School is back in session. It has been a weird semester thus far. I have two classes that I think will be relatively laid back. They are about individual and family therapy. I am excited to get into the "meat and potatoes" of the counseling aspects of social work. I never imagined myself as a counselor per se, although I always seem to be the person that friends and family talk to about their issues. I could also tell countless stories of the random strangers off the street that tell me the most personal details of their lives, in Meijer!
I have had two weeks of internship at the Child's trauma assessment center, CTAC. This past Friday I helped with an actual assessment. It was pretty intense. I knew it would be intense but the actuality of intense always seems, well, more intense. So far when I leave CTAC, I feel like really I have nothing left to give of myself emotionally and physically for a the rest of the day. I met a friend for dinner last night. I left CTAC and went directly to the restaurant. As I drove there I thought to myself, I am not sure if this was a good idea? Can I even participate in a conversation right now/ It's heavy stuff that I am hearing all day. I am invited into the very personal, very painful, very traumatic lives of these kids and that carries a burden of sorts. I am grateful to be on a team with people who get that and understand the importance of processing that, still you can't be completely unburdened in the very same day that it took place.
One skill I have been able to hone throughout the MSW program is self awareness skills. I know that what will best serve me on Friday nights is to be quiet, to draw in and just be with my thoughts of what I heard and saw that day. To feel sad, to be angry, to feel irritation , thankfulness, or any of the other million thoughts that run through my head on Friday nights. To be alone and quiet is so foreign to who I normally am. Jeff has even commented on the transformation that takes place in me on Fridays.
This morning I woke up at the ridiculously early hour of 5a.m. and the thoughts of the nameless persons I have worked with over the years flooded my brain. I was remembering many stories but could not, for the life of me, remember any names. For a moment I felt guilt about this. How could I not remember these names? Did that mean I was less of a human, less of a social worker? I came to the conclusion, with some help from a friend, that it's probably self protection. The stories are painful enough and to always have names connected with it would be too much to bear. I think the next nine months will be a very intense experience. Taking care of myself and being able to recognize what is the best and most healthy way to process it all will be probably one of the most important things I can learn at CTAC.
I know the stories, the grief and the healing I will experience at CTAC will have a profound and lasting impression on me both personally and professionally. I am eager to grow through it all but it is strange to embrace it fully because I know it will be so painful and sad on many days. My motto has always been to give 100%. I am determined to give 100% to the beautiful children I am privileged to serve during my internship. I am honored to hear their pain and hope I can help them to find some hope, whether it be in a game of catch, a conversation we have together, or a report I write that helps the system find a better tomorrow for them. 100% is the least I can do.