Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Recently I gave notice and resigned from my position as substance abuse/ mental health therapist. I realized I could not do the work right now. It has been a long journey. Truly I have been in emotional pain for years. It started when my husband's grand mal seizures returned 8 years ago. The problem was that I could not seem to find the right emotional or spiritual support while all of this was going on. We experienced personal crisis on many levels at the same time. During that whole time I knew I was suffering but I had a choice to deal with the emotions inside of me or to make sure my family had a roof over their heads, keep the heat on, as well as have food to eat. The problem is that pushing the emotions to the side did not deal with them. There has simply been a collection of emotions building. Well, something recently happened that made it so something inside of me said my family was finally safe. So, those emotions came flooding in on me. I discovered something-- I really did not see how weak I had become over the years. I realized I had burnt out as a therapist a long time ago, but still kept on going. Then I started to realize I did not have the emtional energy or strength to take care of my family in the way I feel that they deserve. I also discovered that I am not sure of who I am any more. I am not sure of many things and it hurts-- it hurts so badly that sometimes I do not know if I can go on. I am finishing out my time in my therapist position and was at a staff meeting yesterday when we talked about therapist burnout. One of the therapist said that psychotherapist burnout is not the same as in other professions it a type of decay. That explained a lot to me of how I have been feeling. Burnout in my profession decays away at everything in your life-- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I find myself hurting in all those areas. Then when I looked at the causes of this burnout I realize that the crises my family went through combined with the long hours I had to work part of that time (at one time I had to work 95 hours a week)and then the fee for service type of reimbursement at the community mental health agency which comes with a much too heavy workload at times. So I see that really I am not abnormal. As I see this I am encouraged-- I see that there is hope. Combine this with Sunday at church one sentence of the sermon struck such a cord with me I could not seem to move on to the rest of the sermon. Our pastor is preaching on the Book of Jonah. He said that if we are experiencing the chastisement of the Lord we know it. During one of my most confusing, painful, vulnerable, and lonely times in my life I was told (by one of the leaders at the church we were attending back then) that I must have committed a terrible sin for God to be so displeased with me that I would find myself in the circumstances I was in. Then I was told further that no matter what I did I would not please God. Talk about taking away all hope. It was as if for the rest of my life I would be unpleasable to my Heavenly Father whom I had given my whole life to. The one I was looking forward to hearing tell me at the end of the age, "Well done good and faithful servant." I had been praying and following what I sensed He was leading me to do. Now I was a disappointment to him and there was no way I would be anything but a disappointment for the rest of my life. Talk about disheartened and discouraged. I started asking and begging God to tell me what sin I had committed so that I could repent and turn from it. However, for years He did not reveal this sin to me. For years the Lord kept leading me to this one passage and I did not understand-- it was like I was blind and could not see it. About 2 weeks ago I finally grasp it-- the passage talked about the Lord taking care of my family and that he was not angry with me. Then with that statement in the pastor's sermon I realize that I did not go through these things as a chastisement from the Lord. I did not need to continue to spend time searching for the great sin I had committed that my whole family suffered from. It does not exist or God would have told me. I am not saying that I am perfect and do not commit sins that would be a lie. However, I can trust my Heavenly Father to lovingly reveal sins to me and then I can respond appropriately. I also realized that it was not my fault my family has been on this journey. The Lord does have a plan for those circumstances of that I am confident, but it is not for the purpose of chastisement or He would have already told me. That decay statement from the staff meeting yesterday has helped me to see that my life has decayed and put words to how I feel-- like a rusted out car. A rusted car that has been decaying for a number of years. I feel like I belong in the junk heap sometimes. However, I sense the Holy Spirit break through and say that instead of the junk heap I belong in the auto shop of the Great Mechanic. Apparently I learned from Vic that the rusted parts on a car can be repaired with bondo and that if the technician is skilled enough that it would look as if the damage never happened. So I am putting myself in the shop of the Great Mechanic to see what he does with me. Maybe he plans to make some changes in who I was before, may be he is going to replace some parts and make them better than ever. Who knows. What I do know is that maybe I have decayed, but that in the hands of my Heavenly Father that decay is not a problem. I also realize that I can still hear "Well done good and faithful servant" one day at the end of time.