Yesterday, our private practice opened its doors to invite a handful of Neurodiverse teens into our well-known social skills group. It has been over two years since our last group was conducted largely due to the restricting impacts of the pandemic. The laughter and melting away of first group nerves warmed this tired therapist’s soul to its core. I did not realize how badly I was craving a hefty helping of normalcy.
While the rain stirs an array of different emotions for many, today it seems to carry a veil of calm. As if the dreariness outside fluffs the comfort within the therapy room. The haze highlights the warmth of the lightening. The music of the rainy downfall adds an extra touch of security.
Lately a theme of guilt has floated in between the rainstorms as clients come and go from my blue comfy couch. A slew of people-pleasers grace my office, and the narratives of self-sacrifice hold steady despite cravings of change. I can resonate with this flavor of client, as I am a recovering people-pleaser at heart. It’s funny how doing my own work aids in my abilities as a therapist. I have been dutifully challenging my narrative of toxic selflessness to rescue myself from the depths of soulful burnout. While bending over backwards for the sake of others’ wellbeing brings a level of fulfillment, my soul screeches otherwise.
A handful of weeks ago, I despised being a therapist.
The ‘Sunday scaries’ were ferocious as they rocked my nerves.
The restlessness I experienced in session proved to be unnervingly distracting.
The best thing that I’ve done for myself in quite a while was to recognize and validate my chosen limits. Not the limits that I previously lived my life by. Not the ones that defined survival while teetering on the edge of crumpling under the burdens. The ones that I chose after attending to my mentality’s longevity.
If we pay attention to the whispers of our soul, we won’t have to listen to its screams.
Boy, was mine loud. The howls are still ringing in my ears, as I rise from the shambles of unhealthy boundaries.
I had to dig deep to set unwavering boundaries around my work hours. I had to release the guilt of going home at 6pm vs flexing to the requests for later hours. Forgiving ourselves for our humanness many be one of the trickiest tasks in the handbook of human functioning. I had to genuinely grant myself grace for setting my schedule to a maximum of five clients a day. Every day I challenge myself to respond verses react to other’s requests of my heart. Whenever a sentence is poised with the beginnings of “Can you….” I will myself to pause and truly consider if I can fulfill the request without sacrificing myself.
It's not only a shift in priorities but it’s an adjustment of lifestyle. One we have to lean into mindfully or else we are tempted to slip back into old self sabotaging mentalities.
So, if you find your ears ringing from the shrieks of protest arising from deep within your soul…
Please listen to them. Validate their experiences.
For this is the only way we get back to the whispers.
Mean neighbor has an odd fixation with the cleanliness of our condo complex’s dumpster. I spot him meticulously tending to the area surrounding the green monstrosity at least a few times during any given week. His most dutiful days seem to be when the lawn maintenance humans are here. Once they buzz around on their riding lawnmowers as quickly as humanly possible, mean neighbor emerges from his garage with his gizmos and gadgets to make sure there is no blade of grass anywhere near the dumpster. He rakes around the edges, fantasizing the epitome of squeaky clean any standard dumpster could ever dream of.
(If you don’t recall who mean neighbor is, he has his own story of humility toward the beginnings of the blog. He’s hardly ‘mean’ anymore, and somehow we have meandered to our own understandings of one another.)
I am working from home today. While the world convinced me COVID and the Flu were the prominent germs floating around, here I sit, nursing a fever. Negative for this, negative for that. An antibiotic was tossed my way with little more than a “good luck” from a random Urgent Care doctor.
Life has been carrying on to its own divergent pace. The therapy room has been perplexingly darker lately, which nosedived me into a heaping pile of burnout. The trauma and abuse that’s been sputtered out as results of oversight, lack of shits to give, and overall lethargy of systems that are ‘supposed’ to keep people safe have been relentless. My ongoing struggle of caring too deeply has spun me into a fun hole of ‘I don’t want to play anymore’. Yet here I am. Covered in metaphorical tattered bandages rolling the dice with my good hand.
Life is not marching forward how I planned it to and it’s irritating my soul. Subsequently, I just rolled my eyes and chuckled at myself after finishing that sentence. Of course life isn’t following our rules. She looks at our plans and laughs too.
In my meticulous planning, the horse we ‘invested’ in would have been sold months ago, my husband and I would be sitting pretty to take on a mortgage, and we would be happily house hunting while excitedly jumping into our evolving plans and priorities with both feet. Work would be chalk full of hustling, yet manageable. The promises of Spring would keep us giddy for summertime.
There life goes again, succumbed by her peals of laughter.
In reality, life cannot be dutifully maintained like the dumpster in our condo complex. Perhaps this is why mean neighbor is so fixated on it. It’s a segment of his life he can rejoice in his perception of control.
The horse we ‘invested’ in is still sitting pretty in the barn she was intended to depart months ago.
Our budget is playing with options B and C to explore ways of moving into the house-buying stage.
The market is deliriously inflated.
The world is rolling in its own fire as war rages across the pond and our own power-crazed politicians gleefully stomp on our country’s attempts at progression forward.
My husband and I are holding onto one another as we jump into our shifting priorities despite the cacophony of chaos swirling around us.
Because here’s the thing.
If the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that life is going to unravel in the ways she sees fit. Most of the time, that unraveling will make no sense to me. A lot of the time I’ll question the motives and intentions of those I see are contributing to the happenstance of events. Occasionally, I’ll curse the perceived injustice that washes over my experiences.
But mostly I’ll roll my eyes at life’s melody and lean into the discomfort of learning how to not wait for the storm to pass, but to dance in the rain instead.