Posted by: soulshinemoments | September 10, 2013

You Either Get Bitter or You Get Better

Currently, I am sitting in a local cafe, sipping on coffee and about to complete some homework before class starts at two.

Both today and yesterday, I woke up, ready to take on the day. I look forward to days that I have class. I enjoy seeing my social work girls. I enjoy learning. While our classes are a little disappointing this semester, every now and again they still throw us out a little nugget that strikes a chord with me and helps me become a better practitioner. (I think).

After Jack and I did our usual morning routine of getting Ariel on the bus (which she truthfully is doing on her own these days, thank goodness), dropping Jackson off at C.’s, and enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch swing together, I made it to campus to work on my Ethical Dilemma paper for my Working with Individuals class. The funny thing is that I actually wrote that paper which was due yesterday, two weeks ago while I was in severe back pain. I couldn’t do anything else that weekend, so I figured I would get that knocked out of the way. I am so glad that I did because yesterday as I pulled up my rough draft on the computer at school, I realized that I was practically finished. What a relief!

Sara ended up showing up at the lab, too, to finish her paper. I read her Ethical Dilemma paper and was fascinated by the words she wrote. Her internship is really hard-core, intense, tough. I am impressed by what she is doing. My Ethical Dilemma was mild in comparison to what she wrote about. I am trying to convince her to start a blog because I want to read about all the challenges and stories she faces. Not to mention, her own personal life story is pretty freaking incredible. She says she doesn’t have wi-fi at home so probably won’t.

After we both put the final touches on our papers, we met up with J. (another chick in our cohort) and had lunch together in the dining hall. Sara bought my lunch! And it was delicious and I enjoyed spending time with J. She is super bright and has over ten years of experience in social work. She has run groups for those with severe mental illnesses and psychosis. She knows the DSM backwards and forward. She, too, has a difficult life story. That is what I admire about my friends in my program–they each have had their own often intense and even horrific struggles, but have taken that pain, renamed it experience, and now aim to serve others. Instead of getting bitter, they got better, as they say.

I remember my 10th grade high school English teacher said that to our class one time, “You either get bitter or you get better!” And it has stuck with me to this day. I have set it as my intention to always try to get better (though I have definitely sidetracked from this philosophy at times in my life), instead of getting bitter. I try to believe that my pain has a purpose and a lesson and try to learn from it. This is incredibly difficult to do while in the midst of whatever painful event. There are some painful things that have occurred in my life that I can even look back on and feel grateful. If that hadn’t happened then, I wouldn’t be here now? And, guess what, I am in a pretty amazing place in my life right now.

So, yes, social workers often have been just as messed up as those we serve. Helping others is helping ourselves. Helping others makes our pain have a purpose. Maybe that means that I am not that altruistic if in a way I am just trying to heal myself as I heal my client. But I really believe that attempting to ease other’s burdens can create a cycle of healing.

After lunch, we walked back to our class together for our Working with Individuals class. We ended up watching an incredible movie that literally made our entire class cry, Antwone Fisher. Have you guys seen it? I have been thinking about this movie all day. Jack was making fun of me last night, “Really?! You have movie days in GRAD school?!” I tried to convince him that it was very related to social work. He just laughed. Great movie though and I highly recommend it. Sara thinks that Antwone’s therapist was a horrible therapist because he had weak boundaries. I was taking mental notes in my head on the way he interacted with Antwone–the questions he asked, the way he responded to the horrific events that happened to him. Also, this movie, too, emphasizes my earlier point….You either get bitter or you get better!

“You are the champ, Son. You have beaten everybody who has beaten you.”

Everyone experiences adversity but people learn ways to cope or adapt.

Resillience is the ability to cope with stress and adversity. It is the ability of the individual to cope, withstand or navigate one’s self to psychological, social, cultural, physical rsources that can sustain one during times of stress, pain, adversity, trauma, tragedy, catastrophe, and/or loss. It is when the individual has developed “protective factors” to lessen the pain of “risk factors”.

Last, but not least, I had my Group Therapy Class last night. This is probably my favorite class this semester, which is ironic because public speaking and speaking in groups freakin’ scares me. I have never been apart of any group therapy session before. Which puts me at a disadvantage because there are many in my program who are now leading groups on their own, not to mention that they have been apart of many groups for their own personal therapeutic reasons as well. What I am learning is the importance of Group Therapy…especially for those who are experiencing relationship problems (whether it be lack of support, isolation, or interpersonal conflicts). My professor performed a mock group therapy session and the way that he facilitated it really impressed me. He knew just how to draw out the group member’s true emotion and feeling. He helped the group members explore themselves and each other. Rachel and I both said that we want our professor to be OUR therapist! Will I ever be as good as he is one day? I guess not if I don’t get to practicing!

I almost want to join a group for my own benefit after reading about all of the positive things that can occur through group therapy. I have been trying to brain storm groups I could join…a group for step-mothers of tweens! Or, a group for mommies of toddlers, for that matter! A group for stressed out grad students! 🙂

I really may start a group with Liz for my internship. We have been throwing the idea back and forth about starting some type of grieving support group for families of hospice patients (or patients themselves, I guess). It sounds intense, but the more I think about it, the more interest I have in it. What holds me back is that I do not feel qualified enough. But as Rachel said the other night, “You know more than you think.” I will research it.

Ok, I think that is enough social work babble for the day.. Peace & Blessings!



  1. You said something so important here! “Helping others is helping ourselves!” It is. I have been looking at this in a different way, not to be negative, but because it is a potential issue coming up with my surgery. People want to help you not necessarily to help a person, but because helping someone makes a person feel better about them self. So, I foresee two specific people in my life annoying the heck out of me just to “help me”. But recognizing their self serving purposes ahead of time should help me remain calm and just let them do what they want… To make them happy.

    Anyways… You are absolutely right. I know that if I got out and volunteered, it would help me. I just know that right now I would want to take every dog home from the Humane Society and that I am currently not strong enough to work with kids or hospice or at nursing homes. Someday though. Someday I will do all that again.

    And it will make me feel good and get back to being a better me. XOXO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: