Tag Archives: burnout

In This State

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Our brains are hardwired
for love, connection and belonging.
In the absence of these,
our system goes into
fight or flight.
I have been chronically isolated
for two years now.
Besides my children,
I have had no regular contact
with caring people.
I have been in fight or flight
for two years.
When your brain is in
fight or flight,
your human ability
to think and problem solve
is hijacked
by your reptilian impulse
to survive what is threatening you.
I have been operating
from my survival response
for two years now.
When you are in
fight or flight
for extended periods of time,
your system shuts down.
This is the burnout stage of stress.
I am burned out, traumatized
isolated, and terrified.
How am I supposed
to recreate my life in this state?

Tonglen for Parents and Caregivers

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Breathing in the exhaustion
of every other caregiver
who is experiencing this very same fatigue
I’m feeling right now,
breathing out peace, rest, relaxation,
quiet, nourishment.
Breathing in the guilt and shame
of every other person
who was losing their temper
at the very same time I lost mine,
breathing out peace, calm, patience,
stillness, serenity.
Breathing in the regret
of every human being
who wants so much to be good
but often falls short
just like I–
breathing out self-love,
forgiveness, hope, acceptance
the willingness to keep trying.
Breathing in this desire to awaken
felt by every person on this path,
breathing out trust, perseverance,
humor, enthusiasm, support.
We will all one day arrive
at the same destination,
one breath, one step at a time.

 

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I had a really tough day today. Both of my kids are sick and they were very needy and often whiny, demanding, and unkind to me.  They woke me up two nights in a row wanting comfort because they aren’t well–and I certainly did what I could for them–but now I’m feeling sleep deprived, at the very end of my tether. After a day of trying to meet their needs and not getting my own met, I finally lost my temper right at bedtime.  They weren’t cooperating and just going to bed so that I could just go to bed. The guilt and shame erupted within me after my angry outbursts. I finally meditated, barely staying awake because I am so tired, and I was in bed before 8pm. I decided to do a poem about Tonglen in case there is anyone else out there who was in the same boat as me today, whether they were caring for children, elderly, clients, patients, students, animals, colleagues–when you are called to give of yourself and you’re tired, it takes superhuman strength to maintain a positive outlook.  I just want to reassure you that if you lost it today, you’re in good company.  There were many people feeling exactly the same thing as you in the moment of your difficulty.  You are never alone.