Sometimes I Get to Learn Things

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Earlier this week, Tuesday to be exact, I completed my final day of required training to work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. This was a relief because it had definitely been a very intense couple of weeks and also because the amount of gas I was spending getting back and forth was kind-of a lot. It is very nice to have my two nights a week back and this is my first Saturday in 3 weeks that I’m not rushing up there to spend 8 hours in a training room. In case you have ever wondered, 8 hours is a very long time to spend being trained on domestic violence and sexual assault issues. But I am done. I even have a little certificate with my name on it and everything.

Now, while I had been doing this training, I had definitely been well aware I was learning things. Often I was a bit dismayed about it and I talked about that a little bit here. I guess basically what I knew I was learning as the training progressed was that I needed to take care of myself. People were remarkably kind about this. At least, I found it remarkable since I was not being particularly kind to myself about it. David let me call him pretty much all of the weeknights when I got home, people let me talk things through with them. I ended up being far more vulnerable than I am typically comfortable with but it was where things were at and I was surprised (and okay, a little annoyed) to find that it helped. I would come out of training very drained and overwhelmed, feeling shaky and then I would actually talk to someone and I would feel better. I realize this isn’t rocket science but it is against the programming.

However, there is something I really didn’t realize I was learning – how to do what they were training me to do. I knew I was okay at it, I guess. I was so distracted by this really frightening realization that I was going to have to decide to start being vulnerable and honest in the moment when I wasn’t doing well if I actually wanted to do this thing I wanted to do. I mean, you know. That was a big realization for me. But then, in the couple of days before training ended, I had a totally different realization. We were watching a video in one of my classes with the intention of viewing a particular therapy method. The client in the video happened to be a woman who was in an abusive relationship. Two things happened while I was watching the video. One was that I was very aware of the response of my classmates to her story and how it was not the same as my own reaction. Definitely part of that was because of training and part of that is just because of the way I think. The second thing was what caught me though – I knew this stuff. Like I knew how I would start talking to her, I could easily see all of the strengths she had in this situation and where her barriers to leaving would probably be, it wasn’t hard for me to not be judgmental of her decisions (which leads a little back to the first realization), I could see the direction that the conversation might go and how I might be able to advocate for her if I was her advocate. And I was completely stunned to realize that I can probably do this. Not only can I probably do this but arguably I might be able to do this better than some other people could.

I get very afraid of that idea. I have yet to figure out exactly why. I think it has something to do with stakes. Here I am in a situation where I have figured out for the moment what I want to work towards, what I’m hoping to do with my life. It seems like I might even be good at it. I am really afraid to trust that. It seems to good to be true. Good things keep happening and I keep wincing and waiting for the other shoe to drop and as long as it keeps not dropping, the worse it seems like it has to be when it does. This is a mindset I’m trying to change but it does take some practice.

So you know. What if I’m wrong? What if I really do just get the opportunity to do something I care about a lot? Not just because no reason but because I’m working really hard and because apparently I have some talent at it? What if there’s no other shoe there? That’s actually a really difficult concept for me to fathom. I guess the only thing to do is just keep going.

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