Class is over, and now the real learning begins.
I really need to start renaming how I number the posts in this series, or someday I’ll be up to “The Hundred-and-Fifteenth Step”….
Yesterday was my last hospice volunteer training class. I’ve been gently, quietly freaking out. The time for talking the talk is over. Now it’s time to walk the walk. And I’m not sure I can.
I thought I was the only one that felt this way. But of course, a little talking among my classmates quickly overturned that little paranoid delusion. We all felt anxious about actually doing what we’d signed on to do.
This week, we had current volunteers as guest speakers. They were relatively new, having completed their training only a year or two ago. And they had this to say:
The first time is scary. You want to do a good job, and it feels like there is so much to remember! But it changes into what it needs to be….
You’ll get your cues about what is needed. The patient will let you know if they need interaction, or quiet, to be touched or left alone.
The things you thought would be easy, might be hard. What you thought might be hard, will be easy.
Try not to anticipate what will be needed. Don’t be a “fixer”. Let go of that need to jump in and take over. Hold that part of yourself down.
And open yourself up.
Center yourself. Get quiet. Be peaceful. Observe. And be present.
We also had a hospice nurse talk with us. His final words of advice: You are all ready for something different in your life, or you wouldn’t be here. Don’t consider yourself a gift to others. Don’t worry about that part. Just consider the gift you are being given…. (to be with someone at the end of life.)
And now I can I see where my anxiety is coming from.
I’ve been working too hard on giving.
That sounds silly, I know. Here me out.
Lately, it feels like my gifts aren’t needed or wanted. Neither my art, nor my self, nor my intentions feel honored lately. My artwork sales are falling, the galleries say no, the memorial service I felt I was not welcome at, my artist friend who did not enjoy the article I wrote about him–one of my best, btw!–my son who does not want my mothering right now. All feel like failures, failures in what I do, what I don’t do, who I am.
And when I ask for help, I worry I’m asking for too much. It feels like I’m constantly asking for too much.
Now I see that in my search for the perfect exchange, that perfect moment when what is given is exactly what is needed, when what is needed is exactly what I have to offer, I have actually been selfish.
I’ve been trying to control the outcome. I have been driven by the need for gratitude.
And I cannot control the other side of that transaction. I have to let go of that. I can only control my actions, my intentions, my offering.
If my presence is not wanted, then at least I showed up. If my article caused anger, then at least I wrote out of love and respect. Doug may not accept it right now in this angry teenage phase, but my unwavering love for him is the greatest gift of all. I choose to give it freely, and he is free to not want it right now. Or rather, he is free to choose not to show he wants it right now.
And so here is where my real journey will begin. Next week, I go back to interview for my first volunteer assignment. It may be days, or weeks, or months before I am placed. I’m scared. But I’m going to do it.
I will show up, and see what’s there.
And I will be grateful.