Yesterday at work was overwhelming. It’s odd how much my job mirrors real life in the sense that everything seems fine until it’s not. Contrary to how I used to think, life isn’t a constant state of crisis, and it’s not swinging from debacle to disaster like you’re in some sort of Samsara Tarzan swing. There’s a lot of in between, as there is in any journey, and even when things are not going well, there are moments of gratitude that you can take from those experiences.
One of the client’s I work with, whom I will call M, is not easy to manage in certain public settings. Usually when we have to travel to the office or to a store we pair up with another staff member and the client they are working with. M is always moving and reaching for things, he doesn’t know how to stop, and so, when you’re in a place where you have to wait in line or in an office lobby having to do paperwork, its very difficult to keep him focused, reined in, and still. In fact you can forget about still. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
So, I thought I was up to the task to get this errand done with him in tow, and boy was I wrong. M is not stupid and he knows how to test limits, and he was dragging me all over the place. I got him back to the car and called my lead staff and told her I couldn’t handle him, he was too rambunctious and there was too long of a wait. I asked for advice and she basically told me,”well, we all have to learn how to manage him one on one, but maybe J is there at he office. ”
J is my supervisor’s boss, and I was hesitant to call her, so I tried again. M still resisted every redirection. There was no way I could wait in line, and I was frazzled at this point. I couldn’t think ahead and try to plan something because I felt like I had to devote all my mental energy to M and make sure he didn’t grab people’s things or walk into a potentially dangerous area. So I called J and she came down and was not happy. I saw the look on her face, a mix of disappointment and irritation. I felt terrible, like I failed and let the house down. The discussion I had with my immediate supervisor and lead staff once I got back didn’t help.
I was down on myself because I wanted (but not expected) to succeed in my assignment. I did not succeed. And the rest of the day was stressful in other ways. Another client, R, was having behaviors and needed constant monitoring and assistance, and we had a lot of extra household work to complete before the area supervisor made his visit. Did I mention my shift ran from 8 am to 10 pm?
Mindfulness again salvaged me, because even though I was out of gas, I knew I could still glide. I knew that the day would end eventually, that I would have a hot shower and a warm husband to snuggle up to in a few hours. I knew I wasn’t going to get fired or demoted, that instead I would likely get the training I need in order to work better with M. I knew that there was tomorrow, and tomorrow is a clean slate. I may have felt a sense of personal failure, but I now have that experience to learn from. That’s worth an ounce or two of thankfulness.