And, Life Takes A Rest

I have struggled to write this post. I think this is my third version that I wrote down, the rest have been in my head.

It’s been about 6 weeks, maybe nearly two months, since I wrote a post about compassion fatigue and the struggles I was going through. I’m quite certain that I am not, and was not, the only one who struggles with that on occasion.

My life has changed in so many ways since I wrote that piece and to try to put it into words is quite difficult. Or, perhaps I am making it more difficult than it has to be.

On my drives to work in recent weeks, I’ve paid attention to the scenery. The leaves are gone and things are beginning to look drab and grey which is perfect for November.

The cool thing is that one of the last thing to lose the leaves is the tamarack pines. Which, when you think of pines, shouldn’t lose their needles. But they do. They glow, in the midst of the grey, before letting go.

Somehow, I have been holding onto this as a metaphor for this time of my life.

My life is in the midst of a transition and has been for some time. Although, it can be painful, transition is a good thing.

The Tamaracks go into a dormancy, as to all trees in this part of the world. Winter is a good time for that. It is a time to rest and restore.

Oh, The Transition

Well, I am about to jump off a cliff.

No, not really but my life is about to change.

The last couple of months have been incredibly busy. So busy, that I hardly have time for self care and so things have to change.

The changes include jobs and life in general. That means that my writing life will take front and center. That the life I’ve been dreaming of since before I began this blog may become a reality.

Of course, life doesn’t become the dream automatically. Nothing is ever perfect. But I believe in a time of rest, renewal and transition, will help be begin to create the life that I want.

I won’t guarantee that I will be able to post every week through the next several, however, my goal in January will be that things will be a bit more settled. My normal weekly posts will resume with regularity and, perhaps, that community I’ve been thinking about will begin.

Thank you for sticking through all of this. Life will always have its ups and down. We will always have to remember to ride the wave.

Until next time,
Angela

Compassion Fatigue And The Struggle To Go On

It’s been days since I’ve written anything. No journals, no posts, no novels, no stories. I’ve done little except escape into fiction books of dubious authorship and drink. Oh, and plan a little party for Abel that went well considering how my week had been.

Why do I do this? Why is it when I most need to look at my feelings, I ignore my best coping skill? I can’t answer that right now. That is a question for another day.

For today, I am feeling sad and scared. I feel like a failure or at least like I’m going to fail.

Where’s that magic wand when I need it the most?

I would wave it over each of my clients, simply to take away their pain. A wand would take away all of the emotional charge connected to painful feelings.  That feeling of despondency each one often feels – all gone.

But I don’t have one and I must see the pain in you. I cannot turn away from your pain. If you can live through it to face each day, I can see all of it, all of you.

And try not to absorb that energy into my compassionate heart.

Therein lies the rub. How do I hold space as you bare your soul without some of it sinking into mine?

How do I take care of myself during these dark times so that I can remain strong? Strong enough to walk with you through your darkness and into the light and still have strength to walk again and again through the darkness with others who seek help.

I know I am not alone in this struggle.

Who hasn’t been affected by the searing pain of another as you sit and listen to story after story of horror and tears?

It’s no wonder that burnout is so high for those in the helping professions.

Each day, I rise and brace myself with copious amounts of coffee, to meet each soul, exactly where they are, in the midst of their pain and hopelessness. Most days I find a reason to continue to do so.

But then there are days.

You know the ones.

Those days where no reasons can be found and the profound darkness threatens to overshadow even your best efforts. Those days that your best efforts are shrugged off and all hope seems lost. The helplessness pours over you and you can’t take another step.

How do you go on?

How do I go on?

At times, the only solace to be found in these situations is seeking joy. And, if you are like me, sometimes that is difficult to find.

However:

I’ve found it in the first star to appear as night falls.

I’ve found it in the contagious laughter of children bouncing on a trampoline.

I’ve found it in the bumble bees clumsly making their way through my anniversary flowers as I try hard not to interrupt their work.

I’ve found it in a beautiful fire on a clear, starry night surrounded by friends and family.

I’ve found it in the laughter of friends as I learn not to take myself too seriously.

I stand back and take a breath. I remind myself that I am okay and am doing the best that I can. I remind myself that I cannot work harder than those who seek my help. I remind myself that asking for help isn’t the worst thing I can do when in fact, it is exactly what I need in the moment.

And, I remind myself that life goes on.

This is a moment, just a moment. It will flow by in the course of my life regardless of any outcome.

Not that there will be no meaning in this moment. Rather, a lesson to be learned along side that meaning.

It is this lesson I seek: the meaning of the pain and suffering.

I’ve learned enough in my life that I must learn these lessons, no matter how painful, to face those next things that eventually come.

And, to find joy and comfort in the bright spots that appear infrequently and I can breathe again.

Until next time,
Angela

If you are struggling and need to reach out, here are a few numbers to get you started:

Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-855-VOICES4
Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health Hotline – SAMHSA – 1-877-726-4727
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – 1-800-799-7233