"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

June 27, 2012

Can You See It?

Here we are again, as the keys synch with my thoughts and reflection, my heart breathes easier.  Today's piece is inspired by two separate but similar observations I had earlier.  I'll begin by setting up the stage, so take your seat, tune out the noise and come along with me.  As I sat waiting for an appointment this morning, reading away as I often do I was interrupted by a woman who came busting through the hallway clearly upset from the appointment she had just left.  As I lifted my head to observe, never being so obvious as to cause discomfort or concern, I locked in.  You see, as a social worker with a history working with at-risk populations in at-risk systems and settings you become quite good at observing without others realizing that you are.  In fact, I would say that I really began to acquire this skill during my time in law enforcement (which preceded my social work career) where it is ever so vital to have eyes in the back of your head, while developing that internal "gut" feeling when something is about to go down.  Well, this morning' situation was not that serious, but none the less someone was in pain.  You see this woman clearly was upset at whoever and whatever triggered her anger. How do I know this? If the yelling and belligerent tone didn't give me clue, than perhaps the repetitive punching of the wall as she waited for the elevator to come let me clearly know that she was not well.  It was not hard for me to zero in to her suffering and pain, thinking to myself  "if you are unable to help yourself, then you will not be able to see the help that is available."

As I moved through the day going about my responsibilities and duties I came across another situation that once again showed me another' suffering in it's truest and most available form.  As I was heading through a parking lot to my car I was struck with a very loud conversation between a woman and man.  Actually, I wouldn't call it a conversation as the woman was shouting for all to hear, and the man was taking on the barrage of words and insults with not much of an opportunity to speak.  As this interaction moved closer to me it was apparent that I didn't exist, and what I was observing was not my concern.  However, once again I was witness to someone in pain, their suffering on full display to anyone they came in contact with.  I thought to myself "if you are not well, there is no way that you are available and present to receive."  You see, the whole time this woman was going off, the man (when he could) was trying to help, support, and be.  Now, of course I didn't have the entire story, but the behavior is something that I do know, and what exacerbates this state is something I really know.  It is fair to say that as a social worker you become much more aware of dysfunction and despair, but hopefully in a manner where you understand the balance and boundaries one needs to have as they separate the professional from the personal.  For someone like myself the balance is there, but my ability to observe, recognize, assess, and understand is so present that when I am exposed to any of it my world slows down...

I use these two examples to help all those that can hear me the opportunity to embrace that message of wellness and self-care, in and outside of the services you provide to others.  I use these examples to allow others to see the parallel between those who need help and those who are there to help. When you are not well, your world is often met with more closed doors than open ones.  Your anger, frustration, and helpless feelings as a result will only magnify and multiply if your state does not change for the better.  An example is only a portrayal, but a story that we can relate to often is the truth that we can not deny.  You may not be at the same level of risk as the two women I came in contact with today, but I am hoping you can connect the dots and see that when you are suffering and in pain the result is more similar than not.  I will leave you with that.  As you continue to move forward and toward as always keep walking with you head up and heart open!

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