A Hard Realization
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005, 06:14 PM
I guess as I get older I really am starting to learn some things about myself. Sometimes I’ve had to learn them the hard way, while others I’ve been lucky enough to see what is going on around me and figure out what is going on before something bad happens. I think that I have finally come to a realization about the job I currently work at, and it’s a good thing that I’ve caught it before things got too far along.
If you have read any of the posts on this blog about how much I love my current job, you may find it no surprise that I’ve run into a snag with it. And before I go any further I just like to say that I do have the coolest job in the world, and that I have never been more happy at any place I’ve ever worked. I am crisis councilor for a non-profit organization that services Riverside County schools.
Yesterday was a hard day. I had to file thee reports with Riverside Child Protective Services. I also had to deal with an evaluator from the Superior Court of Riverside. In a nutshell, not only did I have to endure the results and handy work of the lowliest forms of life in modern society (child molesters and abusers), but I also had the opportunity to work with a member of the court system that is too busy feeling powerful to actually be swift an efficient. All in all, I chalked it up as another day on the job: it was another day making a positive difference in the life of students who have very little positive I their life right now.
But then an image stuck in my mind, as if it were seared there with a branding iron. I was asked to speak with a first grade girl who was in the Nurse’s office at my elementary school. Her arm was a skew, and had obviously been broken. I had spoken with this girl before, and she always had a smile on her face even though she was very quiet and said very little. When I entered the Nurse’s office and waved hello to her, she recoiled against the wall in fear. She pulled her knees to her chest, and held her broken arm, obviously scared by my very presence in the room. I told the school’s principal that I can not speak with her, that the girl was too scared of me. The Principal asked me to try again, and offered to collect what info she could if the child did not respond well to me a second time. So I got a sucker from my office (never work with kids if you do not have candy), and walked back into the Nurse’s office. The Nurse was sitting with the girl this time, and when I can in the poor little thing clung to her like a scared kitten. I slowly put the sucker down next to her and, told her that I just want to help her. She then broke into tears and I left the room.
As a crisis councilor, I am exposed to all kind of horrible things. I have dealt with teenager students who resort to self-mutilation in order to relive their pain. My first week at my middle school site, a kid tried to commit suicide on campus the week after his mother died of a brain embolism. I’ve had to call CPS to come and pick up a teenager whose dad is beating her. But I have not yet had to face a situation where a defenseless, helpless, first grade girl with pig tales and the most adorable smile, has been prayed upon by her own father. They train you for it, they try to prepare you with pictures of abused kids, and they give you a really good training to fall back on when you are in the moment and have to act. But you have to be the kind of person that can walk away from it at the end of the day, and leave it at work, and resume your life that you have away from work.
After talking with my fiancé, I’ve decided that I am not that kind of person. After two days I am still haunted by that image of that little girl, afraid of a man, a man whose job is to help protect her, because of what her father did to her. That look of fear has been etched into my mind and I have to purposely push it away from the forefront as I go about my regular life at home. Does that mean that I’m a bad councilor? No, it means that I posses a quality that all councilors must have: Compassion and a willingness to help those who cannot help them selves. What it does mean is that if I do not leave this job, it will consume me.
So its back to the job search, and finding a new place to work. But at least I can say that for six months, I had the coolest job in the world and did it well.