Dreaming

Sharing this beautiful poem by Sue Vincent. I love the ending in particular which helped me realize all the strength of our experience.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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I dreamed you last night.

You were the heart that listened to my fears,

Comforting the pain with tea and tissues

And attentive ears.

You were there with me as I faced them,

Slaying them one by one, with logic and laughter,

And a belief in me that I had forgotten,

Lost in the morass that pulled me down.

I saw you sitting there, hands around the cup,

Eyes holding me steady, as I remembered

All that I have been, all I can be,

All I will become.

But you were many things.

And I saw father, mother, sibling, every lover,

Playmate, teacher, every friend, I ever knew,

And so much more, that in the end I realised

That you were I, and I was you,

A mirrored soul, both one, yet two,

And then you shared my joy.

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Recovering from Burnout

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Thirty years is a long time for an empathic introvert to work in the field of addiction and mental health and in an environment of constantly expanding bureaucracy. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful to have served. I learned a lot. Parts of it, I even miss. About 20%. But that job took a lot out of me.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving down the street near my old office. The same street I used to drive Monday through Friday. The same street I drove to get home at 9pm on Thursday nights – my late night when I did my group. I liked doing groups, but the paperwork had increased to overwhelming proportions. I often prayed for deliverance as I drove home in those last years when I was a single mom, especially on Thursday nights.  Deliverance came in January of 2017 when the love of my life made it possible for me to “retire.” It felt more like an escape to freedom after years of captivity.

I don’t go to that side of town much anymore. It had been months since I’d driven down that street. As I approached the turn to my old office, I felt tension in my gut. How many years had I just sucked it up with deep breaths? Then, I passed by the turn and felt relief, gratitude, and defiance wash over me as I realized, I don’t have to go there anymore.

Could it be that I’m still coming out of survival mode? When I started my career in the 80s, I was eager and excited to help. After about twenty years, when the bureaucracy mushroomed, survival mode and being a single mom,  kept me there for another ten years. I think I’m starting to come out of denial, starting to realize how burnt out I was.

I used to think burnt out people didn’t care. But I still cared the whole time I worked at that job. Maybe I cared too much sometimes. I still care now. But I’ve learned to care about myself, too.

Maybe burn out isn’t so much about not caring as running on empty.

I’m still drawn to articles and memes about self-care. I’m protective (sometimes defiantly) of my time and space. I’m learning to say no to things that drain me like committee meetings and anything with a hint of bureaucracy or supervision, so I can say yes to what energizes me like helping first graders read, painting community murals, and organizing books at the mission thrift store. Now, I have time to say yes to the creative work that nurtures me.

Maybe this is what it’s like to be an assertive person with a healthy sense of self worth.

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Do I harbor resentment? Perhaps. In time, I hope to let it go. Wouldn’t it be nice if resentment just faded away? That would be easier than letting it go. But right now I’m still feeling the need to protect myself.

I’m still putting back what was lost.

 

 

Being Assertive

Be assertive. Feed your soul.

Anything is Possible!

SOC winner 2017

Hey, it’s good to be back home again. That line comes from a John Denver song. Speaking of John Denver, I just spent five days in the mountains. The Appalachians. Sort of got lost, but that’s another story. I need to get to the prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness, which is “passive/aggressive.”

It’s a loaded prompt. Loaded with possibilities. The safest thing would be to go the clinical route. In my old job, I learned that passive/aggressive behavior is taking a dig or doing harm to someone indirectly, like putting something nasty in their food without them knowing it, or saying something mean and saying, “I was just joking. Can’t you take a joke?”

I am rarely passive/aggressive. But then often we don’t realize we are. Oh, I’ve had thoughts – fantasies about doing such and such… haven’t we all? But I usually catch myself and recognize that…

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One-Liner Wednesday – There Is Only One Me

One-Liner Wednesday – There Is Only One Me

I know it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Just had to save this one. Hope to be back soon.

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First, a story. I’ve been working on my LinkedIn profile. Initially, it was a pretty daunting chore because tooting my own horn has never been my style. Determined not to have another boring list of duties and academic qualifications, I set about reading everything that I could find about showcasing one’s professional achievements online. I read. A lot. I eventually came across the quote that is today’s one-liner. I’m not sure who said it but it has helped me to focus on what sets me apart and for that I am grateful.

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nf-badge-1linerweds-2017One-Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G. Hill.

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Honoring the Empath Within

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“…if I was around someone who had a temper, someone who seemed to have no boundaries, or someone who was negative, I would feel a desperate need to figuratively throw glitter at them….”       Cynthia Sageleaf

I’ve known I was an empath for many years. I’ve never liked conflict or anger, and I finally became sick and tired of being a people pleaser. If you’re an adult, and you can’t be peaceful, then leave me alone.

I’m protecting my space, now.

Having worked as an addictions counselor for 30 years, I shielded when I remembered to, but sometimes things moved pretty fast (faster and faster as the paperwork increased).  I’m still irritated by one of the higher ups praising us front liners in a speech for  working “tirelessly.” Sorry lady, but we were tired. People get tired. I got tired.

The only way I survived that job was to toughen up, to turn my natural sensitivity way down, and bury a portion of myself. Now that I’ve been retired for one year,  I sometimes feel a little guilty about not doing more with my degree/license/experience to help people.  But I’m getting over that.

Last night I was in a meeting where a sensitive subject was being discussed. The tension felt like electrical charges jabbing into my body. I felt emotionally overwhelmed and wanted to run away. I stepped out of the room a couple of times and didn’t hang around afterward.  I’m starting to realize that with my defenses down, my empathic receptors are more exposed. When that happens, I want to hide out for a while.  And that’s okay.

For many years, I was tough, the breadwinner, the career woman. Now I volunteer two hours a week with first graders. I love their spontaneity and that I don’t have to do paperwork on them. Along with family issues that come up from time to time, I’m  going through all the stuff that belonged to my parents which is big job, physically and emotionally. In some ways, I still have to be tough, but now, it’s on my own terms.

My favorite days are when I get to stay home all day, do some painting or writing, and don’t go anywhere further than my own back yard.

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