Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The good comes with the bad

Or is it the other way around?  I've been thinking about this lately.  Good has come lately, and I think it's mostly because of you, Kristy.  You helped me get a date for the test, you helped me with my anxiety on test day and I finally can say I passed.  But you weren't there for me to tell you, I know how happy you would have been.  I have to tell you though, right before I went in, or as I was driving to the test center, I prayed...out loud.  Just like you wanted me too.  Remember that night?  I can't forget those nights.  They were some of my most favorite memories.  I mean, snowboarding, auto-cross, those were pretty cool.  Also the birthday's, holidays, all the times we got together, those were special.  But being able to help you when I knew you couldn't do anything, that was special to me.  Helping you, like you helped others, I'm always remembering those times.  I wish I had more time, then Jersey got sick, so I couldn't come on my days off, I just wish I had more time.

You have always been special to me.  I like that you didn't have to be elaborate, or fancy, you were simple, got your point across, and that was you.  You never belittled me, or anyone else.  You never made me feel bad for living the farthest away, but you appreciated every single time I would see you.  You had this way to make me feel special.

So I still don't know how to feel.  I get that others are grieving and we all grieve differently.  But I'm not going to do Facebook activities for "awareness", for one, it doesn't do any good, and two, I don't grieve that way.

I am in the first A of DABDA, I'm trying not too, but I am.  Maybe it's a lot easier to deal with instead of feeling sad all the time.  But I know you don't want that either.  So I talk to you, I talk to you a lot actually.  It makes me feel better thinking that you're really there with me when I run.  I know some people might think, why am I so affected, I am after all just a sister in law, but the thing is, I don't have biological sisters, and she treated me like a sister.  My best friends, they're my sisters, they're like me, they don't have biological sisters, so we are each others.  But Kristy from day 1, has always treated me like a sister.  One of my old friends told me I would never understand what it was like to have a sister, because I don't have one.  As if I could have controlled that, I have always resented that person because that person said that.  But K, she is family, her family is family, in life and death, they are family.

I don't know how to feel, I honestly don't know how to feel.  I'm happy for the good things that have became since.  In fact, I can now say that I've been an LCSW for a week now.  I would have loved to call you.  I remember when I got my letter after I passed the first exam, I face timed you guys and it was such a happy time.  I thought for sure you'll get better, and we'll all go to Hawaii together.  Remember that night?  I was telling you my plans, and well, you told me what you wanted to do.  I really wanted that to happen.  I really did.  I'm going to take Oscar to Hawaii, show him my old stomping grounds.  Maybe by the time we go, we can visit where you are.

I miss you, I really do.

And, I still don't know how to feel.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's been 2.5 weeks...

There's been a lot of change in very little time. One was expected, but I wished wouldn't happen. And one I was hoping for, and with lots of hard work...happened. It's hard to know how I should feel. I think the second thing happened because Kristy helped me out, with scheduling & reducing my anxiety. Maybe it's in my head, but I believe it and that's all that matters.

I still don't know how to feel. I'm happy she's finally resting. I talk to her when I run & I know she gives me strength. She helps me focus. Maybe she's the one who helps me when I ask for clarity. I know I prayed outloud before I took my test because of her. Oh I remember that night so vividly. I remember all the nights. It was our sleep over nights & I tried to normalize things for you. Or at least make you feel comfortable. I treasure those memories. 

I miss you. 

I remember when I passed the first test I couldn't wait to tell you & Nono about it. I FaceTimed you guys as soon as I could. But I can't do that this time, can I. But I know you know, I know somehow you helped me. 

It's hard to know how to feel anymore. I miss your smile, your laugh. You always made things better. Perspective. 

I hope wherever you are, you're doing much better. It hurt to sing that song I sang for your wedding. In a sense it gave me closure, but at the same time it didn't. I hope you feel peace. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The L to my CSW

In 2012 I finished collecting my hours towards licensure & at the end of that year I was approved to take the Written Standard for the CA LCSW.  My first attempt was at the end of April in 2013, missed it by a lot.  Second attempt was February of 2014 & I missed it by 3. I forgot my water bottle at the testing center & when I got home I cried so hard.

My third attempt was September of 2014 & I missed it by 6.  The fourth attempt was in May 2015 & I missed it by 7.  I had an opportunity to take that same exam before the end of that year, but as you can imagine I was depressed & frustrated so I opted to wait for the new exams. 

I took the LCSW California Law & Ethics on February 2, 2016 & I received my pass letter 6 weeks later. It took 2 months (give or take) to get my information from the BBS to ASWB. Yesterday, on May 10, 2016 I took the Clinical Examination with the ASWB (National Exam) and PASSED!!! 

I used several study companies to prepare for the exams. I started with BTA or the Berkeley Training Associates. After I took the exam, I didn't feel the information mimicked the exam. A lot of my friends used AATBS so I switched, that & a friend gave me all her material after she passed. I used that for the next 2 times, it was information overload & as I found out the exam wasn't about memorization, it's clinical justifications. So after a friend's recommendation I checked out TDC or Therapist Development Center.  It made sense, I was "getting it" but not quite at the same time...if that makes any sense. However, I really felt that TDC was there for you, so I stuck with them. 

TDC was more interactive, they even email you back when you have questions. At one point I had a phone appointment (for the fourth attempt). Before I took the fourth attempt I changed jobs. Mostly because I was coming up on my 5 year deadline at the prison, but a secondary gain was I needed more clinical experience & Crisis was an ideal place to get the in your face experience that I lacked. 

I would have to say that a combination of TDC & Crisis (for me) helped me pass the exams. I practiced what I learned from TDC at work. Every ethical dilemma I had, I referred back to the Code of Ethics (COE), I used colleagues to bounce off ideas & I probably over studied. I'm sure I second guessed myself, since I always do that. For the ASWB I started reading up during the summer before TDC updated the material. Actually, before they updated the L&E I scoured the Internet for any material I could get my hands on (besides the NASW COE). I also used Social Work Test Practice (SWTP) for both of the exams because I wanted to practice as much as I could.   While I waited for the BBS to move my info over to the ASWB I also started taking Jerry Grossman practice exams. You can say I was anxious. Just a little. 

It took a lot of time, money & effort to get my LCSW. After all the expensive "practice testing" I was getting depressed, but I never said it. My boyfriend could tell, maybe my colleagues? My friends who understood the process encouraged me, those that didn't told me to study harder & that just pissed me off.  Word of advice, if you don't know about something, don't give your opinion.  I even had people ask me what I was going to do? I don't learn like everyone else & I don't take standard  testing well, thankfully my grades were high enough for when I was accepted to SJSU & I proved myself to Rutgers & got in on the second try. Neither needed an exam score either, thankfully. 

I had to reach outside of my usual "tools" to get my license. I searched out for a therapist & worked with her for the first exam. She was very helpful in guiding me towards my goals, amonust other things.  I even saw a shaman.  I always have to do extra work to reach my goals. You should see what I do to get ready for races. I work hard at everything I do, nothing ever came easy for me. 

So now as I look back at my probably more than 4 year journey (not counting school or collecting hours), I wouldn't change it. I have learned how to be a better therapist because I was forced to learn & re-learn everything. I do not take anything for granted, & I won't going forward. 

People have asked me what I'm going to do next. I'd like to obtain a specialty, get specialized in CBT & DBT. Eventually have a side private practice? Maybe. The doors have finally opened for me. 

I wanted to thank people for putting up with me & for being there with me on this journey. There is someone I can't personally thank, but I know she knows. She was always so supportive & wanted to help me. I think she helped me more than she knew. So I'm not going to name names, you all know who you are. Thank you for the experience, for listening & for pushing me forward. Those that kept encouraging me to keep at it because they saw it in me. Thank you, it helped me keep pushing forward. It helped so so very much. 

Thank you all & thanks for reading! 

E. Esporo, MSW, LCSW

These pictures are never flattering, I'm all chinky eye'd.