Today’s post on loss comes from Jessica Nichole, MA PLPC, who is a Pediatric and Adolescent counselor in the St. Louis area. She writes about the kind of losses that are part of daily life, and how accepting them might be the wisest thing any of us can do.
When we speak of loss, often the first thing that comes to mind is the death of a loved one. However, we experience loss on a daily basis. With each choice you make, you face the loss of the possibilities that another choice offered you. Sometimes the consequences of choices are more apparent than others. Sometimes, the only way is to lose.
Winter is always a challenge for me, and this year was no different. I lost an important person to me, lost an important job, and lost myself for a while.
In working to finish my masters degree in counseling, I found an internship site that was a blessing. It was a challenge, it was long hours and hard work, and I loved every minute of it. I was given an opportunity to be a part of people’s lives, and introduced to a team that I was honored to be included in. But, all good things must come to an end, and my internship finished this past winter. It should have been a happy moment. I was graduating with my masters’ degree in counseling. Isn’t that an accomplishment? But it all felt so…unfinished. Empty.
I tried begging, pleading, anything short of bribery to be allowed to stay on the team, but alas there were no open positions. I had to leave the first team that felt like home. I found myself working more hours at my other job, but lacking in any kind of satisfaction. On top of that, my partner and I were struggling, and I had no insight into why. I kept asking myself and everyone around me the same question: “Where do I go from here?”
I just existed for a time. A cycle of despair, sadness, and denial; struggling to exist in the old roles I used to play. My relationship with my partner continued to decline, one of my close friends was no longer a part of my life in the way that I was used to them being there, and I was stuck at my dead end job doing the same thing I’ve been doing for years. So, what’s a girl to do?
I took a shower. A long hot shower in the dark. This is where I have always done my best thinking, and it’s my go-to coping skill (counselor in training, remember?) when I struggle. And boy, was I struggling. I stood there, thinking about the same question that I had been asking everyone else, “where do I go from here?” and clarity came.
I need to let go.
I needed to let go of the future I imagined at my internship site. It was gone, I had already lost it, I just refused to acknowledge it. I needed to let go to the future path of my friendship that I had envisioned, the nature of the relationship had changed; holding onto it was only harming myself. I needed to let go of the relationship that I expected to have with my partner; having unrealistic expectations was doing nothing but poisoning my mind.
Letting go isn’t about being helpless, its about asking for help. It’s giving life over to the path that you may not be able to see. Faith, in a manner of speaking, that what’s in store for you is greater than what you’re desperately trying to cling to. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, and letting go was creating the freedom to things to take the path that was in store for me.
The more I attempted to cling to my imagined control over these situations, the more immobilized I felt. Making the conscious decision to let go, I began searching for new jobs and setting up interviews. I reached out to my friend and was honest about what I was feeling and how I was looking forward to the new directions our friendship could take. I was more honest with my partner than I had been in years, and it resulted in a stronger bond than ever before. Acknowledging my losses allowed me to gain new insight and new directions. My internship site called me. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I let go, a position opened up that they needed me to fill ASAP.