To the ones I’ve failed

Tonight, my soul is heavy. I know that as far as career paths go, I am on the right track. I love what I do, but it’s tough work. I’ve wrote about it in previous post but if you are unaware, I am a therapist. Therapist, counselor, pain holder, emotion feeler, walk wither. I sit with people in moments when most people run away. I have only been doing this work for a short period of time, but in these few years I have met some amazing people and heard some terrifying stories. I have been touched and I have been forever changed by many people I have come in contact with.

I currently work with adolescents with severe mental health and behavioral issues. I love what I do. I feel like everyone I went to grad school with already knew their niche. They knew what they wanted to do, where they wanted to do it, and with what population they wanted to work with. They even knew their theoretical orientation (I question that I have feared since everyone said I would be asked all the time but have not actually been asked since grad school).

I knew one thing. People always talk about working with “at risk youth.” While that is great work, I always wondered “well what about the kids beyond that. The ones in the risk. The ones doing the stuff. Who helps them?” It was the spark of a passion that I set out to find an answer to.

I did my practicum at the jail working with adolescent males. I have always said I would go back to jail in a heartbeat if given the opportunity! I did my internship at a shelter for pregnant, homeless women. I enjoyed this as well. My first job was at a methadone clinic. Here I met some of the most amazing, sincere, beautifully broken people I have ever come into contact with. Addictions work will forever hold a place in my heart. All of these places led me closer to the answer to my question.

I currently work at a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF). These are the kids that are living the risk. They have stepped beyond “at risk”. They are actively and daily engaging in risky behavior. Some enjoy it. Some don’t see a way out of it. Some have never known anything different. This is my population. (Obviously though the kids in jail also meet this qualification hence the reason I would go back in a heartbeat).

When people describe me, they often use words like calm, steady and they do this motion where they hold they hold their hand out flat and just move it slowly side to side. I think to indicate the calm and steady idea. I used to be offended by this. I now realize it is my greatest strength in working with the kids that I love. These kids have lived in some form of chaos the majority of their life whether internal or external. Most people have not responded to them neither calm nor steady. I can. In a strange way, I thrive in the chaos of my job. Not the chaos of the paperwork or work related drama. But my favorite part of my day is when someone comes to tell me one of my kids is acting a fool on the hall and can I help. I’m not always successful but I try. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the kid is so far gone in the moment that other methods of getting them to calm down have to be implemented. As painful as that is to watch, I stay, calm and steady, to remind them that no matter what…I am there. No matter how mad they get, how much they hate me, how many names they call me, or how much spit they haul my way. I am there.

I think I have done good work. My job is a thankless one. Most days I can thank myself and see the work I’ve done. I’ve never received gifts or thank yous from kids who have left. I don’t expect them. I don’t think that determines whether or not I’ve done good work either. I have sewn seeds. Add that to the list from earlier, seed sewer. For some I have been a support they’ve never had, for some I’ve been an advocate, for others just a listener, and I may have taught a couple of them a thing or two. They have taught me way way more.

But

Sometimes I fail. And not in a sense where I think I have done a terrible job. That’s usually the first thing people say. “You aren’t a failure. It’s not your fault.” Of this I am aware. But I have still failed them. Or the system did and I was a par of that. No matter what I did or didn’t do, could or couldn’t do, no matter how much I cared or how much I wanted to help. I couldn’t. Not in the way I had hoped, not in the way I believe I could have if given the opportunity.

There are two that stick out and hurt me daily. For these two I have cried many times. I have questioned myself. I have sought supervision. I have prayed. There will be a place in my heart for them for all eternity. I will always wonder “what happened to them” and I will always fear that the failure of the system may result in deadly consequences. To them, I apologize. I also thank them for teaching me more about myself than I could realize was possible.

Soul # 1. You will forever be skip-bo, white people eating steak pink in the middle, origami hearts and butterflies, this place, fingers, walls, doors, yelling, pain, I love you Ms Ashley, and same names. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Soul # 2. You will forever be ginger bread men, toddlers, tantrums, anger, counting, shoes, Ms Ashley you’re fat, spitting, helping, basketball, 100% effort, hurt, small steps, bad words, always move forward never backwards, and Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Tonight. My soul is heavy. My fear is, it will be this way for a long time. My fear is, no one will understand. My fear is, no one else will see the importance in helping.

The Oppressor can not be Oppressed…

This is the same as reverse racism. Sure, if defined in text, can be explained simply.  But this is simply NOT a simple issue.

Now, let me preface by saying this; You all know, I’m not the best writer, and I don’t speak much on social things because I’m just not that good at expressing my thoughts and how I feel completely.  I tend to have incomplete thoughts and also tend to not get my point across properly at times.  BUT! Know this. I know what side I stand on. And this here thing…I’m not standing with.

Look at the following image.  This image comes from some training material about workplace harassment. Note: This training was not generated from my company, but sourced out from another training resource.

reverseOpression

Now…

Being an African-American male, living in America, working in Corporate America.  My first response is exactly what the “contestants” in the image show.  TRUE TRUE TRUE MOTHERF**KING TRUE!

Why?

Because the oppressor cannot be oppressed.

What does this mean? Someone who benefits from racism cannot suffer from racism.

Now, being that this is a training resource, to be politically correct and whatnot about this, the answer to this question is False, by definition.

BY. DEFINITION.

But that’s just the problem with this image.  You cannot just simply paint a black and white picture for this.  In most cases, a non-minority would not face any type of racial harassment, due to the fact that he/she is white.  Putting it in perspective on a high level (we’ll get to a lower level, deeper conversation a little further down in this post), a non-minority person would never have an issue with this. I can never in my life recall any time any of my white friends suffered from ANY type of racial harassment, and I have a LOT of white friends.

Who in the HELL thought this was a good question to put in training information in the first place?

The company I work for, at the corporate level, is probably around 75% White.  Keep in mind that this is just an estimation, so I know I’m wrong on the actual percentage, but I’m probably close enough.  If you look at only my office within the company, and go deeper to my specific department, that percentage is even higher. With my team undoubtedly being >85% white, as I can count the total number of African-Americans on one hand. If I include other minorities, I think I may get up to 10 total, but not much higher.

So this image here, in all it’s glory assumes that white people are subjected to suffer from workplace racial harassment.  Which, sure they can, at a definition level.  But how? Tell me when this would most likely happen? This picture screams to me that “white people have it just as bad as black people when it comes to racism”, which that could not be any more wrong. As mentioned in a wonderfully created movie “Dear White People“, there was a line stated that Black people can’t be racist.  Why? Because black people can’t benefit from it.  White people, on the other hand has benefited from racism for CENTURIES.  Black people and other minorities are at a disadvantage EVEN BEFORE THEY ARE BORN, because of the color of their skin. Yet, I’m sitting here looking at a video of an African-American man, asking a question about if it’s True or False that a non-minority in the workplace can be a victim of racism.

Excuse me sir…Let’s not…

Even the white “contestants” has more sense than that.

And I can already hear the moans and groans of white people all over America right now because they speak words of how everyone is equal and racism isn’t a thing anymore and we won’t “let it go”.  I implore you to read my blog post from a while back about Growing up an “Oreo” in America.  This is a minority’s reality.

Resources like this perpetuate the idea that racism can be played on both sides, but that’s just not true.  And for this to be in training material for a pretty big corporation that hires thousands of people, It makes me sick.  Then I think about how many companies are using the same training resource.  This is just a form of institutionalized oppression, spreading the idea that you can be racist toward white people, and that’s just not true.

For years, black people have had to have shows like “Black-ish” and networks like “BET” and celebrate holidays such as “Black History Month” or “Juneteenth” to show our greatness. Why? Because of racism.  Because we needed somewhere to go to celebrate our culture, our greatness of who we are, because white people kept us from showing how great we were.   White people don’t have these things, because they already control all of it.  Their culture bleeds throughout every facet of life.

So I ask you to read the question again and if you think that someone can be racist towards white people.  I urge you to think outside of the black and white box.  Stand back, take a look at your life, and ask yourself, if you’ve ever suffered from or was ever at a disadvantage because of racism.

So This is 30!

I have officially entered the 30 club! Whoop whoop! I received about as close to a parade for my 30th birthday as possible. Thank you again to all my friends and family who showed up and showed out for little OLD me! As far as birthdays go it was pretty wonderful.

So now a time of reflection.

The last three decades have definitely been interesting. Living all over the world (or at least Europe) as a child, moving back to America as a pre-teen, middle school (ugh), high school, teen pregnancy, motherhood, college, grad school, first job, first counseling jobs, Love, heartbreak, Love again, heartbreak again, and ultimately self-love. Obviously a very condensed nutshell of my life so far.

Here are my hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for my 30’s:

Continued but unwavering self-love. I plan to love myself so much that the next time someone comes a long and it doesn’t work,or if no one comes a long at all, or if they do and it does work, that my love for myself does not waver or weaken or crumble. Honestly, this is a tough one.

More travel. Wether it’s around the world or up the street. I don’t care. Just do it. And take Taylor with.

Save money. This is an area I struggle with to the pits of my soul. But somethings gotta give.

One day make enough money to move out of my parents house but also still be able to afford to eat on a daily basis.

Do more things alone. I spent the last decade or so doing a lot of waiting for someone else to do things with. Autumns came and went where I didn’t go on awesome fall dates because there was no one to take me. Museums have been unvisited. Movies were left unseen. Restaurants were left untried. Because for some reason in my head, to do things alone was the ultimate form of sadness. My fellow bloggers write a lot about dating or dating experiments. Dating scares me. Maybe I will blog about my solo dates…hmmm.

Which leads me to,

Go on more dates. I honestly don’t know why the idea of going out with someone I don’t really know to well scares me but it does. Especially if this person was found on a dating app. People are crazy. I’m not trying to be no ones breaking news or lifetime movie. But, alas, it is the way the rest of the world works so it’s time to hop on board the dating train.

Find a workout/exercise/healthy living routine I actually enjoy. Kind of self explanatory really. Any suggestions?

Learn to knit things that aren’t rectangular. I knit a lot of scarves, blankets, things that look round but are really just rectangles sewn together. Gotta learn some advanced techniques.

Learn to leave people on “read.” This could probably be an entire blog post in itself and maybe one day it will be. But for now, just thinking of it as learning to walk away and not feel bad for doing so when relationships end or even just conversations.

So yea. I think that’s pretty much it. Pretty standard stuff really. Obviously the list has the ability to be adjusted and tweaked as needed. I feel like an official adult now! Not sure how I made it here but here I am. At the very least it should result in a few entertaining blog post!

What are/were your hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for your 30’s?

Confessions of a Therapist

I work with adolescents in a psychiatric hospital. 

99% of my day I work harder than my clients. 

Sometimes I make appropriate connections. 

I’m an okay therapist. 

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. 

A lot of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. 

I  am 100% certain  I care too much (if that’s an actual thing) and that this will cause me to leave this field in a fit of emotion and heartbreak one day. 

I cry a lot with my job. For my clients. 

I’ve spent the majority of my day crying. 

At my current job I have felt as if I have failed one kid so far. 

I currently feel like I am failing another. 

It doesn’t get easier. 

Telling me to reframe that is not helpful. 

For this population, I firmly believe that the best way to encourage change is to foster meaningful, healthy connection and just being available when they need you. 

That’s hard to do. 

I was spit on today and called a bitch. 

Of all the things that I am frustrated with today, those two things aren’t even on the list. 

Sometimes caring is not enough.