Recovery and Self Care for Women on the Front Lines

Two years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with the most giving, loving, self-less women I have ever met at a women’s residential treatment facility. They taught me the importance of time.

I’m sure you are thinking of time like this: getting to work on time, getting a treatment plan done in a timely manner, what time is the next group, what time do we need to get back from the outing, what time are meds due, what time is dinner, what time are chores to be done, what time is the next client arriving, what time is the AA/NA meeting starting. 

Although all the above are important, that’s not quite what I’m talking about. The time I’m speaking of is: Time for self to refill what has been given away daily. Time to reconnect with self.

Time for self is an essential component for those who give of themselves tirelessly. That means time away from a meeting or time to explore the things that make your heart beat. Maybe you wanted to be a dancer or an actor, or maybe you wanted to learn how to roller-skate or attend a university.  Well, now is the time to realize your importance and the time to understand your life is valuable and exciting. There have been many days when I watched case managers and counselors give of their strength, wisdom and hope, and have none left for themselves. They leave their shift depleted of everything, worried that they didn’t give enough of themselves to keep the addict or the alcoholic sober or alive. They prayed that when they returned to their shift the next day the client hadn’t given up on him or herself and left against the advice of the treatment team.

Making time to pray is essential for counselors and case managers as they experience life and death decisions daily working with addicts and alcoholics. In my experience, I would hear staff recite the serenity prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”) frequently, only to struggle with one of the main passages.  That crucial passage is “the courage to change the things I can,” and that which can be changed is me.  Case managers and counselors need prayer before they start their shift and after their shift is over. Day in and day out they fight the demon of addiction and alcoholism and the demon at times has the appearance of victory. Prayer is essential in the process of restoration of the mind, body and spirit even when we are not feeling victorious.

Many times, when I have had conversations with case managers and counselors, they express their need to pay it forward, to be of service to the fellow addict or alcoholic. Many function in the guilt and shame of the past wrongs. They sacrifice themselves, with the mindset of, I hurt so many during my active journey of addiction/alcoholism, I don’t deserve to smell the roses or be selfish and treat myself to a good time. These women tended to believe they needed to constantly make amends to themselves through their actions of service. I am a true believer in, service to others, however, if we as women give nothing to ourselves in the way of Supplication, Affirmation, Fortification and Edification, how in the world are we able to truly give it to others? We cannot. So STOP IT!

Life is to be lived and enjoyed. The road you traveled in the past is in the past. Use that experience as an opportunity to love yourself and live an abundant life. Delight yourself in the beauty of God’s creation. Stop giving so much of you that you don’t have time for you. When women take time for themselves even if it’s in small increments, we become stronger, wiser, and more loving to ourselves as well as others.

Take time to reflect on the small details. Small details are what makes life worth living. The small details are a part of the journey not the destination. Case Managers and Counselors need to pay attention to the small details of their lives and reflect on the things that were taken for granted in the past (a hot shower, a bubble bath, a foot massage, a knap in the middle of the day, reading a good book, watching an old movie, putting your hands in rich soil in the garden, listening to the birds sing in the morning as the dew evaporates from the sun shining). The small details are what makes life. The small details remind us that we are still alive. Take time to look around and smell the flowers and enjoy what life offers.

Every experience is an opportunity to feel the crisp morning air as you drink a cup of coffee enjoying the morning peace, and see new flower buds begin to open after being dormant for a period of time. Flowers are much like people. There is a season in a flower’s life which represents the very foundation from which it has grown. In that season, the flower needs to be alone with itself and God, just as humans need to be alone with self and God. This is a time to reflect through prayer and supplication. To allow God to move in a way that you could have never imagined. Like the maturation process in a flower, it must be pruned and lay dormant to acquire the strength it needs to produce beautiful blooms that are vibrant and strong. Most importantly, once it has gone through this process it will minister to others through its beauty and scent.

Case Manager and Counselors need the same kind of process to understand the purpose of their lives. The purpose is not to be of service to the degree that you can’t lie dormant for period or short increments to regain your strength and fortitude through self-care. Lying dormant allows the opportunity for growth and thankfulness for the breath that is exhaled and inhaled. It allows for the ability to see and to listen and reflect on life and goals.

Self-care is crucial for the rejuvenation process to enhance who we are as helpers, women, moms, case managers and counselors. Time is the one thing we don’t get back, use it wisely.

Take the time to be for yourself, what you are for others.

About: Rev. De Jeanne A. Taylor, MFT:

Reverend De Jeanne A. Taylor is an ordained Deacon of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She received her Associates of Science degree from San Bernardino Valley College in 2000, her Bachelors of Science degree in Human Services from Cal State Fullerton in 2003, and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of La Verne in 2006. She is currently preparing for the exam for full licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist; she is a Life Coach and an Arise Interventionist Intern. She has been blessed with the opportunity to work with women of all backgrounds in therapeutic settings, life coach settings and mentorship settings. De Jeanne Taylor is also researching seminaries to obtain her Masters of Divinity as dictated by the AME doctrinal requirements.

De Jeanne has a passion for working for those women struggling from addictions and providing valuable tools for those in recovery. De Jeanne has worked at Loma Linda University for nine years as the therapist working with adolescents. She is now the current Program Manager/Therapist for New Creation Behavioral Healthcare Foundation-a recovery center for women healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually from the ravages of drugs and alcohol. She is especially fervent about empowering women who struggle with the psychological trauma that addictions cause.

When small breaks occur in her full and hectic schedule, she enjoys spending time with her husband of eight years, Rev. Jarrol Taylor, Jr., her wonderful nineteen-year-old son, Jarid and her family rescue dog Noah. She finds serenity in gardening and relaxing at the beach with a good book. She is zealous about helping people, and most importantly, she loves the Lord. She is the founder of S.A.F.E. Space Wellness for Women. S.A.F.E. is an acronym for Supplication, Affirmation, Fortification, and Edification.

S.A.F.E. Space began to take shape through the previous mentioned interactions with women of all ages, ethnicities, Socio-economic strata, cultures and backgrounds. She realizes that she was called to give back what was given to her. She was called to create a S.A.F.E. Space for “women to rediscover their passion and pursue their purpose”.

S.A.F.E. is an acronym for Supplication, Affirmation, Fortification, and Edification. Each of us as women inherently have these qualities but somewhere in our journey of life we have lost our ability to tap into and access the internal, organic natural and supernatural power within each of us. S.A.F.E. Space Wellness Center mission is to create a space “where women rediscover their passion and pursue their purpose” through Supplication, Affirmation, Fortification, and Edification. The women that choose to partake in the S.A.F.E. Space Wellness Center will have the opportunity to interact with other women that may struggle with one of many issues: relationships, self-definition, self-esteem, body image, loving yourself, understanding why he’s just not into to you, realizing that you are not into you, etc.......

As we grew up, most of us had a \"safe space\" (a closet, a friend\'s house, our bedroom, an aunt\'s house, the arms of someone you trusted) ...but something happened, someone violated that safe space. The violation could have occurred at birth or during early childhood, during puberty, pre-adolescence, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, perimenopause, menopause, or mature adulthood. No matter when the violation occurred the result was/is the same, the space within was no longer safe. The space became sad, polluted, filled with distrust, resentment, self-sabotage, self-doubt, fear, insecurity, and/or the inability to ask for help. Sometimes there is such a violation, we forget how to supplicate ourselves and ask God for affirmation, fortification and edification. We become so bound in our unsafe space that when God sends someone to affirm and edify our existence, we can\'t (or won\'t) receive it. The “safe space\" has begun to disintegrate slowly...we lose the ability to gain insight, we stumble off our path, we fall and can’t get up, we give up and settle, we stop trying to attain any goal, we don’t see the purpose for our lives, we don’t walk on purpose, we don’t live on purpose, we don’t pursue our purpose, and we stop desiring to even have a purpose.

The goal for S.A.F.E. Space is to reach out to women all over the world in an effort to provide strategies, encouragement, and tools to break free from any mental, emotional and spiritual bondage that restricts their growth, and to learn how to rediscover their passions, pursue their purpose, and walk boldly into the divine plan for their life’s journey.

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