There have been times in my life when circumstances were overwhelming and catastrophic leaving me feeling devastated at times. Years ago I experienced the death of loved ones in a short period of time – a 27 year old fiancé, my 61 year old father who died while with me, and 2 grandmothers back whom I was very close with – these events halted my life for a long time. I quite school to take care of my mother, held the financial responsibilities at home, and was in a job that brought me no satisfaction but brought security which I needed. I smiled on the outside, but was numb and feeling hopeless on the inside.
I began to have anxiety and panic attacks. One day while grocery shopping my heart started pounding, I began sweating, feeling dizzy and like I couldn’t breathe – all right there in the produce aisle! It was then I knew I needed help! Working with a therapist helped me understand and work through the anxious thoughts that came from losing those closest to me, and also helped me manage the fear of my own mortality. The therapeutic alliance and the tools and techniques I learned were life changing in many ways. Not only was I able to overcome the anxiety that plagued me for so long, but I was able to dream again. A passion was ignited within me to want to help others experience the relief I did.
I always had regrets about quitting school after my father’s death, but lacked the confidence or drive to go back. I was in my 40’s and it seemed ridiculous to do this now. I felt old, but there was this little piece of me that said – “just try”. Maybe I won’t even get accepted into the school (I secretly hoped this for a while). Well, in august 2014 I received the email that I WAS accepted and in September 2014 I was back in school pursuing my degree in psychology! It was both exciting and scary, but I was doing it!
During my second to last semester of school my brother became ill. He moved in with me and I took care of him. I watched as he became sicker and sicker. This was all too familiar. Do I quit school again? Do I let my dream go – again? He passed away at the end of that semester and I did think about quitting, but I had come too far and have dreamed too long. How am I going to get through this? I reached deep inside and found the courage to handle it, and handle it I did!
Even though my particular circumstances might be unique, we all face challenges from time to time that we might doubt we can get through. Whatever the circumstances or situation, no matter how big or small, we all have within us the power and courage bear it and overcome. It is within the place of bearing what seems impossible, that we grow stronger. It is that place that leads us to significant and lasting change.
I was once a person who didn’t think she could ever be a college graduate. This May 2017, I will not only be a college graduate, but I will be the first person in my family to earn a college degree. I broke that cycle of letting life control me, now I’m in control and manage life’s circumstances. Sometimes I still need the help when things are really difficult, but I know I can bear whatever comes my way. I’m chasing my dreams and this fall I will be attending Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service to pursue my Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree.
The voice that would tell me to give up when I felt like I was being pushed to my limits had to be silenced. I answered back in a strong, courageous voice – “Yes, what I’m going through is difficult and I’m hurting, but I possess the capacity to bear it – and I’m going to keep going and survive it.” I no longer exist, but I dream, I hope, I live, and I’m so happy!!
There is a quote I love and hopefully it will be as impactful to anyone reading this as it is to me: “You’ve always had the power my dear; you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda (the good witch from The Wizard of Oz).