Move from Wounded Helper to Helping Professional

We’ve all lived through something… something that truly makes us stop and evaluate everything we thought of the world.  That something shakes our very core of who we were and eventually we transform into who we become.

Some of us have lived through a number of these somethings.

It’s something special when that amazing hurt moves into action. I have been so fortunate to watch how other’s transform that hurt into something meaningful.  Some people will volunteer for a special cause; others will create art, music or poetry.  Then, there is the Wounded Helper that goes that much further – they find ways to serve others with a similar hurt.

I understand this because I, too, was a Wounded Helper after a number of losses in my life.  Hurts in my past have certainly moved me into action.  There was no experience like caring for my Mother-in-Law during my first year of marriage.  I cannot even put into words the things I observed, watched and actually did.  I was challenged in a new role, even though I had been in a relationship with my now husband for years prior to our marriage – it was different being married.  Then, add the layer of his mother, my now Mother-in-Law, being diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer just 2 weeks after our wedding.  She lived just 1 year almost to the date of her diagnosis.

She had wanted to stay at home for as long as she could.  I had offered to have her live with us when she was ready.  For a little over 10 months, my husband and I alternated days going to help her at her home after work – changing kitty litter boxes, cooking, cleaning, and just taking care of her.  Then, it was time for her to move in… and that’s when the learning really began.

Our relationship grew.  She shared how she really didn’t ever believe that my family was as giving as it was, until she knew.  I learned about living through her last weeks.  My strength was stretched so much more than I would have ever thought.  I would just watch her and talk with her.  We celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary with her in our home.

This experience changed my view on life and how I would move forward in living my life. It was at that time, I moved into a Wounded Helper role. It was a few years later that I eventually decided to pursue a an entire career change to counseling and art therapy.

There is so much purpose and good that is achieved by Wounded Helpers in this world.  Organizations, businesses, foundations and movements are created by these empowered people.  Creativity, service and missions are to provide support, services and connection.  Sometimes, they begin by searching and looking for something to help with their pain and seem to find a void – a lack of specific support for their hurt.  A mission is formed from this search and the Wounded Helper is ever increasingly motivated into action.  This process is mesmerizing to experience and awe inspiring to watch.

At a certain point, the Wounded Helper grows.  We, the Wounded Helpers of the world, eventually become Helping Professionals.  Somewhere in the thick of it all, there is a metamorphosis that takes place.  Some are intentional like my own growth, actually attending graduate school to obtain a degree.  Others are less formal education focused and are based on the development of their philanthropic endeavors. Even more amazing is the growth, the maturity, the love, and the acceptance of being part of the greater community.  Eventually, we all have something in common – we learned that our hurt is our own and that no two hurts are ever exactly the same.  We don’t seek to compare, we actually seek to support and hold others in their hurts.

I continue to meet amazing Helping Professionals that were once Wounded Helpers.  Look around you, these folks are doing great work.  I’d love to give a shout out to some absolutely wonderful organizations that were created truly from the pain, love and resiliency of some amazing people:

Avery’s Garden – creativity and art connects grief of miscarriage and pregnancy loss

Sharing Solace – connection through online journaling, transformational jewelry and healing journals

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – older child adoption awareness

Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement – emotional education, choose love education for home, schools and community

Selah House & Carefarm – education, counseling and research for bereaved parents.

There is absolutely no way I can provide a list of all the supports created by those of us that have endured significant loss and then moved to action through the pain.  Not every path through loss will lead to service and action.  There are all sorts of paths and all sorts of ways to live with loss, and I thank goodness that we all have our own experiences.

If you are in need of self-guided support through online programs, visit Chartreuse Center’s Online School to learn more about currently available programs for grief and fertility concerns.