You value hard work and connection but guilt prevents you from enjoying the rewards.
I also hated therapy very, very much until I went to a therapist who specialized in adult women with ADHD. That was the turning point for me to be like, "oh maybe I've been negging myself my whole life because I actually have an untreated learning disability/neurodivergence! Wow!" It turns out I can only get good therapy from people who also have ADHD, and who really know how that feels from the inside. Without that context, I was always holding part of myself aloof/performative to protect myself from being misunderstood. So yeah, I think Polly's first piece of advice is right on--it's really healing to connect with people who share your same damage ;-)
Damn this was so good!!
I have been in "The Shouting Phase" for YEARS! Reading your column(s), I wish I could imprint your words in my brain (or...on an arm tattoo?!) as fuel to move to the next phase(s).
Thank you, Wild and Faithless for writing in, and as always, Polly, for the rocket fuel.
Wow. I'm a nurse so I can relate deeply to her feelings of burn out. I can imagine how much it would hurt to work with people with limited means and then only have punitive ends to offer - it's a sad system we live in. The more you recognize how you are fighting a larger social and racial and economic system, the more insubordination and anger and guilt you internalize. I've been a nurse for 10 years and this pandemic has been a breaking point because I've literally watched people die. That's been my job, watching them die and being there for them and knowing they were getting worse and were alone. We were alone too- just us, RTs and aides. Admin and even docs/PAs on the sidelines. Heather's point that connection makes you feel good feels like a lightbulb moment. I stay at my job because for the first time I've found an amazing group of nurses that care about each other and their patients. Their dedication to keep ppl alive honestly make me tear up, no lunch breaks for months. The best we did in those darkest days is say "no one died today (12 hours)" But truth be told i haven't made connections with my patients in a long time it's been emergency mode for too long. Yesterday, I put up a signs and symptoms of burn out in our bathroom dry erase board and my boss was OFFENDED. I said the nice things but fuck you boss and admin for staffing now and forever. I've been stressed for years about staffing- i can see how imposible it is to do my job well AND take care of myself because you're giving from yourself- there are no existing structures or resources to draw from. I suggest you look up trauma stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. It helps to unmesh that you are a good person even if you work in impossible conditions. My boss wanted me to take it down, he doesn't know I was originally going to put up a countdown of the days until an open position was filled. I was struggling with "why do I always want to be a molotov cocktail"- I can relate to this letter writer. I had goals to go to a more prestigious unit, go to grad school, find a different fucking job but for now I'll stay here with coworkers I value and respect. I have to let my soul rest and set ambition and goals aside. I hope she finds her peace. It's hard to find a good therapist but don't stop looking until someone gets you. I haven't found one but I'm out here so there are definitely more people like us shouting at the wind.