Jan 18, 2013

A Blurb About Social Work/Case Work

"This is what you do. If you feel low, you stand tall. You mess up, you move on. You want to try something, try it, and if it was a stupid thing to try, you look it in the eye. There's no turning back. You apologize if you're sorry, but know that the nimblest, strongest hands can't rebuild a bridge out of embers, so cut new wood. Start from scratch. You love with your whole heart. If you're jealous, talk yourself from the ledge. If you can't talk yourself down from the ledge, have a good time up there, looking down on the world. If you have to lie to make everything true again, lie like you mean it. If you find yourself in a cage, reach out through the bars for the key, unlock the door, and run away. If running away gets dangerous, run home. If home doesn't mean what it used to mean, decide what home will be in the future. If your best friend says she doesn't trust you, hold her jaw in your hand until it hurts, and make her face you. That's all it takes. If you think you love a guy, see how his hand looks in yours, that's all it takes. If you get exiled into a new land, then go discover it. And if you feel like you're drowning, go swimming."— Hobson Brown Taylor Maternev

As some of you may know, I'm a caseworker in the foster care realm.  It's by no means a job about money, but incredibly humbling every single day.   I get to see babies take their first steps, families work out/work past their rough patches, or children find a forever home after life has dealt them not so nice cards.  I find it challenging, and I find it fulfilling to me--with the exception of a few hang ups.  First things first, it's a job that requires you to  be emotionally invested but not emotionally attached, which when working with children can be a very delicate balance.  It also limits for confidentiality purposes what I can share. That can be hard for me because sometimes I let the unintentionally emotional involvement cause me a lot of excess thought that I can't really put many places for feedback.  I once heard that if you take 'pain' out of something you love you'd lose the love entirely.

Having said that, this week of work has been exceptionally difficult for me.  I know that you can't save every one, and I know with a great deal of confidence that I did all I could think of to try to sway this youths mind about their choices.  I can tell you that when I was in my teens, I thought I knew all there was to know about life and so therefore I can see why they might feel that way too.  This particular event will keep my wheels turning for some time--not because I could do a single thing differently, but because I don't know how that will all turn out, and my gut says not well.  My job isn't glamorous, but it gives hope.  My job doesn't have good pay, but it is rich with love.  My job might give me heartache sometimes, but it also shows me that there are good people who (like me) are willing to try.

Lastly, thought I'd share this poem we were given in college about Social Workers, because as you know we get a terrible reputation:

What Social Workers Make

He says the problem with social workers is like,
"What's a person going to accomplish
when they've decided their best options in life
was to become a professional do-gooder?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say
about liberals and social workers:
"They think with their hearts and deny any sense of accountability."

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about his "profession"
Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you're a social worker," he says.
"Be honest now. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest I mean.)
Because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make it possible for a child to fall asleep every night without fear of beating or worse.

I make it possible for an infertile couple to celebrate a lifetime of Mother's Days and Father's Days.

I make it possible fo ra beaten soul to find the confidence and courage to leave their abuser. And prosper.

I make kids understand that they are loved and wanted and important, regardless of the failings of a poorly funded foster care system.

I make a teen father understand that sometimes he needs to count to 10 and leave the room so he won't shake his newborn son
And later I make him smile out loud as he tells of gently feeding the baby all by himself at three in the morning.
And changing a poopy diaper.
And still getting to his new job on time. Every single day. For a month now.

I make it possible for someone with "chronic residual schizophrenia" to see past their demons. And I make it possible for an employer to see past a diagnosis.

I make a crime victim understand that it can be OK to talk about it for the first time. Ever. And understand that they have a choice to do something about it.

I make it possible for an ex-con to put down the bottle and pick up a job.

You dare flash your Rolex and ask what I make?

I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be.
I make people imagine peace and justice,
I make them question what might be
I make them challenge what has been
I make them think and do and succeed.

I make a couple communicate so well that they rediscover love.
Like they never knew it was lost.

I make it possible for a person dying with cancer to find peace with the past, and the present, and perhaps even the future.

I make it possible for elders to cherish and hold tight to the memories of love and laughter even as disease tries to wrestle it away.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
"I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said in school today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen."

I make the forgotten feel cherished, the disfigured feel beauty, the confused feel understood, and the broken feel whole.

I also make them understand that if you got this, (knowledge)
you follow with this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by the color of your skin, the people you associate with, the depth of your faith
or what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a damn difference! What about you?

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