Faith Reflections

Why You Might Think I’m a Hypocrite

If you were to meet me, I might start off by making you laugh. And then you’ll probably hear me talk about the art fair I just went to and the dinner I’m planning to make tonight. I’ll most likely bring up something about Husband and then talk about going back to school and my newfound love of 30 Rock.

I might invite you over and you’ll see my tiny bedrooms and hodgepodge kitchen and I’ll make you tea. At some point, it might come up that I care about poverty and social justice, but you’ll probably look around my cute bungalow and find my expensive shampoo and think “Yeah, right. This girl watches Netflixs, blogs about cupcakes, and owns artisan salts. What does she know about poverty?”

Well, here’s the deal:

I do know about poverty. And I care about it. I’m just burnt out.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson, Creative Commons
Photo by Mikael Kristenson, Creative Commons

I’ve worked in social services for the past eight years and could often be found working past dinner, taking crisis calls on the weekends, and volunteering at the homeless shelter after church. In the past, I took on extra certifications and mentoring assignments. I raised extra funds for charities and talked all my friends and family into volunteering for my wonderful causes. I wrote letters to the editor and went to protests. I cleaned out my closets to raise money at garage sales and baked cookies to cheer up exhausted staff members.

I found meaning in my work and a calling to serve the “least of these”.

I gave so much love, freely, openly, and earnestly.

But then, people threatened to kill me. And left me voicemails that said they hoped I couldn’t sleep at night. And then I went to the hospital in the middle of the night to interview a rape victim, an hour after the attack, and went again to interview sobbing nurses about the injuries inflicted on a baby by her grandmother. I went to prison to ask husbands why they shot their wives and went to juvenile detention to ask children why they took a gun to school. I’ve been on police raids and been handed illegal substances. I think I’ve heard every excuse possible for a positive drug screen and have been lied to so often that I stopped caring about the truth. I’ve had clients steal my things and invade my privacy.

I wasn’t prepared. I got so overwhelmed and discouraged and disgusted that I stopped knowing how to cry or how to talk to God.

I started to experience secondary trauma, where I struggled with apathy, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, fatigue, and emotional exhaustion. I felt I ran out of love and became angry at myself for not being “stronger”. It became so bad that I was frantically trying to figure out a Plan B if I didn’t get accepted into my PhD program because I knew I needed a break from direct practice if I ever wanted to be a person of influence in the field again.

So I’m recovering now. I’m being intentional about my time in school to rest and recharge so that I can start work again with a fresh perspective. I’m saying “no” to a packed calendar and am allowing myself to process my feelings while recognizing it’s OK to feel sad and angry sometimes about my experiences. I’m baking and hosting and laughing and going to church and, hopefully, breathing joy and passion back into my exhausted self.

I’m not trying to be a hypocrite; I still care about poverty and social justice. I’m just focusing on school right now. And trying to care about people again. So I may not volunteer on the weekends, for now, but I will have you over and maybe even make you a cupcake.

Lindsay Sig

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61 comments on “Why You Might Think I’m a Hypocrite

  1. Good Luck in your studies!!! Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is wonderfully self-aware. I’ve been a school nurse for over 20 years, and I remember the night when I burst out in tears with “I’m so tired of dealing with other peoples’ problems!!” and literally sobbed into my husband’s arms. I understand the lack of strength and stamina, the drain of emotional health, although not even to the level that you describe. God gives us each our own boundaries for which we are responsible, and I’m learning to be proactive (isn’t that a good mental health term??) in maintaining my own. I applaud you for finding your own before further relational damage was done. Kudos. PS, I would LOVE a cupcake and hot, black tea, fellow Hoosier!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. You just put the nail on the head as to part of why I started blogging myself. I needed recovery time, too, but I still wanted to be able to share with others for it’s part of who I am. It may seem hypocritical for some, but we are not super human and need to recharge for bigger plans:)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You liked two of my posts so I just checked out your blog, love it! And good for you….best of luck in Grad school and keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You can only give to others if you give to yourself first. I’m planning on going the private practice route as a counselor and am honestly worried about the secondary trauma piece–having survived my own trauma myself. I know it will take a lot for me to be able to make it work. I am also planning on a PhD, but more focused on macro and will eventually keep my practice smaller to lighten that burden–because I know I won’t be able to do it forever and I know I might been breaks here and there. I think taking time to recover speaks volumes about how committed you are to this work that is so, so difficult.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is so incredible. Thank you for sharing and being so open! What you do is truly amazing, but I understand needing a break for some time. And also, 30 Rock is pretty awesome πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t see a hypocrite, just an incredibly strong woman. I don’t believe anyone can continue to give endlessly at that level, and that you are being wise to withdraw for a while and look after yourself. It’s like the advice on planes, put the oxygen mask on yourself first or you will not be of use to anyone.

    I study mental health at the moment and I will always remember some advice I was given, that there will be times where you cannot keep giving, times when you need to turn your attention inwards and heal or grow yourself and that you have to allow yourself that time or you won’t be able to help anyone. Of course I’m still only a student in that field and have no idea how complex it gets out there or how I will personally cope, but I will try to always remember that advice, if not for my own sake for the sake of my family.

    Not many people can do the things you have done, I admire your strength.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for sharing this! I’m sure it took a lot for you to even make this decision. We can’t be everything to everyone, and at the same time not take care of ourselves. I’m happy that you’re realizing that you need to take a break, to be the best person you can be while helping others. Good for you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a really wonderful post and you sound like such a lovely person. I hope you’re able to recharge and find your passion for social work again because it sounds like you really loved it! It’s not hypocritical to need a break – every person needs to recharge and it looks like you’re doing a great job of knowing when you’ve reached your limit. Definitely not a hypocrite, just human C=

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  10. Your story is incredible and I couldn’t help but feel touched. Well done for all you have done and you deserve a rest.
    Isabelle x

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  11. I wouldn’t think you’re a hypocrite to begin with. Your household possessions are not a direct reflection of your character. I’m glad you’ve made a plan to cool down. Thanks for sharing. I like creme-stuffed cupcakes. When can I come over? πŸ˜‰

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  12. Awesome post! Thanks for your honesty! It can be hard to admit to being burned out and I agree with you completely that no one prepares you for what you’ll see/be dealing with. As a fellow social service worker I can completely relate and believe one hundred percent in the importance of DAILY self-care. For everyone in the world but especially those working in social services. Good luck on your journey.

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  13. We live in such a broken world, don’t we? I was in a “people field” before becoming a mom, and it truly can exhaust you. The place I came too was that people can not change in a lasting way outside of God, and that love is never wasted. Praying for God’s refreshment in your life. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Burnout is real. You had to replenish. Glad you are doing that.
    Hope you will comment on my blog when you read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I lived in poverty for years–sometimes expensive shampoo is more important than eating today. It has nothing to do with caring! And I completely understand burnout after months of caring for my mom’s MRSA riddled surgical wounds. Let’s have some germ free cupcakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow. This is quite simply an inspiring post to read. You sound like an amazing person and good for you for being able to realize when it’s time to step back. May God bless you in your future plans!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s important to follow the example of Jesus Himself; He took time to go away and spend time with His Father. If we are constantly giving out and fail to be replenished we eventually exhaust all of our physical and mental resources. But, those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint. I got exhausted just reading about all your former endeavors–it is true that even youths grow tired and weary. If more people would care like you care and live a life caring for others around them, fewer people would burn out.
    I pray that you will have a renewed sense of His peace and joy; may He guide your every step and stop and lead you in the works He has prepared beforehand that you might walk in them.

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  18. I so enjoyed how you shared your heart here. My husband and I have been in ministry for 18 years and completely understand burnout. You are a smart woman. We aren’t good to anyone if we aren’t healthy ourselves. Enjoy your bungalow time. πŸ™‚ BTW, thanks for dropping by simplymeandjeans. Hope you enjoyed.

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  19. Hi ! Your liking my post led me to you blog and man , amn’t I glad !!! Love the title The Love Bungalow and the conversations. Hats off to following your heart every time , thats what makes you a richer person I think. I have a Contemplations section too , on my blog where its kind of notes to myself writing. Random musings as you would term it.

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  20. You’re not a hypocrite. I can see why you were burnt out–experiencing misery, even if it’s other people’s, can do that. I’m glad you’re taking a break, and I hope your studies go well.

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  21. Thanks for sharing. I’m new to this blog thing. I’m a stay at home wife and now empty best mom who is trying to stay creative and busy. I look forward to reading more of your blog. If you have an Instagram is love to follow you. Mine is Denisejasenovec and creatingpanache ( yes I have two) πŸ˜€ God bless, Denise

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  22. Well. I have to say right up front I have no idea whatsoever if you are a hypocrite or not. I mean. After all, I’ve never met you. You could be the worst person on the face of the earth for all I know. Still, I guess even that wouldn’t make you a hypocrite now would it?? That would only make you a “big fizzy douche!” Unless you present yourself as something other than your true self, or expect more from others than you do of yourself, then hipocracy is not your problem……

    From your writing I don’t seem to get that sense at all though. (And as a seasoned ER nurse with the darkest of hearts and the best bullshit meter experience can provide, I think I’m qualified to make that comment…….). I get the sense that you are a human being. One who was handed many things to believe over the years. Things that sometimes came without explanations, things that sometimes seemed mystical and magical and defied logic. (I call those “hand me down” values).

    But. Then. Somewhere life interrupted.
    You got to see that grandmothers hurt grandchildren. You got to see people I. Places of trust abuse those they were to care for. You saw people loose things (like unborn children they desperately wanted) and others throw away children they hadn’t planned. You saw a myriad of things that day in and day out make up life.

    Instead of letting them destroy you. Or change your world view you simply took the time to evaluate. I’m sure you’ve questioned things you were simply “handed” as a truth that you should believe. If you are human at all you’ve screamed at the moon and railed at God. I mean…. That would make you no less noble than he likes of Job right??

    The important thing is that YOU live and “examined life”. That’s something that many people simply refuse to do. It takes work, energy, a different type of trust. It takes openness. It takes effort. It takes pain and above all else it takes strength. Whatever you take from this “break” as you call it, will become a true part of who you were, who you are, and who you are meant to become. There can be nothing hypocritical in that.

    Oh. Wait. You haven’t invited me for tea and cupcakes yet…. Yeah…. Scratch all of the above…. You are a HUGE hypocrite!!!! πŸ˜‰ (sorry. That’s sarcastic ER nurse humour talking!!! What can I say??? We have no social skills….. 😞)
    Duane
    http://Www.Duanescottblog.Wordpress.Com

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What a beautiful voice and soul you have! I “get” this. I understand. I support you in this decision more than I can say. And I have deep respect for who you are and what you do… All love begins at “home” with our selves; it must be so, for it flows through us rather than from us. I thank you for having the courage and strength to nurture that channel that is you! And yes, I’d really love a cupcake someday… πŸ˜‰

    Like

  24. Wonderful write up

    Liked by 1 person

  25. allskyedout

    Reblogged this on A Happy Life with Dana Guidera and commented:
    I can relate to this.

    Like

  26. meandtheinterweb

    Good for you to recognize what you need!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Transparency is a good place to start–with others and with God. Thank you for reminding us that no matter how hard we try, we can’t fix all the ills of the world because it’s not our job.

    Like

  28. I think Netflix and artisanal salts (there is such a thing?) and things like that can be an important part of self-care, to avoid burnout in the future. While we care for others, we must remember to care for ourselves also. Glad you are in school now to heal – and I’m glad I found your blog. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  29. If you don’t take care of yourself the rest of it is beyond you. Well written!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Reblogged this on The Love Bungalow (a thoughtful lifestyle blog) and commented:

    In honor of my blog’s one year anniversary, I’ve been re-posting a few of my favorite entries from throughout the year. This post has, by far, been my most popular post with so many thoughtful likes, comments, and re-blogs. This was one of the first times I was really honest with myself and my writing and I remember being nervous about just “putting it out there”, but I did and received so many positive words of encouragement. I have felt more open about sharing my struggle with secondary trauma ever since this post and even though it breaks away from my usual blogging format, I am thankful for all the support I’ve received through it. Happy Monday, everyone!!

    Like

  31. So beautiful and touching! You’re struggle seems so relatable. It is so easy for any of us to get overwhelmed by the tragedy of the world around us-being physically and emotionally involved must have been so much more intense for. Thank you so much for sharing. Best wishes!

    Like

  32. Lindsay, I’m so glad you stopped by my blog because it brought me here. You have a wonderful site here. But this post resonated especially hard with me. I started out in social work and switched to journalism for some of the reasons you’re expressing. I just retired, and in different circumstances than you, I am also learning to live differently. Even in journalism, there’s no escaping the sobbing nurses or shattered victims.You just interact with them differently. You obviously care very deeply, have a talent for this, and will continue to have an impact. I just hope you’re restoring yourself now.

    Like

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