Friday, July 24, 2015

Stand & Deliver Vs. Half Nelson

My primary job is and has been to help people who are less fortunate than myself.  I have spent my adult life dedicated to the idea that a society is only as strong as its weakest links.  It has taken me a long time to get ‘good’ at this.  I have worked in the Human Services field for a LONG time.  I have grown, I’ve had my feet held to the fire, I’ve found my convictions and then stood by them, and I’ve swallowed gallons of shit with a smile on my face.

I know that this field isn’t for everyone.  And I’ve heard both the negatives and the positive stereotypes that go along with working in this field.  “How can you help THOSE people?”  “You are a saint, bless you.”  “I couldn’t do THAT!”  “It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t want them in my neighborhood.”  I’ve got to sit in meetings and hear people pour out their heart and soul to do the right thing, to attempt to bring inclusion to our communities, and to strive to put the hopes and dreams of those we serve above all else.  I have been honored to work with some of the best people, staff and clients, I have ever met.

The last 9 years I have taught.  I have been tasked with creating content, material, tests, presentations, etc. in order to teach staff, clients, family members, RN’s, etc. how to better work with those we serve and still meet the licensing requirements that we are bound to.  I have toiled to make things accessible, to make them challenging enough to make people think, and to make sure that each and every person that I come into contact with, either in person or through material, has the opportunity to learn and grow from what I’ve attempted to show them.

Today I had an employee, a parent no less, pop on the telephone.  The thing is this has been happening a lot lately.  I’ve had to extend my reach in training to bring in new licensed programs where the folks involved want nothing to do with me.  At all.  I don’t mind criticism.  Hell, I welcome it.  I don’t mind if you have a different idea of the requirements are.  I don’t even mind if you think I’m a piece of shit and blame me on a personal level for having to meet state requirements.

What I don’t like, what cuts me to the core, is for you to tell me I must not care.  For you, a person who has attempted to cheat the system, to lay this at my feet & personalize it on that level.  Worse yet when you try and wrap this in a ‘this isn’t a personal attack, BUT’ language.  I’m not dumb.  I might play dumb, I might look dumb, but I’m not.  I know what you are doing, and I know that you have NO desire to have a constructive dialogue with me, you don’t want a positive change in this process, and you don’t want help.  You want to have a faceless person on the other side of a phone that you never really have to deal with take your punches because they can’t fight back.

When you intonate that I don’t care about you, your family, your disabled child, or your struggles and that if I did I wouldn’t “…do this to you…” you are simply making an underhanded attack.  The thing is I want to help.  I would go out of my way to help.  I have repetitively, because it is my job.  And because it means something to me to be good at it, to help people, and to show them We can do this a different way, a better way.  Lately this idea that we are all in this together, on the same team, working towards the same goal of inclusion, better quality of life, and a focus on the health, safety, and happiness of these people we serve doesn’t seem to exist.  It is as if we can just cut that out if you have to meet requirements, that you are compensated for fiscally and are required by law, and you feel inconvenienced.  Your respect as a professional, let alone as a person, is just thrown out the window.  It just dissipates.

People forget that this is a job.  There are rules, you are compensated, and that if I did the things you are doing, then I would not have a job any longer.  I try to be understanding, if not empathetic, to the struggle these staff, these extended families, and these immediate families go through.  Every day is a struggle.  I have seen that struggle for the entirety of my time in this field, and have got to live through it in my personal life while dealing with a mentally ill parent.  I will never pretend to understand each person’s particular slog that is disingenuous.

I’ve always thought that I’m doing this for reasons other than money.  Lord knows I don’t make any.  I always felt that this was my calling.  I’ve always felt like I’m good at this.  And I always thought that if I can get you in a room, show you my passion for this field then I can draw you in, get you invested, and help you learn.  When someone ‘gets it’ that was always the reward.  That was the real payoff.
I don’t think anyone gets it anymore and worse yet I don’t think they want to.  And I don’t think I want to keep butting my head against that wall anymore.  Perhaps it is time to put away childish ideals.

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