Friday, February 12, 2016

Last Night, An Educational Evening On Addictions and the Family, a Book by My Colleague, Virginia Kelly

One of the first true souls to embrace me at Fairfield University was Dr. Ginny Kelly. She resides a couple offices down the hall from me, and was assigned to 'contain' and 'constrain' my wild nature when I first arrived (actually, she was asked to review and go over my 1st year dossier with me). I was, indeed, all over the place. It was a year of transitioning, trying to find out what I was doing, and making a name for my scholarship, teaching, and service.

Ginny quickly parented me and offered her wide, inspirational wings as a guide. I've loved her every since.

Last night, she presented on her new book Addiction in the Family: What Every Counselor Should Know and I was fortunate to be in attendance. The audience at Fairfield University Book Store was robust and the conversation was felt, needed, and useful. She began the presentation discussing homeostasis and how every family grows comfortable with a norm for self-made equilibrium, whether such balance is healthy or not. She positioned her text/research in relation to the growing heroine epidemic in Connecticut. Addiction affects more families every year. When one family member wants to address a change in family dynamics, such as addiction, there is often pushback because reliability on homeostasis, whether dysfunctional or not, is real. At the center of the off-balance, however, are shame, denial, and control, all battling for the attention of the family. Codependency results.

In the family, members learn mechanisms that are real for them, but that can also cause an inability to create mature adult relationships, an unhealthy emotional boundaries, an inability to assert oneself in healthy ways, an attraction to narcissistic personalities, and a loss of the authentic self.

Interesting in Kelly's conversation was naming Fairfield County #1 county in the United States for underage binge drinking. In second place? Orange County, California (interestingly also competing for another region for the extremely wealthy).

What was obvious during Kelly's dialogue is that every individual has direct relationship with someone who suffers from addiction. Treating the individual and families is what her text explores and explains.

I learned a lot from listening to my colleague talk, but sat more in admiration of the gentle giant who is my mentor and friend. Her expertise is incredible and I now see how truly deserving she was to be awarded the title FULL PROFESSOR right after the new year. I feel blessed to have her r in my world and I look up to her kindness, gentleness, sincerity, and intuitiveness. She is genuinely a wonderful human being. I was so proud to hear her share her expertise last night.

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