Help the Healer – Network of Pillars
I was inspired to write this article last week and jotted down the points I wanted to make. There are days when inspiration hits you from all sides and you do your best to jot the ideas as they come fast and intense. Then they really sink in on the days where nothing seems to click, like today, and you realize how much value was written in those few scribbled notes.
Those who are there when we are down, hurt or in a panic are healers on so many levels. They slow down, give you all the time in the world, seek to understand and do their best to support you to a better place. What happens to them when they are down, hurt or in a panic? I know from my 2o years of experience working in crisis response that first responders and other healers struggle to seek out help, even though they are keenly aware of its value. Why is this? The individual may be afraid that seeking help will impact how others see their ability to do their job. They may perceive it as a sign of weakness or just feel they don’t have the time to help themselves when so many others need the help more.
I can sympathize with this from my own experiences. As a volunteer and assistant trainer at the Distress Centre for Windsor Essex, I was drowning myself in shifts and extra training events. My home life was falling apart and the work of training volunteers and helping those on the phones gave me a false sense of purpose when my life at home was devoid of meaning. This happened again many years later as a full-time manager and trainer at Community Torchlight when funding was being pulled and there was huge shifts and pressures along with personal challenges with mental health with members of my household. There were huge pressures, huge overwhelm and a fear that if I admitted I needed help that I would lose respect, lose my job and it made more sense in my stressed mind to find a way to get hurt so I would have a valid reason to escape real life and rest for a while. In both cases, I was fortunate enough to have people who recognized that something was wrong. My deepest gratitude goes to both Sybil Lowry and Katherine Johnson for being the people who stepped up when I was burning out.
This is happening for others. I am not an isolated case. Our network of supports are all burning out and suffering from compassion fatigue everywhere and the system is not set up in a way to give them what they need to fully get back on their feet. We need to find a way to create a safe space for healers to reach out and support each other so they can take the essential time to recharge, and find their footing again. What I envision is a network of healer pillars in overlapping arches so when we need it we can step away and know our load is supported by the entire network around us. The network creating a space that allows full recovery so we can come back and take our space again. Safe people to talk to. Those who will hold the space for you and support you to find what you need to go from empty to full.
Having my own independent practice I have the flexibility on a day that doesn’t flow to be able to move away from the desk, meditate, contact my supports, be in nature and all of the other things that I know will heal me so I can be fully present for those I support. This is not the case for everyone. What I am proposing here is an opportunity to create this network of overlapping arches to be that safe place to support those who are looking for a safe place, because we all need someone to lean on so we can Live Strong and Authentic Lives and not just smile and fake it.