Some rambling thoughts from a mom, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and highly sensitive person.
This has been a soul sucking few years. In 2016, I saw a shift as a mental health professional. It was a pervasive fear in my diverse clientele, transcending social economic status, race, and gender. What we once considered paranoia, now seemed perfectly plausible. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen things that I never thought I would. When Trump was elected, many of us felt a collective pull to urgency. Even those of us who had been involved with social justice work in the past got reinvigorated. We knew the ground gained for members of the BIPOC and LGBTQiA communities, as well as for women, was in jeopardy. I’m not sure I understood at the time how severely they would be threatened.
Light and Dark
The darkness was just coming in. The xenophobia, Qanon, the cult response to Trump. They desecrated American flags with his face! It culminated with him saluting a white supremacy group on national TV… and no one said a thing.
For me, this horror was juxtaposed with a time of light–I had young babies and all the hope as well as myopia involved with two kids in two years. I started Nurtured Well in this time period, as well. I wanted a place for women that acknowledged misogyny and sexism drive mental health issues.
More Gut Punches
Ever the optimist, I soldiered on. Then Covid. Then over a million women dropped out of the workforce. Per usual, the heavy lifting fell on the women, especially the mothers. Those privileged enough put their hands up and cried “Uncle”. They gave up their own professional aspirations, contributions, and potential earnings. The rest of us just piled more on and held our breath.
October 2020: Democratic Primary Results: Several highly qualified women but two white men take the top places. Particularly ironic since this was the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. I don’t think I ‘m going to have a gut left after all of these punches.
All of these things were happening. A part of me knew the horrors and a part of me had to stay laser focused on caring for my children and home. Especially now since the children were continuously with me and my husband in our home. Complicating everything was the unique experience of being a mental health provider experiencing all the same traumas as my clients. My colleagues and I talk about this concept. None of us had been through it before nor have any great epiphanies about it. What we do know: we take care of ourselves so we can bring our fullest best selves to the session. For me that looks like non-negotiable exercise, meditation, and spiritual practice. I wrote a poem. Some days, I danced around my office.
My children, obviously, got older during this time. With that, came newfound independence for them and “free time” for me. It was a bit like emerging out of a cave only to see the sun burning out. Being a parent clarifies your values real fast. It’s also a huge motivator. Make this world better–I made people, gotta make it good for them.
We can not deny the dystopia.
This past Friday, June 24, The Supreme Court of the United States of America overturned Roe v. Wade. I could no longer deny that all of my optimism and indomitable spirit paled in comparison to the dark forces at large. We flew too close to the sun and they will not just burn our wings, they’ll be sure to chop them off. I was numb yet reached out to friends and relatives. Connection is key in times of great strife. It is a community that will have a fighting chance. I won’t give up. I hope you won’t either. Find your tribe. Double down on self reflection. Then take action.
This is a personal reflection post. It represents Sharon’s current mood and is not intended to give professional advice or information to anyone else. She acknowledges her privilege as a white, educated woman.