What is your dream job? Remember in elementary school when someone asked what you wanted to be and nothing held you back? Lawyer, astronaut, president, doctor, princess, firefighter; anything seemed possible at that time in our lives. All throughout middle school and the beginning of high school, I used to dream about being a pediatric oncologist. Then, I slowly but surely stopped believing in myself. I convinced myself that that was not possible. I told myself I wasn’t smart enough, didn’t have enough time or money for school, wasn’t good at school, etc. So, what is you REAL dream job? Is it still your goal? If not, why? What’s holding you back from reaching your dreams?
Sad girl; strong mom
When I was a kid, there was a lot of uncertainty in my life. One day things would be amazing; hopeful, happy, and calm. Suddenly, without warning or clear cause, things would dramatically change. Whether it was my family’s financial situation, my moms mood or pain, or my own mental wellness- there was no stable branch for me or my brother to lean on; if there was, the continuance of that stability was always unknown. I think we both learned at an early age, that it was our expectations which caused the greatest disappointment, and our disappointment that caused the greatest pain. I remember when I was about 7, my mom got sick. I remember it like a dream; I know there is a vivid memory somewhere deep within my subconscious, but I cannot assess it, so when I try to retrieve it, it’s choppy and blurred. Regardless, I remember feeling as though nothing was wrong, and then suddenly everything was. I remember a lot of confusion. I was scared, and I missed my mom; I remember confusion and fear mostly. She was taken to a hospital. We had no family, and my mom had very few friends, most of whom she barley talked to. So for a week or so, I went to our closest family friends house. They lived in the city, we used to go to school together. It was fun to be there, it felt like a long sleepover. Then after a short time, they had to go on vacation. From there, we had various babysitters who stayed with us and watched my brother and I. Most of them we didn’t know as well as we should have, some of them we barely knew. That is one of my first “black-hole” memories. When I think of that time I feel a deep pit, that extends from my heart to my stomach and makes me close my eyes for a moment. Its hard to think about. When she came home a long time later, I had turned 8, and she had turned very, very sad. She had more than one back surgery while she was gone, gotten a severe staph infection, and began to suffer from chronic, debilitating pain. She was so different. I had barley seen her that entire time. I was so happy she was with us again, but she was so different. We had babysitters stay with us because she was too sad and in too much pain to fulfill her duties as our mother. She had her own black hole. She wore a brace, and took a lot of medication that made her sleepy. When it wore off, it made her very sick and uncomfortable. She yelled a lot, and was hardly happy, it felt. I took on a new role. I don’t remember if I decided to take on the role, or whether it was shoved into my arms and was simply too burdensome to place down. Regardless, my job suddenly became to make her better. I don’t think I knew exactly what that role entailed or how I would fulfill it. I began desperately trying to pull happiness from her, take away her pain, make our world happy and light. I, of course, failed over and over again. I became a failure. Yet, I could not stop myself from delving into this role each day. Although each failure brought new and more intense sadness upon me, this was a disappointment I could not seem to walk away from. Even as a teenager, angry and solemn and horrendously resentful against my mother and life, I continued to step into my heavy shoes each day and walk into fire. I laid down each night, still burning, and woke up to once again be the fixer. Although I no longer live with my mom, and I’m no longer a confused child or angry teenager, I find myself fighting the pain it created each day.
I don’t know how to be a good mom. Most days I wake up and try to wing it, or go with what feels natural and right. I feel sure that I’m failing once more each day. And yet, like I did as a child, I continue to throw myself into a role I’m quite uncertain of how to fulfill. I pray to the universe, or whatever I believe in, that I don’t fail Willow. My heart is so heavy at times and my head full of thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams. I know for certain there are many ways to be a good mother; to raise Willow to be a strong person and healthy adult. I’m quite sure as well, there are even more ways to fail her. I wish I could read a book, take a class, or swallow a pill that would turn me into the mother and person I wish I were. I guess the only way to become that person is to continue to do what I’m doing; wake up each day and dive into the flames. Although I know there are things I ought to leave behind as I move forward, perhaps I will shed them naturally, and evolve organically into the person I’d like to be. I hope that as each day ends I become a stronger, happier, and better mother and woman; and that one day Willow remembers her childhood will happiness and love. Until then, I will continue to walk through flames for her.
Willow and I on Thanksgiving, Willow on Thanksgiving, and me when I was six
Why Dreams are the Best Mental Health Tool
Everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is key to living a health, balanced life. But what about getting a good night’s dream?
Dreams are survival skills. They give us something to hope for, something to strive for, and something to wake up with, to keep in our heads and hold in our hearts.
If we choose to see dreams as the proactive forces that guide us to our true aliveness, dreams become a powerful tool. Here are five ways that dreams make us feel the most awake.
1) Dreams give us vision. Our dreams can take us from chaos to clarity, and eventually to concept. Keep a dream journal to start understanding the language of your unconscious.
2) Dreams can bring direction to our detours. We’ve all had things in life that haven’t worked out as we planned — a breakup, a breakdown, a loss, a setback — Dreams help us find the beauty in “not knowing” by bringing images and sensations into our awareness that we might not be able to grasp onto ourselves, when trying to navigate our detoured route. Dreams have the power turn our “detours” in life into everyday blessings.
3) Dreams give us faith that healing is possible. They show us the potential of the human spirit.
4) Dreams fuel the fierce drive to bring our passion into the world. Dreams come from our innermost desires. They tell us not necessarily how we’ll get there, but why we need to get there. Once we have the “why”, the “how” will work itself out. All we need is that fierce conviction that can only come from dreams to act as our compass. Don’t tell yourself that a dream is too crazy or outlandish to happen.
Hey – it took me years to learn how to walk again after 27 debilitating surgeries, and now I’m tap-dancing about it in a one-woman musical about my life – dream on, Detourist, dream on!
5) Dreams remind us who we are. Our dreams are the seeds that God plans for us, where our intuition whispers to us, and where we can find an anchor to our place in the world — even if we are “displaced” from it. In our dreams, we can find our way back home. After almost losing my own life, my dreams are now my safe place, where I can mingle with myself, replenishing my trust in life whenever circumstances may make me afraid. Dreams dreamed me back into life.
Tonight, go to bed early and get some rest. You’ll invigorate your body, rejuvenate your mind, and your spirit will be oh so happy.
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. Learn More »