I’m writing this post early knowing that Isaac is on its way and losing power for a few days is a realistic possibility. Aside from getting important things done, my husband and I have prepared for Isaac as best we could--canned goods, water, flashlights, batteries, weather radio, and important documents all ready to go. We’ve been in Baton Rouge for less than three weeks, and while we certainly knew that storms are a possibility, we certainly didn’t think one would happen so soon. Our storms in Nebraska could be severe, for sure, but didn’t last for days at a time. We know we’ll get through Isaac just fine, but we’re both still apprehensive about our first big storm.
I most likely won’t be in at my internship site much this week. While no evacuations have been ordered in Baton Rouge, the residents at my site were busy filling out emergency contacts when I arrived yesterday. The residents have weathered many hurricanes and tropical storms in their lives, so while the scene was chaotic, it lacked panic-- which is what I’ve been feeling all week.
When I got home, I realized that the residents at my internship site have weathered so much more than hurricanes. They really are survivors, of experiences I may never fully understand. Some have been hospitalized, sometimes for years at a time, some have spent time in prison, some have lost the support of family and friends, some never even had that support. And they’re all still here. They all possess an inner strength that pushes them to keep going, whether they or those around them realize it or not.
I had a rough day at internship late last week and could feel myself getting defensive toward some of the residents. I couldn’t get home soon enough. My little epiphany yesterday softened my defenses. It reminded me of what a gift it is to work with the residents, even on the tough days, and while I hope to help them, they will probably help me even more. Remembering that they really are survivors helped me get past my defenses to see yesterday’s client as a person. A person who has been through an awful lot and is still standing, and deserves the best help I can give.
So I’m taking a cue from my clients as my husband and I prepare for Isaac over the next few days. We’re not sure what’s going to happen, but we’ll make it through. It certainly won’t be the worst storm that either of us will weather, we’ll come out of it, and life will go on.
Kristen Eckhardt is a counselor-in-training at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, completing her internship this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more about her experiences and her takes on counseling issues at www.feetintwoworlds.wordpress.com.