Annelies van Haastrecht, community nurse, Voorschoten, the Netherlands
I started nursing at a young age, 17 years old. And if you asked me at that time why I had chosen nursing as a profession I would not have been sure what to answer. It would definitely not have been the answer I would give today. Today I say I have chosen to become a nurse because I love people and I love to care for and nurture them, to give them an insight into how it is to truly be caring and loving for oneself.
I left the healthcare system ten years after I started, without any appreciation for myself, burnt out, not coping with the pressure and the huge demands of the system. I did my utmost to fit in, to please others, unaware of who I truly was and this resulted in me becoming the tough nurse, hardened, in whom everything and everyone else came first. I thought myself and saw around me that this was what nursing was about, but I felt I would never be enough, that I had failed, I had given myself away completely and I gave up… and withdrew from my profession.
I closed this door and was convinced I would never go back, but over the last few years how I live, the way I feel about myself, my life and work has changed and for 5 years now I am back in the healthcare system with demands that are probably even higher and I simply love my job. How come I am enjoying my job so much and feel that the pressure and the high demands are not getting to me as they did back then? At the age of 56 years when a lot of people decide to work less hours, I am choosing to work more hours than I have for a long time.
What is my secret of working and enjoying myself in a stressful job and feeling very well?
Well, it is no secret at all. It is true religion that’s back in my life. Not a religion in the way of the traditional religions, but religion in the true meaning of the word. A religion that lives within you and in the relationship with yourself first before anything or anyone else. A religion that unites people as we are all the same and asks us to take care of our bodies, to truly nurture ourselves. A way of life.
I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.
I have built a relationship with myself, a loving relationship that is forever deepening. Without relying only on the outside world any more, but on my body and inner-heart. I appreciate the quality of stillness I bring to my life and thus to the patients I care for. The love I feel inside is what is coming out and this is true religion, me living me. The way I care for and nurture myself is the way I care and nurture for patients. That was not there from the first moment; it has been and still is a process, from living what the outside world wants me to live, to living the connection with the love I am from inside, step by step every day. I make mistakes, take a step back, but choose to come back again and again.
Love is patient and will never give up. And so I can say I am religious; no church, no temple other than my own body, my own heart. I take all of me to my job, to my colleagues and the patients I love and care for.
- From exhaustion and feeling false to feeling vital and truly looking after myself.
- Nursing, me and Serge Benhayon