- by Carolyn Bergen
Hey…just a quick note to let you know that we're over on Facebook, as Bergen And Associates Counselling.
In addition to being able to see if there is a new blog post, we capture "connecting"/relationships videos, posters, and stories designed to help you grown the connections in your life.
Go over to our page…by "LIKING" us (that sounds so cheesy), we can help prompt you to better relationships in your life. Even if you don't "LIKE" us, we'll trust that you'll like going over there, just to take a peek!
We are created for connection. All of us.
And an important life task is to be mindful of that which interferes with the relationships we so long for.
Join us over there!
- by Carolyn Bergen
I am a therapist. Yep.
I am also a mother, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend, a cook, a writer, an eater, a teacher, a mentor, an auntie, a cook, a reader, a napper, a runner, a speaker, a walker, a parishioner, a sleeper, a Downton Abbey and Grey's Anatomy watcher, a lover of beauty and nature and candles and a capalla music. I could go on…but you get the idea. I'm much more than my work.
I'm a person…I'm even more than my roles and activities. I love to laugh, and joke around. I have a soft heart and I like to know what's going on in the world, even if it makes me sad. I get cold easily, and love warm weather and sunshine. I'm a little organizationally challenged (some might say messy and disorganized) and I get stressed when I have too much on the go. I enjoy my friends and a skinny vanilla latté does my heart sooo much good. I wish I was allergic to chocolate, and I hate mornings.
I am so, so, soooo much more than my work, and am even more than my activities. I don't just do, I also just am.
But as is the social custom, often when I attend functions, the easy conversation starter is, "What kind of work do you?" (And I suspect I am as guilty of asking this question as anyone else)
…when people asks me what I do, I get a little frustrated…because what they want to know is that I'm a therapist. But that cheats me and the asker of so much of who I am.
For a long time, when people would ask me what I did, I would say something vague like, "I'm in communication" or "I'm a university educator" (which is true, but not entirely encompassing) and then sail right on through the conversation to breeze on to some other topic.
Because often, when I respond that I am a therapist to a new acquaintance's inquiry, something happens. I can almost see the person's brain rapidly go through this sequence: "Stop click. Rewind click. Fast forward through the conversation to this point to review if something was said that they are worried a therapist would judge." After this quick mental review of the conversation, there can be an explanation about something that was previously said so that I will understand what they really meant or some nervous laughter in relief that nothing was said that they are concerned about…as they sheepishly acknowledge their mental process
They judge me about how they have decided I will judge them, based on my profession.
For the record, when we therapists aren't in session, we aren't working. We are regular people who enjoy regular conversations…though by nature we may be more comfortable than the average person getting into deeper conversations…not because we are therapists, but rather, that would be one of the reasons we became a therapist! :)
There is a tendency in our culture to identify each other and really "see" each other through the lens of our jobs. This presents at least two major hassles:
If we are identified by our jobs, then we can see ourselves only as valuable as our jobs are, or only worth as much as how successful the last project was. If our jobs are our identity, then the job MUST be done very well…because your own well being is completely dependent on it.
It might mean you only really feel valuable and meaningful when you are working…which can lead to some pretty unhealthy work habits.
When one's identity is wrapped up in work, one's value is then determined by one's performance…meaning one becomes externally motivated…needing other people to notice and acknowledge good work.
A person's well being becomes vulnerable in an unhealthy way when one's identity is defined by work…what if the company downsizes, and you are demoted or terminated because of the economy? What if your boss has indigestion while he is critiquing the report you've spent weeks working on? What if the board has politics that have nothing to do with you and so the pitch for your project is unsuccessful?
When one's wellbeing is defined by work, the hustle begins at work. The stakes are high, and so now you work, not because you'd like to do a good job, but because you need the good performance to prove your worth. That raises the stakes…the joy is sucked out, the pressure is high, and the stress mounts.
- When your identity is determined by your job, you can end up doing what you think makes you important, rather than what makes you come alive.
- The project presentation becomes a performance to prove your worth rather than a meaningful connection with people who have asked you for something you've developed…and then engaging with them on a culmination of your work.
- Helpful feedback becomes crushing judgement on your character, rather than information to know what would be helpful to the organization.
- When life circumstances dictate a job that pays the bills, but isn't ideal, it leaves a person feeling like they can't be themselves
Having your occupation/job/work become your identity limits you and others...
Some of the most incredible, wise, and wonderful people I've known in my life didn't work. They lived in personal care homes where I worked having survived catastrophic events like stroke, or living with debilitating diseases like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson''s. I enjoyed their warmth, sense of humour, and compassion…they were people who enriched my life and the lives of others incredibly…even though they weren't employed
But I've had painful conversations where disabled folk have felt useless because they were no longer able to work…and if they didn't work, they didn't quite know who they were, or if they had any value.
And moms who take a year or a decade off from work to raise children are working hard, at what many would say is the hardest and most important work in the world, can be discounted. It's painful to watch a stay-at-home mom at a party respond to the question, "And what work do you do?: and she attempts a cheerful and confident front stating that she is home with the children…she is working to own it and be proud of it, but there is there painful, subtle falter that betrays the fact that she's worried the questioner aint gonna buy it.
Ideally, work is place where we can express our gifts and talents. It is where we can expend efforts into something that is meaningful, and makes the world a better place.
I've had jobs that have pretty much only been good for the pay check while putting myself through school…and then it was a chance to use my efforts to work towards something bigger in my life…it paid the bills. During those jobs, I put in the time to get the pay check…doing the work with integrity as much as I could, given that that is one of my core values. During those times, it was even more important to make sure my life was full of good things so as to make sure that my wellbeing wasn't dependent on my job.
Work is one of the ways we express who we are, because
I've been working to be mindful of "we are not our work" with my Junior Tribe Members. For example, after a big game, we don't talk about what he should have done better, or the play he missed, or how fabulous he played. I don't want him to connect my feelings about him based on his performance.
Rather, I might note how I could see him working to maintain his composure after a bad call by the ref, or how I could see him encouraging his teammates when the momentum sagged, or how hard it must have been for him when another player didn't treat him well and his frustration leaked out. I try to notice the expression of his character in the game in a way that makes it less about what he did, and more about who he is. I want him to see his value and worthiness in his story.
My JTM, like all of us, is a human being, not a human doing.
And we all need that reminder from time to time.
- by Sabrina Friesen
Part 1 of this two-part series on the pros and pitfalls of social media highlighted some of the benefits of using various mediums to stay connected to – or in extraordinary cases – begin connecting with people who we hold dear in our lives.
And yet social media has some darker sides, too.
There was a video in the media recently that showed a semi-driver who had narrowly missed being run off the road by another semi as it attempted to pass a snow plow in an area not intended for passing. As an observer, it was pretty clear that the guy passing the plow was in the wrong.
The driver who captured the incident on his dash camera
happened to be the uncle of a cousin-in-law’s husband (try saying that one 5
times over!), and so I felt a little more connected to the story than I
probably would have otherwise. I
scrolled through the copious amounts of comments to see what was said about the
ordeal, and was startled to find an abundance of inappropriate, finger-wagging,
name-calling kind of comments left for both
the drivers, and the snow plow driver
who was just out there doing his job.
Ouch. I know the driver…and he didn't deserve that.
Online communities can function as places for sharing mutual interests and giving/receiving support, but they can also be a playground for anonymous bullies – with the lack of face-to-face contact promoting words or opinions that would not likely have been shared in an in-person exchange.
An interesting article online about the Olympics in Sochi highlights how Twitter is being used as a platform to air grievances about inconveniences experienced by the journalists and writers covering the games, but as the author points out, what Twitter is enabling is the disparaging of a nation as Westerners mock and ridicule the everyday life that is experienced by the locals who won’t leave when the Olympics are over.
That is social media on a global scale, but what about its effect on closer, more intimate relationships?
It seems that social media is well on its way to infiltrating these too.
It used to be that affairs started “at work”. They still often do – only now the option of connecting with someone else is everywhere: in your car, on the bus, in your own living room while you sit on the couch beside your spouse. Wherever there is a cell phone, tablet, or other device, the potential to seek out greener grass is there. Compound the accessibility with the safety of distance that online platforms provide and you have a recipe for disaster. Using social media as a means of securing connection with another feels infinitely less risky than an office rendezvous. There are no appointments to shuffle, no explaining private lunches, and no chance of others observing stolen glances across the office.
The wide open window into the best parts of people’s lives that Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – or any other public medium enables can foster a distaste for our often less-than-ideal realities. I think of how my own foray into Pinterest, which was very short-lived, left me feeling dissatisfied with my home, my crafting abilities, and party planning skills. As I came across others who were more talented, whose homes were more tastefully decorated, or whose parenting creativity soared beyond mine – I was left feeling like my reality was second rate. Before long I was mentally redecorating each room in my house in an effort to feel as adequate as others out there, and moderate my own sense of failure and disappointment.
This same thing can happen as we evaluate others online and stack them up to the real-life partners we have, as we compare and bemoan the ways our reality doesn’t measure up to the experiences of others we can be tempted to jump towards a more attractive, more attentive, more exciting ship than the one we’re on.
Maybe it starts out by liking a comment someone posts, or with an ‘innocent’ search for an ex – out of curiosity for where they’re at and who they’ve settled down with. Maybe there are Twitter exchanges, or hours spent perusing a co-workers’ Instagram account.
While some of these innocuous actions may not cross any lines, what it can speak to is a space of discontent or restlessness that has someone seeking fulfillment or excitement elsewhere. I get it – sometimes relationships don’t meet all of our needs, sometimes feelings are hurt, and it’s just easier to look for connection elsewhere than try and repair things with the guy or girl sprawled out on the sofa watching another episode on HGTV.
The potential of social media serving as a platform to look elsewhere is real. But I think it’s possible to look at it from a different angle.
When we can acknowledge that the lure to look elsewhere exists, and when we can pause long enough to pay attention to what’s fuelling the discontent – then the accessibility of others that social media provides doesn’t have to draw us away from connecting with our face-to-face relationships.
Rather, the ‘grass is greener’ syndrome can become a warning sign that encourages us to lean into the discomfort so we can repair the hurt and get unstuck from difficult spaces. And maybe for some of us, the temptation is too much – and perhaps it’s time to consider shutting it down...much like my Pinterest account, so that you can get back into your real life and start enjoying what’s there in a more engaged way.
- by Carolyn Bergen
The February 17th edition of Maclean's magazine's cover story was all about "The new worry epidemic". In the article, worry is used interchangeably with anxiety, both of which are different than fear.
Fear is the "flight/fright/freeze" response that occurs when one is exposed to a threat of some kind...a danger. Fear is in the now.
Anxiety/worry is the same "flight/fright/freeze" response, but it is anticipatory. Nothing has happened yet.
Anxiety/worry happens when we don't know what will happen, but we feel as if the threat/danger will happen. That's an uncomfortable feeling, that space of emotional vulnerability…that feeling of "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure" (Brené Brown)
Worry, the Macleans article says, is "the No. 1 way to increase ratings or sell products". The advertising industry is built on a foundation of worry: buy this hand soap because you would be horrified to know how many bacteria other soap leaves behind, or buy this car because we have more airbags and look what happens inside to passengers when a vehicle hits a brick wall. Buy this face cream to remove fine lines (which, by implication, are bad...very bad. A classic example of creating worry where none existed before)
The internet has given us tools to help our worry go viral. A simple cold can potentially be three or four very rare diseases (that no one heard of or would know to worry about without the internet) and food experts will contradict each other regularly about how much fish we should eat or what makes up a healthy diet for a child.
Perhaps the greatest sources of worry are those voices we all have inside of us that say, "You're not good enough", "You're not worth it". These voices tell us we are special or accomplished enough to be worthy of love and belonging…which, by now, if you're a regular reader on this blog, you would know that this is what Brené Brown calls shame.
Some ways of handling shame actually create worry…working at the shame issue (albeit ineffectively) creates a worry issue…in at least three ways.
I see several reasons why worry can feel like a good idea to folks:
1. It's a buffer from disappointment. Worry prevents a person from getting too excited and joyful...by dress rehearsing tragedy, we keep our joy in check. Joy can be dangerous to feel. Many would rather live in disappointment than become disappointed. Brené Brown calls this foreboding joy.
2. It helps reduce uncertainty. Uncertainly feels vulnerable. There's something oddly comforting about making an uncertain situation more certain in a person's life, even if it is by deciding certain tragedy. Wondering if you might make the team is likely actually harder than deciding you probably didn't make the team.
3. It's inevitable when we set impossible standards. When we have those outer voices (internet, advertising, and the critics in our lives) and the inner gremlins chirping at us, one of the ways of coping is the very heavy shield of "Perfectionism". There is this magical thinking that if we meet a high enough standard, we will prove ourselves worthy of love and belonging. This isn't healthy striving…this is pushing to attain an unreachable goal.
…and, no great news bulletin here…trying to reach an unattainable goal sets a person up for failure…and it's no surprise that people worry about that failure. The Maclean's article talks about a developing phenomena of "school refusal", something seen in very good students as they become paralyzed by the worry/anxiety of school.
To explain further:
Worry, the anticipation of a threat, can forecast failure/threat/doom so much as so encourage withdrawal and disengagement.
Worry creates the threat response, without knowing bad things will happen...which in itself is stressful for the body. Years ago, I remember worrying a great deal about the possibility my children would die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome...I lost sleep over it, and much worry went into something that never happened. (Please know it's hasn't all been roses and butterflies though--other terrible things happened that I didn't anticipate and couldn't worry about). The worry about SIDS took away from my ability to be rest while my children were sleeping, which ironically, impacted my ability to fully be the mother I wanted to be with them. I simply enjoyed my children less because of my worry…and that had me be a less present mother.
Worry sucks the joy out of life. Yes, bad things happen, certainly, but worrying by anticipating and planning for tragedy actually doesn't prepare us for tragedy. It actually reduces our inner reserves of joy which can leave us less prepared to deal with the inevitable difficulties in our lives.
The Macleans article refers to the usefulness of worry, helping pilots and navy seals be more successful in their jobs. People who have the "worry gene" seem to do well in jobs that require detailed planning, and the foresight of numerous outcomes.
Seems to me that this "worry gene" actually turns into a "healthy striving" gene for these people…where people use the discomfort of what might happen into an internally motivated energy to do their best in a difficult and stressful situation. They can only do such high performance jobs if they aren't swamped into a swamp of worried despair.
I believe that people adopt a lifestyle of worry in the belief it will help them ward off disaster, and give them more successful, happier lives. Worry doesn't prevent thing from happening, but it does squander joy…which fills us up to give us what we need to be able to handle all that life offers us.
The antidote to foreboding joy, as Brené Brown says, is, to acknowledge the shudders of worry when they come--and to use them as cues for gratitude. To soften into gratitude is to recognize the preciousness of the present moment, and be grateful for what is.
*this was the topic of the week with Dahlia Kurtz on CJOB 680.
- by Carolyn Bergen
I love this video that has popped up in a few places:
It's like these women are almost surprised at how disappointed they are at how they don't/want/can't own the beauty of the faces in these photos..the retouched, bleached, refined, blemish-removed, pore-airbrushed faces…just not seeing that perfected "beauty" in the image, and owning it as their own.
Their words remind me of Jean Kilbourne's words in her work of Killing us softly 4:
Women learn from a very early age that we must spend enormous amounts of time, energy and above all money, striving to achieve this look and feeling ashamed and guilty when we fail. And failure is inevitable because the idea is based on absolute flawlessness. She never has any lines or wrinkles, she certainly has no scars or blemishes, indeed she has no pores. And the most important aspect of this flawlessness is that it can not be achieved, no one looks like this including her; and this is the truth, no one looks like this. The supermodel Cindy Crawford once said, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford." She doesn't, she couldn't, because this is a look that's been created for years through airbrushing and cosmetics but these days it's done through the magic of computer retouching.
For men, they are exposed to literally 1000's of images a day, which raises the bar to unattainable heights. Really, that's not fair to a guy, because the woman he lives with has pores, and cold sores, and zits, and love handles…because that's what real people have! Lest someone jump to conclusions that guys are shallow, let's be honest. Men are conditioned, because that's how brains work, to expect this certain level of beauty that a part of them knows is unrealistic, but the other part of them is unconsciously brainwashed by these images of thousands of non-existent woman!!
For women, we are exposed to the same 1000's of images, and the flood of these images from media would lead us to believe these are the norm. Stretch marks, cellulite, thick waisted, "A" cups and "DD" cups--women get what they get...and love handles are so much more the norm…but that's hard to remember, you'd never know it from the commercials, billboards and magazine pics…and women feel ugly.
It confirms for me all over again, that I made the right decision not to photoshop our pictures of the therapists that we recently posted on our website.
It felt risky to do at the time, and I mulled over the idea of presenting us "as is" for about 3 weeks before I took the plunge.
Let's stop expecting the media to be the change.
If you have a website, or promo pics for your profession…leave it real. If you just got married, ask the photographer to print them as is, without retouching your zit, blemishes, or one-shade-off-white teeth. You married each other "as is"--celebrate that…leave it real! Your family photos that you are planning for spring…plan for the photographer to capture the sunlight in your hair as best as you can, and leave that the only glow in the pic…leave it real.
This is not about trying to be ugly. The day of the shoot we gussied up some. Put on a clean shirt. Solid colour to look nice. Some of us put on some lipstick and mascara…because that's what we like to do. We honour our bodies by feeling good in them.
And Doug, the photographer, well, he took pride in his work. Put us under good lighting. Snapped his best work. He's a pro, and he did his usual good work. He likes to do a good job.
But we stopped there. No retouching, no airbrushing.
To his credit, Doug did not look at me sideways when I told him no retouching. He didn't try to talk me out of it, and he was prepared to own his own work, unretouched. He. got. it.
Because we are real people…and we want others to see us as real. Real makes us approachable. Authentic. Accessible.
Post your photos on your website, or on your walls, and proudly proclaim:
- by Carolyn Bergen
I went to a book launch this evening for the book, When Quitting is NOT an Option, written by Arvid Loewen, with assistance by his son, Paul Loewen. I've written about who I affectionally call, my-crazy-Uncle Arvid before, back when he set a Guiness World Record in ultra marathon cycling.
Often, people hang up their helmets when they break a record. He didn't rest when he set the record. He tried to break his own record a year later, and failed.
Sometimes, when people fail, they hang their head in shame, and turn in their wheels. He didn't let failure stop him. He set out in Race Across America, the longest single stage bike race in North America. From California to Maryland as fast as you can go…crazy, huh?
Well, he did it. He's got grit:
I saw this video about the importance of "grit" as the most significant predictor of success. For every student struggling to stick with school, every junior employee who wants to work towards success, every young mother of toddlers that have endless needs--for everyone who has important, but distant goals on the horizon, this is worth 6 minutes of your life:
When I think of grit, I think of my Uncle Arvid. He's taught me a lot about sticking with something. When he went for his first bike ride years ago, he got 30 kilometres into his planned 40 kilometre bike ride before he called my aunt to pick him up, 'cuz he couldn't go any further. He made it to Lockport, and only half way back.
But he stuck with it.
And this summer, he's going for another crazy record. The fastest 10000 km ride in the world…he'll have to do it in about 21 days. He'll be doing it going back and forth (and back and forth, and back and forth) between Lockport and Winnipeg.
Yeah. Do the math. And shudder.
And then admire his grit.
Hump Day Nudge is a column written to encourage us all on Wednesday, when we are in the middle third of the week…too far from the previous weekend to feel rested, with the coming weekend still seeming a ways off. May you find your grit to persevere and stay passionate through this season of your life.
- by Carolyn
All couples fight. Fighting doesn't mean a bad marriage.
In fact, fighting may be profoundly helpful for a marriage…it airs concerns, differences, slights, and hurt to allow for understanding. And understanding…knowing how your partner feels and having that matter…so you change your behaviour to better able to recognize your spouse…that's huge.
To think about:
The essential element of a healthy marriage is not that you don't fight. All couples fight...The essential element of a healthy marriage is "emotional responsiveness"... [this] means you have enough trust and emotional connection that you trust each other enough that even though you fight and you have differences, you know how to turn towards each other; reach for each other when it really matters.
The most basic question in marriage is: ..."Are you there for me? Do I matter to you? Am I special? Will you cherish me? Will I come first with you? If I need, if I call, will you come?
...if you have that sense that you have the safe emotional bond, you can deal with almost everything....
The good news is: we not only know what it, is we know how to make it happen.
This video resonates with the work we do. A number of us have been in workshops with Dr. Susan Johnson or one of her close colleagues. We have her books on our shelves, and have attended externships in her model of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). We rely heavily on EFT as one of the models that we use at Bergen and Associates...the body of evidence done through research suggests that it works....to quote Dr. Johnson:
- by Carolyn Bergen
I love this video…which was filmed in 2010 prior to Alexandre Bilodeau's gold medal in the Olympics that year in Vancouver. He followed it up with yet another gold medal this year again in Sochi. This video highlights the mutual respect and inspiration two brothers have for each other, in a way that inspires both of them to be better people:
It just warms a person, even in the blustery, cold, snowy winter to see two brothers enrich each others lives. Frederic led the way onto the slopes…his disability introducing his brother to the slopes that would one day make him a national hero. Watching Frederic meet and beat the challenges his cerebral palsy placed in front of him inspired Alexandre to go out, and push himself hard daily…and when the difference between first and second is fractions of points/seconds, maybe it was that extra workout here and there that wasn't skipped that made the difference.
Bilodeau sought out his brother again on Monday after becoming the first Canadian to repeat as an Olympic gold medallist.
But what was also noticeable was that 32-year-old Frederic now has trouble standing up; that since Vancouver, his condition has deteriorated…
He said Frederic was his source of inspiration over the last four years.
"I have a family, a great girlfriend, a team of trainers, but the person who motivates me to go through the highs and lows is my brother," said Bilodeau
- by Carolyn Bergen
He wraps depression with words to enable those who have depression to feel understood and validated and affirmed. No, you are not crazy, you are not alone, and you definitely are in remarkable company in your struggle with depression.
He explains depression to those who have never experienced it so as to have them understand…maybe for the first time, the devastatingly crippling nature of depression.
He gives hope as he discusses treatment. He advocates for actively pursuing treatment:
People will come to me and say, "I think, though, if I just stick it out for another year, I think I can just get through this,"
And I always say to them, "You may get through it, but you'll never be 37 again. Life is short, and that's a whole year you're talking about giving up. Think it through."
Shutting out the depression strengthens it. While you hide from it, it grows. And the people who do better are the ones who are able to tolerate the fact that they have this condition. Those who can tolerate their depression are the ones who achieve resilience….valuing one's depression does not prevent a relapse, but it may make the prospect of relapse and even relapse itself easier to tolerate.
- by Sabrina Friesen
I am not fortunate enough to have grandparents who are still around, but I know a handful of people who still do. And every now and then I find myself surprised to see exchanges on Facebook where grandmas and grandpas are responding to status updates, cute photos, or playing Words With Friends against their much younger kin.
I marvel at the learning curve for these older folks who probably remember having to get up to turn the knob on their black and white TV, or who may remember celebrating indoor plumbing! I think this goes to show what an integral part of our lives social media has become as connecting online is something that crosses generational, economic, and cultural boundaries.
There’s no escaping it, and no going back to ‘the good old days’ where people caught up with their neighbors over a cup of coffee and a date square. Now we have access not just to our block, but friends and family (and even strangers) around the globe. Our kitchen tables have expanded to include every person we know and love (and perhaps even those we know and don’t love if we can’t bring ourselves to hit ‘ignore’ to that friend request).
The expansion of the kitchen table has some definite positives.
In this two-part social media series, we’ll explore some of the benefits and
drawbacks that participation in this medium may have on ourselves and our
As a mom of young kids I can definitely speak to some of the perks of online connection. I’ve posted more than my share of “SOS” questions, soliciting support or opening up conversations to hear from others on their best-parenting practice or personal experience. At 2:00am there is something about being able to lament publicly that your kid is puking again that takes some of the loneliness out of a rather isolating situation.
Social media is a tool for networking and sharing ideas, and also serves to help people whose paths would not cross regularly maintain connection in a way that facilitates face-to-face connection at a later time, whether it’s college friends who you stop in to see while passing through their town, distant cousins, or your high school BFF who lives in another province.
For some folks who have a harder time connecting in person and maintaining face-to-face friendships – social media and online hangouts have become a place of connection and belonging, with friends across the globe becoming a community who care for and check in on each other.
Connection, regardless of form, can really be a beautiful thing.
I think of a story I heard from a dear friend, T, of a her half brother, R, in his 30’s--who had a whole half of a family tree that he knew nothing about. R grew up without real knowledge of his dad, and due to the family dynamics, never felt safe enough to ask.
Aside from a few photos there were no links to his past, and a whole lot of assumptions about what 30
years of silence meant. For three
decades R had been writing internal stories to explain the silence, vilifying a
man who created him while simultaneously convincing himself that he was not worth searching for.
Armed with just a few details and some geographical information, some Facebook sleuthing by T unearthed a potential family match for her brother in the form of a half-sibling and still-alive father. After T shared the information with R, R bravely reached out to ask for clarification as to whether or not he belonged to them.
Shortly after Christmas 2013, the notification of a new message showed up and because of Facebook his world changed forever.
For thirty years R’s dad had shed tears on the birthday of a son he loved and believed he lost forever. Social media made a way for R to connect with his dad’s side of the family when all other avenues of finding each other had been exhausted, and the flames of hope had been long extinguished. A fractured family is being set right, internal stories are shifting, and lives are profoundly changed. That’s some pretty powerful stuff.
This digital age of connection has undoubtedly fostered the building and maintaining of relationships in ways that our grandparents could probably not have imagined.
There are beautiful stories of people reaching out, connecting, and caring for each other through an array of social mediums – and the positive elements of this method of interacting are plentiful.
There are stories of care, of hope, and of reunions that would have been impossible if not for the social platforms we have come to depend on.
…and yet the story doesn’t end here. Stay tuned for part 2 where we’ll explore some of the darker, more insidious sides that come with the accessibility of and dependency on social media as a way to connect.
**Blog by Sabrina Friesen, Therapist at Bergen and Associates Counselling. And gosh, are we blessed to have her with us!
Dahlia Kurtz and I talked it out on Wednesday at 2:30 on CJOB…what happens when people decide they are what they do…we are more than our jobs!
The beauty and the beastly of social media, part 2…when you're hunting up old boyfriends on Facebook, it says something important about your current relationship…and noting this as a red flag is huge!