The Rule of Five (…or Why we left church)

(This piece has been featured on DrAndyRoark.com and associated social media networks.)

FBGcoverLeading a group of men through a study based on the book Fathered by God (John Eldredge), we’ve been prayerfully considering what God intends us to become as men.  As we wrestle with current struggles, we’ve journeyed back through our personal stories, asking God to reveal where, why, and how our masculine spirits have been assaulted, seduced, and surrendered.  For the men who are willing to engage in such an expedition, they discover a gut-wrenching sort of liberation through the process.  It’s been the same for me, and over the years I’ve done this sort of thing many times.  It just seems God’s not done with me, yet.  (I only mention this because I want you to understand why I’m going where I’m going in this piece.)

Having poured out my soul about my marriage (I was blown away by your numerous emails and private messages–Thank you for sharing your hearts, dear ones!), you’re aware that Laura and I struggle like everyone else.  However, I’m compelled to reveal something deeper about my wife and our relationship.  To do that, I must first tell you how I’ve failed as a man.

Here’s my confession:  I have not been the lover my wife deserves because I’ve not been the warrior God created.  You see, I grew up in a home often fragmented by emotional tension and turmoil.  Even as a boy, I learned to survive by avoiding conflict at all costs.  I constructed thick, armored shields of wit, humor, and intellect to deflect uncomfortable encounters.  Certainly, there’s great wisdom in picking and choosing your battles, but my reality was built upon a weak foundation that all conflict could (and should) be avoided.  The result was a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy who prided himself on being the peace-keeper (all the while feeding a violent creature of passive-aggression that haunted the shadows of my soul).

I’m sorry, but I simply cannot be that guy any more.

For the sake of my wife, our marriage, and our family, I’m going to risk some discomfort, hurt feelings, and open conflict here and say something that I should’ve said years ago:

Stop asking my wife questions about your pets.

If you don’t already know, Laura is a veterinarian and we run a small animal hospital in West Virginia.  For most of you, I realize that the very word “veterinarian” conjures up images of wet-nose puppies and fluffy kittens nuzzled up to the adorable, laughing young DVM with the toothpaste-ad smile and dreamy eyes.  Indeed, it’s an alluring, media-driven mental image.  But it’s not real.  Not even close.

A neighbor recently told me that her soon-to-be-college-grad daughter was trying to decide between medical school and veterinary school.  She offered this advice to the young woman:  “Be a vet!  There’s no stress.”

It took everything I had to remain polite.  What I wanted to say was something along the lines of …

“No stress, indeed!  That’s why two-thirds of veterinarians suffer from clinical depression.  Certainly!  Encourage her to the long hours and relatively low pay, shackled to the incredible debt most vets incur from veterinary school.  In fact, the monetary realities of this no-stress career are actually delightful compared to the kick-to-head heartbreak that veterinarians are four-times (yes FOUR TIMES) more likely to commit suicide than people in any other profession.  Your sweet, puppy-kissing pet-vet will be twice as likely to take her own life than her human-medicine counterpart.  Do you personally know six veterinarians?  If you do, at least one of them has seriously considered killing themselves.  In fact, I live with a statistical example.”

Not long ago, a fellow blogger gave an accurate glimpse into a day in the life of a veterinarian (I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here, so I encourage you to read that post).  The author demonstrates why something known as compassion-fatigue is a harsh reality in this industry:  People in this field are often deep-feeling, amazingly empathetic, compassionate, tender souls … and it is killing them.  I wish I could count the times Laura has zombie-walked into our home after a 12-hour work day; shoulders hunched over; arms limp at her sides; eyes fixed in a vacant stare.  Everything about her physical appearance reveals what her lips sometimes can’t find the strength to mutter:

“I’ve got nothing left.”

Truth be told, my wife often has nothing left by noon, but she keeps going.  Because she cares too much.  And because Laura does care so deeply, the self-cannibalization is then set in motion:  She stumbles home, takes one look at me and the kids, and hates herself because she can’t find any possible way to be the wife and mother she longs to be.  Besides, she still has to reply to the daily-dozen texts and Facebook messages from friends and family members with questions about their animals.


To survive as a veterinarian, one needs an incredible amount of spiritual care and attention.  This is what prompted a meeting with one of my best friends and associate pastor at our church.

I explained to Steve my concerns for Laura.  She’d become socially withdrawn and isolated (and for good reason), which was putting a serious strain on our relationship.  The stresses of the job were killing her, but she couldn’t get away from it.  Everywhere she went, she was available and on duty to anyone with access to her.  Already wrestling with guilt for leaving work early one day to watch our son play tennis (Laura missed most of our oldest son’s baseball games and deeply regrets it), she ended up missing half of Danny’s match anyway because three people stopped her to ask pet questions.  We quit going out to dinner.  Quit going to parties.  Soon we weren’t even being invited to social events as our list of friends dwindled.  She even started walking our dogs after midnight because she was constantly being stopped and asked to put on her DVM coat by friends and neighbors.  Before long, Laura’s intense need to get a break from her role as a veterinarian turned us into prisoners in our own home.  However, her adoring public still found her.

As I told Steve about these issues, I tried to explain the spiritual crisis we were in–I was intimately involved in the ministry of our church, but Laura was slipping so deep into self-isolated depression that even being in the church she’d grown up in was creating a huge amount of anxiety.  Steve knew that Laura had begun showing up late to church and leaving early, but he didn’t realize why.  Nor did he know how common it was for people to be waiting on her at the church door with their questions, seeking her out in the middle of service for her advice, even stopping her in the communion line, pulling out pet products to ask her professional opinion.  Once, someone even presented her with a bag of worms, asking her to prescribe medication for their dog.  She’d already quit attending fellowship and social events at our church, but now she just wanted to quit going to church altogether.  Beat up from typical 50-to-60 hour work weeks and starving for spiritual connection/fellowship/transcendence, three hours in church on Sunday morning meant no less than 60-to-90 minutes of veterinary Q-and-A.  The worst part was that as she was losing her faith in the church, it was also taking its toll on her faith in God.

So there I was, struggling as a husband to help my wife.  I knew that Laura needed a ton of spiritual care, but she was beginning to loath even the thought of church.  Meanwhile, I didn’t want to rock the proverbial boat.  I didn’t want to step in and confront someone, creating an uncomfortable situation, so I did nothing.  I think I was hoping that it would all just go away and get better.  Maybe I thought that Steve would say something like, “Let me take care of this,” so I wouldn’t have to.  Maybe he’d parlay the message into a sermon on leaving thy neighbor alone about work stuff and letting them worship in peace.  However, that’s not how my friend responded.  Instead, the spiritual advice he offered was far from what I expected:  “You need to find another church.”

Though it took many months as I prayed and waited for that “final straw” (and that came in an almost comical, unrelated way), we finally left the church we love.

We had to.


Before going on, I want to clarify something about the other characters in this story:  These people asking their pet questions are not bad people.  I’m not talking about freeloaders trying to weasel free advice from the doc because they’re too cheap to pay for an appointment.  Far from it.  In fact, most of these folks are dedicated clients who support our business; they are people we count as friends.  We are incredibly grateful and indebted to them; they are the reason our business is successful, and to have a successful business in West Virginia–any business!–is saying something.  Many of them are even family members.  Some are just well-meaning individuals who try to strike up a conversation with Laura but they know nothing about her apart from the fact that she’s a veterinarian.  And therein lies another problem:  everybody–EVERYBODY–has an animal story to share, either a personal one or something they saw on the internet.  As a result, everyone thinks they have something in common with my wife that they can talk about.  However, as her husband, I need to finally step up and make things uncomfortable as I fight for her survival:

You’re killing my wife.

pinhead

Pinhead from Hellraiser

Every time you approach her in a social situation with your pet questions and stories, it’s like inserting a small pin into her head.  It may seem insignificant at the time, but by the end of the day (every day), she’s left feeling like Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.  Little wonder she isolates herself and hides.  I’m not surprised that she struggles with her place in the world, constantly wondering if she has anything to offer anyone beyond her abilities as a veterinarian.  That’s all that most people know about her.  It’s become her personal catch-22:  She can’t go anywhere because no one knows her beyond the fact that she’s a vet, and no one knows her beyond the fact that she’s a vet because she can’t go anywhere.  Not even to church.

 

I realize that a lot of people suffer with the same dilemma because of their careers.  With that in mind, I offer this to all of humanity:  I am hereby instituting what shall henceforth be known as … THE RULE OF FIVE.

The Rule of Five:  You may not ask my wife any professional-related question until you have first talked with her on that day about five other things.

Laura is an amazing woman with a lot of passions.  You can talk to her about our family.  Ask her about our kids:  Danny loves tennis; Katie is a beautiful dancer; Ben is playing college baseball.  Naturally, Laura loves all the things our kids love.  You can reach her through Katie’s escapism in Harry Potter, Danny’s intrigue with Supernatural, and Ben’s obsession with The Lord of the Rings.  A constant reader, Laura enjoys a good book.  Ask her what she’s reading.  She’s read The Outlander series more than once.  Live theater and musicals–just ask!  She can talk for hours about Broadway musicals, and she delights in local theater.  Travel?  Laura loves visiting new places.  She’s rediscovered her passion for the outdoors:  we have some camping trips coming up, along with hiking, zip-lining, and white-water rafting.  Want to have your soul elevated?  Get her talking about her spiritual journey and what God has done in her heart–you’ll be blown away by the passion of our Father and the ways he’s fought for my wife when her husband didn’t know how.

Until now, that is.  Until the institution of The Rule of Five.

God has recently led us to a new church, and we are finding some comfort and joy in this place.  For that, we are thankful.  However, be forewarned:  I am prepared to rise up as the warrior/lover of my wife.  Ask a pet question outside of the office and you’re going to get this from me:

rule of 5

RULE OF FIVE

 

Laura is passionate about her career, but she needs (and deserves) a break from it.  Let her have it.  Let her have her time away from the office.  Let her be with friends again.  Let her make new ones.  Let her enjoy her family.  Let her worship in church.  Let her relax in the outdoors.  Let her be more than a veterinarian, because she is so much more.  And if you won’t let her be more than a veterinarian, it’s going to kill her.  And I won’t allow that.

Not anymore.

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44 thoughts on “The Rule of Five (…or Why we left church)

    • Thanks for the comment and allowing me to link to your blog–you nailed it. I’m not sure anyone outside of your career has a clue as to what you endure (and still manage to shine) on an “average” day.

      Be well!

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  1. I think this beautiful. You and Laura both have always had a beautiful hearts. I can only imagine what would be like to still be in that small community, and how smothering it must as a Professional. I better understand now why many of my “Professional” friends do not live in the same communities as their practice. When I think of both you and Laura, I see you as I knew you in High School, not in real time. You guys were so in love and both so strong. I applaud you on protecting and strengthening this love, both of you are so deserving. Many prayers my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michelle. Indeed, it’s hard to hide in Huntington, but that’s one of the reasons we moved back here to raise our family. Even with her faults and struggles, we love our hometown. But it can be both a blessing and a curse at times. It’s like the theme song from Cheers–“where everybody knows your name. ”

      Thanks again for your kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We as men must protect the woman that God has entrusted us to care for and love. Bert, you’re my hero for stepping up and instituting “The Rule of Five”. Heck, you’re my hero anyway. Love you brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bert–loved meeting you and Laura in Colorado and so love you more after reading this. So wish we were closer to you guys as I would love to hang out and not talk pets. We all have so much in common! Give my love to Laura and I am praying for you both right now that a new season of friendships and community is being ushered in. And praying that ithe becomes pure joy for you to stand on her behalf. I know it will blossom a deeper love for you, and gratefulness to God, than she has ever experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Colleen, it was awesome to get to hang out a bit in Colorado. I think God’s got more for us down the road (and I’m finding that distance just adds to the adventure!). Thanks for your very kind words and backing us and this ministry in prayer. Much love!

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  4. Bert, I teach at a veterinary college and would like to consider using this article as the basis for an assignment on how to set healthy boundaries. My goal is to provide a foundation for setting healthy boundaries prior to our students graduating, so that they don’t have to leave their churches, social groups etc because of constant pressure to be a veterinarian 24/7. I think your article would provide the opportunity for rich discussion and insight on the topic of setting limits on our personal time and in our personal spaces outside of work. Would it be possible to talk by phone or email?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bert, this was shared with me (I am a veterinarian) and it really hits home. I will share it with my husband. When I was finally able to purchase my first home (at the age of 44, mind you) he started telling the neighbors what I “do”. He didn’t understand why I said, “DON’T tell the neighbors!!” I love my job, am proud of what I do, and most of the time gladly field questions and listen to stories. I think you’re right, sad to say, it’s killing us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for offering that, Kim. Some of the other readers are spot on about setting boundaries. Sometimes very hard to do, I realize. You DVMs and your compassion and desire to please–beautiful personality traits. I’m a spiritual guy, so I’ll call it like I see it: the evil one often assaults what is your greatest glory. Protect it and fight for it. It’s prescious and much needed in this world.

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  6. It is true that vets are often asked professional questions in social situations or on social media. I’m sure other professionals like doctors, lawyers, and building contractors deal with the same thing, although typically only those in health professions deal with compassion fatigue.

    At the same time, we as vets need to take ownership of our responsibility to set boundaries. For example, if someone at a party says, “Oh, you’re a vet, that’s awesome. I love animals. I have a 12 year old cat that’s super-healthy. She hasn’t been to the vet since she was a kitten!” or, “I have an old dog. I think it’s going to be time to put her down soon because she’s peeing all over the house…” These folks aren’t asking for help or advice, but it sure is hard not to give!

    And for the folks that do ask for advice, it’s reasonable to offer to take their name an number and call them during business hours to set up an exam and consultation. After all, most people understand that it’s not appropriate to speculate on diagnostic and treatment options without a physical exam.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! This is what I went to help teach our veterinary students. That saying no and boundary setting are an essential part of their professional work. I’m a therapist and if I’m at a party, or at an event, or on an airplane, or anywhere else not in the office and someone starts sharing about their marital difficulties, fertility issues, parentings challenges, history of trauma etc, I provide an empathic response. Often, all the person wants is some empathy–not a full diagnostic work up. If they are needing more clinical services, I suggest they call the office or suggest they look up the community mental health resources in their area. A general guideline I offer to students is to actually wait to see if they are asked to help. E.g. “Can you help me with this?” Often, folks in the helping professions feel obligated to help when they haven’t been asked to help. More often, the speaker just wants to be heard. I think addressing this issue in the healthcare professions could be very helpful in reducing the impact of compassion fatigue.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As I was reading I kept thinking “Wow, they really need to teach how to handle this as part of the professional practice part of veterinary training.” I’m so glad to see you’re working on that!

        I run into the same things all the time – it’s usually people blatantly asking for free advice – in every field I work in (writing, fitness, and web design). In my case, people usually want me to tell them in a few short sentences how to do the work I would normally charge for. “I’m writing a book. How do I get it on the Kindle store?” I do a lot of pro-bono work for good causes, but aside from that I’ve gotten pretty good at expressing my enthusiasm for taking them on as a client, and asking if they want to set up a call to get started working together.

        Liked by 1 person

      • p.s. We are in the midst of kitty health drama – 5th day in the hospital for a urinary obstruction, now heading for surgery. Thanks in part to your post I’ve been careful to greet the vets and staff by asking how they are, how their day is going, and to also thank them for everything they are doing. Another 3-4 days of this… *sigh* This is a 24-hour ER hospital, and the staff have been great with us and kind to our kitty. I know they deal with a lot of hard cases, and work long hours. We are really stressed out, but we’re still trying to be nice and respectful with everyone there. Thanks to all vets – it’s hard work.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent points, Ivy! Thank you for that. When my wife graduated, this sort of thing was never addressed. I know vet schools are now addressing the issue and I’m so glad. Setting boundaries is as critical a skill as (in my humble opinion) surgical knots.

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      • Thank you. You’re very kind. He’s home, purring, eating, drinking, peeing, pooping… And removing his cone of shame (once – we got it back on him). LOL So far, so good. After a good night’s rest I’ll be posting a very positive review for the vet hospital – they’ve been really lovely.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. I just had the joy of spending the past week with Laura. You are right. She is a beautiful woman, inside and out. We had wonderful conversations about traveling and your family, even the non-animal side of veterinary medicine. When she gets home, please give her a giant hug! Blessings to you all and may you continue to be a warrior for the love of your life. She doesn’t need you to protect her, but I can guarantee that it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not a vet, at this point I am merely a student about a third of the way through a veterinary technology program. Yet I get people who constantly approach me with, “Can I ask you a question about my dog?” I’ve started to reply with, “Sure, but my answer is almost always: “Sounds like your dog needs to go to a vet.” Sometimes it works.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is wonderful. Everyone needs someone to stand with them like this. I am an older (49) vet tech/student technician. My dear friend and mentor at work is a younger (30) Doctor. She is so big-hearted that enforcing boundaries is an exhausting struggle for her. This field is incredibly tough in so many ways. I try to shield her when I can. When we go out with our significant others, we sometimes go places where nobody knows us and use silly made up names.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you Bert for this blog entry, I cannot tell you how many times I have clicked here to re-read. Although I am a very strong woman and feel I have done a pretty good job in my 26 years of practice in setting my boundaries and taking care of my emotional health – I still have many days…… You have nailed it so well…. it’s that “one more little question” at the ball game, at the grocery store or from the neighbor who follows me in the driveway. And the hardest part? Is the resentment I feel for the situation, the fact I am not living up to being that “always helpful” veterinarian…. ( at least inwardly). We all need people like you in our lives to make us feel valuable and protected… it makes all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that! The heart-struggle is that you care so much about your ability to care. At the end of the day, that’s something beautiful (and so very needed in this world). It’s worth protecting. To overuse anything is to misuse and abuse it. And then it falls apart. By law, everyone from air traffic controllers to truck drivers are limited in their hours “on task.” People in veterinary medicine shouldn’t feel bad for needing a break for their hearts and minds. Best wishes!

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  11. Thanks for this! I am a fairly recent veterinary graduate trying to figure out how to leverage the gifts God’s given me in light of Him and ensuring I am there for my family as time goes on. I went to school to become a mechanical engineer and wound up getting into vet school my first attempt (a door God obviously opened: as for those who don’t know getting in to the one and only school you apply to with little experience on the first attempt is a bit unusual to say the least). I don’t want to burden your wife or yourself but if you know of resources or someone I can reach out to for advice on life in this profession in light of God and family that would be much appreciated. Looking ahead at where I’m at now and my coworkers, I already see and feel some of that fatigue and am working on how best to manage/handle it with regards to my future. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you’ve got a great head-start on realizing the interplay of your career, your faith, your family. Central to all of that is protecting your heart–it will certainly come under attack. What several folks have mentioned here is huge: learn early to set boundaries and don’t feel guilty about it. (I’m not sure where you’ll end up, but realize that boundary-setting can be a difficult task if you wind up practicing in a small town; even moreso if you touch down in your small hometown.) Email me if you like. No one has it all figured out; I don’t have all the answers, and I refrain from offering advice, but I’m happy to share our bumps and bruises, warts and scars, false-starts and missteps. Our ministry leans on the premise of being open, real, and vulnerable so we can all be honest about our struggles and the places we need help and healing. I’m encouraged and excited for your journey because you’ve already figured out that you don’t have it figured out; and following “that star” may take you on some unfamiliar roads, but it’s an awesome adventure! Be well!

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  12. As a teacher, I can really relate to this. Most people have a child and a pet story to share, get feedback on, etc. My wonderful church often wants me to teach or help out with the kids bible camp or ministry during summer or breaks. Haha…nope! I flat out tell them I need a break from anything child related ( esp. since I work with the trying 12-14 year old age group) during my off time do I can be my best M-F and continue to show up for them. But, I’m available to help in other ways-cooking, assembling brochures, etc. Good for you for setting those boundaries and protecting your wife.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Years ago at our church, in the morning announcements, the pastor actually asked the congregation to please refrain from asking other people professional questions at church, so they could focus on worship and fellowship.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My dogs are a huge part of my life and I talk about them a lot, to EVERYONE! Due to health problems of my own, I live an isolated life. I am unable to work and don’t have single friends. My friends are very busy with their spouses and children. Even if they do have time for me, I never know if I will feel well enough to do anything. Some of my friends quit asking a long time ago.

    I love to talk about my dogs, past and present. Sometimes I go very long periods of time only talking to my parents and healthcare providers. When I do have the opportunity to talk to friends and/or neighbors, they almost always want to know how I’m doing. The same. I’m tired of hashing it out over and over. If there is a miraculous change in my life, I’ll be the first to tell everyone I know.

    The only thing worse is someone I just met asking “what do you do?” I don’t “do” anything and I don’t want to discuss why, what happened, or go over the last 15 years of my life with someone I don’t even know. I’m tired of talking about it. Why does what I “do” matter so much?

    I am guilty of hiding and avoiding people so I don’t have to be “interrogated”. All well-meaning people, but they don’t understand that they are making my life harder than it already is. I would rather hear about them and have them volunteer what they “do” all day, or not. We could talk about something else. I don’t care, I just don’t want to keep answering the same questions.

    I imagine if I knew your wife, it’s likely I would talk about my dogs because they are such a big part of my life. I have a DVM that I like and trust very much. A neighbor is a DVM and her office is only a few miles away. I don’t know her very well, but she did a Q&A event for us to ask her questions about our pets when she was new in the neighborhood.

    If I need a new DVM, I am aware that she is available and if I have an emergency her office is much closer than where I currently take my dogs. I don’t know if I would ask her pet questions if I saw her more. I definitely won’t after reading this!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing that. Your words hit me in the heart. I’ve been sitting here trying to find the right words for the perfect response, but everything I’ve typed I’ve deleted; the words just fall short. So I’ll just leave it at this–I’m blessed to occasionally brush up against a beautiful soul and have them share their heart. Thank you for that. That’s a sacred gift and I’m touched.

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    • If asked “What do you do?” – tell them that you are the “Dean of the Faculty of personal health management at the University of life” or that you are a “chronic health condition consultant” and you charge $200/hour for answering questions on the topic 🙂

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  15. Bert, thank you for your courage in writing and sharing this. Your article helped me finally figure out why I don’t enjoy my family and friends telling people what I do professionally. I understand that they are all very proud of me, but I didn’t enjoy the “guess what my wife/sister/mom/friend does?” As I read your article, a light bulb went off and I realized just how to explain my feelings to my loved ones without making them think I didn’t appreciate the support and the bragging.

    I would love to get to know your wife. She sounds wonderful, and I would love to hear her thoughts on Hamilton, and find out what she’s reading.

    Praising God for your wife’s amazing and insightful husband!

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    • Thank you for that, Deena. My wife is truly the amazing one. I will say that many of the issues revealed in this piece are no longer such a burden. My wife is an incredibly strong, compassionate woman, and she continues to amaze me every single day.

      Boundaries are HUGE, and it’s okay to set them. However, those from smaller towns (like us) know how hard that can be. Still, setting those boundaries can be done with respect (for others and yourself).

      Boundary setting (and what amounts to your own soul care) was never addressed when Laura was in school. I think the rapid expanse of technology and social media has hastened the obvious need.

      Again, thanks for the ongoing discussion. It can be so helpful for others to learn that they’re not alone in their struggles. I just wanted to add this addendum to encourage others who can relate to this article–things can and do get so much better with some honesty, effort, support, and willingness to risk some awkward social moments as you navigate through your world.

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  16. I have recently discovered your articles, and I am very moved, impressed, and intrigued by your insight and your wisdom.
    I had a 20 year full-time teaching career that I was very passion about. I was also raising three children. My husband is also an educator. I retired with 20 years regretting that I could not go ten more. The burnout just about killed me too. Compassion in teaching can be draining too. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Catherine, I’m giving you a hug from WV! Teachers have a special place in my heart, and I don’t think the general public has a clue about the reality of compassion fatigue in that field. To open your heart to so many kids in need comes with a cost that no one realizes unless they’re doing it. Add to that all of the bureaucracy and hoop-jumping that teachers endure … Wow. Just wow. If you gave 20 years in that profession, you’re a champion!

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  17. Thanks for writing this! It is all about boundaries and you’re right, none of us are taught this, let alone veterinarians. I teach the veterinary and animal welfare community about compassion fatigue and boundaries is a big part of that. We have to learn how to protect ourselves. When we have HUGE hearts it’s really hard to be ok with disappointing others but that is part of living a life where we take care of ourselves.

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