“Thank you so much for helping me see what has always been right in front of me and that’s a glimmer of hope. I feel like my life has turned for the better and couldn’t have done it without you.”

Don G.

Time for a Change

Last weekend, my family and I put in our garden. I need to warn you that none of us are gardeners. We did one last year and it was obvious that it was our first try at doing a garden… this year we learned a few things and did it a little differently. As I churned the soil (next year I think I will rent or buy a tiller…although, I must say my arms got quite a workout!!) I noticed pieces of last year’s garden: some random leaves, a stem from one of hail storm-decimated tomato plants, a plastic GI Joe toy (ok, we didn’t plant that but I do have two sons) and the roots of part of a squash plant. As I noticed these items, I thought about the process of growth and change and how this year’s garden will be better because of what we learned (GI Joe toy aside) from last year’s garden. So often, our current state and trajectory is shaped by the past: we change from and because of our past.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a counselor is when a client tells me that people (often, other counselors) have told them that they should “be over” something that has happened to them.  My clients will tell me that they feel defective and ashamed that something that happened decades ago still impacts their daily life. One client in particular shared with me that he was to the point of suicide because he was so shamed and embarrassed about how he felt. I told him that, given his past and what was done to him, his feelings (anger, shame, hurt, fear, rejection) were normal results of surviving what he had been through. I told him I felt honored that he trusted me enough to talk to me about it. It wasn’t until he was able to accept (which took a lot of time in my office, tears, snot & Kleenex) his feelings and experiences that he was able to move on. He was able to gain understanding of what had happened to him and decide what he wanted the rest of his life to look like. I am humbled by the amount of trust and courage that it took him to be willing to be uncomfortable and walk through his past with me. He would not be the kind, gentle and talented man he is today if he hadn’t been through his experiences and conquered the uncomfortable feelings that resulted. He was able to transform trauma, adversity and addiction into compassion, gratitude and resilience.

I think that many of us have contemplated what “the future” will look like post COVID-19. And will it ever really be “post COVID-19?” Does the past ever really go away? Or does it just become better integrated into our present and future? People often assume that “change” means that you somehow discard the past or what is wrong and you do something new and different. But can we ever really do that? How do I know what direction I want to go in if I do not allow my history to remind me of what not to do or what lessons have been learned? If I do not remember the pain and discomfort of the past, I lose the motivation required to continue moving forward. Many people I’ve talked to are thinking of the “post COVID-19” world in terms of a “New Year’s Resolution” and that this is a time to leave what we didn’t like or need in our past and use this difficult time to evoke change. Take this time of separation from our normal routines to re-evaluate what you want to be different moving forward. More time with family? Less time being consumed by work? Fewer commercially-driven Target runs? Are there new habits you want to cultivate? Vices you want to let go of? What do you need to make that happen?

I think we’ve all heard those conversations about “when things go back to normal” and I honestly do not think we will “go back normal.” Just as the debris from last year’s garden will fertilize this year’s garden, we will use this time to assess what we want to take forward into our futures. I look forward to the rest of the summer and seeing what grows in my garden.

If you’re ready to reach out and make a change, Rimrock is here for you. Our Admissions Department can be reached at (406) 248-3175 or (800) 227-3953. Normal admission hours are between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm Mountain Time, Monday through Friday. However, we do have staff available anytime to take your call.

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