Where Have I Felt This Before?

energy vampire

I recently realized that I have been sleeping on the job when it comes to minding my relationships. I have allowed someone who feels toxic get too close.

It happened gradually, little things that made me feel off.. an assertion of control here, manipulation there.. Then it became more apparent like attempts at isolation. Before I was even fully aware of it I was feeling dread when this person would reach out to me and finally realized I was actively avoiding this person. That is when I snapped out of it and realized what was going on.

I have been so busy I really haven’t had time for this person anyway which is why I don’t think this was on my radar. What really grabbed my attention was something that happened recently that felt like complete deja vu. I could not figure out what was causing the feeling then after meditation it all became clear. I have felt this before with other toxic relationships. The manipulation, the control, the attempts at isolation, the overall negative energy.. I realized the only reason I had not walked away yet is because every time I interact with this person they make multiple comments about how I am “the only one”, the “only person” they can talk to, or that they have for this reason or that. I didn’t realize how much I was internalizing these messages. I was keeping contact out of guilt, I am their “only one” for this reason or that.

Um, I did not sign up to be anyone’s “only” anything. Even my husband has relationships outside of our own. We are introverts but we have friends. I have been in friendships and intimate relationships where this kind of thing took place, never again.

Thankful for mindfulness and meditation. I am much more in tune with myself now than I ever was in my twenties.

 

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Recharging

introvert

This is literally my day.

Last night we went out with friend for tapas and drinks (and impromptu dancing). It was a fun night with great company. Tonight we are going to get dinner and drinks with another married couple. Tomorrow is Easter. All of these plans are plans I know I will enjoy but it is also a lot for one weekend. Todd and I normally protect one day out of the weekend for just us, and when I say “us” that can mean different things. It can mean us spending time together or us spending time apart. We protect one day for introvert recharging time. This weekend we do not get a day and although we are excited about our plans we are sad we are losing our day.

While walking Lucy earlier we talked about it. The agreed upon solution was that once we got home from the walk we would have our introvert time for a few hours until we had to get ready to go out. It’s not a day but even a few hours is better than not having it at all.

Today my introvert time is spent reading, writing, drawing, sipping my unfinished coffee from the morning now put over ice, and listening to music in an otherwise quiet room of lit candles. I do not have a door to bolt in this room but Todd has shut himself up in his room so it feels about the same. Peaceful and quiet.

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Recipe for the Perfect Kid

I read this article earlier today and thought it sounded about right. Todd and I have talked before about the “parenting style” thing and agree that we are not into the idea that there is one right way to raise children. Also, we agree that committing to a certain “style” feels not only limiting but like a lot of undue pressure. I think being a parent comes with enough pressure, why add on?

I’d be willing to bet that all of these different styles have strengths and limitations and the whole thing seems much more subjective than maybe people want to believe. I am not sure that I believe there is one full-proof, objective, right way to do this. Parenting, caring for another human life, is not baking. There is not perfect recipe where if you follow each step precisely you are guaranteed the perfect kid. In that same breath making a mistake as a parent does not ultimately guarantee your child will grow up to be a sub par human being (if there even is such a thing), like a souffle that did not rise.

Clearly there are extremes that I am not accounting for, abuse, trauma, neglect.. This will all have an enormous impact on development but I am not talking in extremes for the point I am trying to make. I am simply saying parenting, like most things in life, exists in a gray area where there is no one right or wrong, good or bad, in terms of these different styles some of us seem to get caught up in.

 

 

A Really Big Week

Last night was the social work celebration that was put on by our professional association. I had rsvp’d a few weeks back, my supervisor has been honored as social worker of the year in central Florida and my brother has been honored as social work student of the year. I was really looking forward to attending my first social work celebration and celebrating my people. Half way through last week I got a call that changed things just a bit though.

I just happened to have my cell phone out on the desk when one of the faculty from my university called, they were calling to let me know that I was being recognized by my university/program as the BSW intern of the year. My supervisor was sitting next to me at her desk and could hear what was being said on the call, she started giggling. I turned to her laughing and said, “Diane what did you do?”

I was really touched. I know I am doing well in field, I love the work, this is has been a great learning experience for me, and I wake up each day excited for the what the day will hold. I have all of this without being recognized, it is always nice to be recognized for doing well though.

I think the timing is so interesting, it feels almost like a sign. This award comes in the same week that I experience a major win with clients in the community I care so much about, and right when I am getting back involved with the health clinic to help meet needs. Another big event this week is that I had my site visit with my professor. It was the best case scenario. Both my supervisor and my professor sang my praises. Under the area of “growth” on my professors form she said she had nothing to comment on because I am always working on growth on my own, she did not feel like she had to give me specific action steps because she knows I am always focused on it anyway. That was hugely validating for me. I am very concerned with my growth, I am always trying to learn, I am glad that is so apparent.

This week was a good week without any extra recognition, I am doing work I feel good about, I am seeing how my education really has prepared for me to do this work, I am seeing first hand how the macro and micro are connected. I feel good about where I am and my direction forward.

So last night Todd picked me up at the office and I got to celebrate my people while also celebrating my own personal wins.

As an aside, I really understand now what my professors were saying about the importance of networking when I first started the program. In a room full of social workers I realized I knew more than half the people in attendance. I am not even done with undergrad and I have made that many connections with practicing social workers. Not just that but I met someone new last night that sought me out to introduce herself. She said that three other social workers had told her about me and said that she needs to meet me. I knew who she was as soon as she told me her name, her reputation proceeded her as well. How amazing is that though?! I have made enough of an impression in this very small social work community that I belong to in central FL that people are saying, “you need to meet her”.

When I started this program I had goals for myself that included being involved and active in the community and makingĀ  a name for myself. I never imagined this is where I would be two years later. I am grateful for my growth, for my direction, for the work I have been able to do, and for the connections I have made. I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be and it feels so good.

We Need to Talk About Sex

Yesterday my friend from school and I went to the local health clinic we supported last summer and dropped off male and female contraception. It was my hope to speak with our contacts at the clinic while we were there about what resources they have to address this need going forward, unfortunately everyone but the front desk employee was at lunch when we arrived.

This evening when I got home from internship I saw a text from my friend. When we left the clinic yesterday she agreed to send a follow up email to our contact at the clinic just to make sure she knows we dropped off the supplies and to ask them about their resources. Today she heard back and I was stunned to discover they have zero resources to speak to this need.

Last year when we were on campus at the high school this community clinic supports one of the employees mentioned the number of pregnancies at the school and how this results in high dropout/low graduation rates. The county is only allowed to teach abstinence which completely ignores what is actually going on with the students. This is where our class decided to get involved. We couldn’t provide contraception to the actual school but the free health clinic is right off campus and because it is not on campus they could accept the contraception and distribute it to students.

We provided 4-5 large boxes last summer and in less than 9 months they not only ran out but still have a high demand. The clinic pretty much said that they didn’t even realize how high the need was until we got involved last summer.

This is something I am really concerned about. I have reached out to two people I hope can help me figure out how to get the clinic connected.

In the interim I kind of feel like my head is going to explode with frustration at the system. I cannot handle how the county is still teaching abstinence in schools when the research and statistics show that teaching abstinence IS NOT EFFECTIVE! Teens are having sex, why are we, as adults, still in denial? We are failing our teens by burying our heads in the sand and ignoring their needs. We need to be teaching them how to be safe, we need to be talking about consent. We need to be providing contraception and birth control. We need to make them feel safe to talk about sex. We need to stop framing this as a moral issue, it is a social issue.

I. JUST. CAN’T.

 

 

 

I Built a Bridge

Yesterday I went on a home visit in the community I spent a great deal of time in over the course of undergrad. Last semester the research and work my classmate and I were doing had to be put on hold because of our increasingly busy schedules but I am still very interested in this community and it’s residents so I always look forward to an opportunity to work there.What I found yesterday is having the background knowledge I do on this community really can really make a difference when engaging with clients in the community.

We were there to see an older couple and unbeknownst to our team the couple did not make their family/caregivers aware we were coming. This is a tight knit community where people know their neighbors and outsiders are treated with great skepticism. Our patients greeted us warmly but the family treated us with mistrust initially and were clearly uncomfortable with our presence in the home, it felt like they thought we had an ulterior motive for being there.

Our lead doctor introduced the team and explained the reason for the visit but the tension in the room did not lift. After taking vitals and reviewing one of the patient’s medications half of the team left the room to go inspect a hospital bed in the bedroom that was reported to not work properly. This left myself, a med student, and the chaplain with the two patients and their still very suspecting family to sit together staring at each other.

When we arrived I noticed on the doorstep the year 1941 had been written in the pavement. I asked the patient if she had grown up in the community and she confirmed my guess, that she had in fact grown up in this very house. The patient told us the story of how her father built the home with the help of neighbors in 1946 (apparently I misread the year but that is ok) and then turned around and helped those neighbors build their homes. We talked about the local school she went to, back then there were still schools in the community, and how after she finished school there was no work so she moved to NY which is where she met her husband.

I asked her if she or her family ever went to the local hotel/casino in the community growing up, knowing that was a big part of the community back then and that celebrities such as Jackie Robinson would stay there when they came to town. I know some history about the community from my research and from speaking to residents but never have I had the opportunity to speak to anyone her age who has truly seen how the community has changed over the years.

This also gave us a chance to connect with her family because this is their history too. They all grew up in this community, they all had a story for us. By the end of the conversation everyone in the room, our team and the family, were taking part. Our patient’s have been married for 66 years, the wife was giving our med student advice on how to make a relationship last, “trust”, “love”,”you have to believe in each other” and know “it ain’t a bed of roses”.

By the end of the home visit the family had completely opened up, they were working with the doctors to brainstorm the best course of care for the patients, what the next steps should be to address current conditions, and questions were raised and answered. At the beginning of the visit I honestly thought they might throw us out because they seemed so unsure of our being there in the first place, at the end we couldn’t get out the door because they kept thinking of more questions.

While I waited on the side walk outside with some of the team, the rest had been pulled back in again for more questions, one team member madeĀ  a comment about how rude one of the family members had been at the beginning. I knew the behavior she was referencing had nothing to do with manners or rudeness. I explained to her about the level of oppression this community has historically faced and about the gentrification and how the community views outsiders.. By having just a little knowledge about where your clients are coming from it can give so much context to what is actually happening in a encounter.

To someone on the outside what took place in there may just look like a conversation but I know that conversation built a bridge, a bridge of trust that our team was able to cross to then work with the family. If that conversation had not happened, if we had not taken an interest and showed the client’s and the family that we really do care and are interested I do not know that the appointment would have been as productive.

For me yesterday was a good day. Maybe it was just a conversation but I feel really good about my contribution.

Drawing with all my girls

Saturday night Todd and I were outside playing the kids, he was playing basketball with Isaac, Maddie and I were drawing on the front porch with chalk. The rest of the family came out with the babies, who are now roughly a year and three months. Cassie has started walking and Emma does a crab walk of sorts but is soon to follow in her sister foot steps, literally. So the girls toddled out to see what Maddie and I were doing. I handed a piece of chalk to Cas, closely watching to make sure it didn’t end up in her mouth, I took her hand and showed her how the chalk could make marks on the ground. From there she started scraping it against the ground drawing. Then Emma came over plopped down and followed suit.

There we were, me and my three girls drawing on the front porch. Mom and Kris were snapping pictures and I just sat there thinking, this is the very first time I am drawing with the babies. Maddie and I draw together all the time, it is one of our special things, but I don’t remember the first time we did, this was sweet.

By the time we were done all three girls were covered in a rainbow of color. I helped bathe and dress the babies then sat with Maddie while she took her bath. We talked about what she is doing in school, she showed me how she can count by 5’s and 10’s, we counted together. She told me that when Uncle Todd and I have babies she hopes we have girls and that we should name them Rosie and Flowery Elsa. She said if we have a boy we could name him Snowflake Jr (Snowflake is her elf on the shelf). Then we talked about our summer sleep over and all the fun things she wants to do.

After I washed her hair, brushed it, and got her in her jammies we built a fort out of sheets and sat in it with all her stuffed animals talking more about her plans for our summer sleepover. Isaac joined us and built legos while we all talked.

I love all the one on on time I get with the kids. I know at some point they will have other things they want to do than play with Auntie so I want to soak it all up while I have it. Life is really busy right now and there are always things going on, I am so grateful for all these little moments with them. Watching the babies draw, talking with Maddie, brushing her hair, sitting in a sheet fort with the kids, really grateful for it all.