I’ve been missing from this space for awhile. I didn’t really mean to stop writing and I won’t go on about the reasons it happened; it’s enough to say that it has.
In the recent past, I’ve reached a professional milestone. After a decade of hard work, I can finally practice as a registered provisional psychologist. The joy upon my approval can’t be expressed; I really was beside myself. To have the “provisional” condition removed from my status, there are many hours of supervised practice to complete, and two significant (and expensive) exams to pass. But still… I’m doing what I love at long last.
Much like becoming a mother at long last, I find myself slipping and sliding like a penguin on a steep learning curve. When I first became a mom, I navigated three brand new and intense experiences at once: I was a first time mom, a NICU mom, and a foster mom. The expectations and responsibilities of each category were incredible. A few days in, I broke a NICU rule — mind you, no one had told me the rule existed. Because of my nature, and because I was in a position that came with significant scrutiny, the sense of failure and shame was powerful. So then, after several days of massive adjustment and complicated joy, I found myself sobbing in the arms of a nurse. It was all just… so much.
Although I’ve mostly adjusted to motherhood and the medical needs of my children, foster parenting continues to press a heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders. (I know all parents carry the awareness of and responsibility for the vulnerable little lives in their care. In fact, I think that was the most emotionally exhausting adjustment of motherhood for me… Remembering every detail of her schedule and being ever awake to her needs.) But foster parents have the added knowledge that all they do can be scrutinized and the consequences of mistakes can be immense. We can lose children we love, lose our licenses, lose our reputations. We’re held accountable to strict policies and are reassessed annually to maintain our licenses. We train continually and sign contracts and complete endless detailed reports and medication logs. There are so many ways we can mess up and, when we do, it doesn’t go unnoticed. In regard to being investigated when an allegation is made against you, there’s a phrase in our world: it’s not if, but when.
It’s weighty. All the time.
I’m coming to find that the dream that I’ve finally achieved — in part anyway — comes with its own weight. I now answer to a regulatory body. I now represent the whole of my profession — all the time. Everything I do and say, even when I’m not formally in the position of a mental health professional, bears the authority of a mental health professional. Therefore, in every moment I have to carefully consider my moves and words. The clients I serve are vulnerable in our relationship and trust me to be consistently ethical, objective, competent, and compassionate. The college I answer to has high and inflexible standards; I simply can’t be negligent in meeting them. My field is one that requires discretion and wisdom the likes of which I have not yet learned.
As such, I’m officially taking a step back from writing and sharing. I’m no longer accountable only to me and my family, and until I can confidently represent my other responsibilities with consistent integrity, I must safeguard both myself and the reputations of my communities. I hope to share things that I learn, but my thoughts and ideas will remain just my own for now.
I appreciate the encouragement and love I’ve received over this past year of sharing my heart and words… more than I can express. Stay tuned for random psychoeducation posts in the future!