Thursday, August 30, 2012

A New Leaf

Many of you have been asking about my new job. I’m learning the computer systems and the paperwork and all the necessary evils that are required for me to do my job. And I’m seeing clients. If I haven’t shared with you, A New Leaf is a large agency in the valley of which counseling is a small portion. The counseling department is set up to offer short term counseling for those who have been victims of a crime – domestic violence, sexual assault, molestation, theft, kidnapping, murder of a family member…  We provide up to 10 sessions of crisis counseling to these victims, and in some cases their families, to help to get them stabilized. There is no cost to the victim or their family. We see all ages – 0-100.

Its good work, what we do. Important. And oh, so needed. So needed that its sad, really. We have a waiting list for both sites I work at and the number of calls that come in weekly is enough to make a person consider that cynics may have something after all.
A lot of the things I see and hear are brutal. Disgusting, brutal, sad, repulsive and sometimes unbelievable. Not that the victim is not telling the truth, but that one human being could be so depraved and damaging to another.

The kids are the worst. Sitting with a beautiful, vibrant 8 year old girl who now has to come to terms with a beloved member of her family repeated using her for his own sexual gratification. Hearing her sweet young voice quiver as she tries to describe the horrible adult things he did to her. And then watching the tears fall as she struggles with so many mixed emotions – guilt, fear, shame, betrayal…
Why do I do it? Why do I allow these crazy, depressing, painful stories to seep into my brain and heart day after day? First, because I know this is what I’ve been created for. This is what God put me on this earth to do. Secondly, because the empathy that I have for these survivors (that’s how I like to refer to them – survivors not victims) is desperately needed and can be helpful to them. How could I live with myself knowing that I can help even one of them, but that I didn’t because it was “too hard”?

The most tangible reason I counsel these survivors is because of the moments when I can look into someone’s eyes and see change. Not all of the precious souls I see will get to this point but of those that do, this change usually takes the form of anger first. Righteous anger directed at their abuser or anger directed at the universe or God or their higher power. Anger is good, I tell them. Anger is progress. Anger means they have reasserted their right to be safe. Then, after anger is processed, healing begins.

And there comes a day, maybe not when I’m working with these brave survivors, and probably not for all of them, but someday in the future, their eyes are once again clear. Their hearts are healed. They are scarred but strong.
I read a quote on one of my favorite blogs yesterday. The author is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict as well as still struggling with her bulimia. She wrote this post in response to a woman who recently lost her sister to addiction. Glennon wrote about the times she backslides... “I never feel mad at myself. Never. Shame takes us closer to that edge than any single binge will. Life is hard and I’m doing the best I can. So I just take inventory and love myself something FIERCE and then start over. Every single moment I am someone brand new.” Glennon Melton –  

I love this picture of total self-acceptance and the focus on moving forward instead of allowing shame and regret to be controlling factors. I'm going to adopt this - both personally and professionally.

I love my job. I like my co-workers, although much of my tme is spent working independently. And I'm learning a lot. I'm very excited about the progressive opportunities offered by A New Leaf and I'm thankful that I will be able to get the supervision I need for independent licensure while I'm working in my current position. That will make the next couple of years a lot easier.

1 comment:

Stony and Brit said...

Rani, what you do is definitely a gift! I admire you. Those "beautiful souls" need someone that sees them as beautiful and helps them believe they are worth are great at that. I know you will be an enourmous blessing to SO many people.