Silence

I’m thinking about silence itself as an object/presence recently. Immediately in my reaction field is a post I was reading from another blogger here on WP.

In my work as a child and adolescent therapist to some of the poorer children (the poorest live on skid row and I don’t have the stomach to work with that population) of Los Angeles; specifically called SPA 8 (Service Provider Area 8). I’ve had the special privilege of working with different young women, all under the age of 15 years of age who have been raped, sexually assaulted, attempted sexual assault/molestation, and/or sexual harassment. Each one has told me that they considered themselves to be the only one until they confided in a friend, cousin, or aunt near to their age (under 20 years of age); then they tell me, “I told her to tell someone about what she was going through”. Can we just get this over and done with?

Ladies/Girls/Women, let’s just admit that the men in our lives want us to feel alone. They want us to be frightened and feel alone! Yet, the reality is that more women and girls are assaulted, harrassed, abused by people they know than absolute strangers.

And abuse, physical abuse is the same story and I totally want to jump in there with the kid and be like “Yeah, I know!” but I can’t. The therapy hour is totally about them, and I pull myself back inside and be all like “Yeah? Can you tell me about what makes you scared?” or “What’s that like?” I stay on the back-burner and may save my urge to blurt out for my own therapy sessions where I get triggered/reminded of getting hit on the back my head or back with shoes or slippers (and you wonder why the F I hate the color pink or her perfume or being touched at all, least of all being touched or hugged or anything by her); that evening I watched the filled Mayo jar fly by me, missing me by golly-knows-what; choosing dissociation in the closet instead of listening to the litany of Megan’s-fucked-up-as-a-daughter-because.

You know what’s also the same fucking story? (I know, a wanna-be-nun just said the F word. Pick your jaw off the floor, ‘cuz she’s heard and said so much more worse in the past). Getting harassed and bullied at work by your supervisor. I’m taking the fall because I told my supervisor’s boss that she made comments which I considered to be inappropriate. About the 3rd week of September I received information from a client’s caregiver about A/V hallucinations, and my supervisor in the course of consulting with another supervisor, stated “Oh, is this your wife?” My roommate (a co-worker) and her supervisor were in the room. As it was out of context, inappropriate, and I’m generally reserved, I didn’t say a damn thing at the moment.  However I did email my supervisor’s supervisor about her statements, explaining that I felt they were:

Hi [Supervisor’s Supervisor],

I want to make a complaint about a statement [Name redacted to protect the not-so-innocent] made to me yesterday in front of another employee & supervisor. We had gone to the back of the [Location] office to consult with [Roommate’s supervisor] about a cx [client] of mine. To this other employee (who is my roommate, [name removed]) and in front of her supervisor, [my supervisor] said, “Oh, is this your wife?”  I corrected it immediately as “No, she’s my roommate.”
Myself and my roommate felt it was inappropriate; I’m embarrassed.
I’m making a complaint as this is not the first time [the not-so-innocent] has made inappropriate comments about faith/personal issues to me; I’ve addressed them with her in the past and thought it was taken care of. I can talk more about those  with you’d like.
I write that I’m taking the fall because I’m the one getting pegged for distinct deadlines prior to the company’s established deadlines for monthly paperwork; my supervision time is being double-booked two weeks in a row and my supervisor says “oh, I messed up…no I didn’t”; she hangs up on me, she conveniently “never” receives my text messages (I can prove this via phone company) ; she gives me the clients that she’s having assigned to her (I can also prove this), which she needs to be credentialed in an evidence-based practice (one of our primary sources of funding); she does not listen to me pertaining to being able to either submit notes on-time, or completing paperwork to her superficial deadlines but not both (I have multiple witnesses). I’ll be harassed, picked on and bullied until my body collapses or she finds someone else to bully.
Yet, there’s another side to silence, where I can find peace instead of noise, calm instead of jarring harassment; can breathe without needing to calm my pinched and firing nerve[s]. For me this kind of silence is filled with incense, Gregorian Chant and sunlight filtered through stained-glass windows. Usually, I’ve just beginning to grasp this kind of silence at the end of the Mass of the Catechumens. Currently, I take a single line from the Anima Christi “Hide me in Your wounds” because it’s the only place that has been once-struck and never struck again. That blow is finished for all time, and He is righteous and reigns again. I can hide wherever I want to, but I crawl into the lance-blow, and imagine Momma Mary holds the body of her Son one last moment as in the Pieta and clasps her hand over me, not only keeping me hidden but I cannot fall out either. I sleep with a Crucifix clutched in my hands because it’s the only way I can sleep through the night without waking up every 2 hours. One of these days I’ll walk behind the closed doors of a monastery which St. Therese of the Child Jesus frequently called a prisoner; however it’s the first time I won’t be imprisoned. I’ll be able to openly declare/be myself without fear of reprimand. Nothing should slow my mother down on reprimanding me about how I’ll cause the doom-and-gloom on her marriage and am an utter disgrace more than a 7 hour drive to San Francisco. I hope I laugh when I should be silent.

Dang, I was assigned one heck of an interesting case this week. I’ll tell you all about it when I’m dead.

Mums the word & ethics code & law.

On Being Defensive

I almost can’t remember all the events of today…almost.

By 11am the fit was ready to hit the shan.  I got up to go grab a chart from the office, when the front desk lady stops me, tells me a social worker from APS (adult protective services) tried to get in touch with me on the phone, and that he would be coming to the ADHC.  I replied that I did not a [his name] and why would APS be coming to the Center?  I got the chart and the Administrator asked me the same question, I denied it again.  It was decided with nursing, the front desk lady and the program director present that no one would be speaking to the APS social worker alone.  In fact it was decided by the Administrator that she would sit in with me while the APS was speaking with me, and there would be a joint session with the APS as well.  These decisions are against regulations.

Going back to my office, I was cornered in the hallway between my office and the nurses office by my boss (the owner of the ADHC).  He was asking about the APS report I had copied on Thursday, and I explained it as, which is the truth: I made a couple of copies because I only have a Spanish version, and I only had one English version,  and needed a few others for the future.  He wasn’t pleased.  I called my co-social worker from the bathroom.  Then using the classic female ploy of grabbing my purse and heading back into the restroom, I called the APS and gave them my name and number; informed them that if they were sending out a social worker to the Center to get in touch with him and tell him no joint meetings, that he had to insist on single meetings.

Then I went back to my desk and returned to my paperwork, writing up letters to doctors telling them that their patients are showing the first signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.  I was having a fun morning between that and orienting the elderly schizophrenic that there wasn’t actually someone there talking to him on the couch.
 I called my co-social worker on my cell a second time, now having shut the door and jammed the door-stopper in, so I could speak with some assurance that I wouldn’t be interrupted.

After this, some discussion in the social work office with the Administrator, myself, and the LCSW about the specifics of our paperwork and the confusion that is occurring with the audit, and where previous social workers dropped the ball.  Then we all headed back to the office to go over some other charts to clear up the matter with the Program Director, and the front desk lady comes in.  She says that the man who she thought was the APS social worker was coming in from another agency and was investigating my abused elder’s caregiver for a felony case, and wanted to check on his safety, and was about to go to the house and check on the other elders living there as well.  So the supposed APS worker was really a social worker from another agency checking in to see about the abused client because his caregiver is wanted for a felony case.  I don’t know the nature of that felony.

…and my back stopped hurting for a moment.

Week in Review

I can’t help but be reminded of the line “vanity, all is vanity” for this evening.

I walk in and dump my tupperware in the sink, plop the book and pursue on the counter and stick my coffee in the fridge for the following morning.  I mention that I’m up to my eyeballs in work and classes are all just finals, and I get greeted with “that’s what you want, to be busy all the time.”  No question about the ethical quagmires that instantly appear at work.  No question about how I’m feeling with the APS report I’ve got sitting on my desk and have 72 hours to fill out.  Know what happens in the 24 hours I’ve given the potential abuser?  I’ve given him the ability to make a good story and coach my elderly client on what to say.  Or how about the Administrator of the ADHC telling me that I must run each APS report past her first (because every abuse report takes a client away from her pursue strings).  Excuse me?  No honey, this is how I work: I take my Code of Ethics seriously.  I hold myself to a few Codes and you might have heard of some of these: the Word of God (heard of that one?), NASW Code of Ethics (or maybe this one?), and the Ethics of the ADHC (you do know your own ethics code, right?).  Then on top of that I have the ethics of the APA of which I’m also a member, and the ACA, which I want to become a member of, etc.  These aren’t just acronyms and things you sign your name under at graduation and then forget about; codes are for protecting your client, not yourself.

Nope, that’s not something to talk about when I get back from 6 hours at work and the other 7 hours at school studying for finals, taking an exam and talking with my professor at length.  No, don’t engage me at all; jump straight to “let’s stitch up the holes in your ears” from a botched pierced ear thing that was cheap because the pediatrician did it; they’re just not straight so we got them redone a zillion years ago.  I declined and said that I don’t place my worth and value as a person on some stupid closed up hole in my lobe.  Now, now I get to hear about how I don’t take care of myself and “do your girlfriends also not care?” to which I can only say “my girlfriends and I wear the same amount of makeup, boots and short skirts when we go out clubbing.”  Would she also like to hear guys buy me shots of Patron, because I doubt it would prove my point: closed piercing holes that no one can really see are not a sign of me being “cheap” or “low class”, and employers have never had an issue with it.  Then I’m told a bunch of other stuff.  What’s the point? Its the same old argument recycled.

So, I’ve been banished to eat my TV dinner in my room.  Please, my room?  Really?  Hah, I’ve got books, a laptop, calligraphy utensils, 5 unfinished quilts, 5 …er 4 Cuban sodas, a radio, an ipod, and tonnes of other things this bookish introvert could entertain herself with for hours on end.  Heck, banishment to the room is better than the old days when I was eating my dinner in the laundry room.

That reminds me, I need a new house plant; maybe get one for the office, too.

I’m glad I’ll be working on Christmas Eve, smiling and talking with my clients; just Thanksgiving I won’t be able to recall one such Christmas where I have been authentically happy and smiley.  And its not because I’ll be paid (not overtime, mind you).  Just being with people who are actually able to be appreciative of the littlest thing that I do or realize Christmas is not about food, gifts and walking on eggshells.

I bought a book on Friday evening.  My first impulse for buying it was the cover.  Then I read the introduction and that hooked me.  Being so bookish, it’s generally hard not to judge a book by the introduction.  I found Moore’s most recent book that night and spent the 2 hours at Barnes and Noble reading the first 60 pages.  I might have to go back some afternoon or evening to just finish reading the book.  Anyway, my impulse buy is “party of one“.  Now, I’ve got to put in my caveat: I’m not a loner, but if I spend all day with people, I invariably turn into even more of a neurotic wreak than I already am on a daily basis.  I say neurotic, I’m sorta high-strung.  Anyway, the thing that got me talking about the party of one is this:

“Imagine you’re a loner whose ideal home would be a cottage on the beach, miles from the nearest neighbor.  And your ideal day would be one in which you slept from noon to dinnertime, worked half the night, then split the rest between raising pigeons and walking — alone, of course — on the beach.

In some places and eras, you could get away with it.  Not most.  In most you would be loathed, suveilled, suspected of perversion, called a witch, hauled out, spat at, set afire — or something like that.  With luck you might only be laughed at, mercilessly, all your life.”

I’ve got to say, as a kid and teen I dreamed of owning an old weather-worn silvered wooden cottage in some back country with green hills and forests, raising sheep.  Then, I think it was last year, I was told sheep stink, but I imagine I prefer sheep stink to cow stink.  Anyway, my daydreams are loner daydreams: utterly alone in huge old mansions or walking city streets in old fashioned garbed alone at night.  Ain’t nobody in my daydreams, except for this one kid.

Anyway, I’ve got work and things to do yet.
I’m off.