Thursday, August 16, 2012

Compassion Fatigue

S' social worker (SW) and I talked this week about how things are going and how I'm doing, in particular. School is ramping up for the 3 of us and I'm feeling a bit stressed with that and other things that are happening this month.

I asked for the agency to provide respite for me this weekend. Which means, Lil M and I will have the weekend to ourselves until Sun. night. I'm very excited about this, actually. When I asked, I had suggested that I might even give up my placement of S. I'm not going to do that quite yet, but it is a possibility if things are even remotely like they were in the Spring.

Anyway, when she and I were talking, I said that I'm not feeling like a 'cheerful giver' right now. Meaning, since I've been fostering to 'foster' and not with an option to adopt for some time now, my motives have changed. In this situation you want to feel like you're making a difference or actually helping someone. Or why do it? Just my opinion for myself...

But I haven't felt like I've been making a difference. Oh, I know... I put a roof over their heads, feed and clothe them and give them stability... but the relationships I was hoping to build are tougher than I thought or hoped they'd be to build.

And when you don't see the relationships (because, for example, the attachment is tenuous at best) ... and you don't feel like you're making a difference ... then, all the giving with no getting back starts to feel like work. Doing it because you feel like you should not because you're getting something out of it, too.

Selfish, perhaps. But, we all need to feel loved and appreciated. And if I'm not giving as a cheerful giver, then maybe I need to figure something else out. My SW calls this "compassion fatigue". You can get tired of being the compassionate one... the one with the big heart.

I struggle with giving fostering up. I definitely struggle with saying "no" to the agency when they call (though, I did actually say no to them today). I can't take the world on my shoulders... and even though I try... it's all for not because it's really God's job and He's QUITE capable! :)

I'm keeping one placement for now, and trying to remind myself that I really *don't* have to do this. I need to figure out if I truly want to continue or if I'm doing it out of guilt or *shoulds*... I've been waffling for probably a year now as to whether or not I should continue. I'm still not sure.

Anyway, if you're a foster parent or even just a parent ... I wanted to mention this thing called Compassion Fatigue... and if it strikes a bell with you, I understand.

There's a saying... if you're the one who's always giving and you deplete your energies and no one is filling your reserves up... how are you going to be good for anyone?


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