Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

I spend the majority of my working day sitting with people whose lives sometimes feel chaotic, fraught with pain and confusion. They carry into my office years of baggage that may harken back to childhood experiences. They unpack their emotions and my role is to assist them in sorting through the piles, attempting to make sense of it all. It can be both an arduous and fulfilling task for both of us. I am honored that they trust me enough to do so. Make no mistake, that as much as I love what I do and have been at it for nearly four decades, it takes its toll. There have been times over the years when I tell myself that I need to step away and regroup, turning my attention to writing and speaking and yet the inexorable pull to counsel remains. Even so, I make sure that I push the reset button and engage in scrupulous self-care in the form of massage, pedicure, immersing in nature, lounging at a pool, listening to and making music, and spending time with kindred spirits. It helps, but there is still something missing.

My emotional range of motion.

In addition to my professional caregiving role, I have dear people in my life who are facing major challenges, from illness to loss and grief with the death of partners, children and animals. I am called on to be there for each of them as the need arises. I want to AND I do it because I have the skills to do it.

I have noticed that in the midst of all of it, I have not cried much. ‘All the feelz’ seem to be conspicuously absent. An occasional drip drop tear, an expression of anger and frustration that they are confronted with life stuff happening, then…. nothing. This formerly emotional water fountain seems to have gone dry. It is concerning and yet, it makes sense. As an empath, perhaps the ‘shields up’ mode is what I need to get through it and not succumb as I had over the past few years with a series of health crises, ranging from shingles and heart attack to kidney stones, adrenal fatigue, and pneumonia.

I took this to a few friends, my sister, and my cousin. From my sister came the reinforcement that our mother would do the same thing…handling everyone’s issues, standing solidly with them and then ‘falling apart’ and regroup quickly. As a co-dependent caregiver, I need to be mindful to avoid that dynamic. My cousin admonished me lovingly to “get out of your head and stop analyzing.” It is in the DNA since both she and my sister are in caregiver mode lots of the time as well. She, like me, is a social worker. My friends reminded me to just BE and not second guess, going with the flow as it were.

I wonder if I have become immune to the grief and pain surrounding me since there is so much of it. I pray that it doesn’t erase my compassion.

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