I have been blogging for a year and half now. A lot of learning, growth, healing and connection has happened in that year and a half.

190 posts of learning, growing and healing to be exact. As I am continuing to work on growing the platform of Ever Upward, I am growing my Justine Froelker’s YouTube channel. You can find Self-Care Tip Tuesdays, funny videos of the dogs, tapping scripts, my appearance on Great Day St. Louis and videos of me speaking to old blog posts, so please subscribe!

I originally wrote Tread or Float in February of 2014. This is a slightly reworked and updated version of it, along with a NEW video explanation.

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For the last 15 years I have had the honor of witnessing people journey through some of the most difficult times of their lives to emerge as happier, healthier and whole people. As a mental health therapist I fulfill multiple roles on a daily basis; teacher, healer, helper, educator, coach, big sister, mother, friend, confidante, trainer and, in all honesty, sometimes I’m the provider of a swift kick in the ass. Unbeknownst to them, my clients also, at times, fulfill these same roles for me as they are my reminders, and examples, of fighting the good fight to being better than okay.

Throughout the years of working with clients I have found there will be times where I must push, and I mean push really hard. Making sure they know they have the strength to change their lives; and that they are ready. There are other times where I will simply hold their hand, walking alongside them through their journey of self discovery, self doubt and finding peace. Then there are times, where I will take their hand and pull them forward, at times, begging them to trust me and try things a different way; to put one foot in front of the other and follow me.

No matter the concern someone is coming into therapy and coaching for, they are facing the hardest work of their lives. They are facing times of progress and times of feeling so stuck they can’t stand it. They will doubt their abilities, and maybe even mine to help them. They will get worse before they get better. They will at times hate me for the things I ask them to do. They will walk away and come back. They will push me away because it hurts that badly to trust someone or to have someone believe in them so much when no one else ever has.

They will question.

They will resist.

They will work.

They will change.

Simply, we will all face struggle.

Where we lose ourselves, I think, is when we make these struggles all of who we are. We turn them into our whole story. They become our entire identity, even when they start working against us rather than for us. We hold on so tightly to these struggles and what we think works to manage them that we lose the great parts, the whole parts, of who we are.

When our struggles are our whole story, we struggle to own those stories, and therefore struggle to find our ever upward. We must find the way to make these struggles simply parts of who we are, parts of our story.

But we hold onto the trouble, the trauma, the loss, the struggle because it is all we have ever known. We hold on because the unknown is scarier. We hold on because we have no idea what else to do. We hold on because, at least we’re surviving. We hold on because the old ways of coping because they have worked, we think they are our water wings, our life preservers.

But eventually, we hold on so tightly and so long, the very things that have saved us, that have helped us to survive, become our own cement blocks.

Our own cement blocks drowning us in ourselves.

What I ask my clients to work through and change every day is no less than an act of faith and trust. I am asking them to let go of their way. The way that has actually worked for years, at least worked in numbing or self-medicating themselves. The way that has helped them to survive but is now drowning them. I ask them to let go because if they don’t they won’t have any free hands to grasp onto the tools and the hope I am offering them.

They must let go in order to begin again.

But the most excruciating part of this battle, is that they must have faith that they will either float or tread water while they learn, grow and change.

Because they will. They will tread or float, and I will be right there with them; coaching, believing, pushing and loving.

And eventually, they will be able to grasp onto those tools.

But most importantly they will find their freedom to finally believe in the hope I hold for them.

And they will save their own lives.

They will find their own ever upward.

For me, I have also come to trust that not only can I trust and have faith in myself that I can tread or float but also there is a firm foundation just underneath me that I can trust. Reading one of my Sarah Young devotionals one night, helped me feel it completely. Just underneath me in the ocean of life, in the water that I may feel like it drowning me, are His hands.

I just have to stand.

6 thoughts on “Tread, Float or Just Stand

  1. What you are doing to help others as a therapist is amazing. You are right–we have to own our story to move past it, and begin again. I love Sarah Young too, her writing has helped me get through many dark days!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t been around since the beginning, but I’m happy to say that I’ve read all 190 posts! I have found the same healing, growth, learning, and camaraderie as a result of blogging (both reading and writing), too. Most days I’m past the “barely keeping my head above water” phase. I can tread pretty effortlessly and sometimes even take a break to float. No feet on the ground yet for me. I have difficulty with vulnerability and trust and I think those things are required to stop and put your feet down. Someday. What I do know is that I’m not avoiding the hard work of grief and healing. This is a lesson that I learned the hard way and I won’t do that again.

    You didn’t mention the Ever Upward Facebook page above, but as potentially the only person under 35 who isn’t on Twitter, I’ll take the liberty to do so here. I really enjoy all of the positive posts! I love having my newsfeed flooded with good things for a change. I also appreciate that you link your YouTube videos to the Facebook page (because I’m too lazy to look them up otherwise). I particularly appreciated your video on mindful driving. As someone who has a long, sometimes bordering on hellacious, commute, I’ve really started to integrate some mindfulness techniques into my daily drive.

    Like

    1. You are incredible! Thank you so much for plugging the Facebook pages! I am really trying to build this platform so Ever Upward can reach more people! You’re right, we have to do this hard work, or we are choosing to drown. Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting! Justine

      Like

  3. * I know this comment doesn’t particularly fit here, but I wanted to be sure to share it with you in case you didn’t already know about it. Your story of loss is a poignant one and worthy of sharing as you have. Here is a link to a site about baby loss (see below) — mostly miscarriage, some stillbirths included as well with the women’s stories expressed how they were often dismissed in their feelings of grief.

    I didn’t know if you already knew about this site and/or wanted to contribute your own personal story or maybe it’s just another reminder that you are not alone in this abyss of pregnancy loss.

    THE SITE is called “Don’ Talk About the Baby”: http://www.donttalkaboutthebaby.com/#!voices/cswv

    Hugs <3,
    Etc.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I am actually slated to be a part of the film and help with their events! Can’t wait! Justine

      Liked by 1 person

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