Is It a Job or a Major Emotional Investment?

Yes. To both. At least in my job.

I don’t blog much about my job for this reason. My hobbies are an escape from the emotional drain and trauma of my work. Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but it takes a toll and self-care becomes very important. In fact the ability to escape daily is probably a massive contributing factor that has allowed me to do this work for so many years.

For nearly nine years I have had the pleasure to work with some amazing young women. Two years ago I met a young lady (we’ll call her Sally) who did not trust adults at all. Sally lied to everyone, she refused to participate in her therapy and worked very hard to push us all away, and in fact broke down crying one afternoon telling me that she not only did not want to trust any of us, she did not want us to trust her. It was the most honest statement that I had heard her make at that point. I was working in our school then and did not get to spend much in the way of “quality” time with my girls (I was assigned to a “dorm” with 14 girls that I was responsible for).  Because it was clear that this particular young lady was going to require some real quality time in order for us to form a relationship, I began taking Sally to my office twice a week for an hour for one on one time. We would play games, or work on crafts, and eventually we were able to form a sound relationship.

It took a long time to earn Sally’s trust and when I had, a year later, she was transitioned to one of our outside homes. This was a more difficult transition than you may realize. She was only 13 years old. Her aunt and uncle, who had raised her due to the mother’s neglect, had informed her that they did not want her back in their home, ever. Then less than two months later we were moving her. Now this had been a part of her plan all along, but for her this made her feel like no one wanted her. So to help facilitate her move and ease her feelings of abandonment, I continued to visit her every week (this has been ongoing for nearly a year now). When we recently talked about her getting adopted, Sally said she didn’t want this. I asked her if she didn’t feel like she deserved to have someone in her life that would always be there for her and Sally said to me, “I have you.” (Needless to say, I almost cried.)

At the end of December I was on vacation for two weeks, and during this time, Sally’s social worker decided that Sally was not behaving well enough and she moved Sally to another facility, hours away. I was quite upset when I returned to work to find she was gone. What you have to know about this is that I cannot contact her without the worker’s permission, and I’ve struggled with whether maintaining contact with her at this point would violate professional boundaries.

…And now the best part…I was informed today that we (staff where I work) are allowed to contact her by phone on the weekends and they are trying to work out a visit, to which I have been invited.

Breath…now I can maintain contact and still maintain professional boundaries. I am really excited about this.

I could go on about this for hours, but I will end now on that happy note.

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8 responses to “Is It a Job or a Major Emotional Investment?

  1. oh … when I read the part where she told you, “I have you.” … my eyes welled up too. Oh … I don’t want to think what she might have thought when she got moved and was not able to see you. Was she even told that you asked on her and why you had not gone to see her?

    I am glad that you will have time with her though. You are a good person.

    • Well, she knows that I was out and that I didn’t know she was being moved. It’s really sad to think that one hour a week for two years, and I am the most stable adult relationship this kid has ever had. She’s a special kid though and I’m so excited about getting to talk to her.

      And…thanks. 🙂

      • Nods…its a sad thing that a person has so few to depend on on a regular basis. Has it been worked out when you go and see her?

      • No, the visit hasn’t been worked out yet. Someone is emailing me the phone number this week though, I should get to talk to her soon at least.

  2. A different side to you Kyred that though sad is beautiful to read – getting to know you through this 🙂 I hope that you are able to speak with her and keep up some communication. This was a beautiful piece, I hope that you are able to still be there for her and guide and support. xxx

    • Thanks. I got the phone number today, but she can only have calls on the weekend so I’ll have to wait until Saturday to talk to her. 🙂

  3. This type of ‘giving’ is not what most folks think of hearing that single word. Our minds go to Paypal, or re-tweeting a link for a cause we want to say we agree with. But as someone coming from foster-home system in L.A. (late 50s/early 60s), I know, undeniably, that this is what ‘giving’ is all about.
    Thanks kyred.

    • Thank you. It’s the old “risk vs. reward.” My job can be really challenging, but the rewards are amazing.