Part of being an on-call victim advocate volunteer is patiently sitting by my phone for an entire night. On one hand, I dread hearing the phone ring because it means that I'm going to have to go out -- usually in the middle of the night -- to respond to something horrible. I hate the feeling of dread that I have because I know that I am privileged by the fact that I get to sit at home and not worry about something awful happening to me 365 days a year. On the other hand, I dread sitting through an on-call shift and not having my phone ring once because I know that just because my phone didn't ring something bad probably happened to someone. Maybe next time they, or their neighbors, will have the courage to call the police and maybe next time I'll come out to help them through a tough situation. This is my on-call mantra (and it really applies to most of my life): Plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
So, how do I deal with these conflicting emotions and the knowledge that I cannot help everyone who needs it? I think the title of this post says it all. I order Chinese take-out. Well, to be fair, hubby orders Chinese take-out. It has become one of my on-call practices. Every time that I am on-call I make sure that I'm dressed comfortably without any of my jewelry, the car has gas, and my cell phone is charged. I make a stack of school work that needs to be done. While munching on my tasty treat, I meander through the pile of work. I try to pick work that can be set down at a moment's notice and that doesn't require me to be overly involved. This means no heavy reading or online quizzes.
The work that I do is emotionally draining, even if I am not called out. I feel on edge and alert for the duration of the shift. Tonight, I made my pile of work and had a hard time getting motivated to start. I commented to hubby that I felt lazy because I wasn't working. He told me, "You're on-call. No matter what you do tonight, you ARE working." It made me feel really good knowing that he supports what I do, even if he doesn't always understand. At least he does understand that all I need from him on these nights is a listening ear and tasty Chinese food.