I am an alumna. I am almost exactly 5 years post-Brookhaven. I have to admit that sometimes I wish I could come back just because it was so wonderful, but at this time I am reflecting on the legacy from my time at Brookhaven and thinking of you.
About 6 months after I left treatment, I took a job as Director of Supportive Services at a small mental health agency. My experiences at BHR and the way I was able to use them were instrumental in getting that job, not only because of the growth I had experienced but also because I was able to share my recovery with others and build support groups and classes that were informed by what I learned from you. At first this job was about 30 hours a week (which was stressful as heck), but over time I built some powerful programs, and the job turned into more than full time, which was affirming and rewarding.
After I had been there about 2.5 years, I took a job as Director of a clinic in a much larger company. This clinic was one of the largest in the state, and I have accomplished so much with it and been given responsibility for another clinic and participate on executive committees. I have also recently accepted a second job with an international consulting firm, whom I became familiar with primarily through completing the executive leadership program sponsored by the National Council. I'm extremely excited about the lives I can change with this work.
There were definitely times in my life I thought I was not strong enough to do anything that required more than showing up for a few hours a day. Now I realize that I am capable of at least holding my own with some really remarkable folks, and earning their respect.
At one point, I had given up entirely on having a family. The first part I gave up on was having my own child, and then I thought that perhaps I wouldn't have it in me to be part of a lifelong intimate relationship. I didn't think I could survive the former and didn't think I deserved or would be wanted for the latter. I now have a two-and-a-half year old daughter who is absolutely amazing. She is charming and precocious and so much fun - and I recognize a lot of myself in her. Her father and I didn't get around to getting married yet. We had planned to, and then I got pregnant and left the planning to him; the planning never happened. Lately, I have realized how much I have grown and branched out since I entered into relationship with him. I don't wonder anymore whether I am good enough for him; I wonder whether he and I have similar enough values to be partners, and I wonder if he is mentally healthy enough to be with me.
As I reflect, I realize that this means that some of my old patterns may have crept in again. I am not by any stretch of the imagination perfect or even perfectly healthy. But I feel confident, satisfied, healthy and strong. And a lot of the struggles I have are old patterns and related to my good qualities - compassion, dedication, optimism and hope. I am not, however, letting them dominate or define my life. I am making the decisions that are best for me and my daughter, and inviting him to come along if he can. As long as I can move forward in the areas that I need to and that my daughter needs to, as long as I can see how he is adding to my life and not holding me back, I am in. But my priorities are my daughter and myself. And, of course, doing what is best for me and being the healthiest me I can is best for my daughter.
Whether or not we want to do the best for/by others, we always have to put ourselves first. If we do best for ourselves, we do best for everything that is most important to us. And (however strange it might seem) our dreams come true.
I realize that this might be a good thing to post on the website, and you are welcome to do so. And I would really love to connect with you. I am perfectly awful as a reliable correspondent, and I haven't come to reunions the last couple of years because I wanted to be with my daughter and didn't have the money. I know I have more disposable income this year and feel that coming is very important. And I would love to connect with you again personally.