Posts Tagged ‘iam911’

Struggle To Make Words Go

I used to love writing. I looked forwards to it because it allowed me to discover the language of words. It was another form of expression when painting and drawing didn’t work out as planned.

I used to enjoy putting words down on the page and share my story.

In a way, I still love and enjoy writing, but so much has changed.

Over a year ago I started working as a Telecommunicator. I am a 911 operator and a dispatcher. For 12 hours at a time, I sit in front of six computer screens and follow the stories of peoples worst days. I put on the headset and listen to their voices and the cries for help. And I document what information I can gather.

I write down their stories in every call. And in my head, I continue to write long after I leave the communications center.

Writing has changed for me. Stories have changed me. But the words must be put down.

So, when I return home, it is a struggle to continue writing. But sometimes we must press on. There are stories that must be told. Stories that must be shared with the world. And while it has become a struggle to find words at times, I continue to push through to put words onto the page.

Being Thankful

On Monday, my community gathered together for Friendsgiving, where we shared food and our lives with one another. We laughed together. We celebrated together. And we shared our struggles with one another and gave thanks for the opportunity to come together. We smiled through tears of thanksgiving and held one another in loving arms. We prayed together as brothers and sisters and gave thanks to God through worship through songs and friendship.

A couple days earlier, I got to listen in as one of my coworkers and partner on city radio walked a young woman through the steps of becoming a mother. She helped walk this young couple (and the girls mother or mother-in-law) through delivering a child, as first responders raced to the residence.

And while the fire department got on scene before the newborn child (by about 5 minutes), it was a beautiful and frightening moment to listen in on.

This past year hasn’t been easy. Learning a new job has brought a completely new form of stress into my life. Every time I answer the phone, it’s something new, something different. You have to be prepared for anything and everything.

One of the things that I have been learning over the past year is to be present in each moment. To take each breath as an opportunity to ground myself in the moment and to give thanks for each moment that comes.

It’s harder than it sounds. In a world that screams at you for attention at every opportunity, it is difficult to find those moments to be still, to take a breath, to pause, to give thanks.

We live our lives going 120 miles per hour. We don’t want to slow down because we might miss something. But the reality is that we are missing everything except what we are expecting. We don’t know how to live in the moment, or at least I never knew how.

When we pause and learn to give thanks, we learn how to live in the now.

Yesterday, we celebrated Thanksgiving. I had gotten off the night before after a 12 hour shift and slept a majority of the day to prepare for another 12 hour shift. When I awoke, one of the first things I did was to thank God for another day (or night) in which I have the opportunity to be thankful, to experience His grace.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to continue to serve my community. While I miss my time in AmeriCorps, I am thankful that I discovered another way to serve. I’m thankful for the adventures that I’ve had, the opportunities to explore the world around me. To meet new people and to pick up friendships that span across the world.

I am thankful for all those who have supported me; friends, coworkers, supervisors, and family. I am thankful for everyone who has challenged me to grow, to seek out new opportunities, and to force me to be the best that I can be.

Earlier this morning, I answered the phone to hear the plea of a mother whose child had stopped breathing. In that instant, all the panic that swelled up within me became a steady calm as my training kicked in and (with the help of my coworkers) I walked the parents through CPR.

Just before first responders arrived on scene, the child started breathing on their own. And in that moment, I was thankful. I was thankful in knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be.

I shared with my community during friendsgiving that I am thankful for being present. For knowing that I am exactly where I need to be. For being present.

I am thankful for each breath because I know that the next is not guaranteed.

 

Lost in the Background

I haven’t written recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost focus. Or been stressed out. Or not been in the right frame of mind to put words to paper (or, in this case, to blog). Or maybe I’ve made the choice to keep silent because I know my words would only divide us. Put splinters into fresh wounds that we, as a community, have sustained.

I don’t have a good answer. The simple fact is that I haven’t written. And the words are even more difficult to find. Now more than ever before.

There are so many things that I want to say. But I don’t.

It’s not just here on social media. It’s at work. It’s when I’m surrounded by friends and family. It’s when I feel the safest, surrounded by those I love. Surrounded by my family.

 

Recently, I have been stressed. I have been unfocused. I have been lost. Off balance. Stumbling on unsteady footsteps.

I find it harder and harder to get up and prepare myself to go to work. I walk into the dispatch center and fear putting on the headset because I know what is on the other line. My back tightens up as I walk into the room.

I’ve been told I have too much compassion. That in a couple years, I will burn out and become bitter and heartless like the rest of the people I work with. I have been told countless times that I am too kind. That the dispatch center will change me. And I’ve replied: I refuse.

I’ve found myself distancing myself from some of the people I spend 12 hours with each night. Instead of joining in on negative conversations (or conversations about who and what people did on their days off) I find myself silent.

I don’t say what I want to say. So many times I find myself biting my tongue. Instead of calling them out over what they say about others, about politics, about the world around them, I fade away into the background.

I haven’t spoken out for the same reasons I haven’t written. And I don’t have a good answer.

Last weekend, I got the opportunity to hitch a ride down to Louisiana with my parents and spend some quality time with my Sister, Brother-In-Law, and all my nieces and nephews. Pretty much, I spent a lot of time holding my 7 week old niece.

I just sat there, with her laying on my chest. And it was beautiful. Peaceful.

It wasn’t about me. I didn’t worry about the stress of working. I didn’t have to be there, but I made a choice to get away and reconnect with the things that are important to me. I was able to recenter myself, rediscovering the balance that connects us to one another.

Recently, I’ve dived head-first into my art. It’s my way of escaping. Of silencing the world and conquering my own darkness.

It’s a way to express myself without being loud.

It’s a way to bring to light the silent struggles we all face.

It’s a way to answer the questions you didn’t know you had.

It’s a way to bring balance back into the chaos that surrounds me every day.

Sometimes, in the silence of working late into the morning hours, I wonder if fading into the background is worth it. I constantly question, wondering if I should speak out. Would anyone listen?

Do I speak out against the violence that has swept across our nation? Across our world? Will another voice pave the way towards peace? If I take a stand against the hatred and negativity, will peoples attitudes change? If I speak out during conversations in the workplace, will people realize that their words have created a hostile workplace?

I’ve discovered over the past couple weeks that you can either fade into the background or you can be the agent of change that fights for peace. And sometimes you have to stand up and fight. Sometimes you have to make some noise to be heard.

And for those of us that are more comfortable remaining quiet, not causing ripples over the waters, we must learn to pick and choose our battles. Is the energy worth the fight. Worth the change

Sometimes, the battle can be fought without words. As a silent witness.

Over the past couple days, something beautiful has happened. A simple hashtag that I am proud to be a part of: #IAM911.

The 9-1-1 Call Taker and Dispatch position is currently classified as a clerical position. These members of emergency services that work behind the scene of every single emergency are seen as secretaries. In an effort to reclassify public safety telecommunicators (the official title for all call-takers and dispatchers) to a protective classification, individuals around the nation have taken up the calling to share their stories, proving that they are so much more than a voice on the other end of the phone.

They are the heroes in the night. The unrecognized angels who are the calm voice or reason in an emergency. They are the anchor, the rock in the storm for all responders.

I encourage you to go listen to their stories. Go read their words. And give them the support that they deserve. It’s a battle that we don’t have to face alone.

Sometimes, you find the reason to break away from the background. You find purpose.