I love the work that I do (most of the time) and feel blessed to be able to work in a space where I get to support people in their personal processes. In this process I get to be part of a my clients’ awakening as they move forward in their lives, but these connections sometimes come at a price. As someone who works in substance abuse and mental health industry I am constantly giving of myself to others in the work that I do. I show up as authentically as possible as often as possible and try and bring myself as courageously as I can in service of my clients.
But this doesn’t always work in my favour and there are times that the parts of my life I use in the learning are used against me by clients who are in a different parts of their journey. And that is part of what I do…it doesn’t always go well and sometimes it’s just downright awful, but that’s the nature of the work that I do. I have chosen to be in this world where I am sometimes open to anger, vitriol and projection. I’ve done my personal work and I know when I have to stand back and just let the work happen without me. It’s difficult to quiet my inner critic in these situations and allow the process to unfold, but it’s essential for my sanity and well-being.
At the moment I am in one of these situations. Not only has there been a difficult situation in my work space, but I have also had an exceptionally stressful few months. So I have had to put myself first and step away from my professional life. On the one hand it is exactly what I need to do, but on the other hand it’s been a really bitter pill to swallow. I need to take care of myself emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and socially and for this process to happen I need to be in a safe, loving space. One of my biggest challenges in life is to practice self-love and right now I have no other choice but to do this. I am having to show up authentically and courageously for myself for the time-being rather than the clients and patients that are such a high value for me.
So what s unfolding in my life at the moment is a real integration of the teaching and facilitation work that I do at the clinic. I am having to put down some very strong boundaries at the moment in order to protect my recovery and wellness. Working in the addiction space means that conflict, crisis and chaos rule and it can be hard to find balance and perspective when I am entrenched in the environment. In order to build up my personal recovery capital I have to put myself into a mindset where I am practising humility about what I can and cannot achieve both personally and professionally at the moment.
The humility to embrace that I really am just human and that I cannot expect myself to always be able to show up in the messiness of the work that I do without taking time and making space for my own work, healing, fulfillment and goals. Perhaps I also need to have the “mindsight” to remember that I have already battled a lot of my personal demons and that some of them still lurk in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to pounce into my life, especially when I am feeling drained and burned out. The one thing I do know is that no matter what happens in my world I am living firmly within the universal principles of honesty, integrity and willingness to see when I need to focus on what I can control in any given situation, and what is complete outside of my control. And that’s very hard for an “eight”.
I have never claimed to be perfect, I know that I make mistakes and I am aware of where I need to work in my various personal and professional roles. My growth and development is ongoing and something that I consciously work on daily, weekly, monthly and further into the future. Most of the goals, plans and actions I focus on are of the relational nature; with myself, the important people in my life, my clients, and the larger world around me. Sometimes I get these interactions right and sometimes they don’t work out so well, but I am constantly striving to improve the way I connect with myself and the world.
Like most people I come across I am simply trying to be a little better than I was yesterday, and make some mental notes and commitments as to how I can show up authentically, courageously and congruently in my life, my relationships, my work and my community. So this afternoon I will spend some time looking at my upcoming week, setting out some intentions as to where I can do better in my life and focusing on the areas that fulfill me as well as the areas that challenge me. I am aware of my “bright spots” in life, but I am equally aware of what needs to be addressed and looked at with an openness and willingness that is sometimes hard when it comes to self-reflection.
But in order to do the work that I do with others, I need to be able to do the work on myself. Not always easy. Not always pretty. But always, always necessary…and always worth it!