Building for New Beginnings
By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
As we start out a new year the reflections of the past, the good, the bad and the ugly are just that the past. If you haven’t yet done so walk up to the door, put your hand on the doorknob, turn the doorknob, open the door, and walk through the threshold from the past into the present looking toward the future with hope.
Some people get so stuck in the past they are paralyzed. No one can change the past. No one can un-ring the bell. I am sure we can all think of things we wish were not said or done. This is a new day, a new year, and a new opportunity to shape our own futures.
The area of mental health has evolved from the days when it was thought that all people who exhibited any signs of mental illness needed to be segregated and ostracized even by their own families and friends. They were put away, became the family secret and even not talked about. I know of a very “successful” man who doesn’t even let people know he has a sister, how sad. Yet he would tell you he is an honest man.
In one case I came across a husband tried to gaslight his wife to have her declared incompetent, because of a mental illness, giving him a justification, had he succeeded, with others to leave his wife, partly to cover his cheating. At the very least this left a train wreck in more than one life. This is a cruel form of abuse. Oftentimes, even without realizing it, the now ex-wife does the very same thing to others she becomes involved with, becoming her abusive mother and her abusive ex-husband, even attacking the very ones who try to help her. Hence the term cycle of abuse. This cycle can be broken, it just takes hard work.
Never deprive anyone of hope; it might be all they have.
Never give up on anyone. Miracles happen every day. (This in no way suggests anyone should remain in an abusive relationship)
Strive for excellence, not perfection. (The only perfection on earth I can think of is the 16-0 New England Patriots)
Be kinder than necessary.
Seek out the good in people.
See problems as opportunities for growth.
Commit yourself to constant improvement.
Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.
Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
People desire a real healthy loving relationship, the problem comes when they don’t know what that is or what it looks like when they see it. Therefore when they come upon it they can’t handle it and oftentimes self destruct. Help is available! If you are not sure seek people who are trained in this area. Most people I have come in contact with would prefer not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Some don’t know how accomplish that. Many are willing to try. Enough succeed to become the success stories I hope they all would be.
Real love is unconditional, not dependant upon what a person can or cannot do for you. Love also puts up with people who would be easy to give up on, is kind, is happy to see the other blessed, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not easily angered, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in inequity, rejoices in the truth, bears the hard times and rejoices in the good times, thinks highly of the other person and would do no harm to the other. Real love does not insist on running someone else’s life.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has come a long way in its almost 30 year history. It is people helping people get well and get the assistance they need to live the best quality life possible. NAMI has a number of firsts, including the first advocacy organization to rate and grade state mental health systems, the first to organize NAMI Walks in communities across America, the first to establish peer education programs for family members and consumers, the first to build the largest consumer membership in the nation.
NAMI has had a peer facilitated support group for years called NAMI Care. There is a more comprehensive peer facilitated support group coming out called NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups. One on the goals is to have this weekly support group available anywhere you go in this country. Training for NAMI Connection facilitators is coming soon and scheduled to be completed in all 50 states sometime in 2009.
I have witnessed times when the words mental illness scares the daylights out of a person. I also witnessed those words used as an intimidation in an attempt to manipulate people into their point of view. Both are fear based because of the stigma attached to the words mental illness. The shame really belongs to the ones who use the words mental illness to intimidate, they are just bullies. Who likes a bully?
Let your love shine through it will be quite an attraction.
Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ) and current President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, and Peer Support Groups in Marlborough and Milford and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May www.narrowpathministries.org and http://home.earthlink.net/~nami01704