January 17, 2011
This client is a 44 year old, black, female who stated she has been using drugs since the age of 18. At the beginning of our conversation she told me that she wanted to change her ways b/c she was tired of going in and out of jail, prostituting, not having any money or her own place to live. She has been living with her grandmother over the years.
I suggested that we get to the core of your drug use so “she” could see how past events have affected her decision making process. She was reluctant at first to discuss her past b/c she stated she didn’t want review her past b/c it was too painful. I explained to her that sometimes we need to go through the dark to get to the light and that it may be emotionally painful, however, when you come out the other end a person who finally has the answer to her problem.
She began to explain her her she was raised by her grandmother at a young age b/c her mother was on drugs and her father was never in the picture. She explained the moment that changed her life forever was when she was 7 years old. What she remembers was that she said something to her mother’s friend. This person became upset at her for what she said and decided to walk up to her and proceeded to take her shoe and break her jaw. After the incident, the her mother never confronted her friend for physically hurting her daughter. It was this incident that her daughter wondered why her mother never protected or stood up for her. Needless to say, she was taken away from her mother, who proceeded to go in and out of jail over the years and continue excessive drug use.
During her adolescent years she lived with her grandmother. She told me that while attending school she remembers she was teased, bullied, and harassed by the other students. She told me they made fun of the complexion of her skin b/c her skin is dark. They called her ugly and other names she didn’t want to mention. She did graduate high school but she never did anything with her life. She bounced from job to job, man to man and place to place for the last 26 years. She never established a career and always believed she was not good enough to accomplish anything. Another belief she created was that no one ever fought for her, especially her mother. She believed she deserved to be alone. I mentioned to her that this is probably the cause of her constant drug use. She gave me a look of confusion. She stated that she did not understand. I asked her the question, “When you take the drug what do you feel and where do you?” After some thought, she stated that it gets me to forget about my problems and the emotional pain from my mother abandoning me when I was a little girl.
So I told her to choose the “needs” that were not met by her caretakers. The needs she chose that she did not get from her caretakers are the following: nurturance, comfort, bonding, connection, support, reassurance, being heard, appreciation, love, family, validation, emotional safety, contribution, safety, protection, security of home and family. I had her pick the feelings behind the needs that were not me t by the caretaker: sad, lonely, helpless, gloom, grief, scared, terrified, nervous, mad, angry bitter, confused frustrated, tired, fatigued, unc0mfortable, pained, hurt, embarrassed, ashamed…..As she viewed her response she began to cry uncontrollably b/c she finally saw what she did not get from her caretakers. I explained to her that this is why excessive drug use has become an important part of your life. I told her that she is not sick in the head or that she has a disease. I explained to her that she is emotionally wounded due to her caretaker’s inability to meet any of her social/emotional needs.
After our discussion, she stated that she felt relief for the first time in her life. It was as though a weight has been lifted that she had been carrying inside her for a long time. I explained to her that all I am trying to do is make since of her life and why she behaved the way she did for most of her life. Now the challenge is to create a “value-shift” in her life where she will see “possibilities” as opposed to “impossibilities.”
We still have work to do about how her “past” has affected her, however, there is now an awareness and understanding that she never had before. I believe her having understanding will help in the healing process so she can have the necessary tools to move forward with her life.
The we decided that since she doesn’t have to worry about the rent, food, etc due to her grandmother, she needs to enroll into a nearby community college and enjoy making mistakes so she can learn from them.
I will wait until her next appointment to see how this new insight has affected her outlook on her life.