Welcome back to another episode of The Communicate & Connect Podcast! I'm your host, Elizabeth Polinsky, and for this episode we had a special guest joining us, Braquelle Murphy.
In this episode, we'll be diving into the powerful topic of advocating for yourself. Braquelle shares her personal journey of overcoming challenges, making difficult decisions, and finding the support necessary to pursue her dreams.
From navigating long-distance relationships in the military community to facing setbacks in her career, Braquelle's story is both inspiring and relatable. We'll explore the importance of surrounding yourself with the right support system, how to choose the people who will uplift you, and the significance of taking proactive steps even in the face of discomfort.
So, whether you're seeking motivation to advocate for yourself or looking for practical tips on navigating challenging situations, this episode is for you. Tune in as we uncover the power of self-advocacy with Braquelle Murphy on The Communicate & Connect Podcast.
About Braquelle Murphy
Braquelle Murphy is a licensed graduate professional counselor in Maryland, specializing in trauma therapy for adults. Her expertise lies in utilizing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a trauma-focused approach, to support her clients. Furthermore, Braquelle has also trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), enabling her to work effectively with military couples. By incorporating various therapeutic modalities, she strives to create a safe and healing environment for her clients. Learn about working with her, or signing up for her course.
Elizabeth Polinsky: 01:13
This podcast is sponsored by my counseling practice, Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling, where I offer weekly marriage counseling, weekend long marriage intensives, and therapist training in emotionally focused couple therapy. To learn more about my marriage counseling services, visit www.elizabethpolinskycounseling.com you welcome back to the Communicate and Connect podcast. This is Episode 42, advocating for yourself as a spouse and as a military spouse with Braquelle Murphy. All right. I'm really excited that we have Braquelle today to talk about how to advocate for yourself as a military spouse. We actually met through a therapist group for military spouses, which is kind of cool. Braquelle, why don't you share just a little bit about yourself and your experiences so people get a feeling for who you are.
Braquelle Murphy: 01:50
Thank you for having me on the podcast. I'm really excited to be here. So I'm a licensed graduate professional counselor in the state of Maryland. That means I'm provisionally licensed, but meet weekly for supervision and maintain my own caseload. So I primarily work with adults that experience different types of trauma. I'm an EMDR therapist, right? Which is a trauma modality. So I primarily use that when working with adults. And then I also see military couples. I'm trained in EFT, which I know you are as well, and so I incorporate that in sessions.
Yeah. Awesome. That's really exciting. You may have told me that, but I'm spacey this morning, and so just hearing you say that, I'm like, oh, that's awesome. Of course. I love that you're doing EFT. And trauma work is so important. So many of us, like, if you think about trauma broadly, we all have some type of trauma that we've gone through in our lives that also then directly impacts our relationship. So I see those as going really well together. Your two specialties of EMDR for working with trauma and the EFT piece. That's great.
Braquelle Murphy: 02:36
Yeah, thank you. I'm excited for it, and I keep learning more about it as I progress in my career.
So this podcast is really for military relationships, so then I want to make kind of the connection of why is advocating for yourself important, and how is that even related to relationships? Like, how does advocating for myself then actually help my relationship if I do that? But let's just start from the individual level. Tell us why you think advocating for yourself is important as a military spouse.
Yeah, so when I just think of self advocacy and the importance of that just in general right. So advocating for your needs and desires and communicating those and so when I think of that in a military relationship, with all the demands and the pressure and the transition and the change, the advocacy changes over time, and I don't know, being a military spouse, it feels unlike any other advocacy like I've ever had to do. And I think it's so easy to get lost in the demands and the pressures and the title of the military. I think, for the service member and the spouse. Right. And so just navigating that together is ongoing and challenging.
Yeah. Can you say more about how it's different than the other times you've had to advocate for yourself?
Yeah, I don't know. I've gone through school and lived in different places and had different jobs, so I feel like that I've kind of advocated in those areas most of my life, but I was really met with a lot of hard no's when advocating for myself in those areas when we were stationed overseas. And I feel like so many times I could have just stopped and took the no and I guess did something else. Right. But I really felt so strongly in just maintaining who I was, like, maintaining my identity and continuing to grow in the ways that I wanted to grow, regardless of the demands of the military.
Yeah. I was thinking it's sort of tied to resiliency. Like, as you were talking about that, the word resiliency came to my mind. And certainly if it was something that didn't matter that much to you, maybe a no is fine. It doesn't mean that you're lacking resiliency, but the fact that there was something that mattered so much to you that even when you were faced with no's, that you kept advocating for yourself to find a way towards it, that, to me, feels very resilient.
And looking back yeah, I think it feels resilient. And I'm happy that I did it, but I remember in the moment, it felt devastating at times, but I think that's where my partner came in and supported advocating for myself right. And supported me emotionally, physically. Right. At times, I feel like that they go hand in hand right. Advocating and then having that support from your partner or other sources right. To continue that advocate yeah.
That's so important. Helps keep your motivation up, to keep advocating when you have a supportive person in your life.
Yeah. I think when I think about this in my own life, kind of very similar for me, I think my career is, like, one of the most important aspects of my life, and certainly that's not the case for everybody. Other people have other parts that are really important, but for me, that is one of the primary things, and that is the part where I had to advocate a lot. And I think for a long time, I sort of blamed the military. I was like, I can't do what I want to do because of the military, or I had to give up my dream job because we moved. And I think for me, what sort of helped me transition was this idea, well, I get to choose what's next for me, and I can sort of take responsibility for how I want my life to look, even when it's not how I want it to look, and try to find a way to move forward. And that sounds very similar to what you did.
Yeah. And I definitely relate to the blaming at times. Definitely. After the overseas move, it was a lot it was a lot of change.
Yeah, it is a lot of change. I definitely don't want anyone listening to think that I'm belittling how hard that is. It is so hard. The loss is massive at times, and to feel out of control, I guess, in so many ways is very hard. But I think for me, in my own journey, it was almost like I had given over control to the military, and they still have so much control, so that's not totally gone. But when I could somehow find a way to take back control, to feel like I am the one who's responsible for the choices I make next, then that really freed me up to feel like I could pursue what I wanted. What do you think helped you when you've had to advocate for yourself? What helped you do that?
Again, I think it was the support from multiple people. But also, just like you said, the career was so important to you, for me. So my husband and I met when we were 18 and 19, right? Yeah. I was at community college and met him at a party, and he was actually joining the Air Force and did all the things. I went to his graduation and everything, and his first duty station was Japan. I think that was the first time that I really obviously we had to kind of assess our relationship. Right. Is it going to be long distance? Are we going to get married? And we both agreed that marriage wasn't the right next step. We felt we were just not ready for multiple reasons. And so I stayed home and finished, went to my bachelor's program, moved around a bunch, studied abroad, and just kind of just did whatever I wanted. Right. Like whatever felt like it was feeding me and like you said, kind of taking back some of that control. Right. It was the hardest thing that the most important person to me was so far away. Right. But taking back some of that control for myself and just doing what I wanted to do educationally, job wise, travel wise, like exploring what I wanted to explore. And this is kind of where he came in again. Right. He was a cheerleader, right. He was like, study abroad. Right. I never was met with, well, why would you do that or don't do that? Right. And again, he was so far away, and so I was disconnected from the military in a way. Right. But that was really kind of in that time, just my lifeline was being able to do what I wanted to do and getting that support from him. And so I think when we got married and I then accompanied him in Germany, I kind of kept that going and felt like, I don't have this drive in me, right? There's no way I'm going to let the military dictate what I'm going to do and who I'm going to be, right? And so I did choose a master's degree program. I started my master's degree before we got married. I did choose a program I could do online, and I knew I could finish my internship in Practicum, that last piece that we have in our programs overseas. And so that was kind of already in place. But then, of course, I get there, and I'm like, I need a job, right? I need friends. I need community. That's really important to me. And I kind of was hit with, like, a wall of, like, to me, I was like, I don't know. I guess my expectation was like, it's going to be easy to find a job. It's going to be easy to make friends. And it wasn't. And that was hard. I think that transition was one of the hardest transitions I've ever gone through because you're so far away. He was, of course, busy with the demands of the military, obviously, full time, right? And I kind of just got there, and it was exciting at first, right, being in a new country and I guess having the option to eventually travel. But then, yeah, I got there and I'm like, okay. We hung out and did a few days of whatever he wanted to do, and then he went back to work. And I remember one day just laying on the sofa the entire day, and I was like, I don't know what to do. This is not me. I can't do this. And of course, I was looking for jobs and stuff. It took me six months to find a job, and that was with a bachelor's degree and going through a master's degree program, and that was because the jobs just weren't available right, to military spouses. And so I was looking on base, of course, and it took me six months, and eventually I got a job on base, working at hospital. And once that happened, things felt like they started to pick up, right? Like, I started making friends at work. I obviously had a job. We got a dog. That helped. Everything started picking up, and it was going well, right? And I felt like I was kind of, bit by bit, kind of gaining my self identity back, gaining these really important things back. I met some really great people in my neighborhood, right, that were part of the military community. They were a huge piece of me being, okay, there a huge piece. And then I guess the education piece kind of hit a wall, right? I'm going through my program, and then, of course, COVID happens, and I needed to find Practicum, an internship site, right, be able to finish that requirement and then start practicing as a therapist. And I reached out to, I think, about a year in advance. I reached out to the person that the program coordinator of the program that apparently existed at the hospital for Behavioral Health people to do internships and things at the hospital. And she answered, and I filled out all the information and send it back, and I'm like, okay, this seems like easy, right? It seems like there's a program, right? And then once it started inching closer to the date, I reached back out and I kind of got this email that felt like a really hard no. They were PCSing. They didn't know who was going to be stepping in as the program coordinator, and they didn't know if the program was going to continue.
Oh, my gosh, yeah.
And I was devastated, frustrated, and all of it, like all the things, right? But because I worked at the hospital and I was trying to do my internship in Practicum at the place I worked, I very quickly started just asking around. Like certain people would come in onto the unit, right, from different parts of the hospital. I would be like, do you know who's taking over the program? Right? Is the program continuing? Just started to use my resources because I'm like, I have access to the email addresses, right? I have access to the phone to call different units and ask around. And so I started doing that, and someone finally gave me an answer after a couple weeks of, this is the person that's taking over the program. And as soon as I got that person's number right, I started calling. And I think in one day I called her like three times because she was going from different units. And I kept her and she finally answered, and she's like, yeah, I'm taking over the program. I don't know what units are available for interns yet. They're still trying to figure all that out. And I'm like, can I meet with you now? I'm at work. Can I go over there? Because she was on the same base, I'm like, Can I meet with you now? She's like, yeah. So I went over there. Of course I got a break, right? I went over there and had all my stuff printed out. And I'm like, this is what I need. I explained everything to her, and she let me know that they were considering she was considering taking on an intern on her unit. And I guess because I had gone over there and just looked organized and driven and motivated, she was really motivated to have me as an intern right when she met me. And I think, I guess down the line, once I interned with her and got pretty close with her, right, and we had a good relationship, she let me know that that was one of the things that was so important was that I showed up and I was ready and I advocated for myself. And that was the reason that she took me on as an intern.
Yeah. What a journey you've been through is what I'm thinking. And so many times in different ways that you had to advocate for yourself and in different sort of, like, different areas of your life. Let me see if I can pull out some of the things that stood out. Towards the beginning, you said kind of like you did things that you wanted that felt nourishing for you, I don't know, for your soul or who you are. That was a big piece of focusing on what do you want and doing those things that you want. And then I was thinking in this next section around kind of the career with the move to Germany, you were sort of persistent. There was a way that you knew, this is what I want, this is what I'm going to go after. And you asked for help. You didn't try to just do it on your own. You thought about, these are the resources I have around me. How can I try to tap into those resources to get to where I want to go? I think those are the big things that stand out to me. I don't know if you feel like I might be missing a piece of it. Yeah. I was thinking focus, like, knowing what you want, doing the things that you want, asking for help when you need to, and then being really persistent. Those are the qualities that really stood out from your story to me.
Yeah, I would agree. I would agree that I think kind of what you just said, I didn't even realize, really. But the asking for help and the support, at times it was hard because obviously people didn't meet that need. Right. I kind of put myself out there to ask. Right. And sometimes people didn't answer my emails. They didn't answer my phone calls. Right. And that was hard. But I did have people that really cared. Right. Like my supervisor, she advocated for me. So once she decided to take me on as an intern, we did all the paperwork and everything, and then we had to, of course, work with the Education Department to get their final go ahead. And no one was answering the phones. We were getting, like, automated emails. She was going over there trying to talk with someone. I was calling, trying to talk with someone, and it was this automated email that was saying the program was on hold because of COVID and soldier readiness. Right. Yeah. We were hit with that. That made me angry. Right. I work here. I want to work in this other unit and give more of my time. And I have all the things I'm like I have a cat card. I have all the things that I need. Right. And it's like I couldn't even communicate with someone and say that I'm not coming where they would. And the biggest thing was that my school had an agreement already on file with the hospital that was valid and not expired. Right. And I couldn't even talk to someone and say that there's literally nothing on your end that you guys are doing besides saying, I can do this. Right. I was in that period of not knowing if I could do it. Just based on that, for about, like, three months, I couldn't get a hold of anyone, and no one was answering. Right? And so actually, the chief of the unit that I was working on transferred to the education Department, and I knew him, right? And so I kept calling. I kept calling. And one day he finally picked up and I said, I work on this unit. I know you from there. And he was kind of saying, no, you can't do it. No, go somewhere else and do it. And I'm like I remember just being like, sir, I don't have any other options, right? This is my only option. There's an agreement on file. Right. And a really big piece was that if I even pushed my internship off for a semester, it would interfere with when we're PCSing. Right. I would have had to start and then finish somewhere else. And I knew that would have been terrible. And so he finally just kind of said yes. And I was able to start, like, three days before my semester started. I got the go ahead of I could do it.
Oh, man, such a close deadline. Yeah. I was thinking, as you were saying that, I was thinking other things that you were doing that helped you advocate for yourself was sort of this pre planning ahead. There was a lot of pre planning ahead to try to get all of the things to line up. But then also you used anger, which I think is so great. I would also be tempted to just be on the couch, especially when you get so many no's or so many blocks to what you want to do or where you want to go. It is devastating. It is sad, but sadness kind of deflates you, whereas anger is very energizing. There is a way that you could access your anger as a motivation to keep going.
Yeah, definitely. I would definitely say that was kind of like what was pushing me and really pushing me out of my comfort zone, too. Right. Because I don't know if I felt like the most confident calling the chief of an education department, but it's like I just had this drive of, like, I'm just really not going to accept no. And especially after I had already done, like you said, all the planning. I had checked to make sure the education agreement was on file. I had reached out. I had found the program coordinator when there wasn't one essentially yet. Right. No one knew of one. That was really what was pushing me. I think it was the anger and the frustration and just feeling I'm not going to let this happen. I can't. I'm not going to do that.
Yeah. I have a friend who says you have to make the choice first. Like, you decide this is what's going to happen and then you find a way to make it happen that it starts with sort of the decision. And part of I think another thing that came to my mind, what you're describing that you did is you didn't let uncomfortableness or like fear or anxiety stop you. Even though it was uncomfortable to call the chair or the chief, I don't remember what you called them, but even though that was uncomfortable, you still did it, which is huge. Yeah. So I know we've kind of been like pulling out these pieces of what helped you really advocate for yourself in these different areas. But I also know that you are practicing as a counselor. So how do you talk to your clients about advocating for themselves? Are there any things that you recommend based on that sort of side of your experience for how people could advocate for themselves?
Yeah, and I think one of the biggest things that we kind of already pointed out is the support. Right. Like the support that can be such an important piece, whether it's your spouse or a friend or a parent or a coworker. Right. My coworkers were like cheering me on every even helping me at times. Right. I think that's a really big part of it is just reaching out for that support. Yeah, I think that's really important. I think that's how I would talk to a client about that. Right. Like, first noticing who do you go to for support and just making sure that that's in place before making or trying to make these really uncomfortable decisions and putting yourself out there. And not that you need the support first or anything like that, but it can be really helpful. Right. Because there were a lot of times that I got the support and it just was nourishing and feeding my soul and just kept me going.
Yeah, I think you are onto something with that. Because if I keep getting blocks, that's kind of unmotivating, but then if I have three or four people who I know are going to be supportive, then they can help me find the willpower, I guess, or the energy or the motivation to keep trying. And that I think, also brings us maybe to maybe some intentionality of picking your support system. Like, not everybody is supportive in all things. I remember I remember when I wanted to get my Master's and my dad was like, why would you get that? He's very supportive in other areas, but at the time he just thought that didn't make any sense to go do, so he would probably not be the person, but my mom, she was all for it. While some people can be are supportive overall, they're not always supportive on this one thing that I'm trying to do. So who can I be intentional about with? They're my support system for this thing.
Yeah, I think that really brings up a good point, too. Right. Because we know that our partners and spouses can't be all the things for us all the time. Right. So this was definitely taking a toll on my spouse over time. Right. Like the unemployment, financially, I was wanting him to meet my emotional and social needs right. When I got to Germany, which was a lot to I mean, the other thing was that I wasn't command sponsored when I went over there, so it took six months for that to happen, so I couldn't know there was a lot of roadblocks there. Right. So we got married by proxy in Germany. Okay. Yeah. And so there was a lot of pressures there from the military in general. It's like, at times he was having a hard time with everything that was going on. And so then I caught a friend back home. I called my sisters, and he was very supportive a lot of the time, but sometimes he couldn't meet that need for me.
Yeah. There's a way that you were like, how can I meet my needs? How can I make sure I'm okay? And also giving your partner grace to not always be 100% the perfectly supportive partner, because that's very hard for any of us to do. Yeah. I just like what you're talking about. I think all of this is so important because the reality of military life is that there are blocks all the time, and I suppose in life in general, but I think more so with being associated with the military. And I think it's even a good reminder for me when I face blocks, these are the things that I can remember. Who can I go to for support? How can I think about what I want? Try to be persistent. Ask for help if I need it.
Yeah, I think another piece, too, in terms of what I would say to a client, too, I guess, is just empowering a person to look for the resources, because there are many resources available to military spouses, and so look there too. Right. And ask questions. Call places and ask questions. Right.
Yeah. There are a lot of resources. They're sometimes hard to find. I don't know. When I look at the websites and stuff, I'm like, this is so much information, I don't know where to find what I'm looking for. It takes some persistence even in that, to find some of those resources.
Yeah, exactly. And I did my CA scholarship when we were in Germany, and that's actually what funded my EMDR thing and some other things. Right. That was an empowering piece. Right. There was a scholarship that existed for military spouses, for education, and that was something that I had right. That kept me going, too, and was, like, feeding my soul, and it felt good to be able to prioritize, I guess, certifications and additional schooling that I wanted to do because of that resource was available to me.
Yeah. Awesome. Well, I'm thinking that we're getting close on time. Do you have any sort of final thoughts or tips or words of wisdom for anybody listening and thinking? I don't know if they're long distance or if they're struggling with blocks in their career. Any final words you'd want to give them?
Yeah, I feel like what I needed to hear when I was going through it was just that it's possible. It's possible to do what you want to do and meet those needs. It really is. And there are people in the communities that want to help, and I know it's hard. It's so hard to be met with so many no's and feel like I remember feeling spouse education not the priority. I felt like I heard that message a million times. I'm like, I get it. Right. Yeah. But it's definitely possible, and it's hard, and yeah, I think just that yeah.
I think that is probably really helpful, because that's the danger, is that I think I might want to give up thinking it's not possible. And so I love your words of wisdom. Yeah. Well, if people want to, I don't know, work with you or ask you questions or find you in some way, how would they go about doing that?
Yeah, so I currently work at a group practice right now called Anchor Counseling Centers. It's in Maryland. So you can find me on their website because I have a profile, and then you can also find me on Therapy den. I have a profile there as well. And then I did want to mention that I recently contributed to an app called How to Get Through. The app is launching in March of 2023, so very soon, but the program that I contributed is called How to Get Through Long Distance Relationships. So obviously, that applies to our military community, and I do talk a lot about why people are feeling what they're feeling in long distance, what's going on in their body, like, what's contributing to what they're feeling, attachment styles, hormones, all that kind of stuff, and then just how to get through it. So some practical tools to get through the long distance.
I think that's probably going to be very helpful for a lot of people. I know so many military couples are long distance. I mean, of course the deployment is a long distance moment, but who are long distance for a long period of time? I think my husband and I were long distance for, like, a year and a half, where we just lived in different places, and I know you were three years. Yeah. Oh, that's hard. My heart hurts hearing, but so I'm glad you have that resource for people. Yeah. Well, Braquelle, thank you so much for being on the. Podcast. I really enjoyed our chat and I think it's going to be helpful for lots of people.
Yeah, thank you for having me.
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The Communicate & Connect Podcast
In Communicate & Connect For Military Relationships, I provide educational tips for relationships, communication, and navigating military family life.
Hey, I'm Dr. Elizabeth "Liz" Polinsky and I am a marriage counselor in Virginia Beach. I provide online counseling across the states of VA, MD, NC, SC, AR, and NV.