Thursday, November 8, 2018

The truth is a dirty secret.

     Chit chatting with an assistant at the dentist office today while I was waiting for my mouth to numb, this conversation started: 
"So you are a dispatcher?" Yep. "How long have you been doing that?" As of October I've been there 24yrs. "Wow! That must be interesting." Yes, it is, but it can be very taxing. Then came the question I wasn't expecting and frankly have never been asked. "What's your outlet?" Umm, what? "You mentioned it's very taxing, what's your outlet?" 
     I was quiet for a moment (someone got me to be quiet for a moment. STOP ! ) I didn't want to tell her the truth, my dirty secret. This total stranger didn't need to know that my outlet is eating copious amounts of food to squash my emotions, choosing to stay locked away from interacting with people, and crying, sometimes lots and lots of crying. ( I don't think crying is a bad thing, but when you arbitrarily burst into tears, well that's a bit of an issue.) Twenty four years of people's problems, sorrows, tragedies takes a toll on you. I'm just hearing it. Think about all the poor folks who actually see it, go hands on helping with the issues. I can't tell her the truth.
     Instead, I smiled and said, well I sometimes go for a walk, or I took an improv class for a while. That was a great outlet.
     Reality, the lack of an outlet is catching up with me. It has been for a while. In the last 18months, I have been directly or peripherally involved in calls that have hit me emotionally, double murder /suicide (involving children), firestorm, officer involved shooting. How can those things not affect you? We aren't machines.
     The first windstorm I experienced after the fires, I had a panic attack. I didn't lose my house in the fire, I wasn't working the first night of the fires. I did work many, many days afterward. Why was I bothered so much by the wind? It was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep that night. Listen to that wind, I love it. I knew there was a fire in another county. I thought, it's so far away, we are good. That thought proved to be a lie. That fire with that wind came charging into our county, like it took my thought of "we are fine" as a challenge.  An early morning phone call from a friend asking me "what I was doing",my obvious answer was going to be sleeping. Then she clarified about the fire. Meaning, am I staying or am I leaving? I looked at my phone, to see all these emails from work from hours before, asking people to come in, they were needing emergency help. I went outside to see the glow in the sky. It was too late, I couldn't come in. My husband was at work, I have a 10 yr old and 3 dogs that I couldn't leave alone, and I couldn't take to work with me. I went in that Monday evening, but the guilt I felt for not being there to help was tremendous. What all those people endured that night, there just aren't enough words.
We had another windy night this past October, my husband found me sleepwalking in the living room telling him I couldn't find my shoes. Prior to that incident, my sleepwalking ways ended when I was about 5yrs old. We can only ignore signs/symptoms for so long, before our mind/body get tired of it.
     All these things we experience. For me they turn into a movie of thoughts and emotions that is on a never ending loop. The truth doesn't always set you free. 

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