sam: slowing burning out

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Sam was born on a troubled native reservation.

She witnessed violence, abuse, neglect and poverty from a very early age, and personally experienced these things herself. From the time she could remember she was taking care of people. Other kids, intoxicated adults, her extended family and the elderly recognized that Samantha was capable and heaped responsibilities on her. Her parents were in and out of the picture. This sense she was responsible for other people and had to keep it together set the tone for her life.

As a teenager Samantha began to use drugs and be in relationships with men. Fear and anxiety because of the trauma she had experienced and witnessed was ever-present. Panic attacks were becoming more and more common. As an adult Samantha moved to the city and became a nurse’s aide at an assisted living facility that she really enjoyed. Her hopelessness about life in general, however, continued to grow. She had become very bitter and felt trapped.

t the beginning of our work Samantha realized she felt she was too much to handle. What had happened to her was too much for other people to handle and was alone in her struggle. As she began to re-enter the painful circumstances of her past she became very angry and often thought she it wasn’t worth the effort. Trusting other people was something Samantha had never felt like she could do. But she had learned to be very resilient through what she had gone and wanted her life to be different. She did not give up and eventually began forgiving people who had wronged her and people she loved. As she did this people in her life began to feel less like the people from her past. Samantha began to get to know people for who they were. In these new experiences she had her first taste of freedom which grew and grew over the next few years of our work together. She learned to ask for help. Samantha began having healthy friendships with men. Some of the unrelenting expectations she has had of herself have softened. Trusting people has lowered the fear and anxiety she experiences from her trauma.

Samantha is now enrolled in a four-year school and is studying to be a counselor.