Another disaster, an atrocity is splayed out on our TV screens.

As I watch and listen I feel torn. I have the skills and experience to help. Yet, I have people here who are depending on me. Should I go? Should I stay? It is a very difficult question.

There are not many of us who have had extensive disaster experience. Everyone who can help should help. We veterans of disasters know the pattern. The news will keep us interested for a few days, perhaps as long as two weeks. Then something else will grab our attention and we will forget. Yes, we will. It happens every time. As a first responder, I know the feelings of abandonment and betrayal when the plight of those so desperately in need is no longer recognized.  Those of us who go will have to help them face and adjust to the double “hit” first the disaster, and then a sense of being forgotten by those who could/should help.

I have heard the call and responded many times before. I know I should go. I know they need me to go. I know I should stay. I know they need me to stay.

As I sit in the dark of night, listening to the traffic of a busy Manhattan street. I am torn.  What voice do I hear? It is so easy to say, “I am needed, go!”  I know what it gives you, and what it takes out of you, to respond. Do I have the energy? Do I have the will? Do I want to give in this way now? Oh, children of sorrows I hear your cries.

At home people are expecting me to be with them, to support them, to teach and share with them. What of their needs? Does disaster supersede their need? At one point I would have said of course it does. Now, today, I don’t know.

The commitment is not a few days or a few weeks. If I commit it could be a long time until I come home. I know this. I know what happens once you have “boots on the ground.” There is so much work. So very much work day after day that goes into helping in a disaster. Endless people in need. As I write, as I chew over my dilemma, I notice that I am already feeling the same kind of exhaustion that I so often feel after being in a disaster. That in it self is my answer, it is time to choose self-love. This time I must stay.