Around this time of year I often reflect back to a decision that I made many years ago to leave my then current employment and begin working as a clinician at Oxbow. As a new clinician, I felt ill prepared to help these young men whose families had entrusted me with helping their son, and family, escape from a very dark and painful place to a place where healing and healthy relationships can grow.
I am continually impressed that students, both past and present, come into Oxbow and begin the extremely painful process of disclosing and getting honest with themselves and their families. As the young men and their families continue to progress they begin the battle to overcome their challenges. This can be seen during their entire time at Oxbow.
Over the years that I have worked at Oxbow I have been the direct therapist for over 30 young men, not including those currently enrolled. They all seem to have one thing in common – they struggle. Although no struggle is the same, many of these brave young men struggle with issues such as low self worth, shame, guilt, being abused, abusing others, selfishness, entitlement, sexual orientation, autism spectrum, gender identity, drugs and alcohol, and countless others. As I think back to all of those brave young men that I have been privileged to work with over the years I remember their valiant efforts to battle on a daily basis to work to cope and overcome many of the challenges that they have faced. They have all come to accept that in order to have the future that they hope and dream for they have to fight to achieve it. This is done with the help of their families, therapist, and supportive peers and staff at Oxbow.
But I am afraid that many of our young men get the impression that the battle exists only at Oxbow and that upon leaving life will be great because the battle has ended. This could not be further from the truth. To all of our brave young men, both past and present, that at one time called Oxbow home I would like to speak directly to you. The purpose in learning to battle and fight for your dreams at Oxbow is to prepare you to continue fighting after your time at Oxbow has ended.
The world does not give you what you want because you are a great guy or have been kind to others or you have completed treatment at Oxbow. Your success in life after Oxbow depends on your willingness to use all of the skills and tools you have learned and continue to fight and battle to be healthy, have empathy for others (even if they have none for you), and to put those you love and those who love you as a priority and work every day to maintain those relationships.
From the day you were born you have been battling to crawl, walk, talk, run, and this battle is endless. Don’t be discouraged. From this struggle you become stronger, smarter, wiser, and will have many fulfilling and meaningful relationships along the way. Remember there is strength in the struggle! We love you! – Todd Spaulding, Clinical Director