Hello. Welcome to my self-improvement blog where I will be writing about my experiences in personal growth and development. So if vulnerability makes you feel some type of way, then maybe you’ll appreciate what I have to share.

This blog been a dream of mine for a very long time, but I had all these reservations about sharing my truths with the world. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. But at a certain point in my writing career, I stopped sharing my authentic self, believing that people would use my words against me, and then I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I wasn’t ready for that kind of shame or vulnerability. Since then, I have done a lot of work on myself to reclaim my lost identity, especially the parts of me that died when my college boyfriend chose opioids over me and later lost his life to addiction. It only took me 12 years and a pandemic to finally get over myself. I mean, that’s what we’re all doing, right? Contemplating our existence and re-evaluating our values and priorities? I know it’s not just me. 

When I made the decision to intern for an alcohol and drug treatment organization, I knew exactly what I was signing up for and prepared myself for the inevitable. No, I didn’t read up on substance use disorders in the DSM-5. I wasn’t preparing treatment plans or interventions to set myself up for success with templated guides, which is exactly the sort of thing I do when I want to feel a sense of control in a world of chaos. What I did to prepare myself was re-connect with my therapist from almost a decade ago who supported me through what I have come to realize was an erratic grieving process. My grieving process was so all over the place that I was labeled as bipolar, and then provided copious amounts of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. This only led me to increased suicidality and substance use. 

When I made the decision to explore a specialty in addiction, I knew exactly what implications this would have on my personal growth. I knew I would be triggered. I knew I would be tested. I knew that I would grow. I knew that this would be no ordinary internship. For me, this is a soul journey picking at my emotional scars to re-open old wounds in search of hidden stories and the false beliefs embedded within them. I knew that I would be revisiting my past, and it is all in service of my future. The deeper within I am willing to go, the higher I can ascend to new levels of consciousness and well-being. 

I share this with you because I am in transition, like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon preparing to spread its wings and fly for the first time. My life is starting to come full circle as the very thing that led to my grief in the first place is turning out to be the same thing that is leading me to new levels of healing. 

This week, I had a moment of vulnerability when I acknowledged the countertransference I experienced when a client told me, “You’re a good therapist.” The countertransference was brought to my attention when I was asked about my rapport with the individual. I brushed off that statement as if it were meaningless to me, but someone picked up on how I was minimizing something that was a bigger deal than I even thought it was. What came up for me was feelings of unworthiness, incompetence and disbelief as the result of my childhood experiences of verbal abuse. Deep down, my inner critic said, “How could such a thing be possibly true?” especially when clients start cancelling and stop coming. Was it something I said? My eyes started to tear up at the realization of what countertransference really looks like for me. How mischievous! 

I had another moment of vulnerability earlier this week when consulting with my supervisor about something completely innocuous and unrelated to any case I was working on. What came up for me was a pattern of behavior I had in relationships that spilled over into my professional life and referring to myself as the “problem child” when advocating for myself to get my needs met (in this case, clinical training and specific hours needed to graduate on time). When my eyes started to water, I realized that I felt incredibly relieved knowing that I wasn’t seen as a rogue intern, but rather a valued member of their treatment team. It was such a relief in light of two recent experiences involving individuals who felt threatened by something I said or did. The message I received was that I lacked self-awareness and was insensitive. These two things could not be farther from the truth, but I couldn’t help but internalize those messages to mean that something was wrong with me. I was reminded of my parents divorce, and how I felt like it was my fault. I was reminded of my experience watching my college boyfriend develop an opioid addiction, and how I felt like his death was my fault. 

These two moments of vulnerability within the context of two distinct interpersonal relationships were corrective emotional experiences that, given time to process them, really helped me deepen two big lessons I have been learning about myself all these years. Number one, my deepest insecurities are, in fact, my greatest strengths. And number two, I am a conduit for positive change and personal healing. 

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