Thursday, October 27, 2011
In a week of trying to calm down teens who think they are pregnant, talking to the Ministry concerning an abusive home situation, and generally feeling overwhelmed by the needs of the teens around me I did experience one light of encouragement this week. I was sitting in a coffee shop (surprise surprise) with one teen that is especially dear to my heart. We were talking about some tough things in her life and I mentioned that I wish I were a therapist or a councillor so that I could help her along the road to healing. As I am not a councillor I can only take her so far before I am over my head. I'm a youth worker. I can walk with kids, but I can't provide them with concealing services when they need them. I can refer them to councillors and be a support to them while they go, but that's it. The girl spoke up and said "But you are better then a therapist because...because..." and then she started to tear up. Her emotion spoke deeply to my heart. In that moment I caught a glimpse of how significant of a role I play in this teen's life. I was touched and honoured and I thanked her. Then we went back to talking about silly things like what vehicle you would like to be if you were one, and dissecting the plot of a movie that just came out. In the face of overwhelming need and constantly feeling like whatever I do is not enough, it's good to hold these moments close and be warmed and refreshed by them. I do make a difference. I do have importance. I can keep going. And I would be a mini-cooper or a red bike with a basket and a bell, just in case you were wondering. :)
I was driving home after a very very long day of work. I was in a new place, with new kids that day. These kids made me think that I had never really met a real at-risk kid before in my life. There had been an incident where I witnessed some disturbing domestic violence. The RCMP were involved and I went home feeling sickened by the whole incident. Many of the teens I work with have experienced abuse. Physical, sexual, emotional, and every other kind you can think of. I've sat there in Starbucks hearing their stories, feeling empathy for them, helping them along the path to healing, but I've never had to watch it happen before. As you can imagine this was difficult for me. Please don't be concerned for me. These things are supposed to be difficult.
The day I become numb to these stories is the day I quit being a youth worker.The difference between these kids I met that day and the kids I usually work with is that my kids take their pain out on themselves. They cut themselves, they try to kill themselves, they don't eat and don't sleep. They are depressed and suffer from anxiety. But they've never stabbed anyone. They haven't done jail time. These new kids are suffering the same pain. But instead of taking it out on themselves like I'm used to....they take it out on anyone who gets in their way. When I got home and debriefed my day with my husband I said "Just give me my innocent, suicidal, depressed kids! They are easy to handle." We both listened to the echo of what I just said in our heads, and started to laugh. I went for a run, showered off the day, wrote up a critical incident report, and by then the feeling of God's hope had replaced the feeling of sickness. God is good. It is well with my soul. I'm going back tomorrow.