Posts Tagged ‘support’

So I’ve finally finished watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. It has taken me longer than some because of the difficult nature of some of the themes. I had to pace myself with the intake because this is one of those things that makes you feel, no matter who you are, and I already feel a lot on the subject matter. I needed to moderate the intensity for the sake of my mental health.
I will try to get through this without any real spoilers, but if you are thay concerned, maybe don’t read until after you’ve watched or read it already yourself. 

I think it’s incredibly important in this day and age for us to ensure we are still warm blooded, emotion feeling creatures, because we are so prone to becoming desensitized with all the excess stimuli we are flooded with at the speed of information. Furthermore, this show also makes it personal. Whether it’s someone you know, or a few more degrees of separation in between, you can still relate to this on some level. It’s important to say to begin with that sexual violence wasn’t used gratuitously in this show. At the same time though, it also wasn’t diluted. 

Teens all know about the struggles and hardships of navigating social life in high school, while still wrestling with a means of self-discovery and identity. Parents and adults in general forget all too quickly about these things… This show will make you feel closer to your teenaged child than you’ve felt in years. It will give you a glimpse into their life, it will help you understand some of their behaviors and it will explain the tether to their electronics. If for no other reason, you need to watch this show with your child for that.

The harder lessons… It touches on the uglier aspects of this world of ours, from substance abuse to sexual violence, mental illness, and yes, even suicide. These are not nice topics. They are not meant to be nice. They are supposed to make you uncomfortable. That discomfort signifies how human you are. 

As always, it strikes me as utterly tragic that something terrible has to happen before people will start treating each other with respect and consideration. It is ever the tragedy but, fortunately, at least this time the loss is a fictional one, however symbolic she may have been. I think it’s so important for all of us, from teens to parents from poor homes and affluent ones, to victims and survivors of rape, to families and friends of those suffering from depression, to even those who suffer from mental illness themselves, if for no other reason than to understand how not alone they are. This show is so uniquely poised to teach lessons across so many social demographics…it is my professional opinion, as a survivor, an advocate for mental illness, someone who made it out of high school alive, as well as someone working towards being a better counselor than Mr. Porter, that everyone should watch this show, at whatever pace they themselves can muster, because it will change them, and it will grow them, and it will strengthen the connections they have with the people in their lives. Isn’t it those connections, after all, that keep us grounded?

As an aside, I think it is SO important to also watch Beyond the Reasons. It provides some exceptional insight into the spirit behind the book, as well as the show itself, and it also helps process some of the tougher themes in the show. We are told here some of why some of the mechanics were used the way they were.. victims of sexual assault have a very hard time talking about what happened to them. It’s clouded with so many feelings of shame, of anger, of disbelief, of guilt, and a myriad of other things. Victims can’t process easily themselves, let alone explain to someone else. 

So it’s been a pretty crazy few months. I’ve written less than I should. It’s the tail end of the fall semester, my last semester at a two year school and am transferring to a four year school next semester. I’ve also recently begun working nights after being laid off a couple months ago, and have been struggling in the usual fashion; too much month at the end of the money. I’ve found myself taking pride in my resistance to falling back on old comforts during a trying time, and have even managed to weather this particular storm without the aid of my counselor, with whom I came to a mutual decision to stop sessions for the time being. granted, when the decision was made, the sky wasn’t falling and my day to day was still in tact. Nevertheless, I’ve done alright and haven’t failed myself in the important ways.

Tonight is my first night off after my first full week on third shift, and I have spent it working on the remaining assignments for my classes, watching Netflix and generally pondering a lot of things. I’ve been watching Nurse Jackie in particular, and I laugh a little at myself because the first time I tried to watch it, I couldn’t get into it. In retrospect, I feel that maybe it was because the self destructive attitude the main character embodied in the first season was a little too familiar for comfort. I wasn’t ready then to see that close reflection of myself. I started over a few weeks ago, and have made it into the fifth season.

The thing that prompted this entry was the aftermath of the death of Jackie’s rehab friend.. a just-turned-18-year-old who also happened to be the son of her new boss. I like the way that real life happens to her character, the good and the bad, and she weathers it accordingly. I can’t help but note that some parallels hit really close to home… Jackie says several times in later seasons that shit didn’t start falling apart until after she got clean. I know the feeling; I’ve been of that mindset a thousand times at different points over the last few years. I think maybe it really does seem that way because when one is using, nothing else matters. That is, shit still happens in the world around you, but you just don’t care because life isn’t a priority for you then. She’s so flawed, just like me. I’m not sure if it is a mark of good writing, of good acting, or a combination of both, but I find myself more and more relating to so many facets of this show.

When Charlie, (her boss’ son,) died, Jackie kept calling his phone. They had been each other’s support system, and she didn’t stop leaning on him, even after his death by overdose. Her former boss, Mike, ended up listening to the voicemails she had left on Charlie’s phone. Apparently he hadn’t been able to bring himself to get rid of the phone thus far. He reached out to Jackie, and following a lot of albeit dysfunctional healing, they ended up having a very profound conversation in the chapel at the hospital where she works. He opened up about his grief, and about what he had felt and struggled with following the death of his son. He said that he felt like it made him an awful person that the first thing he felt following his loss was relief, and then anger at himself for feeling that relief. 

Am I the only person who sometimes finds herself offering counsel to fictional characters on TV shows in her head? I hope not. I wanted to tell Mike that it didn’t make him an awful person that he felt relief. I’d tell him that he should first consider what he felt relief for. I don’t think any parent would ever feel truly relieved to bury their child. I do, however, think that most parents would feel a sense of relief at the idea that their child was no longer suffering. I think that any parent would feel a sense of relief that their afflicted child was finally at peace. 

This hardly scratches the surface of the monologue in my head. I believe that while some things might seem simple, they are often more complicated than we want to acknowledge. Complications, after all, take effort and putting forth effort is exhausting, and honestly can be so emotionally draining, depending on the nature of the issue. Addiction, emotion, relationships… these are all extremely complex concepts, ones that humanity is simultaneously afflicted and blessed by. 

How can these things be good and bad? The latter two are a given. The former, however, might be confusing to an indivudual on the outside looking in. Let me explain:

Addiction is a horrible disease, it’s ugly and it is ruthless. I’ve lost a lot in my life due to addiction, both my own and those addictions of people I care for. I also gained my path, my life’s work, in part due to my experience with substance abuse. My active addiction and my ongoing recovery have both contributed in a major way to providing me with the perspective I needed to make choices for myself, for my future. Without the trials in my life, I likely would still just be existing, which is no life at all.

I believe that we are the sum total of our experiences in life. It is the things that befall us as much as the successes we earn for ourselves that mold us into the creatures we are on any given day. By this logic as well, we are not ever the same person we were the day before. The trick, I think, is to make use of the experiences, to absorb the lessons with grace and humility, because experience has taught me that one can never truly know when their own past can help them save a life, whether it is their own or not. I can think of no more worthwhile endeavor either.

Well here I am in the parking lot at counseling a little early again with a few thoughts to express here real quick. With the holidays being here, it’s been pretty crazy. I’m becoming more and more involved in my inmate wife support groups and am even an administrator on one! That’s pretty cool but the thing that strikes me the most is just generally how much better I have been feeling since making connections with more folks in the same boat as me. I feel more optimistic than ever before and also significantly less isolated which is a pretty huge deal for me. I’m officially a member of TIFA (Texas Inmate Fsmilies Association) and through them I have been able to send some Christmas cards to inmates who have no one and that has made me feel really good too. I helped coordinate a Christmas card exchange between the wives and girlfriends in one of my groups and am just feeling incredibly in the holiday spirit because of the sense of community and belonging I feel. Some of the wonderful ladies praise me for my support and I’m grateful for the accolades but keep telling them that I am the one who is blessed by having found them and the opportunity to know them! As a survivor, it gets pretty lonely in my little world and I feel so much more liberated than I have felt in a long time.

I’ll be attending TIFA’s monthly meeting this evening and will have the opportunity to meet some of these women in the flesh as well as share some more holiday cheer with Texas inmates via our Christmas card initiative. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

I guess to summarize, I am feeling more than fortunate this season, despite our present predicament with him being gone and my ongoing hunt for new icing arrangements. I feel more equipped to handle the normal curveballs of life and that is a sensation that money simply cannot buy.

So thank you, everyone. Old friends and new, and even those of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting: thank you for being you and for making this world a better place simply by being. I am grateful beyond words for you and consider you to be a blessing of the truest and purest kind.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you. May this season bring as much fortune and blessings as it has brought me!

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