Blessings and Curses

I'm back working as a music therapist. In the past month, I have been reminded that nothing I have done professionally has ever been so fulfilling to me as being a music therapist. There is routine in my day, and yet there is so much unpredictability in how things will play out from moment to moment, that things never get stagnant, never get dull.

Working with the population I do, as a music therapist, is quite clearly (to me) an expression of my soul's purpose in this lifetime. What could be better than that?

There are life defining moments that come along every once in a while. "These are the times that try men's (and women's) souls." There are days that we look upon long after and realize, "Then. It was that day, that moment that changed me forever."

Today, I had one of those days.

My day was almost over when it happened...isn't it so often like that? Someone stopped by my office for a casual conversation. The person heard from someone else that I am a classical guitarist and I was asked for a bit of music. We discussed music, and the power it has. We discussed how it can make us cry sometimes. The conversation shifted and we started talking about more personal things...family, that sort of thing. The person admitted they had some ongoing challenges...acute challenges as it turned out. I assured the person that I was not there to judge and that I wanted to make sure they have the support and help they need...not just because this falls under my job description. Here is a beautiful spirit, a human being, who shared this burden with me. As a healer, a spiritual being and a human being, I am honored to do what I can to make this burden a bit easier. That's part of why I am here in this lifetime.

After the conversation, I sought counsel from a co-worker. I explained I had had challenging situations before, but nothing quite like this, and never in this setting. My co-worker listened compassionately, offered some good, practical advice, and gently said, "This happens a lot, and you need to be prepared for it."

I was able to go find the person and offer the suggestions my co-worker mentioned...all were declined. The person assured me everything would be alright. I know I'll still worry. I'll worry, because sometimes, things are not alright. I'll worry because no matter how much I want to lead that horse to water, no matter how long I stay with the horse while it decides to drink or not, I cannot make that horse drink the water. That horse might die if it doesn't drink the water, but all I can do is lead the horse to the water and hope like hell it chooses to drink it.

That's my curse...and my blessing.

During an orientation recently, my supervisor was emphasizing the importance of good boundaries in the therapeutic process. While I haven't violated my personal or professional code of ethics, I don't know as I qualify for the "good boundaries" club.

I posted this on Facebook this evening:

It may not be professional, but sometimes I care so damn much about the people I work with (patients) that it tears me up inside.

I feel things very deeply. I have a very open way of connecting with people. These are blessings. The curse comes from holding on too much at times. I may never develop the professional detachment that is recommended in similar lines of work.

I am also blessed with the wisdom that comes from experience. I realized today that I have slipped away from my own spiritual practices. It is vital that I step back into those practices immediately. If I don't, I am not going to last long. I must also heavily invest in my martial arts training...a physical way for me to process complex emotions.

For those of you that are "people" people...working with people that you might strongly identify with, I want to leave you with three thoughts:

First, find out what you need to do to process and deal with the energy you bring home from your work (for me it's spiritual practice and martial arts) and then do it faithfully.

Second, a short prayer that is rumored to be a favorite of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: "Guide me and heal me, so that I may be of greater service to others."

Finally, a phrase I learned working in medical music therapy: "Take care of yourself, or you won't be taking care of anyone else."