Winning and Facing the Future

Winning comes in many forms. For some it’s crossing a finish line or beating a clock. For others it’s scoring more points than the other team or winning the play-offs. For others still it’s a good grade, being valedictorian of their class, or getting accepted into the college of their choice.

Then there’s what I call small victories; still a win but something most people don’t think about. It’s getting up and ready for the day without panicking because the pair of shorts you had picked out have a stain you didn’t see.It’s going back into the house 4 times to get everything for the day without becoming angry at yourself, or taking it out on another person. A small victory is facing disappointment and not letting feel like the end of the world, even though 9 months ago your whole day would’ve been shot. Knowing what ‘happy’ is, how is feels, and how to obtain that feeling. Understanding emotions like sad, upset, hurt, or scared and knowing what they FEEL LIKE, how they are different, accepting the moment, and knowing how to handle it without losing your sh*t. Going 6 months without self-harming or having the urge to- that’s a win. It’s something you mark on your calendar or write about in your journal or share with your family and friends. That is winning.

Did you know that in 6 months at a state mental health hospital, a good one at least, a patient gets enough education in different therapy skills that if they apply themselves they could earn a certificate in that specific therapy set? My daughter can tell me the concepts and applications of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT, #DBT) almost verbatim. She can tell other people of her choosing how they work and which coping skills help with various types of emotional states. More importantly she can use these skills. She HAS to use these skills daily in order to live the life she has worked so hard for. Knowledge and understanding is one thing but applying skills in times of high emotional states is another. Hell, I think it’s something most people without mental illness struggle to do. Another winning moment for her.

School starts in 11 days. I’m terrified. I’m holding on to optimism and praying that we are taking the right steps and making the right decisions but this will be the first change in her routine since coming home- it’s been summer break for her since her discharge. It will be her first step back into a ‘normal’ school setting, albeit a charter school that is much smaller than regular public school, and her first time facing a large social group. Right now she’s decided not to talk to anyone but her one very good friend, and that everyone else is stupid/mean/stuck up or some other unpleasant form of a person. This is called splitting and it’s a fairly normal occurrence with situations related to interacting with family, friends, or other personal relationships. You’re either glorious or the devil. On a winning note, she gets past this type of black & white thinking quite quickly. She is rigid in new environments and needs a routine and schedules, but has become more flexible and able to live “in the gray area” where things aren’t always concrete. Another win.

She’s still anxious and gets a little more so as the first day of school approaches. I’m still terrified for her and about facing the future for the first time outside the safety and confines of our home. She tries to talk to me about it- a win- but verbalization isn’t her strong point. I just listen then try to clarify without making it seem like I wasn’t listening or I’m just dumb and don’t understand. Some days neither of those are accomplished but she knows I love her and she loves me. That’s a big win because 9 months ago you would’ve though I was her sworn enemy (by her standards and views, not mine). So we’ll take this first step toward a ‘new normal’ and pray for guidance. We’ll pray for wisdom. We’ll pray for focus and emotional strength. We won’t pray for patience because I think we all know what happens when you do that…

When we don’t win, we will learn. When we do win, we will take note as to why & try to apply it as often as possible. And when it seems like we just can’t get anywhere, we’ll wait for a door to open or a new opportunity to reveal itself.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) reminds us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ.”



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