It is good to be home, although the last few days went surprsingly better than I thought they would.
I always do that...assume the worst about situations, get myself all psyched up for a horrible experience, cranking up the anxiety to nearly catastrophic levels. I envision horrible things happening, awkward situations from which there is no escaping, perpetuating every humiliation of my life. And then, somehow, things turn out okay. Somehow, nothing is as bad as I've made it seem, and I find that I am enjoying things, in spite of myself.
The conference was very informative and gave me a lot of good tools to use for work. It also solidified my conviction that I cannot remain where I am and still do the things I feel passionately about doing in the field of mental health. I cannot remain stagnate. I have to move forward and seperate myself from what I am doing right now, however painful or uncertain that seperation may be. I've set a target date of August 1st for finding suitable employment elsewhere and closing the books on this chapter in my life. We'll see what God has in store.
As far as the more personal aspect of the trip was concerned, things went well in that respect also. The woman I went to the conference with is not someone I would ordinarily have chosen to spend so much time with, but it allowed me to get to know her from a different perspective. There is only so much you can know about a person when you see them in a work setting. So many judgements are made based on that small fraction of ourselves that we show while we're at our jobs. In spending this little bit of time with her outside of our usual element, I saw that, while we may not have walked away from the experience as the best of friends, we also have a better understanding of where each other has been and where we are going. In being in the awkward situation of being sent out of town for two days with someone you hardly know, you learn a lot of give and take, a lot of compromise, a lot of learning to relax even when you feel just a little uneasy in this unfamiliar situation. It was a good experience, because it caused me to have to reach beyond myself a bit. I was out of my comfort zone for two and a half days, and I learned that I can be okay with that, and I can even enjoy it if I will allow myself to. Interesting.
I was impressed with the wealth of experience and knowledge shared at the conference....or seminar, whatever it was...not only from the speaker herself, but from others who attended. I really cherish what I can learn from the experiences of others, particularly those who have been in the field longer than I, who have held on to their passion and compassion for the people we are here to serve. It is a tough field, and it can suck the life out of you, so to be able to speak with people who acknowledge these challenges and still maintain their desire to remain in this helping profession is very encouraging as I consider my plans for the future.
I am torn lately...I do have a desire to remain in the mental health field, in a proactive and rehabilitative role. And yet, I constantly struggle with the question of, "What's the point?" And I cannot seem to determine definitively if it is the system that has failed the consumer, or the consumer who has failed themselves. Probably both. The only thing I do know for sure is that I do not have a desire to perpetuate enabling helplessness. Beyond that, I have no idea where to go.
God, give me direction. You have put a passion for this in my soul for a reason. Please show me what to do with it.