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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Vaccine

When someone dies, there's no vaccine, no innoculation,
to keep us from the disease of sorrow and suffering.
There is no way to be prepared for the wave of suprise, horror, and inexplicable emotion that carries us up into its embrace.
A brother,
a sister,
a baby,
a mother,
a father,
a grandma,
a grandpa,
a husband,
a wife,
a friend-
To love inevitably means pain, and there is no innoculation for Grief.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Healing Hands

How I wish I had healing hands-
I feel your pain palpably as you sit across from me,
radiating loneliness, trauma, and suffering.

If only I could reach over and touch you on the shoulder and
heal you, make it all better, make it go away-
I would gladly sacrifice of myself if only a physical sacrifice of energy would do.

How I wish I could show you how much I care-
if only I could reach over and touch you on the shoulder
and allow you to feel the compassion pouring out of me-
compassion that could heal.

Instead I sit here and feel the intensity of your sorrow
and the intensity of the energy within me,
restlessly seeking an outlet to give you the strength you need-

 if only for a science fiction moment, where you could understand not only my compassion,
but the compassion of Christ-
that it would be clear to you, without cumbersome words,
what you must do to be relieved.

Lord, is it so wrong to ask that I could heal them with touch, the way your son did?
Give me the power to heal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poem to my clients

I'm sorry you haven't been loved enough-
I wish I could turn the clock back and make things right.

The things you have been through-
no wonder you cry and scream against the night.

I cannot blame you, but I want to help you
get off this destructive roller coaster ride.

Please let me help you relieve some of the pain-
it'll be easier with someone at your side.

I wish I could give you peace and joy and hope for this sadness's end
but all I can do is humbly, kindly, be your friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bigger and Better

Everything is beautiful from far away,
and promises are easily made.
Everything mountain seems climbable until I walk up to it,
Then the scarcity of handholds bars my way.

Why is the grass always greener and the air always sweeter
in the fictional plains of my mind?
When will I land in a verdant valley that stays as fresh up close as far away?

Every rose has thorns and forests are full of dirt, pine needles, and sap-
every adventure feels frightening, uncomfortable, threatening,
and there's rarely time for a nap.

And the irony is, as soon as its gone,
the memories become rosy and grand-
and I wax sentimental and feel nostalgic for that verdant valley in my mind.

I can read prayer requests again

Back when I started this blog, I started it as a way to vent the increasing pressure I felt at work with a tremendous caseload and not enough time in the day. I was experiencing what we call in the industry, "compassion fatigue," or "burnout" in general.

Part of what this meant is that I had no room left in my mind for another drop of empathy for anyone but the people I was already taking care of. I am still on the prayer email list for the church I was a member of before I was married and, and I couldn't even read the emails anymore - "So and so is sick in the hospital and we don't know what's wrong," "Please pray for someone's grandchild, who is going through a divorce," "Please pray for so and so's best friend's uncle who just found out he had cancer." I couldn't stand another drop of other people's burdens, especially people who I didn't know. It felt the whole world was full of sorrow (which it is!) and I had to hear about every bit of it.

So I marveled today when I found myself reading that email and actually praying for the people and having empathy again without having to squeeze room from the corners of my heart that weren't already crammed with other people's burdens. I think I was afraid I was turning into a monster- its such a relief to find out I do still have compassion left for other people.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Will you be my therapist?

Since I stopped doing treatment, there have been a couple of things that have happened. First, I have questioned whether or not I actually want to do therapy anymore, whether I am actually cut out for this work. I felt inadequate for so long, I dreaded the idea of going back into the fray of self-doubt. I was tired of having the responsibility of other's well-being on my shoulders, and bearing the burden of DHS as well. I was burnt out and unable to see my own successes in the myriad of failures that appeared to surround me. When I put it like that, I hope you can see why I didn't feel like walking back into that situation anytime soon, if ever.

Second, I have felt guilty and inadequate for taking the easy way out in the first place. I should have vanquished on!!! Like a bad breakup, I was left wondering, was all this my fault? Where did I go wrong? Should I have given this thing a second chance? Should I have tried to work things out? Everyone else can cut it, right? What's wrong with me that I flaked out?
But thirdly, something else started happening. I started missing treatment. I miss getting to know the kids and getting to pay attention to them. I miss implementing positive interventions and watching them work. I miss the effective part of the work.

Lastly, the clients themselves have asked me, "Will you be my therapist?" "Can't we stay and work with you?" "Why aren't you a therapist?" "Oh, if you won't be my therapist, I won't say anything." This is a comforting validation of the skills I bring to an encounter. I really can establish rapport, I really can help people work through their problems, I really have helped improve the lives of individuals in our community. This is a relief, because for a long time I questioned whether I was doing anything of worth at all. Sometimes I still do question this, but I'm starting to remember what I like about being a therapist again.

So, someday,  I hope to have a caseload of 20 families in my private practice, who I can invest my time into, and I'll have a secretary to make my phone calls and do the follow-up busywork that so bogged down my schedule before. I will not have the constraints of Medi-Cal dictating my moves, and I will be able to refer clients to my friends when I simply can't take another family. This is still something I want to do, and still something I think I am gifted at. I just got so overwhelmed I had to take a step back, and, like my supervisor Bob said,  regain my confidence.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I know I'll see you again,
but a lifetime is too long.
How long will it be? 60 years?
At 26, that feels like eternity.

Is this what will happen as I get older?
The people I love begin to leave?
And the older I get, more and more
I'll lose to heaven's shores?

No wonder the oldest of the old seek Home,
for they know the truth-
you can't be truly home without the people you love
and a lifetime's a long time to wait.

So I don't cry for you, I cry for me,
because I know you are healthy and happy.
But save me a place at your table,
because I'll be with you again,
and 60 years will have vanished into eternity.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am a part of this unruly, organic entity,
like parts of a body which don't quite mesh, we
lurch forward, like a zombie,
searching for brains.