January 5, 2016 Blog No Comments

flagI walked home from a neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party to find my front door wide open. The shutters on the door were torn off the hinges, laying like a ramp across the steps. I looked in the door and the entire staircase hand railing, baluster, and newels had been ripped up and were strewn across the living room. Lee’s piano was pushed into the middle of the room, sheet music everywhere, furniture turned over, mirror smashed, side door window busted.

I backed out and called the police. Lee was playing music out of town and wouldn’t be home for hours. Was someone still in there? Were they hauling stuff out of the house and that’s what ripped up the staircase? My mind was racing. I stood outside alone for what seemed an eternity trying to make sense of this. Who would do such a thing and why?

It was a long 30 minutes before the police arrived. In the meantime, I contacted a neighbor and my son. Fortified with help, and not hearing any noise, we took another look inside. We were stunned to find the perpetrator passed out on the coach. None of us had ever seen the young man before.

Once the police arrived, it was clear that he was dangerously high on drugs. He was incoherent, only able to say his first name and that he was with the “royal army”. The police took him to the hospital to be treated before taking him to jail.

Since then, I’ve learned more. He was the same person who crashed my neighbor’s party, pushed people around, and smashed their back door. They had called in a complaint. He was the same one who cussed out friends walking down the street. He is the one who has a Facebook profile picture of himself passed out with a beer can in his hand. Nice.

Once back in the house, my whole perspective changed. All I could do was marvel over the destruction that didn’t happen. Lee’s piano was unscratched with his computers sitting untouched on top. My heirloom furniture, Chinese vases, and art were all fine – like nothing happened. Even with pieces of the stair rails thrown everywhere, nothing else was damaged. It was miraculous. I was and still am humbled beyond belief.

In thinking through it, other things came to mind. At the party, I had my coat on ready to walk home two times. Both times friends stopped me, “don’t go” they said. Thank heavens is all I can think. I can’t imagine my reaction if I’d been home during the break-in or the potential consequences if I’d confronted him while it was going on. I was unhurt and my things were too. The gratitude I feel is overflowing.

My next thought was this: I am one of a few people who knows how to help this young man. Because of my mental health experience and work with the courts, I know who to contact and I know the available services. I’ve sent emails to them. Can he be ordered into treatment? I don’t know yet. But I will continue to look for a way to help him. All told, his charges could be up to 10 years in prison. What a tragic waste. It’s wrong, all wrong. He needs help.

When Lee returned home around 3:30 AM, he had with him band members from St. Louis. They are righteous men of strong faith. One said, “the guy had no choice” in what happened. “He came to the right house”. Meaning I have an opportunity and responsibility to see that the right thing happens. Yes, it’s true.

I continue to be grateful for the perspectives my work provides. It seems like we are better able to live in a state of grace no matter what happens.

Lee’s son had a car accident over the holidays that totaled his car. We are grateful he’s ok. A few seconds later he wouldn’t have been. Today, a friend and colleague was attacked by her son who has mental illness. It was serious. I’m grateful he used a rock and not a gun. At least now can no longer refuse treatment.


Please allow me to share some of the principles that I teach and use in my work that help me stay anchored when adversity hits home. Maybe it’ll be helpful to you.


We have control over our thoughts. Recognizing the importance of mastery over what we think is an important lesson that we have to keep relearning. Staying focused on the most positive aspects of our thoughts is the foundation. How do you want things to go, how do you want them to turn out? By thinking ahead in a positive manner, you can organize and influence the outcome.
I want others to see this young man as someone who needs help. Seeing him as a criminal means he’ll be treated as one and then he simply is one. There is another way to think about this. I want to convey the different perspective.


It’s not an accident that this young man is thrown into my life. I have responsibility to him just as he has to me. I’m only a victim if I see myself that way. Wouldn’t it be better to honor this exchange in a way that makes a difference?


I want to change the outcome of this travesty to something positive. My thoughts therefore will stay focused on the potential positive change that can occur. I certainly want to help others see this perspective too.

It’s the same for my son in law and my friend. Both situations offer opportunity for something better to transpire.


What we do creates a ripple effect. Remember, we’re all interconnected. I can be full of fear and anger or love. What do I want – to cause good things to happen or feel the negative effect of other’s people’s actions? It’s much harder to deal with things that you think are out of your control. By taking responsibility for something better to happen, it puts you in the driver’s seat. Now you are the cause of something positive. It’s certainly a better option than feeling victimized. What you do comes back around.

These are some of the principles I teach in my workshops. The next one starts this month – “Spread Your Wings – Let Your Dreams Take Flight in 2016”. It guides you through discovery experiences to create internal change that promotes control and mastery over your life. It is possible to make dreams come true! I welcome your inquiry about this. For more information, see my posts about this workshop or message me here or at connie@conniemilligan.com. I’d love to share this life changing material with you!

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com