Last time I wrote about what happens when you call LifeMatters for a counseling referral. But perhaps you are wondering, “Why would I call a stranger to ask for help dealing with my issues? I can deal with it myself.” Or, “I have family and friends I would talk to first.” Generally, I agree. However, there are times when we get stuck and have tried everything we can think of to get unstuck and it is just not working. And if our support system is not there, or we are not comfortable going to them with what we are dealing with – these are times when counseling can be a valuable option.
I own a rental property and my tenants had a tendency to throw things in the drain that should not be going down there. Over time, the sewer pipe in the basement got backed up and it became my problem. I have some tools, I go to the store to pick up some more, and go to work on it. The first couple hours, no progress and lots of frustration. Soon, however, water starts seeping through, which gives me some hope that all is not in vain. With renewed energy and another four hours of work, everything is flowing once again. I’m tired, but proud of my accomplishment.
Fast-forward four months. It happens again. I am angry at those creating the problem and that I have to deal with it again. Yet, it is something that needs to be fixed. With the knowledge of my earlier success, I go in confident. Two hours later – no progress. Four hours – nothing. Six hours – nothing is working and I am tired, frustrated and I give up. I call a plumber, a professional, for help.
He comes in with the power tools that did not make sense for me to purchase myself. He takes a first shot at the problem – and doesn’t get anywhere. I have mixed feelings on this – (1) oh, no, this is a bigger issue than I thought and (2) I’m glad I called for professional help because I wasn’t going to get anywhere no matter how much time I put into it. He gets out another tool, takes another shot at it and within minutes the clog is cleared. He has me run water down every drain to make sure there are not any other blockages. He makes suggestions on my plumbing – some easy tasks, some more involved – to minimize the chance of the problem occurring again. He also suggests what more I can do myself it if does happen again.
I’m not one who subscribes to the idea that life is like the inside of a sewer pipe. But, I do believe when things are not going well and we don’t know how to get out of a situation that life can feel like the inside of that drain pipe.
Sometimes life hits us like a brick wall, overwhelming us to the point where we don’t know how to respond. Other times, situations can creep slowly into our lives, being more insidious, where we are unaware of the immensity of a problem until it weighs us down so much that we don’t know how to get out.
This is when it can he helpful to call a professional, a counselor/therapist for help. Yes, it will be a stranger, but there are some benefits to this as well. It will be slightly different from calling the plumber. If you do not know where the blockage is, the therapist will help you find it. Suggestions will be made on how to clear the blockage, including what tools to use and guidance in how to use them until the clog is broken and life is flowing more smoothly again.
It may not be as easy as opening a sewer line and things may not end up squeaky clean, but the conflicts are likely to get smaller, more manageable, workable. And similar to my call to the plumber, you are likely to get to a resolution quicker and with less frustration. If you are stuck and need some help getting unstuck, consider giving us a call.
Reggie E, MSW, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP Counselor. Reggie has a master’s degree in Social Work as well as bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and the Comparative Study of Religion from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to a career change to social work, he worked in a variety of fields including banking, trucking and metal fabrication.