If I look at only the negatives in my life—mental illness, dysfunctional family, emotional and verbal abuse—it’s easy to think that all of life is negative.
But if I consider that despite those negatives, I managed to accomplish many things and am an adult doing what I hope is good work, then I have to admit that I had and have many positives going on in my life, too.
How did I survive and in many ways flourish? How did I reach the point where I could seek help for myself and gain self-understanding?
For starters, I had people in my life who provided love, hope, support, structure, encouragement, smiles, consistency, trust, and values. Even when I was a lonely, scared child, there were people around me who cared and showed me that they cared.
|My first grade school picture. I loved school and found acceptance there.|
I decided to compile a list of some of those people who were positive influences on me when I was a child, a teenager, and a young adult. Looking over this list reminds me of how I’ve been blessed, that all of my life has not been negative.
*My great aunt Ida. I wrote about her and her iris garden a couple of years ago. I stayed with her and my uncle quite a bit as a child when someone in the family was in the hospital. With her, I felt safe and cared for.
*My best friends’ mother, Barbara, who I wrote about almost a year ago. She treated me with respect by listening to me and showing interest in me. She encouraged me.
*The first Sunday school teacher I had. She showed interest in me, too, and never tried to dissuade me from coloring everything in purple. She never forgot that purple was my favorite color.
*My elementary school teachers. I was blessed to have good ones overall, and school was a source of happiness. I have especially fond memories of my second grade teacher, my fourth grade teacher, and my fifth grade social studies teacher. They allowed me to follow my curiosity and do more work than was assigned.
*My high school English teacher who taught me for three years. She encouraged me to think big about my future. Her choice of me for the English Award when I was a sophomore helped my self-esteem more than she ever knew.
*My first-year suitemates at the University of Virginia. They showed me that not everyone came from a family like mine, that there were other, and better ways, to interact with people and enjoy life.
*My friend D in graduate school at Bowling Green State University. She encouraged me to seek counseling by telling me that she had gotten counseling. I figured if someone as pulled together as she was could sometimes need help, then I could seek it too.
*My first talk therapist. I revealed things to her about the way I was raised and how depressed I was that I had never talked about with anyone else. She was also the first person to whom I revealed my OCD symptoms. She helped me to begin to move past unhealthy ways of thinking. She also referred me to a psychiatrist.
*My first psychiatrist. She formerly diagnosed me with depression and OCD and started treatment. She called me “high functioning,” which surprised me at the time. Now I realize that she saw more strength and capability in me than I did.
*My friends A and B in graduate school. They treated me with respect, spent time with me just hanging out and having fun, and encouraged me. They reflected to me that I was a valuable person. And they showed me other ways of living life than I was used to.
We never know when we can be a strong, positive influence on someone else’s life. We never know when the small things we do for others turn into big things for them.
Writing this post made me realize how much I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others.
In the comments section, name one person who had a positive influence on you as a child or younger person. Let’s remember together!
Just a reminder: My new blogging schedule is to post on Mondays and Thursdays. So I will see you again on Thursday.