This post is written by Jennifer L. Robinson. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @thepenofjen.
The author with her brother somewhere on the road. Credit: Jennifer Robinson
When I left Iraq in the spring of 2016 after two full years responding to the Syrian refugee crisis and later to the overwhelming wave of internally displaced people from Mosul, I felt certain that I was done for a while. I knew I wanted a break and could commit to taking one. During that break I would learn to quiet myself, find my center, and focus on a season of creativity. When I said goodbye to my colleagues, I didn’t plan on seeing any of them for at least a year.
My dad picked me up from the airport in San Diego in a new (used) Mercedes, which we filled with the smell of fast food tacos. On the ride home, we chatted about my flight and the weather in Erbil, his work and latest golf scores. My dad was giving me the space to talk if I wanted; I was waiting for a question. After a few minutes we both decided to Continue reading
When I first shared that I would be leaving my job, I was met with a lot of questions and some stunned silences. This felt a little isolating, to say the least. It had been a difficult decision to make, and it was even more difficult to communicate.
About a month after giving notice, I took part in a team retreat with several days devoted to staff care. It was facilitated by an amazing woman who had a long history of working with survivors of domestic violence, mostly within the U.S. At one of the breaks, I approached her to ask for advice about how to approach this next phase of my life. She told me how she’d run a support hotline for women in the 1980s. She carried a beeper and would receive pages in the middle of the night and run outside to the nearest payphone to respond to them.
She continued her work with survivors for many years, to a point where she felt that she needed some separation from it, some time to attend to herself and the vicarious trauma she experienced. So she took a year-long “sabbatical from violence” in which she even Continue reading