I won’t let ED define me, and I won’t let M.A. either…

It’s been a while since I wrote. I have only one excuse. Confusion mixed with a little avoidance. Last time I wrote, I mentioned not allowing ED to tell me where my dignity lied in regards to my career choice. Well, I have spent the last 6 months seriously trying to find out how the heck I am supposed to know where it lies without ED!

For years and years I relied on ED to tell me. It’s true. It’s a sad fact, but as much as I hated ED I relied on ED. I was no longer just me, I was me with ED. Being without ED or it’s silent but deafly loud words used to be the scariest thing I could ever have thought of. Well, it’s been silent around here. Peacefully silent, not deafly silent, thank the Lord. ED has been silent and although its been peaceful, its almost felt as though I’ve been lost.

I am at the end of the road now in my Master’s program in Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counseling. Thank the Lord for that, too. Those of you who read my last blog in October already know this but, I don’t want to do this anymore. “It’s as if my dignity lies in doing something with merit and purpose”. This was my guiding journalized line for quite some time. Not a bad line to be guided by, right? Not at all, unless it was written and voiced by ED. And, that it was. Key word: WAS.

Not anymore. I have continued to discover myself without ED. And, I like what I have found. Confidence. Drive. Desire, fast paced, outgoing, public oriented, out of the box desire! But, where does this leave me almost moments before I walk across the ceremonial stage collared in Master of Arts attire?

I have to remain honest to me, and honestly, it still doesn’t leave me wanting to sit across from client after client in an office room. No offense to anyone at all whatsoever in this field, but that’s not enough for me. That doesn’t sit well enough for me. I want to be out! I want to be out in public and with Clinical Physicians and Providers, with CEO’s and Directors. I want to educate and to lead, to guide and to connect. These words are so inline with the words you hear in the therapeutic process, but much more out of the box. I’m gonna get it…

Public and provider relations for an eating disorder treatment center – that is IT right there man. That is THEE IT. Now, how to obtain such a job… it’s difficult, trust me, I have been trying. But, I won’t stop… trust me on that too. My two worlds would wonderfully collide.

Below is a reaction-to-a-book paper I wrote for my internship course, my last course before I am collared a Master. Writing this reaction encouraged reflection. It also encouraged and solidified what I have thought for 6 months….

I am honestly struggling for words to begin this reflection. Rather than invent and speak in dishonesty throughout the entire paper, I will come right out from the start and admit… I don’t think I want to do this anymore.
I have realized a lot I never knew about counseling throughout this program and course, along with from the text Letters to a Young Therapist. Some of the things I have come to know have enhanced my desire to be in the field, and some have done quite the opposite. Overall, the thing I found resonating the most inside of me while reading her letter is that there is never an answer.
The fact that there is never an answer is something extremely intimidating to me about the field of counseling. I am certain it has a lot to do with my declaration in paragraph one. I don’t think I want to do this anymore. There is another thing that negatively struck me from the book and from the class discussion about private practice. Ms. Pipher mentioned someone who came back to school in her 40’s knowing she just had to become a therapist; this same woman found she couldn’t even stand it once in the field of practice. You, Dr. Dudell, mentioned something similar. You said if you are the kind of person that really doesn’t like to be isolated or alone in an office room with client after lost and sad client, private practice ins’t for you.
Oh goodness how unappealing it is for me to be isolated at this point in my life. I have grown to realize how extroverted I really am. It’s amazing how much differently you can view yourself when you start to actually like yourself and build some confidence. I do not want to be isolated in private practice.
You know what else I don’t want to do? Remain micromanaged or micromanage others within an agency. Been there, done that. Not only do I not prefer agency work, I can barely survive financially in an agency setting. I will remain without telling a lie… I want to make money. I want to make lots of it. I want nice things and I want to do nice things and I want to, more importantly, be able to give nice things. Every holiday season I think, okay, this is the season, I will have enough money to buy my nieces and parents and friends gifts and presents. Hasn’t happened yet. I am so tired of living paycheck to measly paycheck. I don’t want to do this anymore.
You know, I find it funny to look back at my childhood and my then career dreams. They revolved around the medical field. I knew what I wanted to be then, but I was still confused. A doctor; but, what kind of doctor shall I be? I thought ER doctor, OB/GYN, pediatrician, trauma surgeon… all my dreams revolved around medicine. But the truth is, I have grown incredibly squeamish. At age 7 or 8, my favorite movies were horror films and my favorite TV shows revolved around life in the ER. Now a days, I turn my head at any type of gore.
How did I end up here? [I turn my head silently as this exact thought surfaces as I write this reflection – insert tears]
I know. I know how I ended up here. Happenstance theory. Look at that, I learned something from that Careers Counseling class. I just so happen to suffer from a difficult childhood filled with angry and difficultly divorced parents and, I happened to develop poor self-esteem based on a poorly defined identity which then led to a full fledged eating disorder.
As most people within similar timelines in the program as myself have heard, happenstance, although I may not have referenced the theory before, is how I got here. I, like a lot who end up with aspirations of work in the field of addictions, grew passion for the prevention and treatment of the mentioned due to a personal battle of hopefully grateful, successful recovery.
I got so into and passionate and fired up about my own experience and my own recovery that I decided this passion just had to translate into my career. In fact, I used to journal about it.

“It’s as if my dignity lies in turning my sin into something with merit and purpose.”
That jaded declaration brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, including present time. It saddens me that, in a time where I thought I was really, really recovered, I can look back now and see that I was still sick. It sickens me now that at that “recovered” stage in which I wrote that statement, I still allowed ED (eating disorder) to tell me where my dignity laid.

I wonder what Ms. Pipher would say to me. Here I am, 28 and thankfully recovered, bursting with confidence I don’t even know how to utilize. No offense to anyone in this field whatsoever at all, but I don’t want to do this anymore. I keep thinking that maybe its because I have a jaded agency perspective and maybe its because I am tired and ready for all the commitment of school to come to a close. I start to think I owe it to myself and this degree to at least try to do ED therapy and see how I like it. But, in between every moment of feeling as though I am “stuck” in therapy as someone with a Master’s in it, I think more clearly.
I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t believe it, but I don’t think I just think it. I think I know it. I don’t want to do this anymore. My oh my, 28 going on 29 and I need a vacation. After that vacation, I need to let my confidence and my spiritual and personal growth truly lead me and stop scaring me. It is super intimidating to consider going into a field like marketing or public relations as an entry level, minimally experienced professional after working so hard to obtain this degree. But, it is so very much so, incredibly more intimidating and scary for me to remain in one door because of the letters M.A.
Reading this book and living through this program has taught me many things. Most important for me at this potential point of mid-life career-crisis and chaos is something I learned through my recovery. Tomorrow is a new day and it always will be. Nothing in this world can tell me what tomorrow will bring, not even me. I do not have control of many things. But, I can control what I do when I wake up tomorrow.

“If you want something… Go get it. Period.” -Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness

Who knows where I will ultimately end up. Hopefully in some transcendent Heaven. All I know and all I can control now is where I am, right now, in the here and now. In the here and now, I will not allow something like the voice of a distant ED tell me where my dignity nor my career lies.
I am a Master! Almost officially in an Art, super officially as a confident, fearless, outgoing, action driven, fast-paced preferring career woman. I don’t want to be a therapist in a room anymore. But, I will always want to be the aware, genuine, congruent and unconditional positive regard viewing person this program has made me. That, I will take with me anywhere and everywhere I go from here. Where I will go, I guess you and I will have to find out.