Wounded Healer Discovers Her Limitations
The Work We Do Can Retraumatize Us
There are certain truths that we can only discover for ourselves. Since writing my article in the Fall 2019 edition of City Voices, much has been elucidated. Between August and November of 2019, I had met my aspirations, and still felt unsatisfied. As I had intended, I applied to Yeshiva University for their Master’s in Social Work program. I applied on August 20th, the deadline, and by the 22nd, I had a student identification number. At work, I desired the role of case manager, which at the time exclusively required an MSW or Master’s degree. Due to the bail reform and expansions within the Supervised Release Program for pretrial services with justice-involved individuals, bachelor’s level case management was available. I didn’t immediately apply because it was adult-specific and I had a desire to work with young adults, ages 16-24. I was encouraged to apply for the position by my colleagues. It took about two weeks to receive the job offer, with a salary of mid-50’s. I was convinced that I was on my path—The Path—to the perceived greatness I wished to embody.
During my short time at Yeshiva University, an excellent institution, I was introduced to tremendous knowledge and a plethora of theories on human behavior. As a Jew, I was elated to attend Yeshiva, enthusiastic and enthralled with the newness of it all. I held my professors in high esteem and was very respectful and appreciative of my classmates. I submitted some online assignments and wrote two papers, one a midterm, before withdrawing on November 8th 2019. Although the papers received As, I found the process of learning about trauma and healing in an academic institution to be inexplicably triggering and retraumatizing. There was this approach of objective distancing that felt disconnected from the very statistics on trauma that we studied. I took three classes at Yeshiva. In two of those classes the professors distributed the Adverse Childhood Experience survey. I personally have a score of 9. The highest is 10. Of the questions in the survey, domestic violence between my caregivers was never witnessed, but intimate partner violence was very present.
I began to feel too wounded to facilitate the healing of others. Although I had withdrawn from Yeshiva University, I was promoted to adolescent case manager as of November 18th 2019, ten days after withdrawing from graduate school. I felt confident that if I focused on work and remained committed to my mental health treatment process, along with self-care practices, that I could maintain my work/life balance. This was upheaved when I performed an intake for two young men who were both charged with crimes of sexual violence against young girls. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who is currently naming and owning experiences of abuse that were normalized, I simply could not hold my seat at the table. After much deliberation, I applied for family medical leave and short-term disability as of January 6th, 2020. I write these words in late February, from a ranch in New Mexico, completely uncertain of my future.
Even so, I deeply believe that wounded healers have the capacity to be exceptional in their ability to encourage and support the personal transformation of their peers. My pride instructed me that I required an MSW and a higher salary to execute such an intention. Humility is a wise teacher. It is not a matter of what you do, but why and how you do it. Creative impact is my intention. I thoroughly enjoy listening and processing and empowering people.
My definitive dream is to live off the land, with a farm, in an adobe home, in a sustainable manner and with community. Whatever path that is aligned with my values and ethics that can actualize said dream, shall be explored. I intend on being content and graceful. I have faith in the process. This is my journey.
Pullout: “My pride instructed me that I required an MSW and a higher salary…Humility is a wise teacher. It is not a matter of what you do, but why and how you do it.”