Friday, September 9, 2016

My Coworker Girl Squad

Every Tuesday, a licensed supervising clinician comes down to my facility to offer the therapists group supervision. We discuss diagnoses, volley about distinctions between various differential criteria, critique interventions we have implemented, note areas of concern for/with our clients, learn coping skills to manage the pain of carrying some heavy secrets to the grave (such as a client telling you they once committed murder, and being bound to never tell another soul). There are many issues which come up in supervision really...all purposed to better serve those seeking help in our program. 

And...we laugh. A lot. For necessary self care. I'm an absolute sucker for fainting goats and these Baby Goats in the barn. So cute! 

This week, after telling all the gals on my coworker girl squad, I shared the news I had received with our clinical mentor. I watched it travel across his face and sink into his expression. It's become an intimately familiar transformation for me to watch on peoples faces now, basically it equates to "hold on a moment...I'm trying to take in what you've actually said to me, because what you are saying simply can't be right.

After a moment of quietude he asked me, "Where are you with everything?" Trying to channel my best Spock- with detached, logical, and emotionally devoid analysis (yes, I'm noticing a pattern here) I reply, "I am concerned about going to one of two extremes down the road, many months from now. The first is that I will be facilitating a group this Winter, with people who have just tried to take their own lives, and will feel a great deal of anger and rage well up in me. I'm afraid that despite knowing everything I do about depression and suicidality...I will get furious, trying so hard to hold on to what remains of my life, while they are trying so desperately to let go of theirs. 

Alternatively, I'm concerned I may desire to rescue clients, instead of helping them to recognize their own inner resources and teaching them to build upon those strengths. What if I am compelled to convince and plead with them to fight to stay alive...adamantly and forcefully imparting to them how very precious their lives are? 

Those are both realistic scenarios I'll need to be on the watch for. I know they could potentially arise, and hopefully I can avoid either of those extremes by talking everything through with a skilled grief counselor." 

It's already been a very difficult week to be what I am...a mental health therapist for people in life and death crises. Thank goodness for compartmentalization and defense mechanisms. 

That's not what he meant at all though with his inquiry. He meant, "how are you handling the devastating news you have received?" I dodged the gravitas of his question, whilst simultaneously reaching for a sheet to document our supervision. He stared at me in surprise and said, "Anastasia, do you still want to work toward licensure?"

Wait. Back up. WHAT was he saying?! 
My heart thudded to my feet, bouncing off some organs on the way down. It wasn't until that moment that I mentally did the math...three years from, it's not very likely I'm going to be alive long enough to get my professional license! 

Something resembling sorrow or dread welled I mentally flashed to the years it had taken to get my degree, the hundreds of hours spent studying to sit for two mandatory exams...the doctoral work..."  I tried my best to control what was coalescing within, keenly aware that being in a room full of therapists who knew me...meant they would readily see through my pitiable effort at emotional containment. "Yes, I want to get least I want to try."  He gave me a sad empathetic look and moved onto the next topic, sparing me any additional piled on straws that would reduce me to embarrassed tears about this epiphany.

I forced myself to utter the very basic prayer of my soul over and over in my head, as I sat there rocking back and forth in my chair, hugging myself with hands crisscrossed and grasping my upper arms tightly...the prayer I say every day now (every hour on some days) despite the emotional rebellion that likes to creep in, "Thy will be done, Lord."  

Later, one of my coworkers and I were sitting in the office typing up treatment plans, listening to her music. This song came on, by The Band Perry. She went to skip past it, but I told her to play it...and we sang, and worked, and sang some more. I listen to it often, as well this one. My emotions are so congested, music seems to be the only way I can feel anything sort of purely right now. I imagine it will take a couple more weeks for  everything to really sink in, for the denial to truly subside and wear off completely.

The women I work with are my sisters. They have brought me chocolate cupcakes, candies, flowers, they have cried with me, and they have prayed with me. They have given me real hugs and held onto me tighter when I try to pull quickly away, scared by the vulnerability of an embrace combined with the uncertainty of my ability to "keep it together." I know that's a ridiculous self imposed mandate. No one expects that I have to keep it all together right now. But I am not sure how else to be and function at the moment. 

People can only take so much sadness, myself included. I think I just need to be quiet with my love now, in prayer, to figure out how to move through all of this. He understands it all. He has all the wisdom to teach me.

This will be the last blog I write about the very sorrowful aspects of this least up to when it's time to face new challenges much farther down the line. 

Until then, I have a lot of living left to do. I'll be telling you about those adventures and sweetly savored experiences from here on out.    


  1. Hi anastasia, I had an old link to this page to an article titled on celibacy jesus is not a consolation prize, but the essay is no longer here. That essay was excellent in my opinion and i was wondering what happened to it? can you post it again or maybe e-mail it to me for my own private reference? I found it to be extremely useful to aid in thinking about celebacy.

    Thank you for any reply. Thomas

    1. Hi Thomas, So sorry this is an almost three month later reply- I am actually almost done with a blog post specifically for you- on celibacy. Hopefully, next week. :)