By: Janina Sola
Therapist, The Refuge – A Healing Place
I’ll never forget the scene in the movie “Forest Gump” when Forest was to attend his first day of school. Forest began the day with his mother at the bus stop and upon entering the bus and after some “formal” introductions with the bus driver, he proceeded to find a seat on the bus. Forest was turned down by the children at each seat and eventually was standing in the aisl by himself with nowhere to sit. He was then utterly surprised when a young girl, Jenny, stated “you can sit here if you want.” In this crucial moment, Forest was able to find resolution in his ability to change his view of others who had rejected him just moments before.
Many of our clients that come into The Refuge have had very similar experiences throughout their whole lives. Although it may not be finding a seat on the bus, it may be the rejection of parents, peers, and other significant figures in their lives. Thankfully to Jenny, Forest had a renewed sense of belonging that carried on for years to follow. Most of our clients did not have a Jenny to help them have a renewed faith in others. Their attachment style completely shifts when they are rejected and therefore have difficulty forming healthy bonds with others throughout their entire lives leaving them to find their own way.
As a therapist, it is important to teach clients about forming healthy and lifelong relationships. Setting boundaries with those that are unhealthy and finding the path to healthy attachment. Clients learn this by identifying where there was a lapse in forming those healthy bonds both in utero and after birth. Clients complete relationship timelines which highlight moments similar to Forest Gump in which attachment was not possible due to the people in their lives. They learn about their peers in group settings as well as in the community and develop a sense of belonging that was never felt before. Clients are able to identify with other’s pain and rejection and turn that into acceptance and resiliency. It truly is astounding to watch these individuals heal their wounds through each other. These once wounded warriors who had no deep connections with anyone, leave here able to understand how they can relate and connect with others with a deep forgiveness for the relationships lost. A colleague once told me that in order to repair the wound, the client will feel the pain and develop a different ending where the wounds are healed. It is within that development, our clients find solace and resolution.
I’ll conclude this blog by recognizing the wounds our clients have and the healing that is necessary for them to form these healthy relationships by looking within. Had it not been for Jenny, Forest likely would have had a completely different view of his ability to form relationships with others. By looking within himself in that crucial moment and finding peace within Jenny, he was able to form a healthy bond. Recently, in a training, I was able to change the ending of my story in forming bonds with others. It was my colleagues closing of a group that impacted my decision to heal. “At my core, I am a unique and glorious being on infinite worth and potential. I am valued and loved beyond my comprehension.” In that moment, it was necessary for me to be open and honest and change my story and with some coaching I was able to do so in the same way our clients do on a daily basis. It is my truth that healing comes from within and with that healing comes development of healthy attachment with others. It is my truth that for future relationships and for what I tell our clients, I will always say “you can sit here if you want.”