“Put Down the F-ing Shovel”

The other day I broke down crying.

I became triggered by the simplest of things: a single word.

I was overwhelmed with several-dozen memories from the last year. It was full of so much beauty and pain. I was deeply affected by all that took place and from a lack of support to process it all. I gave all I had, down to the last drop and I was met with adversity despite my efforts to show love and to help the students and staff that I had been entrusted with.

At the end of my time at Shelterwood, I felt totally defeated. I had nothing left in me to give, though I found myself still trying to do so.

If I could, I know that I would do it all over again. Not because I want to correct things I’ve done/change some things (and believe me, there are things I wish I had done differently), but because I find myself willing to wade through all the shit just so I could experience all the good all over again.

To relive every time that I stopped a kid from cutting, jumping off the ledge, or hurting another student. Every time I sat with a staff and gave them love and comfort, offering them tea, cheese, or red wine in conjunction with processing. Every time that I managed to show up at just the right moment to intervene or to share something profound as if I was being driven by the very uncensored will of the Holy Spirit. Now gone.

I know that this is a delusion.

Even though I had all those beautiful things, I found myself in a place of darkness and it would only end the same way. The dark moments overwhelmed the good, and as a final piece, the things that I felt most confident about, that I had done most right started slipping away from me.

Relationships that I took pride in, and used to measure my effectiveness and value began to fade. I had no explanation and I found myself desperate to “fix” those relationships, only to drive them further in the dirt. I tried too much to control and, as a result, I hurt people that I loved.

It’s a fact that in my hurt, I hurt the most valuable people in my life. (Stupid cliche…)

I finally have reached a breaking point in processing my experience. I’m so hurt and I’m so sad for what I have done. I set myself up for failure without even knowing it.

Granted, most of what happened was out of my control, but what I had control of brought me down deeper in the hole.

A friend of mine recently told me that “if you find that you’re digging yourself into a hole and you want to get out the first thing you need to do is stop and put down the damn shovel!”

Only now, 5 months after leaving my job in caregiving, have I come to this place in my processing. I thought I was done mourning and it turns out I wasn’t. Without even realizing it I was carrying on my feeling of fear, anxiety, and failure in what I saw as a failing friendship that I was responsible for figuring out and restoring. I held on too tightly and ended up only making it worse. (Sometimes I hate being so human.)

All the while I have neglected to acknowledge the truth. I put my value and worth in flimsy, fleeting elements of life and the only true failure that I have achieved is refusing to look at the incredible things that I did, and instead choosing to focus on what I didn’t.


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