Some of you all know that I am a Psychiatric nurse. have been since 1978.
I started out with a kind of smart ass edge. It was all about the rules and Boundaries. There were the folks on one side of the nurse's station and the ones behind it. Kinda like the patients vs. The staff in a manner of speaking. I am not really proud of this kind of Black and white thinking but I was young and Stupidly Full of myself.
I spent years working on a residential adolescent unit, trying to figure out how to be the best nurse there was. The smartest. The fixer. I was relentless in trying to ferret out the Key to unlock the dark places of the adolescent psyche.
I wasn't particularly interested in the suffering of others, and I confess I wasn't a source of Compassion. I kept my own feelings about my patients safe, behind a stronghold of Pseudo Professionalism: that wore heels and pantyhose and make up and an impenetrable wardrobe of Emotional Steel.
I went to work in an adolescent sexual offender unit, a residential treatment center, where kids who had sexually harmed others were placed.
I expected to be repelled. Repulsed even. Folks would say to me "How can you do that?"
Like some of the darkness of that place and what went on there to treat them would rub off on me and make me evil, or bad.
It didn't. It didn't make me evil or bad or anything like that.
Working there taught me about having compassion. It taught me about human suffering. It taught me about the redeeming Power of Love and Forgiveness. It taught me so much more about Hope and Hopelessness then I ever thought I would know.
I gave a lot to that place. 8 years of my life. I did not create a single thing for that time. Didn't paint. Didn't sew. I had no energy to make a single thing.
But in some respects it was making me. recreating me.
I still work in Psychiatry.
I am older now. I see very little difference at times in those who are behind the desk and those who are in front of it. It could easily be me queuing in the line to receive the medication that it is my job to pass out.
I am grateful that it is not.
There are some patients that I connect with and some I just can't. I let someone else connect with the ones I can't. I cry with some of my patients. Some times I can't help it. I feel their sadness fill up my heart, I feel their grief.
I teach them the Metta and hope this is of some help.
That old wall, the old fortification that kept my feelings safely out of touching range is now a big Fat Marshmallow. Instead of growing harder, with age I have grown softer.
Wiser but Kinder.
and Kinder is best. I think.