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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

I am still coming to terms with the fact that being a therapist is, hands down, the hardest thing I have ever done. It has brought me to my breaking point more than once, and I am daily faced with challenges I don't know how to meet. It is hard. I have sometimes wished I'd picked a less challenging profession, but I know myself too well. I would have kept pushing and challenging myself until I found some equivalent situation where I was, once again, up against the wall.

I have to come face to face with my own shortcomings over and over again. I have to work with people I'm not comfortable interacting with. I have been criticized, complained about, condescended, by some very sick folks, and sometimes, to my shame, some not so sick folks. I make mistakes, many mistakes, and sometimes seen the consequences of those mistakes in the lives of my clients. I have failed some of my clients. I have dropped the ball more times than I like to remember. I have under-performed, felt under-motivated, resented my clients, coworkers, and company for "making" my life so hard. I have personalized the impersonal, been affected by my environment, and have experienced the sickening feelings of self-doubt and self-loss. In the middle I didn't seem to be able to make sense out of what my life had become and I frequently fantasized about just walking away from the tremendous pressure I felt every day.

I have recently had to face my own juvenile tendencies, and come to terms with the fact that no one is going to come in and save me from my situation. There will be no deux ex machina to swoop in and allow me to go free. I can't go over it, I can't go around it, I have to walk through it. No matter how I cry out to him that "it's too hard!", God has been unwilling to release me in my darkest moments. It is time to put on my big girl panties, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, and face things myself.

I have come to the painful realization that we all do, eventually, which is that no one else in the world can accomplish my goals for me. No one else will fix me or make it all better. My mommy can't come and rescue me from this big, bad world of frustration and personal failure. I am the only one who can walk this path through to the other side.

But I am learning lessons through all this that I couldn't have learned otherwise. I'm learning that perseverance really is the one thing that ends up mattering in the end. Everyday, I get back up, not because I want to, but because I must. Everyday, I go back to work. And everyday, I learn a little more, and put in a little more time, and do a little more toward the future. It feels like so little, but it adds up. And somewhere in the madness, a person is emerging. I was so afraid she would be bitter and used up, but instead, she is older, more forgiving, more humble, and more aware of the challenges of life. She is more appreciative of the sunrise, of fresh fruit, of frozen yogurt and good coffee. She better understands her clients and the pain that just living can cause. She better understands what it means to feel trapped and powerless, but also what it takes to overcome. She is more appreciative of family and true friends, and has become more honest about her own shortcomings with people around her. She has fewer blind spots about her own stuff. She gives out compliments more freely and requires less excitement in life in order to feel content. She better understands the power and importance of encouragement and acts of kindness because she has relied on them so desperately to get through. She imagines she can now better understand how Jesus felt, willingly submitting himself to an earthly body with all its frailties and confusion. His sacrifice started long before the cross.

    Part of me would like to reject these changes. It would have hurt less to stay in the shallow end, to still be naive to the pain of living. But I don't think any of us really get that option. If I didn't learn these things now, I'd just have to learn them later. I'd rather start today, before kids, so I don't have to make as many mistake on my family as I work through my own disillusionment and grappling with what it means to be a person.

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