Shut Down and Opening Up

When I’m assigned an investigation at work, my gut ties in a knot. My chest tightens. My nervous system kicks into overdrive.

My mind is racing. Will I be able to find this family? Will this turn out to be nothing, or are these kids unsafe? Will I be safe rolling up alone?

Until this past week, I’d been so shut down I didn’t realize that’s what happens to my body.

But yesterday I was open enough to feel it again.

I felt it as I was racing around trying to figure out where these two kids are, and talking to folks who know them to figure out what exactly is going on in their family. At the same time I’m dreading the possibility of working this weekend because I can’t find them.


How did I shut down from all that?

I heaped on top of that stress an email account full of appeals from animal welfare groups and those who would want me to do something for them. Then there’s the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feed filled with animals. Some are happy. Some need homes. Some demand justice.  And then there’s the myriad of, REPOST THIS crap. Honestly, do you REALLY think there’s somebody out there by now that DOESN’T know hot cars are unsafe?

I researched stories about animal welfare. There is plenty of misery you run into on the Internet while looking for happy stories.

And I bought into a personal belief that I am tough, I can handle it, and I can not let it impact me.

But I’m here to tell you that whether I pay attention or not, it does impact me, and others too. It’s why many people I know are taking antidepressants and blood pressure medication. They drink to excess or, like me, use food to soothe themselves.


So the reality is I can’t quit my job. And I don’t want to quit writing.

But I do need to take some steps to take care of myself so that I don’t shut down again.

I’m not going to write every day.

I unsubscribed to all the emails.

I’ve unfollowed many of the folks who post a bunch of emotion-laden crap on social media.

And I am looking at what makes me happy. Like yesterday I got my hair cut, and I just sat back and enjoyed the experience of having a man playing with my hair.


As for Rumpy and the gang, they’re fine. They were not happy with me this morning because I slept in. But after their bellies were filled, they got over it. Then the Rumpster and I spent some quality time together outside.


77 thoughts on “Shut Down and Opening Up

  1. Good girl!! you can’t save the world..and you are right you can pretend to be tough but inside you just destroy yourself…let a man play with your hair..snuggle the fur babes and treat yourself to some boring day to day is very underrated! hugs Bev x

  2. Thank you for taking care of yourself, and for keeping your followers informed. Be blessed, and know we four are wishing you mindfulness, peace & the possibility of balance during most times.

    1. Yes. I was surprised that once I became aware of what was going on with me, how many others I could hear saying some of the things I had been saying to myself.

  3. Good for you, Jen! You have to think of you first and your well being. You can’t take the whole weight of the world onto your shoulders. It’s just too much. Good for you for breaking ties with anyone or anything that is adding to your stress level. You are a good person who makes a difference in the world with your social work helping families and your animal welfare work. Bravo for all you do!

    1. Thanks! It’s great to hear that others are taking care of themselves too. I know that some people are resentful of my improved attitude. I know that deep down it’s a desire to have the same, but they don’t know how to give it to themselves.

  4. You are not effective if you let yourself burn out so it’s not just about you. I am glad that you have figured out how to do that. The tough part is not getting sucked back in. Your readers love you no matter what your posting schedule is and we love the household updates even if it comes from Rumpy’s perspective (which my cats say is not always accurate!).

    1. Yes. The speaker I heard last week said my clients deserve me bringing my A-game to them every day, but I can’t do that if I’m not taking care of myself first. Same thing goes with the gang here. They deserve my best, but I can’t give what I ain’t got.

  5. I am glad that you are taking some “me” time. “Me” time is not selfish, it is vital to your mental and physical health. I too am an emotional eater so I know what that is like. If there is one thing I have learned is that you must take care of yourself first. By doing that you can then take care of others. Glad you are being good to yourself and I am sure Rumpy loves having more time with you.

  6. I’m glad you did something what’s just for you , it feels good to enjoy a hair cut and if a man plays with your hair… the day is just perfect :o) Please give the Rumpy-Crew a big hug from me :o)

  7. Oh Jen I hear you. Time and again I suggest to the folks I counsel ‘Listen to your bodies, the clues are all there’ and lately I realised that I had not been doing that for myself. There are also a lot of mis-directed souls who ‘spew’ their emotional damage out through social media and the like….un-following is healthy. A jolly good ‘re-evaluate’ and necessary pruning does wonders. When we open ourselves up to take care for others, we need to take care of ‘us’. All credit to you for ‘hearing’ your body and taking action…happy re-evaluating, hair cutting, nurturing and completely silly, un-planned, fun moments. Hugs for you and your ‘crew’. Xx

    1. I have been guilty of being one of those mis-directed souls. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I just don’t want to fall back in, now that I’ve found a way out.

      1. You won’t Jen, your self awareness is honed now…history will not repeat. Hugs Xx

  8. I’m glad you are sorting through the issues you have been faced with recently. I applaud you for how your handling it. Well done, and I hope it works out for you.
    I actually just did a repost the other day stating unless you want a broken window, don’t leave your dog in the hot car. haha!!!! LOL! I dunno, I guess it’s just the point of trying to gte the message across. So i hope I am not one of the ones you have unfollowed :/ I don’t tend to post horribly upsetting things. There are times where I will share a petition I have signed, but it is not a daily thing.
    Anyways, hope you have yourself (and the pets) a great weekend.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    1. Sorry!
      I guess I am the opinion today that folks know that’s wrong, so if they do it, they don’t give a crap. My posting about it won’t change their minds.

  9. It’s good for you to make time for yourself.
    Doom, gloom and despair from contact with other people and their problems is bound to take a toll, and you can’t help them all.
    Rumpy and the gang are there for you, no doubt basking in the additional time and attention. 🙂

  10. You have to take care of yourself Miss Jen so you can take care of others. Wooowoooooooo fur quality Rumpy time! xoxoxoxoxoxoxox, Ku, Mama, and the whole pack

    1. I am a southern woman of a certain age. We were raised up thinking we take care of everyone else. Taking care of ourselves is selfish and of the devil. I’m glad I learned that’s a load of utter crap.

  11. Years ago, I used to work with rock bands. I was a soundman. There’s no money in working with rock bands on the local level. None. The hours are God-awful. The commitment is 110%, all the time – always, and the payback is Zip. Nada. But when I told a fellow soundman that I was quitting, he said, “Oh, you mean you’re taking a vacation.” “No,” I replied. “I’m quitting.” He just smiled and said, “You’ll be back. Nobody ever quits.” Writing is a lot like that. We don’t write for the rewards, we write because we have to. Because everywhere we look, we see something that needs to be said.

    Writers – and soundmen – are like alcoholics. Once you can say you are one, you can never again say, you’re not.

    My wife is on her annual pilgrimage to Mecca – known by her, as Disney World. Jack has been miserable all day, and this morning he woke me up at 3:30. That’s her normal wake up time, because of her job. Even in a fog of sleep, I was aware that Jack is missing her. So am I.

    1. Oh, but she will be back. And she will be rejuvenated. Being with her will be a positive experience for all of you!

      I haven’t forgot your request for a guest post. I’m thinking about it.

  12. When you are as giving and caring of a person as you are, it is very hard to remember that you really have to take care of yourself before you can help others effectively. We hope you take the time you need to refresh and renew. We will all be here whenever you CAN post.

    Woos – Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning and Mom

    1. I have learned that in order to be a giving and caring person, I have to first give to me. Otherwise what I am is a person using her position to look down on others and treat them in a condescending manner.

  13. Good for you. Sometimes you just need to step back from it all. Mom and I wanted to keep my blog pretty light. Not to say we will always post happy things as sometimes you want to share, but we wanted to focus on positive good things. It is hard for us to read all of the sad so we know it is hard for others to as well. Hope you manage to relax and get yourself in a good place. Spending time with Rumppy and gang is a good step to doing that.

  14. You are so right. It is taking longer to get through everything each day. The most objectionable is people playing computer games looking for piece to fulfill whatever.

  15. Glad you recognized the need for stepping back and taking care of yourself more. We could all use a little more self-care and a little less time on the grid.

  16. You really must pace yourself. You don’t get anything done when you’re dead.

    It is hard to divide yourself in so many pieces. hard on your body and your mind. maybe some planned relaxation time like meditation or some other relaxing practice.

    I actually find working a Zen Garden to be very entrancing and relaxing. Can’t hurt. Might help.

    Take care Jen. Rumpy can’t write without your help.

    Your Friendly, Neighborhood Angryman

  17. Smart move! We all have to shut off from the things that overwhelm us, and you have an excess. Sounds like you have a positive plan and are doing the right things. We’ll look forward to hearing how you’re doing – and maybe we can all learn a trick or to from you about de-stressing. Have a fun, relaxing weekend!

  18. You can’t help anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.

    I used to do child protection and some adult protection. I know that heart-pounding feeling as you plan for every eventuality from the worst to an erroneous report. I used to have to use my time driving home to vent to an empty car in order to be an adequate parent.

    There was no Internet then – thank the gods. But I was too busy doing what I did to worry about any other sort of activism since I was also a parent to a child with a disability and she took all the rest of my time.

    I learned to compartmentalize like nobody’s business. I learned to detach because I could only do what I could do. You can drive yourself crazy if you don’t realize that you’ve only got 24 hours in a day and YOU need at least 10 of those hours to decompress and sleep.

    It really wasn’t child protection – it was show up after the damage has alread been done and stage an intervention so you can attempt to undo the mental and physical damage that has already happened It is more Show Up and Stabilize. But that’s not a marketable term to the public.

    I’m glad to hear you are taking care of yourself. When I left CPS I was in terminal burn-out.

    I still limit what I do. I say no more often. A lot more often. I don’t do CPS anymore. I probably could, now, but I don’t want to. I did my time in hell where you can’t please anyone.

    Enjoy your pack. Plant some flowers. Take walks. Enjoy little pleasures. That’s the only way you can keep doing what you do. You cannot save everyone – first you have to save yourself.

    1. Things haven’t changed much either. Thanks. My plan is to leave as soon as I can without shooting myself in the foot in the process.

  19. We have to look after ourselves first, otherwise we can’t look after others; it’s not selfish, it’s a fact. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with life and get burnt out, and that’s when we need to step back and re-assess, so I’m glad you are taking some time out for you. Enjoy some quality time with Rumpy and the gang and do stuff just for YOU.

  20. Good girl! The adage tells us we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves. I’m sure we’d all rather have you well and happy than have all your attention every moment. Your gang deserves that!

  21. I’m glad you are taking care of yourself! I hope you continue to do whatever you have to, to enjoy life and your fur-babies right at home.

  22. Good for you Jen. You need to healthy, mentally and physically, or your not going to be good to yourself. Your fans, me included, would rather have fewer posts when you’re up to it and still have you post. Snuggles with your furbbies brings is calming

  23. I gave up rescue work because the stress, the nightmares — hell, the daymares — those images were engraved in my brain and wouldn’t let go. I remain concerned and try to help, but I fully understand how difficult it is. I am surprised you hold up as well as you do. It brought me to my knees.

  24. I think I can relate to what you are feeling. I find it difficult to look at pictures that show a dog in pain…and I think that there are others out there who feel just the way I do. So I don’t retweet/share them. They come up in your feed when you are least expecting them, and sometimes they can just throw your whole schedule out of gear. I guess those pictures really end up educating those who are indifferent; those who aren’t already know and do what they can to keep animals out of danger.

      1. A lack of empathy? A lot of people suffer from it. They are unable to view things from another person’s perspective…even if that person is a close friend.

  25. Take it easy and take time for yourself. I don’t repost the things about dogs in hot cars either because lets be honest, if anyone doesn’t know then they don’t really care about animals and they are certainly not going to follow me if that’s the case.

    I’m not going to preach to the converted.

    Hope you feel better soon

    ~ Amy

  26. Good for you!! I also found I had to block or unfriend some folks because it does overwhelm you & I do not have the jobs you do. You should write because you enjoy it not as another burden. Life is too short to constantly be stressed.

  27. Jen, thank you very much for telling us what’s been happening to you….as I’d been worried of you….I think that doing your job and writing blog posts are one of the toughest things….It’s good to hear that you will have your own time to do what you want and have some rests. 🙂

  28. Good for you, Jen! You’re taking care of what’s most important. For the time our paths crossed, it’s been a gift to connect. It’s a very smart move to turn all the outpouring and help you’ve sent into the world onto yourself. I’ll be holding you in my heart and thinking you you cleaning your car and getting your hair done. Love, Paulette

  29. I agree, tuning into all of the sorrow and pain can be overwhelming. I hope you keep writing, even if you don’t feel like sharing online … feel the peace! Purrs from our furbabies to yours. 🙂

  30. Because you are so compassionate, you can’t help but be affected by the media. There is so much pain out there. We have to focus on what we can control and take care of ourselves first. We can’t be of any use to any living thing if we don’t. Take care 🙂

  31. I’ve had to do the same especially on Facebook. I followed a few shelters and rescues that I have donated to and I know do good jobs. I just couldn’t handle the week after week, dog after dog, surrender after surrender… it wears on you. Especially when you work a high stress job (I currently have two clients I care for that are pretty high-stress and require a lot of care and attention).

    It’s perfectly fine to have to go find something else to do, unfollow some people, or even just hide their posts. I narrowed it down to the humane society I frequently volunteer at and donate to, and my breed specific rescue. Those are the only two that come up on my timeline right now because that’s all I need to worry about. I know that there are dogs out there in need of homes, but I don’t need any more of a reminder. It may sound cold but it’s been a big relief.

    I’m glad you’ve decided to continue, even if it just an occasional post of Rumpy. He never fails to put a smile on my face.

  32. Good for you….taking time to take care of YOU that is very important that you do that. Hugs and nose kisses

  33. Hello Jenn: Thank you for sharing your situation….I highly respect you & admire you. Strong, devoted, dedicated, caring…you are a role model for many women. I think it is a great idea for you to de-stress & redefine what you need to do to keep yourself grounded & healthy. Well done!!
    I too re-assessed my FB contacts yesterday & 10 were quietly ‘let go’;people who never comment or email…I can see some more leaving…(not you & Rumpy).
    I have had to let go of a few blogs also. I was following 50 & I could not do it….I am down to 42 & hope I can continue to stay connected. The blog world is an amazing place & I adore everyone….
    I guess what I am trying to say is we should pace ourselves & take care of ourselves & blog for enjoyment.
    All the best to you from Sherriellen & Nylablue too ❤ ❤

  34. Sorry about the emotional stuff I post. It’s kind of the nature of who I am. You reminded me of Pincus in Ghost Town, where as soon as he sees one dead guy, they all want him to contact their loved ones. Try not to take on the weight of the world. You do more than your share and the world is a better place for it.

  35. It sounds like you’re a social worker or similar – anyway, as you say, you can pretend your job and the need – demand – to be constantly compassionate is ok and dealable-with, but the reality is emotional input has got to come out somewhere sometime. It’s just really good that you’re aware enough to acknowledge it and take a step down.

  36. You need to do what’s best for you (and yours). My blog is my outlet but I now just post 1-2 times a week at the most. It definitely is time-consuming to keep up with social media and I refuse to let it control me. And, I must admit, I have “liked” so many animal groups on Facebook that it’s hard to find anything happy in there at all anymore. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it. There are too many things in live we *have* to do so the others should be optional 🙂

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