Daddy, help me

Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I’m working at home this morning because my 4-year-old daughter is home sick with the flu.

She’s been throwing up all night every 30 minutes like clockwork. Add to this the fact that she can be somewhat of a 4-year-old version of a drama queen in her non-flu state, so the frequent eruption of her stomach brings out the tears and the cries for help.

“Daddy, help me. Daddy, make it stop,” is too much for me to take without tears coming to my eyes.

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I wish I could make it stop, for her sake.

A few months ago when she vomited for the first time, my wife and I thought it was funny and cute (not that she was sick but her response to it) because she sat up in bed and genuinely asked, “Ooh … what is this? Where did this come from?”

We cleaned her up and she went right back to sleep and was fine.

This time, however, the constant, persistent flu bug that is going around is giving her no relief and she’s looking to us to make her feel better. To make everything all right.

I would love to “fix” her and make her better but there’s not much I can do other than to be there with her, make her comfortable, and to give her medicine that is supposed to help settle her stomach but doesn’t seem to work.

Counseling can be like this at times.

People come to me with very real problems with their moods, their experiences, their relationships, their kids, their parents, their husbands, their wives, their past, their futures, what’s happened to them, what’s going to happen to them.

I enjoy my work very much. And I feel very grateful to be working in a field that helps others.

I often tell people I counsel, “there are no magic pills, no short cuts and sometimes no easy 1-2-3 answers.”

Counseling is about figuring out where you are, where you want to be, and what are the steps to get you there.

Counseling works.

I’ve seen it over and over again in areas like depression, marriage conflict, grief and loss, anger management, parenting issues, extreme anxiety, crisis, traumatic events, abuse, substance use and the list goes on. And with none of these has it ever been up to me to “fix” the client.

Real help comes and real progress is made when the individual sees the need for change. We can point people in the right direction, help them to see the blind spots, challenge them to face the issues they don’t want to face, ask the questions they are unwilling to ask, diagnose what they were not able to see, help them determine what course of action they should take, teach them skills or methods to work through the issues, help them to see themselves and others more clearly and more objectively, and then we can go back and reassess how all of this is working.

We often play the role of counselor, coach, pastor, teacher, adviser and confidant.

Not everybody changes or gets better, not everybody wants to change or get better.

Change hurts.

Real change can be painful.

I once worked with a young boy from South America who walked on his ankles. His feet were so mangled and twisted sideways he walked on the side of his ankles. He was brought to the United States for reconstructive work that took over a year of applying consistent pressure at increasing increments. It was a painful process to bring about the change he really wanted.

He longed to run and play soccer with his friends. Change was possible but at a great price, and he was willing to endure the price of change.

Change is possible, relationships can be strengthened and go deeper, behavior can improve, out of control emotions and thoughts can be brought under control.

If you or someone you know is struggling and looking for hope, seek out a pastor, friend or trained mental health professional and pursue the change you are longing for.

Chris Beam is the director of The Samaritan Counseling Center, located at 410 West St. in Bainbridge. The telephone number is 243-1633.