Journal Entry: Andrew Gerald Millas-09/04/2023

Journal Entry

9/4/2023 (Day #4268)

You get out of it what you put into it…

(Full disclosure: My offense behavior disclosure and any releated references to my offense in any setting, including here on PPT, is very carefully presented with utmost discretion to ensure that I don’t add to any pain, suffering, humiliation, or identification of any victims of my behavior.)

When I began DBT Group (Dialectic Behavior Therapy), one of the other group members offered this nugget of wisdom during introductions, “You get out of it what you put into it.” I realized proof of that during my time in DBT Group so I adopted it as my motto for daily living, treatment, therapy, and learning opportunities.
It especially proved true in SOTP-NR. I tuned out most of the rumors about SOTP to minimize the risk of external influence on my perceptions and prevent assumptions on my part. The one rumor that caught my attention concerned “required disclosure of offense behavior”. That came up repeatedly and was a deterrent for most of the people I’d talked to who said they had declined treatment participation. The rumor was cleared up in Pre-Treatment: SOTP-NR participants are expected, not required, to disclose their offense behavior, and refusal to disclose reflected a denial of responsibility. SOTP-NR groups are intended as “safe space” for sharing thoughts, feelings, and sensitive information like offense characteristics. Facilitators are strict about confidentiality mandates that are in place to ensure trust that what’s said in the group setting stays in the group. Pre-Treatment is a safe space with a confidentiality mandate, too, however, disclosure about offense behavior is not expected.
Pre-Treatment helped me with facing uncomfortable topics and bolstered my commitment to put forth 100% effort to maximize what I got out of SOTP-NR. SOTP-NR helped me build confidence in my capability to challenge myself when I’m uncomfortable. I used to shy away from uncomfortable situations or react to them adversely, and now the more I face them head-on the more confident I am to push myself to take on more uncomfortable situations directly, to keep striving beyond what I thought I was capable of.
The Readiness Statement presentation at the end of Phase 1 of SOTP-NR was a defining event for me in my determination to push myself beyond my pre-conceived limits. The thesis and expectations for the Readiness Statement were clear: write and present an essay to the group explaining why you’re willing to participate in SOTP-NR, identify thoughts, feelings, and actions – including disclosing offense behavior – that led to willingness, followed by feedback from the group and the staff members in attendance. Our presentation was attended by our facilitators, Dr. W. and Mrs. E.; the Pre-Treatment facilitator, Mrs. D., (who had moved over to Residential SOTP shortly after I was accepted into active SOTP-NR); and Dr. O., the Head of the SOTP program. That disclosure, revealing information about my worst behavior, was dauntingly uncomfortable. But I put my full-faith effort into it, and what I got out is a tremendous boost of confidence in myself and my capability.
After I presented my Readiness Statement, I received positive and complimentary feedback from the other group members for meeting the expectation of the assignment. Staff feedback was similar to what the group members proffered. Dr. O. added that she would be monitoring my progress in the program to see if I continued to learn and grow, or if my progress would stall going forward. (I’m still learning, Dr. O.!!) And Mrs. D. said that she refers her Residential SOTP participants to my persistence and willingness as an example to follow. My previous interactions and rapport with Mrs. D. back to 2015 and Pre-Treatment lent to my high regard for her, so her feedback resonated deeply with me and I admit I shed some tears. Of anyone to that point, she had worked with me the longest, so I felt like she knew and understood my commitment to learning and rehabilitation as well as anyone.
Disclosing my offense behavior was uncomfortable beyond words. I’d “circled around it” in group sessions prior to the Readiness Statement but not fully disclosed it. Once I fully disclosed it, I feel like the feedback helped reinforce my motto of getting out of treatment what I put into it. In the bigger picture, I’ve learned that I’m more capable than I thought I was, in a lot of aspects, stronger than I thought I was, and uncomfortable situations aren’t as daunting as I used to think.
“Old me” was adept at not dealing with uncomfortable situations or adversity – that was reactionary thinking. By facing uncomfortable situations and adversity directly, I’m usually able to move forward proactively. There is a liberating aspect of maintaining a proactive approach for me, it frees my mind from from “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. Being proactive puts me in the position of getting ahead of “other shoes dropping”.
The big takeaway here is that I put in effort and faith in myself, in this example it was in treatment and the challenge of disclosing my offense behavior, and I got out more self-confidence and better awareness of my true capability that contributes to my self-improvement and new, better version of myself.

I keep learning I’m more capable than I used to believe.