20/365/2015 Ain’t it purty?


This is a pot pie. This is a pot pie that I threw together when I got home tonight. Plain, semi-boring comfort food. I think what makes pot pie magical is that you can put stuff in it that you would never actually eat and when you combine all that yuck, something good comes out. This one is made with canned corn, canned peas, canned gravy, frozen carrots, and leftover turkey. The only thing out of that list that we might have eaten as food for its own sake are the frozen carrots. Although…I had planned to cook chicken later this week, and I think instead of doing that I will slice some “steaks” off the turkey breast and pan fry them with some seasonings. I do hate to waste food, and as much as I don’t care for turkey, it counts as food and so should not be wasted. And if you are wondering why I had all that food that we normally wouldn’t eat here, it was gifted to us, and I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I say “thank you,” and figure out how to use it.

In other news, I had to do some thinking today about how I am engaging with my clients. The answer was “from a distance.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m more distant than I want to be. Boundaries are one thing, and I have those, but this distancing is going beyond that. I’m pretty sure I know what happened. Many of you know that I had two patients die pretty much back to back unexpectedly, and then there was a thing going on in my personal life from mid-November until Christmas that was sucking up a great deal of emotional energy. I just couldn’t sustain all of that output.

Any profession that requires the use of self will be affected by the things that are going on with the self. But I added to that by neglecting my own self care. Now, self-care is a gospel I and most other social workers preach. To others. Mmmmhmmm. In my emotional exhaustion, I stopped arting, I ate crap food, I spent too much time on the computer, and too little exploring what was going on in my own head and heart.

In supervision today, I told my supervisor that I was having a hard time getting back in the flow. And she asked me what I thought was going on. And I told her I thought the deaths were still affecting the way I approached my people, though I left out the personal stuff. We talked about how having the split rotation with less time in the facility makes it harder to build good relationships with the residents. We didn’t talk about self-care because I didn’t realize I had let that go until I was driving home.

She assures me that my performance at work is still good, and that many social workers practice effectively at this distance. But she knows me enough to know that this is not how I wish to practice and that my style is usually much warmer and involved. She noticed that I was no longer stopping in the hallways to chat the residents up, so she knew I was no longer finding the work as satisfying. Damn, she’s good.

So what I need to do is get back to my people and to myself. Ironically enough, that easy way I have with the veterans is *part* of my self-care. By having less informal interaction, I was exacerbating, not helping, my problem. But I was also avoiding the actions that led to such a wonderfully satisfying relationship with the client who died so abruptly on the same day my personal life went momentarily to hell. I had tied those two events together unconsciously. They are not connected by anything other that temporal proximity. No need to punish myself and my living clients over things none of us had any control over. Some shit is just arbitrary.

Arbitrary does not own me.

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