Trust That What You’re Doing Is Exactly Where You Should Be

The title quote came from @moreloveletters. I had been thinking about this concept for about one week, specifically Wednesday to Wednesday…more about that in a bit.

I have gotten some pressure to pick up my job search again. This pressure comes from good-hearted friends and family members who could not fully understand what draws me to this field. To be fair, “this field” includes more than residential treatment. To be realistic, to do much more in “this field” requires licensure. I plan to begin working toward licensure in the fall, but a license alone won’t appease everyone. It will likely not enable me to live free from financial worry, or frequently travel, or have an uncomplicated or easy work experience. But those aren’t the things for which I necessarily strive.

Last Wednesday, I got pretty messed up physically and mentally by a situation with a couple of clients. I was providing a male client with support off unit and was about to switch him with a female client who was on unit. She apparently saw opportunity after I opened the door and reattached my keys to my belt loop because she took a running start and proceeded to run by me, grab my keys and pull me until my ID badge broke away from my keys. The male client, seeing opportunity himself, continued to follow us through the locked doors while I called for assistance. Long story short, I was able to keep one door closed while assistance came. We removed the male client from the hallway, but not before he was able to kick staff in the head. He also punched our supervisor in the head as well, causing me to feel guilty about the entire ordeal as the person who initially opened the door. It’s a ridiculous thing to feel guilty about, as I didn’t promote the female client’s desire to AWOL in any way. When we processed a couple days later, she felt remorseful. When asked how she would alter her behavior to avoid a situation like this in the future, she said she would not attempt to AWOL on a day that I worked.

This Wednesday, the client had a similar response, but I was not directly involved in the situation. Instead, I was afforded the opportunity to work with another client who was struggling. She wished to leave the unit to gain access to drugs and alcohol. She talked about plans to take a staff member’s ID and because I was alone in the gym with her, I was a little anxious, but talked her down. It was amazing to do something while her typical coping skills were proving ineffective. She came out of her room later that night to thank me and give me a hug. I wish the little victories like this left me with physical evidence that outweighed the bruises and soreness of the bad days…

But they don’t. So in the meantime, I’ll keep trucking in residential treatment. I’ve been offered the opportunity beginning in May to work on getting our girls physically active despite being stuck in a locked unit. I feel as if I owe it to myself to get to the implementation of that program before writing off residential.

Mama Always Said…

A 12-year-old identified one of my greatest flaws Saturday in one question: Why does your face turn red when you don’t know something? Ironically, I was deemed a “veteran” staff member by some of my colleagues that same day. I had a sassy, head-bobbing moment in the office where I informed incoming staff that one particular client could not do anything fun until a writing assignment was completed. I don’t even remember if the consequence was for disrespect or for failing to follow directions. That’s okay because it got worse on Monday.

I found out that one of my “triggers” is clients inciting others who are struggling. It was my first freakout and my first car ride home spent crying hysterically. There was honestly no time to process and validate my emotions at all during my eight hour shift Monday so once I was exhausted and finished with an incredibly emotional shift, I was emotional. So currently, I’m wondering whether that type of breakdown is normal or mandatory in this type of work. If I didn’t emotionally respond to a child laughing at another child who wanted to die, would I be right for this type of work? The key in the future will be stopping that process at the emotional level rather than acting upon what I feel so strongly.

Fortunately, my week turned around today. I came in early for a meeting with Liz Ferro of Girls with Sole. My mom always tells me that “no education is ever wasted” and that “everything happens for a reason.” Lately, I’ve been doubting my master’s degree. I’ve been feeling as if it’s only gotten me full spinning classes during daytime hours (which I guess filling a 10AM spinning class is an accomplishment, even if “filling” means 11 patrons). Now I have the opportunity to do something about which I’ve been passionate about from the commencement of my master’s degree: advocating for the physical wellness and, in turn, affecting all aspects of wellness of a population that may otherwise never have experienced the satisfaction that follows a bout of exercise. Even more exciting to me are the long-term benefits, the possibilities, that these girls will have from simply participating: self esteem increases, reduced or eliminated dependence on drugs, alcohol, and self-harm, and prolonged lives.