I believe in crying. It is the body ‘s natural way of shedding the build up of emotional or physical pain. Medically, it can be understood as a release of stress hormones and toxins from the body. But really, sometimes you just need to let the tears fall so you can let go of what you’ve been holding in or holding on to or left trapped inside. I finally had a good cry on Friday evening. Finally the overcommitted schedule and onslaught of new information that had been flooding my brain since the beginning of classes and practicum settled, and I cried. It was necessary, but it didn’t fully recover the feeling of being drained.
Last year I encountered the world of domestic violence. The first few months were hard as I tried to understand the dynamics of such turbulent relationships. As I tried to reconcile the idea that some people are purposefully harmful to others … it was a difficult thought to swallow. And yet, I learned how to help, how to enter a hospital room in the moment of crisis and shed light on the possibility of hope and change and strength. In fact, I continue to work for the agency part-time and on-call. I took many calls this week, more than I had in one week ever before. And my tear ducts remained on hold.
This year my practicum has taken me to the Child Abuse and Neglect clinic in a children’s hospital. Suffice it to say, the information here is beyond difficult to swallow. There are individuals who both purposefully and accidentally do horrific things to children. There are non-offending parents who must hear the stories from their babies and determine in fear-filled, anger-filled states what to do next. Our role in the clinic is different than I anticipated. We are less support social workers, crisis interventionists, or process helpers. We are fact gathers, collaborators with justice systems, and we help make safety calls. I’m struggling with all of these ideas, but I’m hopeful that this year I will to learn how to work in this environment and stay true to the ways I believe people should be worked with and for, and remain humane. I tried thinking ahead and integrating the horrors I was seeing and reading about this week. My tear ducts remained on hold.
I love the hospital setting. I love being able to collaborate with other helping professions. I love the pace. I love that many people who would never seek out a social worker or counseling will seek out medical care and then we can help them. We sat this week in a hospital wide new employee training on Patient Care Services. Most of the information was fairly general about communication, policies, etc.
One module consisted of two different parents telling their stories of being at the hospital. Each of these parents had a child with a life-threatening disease. The tears stung the backs of my eyes as they talked, but did not fall. I can’t imagine the fear filled days of battling these diseases alongside your child. It dawned on me that I choose to work in violence because it feels like interventions can lead to prevention … but that isn’t always the case in terminal illnesses. One of the mother’s described her daughters plight and the care they received at the hospital, and she said that the care was such “she was able to emerge with her spirit intact.”
I thought about my beautiful Aunt and Cousin who have tirelessly fought her Lupus. And always with a quiet strength that created the illusion that this battle was small in comparison to their love and fight. My Aunt once described her daughter as being full of beauty and grit. I can’t think of a more true description. Ironically, this Aunt writes and teaches about Patient Based Care … she champions for the kind of care that humanizes patients and seeks to comfort, acknowledge, validate, teach, and trust them. I thought about the many spirits that have emerged intact because of her care. I want to be and do this. That is my mission. I wanted to cry for them then, for my beautiful family, but my tear ducts remained on hold.
All of those various components and thoughts were multiplied by the other duties of the week – wedding details and class work and my other wonderful research jobs. It all came to a head on Friday night and I finally cried … What about my own spirit? Will I emerge intact? Because I feel drained. I explained it to my fiancé (who thankfully helped me laugh my way into sleep on Friday night), but I am at a point where I feel like I am putting more energy out into the world than I am receiving back. Not by any fault of the systems I am engaged in but more in how I have overcommitted myself to many emotional tasks … if that makes any sense.
The next morning, I rushed off to a weekend of babysitting. I said yes before I knew how heavy my plate would be at this time. But I keep my commitments. As soon as I got to the house the little angels threw their arms around me and cheered for my presence. It was a small delightful reminder of how much they enjoy and appreciate me. I needed that. Then we rushed off to their gymnastics class. As I sat on the other side of a glass window and watched them tumble and climb and hang and jump, I felt my heart recharging. Occasionally, they looked over and waved. They flashed giant smiles of pride in themselves and happiness that I could see them. My whole mood shifted. I knew then and there that my spirit would be okay. We spent the rest of the day building forts, going to a volleyball game, painting, and generally playing. Today we will build a Lego house, go to the museum, and finish kindergarten homework.
When I go home I will need to concentrate on adequate self-care. I recognize that it is essential to take care of my physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing to be able to truly give my best to all my commitments. I needed this weekend. My spirit needed to be reminded of the good, the playful, the lighthearted and it is certainly intact.
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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