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First Responders: Sharing the Pain


First Responders in Ontario and elsewhere are underpaid, overworked and often overlooked. I have learned much over the past 40 years, and the impact of what I learned from the first responders I had the honour to work with, has been immeasurable. The very core importance of confidentiality was very clear from the outset, "none of my stories leave this space...not to anyone", and for me, that made perfect sense - it is never my story to tell. I also learned that the emotional, physical and spiritual pain from traumatic experiences, lies deep within - "How can I do my job if it's all at the surface?" Together we have been able to move from keeping traumatic experiences 'hidden' to holding them 'protected' instead. The notion of memories hidden, often brings with it unavailable, making any sharing of experiences impossible. This has lead to sleep disturbances, flashbacks and nightmares, for many. Thinking of past experiences as 'protected', had opened the door to sharing painful memories - the physical, emotional and mindful experiences - which allowed them to let go of the power to disturb present lives - memories often change a little, each time they are revisited - "That gives me more power than the memory." That was and is, the essence of the therapeutic relationship, in my work. My deepest thanks to all the first responders I have met.



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