I Will

I had to go into detail about why I quit a previous job in reply to an email today. I was caught off guard at how upset and anxious I became in rehashing what happened. I did not know the full extent of how traumatizing it was for me until today. All of the panic, helplessness, and sadness flooded through me and it took me a little while to shake it off.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201609/21-common-reactions-trauma

Then I got to thinking about the various jobs I’ve had and wondered if my whole nursing career was an attempt to replay trauma in order to try and give me some sense of mastery and control over repeated traumatic situations. I’d frequently encounter violent, stressful, potentially traumatizing situations in my career with psychiatric/behavioral health clients.

Or maybe the role was so familiar to me so I got drawn in that direction? Was it like a controlled, socially acceptable form of repetition compulsion?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-zen/201603/why-do-we-repeat-the-past-in-our-relationships

Traumatization may cause us to revert to familiar patterns in spite of the pain and detriment to us. I told myself I was helping others and I was, but at what cost to me? I justified it by telling myself that I was well equipped to handle it because I was accustomed to volatility so could remain calm and diffuse situations because I was so used to it, which was true…but now I wonder if there was more at play beneath the surface?

I justified my career by emphasizing all of the pros and minimalizing the cons. As time wore on I began to transform and value myself more and became more honest with myself. My perspectives gradually shifted over time, especially after I had children. I became more mindful of the consequences to me because I was responsible for them and wanted to be a healthy and good parent for them.

I stayed in nursing to be able to provide for our family but knew that I would have to eventually transition into another career because nursing was detrimental to my well-being. I had changed and nursing was no longer a fit. The amount of stress and sacrifice involved outweighed the positives. And today I was jarred into remembering vividly why I had to get out of nursing. It was an uncomfortable, upsetting, stressful feeling that took over my whole being, and to think that’s how I felt most of the time while nursing. Why did I keep at it for so long then? Because I needed to make money to pay all of our bills and debts. Nursing made the most money. Nursing was flexible with scheduling. There used to be plenty of nursing jobs as well, so there was job security.

Now it’s such a relief that we no longer have all of those bills and debts. But today answering those questions my fear took me on a little jaunt and I imagined, what if I have to go back to nursing, what if something happens and I have to go back to nursing? Memories of past traumatic events in nursing flashed through my mind. I briefly relived them and blinked back the tears and swallowed the lump in my throat. I was able to breathe through it and the anxiety passed fairly quickly. I talked myself off the cliff again and remembered that I always have choices. It will be entirely up to me what I do. I told myself there are always other creative solutions that will present themselves when we need them. I have agency over my life and I can choose what’s healthiest for me…and I will.

Now I value my health, peace, and quality of life as my main priorities so any future career I choose will have to match up and the benefits will have to outweigh the risks.

Michelle Miyagi
%d bloggers like this: