Pain not my own

All my life, I have been sensitive. I have cried when I've been physically hurt. I have crumbled inside when I have been emotionally run over. I have ached for others' bad or sad situations. I have reached my arms out to many people over the years, trying to help. That's just what I do; I help.

When I worked at CPS (Child Protective Services, for those of you not in Texas; each state calls it something different), I gave and gave and gave. AND GAVE. Of myself, my love, my attention, my hope. I was determined to build something positive out of the train wreck of these people's lives. And I did, sometimes. Not always in the ways I wanted, or as often as I would have liked, but I know I planted the seed.

I left CPS for many reasons, but the big one was this: I could no longer carry the weight of despair. Not only did it sit heavy on my shoulders, but it was like lead in my heart. I found that even the largest positive ending to a case did not ease the load. I had spent too many years making others' pain my own, others' problems my own. I had to get out from under all of it before it destroyed me.

I thought leaving CPS would be the key. And to an extent, it has been. But, I find that I still empathize to an alarming degree, to the point of caregiver fatigue. I still swallow others' disasters. They lay claim to a tiny piece of my soul. I know all the ways, the techniques, to avoid this, yet I still do it. It's automatic. It's just me.

That being said, I found two blogs last summer that have really been heart wrenching for me: Bring the Rain and matt, liz, & madeline . Both deal with death, and the loss of someone you love with every fiber of your being. I cannot make it through one of matt's posts without tearing up, and subsequently sitting in held-breath silence, staring off into space. His pain is palpable.
I started from the beginning on Angie's blog, and I can't make it through without becoming a basket case. Sometimes, when I see new posts on Matt's blog pop up on my google reader, I just avoid them. I.just.can't.

I spend a substantial amount of time mulling over these people after reading the posts. I try to imagine being in their shoes-the anguish, anger, fear, rage, the unyielding feeling of being alone. I just cannot imagine that I would be as strong as they are.

However, I strongly suggest reading these blogs. First, it helps me to know that others swallow these stories whole. But also, the strength, hope, and faith they both possess is to be admired. While they do hurt me, they also remind me just how lucky I am, how blessed I have been in my life. How you can build a new life out of wreckage.

I have a dear bloggy friend who is going through something serious, something so indescribably painful and heartbreaking that I cannot even explain it, even if it was my story to tell. But. It is not my story to tell. All I can say is that I am thinking of her, and wishing that we were IRL friends, so I could hold her, cry with her, rage for her, and somehow make it better. I lie up at night, praying for the miracle that is meant to happen for her and her family. I ask Why, Why, WHY? over and over, knowing that no one can give me an answer that will satisfy. I am swallowing her pain whole, and I am trying to avoid it.

Check out the badge on the rightside of my blog. It's a wonderful foundation set up in memory of matt's wife, Liz. I am so glad someone came up with the idea!


jodifur said...

When I got sick I gave up pain. My job is pain, my life became pain. I'm done. I only want pink, heart, cotton candy, fluffy. Happy books, happy movies. I recently found Matt's blog, and his writing his amazing, his daughter is gorgeous, but the pain is too great. I do visit though. Just not often.

CP said...

I found Matt's blog a few months ago and, like Jodifur, I visit but not often. It hurts too much.

I don't know how you were able to be a social worked. As I am not that good with emotional situations without becoming a mess myself, I know I could never do that job. Bless you for the years you spent and others who do that job.

(my word verification today? "ovies" - ovaries anyone?)

Misty said...

Transference is a tricky, tricky thing. I write now, my grief, because my family can't stand to listen to how I really hurt - - they don't want to hear how I truly feel about the fact that I am going to lose my child in May. You have to decide and distance yourself in a way that you are not terribly effected - and I know, and have thought about it more and more, knowing this is more a trial I have to bare on my own.

Sarah said...

I read Matt Liz and Madeline. Every last post. Being as though the day to day work that I do is pretty intense I try to avoid sad stuff, but his writing makes me feel hopeful for him and madeline and that iswhat keeps me coming back

Kristie said...

This sounds really selfish but when I read of sad things or someone is going through something awful I can brush it off and keep going for the most part. I always rememeber and do what I can do to help, but I've learned that, for me, I just can't bear it either.

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with Matt's website. I like to visit it when I need some perspective.

Unknown said...

Ok, um..yeah..checking out Matt's blog and I'm sucked right in! How easy and quick that can happen. So scary. It's one thing to be a single "mom" but a single dad puts a whole new spin in the picture.