Let’s talk about how our stories have allowed us to show up authentically with clients and do the work.
How they’ve made us relatable, empathetic, compassionate, and understanding. Maybe how they motivated you to get into this field in general.
For most of my life, ages 12-25, I struggled with a gambling addiction. An addiction that brought me to the brink of suicide, expulsion from my family unit, and on the brink of self-implosion.
I gambled on everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! I spent almost every day of my 4 years in undergrad at the local casinos in Montreal and in upstate NY.
I lied, stole, manipulated, and was completely obsessed with gambling and trying to win more money. Always chasing the losses. The wins were never ever enough. I know now that if I had one 10 million dollars I would have gambled away 11.
Gambling was my life. I survived to place bets and get a rush off of risking it all. I was reckless, out of control, and without direction. I hurt people that cared about me and did so with reckless abandon.
My parents didn’t know what to do or how to help. My mom, being a therapist herself, would give me advice that made me angry because it was truthful. My dad, never knowing how to handle things in a healthy way, enabled my behavior by constantly bailing me out.
I cannot tell you how often I left the casino at 4-5 AM, broken, defeated, and hopeless. I cannot tell you how many times I contemplated driving my car off of a cliff. The shame was unreal and unbearable. It was soul-crushing.
I hated myself. People that cared about me were scared and rightfully so. They told me, “Just stop. Can’t you see what you’re doing to yourself?”
I would isolate and spend all of my time alone. I worked full-time during my undergrad to fund my habit and my GPA was awful. How I graduated, I still honestly don’t know the answer.
I snuck out of a hotel in Ireland at 18 and took a cab to the casino. I had 100 Euros and never once thought about what I would do if I lost all the money to get back to the hotel. I ended up winning $7500 Euros and spending double that 2 weeks later.
Years of therapy, years of Gambler’s Anonymous, and nothing. Nothing stuck. Probably because I didn’t want it to.
On a last-ditch effort, I began seeing a psychiatrist who also worked as a therapist (odd combo). I attribute that relationship to truly have been life-saving.
I impulsively moved down to North Carolina in 2011. I was running from everything and thought I could clear my head by changing my environment.
The last time that I gambled was June 2012 at the casino in Cherokee. I remember how quickly I spent my last $300. I had no money for rent, food, gas. I also had no one else to call. That was my “ah-ha” moment. I was sick of treating myself that way and realized I deserved better.
That day is always a reminder of what life was like and how bad things can get. I never had optimism or hope that things would be different.
Working jobs for $7-$12/hour seemed like they were the best I’d ever do and that I would never accomplish anything besides self-destruction.
I am writing this today to show you that not only do WE recover but that anything is possible. Nine years later, I can say life has gotten exponentially better and continues to do so.
The reason I write this is it is authentic and real. Something I always aim to be. This has allowed me to be relatable to my clients. To let them know that things can in fact change for the better and to create a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am also sharing this in this group because my experience is not unique. We all got into this field because of our own struggles or because of the struggles someone we love has experienced.
Remember this when you are trying to figure out who your ideal client is, how to write content about lived experience, and how to be a relatable and authentic human being.
I hope this helps any of you who are struggling. I hope it helps reframe your internal dialogue and inner critic when you feel insecure or like things will never improve or get better.
This understanding in life is useful and really crucial to business ownership. Our paths are not linear. But provided that you work on yourself, you will then be able to go deeper with your clients.
We can only go as deep as we have gone with our clients. If we don’t do the work, then truly being authentic and empathetic is almost impossible.
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