I started my personal healing in the early 60’s and continue with a mentor. I was drawn to my career due to the encouragement of my first therapist. At that time, my career was in mainframe computers (called Data Processing back then). I felt safe behind those big machines and I didn’t have to interact with people. Through my therapy, I began to understand why I chose my computer career and could see how it kept me stuck in life. My counselor shared with me that I was a “people” person. I told him he was crazy, that I was shy, introverted, and scared of people and the world. I was perfectly fine working with the machines.
What I learned was that my first profession helped me stay safe and stuck in life. So, of course, my counselor was right. He encouraged me to go back to school, and even though I was terrified, I did it, anyway.
The counseling program I wanted to attend was in Colorado. I had never left Washington State before. I grew up in a small town and had never driven long distance…anywhere. I was scared to drive all the way to Colorado by myself, but I did it! That was my first challenge of stepping deep into my fears and learning to trust myself…my first transition of growth toward self-confidence. I completed the program, successfully. This was my first experience of “change” that changed my life for the better…forever!!
Some of my challenges during my process were to push through a lot of my fears:
- Doing an internship at a prison and working with sex offenders.
- Stepping into a man’s world and not taking “no” for an answer. I walked through some discrimination. I was told that because I was female, looked too young and wasn’t in recovery (I was, just not for chemical addiction) that I couldn’t use my counseling skills. However, I could work at the front desk. I figured if this is how I can get in the door, then I would take the opportunity. Over time, I was noticed and was asked to step into a counseling position and helped develop a treatment program for adolescents/families.
- Crossing into the mental health field and the addiction field at the same time (which wasn’t okay back then).
- Standing up in front of people teaching and doing trainings.
- Helped start several new programs in the State of Washington.
- Brought adolescents/addictions to the forefront.
- Helped integrate the family system into the healing process.
There were several other challenges I felt scared to do, yet with support and guidance from my counselor and other healing processes I chose, I learned to trust myself. I pushed through my fears and shame that kept me hidden, shy and stuck. I also stepped out of “scripty’ behaviors and my mistaken beliefs I didn’t know I had until I chose to walk into the wilderness.
Stepping Into the Wilderness
I often say to my clients that if they choose this healing path they are “stepping into the wilderness.” Our old path, the one we have walked daily our whole life, we can do with our eyes closed. We walk unconsciously. It is difficult to see…really see any other way. It’s scary to step into the wilderness. We’ve learned to not trust ourselves and we become robots.
The question to you is…are you willing to be accountable and responsible, and not blame others for how your life is? Are you willing to walk a path which teaches you to learn to trust yourself? Are you willing to walk through your fears, shame and anger?
Stepping into the wilderness is an unforeseen, unknown, scary place, yet it’s exciting, challenging, and breathtaking. You get to breathe in life, once again. It’s your turn to make healthy choices for yourself. You get to learn how to be your own nurturing parent to yourself.
Stepping into the wilderness may mean we trip over rocks, broken tree branches, get pricked by a blackberry bush, fall into a creek, and hear sounds we may have not heard before, but the question to you is…”why am I afraid of the unknown?”
Living life is an adventure. You’re going to trip at times, however, this time you’re not alone. You’ll have guidance, support, and insight you didn’t receive before. This time you’ll have people who love and support you on your new journey in life, a healthy journey…into the wilderness.