Wednesday, January 16, 2008


There's a restlessness gurgling inside me tonight........a churning stew of thoughts and emotions that isn't allowing me to drop my arms and body into the exhaustion it feels. It's like my insides are zipping around in a caffeine frenzy while the outside limbs feel weighted down unable to move with any kind of panache. This happens when I find myself at the end of a busy few days that have been wrought with undulating emotions.

up and down

up and down








Gee...........given that description, someone could easily slap a label on my forehead that yells out "bi-polar!"

I've heard many stories of late that have touched a deep chord. Pain has been poured out along with admissions, confessions, and painful pasts. In order to be able to listen and to be present, I must compartmentalize the stories so each one, and each person receives my undivided attention while I am with them. Normally the stories don't dwell too long. They can't or I would've burned out long ago. This time, perhaps because of a lot of "follow up" and phone calls have been required to make sure others are involved in helping and intervening when it was warranted, my insides remain restless.

I worry. I worry mostly about the innocents involved in the messes of adults' complicated lives......and it makes me wonder whether these little ones will EVER experience normalcy and untarnished love rather than the the love that dangles like a carrot in front of them.....within sight, but out of reach.

Lately, I have found myself getting angry inside listening to the stories from some of the adults. Knowing that the emotional lives of their own children have been manipulated and mangled so badly that they will never fully recover, I have felt a boiling surge of anger that wipes away the empathy I normally feel. It is striking a nerve and I've had to hold back my desire to recklessly point this out to the guilty adult sitting in my office pouring out their own pain. It's tempting, but completely counterproductive because if a partnership can be formed, more good can come out of it than if I decide to shut it down with loud judgements and finger pointing.

Human interaction and making strong connections in my world of work sometimes involves trying to understand another's crazy mixed up life.............trying to figure out has impacted and interfered with their decisions.

Why have they made the choices they have made?

Why did they decide to hook up with a known abuser?

Why have they ended up sitting in my office pouring out their admissions and confessions?

What is the reason behind the behaviour???

What has caused the really bad decisions?

Where have they come from and why are they so misguided?

Yearnings gone awry. We all have yearnings. Most of the time they are manageable and don't interfere. Sometimes however, because of the baggage we carry or the wounds we sustain along the way, we end up with big gaping holes in our souls which we fill with longings and yearnings that are so big that they scream at us to do something about it. Loneliness, pain, hurts, abandonment, grief, illness, sustained stress are all culprits which can easily turn our lives inside out because when they accompany the yearnings, they can suffocate our level headed thinking. Our actions may completely fly in the face of our own values and beliefs and yet we can't stop ourselves from falling into that paradoxical precipice. We don't even realize most of the time until it's too late that the actions we take not only affect us negatively, but can impact the lives of our loved ones. It could be blatantly obvious to others, while we remain oblivious to the consequences. Until some damage is done.

We are human beings whose lives intertwine and connect. It's what I try to remind myself when I am trying to walk a mile with someone whose behaviour hits a negative chord in me. If I bark out my judgement right away, I have more than likely shut down any chance to understand better but more importantly to help someone learn from their choices and consequences. And if I believe that what I do and say is intertwined with what others do and say, I must try to recognize when my own triggers are punched........

As Thomas Merton explains, "Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and ‘one body,’ will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another. Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement. Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time."

I think maybe I need to print that message out and tape it to my fridge for safe keeping and then go to bed. I'm tired, both inside and out.


Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I know what you mean, Dana. We could spend hours & hours over coffee (or wine!) discussing this one. Remember, many of the adults are in survival mode, and/or are child surivors, with few skills that will benefit themselves or their children. I'm starting a children's recovery program for the kids of these parents because, like you, I found it so worrisome & disturbing to think what these next generation of children were going through.

Be good to yourself & give yourself the care you need to continue this invaluable work to help others. xx, JP/deb

Gypsy said...

I would just like to say bravo to JP first of all for what she is doing for these children and what an enormous difference it will surely make if someone shows them the way.

To you Dana, I seriously don't know how you manage to keep on an even keel with the kind of work you do but I am so glad people have someone like you to turn to. I would have loved to seek out a career where I am helping people but my own nature would work against me. I KNOW I wouldn't be able to let it go at the end of the day and would drive myself crazy with worry.

Oh the yearnings you spoke of..... I wish I knew how to bury those little suckers when they threaten to overwhelm me and bring me undone. Alas I have not yet figured out how to do that and so I will continue to yearn for that missing piece of the puzzle.

Awareness said...

Deb. Interesting....we're on the same path. I have a meeting next week with a group of women who all sit on a committee with's a local network of people who work in the field of family violence. We are putting a funding proposal together to start up a program where separate sessions for Moms and Kids run at the same time....covering the same topics etc. It's a program that has had much success in other parts of the country. I will be a part of facilitating it as well. If you're interested in the program (the curriculum etc is all set up) send me an email and I'll try to find a contact name for you. It has had great success.

Gypsy......I was in touch with a friend recently who is in a completely different field. He's in business, runs several at the same time and is very good at it. I told him I couldn't imagine doing what he does. The thought of it sounds so stressful. And yet, he probably thinks the same of my job. It's a good thing we all have a different set of skills and well as perspectives.
The good far outweighs the bad that's for sure. I think Merton's quote is right on........we are all interconnected....our successes and failures. For me, it's a good message to remember. However, I will try not to think of the fact that I think Merton spent most of his life in solitude. I don't know whether he ever heard the stuff I sometimes hear about!! :)

Awareness said...

Gypsy....I think we are all the same. Whether one admits it or not, we all have yearnings that niggle at us incessantly. Sometimes we act on them before we see the big picture consequences, or we hide behind some rationalization. I have no idea how to keep them under wraps all the time, except to be cognizant of them and to know we are in control of our own thinking. The emotions I mentioned in my post are very difficult to always manage properly. When I got to that point in my writing, it was when I realized how very much the same we all are. Then, I remembered the Merton quote which I had read a while back.......

Sometimes writing about it (and talking it through) helps reveal the yearnings more clearly and the behaviour they are tied to. Awareness can be sobering.

Mark said...

The good news of all that you have expressed here is your keen awarness and understanding of what is best for both your self and all the trouble souls whom you serve on a daily basis. Be in peace! Be in Love and Be in Wellness.

Barbara said...

Wish I could give you a rejuevnating hug of encouragement. This post was very helpful to me as I endeavor out on my new adventure.

and what you said here:

"Sometimes however, because of the baggage we carry or the wounds we sustain along the way, we end up with big gaping holes in our souls"

Is exactly why some people perpetuate the same horrifying things that happened to them as a child onto their own...and the cycle continue...Until someone like YOU, dear Dana, comes along and listens, cares and offers help.

Thank you on behalf of all the people you help that may not (for one reason or another to say be able to say it)

Perplexio said...

It's simple actually. Loneliness is the most intense pain known to humankind. Emotional pain is far more damaging than any physical pain and its lasting effects are far impacting on a person's life.

Loneliness is the cause... And the problem is that people are far more willing to be with someone for the wrong reasons than alone for the right ones. They've been sold a bill of goods that they can't do better, or can't find better and so they settle.

Marja said...

You have a very important job and a very hard one. I can see that you get tired. In the home were I work the children are in one way lucky that they don't live with their family. They learn new ways of behaving and relating to others. A few teenagers who used to live there visit and are doing very well. I sometimes feel angry inside towards the parents and have to work hard not too show it and try to make sense of it.
The last words are very interesting but I must read it a few more times to fully understand it. hope you feel better soon.

Awareness said...

Mark.....I have learned along the way that it's imperative to take the time to reflect, especially when I'm feeling some accumulative stuff in my work. I'm lucky to have a few close colleagues whom I can do this with, and they with me. Writing and other outlets are key too arent they?

Layla....a good night's sleep is usually all that is needed. However, it looks as though the tension has tightened the muscles in my back.....I had to come home from work early yesterday and crash for a bit. Now it's the middle of the night and I'm WIDE awake!
I don't think I had any luck breaking any cycles with the people I met with. It takes a long time and a lot of intervention which isn't part of what I do. I don't carry a caseload unfortunately. When I meet with people, I'm normally the first point of counselling contact. I can get things started and follow up to ensure that the services are in place etc. And I plant some seeds!! However, I often give them my phone number and let them know that they can drop in if need be. It helps with some continuity.
I look forward to learning about your new training and adventures.

Darrin. YOu have completely nailed it on the head. Loneliness is the crux of it all. Whether its under the guise of something else or not..........loneliness and the need to be loved and to love scrapes at our souls to a point where it impacts our choices and direction.

Marja....I think anyone in the frontlines has day when anger is the primary feeling, especially if there is a perpetrator involved. Like Mark states, the awareness of our own reactions is imperative.

thanks all...........