I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

I absolutely welcome comments. It's nice to know how people relate to what I'm saying.
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Thursday, 10 November 2011

First Set of Volunteer Hours - Interesting experience

Since September, I have had two periods of more intense and necessary healing. Both times have been in the last two weeks, and I'm pretty sure the one I'm in now has to do with not getting enough rest last time. But both are clearly attributable to another cold, and to exertion beyond my normal abilities.

I am trying to look at this as a good thing. It really is, in so many ways. My therapist last night helped me see that I deserve forgiveness from myself for making the mistakes I made that led me here. Once I forgive myself, I can easily embrace my mistakes as stepping stones. But getting there is not always easy.

Last time I wrote, I was nervous about starting volunteer hours at the school. Right. So, I went in, and I was surprised by my initial emotional response, which was to hide in the office without seeing anyone. I was surprised by that, because previous time I was in the building, for the meeting with my rehab coordinator, I was excited to see my friends, and the mood overall (theirs and mine) was celebratory. But on Tuesday, I felt more like just getting in there, getting my stuff done and getting out. In part I think it's because I know that I need to balance out my energy use, and energy spent being excited and chatting is energy I can't spend working... but I'm also trying not to over-analyze it :)

In any case, I spent just a little bit longer than the 1.5 hours I am supposed to spend, and because I went into it in a state of awareness, I was able to notice this: Working for the school brings out the perfectionist in me. And that's not a good thing. I created a template for the report card covers, and a parent has taken photos of each child, which I am inserting into each template. This is where it becomes unhealthy, and the reason I am questioning if I really am ready to start to go back to work, even in such a tiny way. I looked at the photos, and instead of thinking "the parents will be so happy to get a photo of their child" I keep thinking "the lighting is inadequate, the background is too noisy (visually), you can't really see the child's face..." Ok, so I become aware of the dialogue, and I realized what I was doing. Really, Andy, who cares?!?!? But by then, I had already spent a good amount of energy on that nonsense. In the end, what matters is that this parent cares enough to spend so much time doing this so that other parents will have the pleasure of seeing their child at work.

The other complicating factor is that the school holds a lot of history for me and my family. My son has been there for 7 years, so for 7 years, I've been both his mom and the principal's daughter. I started working there a year later, and since then, I have worn more hats than I can count, each additional hat adding to the precariousness of my balancing act. All of this simply means that I have to tread with extra care, be super tactful (relatively, because that's not really one of my greatest skills), and never ever let my guard down. That's really hard, energetically speaking. Especially when I really enjoy my colleagues, and some of the parents. I would love to have more personal relationships, but that requires a level of boundary setting that I have not quite yet achieved.

I tried to think about this whole volunteering thing as me just doing what any other parent with spare time would do, but it's not like that. I'm not just any parent. I have been too involved, too deeply in too many aspects of the school to be "just" a parent.

Perhaps my osteopath was right, and I'm not really ready yet to re-enter that environment. Perhaps she's not, and I can handle this. There is no way to know but by trying. One day is hardly enough to know. But this I do know: I have changed. Dramatically. The school has not. Not really. I want my changes to be permanent, because they are working for me. So it all comes down to this: are the changes deep and strong enough yet for me to able to sustain them even while walking into an environment that is complicated, that pulls me into old habits, and about which I am so deeply passionate?

I did not return to finish my hours today. My recovery from Tuesday was challenged by my son's latest cold. As a friend of mine put it, a sleepless night after a tiring day does no good for a spoonie. I am heading into tomorrow knowing that I do not have to go in to finish my hours, but can do some video editing at home (another school/volunteer project). At least there's no travel time on this one, and no social interactions to hinder my productivity.

1 comment:

  1. Could or would you consider volunteering elsewhere than this school?
    I guess it's food for thought... I had a lovely lunch on Thursday, thank you!