One Year Later

Today is the day that marks one year of working in child protection. 

One year ago today I took a leap of faith into the work of child protection to learn if I would sink or swim. 

For a long time, I was sinking. Drowning. But now, maybe, I am swimming. 

There was this moment last week where I gave yet another parent bad news, and they reacted in the worst way possible, and I had a moment of realization about how far I had come in this career. 

A year ago me would not have been able to deliver bad news. A year ago me would have not known how to react when someone is screaming at me and swearing at me and wishing horrible things on me. A year ago me would have been red faced and struggled to stay calm. A year ago me would have taken the screaming and yelling home and been unable to let it go. 

But there I sat, calm in the face of yelling. Calm while some screamed obscenities at me. Calm as police attended to keep the peace. 

And I debriefed with coworkers. Returned home. And let it go. 

A year ago I didn’t even think that was possible. And yet here I am. 

In that meeting also sat a brand new coworker, who reminds me of me. Quiet. Unsure. Untested. And she sat calmly, it was my meeting after all,  but it effected her. And as I looked at her and talked with her about it, I was reminded of how far I have come in this position. 

A year ago I started this adventure. A year ago I mentally committed to being in this job for a year, uncertain if I could ever make it longer than that. 

And now, I don’t know. I’ve passed a year. I’ve grown. I’ve cried. I’ve loved it. I’ve hated it. I’ve wanted to quit. I’ve wanted to stay. 

I don’t know what the future holds. Probably more yelling and screaming. Probably more days where I hate my life. Probably more days where I can’t cope anymore. 

But for now, I have survived a year. And here’s to who knows how much longer. 

Running in Circles

I’ve often said that I am my own worst critic. I mean, aren’t we all? We point out flaws and wrongdoings in ourselves with ease. 

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I can’t let things go. I can’t let go of the words that I said that I shouldn’t have and the actions I took that I shouldn’t have.

I feel like a hamster on one of those wheels, running as fast as he can but not getting anywhere. 

Only my wheel is a single day. Maybe even just a single hour of a single day.

And that moment in time is stuck on repeat in my head. I’m going over it again and again and again. 

I know where I went wrong. I know what words I should have taken back. I know what actions I shouldn’t have taken.

I even know that I learned something from this and will handle it differently in the future. 

But still it goes around and around and around. 

And every time it does my mind, my ever so critical mind, comes out with the worst possible things to say.

You’re stupid. It says. Because why else would it have happened. 

You failed. It says. Because everything got worse.

You aren’t capable. 

You aren’t competent. 

You aren’t good at your job. 

Around and around and around it goes. 

In all the quiet moments. It’s on repeat like an anthem in my mind. And the more it repeats, the more I wonder if it’s true. 

I am beaten down. Beaten down by a job that runs you ragged on the beat of days. Beaten down by criticism I have received by people who shouldn’t even matter to me beaten down by the thoughts in my own head. 

And I’m so tired. I’m tired of the words in my head, the barely concealed emotion in my voice, the tears that want to come out for no real reason. 

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe. 

You are human after all. And humans make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. And in the grande scheme of life, this wasn’t a big one. The mark of a capable person is the ability to learn and move on. 

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe. 

A singe moment doesn’t have to define you. A single moment is just a blip in a long, long road. 

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe. 

You don’t have to carry the world. The world doesn’t rest on your shoulders. You can let go of this, of the stress, and pain, and heartache, and misery, and exhaustion. 

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe. 

Breathe out the stress, breathe in the peace. 

Just breathe. 

You don’t have to run in circles anymore. 

_____________________________________________

God, take it from me. Hold it for me. It’s drowning me. I can hardly breathe. I can’t do it alone. Please take it from me. Hold on to me. I am yours. I am yours. 

The Words I Wish I Could Say

The worst part of my job, and perhaps one of the most important parts, is removing children from the care of their parents. 

It is the part of the job that I hate. Seeing the anguish on the face of parents, who love their kids despite the danger the children are in. The confusion on the face of the children who don’t understand what is happening to them or why. The anger that always inevitably comes out. The blame that always finds a way in my direction. 

For the last month this has been my life. And through it all there are words I wish I could say, things I wish parents knew. 

Here it is:

Contrary to what you may believe, I don’t want to take your children from you. I wanted to avoid this just as much as you wanted me too. But sometimes that choice is out of my hands. 

It is the worst part of my job. And in moments like this, I wish beyond all things that my job wasn’t required. But it is. Because better or worse, there will always be children at risk. And I will always be needed. 

I can promise you I anguished over the decision. I went back and forth. I looked for safety factors where there were none. I looked for other options knowing there were none. I advocated for you even though everyone else was against me. Sometimes I went against my better judgement to give you a chance. But sometimes it’s not enough. 

I don’t take pleasure from this moment. I don’t relish in it.  It doesn’t make me feel bigger or stronger. It is not an excercise of my power. It is a necessary part of my job though. 

I know this moment is traumatic for you. It is for me too, in a different way. In this moment my trauma doesn’t matter. You will never forget this moment, and neither will I. This is a moment that has irrevocably change you. I know that. It will stay with me too. 

I know you love your children. I know you want to keep them safe and healthy and you want to keep loving them. I know that this feels like your heart is being ripped out of you. 

I don’t want to take your children from you. I don’t want to keep them from you. But here we are and there is no going back. 

I’m sorry. Not sorry that I’ve done it, because I believe it is the best for your children. But sorry that it got to this point. Sorry that we had no other choices. Sorry that your children had to leave you for now. Sorry for the hurt that you are feeling now. 

Finding RestĀ 

I’ve been have one of those weeks. Or multiples of those kind of weeks. 

You know the kind I’m talking about right? 

The kind that never seems to end. That piles up higher and higher. That leaves you running a mile a minute. And ultimately leaves you running on fumes. 

That’s what it’s been. And today, which blessedly is the end of my week, there is nothing left in me. 

I have been running on fumes since Tuesday. I am used up. I am empty. 

I’m trying to find rest. 

Not just sleep. Although that’s important. And I haven’t been getting much of it of late. 

But rest. The kind of rest that can only be found in God. 

I will give my stress to God. 

I will ask for His help to let go of the things that are piling on me. 

I will rest in God’s presence. 

And that is where true rest is found. In His loving arms, His perfect comfort, His unending strength. 

God can carry this for me. He can carry my stress, my burdens, my exhaustion, my complaints. He is bigger than I will ever be, stronger than I will ever be, wiser than I will ever be. 

It’s a beautiful thing to have a perfect and loving saviour who has me in the palm of his hand. 

Because, after the last few weeks, that is the only place that I’ll find any rest. 

Exhaustion


Ever had one of these days? 

I do, all the time. 

Today was one of those days 

A day with a four hour planning meeting to avoid making intrusive decisions. 

A day with an internal conflict so extreme tears came out. 

A day in which I had to be the hard ass but also support a family to get to a place of understanding. 

A day in which other professionals told me how to do my job while never having walked in my shoes. 

A day in which people said one thing to me and another to the parents. 

A day which had me eating lunch at 3pm. 

A day which included a parking ticket because my meeting went two hours longer than intended. 

A day that had me advocating for something I’m not sure is in the best interests of the child or the right thing to do. 

A day that resulted in me sitting on a hospital floor, with tears rolling down my face, and uncertainty everywhere. 

A day that is hard to let go of. 

I’m exhausted. Exhausted deep to my bones. Emotionally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Mentally exhausted. 

I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel. 

I spend all day being strong. 

Being sure of my choices and decisions in front of parents. Being direct with people. Explaining what I think over and over in the most clear and concise way. I act confident because I have to. 

But away from the parents and the professionals it’s different. In private moments with my boss and team, in the quiet moments by myself, all that is left is exhaustion.

Exhaustion and tears. 

I am strong.

But some days I just act strong. 

The Art of MistakesĀ 

They always say that mistakes help you learn, help you grow. Mistakes make you stronger, smarter, better. So make mistakes and learn from them. 

Easier said then done, am I right? 

I wrote once, not so long ago, about mistakes I had been making, both small and big. And they seemed to compile in my mind and become bigger and bigger.

I replayed them over and over and over again until my destructive thought process began to lead to a destructive life style. 

I learn from my mistakes though. And that’s the point right? 

It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about learning. 

I have learned a lot. I’ve learned the proper way to talk to people. I’ve learned how to keep on top of urgent things. I’ve learned how to prioritize. I’ve learned how to build relationships with people who wish I didn’t exist. I’ve learned how to deliver horrible news (or at least I’m working on it). 

I’ve learned things in my personal life too. I’ve learned to let go. I’ve learned how to sleep. I’ve learned how to process. I’ve learned how to cope. 

I’m not perfect. Far from it. But I can guarantee that I learn. And I do better next time. 

I’ve seen a lot, from clients and coworkers, of people who chose never to learn from their mistakes. Never take responsibility for the choices that they’ve made, never own up to it. 

I don’t want to be like that. 

I want to learn and grow. 

And that’s the art of making mistakes isn’t it?

The art of accepting mistakes are going to happen. 

The art of taking responsibility for those mistakes. 

And the art of learning from them. 

Ready? Set? Grow. 

TGIF

It has been one of those weeks. 

A week that started and ended with work emergencies and unsafe children. 

A week that included calling the police 3 times. 

A week that included a child throwing up on me twice. 

A week that included more f bombs than I can count. (My personal favourite being ‘have an f-ing good day’ as I was being hung up on). 

A week that included working until 730pm one night and working late the other 3. 

A week that included a parent blaming me for all their choices in front of a judge, lying about things that I said or did, and me being unable to defend myself. 

A week that included witnessing a car accident and waiting out in the rain for emergency personal for nearly 30 minutes. 

A week that included short lunch breaks, early mornings, and late nights, and an inability to let things go. 

A week that had so many emergencies that other things just didn’t get done. 

TGIF. 

And it is my Friday off. 

The week is over. Next week it will start again, with different crisis and needs. I will use my time off to relax and recharge before the world explodes again. 

TGIF. 

Now excuse me while I go binge watch Gilmore Girls.