Yesterday I went to a Permanency Summit in Abilene. The summit had a lot of trauma and grief training. It was and extremely intense training and I went and saw my therapist after to process all of it but at the end of the training they focused on workplace well being. They talked all about the secondary trauma we experience in this field if we don’t take care of ourselves. If I were to paraphrase what she said and take of the pretty wrapping she used to be unoffensive it would have sounded a lot like this:
“You are all a bunch of codependence, that’s why you are drawn to this type of work and thank God for that, but you need to keep that shit in check and make sure your nurturing yourselves because otherwise you will end up broken, bitter, and you will unintentionally fuck up the families you work with.”
Then she talked about our “bucket” and it was such an awesome visual analogy for something we know happened to us emotionally (apparently there is a book about this and when I get a chance I’m going to read it). So the idea is simple: Everyone has an invisible bucket next to there heart with all the good things that make them them and we all give and take from each others buckets when we need to. In social work that is every day. The problem is that since you are the only one who can “see” your bucket, you are the only one who knows when its empty and people will continue to take even after there is nothing left. And that can break you down. So in order to ensure that doesn’t happen you have to A) set up firm boundaries when your bucket gets low (ie. I don’t work on weekends. My bucket is low or empty at the end of the week and I need my family time. My family time is something you cant have. Or w/e your boundary is.) and B) to make sure you are doing things that refill your bucket!
Her examples of refilling your bucket were going on a date night with her husband, playing board games with her kids, going to an art exhibit or hanging out with friends who make her laugh and laugh. She really stressed the importance of making sure you didn’t always rely on your spouse to refill your bucket because then it can become drain on their bucket to fill yours. Obviously a date night fills both your buckets and its fine to take from their bucket every once in a while just like they take from yours but having friends and activities that help fill your bucket as well is a must.
She said that everyone in her family knows what “my buckets low” or “I need help filling my bucket” means and they all use it. If her kids throw a fit in the middle of the store and her bucket gets dumped out she can set them down and let them know her buckets low and they will offer things like “If I get my PJ’s on without you having to tell me, will that help fill your bucket?” and if her husband comes home from work and says his bucket is on empty and need something for the rest of the week she might get take out and let him pick the Netflix they watch that night. If the kids buckets are low she will cuddle them or play a silly song and dance with them. You get the idea.
Anyway I loved the idea of the Bucket and Zachary and I have decided to use it because its such an easy way to communicate a common need. It’s something Emily will understand at least mostly. And I was thinking about what are some things that help refill my bucket.
Some quick little fills I use during the week are:
15 minutes of quiet or outside sounds, like sitting on the patio and listening to the birds and wind chimes
Listening to a “pick me up” song
Reading Emily a bedtime story at night
Taking a shower with Zac
Getting a text message from a friend
hunting through pintrest for ideas
seeing someone I know and having them smile/wave at me
Some Medium fills I use are:
at least one hour spent doing something fun outside, be it relaxing or swimming or taking a walk
talking on the phone for 20+ min. with a friend
a long soaking bubble bath
board games with Zac and/or Emily
Reading a chapter or two of a good book
watching a funny show/movie or a good documentary
a nap (that I don’t wake up feeling shitty from)
a really delicious meal
And the big fillers are:
A deep and meaningful conversation with someone I care about
Seeing Emily have a total blast at somewhere I have taken her
Lunch with a friend who lives here
A letter/Blog post/email/ long call/ long IM session from a friend who lives outside of here
Being able to read as much as I want in one sitting
A whole day with no obligations
Having time to sit and write out my thoughts and feelings
A Vacation with Zac and/or Emily
“Date night” with Zac
Reading something that I feel like enlightens me or gives me a new coping skill
The other big thing she preached about the buckets was that we need to all carefully consider the people who help fill you up vs. the people who empty you. And get rid of the ones who empty you and work to foster and nurture the connections with the ones who fill you up.
I thought you might like all this too and I just want you to know I miss you and you help fill me up. ❤ -Me