The End of an Era

And the tears that come with it

As I pulled out of the parking lot of my treatment center tonight I had tears streaming down my face. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been many, many times that I have left the place crying. Crying in anger, fear, pain, and many other negative emotions. I actually got a name for myself among the office staff for blaring my music and putting my foot down a little too hard. But today was different. I wasn’t in any kind of pain, and I wasn’t angry. I don’t entirely know what I was feeling, but the tears kept pouring down. And for once, I was ok with this. Because simply put, it just felt right, as I wrapped up the end of an era by attending my group for the last time.

I started attending my DBT group a couple of weeks after I stepped down from being partially hospitalized and in intensive outpatient treatment. Stepping down from higher levels of care has actually been one of the scariest and hardest parts of my recovery thus far. I’m sure that sounds weird to some people, because it should be a celebration at getting more of your life back. And while it is relieving and feels like reclaiming life, it was scary for me because I was losing structure and accountability in many ways. When I had worked so gosh dang hard to be discharged I just didn’t want to relapse and end up back in treatment. And that’s where group came in. It was a an added level of support (in addition to seeing Amy and my dietitian), while continuing to learn and practice skills I had begun to use while in treatment.

The added bonus of starting group was that my case manager from partial, who was the first one to hear my real story and kicked my ass through treatment, led the group. For many weeks it was her guidance and advice that kept me pulling through. And as the year progressed the consistency of knowing that someone I trust was leading my group, and that no matter what, she understood me at a deeper level was huge.

I’m not going to lie, I was kind of a DBT hater before really delving into group. I figured my group would give me support and accountability and that the skill thing was just whatever. As I began to further integrate into real life and be more successful in eating my meal plan and decreasing behaviors, I began to see the value of skill use more. And I bought in, intentionally using skills, thinking about skills, and processing them. Sitting in the class portion of group today in talking about building mastery, I couldn’t help but share that my example has been using DBT skills. I have by no means mastered them AT ALL, but I use many of them without thinking, and they are truly a part of my daily life. And they will continue to be so even as I step away.

But my group became more than that. The women in my group became more important to me than I ever would have imagined, and I don’t think I understood until I said goodbye tonight. These women were my confidants. They saw me in my low, lows- raw and authentically struggling while my team all discussed whether I needed to go back to treatment. And they saw me as I conquered my fears, started to succeed at eating my meal plan, gained my movement back, and started to date. They were my cheerleaders and supports in a way that my friends and family couldn’t be. And I will miss them greatly.

In true Emma fashion I wrote my whole group cards tonight and shared a way that each of the women have inspired me. What I didn’t expect was that before anyone had the chance to read their cards, that a line had formed in front of me of my awesome peers waiting to give me a hug. It was then these women who told me repeatedly that I was their inspiration and they hoped to be where I am at some day. Me? An inspiration to people because of who I am, not what I have done? But it’s true. Because I am doing it. I’m doing recovery. And I’m fricking badass Emma. Something that in this moment I actually believe that.

So as I sit here in a twenty minute lapse I have between dinner and going back to work, with tears once again streaming down my face, I know that I am just where I am meant to be. Today in session with Amy I told her that I had a general feeling of peace, where things can happen and impact me, but I’m just somehow ok with that and the emotions that come. Tonight, despite the feelings, and because of them, I feel at peace. It’s these kind of milestones that show big picture progress. I am moving towards my life worth living, and gosh darn it I am ready to keep going on this journey with my group in my heart, rather than by physically meeting with them. It’s exactly a year ago to the day that I started my blog. I had no idea what the year would have in store for me, but today I am so incredibly proud of myself.

I am badass Emma and I am so, so proud of how far I have come.