I was chatting with my wife recently about some random thing or person, as we are wont to do from time to time. We were talking about how difficult it is to work, or volunteer, a lot of time to social causes. Not for the obvious reasons, but the ones that people don’t really consider when they run out to be a part of some great cause.
Namely, I’m talking about the fact that working for a cause like preventing child abuse, or with a cancer hospital, etc. means that you will spend most of your time surrounded by it. Think about it, while working at a cancer clinic, or hospice, is a fantastic way to give of yourself, it also means that every single day, you’ll be interacting with people facing death.
Same thing with folks dedicating themselves to child abuse causes. Making that your profession means spending every day surrounded by the effects of child abuse, and dealing with survivors who may or may not have very good social skills, and might even be downright antisocial. I can tell you, even running this site on a very part time basis, you run into quite a few survivors who can be challenging to interact with, to say the least. Now, I try not to take it personally, and realize that many survivors spent their childhood just hanging on to survive, not to learn the finer points of social etiquette, but it’s still somewhat exhausting to attempt to interact with them on even that basis, let alone as part of my job. Not to mention how many underlying sad and depressing stories of abuse that I read on a regular basis. It’s hard to stay positive when you are inundated with those every day.
The truth is, not everyone can do it. Don’t get me wrong, if you can do it, there is definitely a need and I highly encourage you to give it a try, but also know that you have to step away from it some times too. That’s why you don’t always see me posting things on here. Sometimes I’m simply busy, but other times I just need to keep my life in balance. Constant reminders of childhood abuse can get my life out of balance if I am not careful to have some positives there to keep it in check.
I suspect that is why you see so many people burning out as social workers, or advocates. It’s not necessarily healthy to surround yourself with the work to the detriment of your own life balance. Be careful not to let that happen to you. Go out and enjoy a nice, fun day once in awhile. You, and the people you’re trying to help, will be better off for it.