The Sea Wall


On Friday, I received a phone call from the head of the agency where I work.

Janette talked to me about a nurse I supervise.  I’m a therapist, so supervising a nurse is new to me, but we are working on “treating the whole person” and health care “integration” is in.  Janette told me that it’s time to fire her.

It all makes perfect sense.  Beth is out of compliance with a “last chance agreement” which says she must go to counseling sessions to keep her job.  She must call in if she is absent.  On New Year’s Eve, she was scheduled to work, and she didn’t show up. A bit of investigation revealed that she was not going to her therapy meetings.

She’s not doing what she said she would. Period.

I have worked very hard to help this employee, faithfully supervising her, structuring her tasks.  She had a medical leave from work and when she returned, she was very hostile towards me.  I worked at reestablishing a positive relationship, she improved.  She did more work.  Not as much as ideal, but she did do better.  I came to her defense.

Janette told me enough was enough, that I had been “awesome” but it’s time to recognize when we (that was the Royal “We”-mostly that meant “me”) were working harder than the employee.  She’ll be fired tomorrow, unless HR has a sudden attack of fearfulness, and I agree with this decision.

I thought a lot about my relationships with “Beths” this weekend.  My horse is a bit of a Beth. She takes a lot of energy to ride. I can make her go, but it’s not easy.  I love my horse, but I’m getting tired of getting after her.  It’s not the horse’s fault. She’s nearly 22, and it may be time for a change.  I rode my daughter’s horse this weekend, and she was much easier ride. “Told you so” said our barn manager, and frankly, my daughter said the same.  I’m beginning to think she may need a slower pace or a change of circumstances.  And I have also changed… my body doesn’t have the same energy to get her going.

But you see, that means loss.  Loss upon loss upon loss.

The inevitable failures and march of time-I resist these like a stone wall with waves relentlessly smashing upon it.  The wall stands firm, not breaking, in testimony to stubbornness and loyalty to the task.  Why do I stand like that wall? Because I will work myself into exhaustion trying to keep a relationship not only going, but fruitful.  All to avoid grief, which comes in any case. How terribly painful then, is this divorce…with all the losses.  I have failed in my wall- like duties, crumbling under confusion and stress, and the marriage is gone.  I lost contact with a man I loved, because my sheer force of will was not enough to keep his chronic pain at bay.  My crazy brain thinks “If I could have cured him (read..with my love) then I could have kept him.”  If I could have been the wall holding firm, faithful to the waves that pound on me…in relationship with the water, whether sea at rest, or sea in a tumult.

So I’m expendable…at least that’s the thinking.  If I can’t fix your problem, you’ll go away.  Believe it or not, I have some element of sadness even about Beth, who I and many others agree is a pain in the neck.

I have to remember that I am only a person. One person. I can’t stop time, I can’t stop others’ changing, I am not the only influence on how they see me, and I get tired. If the sea diverts in another direction, the wall can’t go jumping over and stand out in front again, just to keep itself relating to the sea.

And maybe I would like some relationships with a little less pounding.Image


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