Yesterday I participated in an all-day orientation for the Master’s in Counseling program at Spring Arbor University. It was a wonderful time spent with other cohorts from around the state who are all starting the program this week in various locations. We learned what our lives would be consumed with for the next couple years and hopefully the rest of our professional lives as counselors.
Counseling has long been a taboo subject in our society. Thankfully, as more people realize their mental health issues are real (and very debilitating), the stigma or fear of seeing a counselor continues to decrease. The thought of seeing a counselor to talk about your problems used to be avoided at all cost by a large percentage of the population. Many saw it as a sign of weakness–men especially. Others felt embarrassed since their problems weren’t near as bad as other people’s. They attempted to just suck it up and move on.
Pressure from friends and family who scoff at you for working through your past keeps you in silence even longer. Comments like “You should just get over it” or “It wasn’t that bad” or “Why don’t you just let God take away your burdens” neglect the fact that something very real is happening inside your mind that needs worked through.
We all have a history that molds and shapes who we are today. That history is full of victories and triumphs; and at the same time that history is full of pain and heartache, too.
No matter who you are, your history is a dichotomy of highs and lows. Some days you remember the highs and reminisce about the good ole days. Where did that memory come from and what caused it to surface?
Other days you remember the lows and you cry, or you eat Chips A’hoy cookies, or go shopping, or pick a fight with your spouse, or drink a lot of alcohol, or check out in front of the television or computer, or do any of a thousand things people do to cope when the pain resurfaces.
Sometimes the pain comes back and builds a nest in your mind and won’t go away. That nest serves as a daily reminder of heartache for days on end. You wake in the morning to find a couple eggs in the nest. When they hatch they are more memories of your personal history you’ve been dying to forget. Before you realize it, the nest is hatching so many bad memories you can’t cope with them all.
Where do these bad memories come from and what triggers their arrival?
There is nothing wrong with seeking help from another person. Counselors are often referred to as wounded healers. Counselors aren’t perfect people with idyllic pasts. They aren’t better than you because you went to them for help. They don’t serve as gatekeepers to wisdom and understanding. Counselors are real people with real problems of their own who simply have a strong desire to help others.
Becoming a wounded healer brings with it a large dose of humility.
I am humbled by the fact that so many of you share your lives with me.
I am humbled each and every time someone says to me, “I have never told that to anyone.”
I am humbled by the stories I hear and the vulnerability of those who tell them.
I am humbled by our shared history on the planet we inhabit and the progress we continue to make as a species.
The more I learn, and the more of your stories I hear, the more I realize we are all alike. As I reflect on my intention as a counselor I noticed it’s much the same as my intention as a writer: My intention is to help people be more comfortable with their humanness.
As I embark on this journey, I hope to share many of the lessons I am learning along the way. Counseling, here I come!
Oh, and by the way, if you are working through something difficult, I highly recommend talking to a counselor.
Peace my Friends!