Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have You Gone Mental? (LXV)

As I've ventured down the rocky path I'm on, I have become more and more reflective about grief and loss in my life. Whereas there are several areas in which I've experienced this, I'll mention two..

ONE AREA is in the arena of friendship. Some of the best people in my life have chosen to move quite a distance from me. My daughter Erin (Seaside, OR); My daughter Kelly and son Jon (Moses Lake WA); My good friend Ric (Mukilteo, WA); and My good friend George (Goldendale, WA). Whereas these locations are all within "driving distance" and as close as my telephone these moves of supportive people in my life has been produced a great deal of grief.

There are several left who are still within an "arms length": One is my wife, without whom I would probably not still be walking around on this earth; Peter who one of my best friends just across the river in Portland. Brenda and Jim, are nearby and have encouraged me with their e-mails and two wonderful books they have shared. Then there is Suzanne and Marguerite who have also participated in my life and recovery by their prayers and kind words. This list comprises those with whom I have had signigicant contact over the past several months.

Its been nice to have telephone access to those who have moved, but it is not the slightest bit akin to being in their presence, sharing our lives and experiencing the warmth of a hug. This for me is loss. You may look at this list and exclaim, "geez you have some people who have had a profound effect on your life living nearby"! I would have to agree. Nevertheless every one of these people have their own special place in my life. Not having ready access to those who have moved has been difficult at times and unbearable at others. Maybe I want it all! I guess I do. I'm so grateful to God for each and every one of these individuals (near and far) without whose love and support I would be in very bad shape.

THE SECOND AREA is my work. As of about March 23rd 2010 I was let go from my job as a result of a Reduction in Force RIF. The job was the best I'd every had. It addressed each area of my training: mental health, chemical dependency, and pastoral care. I was the manager of the employee assistance program, the chemical dependency service, and the spiritual care service. This loss was and is very devastating, not only from a financial standpoint, but from a personal/professional one. If you've ever had (and lost) your dream job you know what I mean. This loss has not only been of money and profession, but the loss of the management team with whom I had become so close in the past 15 years. I think of these people often. I also think about my job and grieve the loss there (I guess I said that).

I suppose you may be thinking something along the way of the man who said, "I complained when I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet". I do have a wonderful cadre of people who care about me, AND the job is remains one of my deepest losses.

My life was a near "perfect package". It was as if I had it all. Now it is my task to work through my grief and my losses and try to make sense of my life. Which is no small task. It feels like I am trying to figure out who I am. I just don't know any more. I also wonder where I belong in the working world. What can I do on apart time level? I do NOT wish to return to "social services". Healthcare is not where I want to be. Every day I pray to God, "show me the way". The heavens are silent and the lack of God's voice is deafening. I love to work. I will not make the mistake of being so emotionally involved with my profession. The loss in this area sent me spiraling down to who knows where. Oh how I hope I've hit bottom!

Dependence on my job to define me is something I need to work on. I believe I need to work toward a profession that is fulfilling that does not define me as a person and from which I receive my self-esteem. This is a problem from which many of us suffer: over-involvement and/or co-dependency with our jobs, and becoming dependent on our jobs to produce self-esteem. I had a great deal of myself, too much of myself, wrapped up in my work.

So now I'm seeking answers, not as to "why" I sustained these loses, but to where I go from here. It is a balance I seek between those I love and a job that I love. I hope I can become a good husband and father, an "encourager" of my friends and a faithful hard working employee. I believe its what we all really want. I hope you have achieved it. Please pray that I can.

Typos and all . . . God bless you.

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