She sits waiting. Still. Being. Alone. Some leaves blowing in the wind, but she is still. Her head is heavy and she makes a puddle of tears. She wishes someone would push the swing. It hurts to raise her head. Too heavy. Too much. Then she remembers she knows how to do it alone. She remembers that her legs can move her. She remembers she has swung and done what she needed to do. The tears dry up – mud – sand – dust – gone… And so is she … gone from the lonely swing. She remembers it feels good pushing other’s on their swings. So she sits. Waiting. Not alone.
On this episode of BrainStorm, I share what Brene Brown taught me about leading with heart, not hurt. I have come a long way with my recovery and I am grateful to be able to share this with you.
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As a mental health advocate, most of my experiences with people’s reactions to my ‘mental health openness’ have been very positive. But nonetheless, there have been occasions where I have had hurtful comments sent my way and have had people vanish from my life, and because of this, I’ve built a lot resiliency to said hurt over the last four years; and at the end of the day have truly become a better person because of each and every experience. Allow me to explain…
People have asked me at times how I deal with negative ‘feedback’ (to put it politely) and here are my answers. After taking a good look at myself to see if/what role I had to play in the situation, I then consider the following points:
- People don’t always know what to say in response to my illness/injury. If even I didn’t know what to say to others about my illness/injury for most of my life, how am I to expect others to know what to say about it to me? In actuality, (whether I like it or not), lack of education and stigma surrounding mental illness still causes confusion about how to communicate with someone with mental illness. My best piece of advice if someone asks me what to say is, “validate their concerns. Believe them and don’t offer advice if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You don’t have to have the solution. You just need to be there for them”.
- Is it time to set healthy boundaries on MY terms? I used to eat, sleep and breathe perfectionism. So much so that it was my mission for everyone to like me – which was an exhausting and futile mission to say the least. I never understood until the last few years that I didn’t have to have everyone in my ‘circle’ or life. Even more so, I now know that I should be making boundaries with respect to my interactions with toxic people. These boundaries may include, limiting my contact with a person, to stopping any contact with that person all together. It’s ok to give yourself permission to choose who takes up your precious time both in your day, and in your mind.
- People come and go in our lives. Most of the time they are just moving with the flow of their own lives and not leaving me behind. I have heard the saying, “there’s a reason, a season, and a lifetime” for someone to be in our life, and I agree. People move fluidly in and out of our lives as our lives change – and that’s ok. And if I am to live contently with moving away from others for one reason or another, then I must let others move away from me too. And who knows, I may be connected with them again in the future, if the universe says so.
- All difficult situations are providing me with an opportunity to send out love. Every situation in my life presents me with an opportunity to grow in love. When someone is hurtful I use that experience to be mindful of the love I am radiating out and make sure that I am not shutting down and reserving love for a rainy day. Sending out love always, to everyone, remedies and prevents resentment which is poison to my body and soul. If I can send out love to everyone I meet, nothing can hurt me because love is the most powerful emotion of all. This ability takes practice and patience, but over time I have come to reap the rewards of doing so, and have witnessed the love I send out reach even those who once hurt me. How beautiful is that?
- interpreting ECG’s;
- the smell of tourniquets;
- the feeling when I got to take my coat off in a warm truck after standing on the cold highway for hours;
- getting a pulse back;
- when I had a student and I let them sit in the front so I could sit in the back alone with my feet up on the stretcher, looking around my ‘office’, wondering how the heck I got to do the best job in the world;
- the clang behind me of the base’s garage door when I first arrived at work;
- patching to the hospital with a CTAS 1 knowing that everyone was listening and wanting to do a good job;
- telling the room that I got the order for midazolam;
- getting the tube;
- hearing a healthy baby cry for the first time;
- getting cancelled at 5am;
- being a preceptor;
- making my preceptor proud;
- my fire guys and my police officers;
- knowing a street address without looking it up – and knowing the patient too;
- knowing the nurses and doctors well enough that they trusted your word;
- being able to stand up in the back of the ambulance;
- checking my bags and the sound of the zipper;
- seeing the relief in a parent’s eyes;
- new boots;
- having a sunny day and not having to clean the truck;
- getting the line that no one else could get;
- lifting the patient after they said I was too small to lift them;
- laughing so hard when my pants split that I almost peed said pants – and duct taping them back together;
- having time to pee, have a coffee and eat on the same shift;
- dynamic calls;
- my partners;
- the helicopter landing and taking off from the highway;
- knowing the dispatcher’s voices;
- Jugo Juice at the hospital;
- when my partner brought extra dessert for me;
- my EMS family.