Thank You Dad

An overdue message of gratitude this Father’s Day for the dads who succeeded even when their relationships did not.

For all the men who put their children above themselves. You are fathers. For all the fathers who do not seek to possess their children but rather support their lives. You are loved.

 

For you to know my gratitude you must also know just how terribly wrong it can go for children. Too often the negative conversation about fathers focuses on the fathers who were not there for their children. About the dads who abandoned and neglected their responsibilities. This is not that exact story but rather the other side of the same coin and the story that is becoming more commonplace in modern society. The fathers who force their way, and their wishes, upon their children after a relationship breakdown. Whether a father abandons his children, or forces his will upon them, he is still acting in his own interests only and not much has changed. 

 

My father did not choose either of these self serving routes. My experiences as an adult and a parent have gifted me a new gratitude for my dad, for what he did and didn’t do, and the fathers out there today who are making the same sacrifice for their children. This gratitude is for my father and all the fathers who have suffered the pain of family breakdown, but had the maturity and selflessness to honour their child’s autonomy even at the sacrifice of their own feelings.

 

I was 12 when my parents separated. It is only from reflecting as an adult that I can see the writing was on the wall. Flashes of memories spent looking out the bedroom window and wondering if my dad would return as he left the house to clear his head. Nights spent sitting on the top stair, still as a ghost, listening to my parents pain. 

 

As time passed, my sadness grew roots of resentment. I was hurt and angry. Though my dad never left me, I turned down a lot of his efforts to connect with me for a long time. What was once a natural parent/child relationship now felt like a duty and a chore. Emotions greater than my ability to express them meant I felt guilty that my inarticulate pain hurt my dad too. My dad allowed me to choose what I needed even though I’m sure it hurt him.

 

In all that followed my parents departure from each other, my father did not force his love. He did not insist upon his fatherhood or pin all his hopes and dreams on that role. His role in my life, his purpose, was never in question. My father knew that my attachment to my mother was not a threat to my bond with him. My dad also knew that my world was my home, my neighbourhood, my friends, my school, and my bed. He did not insist upon disrupting my world  to force his presence or influence upon me. 

 

Nowadays the scene of a family breakdown can be much different and a parents misguided focus on their own equality can result in the vulnerable children being put in harm’s way. It is only by experiencing my own divorce that I can appreciate the choices my father made. For me this is the silver lining in what was and continues to be the most harrowing experience of my life. 

 

Love isn’t forceful and not everyone knows that. I’ve witnessed what happens when a parent’s selfish love, and their focus on their own self preservation causes destruction, pain, and harm. This suffering has gifted me today’s gratitude. To elaborate on this experience further would be to fill a book and risk putting my children and myself in harm’s way. 

 

The bond between mother and child is sacred but not a threat. It certainly wasn’t to my father. My dad valued my wishes without me needing to voice them. He was just there for me. I know now that had my dad taken a more selfish route, our relationship today would be so much less fulfilling and I would be a very different person. And worse, there might not have been a relationship between as at all.

 

My father did not use his equality as a parent, or his financial superiority before the law, to serve his own needs. If a parent makes this tragic error and finds support in the law, or rather a lack of law, the child is completely disregarded without voice or power. Children born out of love are now enslaved to the servicing of their parent’s emotions.

 

How a parent treats their child shows that child how they deserve to be treated in life. It is that simple. If my own dad hadn’t respected me as a person in my own right, had seen his loss of standing in his marriage as a threat and sought only to control would I have ever felt worthy of my own voice in my own life? 

 

I have immense gratitude now for my dad’s actions, his love, and his selflessness. I wish to extend that gratitude to the other dads out there who are doing the same. I could not have comprehended this gratitude as a child, much like your own children can not yet fathom the sacrifices you make now.

 

So for this selfless act of true fatherhood on Father’s Day 2020, I say thank you Dad. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for always being there as you manoeuvred through the trials of your own life. Thank you for valuing my will and my autonomy. Thank you for sacrificing your own feelings to protect mine. And thank you for trusting that the love between father and child meant I was always going to find my way to you on my own terms. 

 

I love you. Always. Happy Father’s Day

 

Note to the reader: The path to becoming a Counsellor is unlike many other passions or pursuits. It is a position often found or solidified in the personal life experiences of the Counsellor. For this reason our Counsellors at Limitless Wellness will often write from a place of experience and learned insight. We too examine our own lives as we support clients to do in our work together. For the safety of our team and the privacy of their family, our blogs may often appear unauthored.

 

Date Night…During Covid-19?

So you are stuck at home and losing the will to brush your hair or wear pants for that matter! While you try to stay safe and healthy, the fun and romance in your life is dying a death. The children are running frantic laps around your feet and you contemplate knocking down a wall to create a more open, outdoorsy feeling…inside!

Feelings of stress and anxiety are heightened as we also rely more heavily on those closest to meet our emotional and social needs.  Isolation fatigue is setting in.

Here’s just one idea to to help maintain your sanity, reduce stress and keep the fun in your romantic relationship:

 

Date Night, At Home…but with all the bells and whistles! 

  • Tidy the house (or at least the living room)
  • Get dressed up (Yes, pants, dresses and heels)
  • Set the mood, candles, lighting, scents
  • Find a home concert to watch – Here’s a list of live concerts and shows you can stream from home
  • Then order food! Skip the Dishes has so many options or better yet check out our local Firehouse Grill. Feel good about spending money too as you support local restaurants. One great option right now are the “Pub Packs”, on offer from the Firehouse Grill in Nanaimo. They bring the beer too. Check out their Facebook page for more up to the minute menus.

 

This event in the world is a reminder that we can not control everything. We are never fully in control of what happens in our lives. This can be both a freeing and worrying realization. We can however look to what is in our control and make choices from there. Take charge of what you can, and create some joy.

Remember, our team of Counsellors are available for online appointments should you or someone you care about need support.

How is Covid-19 changing the dating scene and the life of singles?

Online dating apps like Tinder have been popular for a long time but for the time being it is likely the only chance many have of finding a romantic connection. 

In my own experience on dating apps, I learned pretty quickly that meeting up in person early on saved a lot of time. One could waste so much energy messaging someone only to find they look nothing like what you expected, there is just no chemistry or even something strange like they can not make eye contact! 

Now single people are being forced in many most parts of the world to exercise social distancing and social meeting places like bars and cafe’s are closed. The conversations must continue in the virtual world if finding a partner is still an interest at a time like this. Let’s not kid ourselves though, of course it is an interest. Perhaps it is ever more pressing for some as people around the world are separated from each other, alone in their homes and quite frankly afraid.

Perhaps deeper connections will happen as people are forced to refrain from meeting and even getting intimate with each other. Maybe a way to further growing online connections is to utilize video apps like FaceTime. I personally can’t say as I am not single but as someone passionate about human behaviour, mental health and healthy romantic relationships, I am wondering. 

I know that one downside of online dating can be the temptation to communicate with many at once. For a lot of people this is or was the norm of dating. When you met your online prospect in person, you had to assume they had many other prospects on the go and maybe you did too. For a lot of people this is an enjoyable way to date but in the long run it can actually reduce our chances of making a long term connection. Though the last point there is deserving of another blog entirely, I will summarize by suggesting that when we keep our dating options very open, we remain somewhat closed to being vulnerable and open with one person. The risk is that we can develop many superficial but safe relationships but loose out on the connection that develops when we focus on just one person. 

So now what? You can’t really meet in person or at least you shouldn’t. Will those who are single continue the status quo of building virtual connections with many others or will you choose to focus on one person and see what could develop? Will online dating during Covid-19 force us to go deeper before meeting? Will social distancing actually result in more lasting connections developing? 

I’d love to hear from others on this! Single people out there, how are you coping in the new world of Covid-19 dating? Will you chat with many, will you try to develop a relationship further without actually meeting and what will that look like? Have you shut the door on dating entirely or do you feel that the pandemic has encouraged you even more to pursue a romantic companion in this life? 

Covid-19 Brings Vancouver Island Counselling Online

As of March 2020 all of our team are available for online Counselling appointments. All you need is a private space in your home where you are comfortable to talk freely.

Reduced rates available for those quarantined at home or have lost their job due to Covid-19.

It was only earlier this month that my colleague and I were discussing online Counselling and how we could encourage some of our clients to try out this option. We could not have anticipated the timeliness of our conversation as online appointments have become a necessity.

The necessity for online Counselling is two fold. We must first ensure the safety of our community but also remain available during what is likely to be the most difficult mental health challenge of our lifetime.

Below is the conversation I had with, one of our skilled therapists here at Limitless Wellness on Vancouver Island.

When you first heard about online Counselling, did you have any immediate thoughts about it? I know for me when I first began my practice 7 years ago, I was skeptical that the same kind of connection I have with my clients could be achieved through a computer screen. 

Answer: “I thought it might be quite impersonal and, as a person who didn’t grow up with technology, it seemed like it might be too complicated. I also wondered about confidentiality, my internet connection failing mid-session, and how open clients would be to trying it out, at least once.”

What has your experience been of online Counselling since you started to make this available to your clients?

Answer: “I’ve found that all of my concerns were unfounded. In fact, my experience has been the exact opposite. The connection between myself and my clients has been as intact as though we were in the same room. Doing sessions online via Zoom has proven to be very easy and secure (Zoom is encrypted) and my clients have responded positively to this method of delivery. The other bonus is that I can work more extensive hours because of the convenience of online counselling, and I can now book clients with less waiting time, both in-between sessions and in-between the request and the session. My schedule is much more flexible overall. I actually helped a client on New Year’s eve with a last minute appointment. Online counselling opens up a whole new line of communication and Zoom makes it safe, easy, and convenient.”

How does this compare to your experience with helping clients in person?

Answer “I find that online counselling feels much the same as sitting with someone in person. I’m always in a private space when I’m having an online session, and I encourage my clients to find their own private space so that they don’t feel the need to censor themselves. It’s important for them to be able to say anything they need to say. The one difference is that it’s easier for clients to multi-task and use other devices when we are in a session. I ask them to turn everything else off and concentrate on our interaction. We still need to focus on each other and the content of the session to the exclusion of all else, the same as if we were in the room together.”

Have your clients shared any feedback about their experience?

Answer: “What I have been told is that clients like the convenience and that online counselling works with their schedules. This is an age where many people often work more than 1 job, work more than 40 hours a week, and have many other commitments, such as family, school, and leisure activities. Online counselling means that they don’t have to use up their precious time in transit. And, it’s so ‘normal’ for people to be engaged online now that they sign on and interact without any second thoughts.”

Is there anyone in particular you think online Counselling works best for?

Answer: “I know that the more technology-savvy generation, who now seem to be almost in their 40’s and younger, have no problem adapting to online sessions. I would say that everyone has internet service and devices with cameras these days. The older generation, myself included, are also pretty savvy because we don’t want to be left behind. I guess I’m saying that online counselling works for everyone now. There’s really no barrier other than our attitudes toward it.”

What would you say to someone who is unsure about trying our online Counselling service?

Answer: “I’m more than happy to have a free, 20-minute consultation with any potential client who wants to test out online counselling and see if I’m a good fit for them. I always give good instructions on how to access the Zoom link that I send in an email. We’ll work through the process together. Patience is the key and I have lots of that!”

 

 

 

 

The Limitless Wellness Team: A Message about Covid-19

To our clients and our community.

As we all heed the warnings about protecting ourselves from Covid-19, we wish to take a moment to remind each other of the importance of also protecting our mental health at this time. There is undoubtedly added stress and anxiety in our daily lives. By also taking care of our mental wellness we can ensure that we don’t contribute or succumb to the emerging irrational panic.

For your peace of mind:

Please rest assured that your Counsellor will notify you if they become unwell. We trust our clients will do the same and we have waived our 24 cancellation policy in the event any of our clients do become symptomatic .

The current official information advises against large gatherings (greater than 250) and close contact. Close contact has been defined as standing directly beside someone where you may not be protected against another persons uncovered cough.

Luckily we work from a home office and client appointments are always spaced out. You will therefore only encounter your Counsellor at your  appointment and we have stocked hand sanitizer for your added safety.

Additionally, our Counsellor, Paula offers online Counselling for anyone who does become ill or is advised to self isolate.

For these reasons, appointment bookings will continue as normal and we look forward to seeing you and supporting our community.

 

 

Warmest regards,

The Limitless Wellness Team

There Won’t Be Flowers On Their Grave

5 Lessons On The Path To Overcoming An Emotionally Abusive Relationship 

 

I’ve put off writing about this subject for some time. There is just so much to say and to share that the idea of writing it all at once results in procrastination on my part. So I am starting here for now and letting the process of sharing happen much like the process of healing, gradually.

 

 

1) Accept you are grieving a death

Every death is a loss. We grieve the end of a relationship and within that the dreams we had for our life, our family, our life purpose. Even when in hindsight you saw it coming, it still feels like a knock on the door at 3am. No matter how toxic your relationship was or became, there was love and it is lost. You committed to it and built a temple of promises and dreams around it. You might fall to your knees, crumble and not believe you can go on. You will. Scarred and bruised, never the same again, yet more beautiful and more powerful than ever before. Trust me on this. You will amaze yourself. 

 

2) Educate yourself 

on what abuse is, what it looks like and how it happens. This is even more important for those who have experienced psychological/emotional abuse and when there are children involved because you will need to protect yourself and your children for some time to come.  Psychological abuse is the bruise you can’t see but is equally as damaging. When you read the descriptions of the methods and tactics used by abusive people, this validation is empowering. You did not imagine it, you did not cause it and you did not deserve it.

 

Psychological abusers wear persona’s like interchangeable masks. They manipulate, lie, gas-light, deceive and take advantage of your empathetic and trusting nature. Abusive partners are dangerous, lethal even and once you have freed yourself from their control you have made their biggest fear come true. You left and now this very hurt and damaged person may pursue a path of blind vengence. You may have to stand your ground for some time as an outcast in a world still largely seduced by the charm and facade of the chameleon you once loved.  Only your friends and family will know the truth and could never fall for the sophisticated lies they will surely tell. So hold them close and leave the rest to discover the truth for themselves.

 

3) Hate when it feels right and then let it go 

You can’t skip the stages of grief, and anger is one of those stages. It’s a nice fantasy to imagine we can rise above these negative feelings but anger is natural, necessary and okay. Too much of well intentioned ‘self help’ material misses the mark by skipping over this not so attractive experience. The trick is to not be consumed by it.  The only way to avoid living in bitterness is to allow that hate and anger, not to avoid it. Take yourself to a forest or field if you need and scream that anger out of you. Anger is a wild and forceful energy that demands you to listen. Feel it, express it in a constructive way and you will rise above it. When you feel yourself being sucked in by these feelings, bring yourself back with these words, “Now give all that energy to love”.

 

4) Choose your Narrative

You are not a victim. What happened to you does not define you. You have the power to choose the story you tell yourself. It is that story that will shape your future. Only you have that power and control. Will it be “I am a victim, he destroyed my life, she took everything from me”, or will it be “I experienced a toxic, abusive relationship and I found the strength to leave it. I learned from it and I grew. I am stronger now and free.” 

 

5) Justice and Karma are not your Responsibility 

You’ve heard the expression “to dig one’s own grave”. Hold on to that. Hold on to the knowledge that those who lack the strength to be better, ARE making their own karma with or without you. People who hurt others are living a life of far greater suffering than we can ever imagine. So do not waste your precious time and energy waiting for justice, it is not yours to deliver. All you can know for now is there will not be flowers on their grave,  because when karma does make her way around, you’ll be too busy living your own life to even notice. You will have moved on to a better place.

 

Below are local links to helpful resources right here in Nanaimo. The people who give their time in these organisations are ready to help.

 

https://www.havensociety.com

 

https://www.islandcrisiscaresociety.ca

 

https://themenscentre.ca

 

Here are some links to help you with Step 2.

 

https://www.joinonelove.org/learn/emotional-abuse-really-means/

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/5-types-people-who-can-ruin-your-life/201803/how-spot-sociopath-in-3-steps

 

https://www.scarymommy.com/co-parenting-with-a-narcissist/

 

https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-the-covert-narcissist-4584587

 

 

Welcoming improved access to help in Nanaimo with the addition of our newest Counsellor!

We are so delighted to announce the addition of another Counsellor to the Limitless Wellness team.  In the profession of Counselling, private Counsellors often work completely independently. This is is how Sarah of Limitless Wellness started out. Over the years as Sarah’s business and professional standing within the community grew, so did the demand for Counselling and her services. 

The integrity of the profession and commitment to safe, compassionate and effective Counselling has always been at the forefront of Sarah’s mind. This is what has driven Sarah to establish Limitless Wellness as a respected and reputable name within the realm of mental health services. 

It is hard enough to find the courage to reach out for help. One should not then have to stumble about to find a Counsellor they feel safe with and who can actually help. Over the years, Sarah has heard this has been the experience for so many of her clients and it has fuelled her  mission to gradually and very carefully invite Counsellors to join her team at Limitless Wellness. 

We are growing as a comradery of like minded helpers who’s only goal is to best help others while supporting each other in the process.

We want our clients to feel safe in knowing that any Counsellor from Limitless Wellness is a therapist who truly cares, is committed to helping and always maintaining the highest standard of care one should expect from the privileged position entrusted to us. 

Paula Reynolds RPCc is a Registered Professional Counsellor Candidate, a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and a certified Life Coach. She has a BA in Psychology, postgraduate classes in Counselling Psychology, and experience working in Mental Health.

“I’m here to listen without judgment and to help you find deeper meaning and purpose in all the confusion, hurt, and distress. I will be here for you, and I will support you through the process of creating quality in your life. We will work together to find a clear path forward, a path that works for you. There is hope! “ – Paula Reynolds 

Here’s just a snippet of what Paula’s clients have said:

“Right from my initial meeting with Paula I felt safe and comfortable in expressing my concerns. Often after awkwardly trying to describe my feelings she articulated them, without leading me, so that I was able to pursue my thoughts more deeply rather than stumble ineffectually over my words.”

Welcome Paula! We are delighted to work with you. 

You can read more about Paula here – 

Sarah Flynn RPC & Associates Nanaimo’s Compassionate Counsellors

To get in touch with our team you can call or email in complete confidence:

sarah@limitlesswellness.ca

604 259 1254

5 Reasons To Consider Homeschooling

Little Bear Photo NanaimoOkay wait, hear me out before deciding I’ve lost it completely.  We have not yet decided where or how our children will be educated. We have an almost three year old and a 6 month old. I am simply considering homeschooling and wondering if it will be the best option for us. There is no one box fits all and I am sure that both approaches to education can and do produce happy, educated children. For the purpose of this blog, ‘Homeschool’ refers to both ‘Homeschool’ and ‘Distributed Learning’ educational approaches in British Columbia. *See end of page for explanations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Do you homeschool your kids already? Are your kids in the public system and loving it?

 

1) School does not prepare children for the real world

If we do choose the traditional school approach, it will not be for the purpose of preparing them for the ‘real’ world. Let’s face it, School is nothing like the real world or at least the mostly civilized society we fortunate people live in. School is a war zone. It is an inadequately supervised, overcrowded cluster of societies best and worst at the most vulnerable and emotionally immature time in a person’s life. That’s what it was in my day and from everything I’ve heard, it is what it is today. In your entire adult working life have you ever said to yourself “Wow this is exactly how it was in school”? So why do it then? I know for me, I’m honestly afraid of the responsibility of educating my children. A huge part of me would rather delegate that role to someone else but I don’t think that fear is a very good reason to do anything.

 

2) Homeschooling is not what you think. 

It does not mean locking your child up 7 days a week in order to produce a pale, socially awkward, strange adolescent. From what I have read and heard, it is a very social and community driven means of education and one that can be tailored to the specific talents and aptitudes of each unique child. It also doesn’t mean that you must spend every waking hour with your kids either (thank God, right?!). There are numerous programs and classes available specifically for homeschooled children. Read more here:

This Nanaimo DL school sounds fantastic!!

Nanaimo Museum programs

Parks and Recreation Programs

Vancouver Island Libraries

 

3)  Homeschooling will reduce your childs exposure to negative influences and experiences

I’m talking about bullying, drugs, sex, bad teachers! I am not saying that I’d like to eliminate negative experiences. Encounters with unhealthy peers and adults is a normal part of life. I think the majority of us would agree that peer influence is at an all time high. Bullying is so much more harmful than it ever was and I should know. I am a Counsellor here in Nanaimo and I’ve worked with youth from most of the high schools. We as adults do not have a complete handle on what, how and who is influencing our children.  Through home schooling, parents stand a better chance at guiding the type and quality of their kids social environments, both on and offline.

 

4) Traditional School crushes creativity

Human intelligence is extraordinarily diverse and until our education system transforms to recognize this, children will continue to suffer and potentially never even know their own brilliance. I don’t need to say anymore on this point as Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk says it all.

“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”

 

 

5) You won’t be alone

This blog is an education for me too. I’m including numerous useful links to online resources I’ve found. From what I am reading, it looks like BC is the place to be for any family looking for alternatives to the traditional school system.

 

 

 

* Homeschooling definition BC – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/ways-to-learn/homeschooling

*Distributed Learning definition BC – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/ways-to-learn/online-and-self-paced-learning

Photo Credit – Little Bear Photo

Big News For Nanaimo Counselling!

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the addition of a new member to Limitless Wellness. After many years in solo counselling practice, it is time to let Limitless Wellness grow and meet the increasing demand for great Counselling Services in Nanaimo, BC.

There many Counsellors in practice but finding one that you can connect and feel safe with is far more difficult. With raising two little girls, I simply can’t see everyone who is reaching out to me. Rather than turning these individuals away, not knowing if they would get the help they are seeking, I decided to find another Therapist whose passion, curiosity and desire to help, lined up with my own.

So began the thorough search for another Therapist in practice in and around Nanaimo. I found Esther’s website and the authenticity emanating from her words made her stand a part from all the others. Sometimes the Universe seems to act in funny ways and within 12 hours of discovering Esther online, she literally walked right in front of me in downtown Nanaimo. Perhaps it was kismet or at the very least a sign I needed to trust my initial instincts and reach out to her. Later that day, my email to Esther explained how I had seen her and I was the lady nursing the baby in the store she had visited. I figured that by being completely honest she would either think my email a bit strange and ignore it or she would be intrigued and respond. Either way I’d know a lot more about her and whether or not we would get on well.

Long story short, Esther has a presence and calmness that glows around her and I am delighted to add her to the team. She has an honest and tangible passion for helping and is committed to aiding her clients on their journey of healing. I trust that clients are going to be safe in her hands and I look forward to working with her and seeing the amazing work she will do. You can read more about Esther here.

Esther and I now offer appointments 7 days a week for individual, youth and couples/marriage Counselling, both in Nanaimo and Online.

Welcome Esther!

Just A thought…Youth Suicide

A difficult topic and one deserving of our attention. Perhaps one way to connect with the young people in our lives is to share our own story with them. Let’s not wait for the conversation, let’s start it. By sharing this message, we can use the power of social media in a positive way and possibly save people a lot of pain.