(Photo: not always a poster boy!)
[Apologies in advance to those I offend with the following post.]
A friend of mine used a term the other day: compassion fatigue. A numbness to the horrors of a particular situation, usually due to overexposure or experience. It’s a risk to which all front-line healthcare and caregiver professionals are exposed and unfortunately, often succumb.
I’ve been thinking about this recently because I’ve been wondering how I can pass along my experience and (dare I say) wisdom for the greater good. Working with parents and families who are struggling with this journey seems like an obvious option, but I know that as a ‘calling’, it’s not for me. My compassion fatigue is just too high.
It’s not the stories themselves I have a problem with. I think sharing and venting can be helpful. It’s more the identification and attachment to the stories I get impatient with.
I wonder, as I wade through the masses of blog posts and articles and stories I compulsively read every day: (Get ready – this is going to sound SOOO awful…) So what?
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it stinks. Yes, we’re all tired and we hate the government and the schools and the people who stare and the diapers that leak and the pumps that break and we hate even the very IDEA that all of this is for a reason… Yes, yes, yes.
I ask again: So what?
And I add: And so now? What are you going to DO about it?
Don’t get me wrong. I have been SOOO stuck. Absorbed in my life as THE MOTHER OF A CHILD WITH DISABILITIES. I have been there many times and no question, will be there again. (It takes many forms, by the way. Fatigue, despair and worry, sure. But also a hyperdetailed focus on planning, scheduling, advocating, therapy, improvement, involvement… Can you relate?) But always, there comes a time when I so thoroughly bore myself with my stuckness I have to claw my way out and paint or write or go for a run or build another website. These are not momentary escapes from the drudgery of caring for a child with disabilities – these are gateways to sanity. The decision point to move on and get a life.
So you see, I would be really bad at working with families or parents. “Get a life” might sound a little harsh.