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How do you define success?


Graduating high school by 18? Purchasing a house by 26? Getting married before you’re 30? Or maybe it’s some other monumental task society says should be done by a certain timeframe. 
Well, I challenge you to redefine success.  
For those who have experienced trauma, success could be something as simple as waking up in the morning, brushing your hair or just eating a bowl of cereal. Mundane tasks to us, but monumental and worthy of celebration to them. 

Trauma impacts each person and their brain development differently. Some people recover quickly. For others, trauma can have lasting impacts. According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, some of the effects of complex trauma can affect children in their attachments and relationships, physical health, responses to emotions and experiences, behavior, reasoning and problem solving, even how they see themselves and how they view the future.
For those with trauma, coping techniques like shying away from help, distancing themselves, walking away, may not appear to be helpful, but they were for that person at one point. And just like those coping techniques, substance use was another handy way to get by and survive.

That’s why, for recovery, there are more successes than maintaining sobriety. Just deciding they want to change their life is a monumental success. Finding new mechanisms, like calling a friend when a craving comes, making that decision to hold yourself accountable after a relapse, stepping into your first AA or NA meeting. They’re all successes. They’re all a part of recovery.

“Success looks different for every mom in our program as they begin their journey of healing,” said Katie Sommero, START Early Relational Health Clinician. “Finding their voice to advocate for themselves, discovering new ways to cope with life’s challenges and finding joy in interactions with their children are just a few examples of successes I’ve witnessed in our clients.”  

At START, we celebrate birthdays—as some clients never imagined they would make it to that age. And we celebrate each success a client has. For some, it may be returning to church after separating themselves for years, to others it may be completing all the tedious paperwork and finally enrolling their little one in daycare. START recognizes what a challenge it may be to call a provider and ask for help.
“One of our mothers defines success as being able to be excited again. This is the first time in years that she is able to look forward to personal milestones and her children’s accomplishments. Success for her is being able to look towards the future with a smile on her face,” said Kyra Gil, also an Early Relational Health Clinician at this program. 
So, today, I challenge you, to look at your definition of success and redefine it.