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Friday, July 30, 2010

Weakness and Mistakes

I hate making mistakes. I hate admitting I can't do things well, or that I forget important information, or forgot to listen to it in the first place. When I accidently go to the wrong restaurant, or get on the train instead of the bus, or get lost walking down the street, or lock my keys in my car, or forget to sign important documents, or pay a bill with the wrong credit card...I feel like I have no safety net. If I can screw up at any given moment, what's to stop me from destroying my life or doing damage at my job? Whats to stop me from hurting myself or someone else?
These fears leave me feeling angry at myself for being less than perfect, and horrified whenever I make a mistake. I have sometimes been called a "perfectionist" by people who didn't know me very well, which is funny to me, since Sandy is the perfectionist, but there is something similar to it. I have trouble with this whole "you are flawed" message. As a Christian, I know that we are all flawed and imperfect, but that is supposed to apply to everybody else, not me. The trouble with this belief is that it makes me very unhappy. Whenever I make a mistake, which is everyday, I feel sick, angry, defiant, and scared. I'm tired of feeling this way. I am trying to accept my own imperfections, not because they are okay, but because I have to find a way to deal with them- they aren't going anywhere!!!

Becoming a Mother

I am slowly transforming into a nurturer. The other day at church I chastised one of our single men that "if you don't start taking a multivitamin, you are going to keep getting sick. You have to take care of yourself." I bought Aloe for a summer missionary who came home with a huge sunburn, and administered antiseptic and bandaids on one who fell. I wake up at 6 every morning to let out my dog and I make sure she gets adequate food, water, and shelter throughout the day. I take a nap with her a little every morning so she won't feel neglected, and I worry about her when I'm at work.  I find myself hugging children, nursing boo-boos, and saying motherly things, like "be careful," "don't run so fast," "watch out", "make good choices", etc. What I  find fascinating is that so much is instinctual; I don't have to force it.  I find myself cradling my dog (who is a good sport about this sort of thing) and cooing at her, touching her little face, and talking to her like she understands me. This is not something I am doing on purpose; it is something I am compelled to do. It is as though nature is taking over and slowly making me more and more like a mommy so when my real kids come along, I will know exactly what to do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Careers and Kids

     My husband and I were remarking over lunch today how remarkable it is that we parent all day long at our jobs, despite never have been parents. All day long we correct and improve and modify behavior, nuture and protect, and work around the foibles of the children at our jobs, and then we go home to a quiet house. I like to think all this surrogate parenting will help prepare us to be real parents.
      It makes me sad, however, to think of the possibility that I might have to put my kids in daycare when while I take care of a bunch of other people's children all day, if I'm unable to stop working when they come. We are no closer now to me working part time or not working than we were two years ago, and that scares me. I want to be there for my children's childhood.  Right now, working full time is one of the sacrifices I make to support my husband's ministry. I don't feel ill-used for this, pretty much everybody has to work. But I hope and pray for a special dispensation to stay home with my babies. This is my prayer, to be able to be there as they grow up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unexpected Terror

I am watching people I love get older, sicker, and even die. I never accounted for the sheer terror of loss in my younger years. I always reckoned on my own mortality, at least in a far off way, but I don't think I ever believed these pillars in my life could really crumble. I can handle my own aging process, even if I don't like it, but this is really scary, even as a Christian. I've been so blessed to lose so few people, but the upshot is, that means I've bonded with them and now when they do go, it will really, really hurt. It hurts to even think about now. I've decided to protest the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What would you study this time around?

Sometimes I wonder, if I had the opportunity to go back to school and pick a different path, where I might have gone instead. What if I had taken that job profile more seriously and been a librarian? What if I had become a nutritionist to help people heal their bodies instead of just their minds? Or what if I had seriously pursued music and learned how to write it and the technical peices of singing? Or if I had become a teacher like everybody else and had summers off? 

If I could go back to school now, and pick a secondary degree, it would probably be in nutrition or physical education, so I could really round out the mental/physical/spiritual health push which grows to be a greater theme in my life all the time. Lately I've even considered studying medicine, because it would be so handy to know when prescriptions could really help my clients and when they wouldn't.
I think I would also like to go back and get a musical degree to learn how to compose music, or at least to improve my singing ability.
I'd also like to study Theology. I have a secret hope that when my husband goes to Seminary, that I might be able to go, too, and take some classes, possibly get a second Master's degree.
To top it all off, I still want that Doctorate in Psychology so I can become a professor, providing both life experience and book learning in my classroom.

What about you? If you could go back, what would you study this time around?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Taking a Break

Last week I went on a mission trip to Oakhurst, CA, with my church family. It was awesome on many spiritual and personal levels. Professionally it was also helpful. There were two things that happened while I was gone that helped me at work this week. First, I relaxed. I wasn't in charge, and I didn't know what was happening most of the time until I was told and I wasn't responsible for much except doing what I was told to do. This was incredibly relaxing, as most of my work right now is self-propelled and I have to worry about things like, "is this the best use of my time?", "How can I do this faster?" Etc. Instead I just worked, and by the time I re-entered my office on Monday morning I didn't have any residual stress left from the previous week. So when the stress of my clients and my coworkers washed over me, I was able to see that not only was my only stress affecting me in any given week, other people's stress was stressing me out! This was a relief because I was starting to feel pretty crazy. I was reminded that most of my feelings are exacerbated by the emotional climate I'm in, which means it's not because there's something wrong me, it's just a side effect of being empathic. This was a relief.

The next thing that helped is I felt competent the entire week. I can work in VBS, sing songs, work with kids and teens and show up for Bible Study very easily. I had to pray for a positive attitude a few times, but I never felt like I was being asked to do anything impossible. It was nice to have a week where I wasn't faced with my own inadequacies every day. It was a reminder to me that I am a competent, intelligent, fun person- something I had been forgetting.

So now I'm back at work. I feel the waves of stress lapping at my toes, and I try to ignore them and calm myself down. I feel the infringement of inadequacy and try to conquer that, too, with scripture, faith, and prayer. The nice thing is, I don't have to fight this particular fight forever. I get to make a change soon.
I'm starting a new position in August, where I only do assessments. I'm distributing my caseload to other therapists and seeing fewer and fewer clients a week in anticipation of the change. I think this is going to be a great time for me to hone my interviewing skills and also to rest a little from the responsibilty of so many people's problems. My shoulders already feel lighter.