In my first three months of treatment here, I learned and studied the DBT skills intently. I came to Brookhaven a frightened and fragmented child with heavily skewed perceptions of the people around me and the hidden agendas they had in helping me. The distorted perspective I had of myself, my family of origin and people who reached out and loved me led to the self-sabotaging behaviors I automatically resorted to in the past.
I gathered all the information and memorized the skills, yet when the time came for me to put my knowledge to the test, I behaved in a way that proved quite the contrary. My actions of manipulating, lying, and succumbing to my old, unproductive coping skills spoke far louder than anything I could regurgitate in an hour-long DBT class.
It wasn’t until my fourth month at Brookhaven that I felt ready to turn the deflective, blame-shifting mirror inward, at myself. I spent a short while sitting with the anger of what I saw, then turned my mind towards healthier ways to manage justified anger. With the help of my treatment team, I redirected and channeled my energy and frustration into wanting more for myself. By disassembling my unrelenting competitive streak, I became an active listener, no longer seeking control over my treatment. Rather, whole-heartedly trusting in the process of healing.
Since the recommitment I made to myself, I have finally come to embrace the safe and stable ground upon I feel trusting, protected, trusted, understood and valued. I no longer try to analyze, hypothesize over, or intellectualize the reasoning behind every Treatment Team’s decisions. Over time, I’ve learned to be as open as possible to each suggestion, especially because each and every decision I’ve followed in treatment has proven integral to my recovery.
Where I once viewed my life as an inextricable downward spiral that I couldn’t control, I now live in the present without staying stuck mentally or emotionally, in either past or future.
The structure, stability, and support that I have been given throughout the program have allowed me to think positively for the future and plan accordingly – especially for the times when I need to resort to my emotional shell for protection and the gathering of my strength. During a time of adversity, I was reminded of how my secrets and/or lies kept me sick and instantly recognized the fork in the road that I had reached.
Although I had never considered openness and full honesty with my father, I used the situation more as an opportunity for growth, instead of a quest for his approval. I accepted that I had no control over the facts or his response; I did, however, have full control over my attitude. This understanding was the key to wise mind, and unlocked and entered the state of reality.
Had my father’s response not been what it was, I prepared my emotional shell and was ready to use skills such as wise mind ACCEPTS in order to remain emotionally regulated and stay on track with my treatment.
I don’t think I could express the gratitude that I have to Brookhaven for providing me with a platform on which I feel safe, empowered and in control of my attitude to life, without judgment for being myself.