You’re My Counselor, G

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.

 

 

 

 

Why I Lost Faith

I left the church completely when they turned their back on a child in need. This is happened years ago, but Charlie Pierce has an essay up that made me rethink about my own relationship with the Church. My thoughts are far too complicated for twitter, and I’m not sure they will make any sense with the blog, but all the hoopla on the Church lately has made me think about why I walked away from Catholicism and the Christian faith. I left because of the sheer hypocrisy of the Church.

I had a client, years ago, who was a devout Catholic. As with all of my clients, this young man was sexually aggressive. While in the world of treatment, his case was not necessarily the worst I had ever seen, he had done great harm to his victim, her family as well as his own family. His family came to me for treatment, and I worked with him to address his thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Given his level of activity in a peer group he was considered lower-risk. The family, who was accustomed to getting strength from the church ,assured me that this young man would continue to be embraced by the church community and receive the requisite spiritual and social support necessary to live a positive life.

They turned to the church, and the church kicked my client not just out of the youth group, but his school as well, citing his non-adjudicated offense as the reason why he could not be around children his own age.

Let me be perfectly clear: The kid offended someone much younger. He had no contact with kids of that age any more. He wasn’t on probation, he was diverted. This means he wasn’t even in the Juvenile Justice System because the authorities in the State’s Attorneys Office deemed him to be low risk.

So the Catholic Church, which goes on and on about forgiveness, redemption and social service turns its back on a parishioner who needed help. Meanwhile, the Bishops are shifting pedophiles and hebephiles around like collectible collecting cards. Here was a kid who was ready, willing and able to work through his shit.  They walked away from him.

The kicker:  I knew the pastor of that church.  He was, when I knew him, a good man who cared about children of all kinds.

The Church did nothing for this kid, while they have gone to the MAT for adults who have offended dozens of children.

This was a kid who could have–and  I should point out, was–helped without the guidance of the Church. As far as anyone knows, he’s relapse free for at least five years.  During those five years, the Church has continued to shelter pedophiles and turn its back on people in need based on sexual orientation or gender.

I beat up on the Church because the Church chose to protect and shelter pedophiles, and because it abandoned families in need.  Their hypocrisy drove me away.  And now, despite my desire to believe in the hereafter, they can’t get me back.

Brush Your Shoulders Off

If there was dust on the internet, there would be a few centimeters of schmutz here, obscuring the view. Given the current layout and widgets, that might be a blessing in disguise.

So to kick things off, let’s rock the dust off:

Now then, onto the bidness.

There are two competing questions in my head right now:

  • How much hypocrisy is tolerable?
  • What the hell am I doing with my job and my education?

First and foremost, the question of incongruous attitudes and behaviors is one that frequently comes to the fore of my thoughts. I firmly believe that everyone is going to have a little bit of dissonance (or hypocrisy) within. This is simply is part of the human condition: Anyone who says otherwise may not be that introspective. At some point, however, the dissonance is too much and something has to give. For instance, anytime a person with views to the Right of Center begins to speak, I stop listening and begin to formulate arguments. This is despite the fact that I believe I am open minded and willing to listen to people with a variety of view points. One cannot listen and formulate an argument at the same time, therefore, something is going to have to give.

To that end, I typically justify my responses by saying that current political discussions are rehashing the same theories and bogus evidence that have been pulled out over the past thirty years. Furthermore, I find the “White People/Christian Thinkers are so persecuted in America” to be the single most stupid distortion of history I have ever encounter. So if the opinions I hear are based in either a) Same old Supply Side Arguments or b) white people have it so hard the dissonance disappears fairly quickly.

And yet, I will revisit it frequently because I’m not entirely sure that’s the right thing to do.

For the second point, I’m still looking into ways to combine my degree with my job. The fact is that the public sector needs to improve its IT, whether it is knowledge management, computer systems or data policies. This means I have to write proposals for the office and find the journals to read on the topic. While I hope it leads to clarity, I am fairly convinced I’ll leave asking more questions about my direction than when I started.

In the past, blog-as-soundboard has helped out with some of these thoughts. I also know I feel better when I blog regularly. So I guess its a return to form.

On a final note, I leave everyone with the elephant in my brain: The impending release of Mass Effect 3.

Peace out.

An Open Letter to John Daley, Part 3

Mr. Daley,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me to discuss my questions regarding the Cook County Budget, and for the coffee. I am glad to get confirmation that, at this time, layoffs are not on the table for Juvenile Probation Officers. I truly appreciate that you were willing to take time from your schedule to listen to my concerns. It is heartening to learn that there are commissioners who are willing to meet with their constituents to discuss these important issues.

Thank you, again, for all that you do.

Best Regards,

Marty Gleason

I just wish I could take a picture without looking like a smug bastard.

Busy? So?

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I don’t know many people who say, “Oh yeah, sure! I have all that free time!” I’m pretty sure that everyone I know is balancing work, family, friends, a project of some kind and their own recharge/slack time. I find it far too easy to fall into a pattern where I judge the quality of busy-ness. Thankfully, thoughts thoughts don’t often get the better of me, but it happens…

Take, for instance, my class mates. They frequently say they are too busy to get their part of an assignment completed. They cite their other class (or classes) and a family obligation of some sort, and I do my best to appear clinically neutral.

What i want to do is engage in a futile pissing contest. I want to scream, “oh! I’m just balancing a full class load, a difficult case load and your bullshit files!” That wouldn’t accomplish anything, let alone make me feel better.

I had Hoped that After years of working with difficult clients and families, I would have more resilience that passive-aggressive comebacks, but lately, that’s all I have. And sadly, I don’t think I’m alone.

Busy and just plain out of resilience.

What is there to do?

I have a few ideas, not the least of which is helping people (and myself) learn to cope. First and foremost, I think this:

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It’s okay to be overwhelmed, distant, upset or sad. It’s okay to be mad at a friend, coworker or your country. What matters most is how we act. Most of all, we need to be okay with ourselves.

I think that’s key. And I think I have a post for tomorrow.

Another Letter to John P Daley

Mr. John P Daley, Commissioner 11th District,

Two weeks ago I wrote you a letter asking if I could talk with you  regarding serious budget issues that affect me and my clients in Cook County.  In that letter I identified myself as a new resident of the 11th district and a long time Probation Officer in the Clinical Interventions Division.   In that letter, I did not describe my job duties.  I had hoped that I would be able to discuss the nature of my job with you or with one of your staff.  That has not happened.  In order to encourage this badly needed conversation, I am more than willing to discuss about my job and my responsibilities in a more direct fashion.

Mr. Daley, for the past 11 years I have provided supervision, case management and treatment to Cook County Wards with aggressive sexual behaviors.  Cook County’s community based treatment program is a leader in addressing sexually aggressive children and youth, and this program is in danger of being cut by the recent threat of layoffs from the Cook County Board.

In addition to the services I provide these youth, I am also the Co-Chair of the Juvenile Advisory Council (JAC).  This is a national model of youth input in Juvenile Justice matters.  Jurisdictions from 20 states have come to the Cook County Juvenile Court to learn about the Juvenile Advisory Council, how we work with court wards and court staff and how JAC improves the services at the Court.  This program is also targeted by Budget Cuts.

I am not sure how the Cook County Board can demand for more cuts to programs and services while Cook County Commissioners refuse to take their furlough days.  I do not understand how vital court services can be cut or delayed when management heavy offices in Cook County Government are not sharing the burden of the budgetary short fall.  I do not understand how the County Board can talk about providing key services while cutting key staff.

If Layoffs occur, half of the JSO unit will be affected.  This will affect my workload and make it impossible for me to run the Juvenile Advisory Council.  This year I have already surrendered 5% of my salary to Cook County and increased my workload 25%.  Another 5% pay cut and another increase in my work load will make me look for work outside of Cook County Government.

I want to work providing service for the residents of Cook County.  I want your office to support me, and my coworkers, as we work to provide vital services to the children of Cook County.  Will you help me do my job?

 

I look forward to hearing from you or your staff,

Martin Gleason