I've got a lot to show you.
When I decided at the age of 53 to return to school to get my Master’s in counseling, my friends all said, “Oh my God! You will be 56 when you graduate. Why are you doing this?” My answer was, “Well, I will be 56 regardless; I might as well do something I know will change my life!” I had no idea just how much becoming a therapist would completely change my life, the way I think, and how incredibly happy I’d be.
I grew up in the most wonderful way possible! My dad was a Soviet expert for the Defense Intelligence Agency, and I lived worldwide.
Our fifth move occurred when I was 8—we moved to Garmisch, Germany, and I skipped the 3rd grade. I remember having to learn my multiplication tables in one (very short) weekend at the beginning of school to catch up with the other 4th graders. That’s when I knew I was smart. My vivid imagination blossomed in Garmisch because I spent so much time alone that year, and I remember being happy being me!
By the time I started my junior year of high school in Berlin, Germany, we had moved 4 more times, and I had learned my quick humor was an easy way to meet people in new schools. In Berlin, I decided to run for office and became the class president for the next two years, and that’s where I learned to be bold and realized I was more competent than I had known.
I remember what it was like to figure out who I was faster than my friends, the ones who didn’t move-did. I knew I would only be at each school a little while, and I needed to get in, make friends fast, and take full advantage of each opportunity before I had to do it again.
I spent a lot of time alone and was, in hindsight, somewhat nerdy (I called it “creative”)-building and decorating small cardboard houses for tiny dolls, making my own stationery from butcher paper, pretending to have long curly hair (you have to be a trusted client to know that trick!), and trying to figure out how to be graceful at 5’ 10” by the age of 12 (never have quite mastered that one!). Maybe this is why I love seeing adolescents, high school, and college girls. I cherish my time with them as they figure out who they are, how their world works, and how to embrace their individual fabulousness!
I remember details of being their ages and how I felt in my always-changing world, trying to master being a gawky teenager with a beautiful mother who was the wife of a busy, traveling diplomat, and be an American girl who lived primarily in Europe.
I am big on the concept of “becoming” who we are, that we don’t just arrive at a point in life one day and say, “Well, I’m done.” And that when life kicks us in the fanny, we don’t just lie down and give up. The reason I know Amber at all is that both my boys had addiction issues, and Amber is the one who tried to help them, as well as my husband and me. I was smart enough (remember, I skipped 3rd grade!!) to listen to her from the minute I met her, and she quickly taught me how to live in this crappy new world of addiction.
When both boys were in treatment and early recovery, I decided to take the plunge and become a counselor. I just knew I had wisdom and experience to share with other parents faced with the same issues I had, and I needed to help them parent differently, treat themselves better than I had, and come through their own experience of loving an addict with intentional growth and meaning in their own journey of becoming.
I clearly remember being so sick and tired of being lonely and sad-and mad. Of being terrified each time the phone rang, because of what I might hear-and, frankly, not recognizing who I had become. I called it “being in the trough,” and it was the darkest period of my life. One of my goals in life is to help prevent as much of that feeling as possible for other parents-or at the very least, to be able to say, “I understand, and I am sorry.”
Today, I work with the families of people struggling with addiction. My days are sometimes tough but always rewarding. My heart is touched by the privilege of being a part of all my clients’ lives for a period. I am as thrilled as they are when we get a family’s beloved son or daughter into recovery.
People who know me understand I am as happy at work as I am at home. I can’t honestly call it “work” since I am so happy when at Hope For Families.
Campbell has a BA from the University of Virginia and received her Master’s degree from Clemson University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). Campbell has all the right qualifications, and because she has been through it herself (TWICE), she understands exactly what it’s like.