. In the middle of the madness I started having panic attacks again. One day they were so bad I called the Guidance Center director and said "help." It's brave to ask for help and I think it takes a lot of courage for a counselor to say "hey I need counseling", but I did. In the past I have gone to sessions and thought "oh please I know this game or what are you going to teach me that I don't know?" I wonder if doctors feel this way when they go to the doctor? Anyway I LOVE my new counselor. I stopped, I listened, I learned. I learned how to be a better counselor simply by changing the tone in my voice. She whispers, I need to whisper more. She put things in perpective. She used basic empathy statements that won me over even though I knew her game. Most importantly she reminded me that I don't have to be perfect, that I have to learn to forgive myself for not being perfect. This is huge because I work with a student body of perfectionists and for the first time I feel like I gained insight into their world of being control freaks (I am more like these kiddos than I thought.)
4) You don't want to hear anyone say this must be happening for a reason. Who cares what the reason is, I didn't like going through this ordeal. I am sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but when you are in the tunnel it's dark. Its' like asking me if I backed up when my computer crashed- "No, I did not, just shut up."
5) We all regress. We all relapse. Part of being a control freak means I always want things to go the way I see them in my head. When they don't end up neat and tidy like that I feel out of control and my world collapses. I grasp at anything I can to try to fix what I think is going wrong and most of the time the grasping, the desperation to say the right thing or do the right thing, leads to more instability and in my mind failure. Student behavior won't magically change over night, just like an alcoholic isn't going to quit on Monday cold turkey and never drink or think of drinking again. Healing is a roller coaster ride and we need to give ourselves permission to have highs and lows along the way.
oh and of course Brooklyn helped me through: