April 23, 2009

Reflections of Self: Who I Am

Beginning today I will post three reflection papers that I wrote for my Practice II class. They reflect on who I am, identifying strengths and weaknesses, biases, and what I will do to guarantee the safety and integrity of the client.

I grew up all over the country and in some others as well. I am heading into my forties and have just begun to live life from the perspective of a more complete person. One would think that this would be as it should for someone my age. I am here to tell you that a miracle has happened to me to have afforded my rebirth at a late age, for my childhood was one of extreme abuse and excessive indulgence. We were not raised with any religious or principled upbringing, more like if it feels good do it, but do not get caught.

My father had his moments of vacillating between, father of the year, to bastard of the century. Today I can remember more good than bad for I have reconciled with my inner child. I remember the wrestling and tumbling about with my father into the late of night. Memories of working with him were some of the best, his paying homage and bragging of how hard we worked filling me with his praise. Taking long drives, talking of nothing in particular, to serious imparting of knowledge and engaging in the communion of son and dad.

Mom was a strong resolute individual, but I did not know this until she was gone. To live through all the heartache and pain she had endured, one would need a deep inner reserve. She was part Cherokee, Black Dutch, and some others I cannot remember. My grandmother, who had a considerable influence on me, was part German and her gruff exterior told the tale. I remember hearing of how she used to chase dad with a Louisville Slugger. I had all of these influences rolled into one, me. I was resentful of my father, I hated and loved him. I was ashamed of my mother who became an alcoholic, even though I followed in her shoes. I adored my grandmother and was always getting away with what I wanted, with her protection and admonishment. To say the least I was going in all directions.

So, to piss everyone off, I joined the Army, knowing full well I would not be sent to war. In 1989 I was shipped off to a foreign land for my country; I still face those demons today. I also knew that I would never become my father. It seems that everything I thought I knew was just the exact opposite. I became my father, albeit to a lesser degree, but the same none the less. The trauma of my childhood was compounded by my crushing guilt of having survived and killed in a war of my own, both inner and in the past. I turned this anger and vehemence toward everyone who was close to me. I raged for 15 years before I received help, I have complex-PTSD, Gulf War Syndrome (undiagnosed), dysthymia, hearing impairment and tinnitus from my military service.

Today I have found that living a principled life leads to integrity, character, honor and humility. My sons have returned to my life and I am now a role model for them, something I was not in a past life. In the quest for a life without the madness that mental illness can bring, I have discovered an inner peace that I never thought was there. In my journey to wellness I have gained more friends than I thought I could ever hope to have, I have mended the fractures in between my family and myself. I have found my former anguish to be strength today; people who go through the fires of hell develop a unique set of skills.

My chosen profession will be combat trauma therapy, I feel that my experience of going through the therapies myself, I can have a greater empathy and compassion for the combat veteran. I will be able to guide them without the judgments that I experienced from the Veterans Administration (VA), and use my intuition as a tool to assist in integrating the dissociative mind of the combat veteran. My hope is that the unique perspective of my personal experience and education will help advance the cause of trauma therapy and the healing of shattered minds.

The thing that makes me distinctly qualified can also be considered an impediment, due to the likelihood that I will be triggered by my clients. To combat this I have completed stage two of Phase-Oriented Therapy and moving toward stage three, exposure therapy. I have found an MSSW therapist to work with that I trust and hope to have completed most of this in the next two years. I will be addressing this with my psychiatrist and therapist when I start my employment with the VA, so as to dispel any backlash and personal tension. An integration of all our skill sets, beliefs, values and potentials entails a lifetime journey, the sooner we accept, the sooner we can embark.

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