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Compassion Fatigue

Only five more shifts and I will be on holidays for 22 days and I can’t wait!

I have nothing but praise for my employers as they do everything they can to look after their workers but the same cannot be said for the service users.

They can be, and very often are, incredibly abusive.  A lot of those who call help lines use us as some kind of psychological punching bag to vent their frustration and anger on.

My worst experience, so far, was the man who said he was going to find out where I work and kidnap me.  He said he would slash my face up and cut off my breasts because that’s what all women deserve.

He was angry about his wife leaving him but targeting her got him a restraining order so it was safer, for him, to vent on me and he did.  I was there to help him but he just wanted to hurt someone.

Other callers wave their lives around, like a weapon or a hostage, under my nose demanding I cater to their needs or be responsible for them killing themselves!

They wouldn’t tell a complete stranger they are going to throw their diamonds away if someone doesn’t convince them not to yet that is what they say they will do with their lives!

They don’t seem to understand – it is their life so is THEIR responsibility not mine!

If they choose to steal it is they, not me, who is the thief.  If they choose to kill, no matter whose life they take, they are the murderer not me.  Only the person who does something is to blame for any act and that includes suicide!

I am there to help.  I am not there to take responsibility for the things they choose to do but they can get extremely offended by that attitude.

After about four months of callers like that my patience and ability to offer compassion begins to wear thin.  I have to take time off to recharge myself.

I won’t be doing anything during my holidays.  My gambling habit has left me with no money to spare for doing anything but getting away from the constant stream of psychological manipulations and verbal abuse for a while will help a lot!

At times like these I think about quitting but, no matter how bad the compassion fatigue gets, I still care about the other types of callers we get.  The ones who call for help because a crisis has left them unable to cope and the ones who are struggling with long term problems who don’t try to manipulate me or jerk me around.

I still want to be there to offer help to those people!  I just find myself treating the others with a fair bit of impatience and that is not acceptable to me.  It is also not fair to my employer or the service users.

Instead of quitting I arrange to take short holidays often rather than wait a whole year to take the full time off.  If I waited and took my holidays only once a year I would spend half the year doing my job very badly and I don’t want that.

I’m still playing the online game called Syrnia and still enjoying it but some of the initial obsession has worn off.  It takes so long to get the next level now that I get bored and have begun to look for other things to do while I wait.

My game clan has a new member so now it consists of me, my daughter and my brother which is a surprise.  I really didn’t expect either of them to like the game let alone get addicted to it themselves but they have.

The man I have been pining for since I met him seven years ago, my unrequited love, did a one-off reunion performance with his band early this year which I did not find out about until it was too late.  Recently I found a You Tube clip of him performing one of their old songs during that show and it has made my feelings for him even stronger.  Sigh.

I have been watching the clip over and over and over again and that has led to dreaming about him.  The dreams have been so vivid that once I even smelled the toothpaste on his breath!

Fragments of songs run through my head at unexpected moments triggering a weakness that undermines my solitary strength.

“Jesse, I would cut fresh flowers for you, oh Jesse, I would make the wine cold for you.  I would put up a loan, I would wait by the phone for you.”

I find myself changing the words.

“Jesse, I would cut fresh flowers for you, oh Jesse, I would lose the weight for you.  I would clean the house, I’d be meek as a mouse for you.”


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