My life came with a few bumps as do all lives. What I didn’t realize was that this is normal and to be expected. Nor did I realize that my attitude toward life and such events was fundamental in how I would handle the pot holes as they came.
Born to Methodist missionaries assigned to serve in Japan, my father would always make jokes that we had “made in Japan” stamped on the back of our necks hidden by our collars. Unlike missionaries serving in third world countries, by the time I came along, my parents found themselves serving in a very much industrialized, academically oriented country. I was sent through the education system of Japan along with the Japanese kids. I still can’t spell English very well, but no Japanese person can tell that I am a westerner either on the telephone or by reading my writings.
I was given the gift of becoming bilingual and bicultural. Only later in life did I realize what a securing factor in employment this would become as an engineer in Silicon Valley. I’m also greatful for the spell checker!
In the 1970s, like many, the space program captured my imagination. I was still young as I watched the Space Shuttle take off on television. Sally Ride was my hero. Wanting to become an astronaut (as all kids have dreams), I decided to attend college in the United States rather than in Japan, since they had not yet developed a space program.
Thanks to the strong foundation I had in math and science from schooling in Japan, I was accepted into an excellent engineering school. My English language skills, however, were inadequate no matter how many hours I seemed to be putting in with the books.
Thanx to SMART, not only am I alive today, I’ve learned how to truly enjoy LIVING, pot holes and all!
Although I have always been able to find employment from being bilingual, through failure at college, I had lost focus in life and continued that aimless attitude into a focusless marriage. Drinking started simply as copy cat behavior of the Japanese executives I entertained, but it quickly became a way I coped in private with the despair I felt from my lack of direction having no idea what was the meaning of my existence.
By my late 20s, I had developed a full blown case of “low frustration tolerance.” I didn’t know how to be happy whether life went as I had hoped or not. I had assumed that I should be able control my world that included variables such as other people. I had also lost any interest in religion or spirituality, and you can imagine how I “dealt” with my husband walking away – the ultimate rejection and loss of control. You got it. I drank. I drank. I drank.
When I told my parents that my husband had left, my father said, “you must believe that you will know joy again. You must.” He said this knowing that hopelessness leads to death. Despite his words, I did not choose to believe, but my depression was obvious to others, and I was encouraged to see a therapist. I, too, must have known that I would die sooner or later in one form or another, and finally went to the Center for New Beginnings in San Jose, California.
Ms. Pat Emard, LMFCC, was a blessing, for she wore an imaginary steel tipped boot during our sessions, strategically aimed at my rear end, of course! She told me to keep my feet moving in the right direction, and the heart will follow. She asked me what activities I had in my life in the days that I was reasonably happy, and she asked me to find those same activities again, for she knew that, through them, I would rediscover happiness. She celebrated with me my small accomplishments and used her boot when I didn’t do my homework. She showed me that happiness does not come to me, but that I must go and grab it! And that what you put into your life will come back to you ten fold as great sources of joy and pleasure!
I was also given the simple task of attending AA meetings to assure sobriety in my life that I was rebuilding. I wanted to quit drinking. I wanted to crawl out of this emotional pit I had fallen into. I had warped my brain so out of shape, that I was actually on the verge of suicide and had started the process of hurting myself, yet I felt tremendous resistance to finding a spiritual solution to my behavioral problem in a particularly unspiritual time in my life. She used the boot on me
once and sent me back out but quickly recognized that this was not the right solution for my needs and came up with an alternative that I latched onto immediately, SMART Recovery, another great blessing in my life.
I mean it sincerely when I say, God bless the 12-step movement for the many people they have helped, but Lord knows where I might be today if information about SMART Recovery, an approach that matched my motivational orientation, was kept from me by all. Many tried. Believe me, but someone, in my case Pat Emard,
was open minded and told me about SMART once she saw AA wasn’t going to be a fit for me. Thanx to SMART, not only am I alive today, I’ve learned how to truly enjoy LIVING, pot holes and all!
A poet once said that “life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react. And so it is with you, WE ARE IN CHARGE OF OUR ATTITUDES” and our behaviors, too. Thanks, SMART and thanks, my “Dr. Pat,” who showed me that I had wings all along, and then sent me on my way to LIVE !