Carry Hope, this Counselor’s heart

 

journey-pic  It is never easy being vulnerable nor is it ever so easy being the strongest. What I am learning is that life gets better when we share. When we open up, expose our hearts, share our pitfalls, and express our hopes and dreams, our lives become bigger. No longer are we alone, separate, on our own.

I am learning with confidentiality comes responsibility. At the beginning of my education in counseling, I thought confidentiality was a burden…a required stressor for client relationships. As Counselors we cannot share any client cases not even with our spouse. I would find this most difficult whenever my he finds me. Yet, as I grow, as I try to understand the complexities of the heart, our minds and the human spirit I am not alone in carrying or solving another’s problems. It is their story, I am blessed to hear it, to listen in…what a grand opportunity to be present for another.

Our heart’s ache with so much. Love for family, for our spouse, our friends, partners, for all we are connected to and things will get heavy, very heavy. Carry Hope. Hope is essential. Faith is a required necessity. The two enable us to pick up shattered pieces, to gain a God perspective in all matters of the heart. In addition, it is free…listening with care is priceless. Seeing a person’s heart is one of the greatest values, a treasure. God will do the rest. Carry Hope and be gracious in giving it away.

Yesterday, I listened as this woman described how her 19-year-old son has schizophrenia. How over the years he has tried to cope with the voices in his head…how loud music does not drown them out, how the medicine does not drown them out. Yet, he knows the difference in what the voices tell him…he knows which are spiritual and which ones are not. I listened as she says she has never been dismissive when he speaks to her, warns her about things. I listen, as she has become his champion, his advocate. How she works to make sure the members of the police department know him, their family for his safety. How the Church members know him, he sits in the foyer (his choice) away from everyone and he listens to the sermon, the music. How she says he looks normal and he is her son. There is no tiredness in her voice, no weariness. She smiles. She speaks of love, her son, her husband, their community. I see her heart. I am proud of her, her son, her family, her community. She “fights” for everyone. #VillageLove

My Autumn  told me she saw me as a forgiving person, very forgiving. I asked does that make me a wuss, a pushover. She responded: “It means you forgive, Mother. That is it. Stop adding stuff.” I laughed. What a great characteristic to see in a person. She is right; I tend to add more than the necessary to any situation. Forgiving frees you up. It requires a lot to forgive but even if the process is slow, we are gaining more of ourselves each time we forgive. Do not let what others perceive of you dictate the kind of heart you have. Let your heart show. Let it beat, break, heal and love some more. Continue to guard it, though guard it with love not barbwire.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4: 23 (NIV)

Inevitably, the God-stuff happens. My heart is most happy when I can witness the miracles God works daily through our lives, nature, in our friendships, with family relations, in business ventures and once in a lifetime encounters. It was not until I went to bed last night that I realized that I was among a group of women that counsel, that are Believers, wonderful individuals and we all want the same thing. This path is so different from what I imagined. I am so grateful for my experiences; even the difficult ones for each equip me to journey on.

Again, carry hope…your definition of success is soon to follow.

Intimately worded,

A. Michelle!

© 2017 Michelle Tillman All rights reserved

 

 

February Love, dealing with Me.

me_2016     Where to begin? I believe in love. I believe in the type of love that covers, protects. The love that heals, forgives. The love that encourages, advises. The love that is silent yet quietly completes. I do not anticipate the fairy-tale, the dreamy –sexy-Knight-in-shining-armor type. I do not expect the saintly, mega millionaire to make all my dreams come true. Love is hard work. The type of work that is not for the faint of heart. My heart has been bruised enough. I am not dictating that it will not happen again, hurt has every opportunity as with everything in life. Yet, I will not force pain to remain.

As of late, I have a mental checklist with my heart and my brain. Another year of no valentine…I contemplate the suggestions family and friends throw my way: join a dating site, do online dating, go to a bar, find someone in the Church, join this, join that. What I realize I never had to join anything to meet either of my ex’s.  Well at 46, I refuse to play any of those games now. I am not putting anyone’s efforts in finding love down. I know what works for me because I know what I want. I am an old soul. I am old-fashion in believing in connections, in happenstance, in chance, in coincidences, “coinkadinks” (as my Momma would say.) The Next One will come.

So in-between that time and now I work on self.  I process to progress. I heal. I grow. I achieve. I teach.  I help. I am kind. I am there for others as well as myself. I give. I understand. I work. I smile. I encourage. I love. We easily lose sight of others, our friends and family when we lose sight of ourselves. Soul reveal: I do not receive invitations to many things because I am not part of a couple. It does not bother me as much anymore. Time is a precious commodity and if any friendship requires exclusion, that is a terrible loss for all involved.

There is no self-degradation during this time! Read a book. Watch a movie. Other times I review my week. I think of how many people I helped during the week. I think of how many reached out to me for answers, for a listening ear and I smile. I encourage myself. Surely, what we put out there we will receive back. God’s word says it multiplies. {Ephesians 5:15-17}

I love that my heart is not as fragile as my first heartbreak. Geez, aren’t they worst? I truly thought I could no longer live. I laugh remembering the woes of a teen. I love the fact that my heart is not bitter and broken from a failed marriage. I love that I understand love with all its simplicity and all its complexity, for all its worth that I would not change. My experiences lead me to who I am becoming. Love does not have to find me. I am not hiding. It is here, it has always been here, waiting for me to discover, uncover, and recover and then love some more. Ever changing. February is Love month, as well as Black History month. February is also the shortest month of the year—dealing with me, well that is 365, 24/7. I am trusting God for my more while protecting the best of me until He delivers. {Jeremiah 29:11}

“For now remember this. Even though you don’t have what you want right now, keep your heart open anyway. Later, you’ll see more. You’ll see how it worked out. How it needed to be just so.” ~Melody Beattie. 

Love Self; the rest will come. It all circles back and you will know when you see it. I am learning that we cannot timeline our seasons…spring always follows winter.

Keep sowing,

A.Michelle!

The Cost of no, maybe & no response

He doesn’t want me…

and I’m good with that. I am better when I acknowledge that information.  I am still great. I am still going to lose the weight and not eat this big bowl of butter pecan ice cream… and lays potato chips. (Awesome combination and a great emotional cure all.)  I am still loved. I am still an awesome mother. I am still kind. I am appreciative and appreciated. Rejection is painful and it also should make you fully aware of your greatest asset: Self, your You.

We too often fall victim to our own missteps. We turn our hopes into a great mistake. Learning to love who you are should never be categorized with rejection. Love heals. Love corrects. Love gives. Love loves. Do not tear yourself down due to inattention, love is action.

I know the negativity that runs rapid through our minds. I know how it replays itself over and over again. The strength of our hearts is based on the strength of our hearts… it’s unbeatable.  Never allow a person to out-purpose God’s intent and intended for you.

Earlier this week, a great friend asked me why I never spoke of my ex-husband.  I responded: “That’s not a part of me. Why would I? It is so long ago. I have been divorced over 10 years.” She responds: “You filed it away. ” Me: “No. It isn’t a part of me. He was mean and cruel. I refuse to give Satan any credit. To “file away” implies I carry it and at times look back at it. I don’t. I’m healed. There’s no discussion about him because there’s no new information to discuss.” One little tidbit: If a person does not bring up their ex in a conversation, respect it and you in turn do the same.

I’m learning that no one’s journey is the same. Heartache happens to us all but no one has the right nor the self-history to label my healing. Life is heavy don’t carry the unnecessary; carry hope.

He doesn’t want me and I’m okay with that. Dating has become so generalized, an unflattering epidemic of social media terms and rules. Love is so much more, so intimate. Don’t get caught up in the pics, the messages,  the memes, sex clips, and infamous propaganda. I watched,  observed my parents a lot. What I didn’t comprehend they explained and taught me better. 33 years of marriage. God’s grace.

I remember my first date. I was 16, so excited. I finally was allowed to date. My date blew the horn.  I jumped from the sofa,  ready. My mom,  my Pearl: “If you open that door I’ll break your neck.” I stopped in my tracks,  my smile fading. My Dad,  all 6 feet of him: “If he doesn’t come in here and speak to us there is no date. You not going anywhere.” I tried my best to hold back the tears while holding my breath and simultaneously working my unknown telepathic skills to will my date in. He finally crossed the threshold and I remembered that breathing was again wonderful.  Of course there was a list of rules and a set curfew.

That lesson and many others from my parents keep me “okay” with a great deal of things. Rejection is a minimal concurrent stacked against unlimited possibilities. Know your worth and always expect God’s greater for every area of your life. No matter where you are in the phase of your journey—interested, like, deep like, in love,  can’t live without him feelings, heartbreak, know that you deserve all or nothing. Be proud of wanting what you want!  If the wanted doesn’t want to be wanted free’em with love. Stop bashing self and others. There are other open doors, different and in want of you!

He doesn’t want me and I’m okay with that. Smile, anyway. His competition, that One will. Keep pressing. Remain focused. Subtract the cost, add in the benefits. For any person struggling for a place to be or how to be… Be you! It is better than okay.

Heart full,  heart
A.Michelle

When Faith does not Fit: My 2016 in Review

My family circle grew–first grand baby girl; oldest son engaged–new daughter. Blessings!  Two more courses in my Master’s program to complete. Blessed!

Graduation and exams loom. Smh, I am already looking at doctorate programs. Yet, I think I will sit down for a minute. My professors, mentors consistently support my educational goals. They, PhD holders refer and inform my ideas and wants to others who have the greatest minds in counseling. I am president-elect of Chi Sigma Iota Mu Chi Chapter. I am chair of the Chapter’s quarterly newsletter. I am to form a scholarship fund aimed with supporting single women who are head of households and are dedicated to pursuing their education in the Master’s program of Counseling. I have registered with another scholarly program that will put me in front of professionals, professors in the teaching realm, because my mentor told me I should. My thought: I’m just some little country girl who loves and there is no way my mind can compete.

My friendship circle has shrunk and that is okay. Either people want to be there for you or they do not know how. Sometimes their behavior is more self-preservation than unfriendliness. Don’t stop. Do not quit. You really matter to a lot to people, more than you think.

“I met someone.” That commercial is so sweet. No, I haven’t met someone. I originally planned to give serious effort into re-entering the dating world. As of this date, no date this year and that is okay too. I have male friends–that are business associates and their actions are indicative of waiting for my equal, for that someone who is willing to meet me where I am and still be equipped to grow together come what may. For example, the Little Ones’ Christmas wish was answered by a gentleman, just out of the blue. Remember, there are more good people with good hearts in this world. Do not lose sight of their goodness.

I do not think what I am wanting is any different from anyone else seeking a relationship. In faith we learn how to wait, we try to do what is right. It becomes hard to believe when Someone is not the one. I blamed myself for so much. I gave so much time trying to figure out why Someone doesn’t want me. I ate and thought about it. I stopped eating and thought about it. I walked and thought about it. I prayed and thought about it. One scripture remained with me for weeks, “…in all your getting get an understanding.” Proverbs 4:7, KJV.

My understanding, 1. I will keep my hope, without settling. I refuse to let my heart become bitter, rocky and non-conforming. 2. My love life: Recently, I realized that I think I fell in love with a potential…because I gained back 20 lbs of the 40 I lost. Rejection does so many things to our psyche. The more I think of love, the growth and the capability of receiving it seems inconceivable. Someone should care enough to not place me in that position. Right?Right. Enough of that, I am back on my Michelle grind, learning that neglect is a force of continuation not a place of stagnate. Self-worth requires discipline and redefining. Growing into what God wants us to be–requires a different perspective that aligns with His will for our lives.

I have been unemployed all year yet financially the important bills are paid. My family roots are God gifted. I do a lot of volunteer work and part-time work. God is completely in control. The not having a job, the potential heartbreak, family issues, our world difficulties, and life has broken me in different ways that I am unable to understand. For the last 6 months, I have been hurting, pretty bad in every aspect of my being. All I know, what I know is so changed, so different. I want my life back…well the life God has purposed to begin. Now. This transition phase hurts and seems to be taking forever. I am so lost. I feel so inadequate. So much is coming and I no longer feel capable for any of it.

My blog readership has grown, thank you! 2016 Stats include 709 total views, 20 countries. These numbers excite me so! A few of the top viewed posts this year are:

“Broken Relationships,” https://amichelleexperience.me/2016/01/18/broken-relationships/

“Heart Moments,#NecessaryWork,” https://amichelleexperience.me/2016/09/26/heart-moments-necessarywork/

“Rejection…#BeginAgain,” https://amichelleexperience.me/2016/07/27/rejection-beginagain/

“Lion’s Den and the Vulnerability of Belief.”  https://amichelleexperience.me/2016/04/17/lions-den-and-the-vulnerability-of-belief/

As a writer, I love that I am able to read over my work and be encouraged by what I have written no matter what phase of life I seem to be in. Especially, when my faith does not fit.

The final “faith-all” of the year: I will be submitting the first draft of my first book to a woman who has never backed down in her covering of me. A wow for me: I completed my first book! Yet, the process that comes with completing a book, editing, publishing, and marketing leaves me woozy and completely frighten. We meet Friday! 🙂

In 2017, I pray our faith walk will continue to lead us towards God’s evident promises because Faith will fit the fixes.

Note: Know that God’s love is greater in levels than we could imagine. Find Him where you think you are lost. He is there. One favorite scripture when I am broken: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved…” Song of Solomon 8:5 KJV

We will come out of the desert. Happy New Year! Resolute to keep faithing, even when it doesn’t fit.

Me intimately worded,

Michelle

Heart Moments #NecessaryWork

I have a tendency to listen more than I advise. It makes me smile, being aware that I am capable of that particular attribute. #lifelessons

Volunteering has opened my eyes to so much more than an individual’s present circumstances. I volunteer with the Child and Adolescent population in different roles. Lately, my work has included working with teens that are recovering addicts. All male and of all races. They have my heart. It amazes me that so many are addicted, so young, so many trying to cope with life, their way.

I do not see myself as the typical counselor. As I journey towards licensure I pray that I do not lose sight of caring. The type of intimate caring with your heart that becomes easy to lose in all the rules, policies and regulations. I tend to mother first. I am quiet more than intrusive. I have learned in the most difficult way to be quiet, to listen.

It becomes laborious to think outside the box when policies and set therapeutic techniques are the norm. We cannot touch, hug, and show any kind of affection. We know not to preach, fuss, and become a parent to them. These rules are for my protection and quite different for me for I am a mother and I was raised old school in a two parent home. (Most of them just need a good switch and their mouths washed out with soap. I digress. Lol.)

One day while visiting the park, I listen to Brandon. He is 15 years old, Black, appears kind, great dimples. I ask, “When did you become aware of your family’s use of drugs?” He responds, “Four. I was four years old.” My heart breaks. He has seen a lot. He has become conducive to his environment. He has done more criminally than a grown man has. He is 15.  Me, turning away because I am about to cry, “I would hug you but we can’t do that. You know there is more out here. More to life.” Him: “I like my environment Ms. Michelle.” Me, heart completely shattered: “I know. I know you do.”

Our conversation bothered me so much. Why should I be this bothered? He is receiving necessary help. I find out that this is his second time in. For weeks, the word “environment” and his predicament weighed heavy on me. I called my older sons, Damien and Darius. I questioned them on implementing a journal technique, getting the clients to write. Both respond: “Not sure why you think writing is going to help them kids.” It kind of hurts when your children tell you your thinking is off base. The more I learn of Brandon’s life, the more I felt helpless. My thoughts, he is receiving what he needs. He has counselors. He is going to his NA meetings. He is going to be fine.

Yet, the way he talked, his topic of conversation did not change. He was still going to rob people, commit home invasions, and maybe not get high as much but he would still carry out the same behavioral actions. The more I kept telling myself I could not improve the system the more depressed I became. Helping is about change. Volunteering is about improvement.

As God worked my heart, an idea began to form, EFL, Equine Facilitated Therapy. A proven therapeutic technique. I spoke with my Director. She gave me the go ahead to pursue. Throughout all the required business details, I kept quiet. I just knew this was going to fall through. I presented my proposal as a recreational activity. The Director accepted as an additional therapeutic technique for the Adolescent clients! My family responds: “Good, Momma.” I know this is huge; pretty mega. I laugh and I am so giddy.

Oh, how I wish I could share photos. I love confidentiality; I do but man I wish I could share photos. First session: the experience is exciting and unbelievable. Brandon, leader, aka tough guy is the most fearful. Kenny is as well. Remember, all these teens have some sort of record. Yet, they are quiet, scared, and respectful of these great creatures.  Of the twelve, Brandon and Kenny hide behind me, and counselors whenever the horses move. At least eight, take to the horses. They are working as a team to guide, walk and command the horses. Kenny, the one so afraid is able to lead and command the toughest horse there.

As we are watching him, his counselor says to me: “He has been shot twice. Gangs are trying to kill him. He is a tough one. His dad abused him. His mom doesn’t want him.” As she is speaking, I am watching this child smile; laugh, talk and I cannot hold back my tears. Me: “I need to take the time to read their files.” Her: “You haven’t? You put all this together without reading their files. Look around you. I have never seen these boys this way. Good job.”  I smile more, whisper to God a thank you and take more pictures. Brandon, my ringleader has not taken to any of the lessons given. He actually has the other clients surrounding him for protection. Smh, awesome leadership skills. He states he does not want to come back. (The EFL therapy is mandatory!) However, our second session he is riding. He even coaches and reassures me as I ride.

EFL is more for the teens but as I learn and bond with the horses, I am learning so much more about myself. At times, the sessions are so intensifying…its overwhelming to come face to face with your past, your Self in front of others. What I am learning about me at 46 years of age….I am a good person. That although I have been told otherwise and been made to feel inferior over the years I know that my heart is pure. I am proud of me, of who I am, of where this journey is leading me and it is wonderful to be okay with myself. #becoming

The responsibility of communicating with an animal that weighs up to 1600 pounds and it is just as furious about surviving as we are is humbling phenomenal.  I come home completely drained from the experience, happy. The emotional, mental and spiritual content, connection is difficult to express, another reason I have not blogged for a while.

Listen to the nudges, pricks, ideas you receive. They should cause us to go deeper, reach further. The possibility of change begins within us. Do the necessary work, it will influence the future. We can.

Love the journey,

A.Michelle!

 

 

 

Living in Brokenness

We all do this. We do not allow ourselves to heal…not all the way. We believe we have had enough, done enough so we wait in hurt. We dream for better in the same routine, the same rut. We fight so hard to get what we want that we fight even harder to keep what damages us so.

This post is heavy. I have pondered not to write it but alas here’s my heart: Living in brokenness determines so many different avenues that our lives will take. Faith and courage are more than stepping-stones. Faith and courage open doors. So many doors. The last few weeks, relationship woes have found their way to my listening ear. I refuse to give relationship advice. One, I am not in one. Two, No one knows a person’s true ordeal. People tell you what they want you to know and if the advice given does not match up to their true wants and what they want to do…the advice given is deemed wrong. Three, my experiences and my level of want may not match up to another’s level of love. Therefore, I listen.

Her experience Woman I: “I am in a committed loving relationship. Twenty years, a sinful committed relationship. He still married.”  She laughs, “Now you know I know better.” Beautiful woman, late 50’s, a therapist.  (He is not legally divorced.)

Her experience Woman II: “Thank you for wishing me happy birthday. My husband has not said one word about my birthday. I have been dealing with this for 20 years and I am not going to remind him.” Its 11:30 pm when I receive her text. This saddens me so. I want to respond, “Tell him.” Yet, I do not. I text, “Hugs. We’ll celebrate when we go out.” I know that did not ease her hurting. Beautiful woman, late 50’s, wonderful heart. She will give her last to a friend not expecting a payback. Beautiful spirit.

My experience: I hide. I dare not show the deep levels of my heart. As wide and forgiving as it is, my heart hurts quickly and the consequences of that hurt makes me very decisive. It is difficult for any man to penetrate my heart. If I am hurt, I retreat. I do not argue and I do no fix people. My intent is never to hurt anyone. I live my life with those intentions. Yet, I know that I am capable of loving with the best of them. God’s timing is with purpose.

Living in brokenness becomes factual, routine and monotonous without us being aware. It is a cycle of self-protection and longing. It is very understandable and livable. We all do it. Our coping mechanism, our coping techniques are a greater companion than anticipating change. I truly believe if my first marriage had not ended the way it did I would still be there praying, hoping, hanging on and suffocating simultaneously.

I believe the ones who have the ability to break our hearts should not have nor be given the credibility to keep us in that place of brokenness. Living in brokenness is a place of growth, not a permanent place of stubbornness and “if-wishing.” God will do so much more with our heart matters when we faithfully move within our trust of Him.

Peace your heart and love in hope,

Michelle

Heart of Forgiveness

Forgiveness: the tendency to forgive offenses readily and easily; the action or feeling of forgiving someone.

I woke up this morning soul smiling. I have not been able to do that for some time. (So much going on in the world.)  I woke up grateful. I woke up with a heart of forgiveness. It is easy to define oneself as a forgiving person when there is no evidence of any physical or emotional attack.

A heart of forgiveness is transitional. Letting go from your past to what is now is your gain.  I cannot give you the recipe or the steps to get here. What I am learning…I am most happy when all my cares, every concern and the ability to allow God to do more with the details of my life supersede any thing anyone has done to me or against me.

There will be times in our lives when it just sucks. People are mean. They appear uncaring. Actions speak louder than words but we have to acknowledge that there are bigger things going on behind the scenes. (Growth opportunity)

Reaching points of despair even depression is very normal and common— we are human. Yet, continuing to believe in yourself and each other with hope is much grander if you are dismissing people from your life—with anger. Trust me they will find their way out…without you avenging and without you deriving and molding them into a bad person. I think tearing a person down or developing them to be less than we imagined destroys a little bit of self.

My experience: Anyone who hurts me becomes this horrible being. I make them that because I want to move forward, get over it quickly. People are whom they are without me adding to or subtracting from their character. Their meanness, their neglect or inattention is not a reflection of me. Really, it is not.

If you follow me, you are aware that I have this amazing pastor. Rev. Cook, Jr.  Oh, how he steps on my spirit just so especially when I believe I am this okay person. This past Sunday, his topic is marriage. I listen, guarded. I am not over the edge thrilled with the topic. I know marriage. I believe it to be sacred. What I grasped during his dialogue: I do not forgive. I forget. I move on happily. I tell ya he messes with my spirit just enough.

I am not saying I am now one of those “turn the other cheek” sistahs. (laugh) Just know another’s mess will no longer mess me. Miss me wit’ it.

We should solider through life with integrity and honesty. We will be the better for it. Be original; our light draws the moths and the butterflies. The toxic people will do their best to destroy us. Do not let them. The great ones, those lighthouse friendships well they never leave us in the dark.

Forgive because you want to not because you have to. It works wonders for your soul.

Unashamed in this growth thing,

Michelle

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