During my third hospitalization, I was blessed to hear about GROW during a presentation from a representative of NAMI. I knew I needed help, and believed that GROW could provide it. I attended my first GROW meeting soon after my discharge.
I had two problems at that time. Shyness and extreme depression. I knew talking about about my problems with depression would help but my shyness often prevented me from receiving that help from groups. I felt I was a “no hoper” when it came to shyness. Other than mentioning my name and that I sought help with depression, I barely talked during the meeting. Being in a group was so uncomfortable, that I didn't plan on returning.
During the week the Group Organizer reached out to me and encouraged me to come to the next meeting. Out of guilt, I returned and continued to attend meetings. I still dreaded speaking and even reading in group. Looking back, I think I enjoyed the socializing after the meetings more than the meeting itself. I felt comfortable and enjoyed the “GROW Friendship” that had been offered to me.
Sometime during my first month, I received some phone numbers but I didn't have the courage to reach out. One day a GROWER called to talked to me about one of his problems. This helped break the ice and helped me establish my first GROW friendship. (Friendship is the special key to mental health). By being a friend, I found a friend. Eventually, I became friends with many more GROWERS. One who is still one my closest companions.
Eventually, I opened up with the group's gentle but consistent encouragement. GROW started out by asking me to read. I still would skip the interpretations and discussions of the readings because I didn't think I understood them and would appear dumb. However, I kept on reading. (If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly for a start and while you're improving).
After time the group was even able to encourage me to interpret some wisdoms and discuss the readings. I was becoming more comfortable participating during the meetings and was meeting regularly with my new GROW friends. I even had the courage to throw a party for the group on New Years Eve. (To have a friend, be a friend). I was starting to learn that “I alone could do it, but I can't do it alone.”
Eventually, I moved to another area of the state and started attending a different group. The Recorder position was vacant and I was encouraged to volunteer. I hesitantly accepted, out of guilt, believing that I couldn't do it. I was wrong. Again, GROW knew I could do it and followed up on their hope. They made me a hoper, when I felt there was no hope I could do the recording.
After a while I was asked to become an Organizer. I accepted and started to feel confident in my abilities even though I didn't have feelings of confidence. I did the ordinary thing despite my feelings and learned that confidence isn't an attitude but a state of mind.
About a year later, I moved to Florida. During my stay in Florida, I continued to face my shyness. I was using GROW principles even though I didn't realize it at the time.
As I started working in a group home for the developmentally disabled, I had to “decentralize” in order to do my job. It was necessary to keep my mind off of myself in order to safely care for my clients.
I also started playing guitar at my Church despite my stage fright. Soon, I learned to “Let Go and Let God.” I knew God cared most about the effort and not the outcome. I put the effort in getting up and playing. I often felt at peace, playing for GOD and focusing on what I could offer the Church community rather then how I performed.
I continued to stay in contact with my best friend from GROW. Although we were hundreds of miles apart, I always found that a “friend was as near as the nearest phone.”
After a year in Florida, I had a setback and needed to return to NJ. My GROW friends again proved to be as near as the nearest phone. I started to feel better and returned to the Organizer position. I no longer felt shy but learned I had another problem. I wasn't thinking “ordinary” in that I thought I had an “extra-ordinary” relationship with God. I was unrealistically “confident.” I was lucky to quickly recognize the new aspect of a maladjustment and stepped down as an Organizer. I started to learn from the program and other competent authorities how to handle and recover from the new aspect of a maladjustment.
I eventually learned a new angle on personal value. I am important, loved by God and have my unique part in my creator's healing and transforming work. However, I do not have more value than anyone else. Each of us has a part in God's work, but all of our parts are equally essential.
I don't always feel this way. I still often feel I am more valuable or less valuable than other people but know these feelings are not true. My feelings will always be there like my shadow, but I can keep my thinking sound and not let false emotional reasoning rule over me. I can do the good ordinary thing despite my feelings of confidence.
In the beginning of April, I became employed with GROW as a Field Worker in NJ. I still experience feelings of shyness. These feelings vary day by day just like the weather but I continue do the good, ordinary thing. I enjoy learning the program in greater depth and gaining new insights from the many different GROWERS I get to meet. I am able, thanks to GROWS's consistent help, to carry its hopeful, healing and transforming message to others in need, despite my feelings.
Thank you GROW for giving me the courage to do the “Good, Ordinary Thing” that repels me.
GROW in NJ