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The Hardest People to Care For

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow'" ~Mary Anne Radmacher~
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow'”
~Mary Anne Radmacher~

Are you one of them? A professional caregiver; nurse, police officer, paramedic counselor, doctor, mortician, social worker., firefighter, soldier..???

If you fall anywhere in that professional-soup, you are likely one of the most difficult individuals to care for .

After a trying week and anxiety that has registered off the scale and into the stratosphere, I think I may finally be coming back to the land of the living.

I’ve had a couple of friends offer me the equivalent of a pat on the back and kick in the ass. Not really what I needed when dealing with trauma of the ugliest kind, and top of my own personal issues.

What I did not need was a ‘Lol’, or a, “Yah, but you’ve felt like that before”, or a, “You always land on your feet.”

What I needed turned out to be a  blessing that came out of the blue; another human being who knows what it’s like to see the things that I see, and yet maintain a professional demeanor and carry on with life when what you really want to do is vomit, curl up in a ball, and have someone rock you like a baby.

Caregivers and those of us who deal with human mortality on a daily basis are the hardest people to care for.  We can recognize patronizing bullshit a mile away, and smell apathy like a hound smells a panicked raccoon. We recognize personal authenticity and we know when someone could care less. We’re also too worn out to call you on your bullshit most of the time, so you’re safe.

We are the most difficult people to care for, because we know all the theory, and suck at self-care practice. We also are the most loyal friends. It was my best pal of over 25 years who listened, and said just the right things. She didn’t try to make it better or lessen the trauma. It was another pal who recognized my despair in a well-timed-once-a-year-email response who surprised me the most. Although we haven’t seen one another in over a decade, he too knows what it’s like to be woken by nightmares and have your day interrupted by unwelcome thoughts and images.

You already know to avoid your half-assed friends and lovers, but if you need reminding, just try reaching out to those folks when you really need support. They will teach you all you need to know about who is important and who is not.

If you are one of us, ‘the hardest people to care for’, I urge you to seek the support you need. It may be reaping the benefits of a decent EAP program or even as simple as a coffee with your truly good friends and the  colleagues who share the same joy and pain of working with the underbelly of what it means to be human.

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Midnight Madness of my Mind

Nightmare (Photo credit: Luciana Christante)

Sunday morning, 10am.

I’m usually rolling around in my cozy bed, mid-fantasy-dream about some weird combo of Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, and Diana Gabaldon’s famed character, Scottish stud James Fraser.

This morning however, I’m wide awake, having had my coffee, made the bed, and whipped my hair into some kind of acceptable state of tousle.

Alas, this is not due to having rushed some stud out the door earlier.

Instead, I must place the delicate finger of blame on the persistent, ugly-step-sister of joy – Anxiety. She’s one tough gal.

After an exhausting life-or-death sprint, and trying to scream with no sound coming out, I awoke completely disoriented, unable to move from my prone position in the twisted, sweat-soaked sheets.

When I finally stumbled from the haze of my nightmare,  I realized I was in my own bed, albeit in a weird position half down the mattress with my arms stretched open, my feet hanging off the end of the bed, in some weird blanket twisting torture.

I checked the time on my glow-in-the-dark watch face. 3:15am. The witching hour. Superb.

Untangling myself from the cold, damp, sheets I stumbled out of bed and flung my door open. Witching hour be damned, I needed fresh air and a mind-clearing-chocolate-something-or-other.

Wedging as much of one of my homemade chocolate-chip cookies in my sticky, nighttime mouth, I dragged my sleepy feet to the patio and stepped out into the night air.

Bills, money, my job, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if I got it all wrong? What if I never get it right? What if, what if, what if, what if…..  I breathed the cool air in and out, holding back tears and trying to get my heart-rate back to normal from the dangerous pace of being frozen in fear as I came out of my nightmare.

It’s moments like these that having a lover who feels your touch and takes you in his arms during a moment of half-sleep can make it all ok. It’s nights that this that make you understand why we choose, in general, to go through life in a dependable partnership. A hug can clear your head and cure your racing heart-rate at 3am much faster than eating a cookie or getting some air.

So here I am. 10am, wide awake, with nothing to show for my anxiety but a bad hair-do and a fresh pot of coffee. Like so many other people I know who create a convincing front, no one would ever guess what we fabulously strong, professional, single-gals get up to at 3am.