As some of you may know from previous posts, I’ve been home for a while due to work related stress. When this started, ever so long ago, I attributed it to ‘just part of the job’ and assumed that there was something wrong with me because I seemed to get little satisfaction that I had accomplished anything of value at the end of the day. I can even remember having a conversation with a coworker who was also struggling a little, and she asked “why do we do this?” My reply was “for the money” which even then I was trying to convince myself was the case. Now, monetary matters always play a part in what one ultimately chooses to do for a living, but it shouldn’t be the primary reason – ever.
As it turns out, while my reason for staying where I was might have been a monetary reason, my actual reason for choosing my profession is something quite different. I’ve been seeing a counselor and a psychiatrist as a part of my recovery, and they both tell me that the reason I ended up ‘breaking’ is because I care, not because I don’t. Apparently the disconnect between the compassion in me – and others who care – and the financial drivers of today’s health care is so great that, for some of us, it becomes too much to live with. Lying to oneself only works for so long, and trying to disconnect from caring means creating an emotional and psychological dissonance so great that it is only a matter of time before one ‘breaks’. I spoke with someone else I used to work with today, and we have much more in common than it appears on the surface; our greatest differences are that she refused to lie to herself, and that she had the good sense to realize that the problem wasn’t within her. It gave me great hope to speak with her and catch up; we will be meeting for coffee next week and I have to say I am overjoyed at the prospect. I have avoided cultivating friendships within my sphere of colleagues, feeling that whatever was wrong with me was something I didn’t want to share, and truly failing to understand much of their lifestyle. Some of that is because I’m peak oil aware and I follow they financial world and they don’t, of course, but much of it is because they just seem to be able to ‘cope’ better than me. Finally, frankly, several of them are not people I would want to spend my valuable free time with any way.
It has been a great relief to realize that I’m not a horrible person (although some may disagree), I still care about individuals I come in contact with, though I could care less about our species as a whole, and that I actually DO want to continue to do what I spent so much effort attaining. To realize this is possibly the greatest burden lifted off my shoulders I could have had. So if there’s a bright spot in this, it’s that this time off has given me perspective on myself. Sometimes sucking it up and dealing with it, though many times IS the solution, isn’t always the best choice, particularly if it means ignoring those little soft voices whispering in the back of your ear that this is wrong, it’s not supposed to be this way, you’re in a helping profession, …
So that’s it, my little bit of nothing.