I love the show Parenthood. I will admit that I am a bit "late to the party" as far as finding this cool new show and being a loyal fan. One of my favorite characters on the show is Kristina. She is a mom who has a teenager and a son with Aspergers. I love how the show deals with Aspergers issue—they don’t skirt it, trivialize it, or magnify it—they just portray it honestly. It brings me to tears almost every episode. One of the things I love about Kristina is her willingness to feel the emotion in the middle of the mess. She is either ready to cry or is actually crying in (it seems) almost every episode. In my opinion, she’s an incredible source of stability in the show and I find myself rooting for her every time. (In some ways, she reminds me of my clients—I root for them, too.) What I wish for Kristina is what I wish for all of us. I want someone besides her husband to get it, to understand what she’s facing. I want someone to give her some space. I want people to tell her to keep going. I want someone to tell her to fight for her kids and her marriage. I want people to rally behind her instead of looking doe-eyed when her kid throws a fit. I want her to be supported. She does a great job of seeing her adversity and taking it day by day. She isn't perfect. She doesn't always do it right, but she’s trying. She learns from her mistakes, and she asks for help. She embraces the difficulty and leans into it. The difficulty knocks her down sometimes but it is also the thing that picks her back up. Her struggle both takes her breath away and gives her life meaning and purpose.
Facing the Fear Most people who come to see a counselor know they have problems, they know there are things they need to change or hurts they need to face. Too often, the thing that stops them is the fear of the first step. The first step requires, at some level, looking at the reality of what is—no matter how painful—and saying it out loud. After facing it, and naming it, is usually when the fear comes out. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their voices. That's where my job really begins. Not to solve it or make it all better. I simply offer hope. I provide space. I give validation. I don't immediately tell them what they need to do to fix it. I don't give some miracle answer. I offer a safe place for them to do whatever it is they need to do in that moment—to grieve, to think, to focus. I sit with them in the middle of their pain so that they know they are not alone. I don't judge their past decisions ... I am not quick to blame. (They usually have enough of those types of people in their lives already, let alone the blame and judgment they place on themselves.) I try to just be there for them. Isn't that what we all want anyway? We want validation. We want someone to walk with us on this journey through life. Because the journey can be difficult. What most of us don’t realize on our own is that our challenges and our pain—though they at times take our breath away and make us feel weak—create the opportunities for us to feel more strong and more alive than we ever imagine. By facing our hurts, by confronting our darkness, we greatly diminish its power over us. But this isn’t something that we can do on our own. We need someone to be there with us, to believe in us, to give us hope, to stand in the dark place with us. That’s why I love what I do at SC3 Partners. I have the honor of sitting with people in the dark places of life ... so they don't have to be there alone. I see the fear that they’ve hidden for a long time. I see the pain that they don’t know how to share with anyone else. I get to be with them as they begin to see a road ahead where the fear and the pain don’t control them anymore ... and their hearts feel hope again.