this is not how i started. the story of how i got here involves an unexpected lay-off, moving away from family and friends twice to pursue amazing career opportunities, lack of social connections in the places where i moved, a relentless inner critic and becoming thoroughly consumed by my work, but the details aren’t important. what is important is getting back to myself.
i have worked as a therapist for the last six (6) years supporting survivors of sexual violence – sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, rape, stalking and relationship violence. i wrote an entire section about vicarious trauma as a part of my graduate school capstone entitled, “healing the wounds of trauma: a practitioners guide.” at the close of sessions with clients, i faithfully ask the question – “what will you do to take care of yourself over the next week?” during my initial session with clients, i stress the importance of self-care during the therapeutic process and as a life practice. i remind them to put their oxygen masks on first so that they have the energy they need to honor commitments to themselves and others. each week, i talk about setting boundaries – saying “no” so that there is space for the things that matter. i gently warn against the dangers of being too rigid in expectations, emphasize the importance of being flexible and practicing self-compassion. i regularly refer to sleep and adequate rest as the foundation for healthy living. unfortunately, i forgot to continue incorporating those habits into my own life somewhere along the way.
i recently read “trauma stewardship: an everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others” and it resonated with every part of my experience these past few years. burned out. vicarious trauma. compassion fatigue. whatever the label, the end result is a profound sense of disconnection from self and others. it is an emotional and physical exhaustion that begins to permeate every aspect of living. a dark cloud of exhaustion that follows after the last session ends. for the past few years, i have given all to my clients, which has left very little emotional energy for myself and others in my life. it’s hard to listen, even to yourself, when you’ve been listening all day.
i am my summer restoration project. this blog will detail my journey back to wellness. i have 60 days until i return to work. the foundation of this project is a consistent diet of journaling, yoga, running, movement, building community in my new state and reconnecting with old friends (in person, not facebook), hanging out with my family, organizing my space and having new adventures.
i hope this blog will encourage you to examine your own relationship with self-care, to begin your own restoration project or serve as a reminder to continue with your current self-care plan.
pardon me, i have to go find my shoes so that i can reconnect with the best version of myself.