Sunday, October 12, 2014

eating and loving

It's been nearly a year since I've felt the ability to form words clearly enough to write... very often I feel intentional processing of thought is difficult. My mind, generally nimble at processing, feels blocked... numb... unable to form any sort of cohesive thoughts. It's just quiet. A good friend of mine wisely said, "sounds like a buildup of sorrow"... a more clinical word may be compassion fatigue. I've always stayed free and unhindered by such further stages of burn out, considering it to be a huge blessing and skill to maintain clearness of emotion through the most difficult, burdening times. But it seems I haven't escaped this time... I described it to my team as the weathering from ocean spray, which slowly and conspicuously accumulates over time. Though it's easy enough to clean off, the weathering continues.

The question of why is next... which I'm afraid to answer, afraid to voice.. even if I could. I do know that I haven't been able to pray since April. Though I may try, I just can't.. like a barrier exists. Just this morning, laying snuggled under warm sheets with a cool room, I finally thought.. I'm getting closer to being able to pray again. Hence why I'm writing here today, in an attempt to free and clear my mind by setting words down.  Even as I write, I think I'll delete this afterwards. But if you can, bear with me on some disjointed thoughts... I can't promise they'll be insightful, helpful, or unselfish. But they are genuine.

I heard last night that people who always feel slightly out of place, carry emotions strongly and deeply.. are often artists, because that's the only outlet to express. I'm not an artist, but I often feel like I was born with an existential crisis.  Maybe we all are... seeking the purpose and foundation of our lives. Some find it, but others like myself are always searching. The other day I decided that eating makes sense... we are hungry, therefore we eat to curb out appetite.  The other idea that makes sense and I choose to believe is true, is that we should love each other... as the second greatest commandment states.  These two things.... eating and love... I can get behind. Beyond that... I'm really not sure.

There's a client of mine, who passed away early this year...Rome was such a pain in the ass, so sexually inappropriate... so non-compliant with medications... so volatile.. really difficult to understand... in sooo much pain physically from chronic health issues.... so afraid to die... and so damned belligerent and stubbornly independent.  I really liked that man. The last day he was in our office space, so weak he couldn't get up and couldn't fight me on hospice placement any longer... he asked to see my ring, the one that a special little boy gave me years ago. Rome put the ring on his pinky finger, refusing to give it back.. grinning and winking, saying "now I've got your ring, so you have to come visit me".  He wore that ring every day... showing it to me as "proof" that I was his woman, when I introduced myself to residential staff as his case manager. Rome passed away quietly, wearing his stetson hat and suit... with the ring a little boy who saved my life years ago still on his finger. Really been missing that man... even though he's likely to blame for a lot of my emotional strain and weathering.

My team at work has experienced a death of a client every month for the last 6 months, with two back to back just this week. I don't so much get bothered by the deaths (not like I did with Rome) but it's wearing to be the bearer of sad news to my team, day in and day out it seems. Try as I might to soften, add compassion, perspective, support... loading them with a burden feels painful. I start to feel like the source of the pain, adding to the sense of need to withdraw myself.

There's a saying that to feel happy in relationships that there needs to be something like 7 good times to 1 bad time... for sure and certain there's the same need in our relationship with work; the small miracles and joys need to outweigh the heavy hard times... but this year, it's been the opposite... 7 bad to 1 good. And it's wearing. In this case, the odds are not in our favor.

But even with all the sorrow and frustrating times at work, it's not the source of my fatigue... it's perhaps the icing on the cake, or the tipping on the pile.. but definitely not the source.  Honestly I'm still trying to figure that out. Or too, maybe it doesn't matter. Shouldn't I be able to just smile and shake it off as I've always done?  And it's not that I can't see joy. in fact, laughter still comes easily, happiness and love are still felt, giddiness exists. It's just, when alone and quiet.... the heaviness settles. It can be felt and seen in my eyes.

It's not so much that I even seek an answer, because I'm certain I know it. If you haven't, please watch Chariots of Fire. Eric Liddell says in it, a race requires concentration of will, energy of the face of life's harsh unforgiving realities, it can seem impossibly hard. He also speaks to the answer referring to scripture that says, If with all your heart, you truly seek Me [Christ]... you shall ever surely find Me. If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that.. is how you run a straight race. And that's all fine and good... even though I'm not nearly as talented at running as Eric Liddell; I struggle a lot, literally and figuratively. Yet in and of myself, I can still live day to day functioning... working... accomplishing tasks and goals...a productive member of society. We can keep running straight and seeking... but then what?

There's no formula for winning the race, everyone runs in her own way or his own way... and where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. But...what if we can't find the finish line? Running has been exhausting to me lately. I can't imagine how discouraging and hopeless it would feel to be running a race in the wrong direction, or getting lost, or not knowing where it ended at all! And that's how I feel.  I've been watching for the signs, took a trip to clear my mind, now I'm even more lost. I wonder what lab rats feel in their mazes... poor little fellows. If I could just see the point... the goal... the finish... the task to accomplish in my lifetime it would be a lot easier.

Meanwhile, it seems unreal that we're already feeling the cool weather of another autumn. As my 29th birthday approaches and I consider all the sentiments expressed above, I've decided maybe I'm getting old...which really isn't so bad. If nothing else, I've at least figured out that eating is important and loving others should be a primary objective!  What a silly old world...

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