Saturday, July 09, 2016

Chapeau of Inner Critic

I figured out what in my own history accounts for at least part of my sorrow about M.I., thanks to the joke I made here about her family hating her because she’s the oldest sister—like me. Aha! I’m sad about her because I’m sad that I’m not closer to my own sisters. While clinical pastoral education isn’t therapy, as Samantha has mentioned a couple of times, we make these kinds of inquiries so we will understand why patients affect us as they do, and why we might be moved to over- or under-function, doing too much or too little. As Samantha has also said, “You are the textbook.” Like when it briefly crossed my mind that I’d better adopt M.I. and bring her to live at my place. That would be doing too much.

I was on call on Monday, which was July 4. I didn’t get any pages, and the spiritual care office didn’t receive any voice mails. This was my third on-call out of nine. I spent the night in the apartment near the hospital reserved for this purpose and got plenty of sleep and was able to meditate for 45 minutes in the morning before going to the office to turn the pager over to Mason, who was late. Then I rushed home, ate, showered, and rushed back to work. Normally we get the whole day off after being on call, but we have to attend class no matter what. That afternoon, Samantha mentioned that if a patient says anything about being stressed out, for instance, she tells them to talk to someone else. She is there for one thing and one thing only: to provide spiritual care.

I felt horribly rushed that day, and when I got back to my bicycle at the end of the day, I realized I’d lost a polished stone I’ve been carrying in my jacket pocket for years, and then I was furious: on top of everything else, CPE made me lose my little stone. I went back to the office to look for it, then back to the bike cage, then back to the office, and then I was even more angry because I was going to be really late getting home. Fortunately, I remembered what I had done with my jacket that I don’t usually do, and sure enough, there was my missing item.

This was the one night of the whole summer I was able to stay at Howie’s for the whole evening, because I had also been granted Wednesday off, for working the holiday and because I didn’t get to have all of Tuesday off. However, I felt extremely irritated by small noises there, in a way I haven’t felt for years, and then I was overcome by the desire for pizza, so I left early and bought three enormous pieces of pizza, and then made my way over to a dark, empty street so I could stuff pizza into my mouth unobserved, while holding the pizza box in my other hand.

On Wednesday, I had a very nice massage and felt great afterward.

On Thursday, my peers and I attended, along with other Bay Area CPE students, a mid-summer conference held at a church in Oakland. The morning was filled with one exercise after the other, like “What is your inner critic saying to you? Do you recognize this voice from anywhere? If you were to make a face that looks just like your inner critic, what face would it be? If your inner critic were wearing a little hat, what would it look like? Draw a picture of your inner critic’s hat.” That kind of thing.

In the afternoon, we did Theater of the Oppressed. There was a tremendous amount of interaction in the course of the day, and acting things out, and a lot of physical movement, and a bunch of having to touch and be touched by complete strangers. One of my peers was grumbling the next day about the total lack of asking for consent for the latter. None of this was stuff I enjoy, but I participated until I became utterly exhausted, about 2 p.m. or so, and then I was angry that CPE, which makes me tired every day, had tossed in this day that was as tiring as five normally tiring days put together. Some in the group looked pretty cheerful and as if they are practicing good self-care; some quite the reverse.

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