To age is a privilege, if for no other reason than to be able to look back on where we've been. How we've grown. To connect the dots, and see how the lines between them create a coherent picture. I loved those connect-the-dot pages as a child and sought them out before any other projects in my coloring books. In fact, once those pages were done I rarely – if ever – finished the rest.
Looking back now I'm more able to connect the dots of my own existence. As life happens we seldom discern its real meaning in the moment. But like a dream that initially seems senseless and upon later reflection carries a clear message, with time the disjointed pieces of our lives begin to coalesce. A larger canvas emerges. Stark black and white becomes a dense permeation of color, coming into focus and showing us the path we've been walking all along.
I'm doing things now I never previously imagined. A different journey, one I never intentionally mapped out for myself, has begun.
I've moved into my new identity as a therapist with unexpected ease. Twenty years ago I believed my destiny was to write historical fiction. Even ten years ago I toyed with the possibility of a career in archaeology. Today, my compulsion to write manifests here, blending both my passion for word craft with the art of therapy and science of human behavior. My fascination with excavation manifests in my session room. There, Freud, Jung and Rogers act as shovel, trowel and brush to make the unconscious conscious, help clients interpret the symbols of their own lives, cultivating increased self-awareness and greater self-actualization.
Yes. Somehow it all makes sense. Whereas at one time I might have mourned the loss of my dream of being the next Victor Hugo or discovering the tomb of Alexander the Great, I now see my desires and dreams serving a different purpose. If I'm completely honest, one I feel much better about fulfilling.
And as I settle into my new role as a licensed mental health professional, another identity is surfacing: the social justice advocate. The world is often tumultuous, uncertain and flat-out ugly. My hope is I can contribute in a meaningful way to the dialogue that must take place and remain prevalent, in order for us to make a difference in the way mental illness is perceived and treated in the United States and abroad.
In the weeks to come, I'll use this space to share about counseling in rural America. The unique challenges presented by small towns with meager resources, and where the mindset is so often to just “get over it” and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
From that the threads tying rural America to the rest of the country should become apparent, and the discourse can broaden to a bigger purpose. Perhaps how to fund, treat, and prevent mental illness to begin with. How to strengthen our communities from the inside out, and avoid the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction.
I'm excited to be on this new part of my journey, and look forward to joining the conversation with all of you.
Stormy Filson is an independently licensed counselor living and working in Wyoming, with special interests in treating trauma, community building, and empowering women. She is also passionate about writing, photography and film.