Spare Parts “Tasha’s” Life Transitions
In July of 2019, “Tasha” began one of many sleeper transitions in her life and would soon after invite Life-Work Planning Center on a journey of transitions with her. Sleeper transitions are defined as occurring so gradually that an individual may not be aware they are occurring (Merriam, 2005).
“Tasha” grew up in a two-parent family, the youngest of four children. She graduated from high school, continued her education in both cosmetology and nursing, became a wife, a mother, and eventually a grandmother. “Tasha” had a successful career as a nurse as well. These are just some of the anticipated transitions of “Tasha’s” life.
Not all transitions occur in the anticipated or expected order however, and some unanticipated transitions took place for “Tasha.” She shared that while growing up her dad had a substance use disorder and her mom was ill with co-dependence, yet she still has many good memories in that her mom cared for her and her siblings the best way she knew how. “At the age of 6 or 7 my life changed, I changed. My innocence was taken away. I believe that was when my future was altered.” When “Tasha” shared details of the abuse with her parents, 60 years ago, it was swept under the rug. “My self-image, self-esteem, confidence, morals and trust were replaced with fear and confusion, feelings I didn’t understand.”
At the age of 19, on her own to discover who she was and how life worked, “Tasha” became pregnant. She married and soon divorced, finding herself raising a one-year-old on her own while working full time. “Tasha” found support in “party people” and comfort in alcohol, identifying as a “weekend warrior” until her 30’s when she married her best party friend. Life seemed perfect for many years to follow.
It was during this time that “Tasha” continued her education, but it was also during this time that her “love for the alcohol” grew. When it came to choosing her career or her addiction, “Tasha” chose the alcohol. Divorced again by the age of 42, 4 DWI’s, many car accidents and job losses, on top of jail, treatment, and fines, “Tasha” was no longer a “weekend warrior” but was drinking daily. Through so much pain and guilt “Tasha” was asking herself frequently, “Who am I?”
The answers to that question for “Tasha” were clouded by the impact of the unanticipated transitions of her life. “My use progressed to all day and night. I got a 5th DWI. I wasn’t digesting food. I would shake at times, and it was hard to write my name or hold a cup.” Wanting to live, “Tasha” surrendered. With a call to human services she began inpatient treatment, followed by outpatient treatment, and eventually realized that court, sentencing, and a mandatory 3-14 year prison sentence was next.
A non-event transition occurs when you expect something to happen – but it does not. The Judge sentenced “Tasha” to complete treatment a third time, combined with a minimum of 18 months of drug court. A requirement of drug court was for “Tasha” to work 40 hours a week. Medically, “Tasha” could only work 20 hours a week. “Tasha’s” probation officer suggested she contact Life-Work Planning Center.
“Tasha” participated in Life-Work Planning Center’s Strength • Balance • Self-Respect workshops and one-on-one personal and pre-employment counseling. She completed the Myers Briggs and Clifton Strengths assessments with the support of a Self-Sufficiency Counselor. This helped “Tasha” identify her personal boundary systems. The next important step was learning how to best communicate these boundaries to others, including her probation officer. “Tasha” successfully advocated for herself utilizing the skills of assertive communication learned in LWPC workshops. She continued to volunteer at a local thrift store until she learned of a Senior Employment Program through MVAC. Now “Tasha” is being paid for her volunteer work, achieving her personal goals, and meeting drug court requirements.
“Tasha” said, “Getting sober wasn’t so bad, but I was still broken. How do you live sober, and happy?” “Tasha” needed to continue implementing the skills she’d acquired through LWPC workshops, treatment, drug court, and AA to find the answer to that question. “It took all my past to get me to the year 2019. It took every bit of help I was given to get where I am today.” Today she is a graduate of drug court, improving family relationships, and is even sharing skills she’s learned with her teen aged granddaughter.
In a humble closing to sharing her story, “Tasha” said, “It’s like my bicycle isn’t put together yet. I’ve still got some spare parts laying around.” Life’s transitions can be a lot like building a bike from the ground up, and we may discover we need to go back to find where a spare part or two belong. Sometimes, our bicycle looks and rides just as well if we leave the spare parts behind.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the subject of this story.*