Meeting darkness with vulnerability…

…and what does that mean?

Let’s start with the impossible job I mentioned in a previous post. Yesterday I was at work when I saw through my office door the site nurse on the move with her vitals equipment. I emerged to discover one of the staff behind closed doors in an office being treated by said nurse and I moved towards the lobby, towards an emotional commotion of residents and more staff. As I investigated, spoke with others, saw the video from the external cameras, I witnessed the staff member trying to intervene in a fight outside and getting the worst of it. From there it was conversations with the police, the agency director and watching the staff member writhing in pain, losing consciousness and blood coming from his ear. The paramedics were treating, then wheeling him out on a gurney, headed to the hospital with lights on.

I felt that internal vibration, adrenaline, and past images and crisis moments nudging at me from my career in the shelters, housing support and Adult Crisis, several of the ugliest experiences pushing me in fluid charges of past meets present as that inner vibration grew stronger. It rattled me. I felt a thickness in my joints and steel beads in the back of my head.

Uncomfortable, I wanted to shut it down, deaden into this emotional invincibility which is really just a heavily weighted blanked tossed across anything I might feel.

That’s what I wanted to do, but instead I forced myself open. I stood in the lobby, in the midst of the chattering voices and while presenting with a calm exterior, answering questions and offering soothing words, I let the inner turmoil churn below the surface. And it hurt. It hurt a lot. I stood motionless and saw blood from the past, witnessed violent acts, opened skin, shocked eyes, bloody hair, and so many tears on so many faces until I zeroed in on a woman I once knew, sat in a room with for hours while she finally processed her stage four terminal diagnosis, her expression crimping as fate broke through untreated mental illness towards realization. “I don’t want to die,” she had whispered. I didn’t say anything to her that day, I just put my hand on her arm and let it rest there. I didn’t say anything more in the lobby, I casually turned and went back to my office where my anger spilled over, wanting to pick up a pen from my desk and snap it in half.

It all fucking hurt.

And I don’t know if that was vulnerability, stupidity, or just a willingness to suffer. It wasn’t walling myself off. I know that much. For a few moments, I connected with those in the lobby alongside the unpleasant greetings from my past.



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