Last Tuesday I felt totally exhausted, and, just between you and me, that was after working in the afternoon only. I spent pretty much the whole morning at a dental appointment, Samantha being out of town. I did tell her before the summer began that I had to see my dentist on this date. I didn’t know it was going to take so long, and since I’d have to make up the hours, I don’t think I’ll be saying anything more about it. We have to do a certain number of clinical and class hours during a unit of clinical pastoral education, but apparently there are 10 hours’ leeway built in, so my conscience isn’t entirely besmirched.
Starting last week, I was back to doing all my exercises—and also back to not getting enough sleep! If my life consists of eight balls that must be juggled, one of them falls on the floor every single day, and life at TWMC will be worse (in case I didn’t already mention that). I’m now reflecting that there are suffering people everywhere, including in large corporations. I can practice my most heartfelt values anywhere, including at a large corporation. This often feels just too tiring. I want my underworked, overcompensated life back—is that so wrong?
I also was reflecting that I spoke too soon when I said it feels great to do something I’m good at. I’m good at being open and friendly, but as for actual spiritual assessments and interventions, I have no idea if I’m good at that. It may be that I’m actually not good at that, because I’m a major codependent, which is what makes me so friendly. Samantha shadowed me on a visit to a patient this week, and when we were choosing whom to see, she asked, “Why do you want to see this person?” I was opening my mouth to say, “Because she’s in a terrible situation and she said she really liked talking to me,” when I realized that was totally the wrong answer. We’re specifically there to provide spiritual care, and if someone isn’t interested or there is no apparent possibility of being able to offer that, we’re not supposed to make further visits to that person. Samantha’s feedback after our visit to the patient we chose was extremely helpful. She does know what she’s doing.
I’m still thinking about my decision pretty much nonstop, but not feeling a lot of angst about it. I’ve had a number of conversations with trusted friends and advisors, and have several more scheduled, and things are going to happen the way they’re going to happen. On September 6, I will either be at TWMC or I will not.
On Thursday, Samantha herself had to go to the emergency room—she is all right—so we had some class time with her boss, who advised asking ourselves, “Is this work breaking my heart or breaking my heart open?” I’m not sure about this. It definitely has its heart-opening moments, but I also notice myself feeling extremely testy about noises that didn’t used to bother me. Jacqueline said that people who claim to be completely selfless as caregivers scare her. They tend to see themselves as above patients, and can be prone to over-functioning and / or abusing their power.
Jacqueline wasn’t available for our whole class time, so Andrew, Mason and I ended up having a couple of hours of unsupervised IPR, which I think stands for Interpersonal Relating. Mason was expressing anxiety about whether he’s on the right path or not and Andrew said a lot of brilliant things to him that I was scribbling down for my own sake. This wasn’t strictly pastoral on Andrew’s part; it was more what you’d hear in a sermon, but I thought it was dazzling. One thing he said was, “God didn’t say to dive off the branch—he said to move your foot.”
I was also on call on Thursday and, as on Sunday, had pizza for dinner. My worst CPE-related fear is ending up having to live in a cardboard box on the sidewalk because I left the corporate world too soon. My second-worst fear is that I’ll take to comforting myself with pizza every night and be the chaplain who is extremely nice and, at 300 pounds, extremely cushiony.