HeartSphere Counseling, LLC Michele M. Preste, LMHC

 

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Email: inquiry@heartspherecounseling.com

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    The Amazin' Raisin Schools Us in Resilience

    This week, I had planned to write about the first of the four spheres of influence introduced in my last blog.  However, there has been a change in plans as The Amazin’ Raisin was very insistent about being the topic this week.

    Who is The Amazin’ Raisin?  She is a cat my husband rescued a year ago.  Through true grit, a strong will to live, and a ridiculous amount of resilience, she is gracing our household today.

    This is Raisin—then and now!

    Raisin shortly after her rescueRaisin one year later

    On a cool, rainy night, Raisin and two siblings were trapped in a large dog carrier on the stoop of an abandoned house.  My husband called me on his way home to tell me he was bringing kittens.  As the three kittens were retrieved from the carrier, it was obvious that Raisin was in dire straits and was taken directly to the emergency vet.  She was cold, wet, severely malnourished, covered with maggots, and had a broken leg.  The vet on duty gave her a 10-15% chance of surviving.  In fact, they could not get a temperature on Raisin for the first 18 hours because she was so hypothermic.  But that kitten wanted to live!  She was shaved to get rid of all the maggots and maggot eggs, given intravenous fluids, syringe fed a high protein mix of food, and given daily medications for about 6 weeks.  There was concern that she would have to have her broken leg amputated but she responded well to the vet’s version of a splint made with Popsicle sticks.  Through it all, Raisin took everything that came her way in stride and thrived.  Today, she has only a hint of a limp when she walks slowly (which is rarely) and gets into every nook and cranny she can. 

    What does all this about Raisin have to do with a blog about mental health?  Raisin was, and is, all about resilience and a strong desire to heal and thrive.  All too often, it is these characteristics that individuals lose connection with when they turn to counseling.

    By definition, resilience is the ability to adapt to whatever life puts before you regardless of the hurdles, barriers, and blocks put in your way.  These adversities can be any number of things including abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), loss, prejudice, poverty, neglect, illness, or disability.  Each of these are experienced in ways that are unique to the person.  What is a hurdle, barrier, or block for one may not be so for another.  We each have some level of ability to weather such storms and these experiences school us in resilience.  Yet, when these experiences are unremitting or cumulative, a person’s natural resilience can be worn down and broken.  When resilience is depleted, a person collapses within themselves even if they outwardly put up a good front for others.  Such a person is in a state of scarcity and believes in “I am not ____.”

    Working with a patient, compassionate therapist can help such a person reconnect with their strengths and inherent goodness.  Babette Rothschild, noted trauma therapist, describes this work as helping “reacquaint the client with resources and resilience she knew but has lost touch with….”  Just as each person responds to adversity in their own unique way, the therapeutic healing process is also unique to the individual.  In its essence, the process is walking with the client from the place of limitations to the place of possibilities.  Together the counselor and client change his or her story from one of lack and brokenness to one of abundance and wholeness.  Mary Pipher (best known for her book, Reviving Ophelia) describes the process as “the building of a roomier container to hold our experiences.”  We make room for the past experiences as well as our new beliefs about possibilities and growth.

    Raisin, for all her heart, would not have been able to heal without the help of others.  She accepted that help and did her part.  What do you need help with and are you ready to reach out and accept that help?

    Peace and joy,

    Michele

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    Pipher, M. (2009). Seeking peace: Chronicles of the worst Buddhist in the world. New York: Riverhead Books.

    Rothschild, B. (2000). The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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