This is a hard post to write, but given that my interview–a formality– is scheduled, I need to get this out so i can finish up my 13 years.
I’m leaving the JSO unit.
I have worked with sexually problematic youth for my entire career. Thirteen years may not be a lot of time, but it is all I have ever done. I am moving on to a new position: Juvenile Advisory Council Coordinator. This position is one I have held part-time and on a voluntary basis for seven years. Now, in order to make this program grow, I’m being given the chance to establish JAC and ensure that it gets the resources it needs to become a fully integral part of the Juvenile Court.
That doesn’t make this easier.
I am good at what I do. I really am. I can get most kids to talk to me about private matters within a matter of weeks. Even the kids that never come out of denial admit that I helped them with something. And while this may just be smoke, the record supports my notions: Most of my clients are relapse free. In 13 years, and after a hundred or so clients, I’ve had a total of 4 relapses… In short, I’m pretty damn good.
When my job was at its most stressful, I would view my therapy groups as a way to break the stress. I was hestitant to call of work when I was sick–even really sick–on a group day as I love it. I will always love group. And soon, i’m giving it up.
Let me tell you why: I can make a solid therapeutic connection to most kids. I have this one kid: Latino, gang banger, loves to push buttons and boundaries with everyone. He returned to group after a mandatory anger management class. He was talking about the other counselor as if he was from another planet:
So here’s this old, pudgy white dude. He had grey hair on his head and in his beard. And he told us he’s never been in trouble with in his life. He’s just this old white dude who has lived in the suburbs all his life. He doesn’t have an anger problem. He doesn’t know what I’ve been through. He doesn’t know anything about where I live or what I do. And he’s going to help me with my anger? Fuck that.
I pointed out my similarities to this guy. White, pudgy, never been in trouble in my life. The kid looked at me and in the seriousness he could muster, said
“No. You’re my counselor G.”
He told me I didn’t pretend to know what he went through and I would always let him talk–even after I kicked him out of group. He was clear about how I was there not to tell him how to be, but to help him be better.
Maybe he was blowing smoke. Maybe he played me. It wouldn’t be the first time…and it may not be the last time. But, for what it’s worth, I believe him. And it made my day. While the guys don’t know I’m leaving, I do. And it is going to be hard to say goodbye.