I guess I am in my 9th year as a part of POCA and before that CAN.
I've seen a lot of things happen and wanted to help articulate something.
POCA's mission is to work cooperatively to increase accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments.
POCA Tech's mission is to recruit and train students to provide acupuncture to underserved communities through the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture Cooperative (POCA), and to establish an academic foundation for the practice of Liberation Acupuncture.
And being a part of POCA has been a lot of hard work, but it's also been deeply meaningful.
And I am a six on the enneagram so I try to be a safe person for other people, a safe person for me, and a safe person for POCA.
And a part of that is laying down some ground rules of understanding what POCA is and isn't for me.
A good analogy is like a new person coming to my clinic I hope they can understand what the clinic can or cannot be for them.
Yes, the clinic can be a safe place to relax and heal.
No, the clinic can't save you from yourself or your life.
Yes, the clinic can be a great resource to manage their pain/anxiety/life.
No, the clinic will not always be available at anytime to respond to them and to replace the role of a counselor, mother, spouse, or best friend.
Yes, I am a good compassionate acupuncturist.
No, I am not your counselor, sister, best friend, or lover.
Yes, I am a good acupuncturist.
No, I am not perfect and compassionate. Sometimes I am a bit short especially when I am in a lot of pain myself. And I am generally terrible at answering questions. Especially on Friday afternoons please don't ask me questions on Friday afternoons.
And it's like that with POCA.
Yes, POCA is filled with a great bunch of people that you can be honest about the acupuncture profession, capitalism, suffering of people, etc.etc.
But no not everyone in POCA will like me, nor agree with me. Some may even dislike me a lot. That happens in organizations. Sometimes people are just going through hard times in their personal lives and it doesn't have anything in particular to do with me.
Not everyone in POCA shares my personal values for everything. I don't share the same values as everyone in POCA for everything. I am a cat person. If you're a dog person I will still do work with you. But I may expound on the goodness of cat endlessly sometimes. Yes, I have those days.
And sometimes people trigger me. It may be them. It may be me. It maybe some combination. And I want to recognize that.
Yes, I can do really meaningful work toward affordable acupuncture access and affordable acupuncture education. And within that if I have a good idea and have the time, energy, and resources, and passion to act towards it I have the freedom to work toward it.
But, I understand that we are an organization that is held together by duct tape, so I don't expect everyone to drop everything they are doing to get on board for my pet project nor give me access to a lot of resources because there aren't any.
Yes, sometimes I will meet deeply compassionate mission driven and just generally pretty incredible people.
But I will try to understand that these people are dedicating incredible amount of time and energy to this work and that just because I work together they may or may not be my best friend. If I am getting divorced, my father figure is passing away, or I am going through some seriously painful personal health stuff, I should be safe for myself and take the time to grieve. And maybe I might have to drop all my POCA projects and sometimes….so be it.
Yes, sometimes I'll meet some incredibly vulnerable brave traumatized people who do great work.
No, they will not always be safe for me. And it's my job to be safe for myself and other people. I decide how I can talk to people, do work, and be myself in a safe way.
I think Cheryl Strayed said it the best.
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar