When I officially resigned from my last job, I had a big plan to write a long entry about why I would do such a thing. That was weeks ago, and I did start writing. That entry is currently 4 pages long, single spaced. It’s emotional – not just sadness; there is a respectable amount of anger and frustration – and possibly not appropriate for public sharing. It’s not finished cooking. It’s still too raw for human consumption. If it is ever actually finished, it probably won’t be shared. I didn’t write it to be ugly. I wrote it to process my feelings and to try to make sense of what happened. I’m not certain that it is ugly, but that is something I consider about anything I write to share.
I’ve been trying to write this story for weeks. When I’m not staring at the Word document, I’m thinking about it. What should I write? Can I even share this? What is even worth sharing? Did I really quit my job?
I still feel like I had to quit the job. Nobody asked me to, but I was having a difficult time. I was burned out and out-of-touch. I could not get the work completed. Even knowing I was burned out, I was still trying to give. I had progressed past “give until it hurts,” into “give until numbness sets in,” territory and beyond. [. . . . ] The week that I learned I needed to quit the job, I had two court hearings. A co-worker was sent to the first one (Monday) to observe me, because that co-worker needed some extra education regarding testifying. He was sent to court to observe me testifying that day. That indicates that, at some point, I was doing okay (at the very least). Two days later, I was trash.
I have told a condensed version of “what happened at work” to various people and nobody – not one person – has said, “You really fucked up and should not have done that.”
Recently, I had a “lightbulb moment” while obsessing about what to write.
I can tell you that someone questioned my concern for the safety of my community and that hurt me. That was a good reminder of why we, as human beings, should not kick other human beings when they are down. If I did not care about the safety of my community, I would never have taken that job seriously. I would never have burned out. Another term for “burn out” is “compassion fatigue.” I’ll repeat that for the people in the back: compassion fatigue. That someone would question my concern for the safety of the community was deeply insulting. I have worked not to ruminate on that question. I haven’t forgotten that it happened, and I doubt that I will. It helped me remember some important experiences:
During the past 3.5 years, I’ve had had three different people identify, to me, as survivors of childhood sexual abuse and thank me for the work I did.
After a particularly difficult hearing, during which I cried (sitting in the back row of the gallery after I had testified), a victim shook my hand and thanked me for being there. Her dad thanked me for the work I did that led to the hearing and said he appreciated it (even though we did not get the result they wanted).
After a hearing in October, a victim’s mother mouthed the words, “Thank you,” to me as we were all leaving the courtroom.
In 2017, a CSO from a different county ended up mixed up in some stuff with a person on my case load at that time. The mother of his granddaughter was also involved – the granddaughter was in an unsafe situation. That officer thanked me for the work I did with that case. That was especially meaningful because he is an officer who supervises sex offenders. He knows.
I’m no stranger to the phrase, “I don’t know how you do that, but I’m glad you do.”
Recently, during a yoga class, I was most dissatisfied to find that inside my head, I was inside the district courthouse, just about to relive the chastising that changed my life. I pulled my mind away from that, but I felt angry about it. So much of the self-care I’m doing now, including yoga class, is meant to put distance between myself and that day, if not that entire week. As a society, we often joke about Wednesday being “hump day,” and the rest of the week is downhill from that day. If that was not 100% accurate for me in that week, then it never is.