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Hurt & Acceptance

3 December 2022

I have been back at work for a combined total of 5 weeks since my two months of inpatient and intensive outpatient therapies and a three-week stint of leave back in the states. Most days I feel ok. I like my co-workers; the pace in the new job is more palatable for the state of "recovery and reintegration" that I'm in and I have a strong background and knowledge in the job. But the truth is, I don't have the energy or passion, or "care" like I previously had. In fact, I often find myself feeling a certain resistance or caution to anything that will cause me to exert my energy. There are some moments where I get a flicker of excitement or joy in what I'm doing. Like something in me remembers "Kristin you really like this work and you're GOOD at it. But then the majority of the time there’s this cloud of caution over me. Some days, I find myself opening emails (which in itself is progress, as they had become triggers for me during the month of August) and questioning, is this worth my energy? Or "how much effort is this worth putting into?" I didn't know if this feeling was apathy or burn out or a sign that it may be time for me to hang up my uniform. What kind of leader AM I if I am cautious about doing work? I'm not use to these feelings.

Two-weeks ago my therapist and Psychiatrist agreed that because I am progressing so well that they are removing me off of the High Interest List (HIL) meaning that I am no longer on a medical profile and can start decreasing the frequency of my care (as appropriate). This is very good news that I was shocked and impressed that I and the doctors were able to achieve. The Truth is: I AM getting better. My body, mind and outlook on life feel it and see it. I see it in my answers to my weekly mental health questionnaires and the responses I have to the daily stressors and joys in my life. I am making strides to returning to a new, healthier, and evolved self and it is a powerful thing to experience within me.

But this entire week I've been having a series of nightmares. The morning of December 1st, I woke up upset as I had a nightmare about my previous job. I thought to myself, why am I dreaming about this? I thought I was OVER IT and MOVED ON from my work pains. What triggered this? Why am I stuck?

I started to reflect on the dream and go through all the things I didn't do or thought I could or SHOULD have done better. I started to feel shame and blame towards myself but had to stop myself, "Kristin-you are doing it again. Reflecting on all the things you didn't do or the things you thought or others said you SHOULD have done better at. You ALWAYS do this thinking that it will help you or even worst, that you DESERVE the shame. You deserve to repeatedly 'knock yourself down'. How is this serving you? Should, could, or would of statements are NOT SERVING YOU."

This process in recognizing the thought pattern is called "cognitive diffusion." It's when you recognize the pattern of thought rather than getting fixated on the content (a concept I learned in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)). I have a PATTERN of engaging in negative self-talk. The fruits of this are feelings of shame, inferiority, and feeling less than. I've been doing negative self-talk since I was a kid. For most of my life it’s been something automatic that I don't know how to turn off or control, especially when I am alone with my thoughts. I then remembered the words of my marriage and family life counselor who asked me, "what are you doing to combat these thoughts?"

As the negative thoughts, self-blame, and painful memories ran rampant in my mind I asked myself, why am I feeling this? I realized; I AM STILL HURT. I keep trying to resolve the history of events and actions in my mind so that I could have repaired relationships, so that I could have made the organization healthier, so that I could have made myself better. I keep trying to move past and over the hurt because I and others feel that I've stayed in this hurt place for too long. It’s time to move on. It's time to learn the lessons and let it go. But then I realized, "Kristin, look at what you've gone though. IT'S OK that you have shades of still being hurt."

I continued to tell myself, "You gave everything you had in you at that time. You did the very best that you had to give, that you knew how to give with the cards you were dealt. You prioritized as best as you knew how for that time. It may not have been at your personal best, but you really tried your best to the point that you neglected your own needs."

I decided to record the dream I had into my journal and finished it by documenting my feelings and discoveries I made about myself after reviewing the dream. I then took reigns of my thoughts and decided to speak more gentle truths to myself. "Kristin, yes there are things you fell short on or didn’t do at work but look at all the things and people you DID do things for". I wrote a list of this in my journal, "Two things CAN exist at the SAME TIME. There are good and bad all in you at one time. As a human being, you are COMPLEX. You love HARD and WIDE so you hurt HARD and WIDE. It’s a part of your gifts, talents and composition. It’s OK to feel and acknowledge the hurt and pain you feel. You don't need to change your nature because of it. You are now just more AWARE of how people can treat and/or view you so now you will have more resilience, more discernment, and an ability to filter/decipher through it. You ARE NOT broken. You are very strong. You are wise and growing in wisdom and discernment. You are abundantly loved and loving. You are intelligent. You are beautiful. You are inspiring. You are powerful. You are limitless. You are a leader. I AM all of this and more."

After I documented this in my journal, I had a flashback of what one of the Nurses in the hospital told me back in August when I was admitted, "Ultimately, you will need to learn how to SELF-SOOTHE." I brought myself back to the present and realized, that’s what I did. I self-soothed. Despite the ups and downs that came up, I had a very good week because I CHOSE to.


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