Below the Surface

Today has been quite an eventful day. I don’t know really how to go about processing it but I felt that I need to talk about it one way or another.

I’ve been working for DCF this summer as an intern. I recently got assigned secondary on a new case in the unit. This family is quite complex and the child is an adolescent, which that in itself is hard to handle sometimes. The child is on the Autism spectrum and suffers from bipolar and PTSD. Today, I and another worker were scheduled to meet the child for the first time. Now, this boy is 15 years old and weighs about 360 pounds. When we arrived, he was having an episode. These episodes consist of him locking himself up in the bathroom and destroying property, sometimes he is physical with his mother and sisters. The cops and EMT eventually came to get him because the mother did not feel safe with him being in the home any longer. The boy had already packed his bags and was ready to go to the hopsital. He actually loves going to the hospital and acts out as a method to be brought there. When he was told that he could not bring anything with him to the hospital, he started to get little aggressive, which resulted in the three cops that were present to restrain him and cuff him. Even when the crew was bringing him to the EMT van, the boy was still trying to push back against them from entering the vehicle. According to the mother, this is the first time he has ever gotten physical with the police.

When sitting back down and talking to the mother, I empathize with her greatly. The family had lost a son more than 4 years ago due to gang involvement, a nephew who had died this past november, and another son who died this past december. The mother sat there and talked about how her son use to not be like this. She talked about the good times when he would laugh and they would talk to one another. I am not a mother so I could not speak on her behalf for her feelings but watching her was painful and her sadness, I could physically feel it in my chest.

Being at DCF this summer has really opened my eyes and my heart. I had a feeling that I was getting myself into some tough stuff but it’s not even the physical things that I see and hear that are tough, it’s the emotional component that has affected me the most. When the events have passed and I’m left with the thoughts afterwards. The hardest part I think is working with the families that when after running around in circles and having exhausted every outlet, and still nothing can be done. I haven’t learned how to emotionally handle those cases yet. And I don’t know if I ever completely will learn how to. This family seems like one of these cases. There is such an unhealthy and vicious cycle of destruction and unsafe behaviors that I don’t think any one route will ever stabilize them. It’s a tough thing for a new social worker in the field to realize that you can’t always do a family good. That sometimes, it’s not about figuring out how to fix everything but rather, it’s about making the best out of the situation. I would like to satisfy every client that I have but I can’t always do that. And I think right now, it’s hard on me to come to terms with that.


I’ve come to realize that being a social worker requires the ability to let the world constantly chip away at you every day. And a social worker’s whole life is to make sure that they have a strong enough shield to not completely deteriorate.. and when you don’t have a lot to start off with, it makes the process of protecting yourself so much harder. 



These past couple weekends have been filled with a lot of happiness. I have gotten to be surrounded by many old friends, friends that I have not seen for 3+ years. School has been something that been put in the back of my mind, as I sit here with a 7 page paper due Thursday morning. It wasn’t until today when I reflected back on what has been happening in my life lately that got me to think that I’m actually happy right now. There are many dark days and nights in my life, more than I care to acknowledge. So, moments when my mind is able to grasp the awareness of happy, it catches me off guard. And it’s the small little things that have added up: seeing old friends, getting drunk, watching the sunrise and sunset, pulling all nighters, having deep conversations, realizing that I’m in a really spot in my life right now, and I’m living in a great city.

I would be lying if I said that “everything is perfect right now” because that’s never going to happen. Even through the good that’s going on, I miss my friends from Wisconsin, I miss sitting on the terrace and having a cold beer, having stupid converstaions, gossiping about people that don’t matter to our lives, not having to worry about anything… This get’s me to my next train of thought, can anyone be truly happy? I feel like people throw the phrase around a lot, “omg, I couldn’t be any happier right now,” “my life is perfect right now,” “I love everything that is going on in my life right now.” Right now, is that defined as the span of 24 hours or is it a week? How long does happiness truly last until a dark cloud comes and washes away all the joy? See, this is my mind…always jumping to the negative.

I guess another part of the happy phase right now is thinking about my future. Yes, my original decision to work in CPS has been challenged but at least I have a job lined up after I graduate next year. And I do love what I’m doing, I just don’t want to be burned out within my first year out in field. I’ve also discovered that I actually really like therapy and diagnosing children, so it’s a good thing I came to a place that has such an emphasis on clinical practice. And in general, just the fact that I’m at Boston College brings me great pride and joy. It is a top 10 social work graduate program! It still baffles me sometimes when I think about how I’m a student at BC. Another part of the future is knowing that Scott was able to transfer to his company’s office out in Cambridge. I am aware that money does not buy happiness but I am also well aware that financial insecurity will cause stress so I’m glad that we both will have stable incomes. Thinking about a life in Boston with Scott (and our future dog, Morrison) brings me happiness because it feels like freedom. The past 22 years of my life have been constrained by expectations, grades, and timelines. Of course, work will be filled with all of those things but at least it’s on my terms. And I have so much more freedom to do the things I love, which is travel. I’m not talking about long distance traveling either. Now that I live in New England, where areas are a lot closer together, I can explore New England so much more; go to Maine, Canada, New Hampshire, go camping, snowshoeing, to the beach. I think about those moments of freedom and all the adventures that I can go on, and it makes me so much happier. I guess happiness to me sometimes is thinking about what will be…

img_2300In a meeting with my field advisor today, he talked to me about the concept of detachment. I had heard of the word before but did not know exactly what it was. He explained to me that often, people tend to get too emotionally invested into the lives and problems of the people around them. For instance, someone who is the friend of an alcoholic may be too invested into their friend’s addiction, to the point where it is causing them distress. Detachment is when a person can be apart of someone’s life but not get too emotionally attached to that someone’s problem.

I had been struggling in my field placement for a couple weeks. The workers in my unit are extremely burned out. They are excited about getting their cases transferred because then they don’t have to deal with the family anymore, they talk down on the families, they focus on the negative, they would rather work with the “good” clients, etc. As a new worker coming into the field, I have been extremely distraught being in this environment. Especially coming from an undergrad program where social workers were so positive, I feel like I’ve been thrown into a whirlpool. But speaking with my advisor, and learning about the concept of detachment, I recognize that I really need to focus on that. I can’t focus on the negatives that I am hearing or else the environment will drag me down as well. I love the work that I am doing and I still believe that CPS can do so much. But, I also do understand that a broken system that is lacking in many resources can be frustrating to be apart of. I think about the reason why I want to be a worker though and I just can’t let go of wanting to work in this frustrating system. If everyone gave up on this system, children would be left to be even more vulnerable and parents would never learn how to be better parents.

And so, from now, I choose detachment. I choose to not let the negative bring me down. I choose to be positive and strength based. Because if I let the enviroment take away my passion, then I’m not doing myself justice. I would be letting myself down and I know that ten years down the road, I will regret not having stuck with my passion. And if the road ends up burning up in flames, at least I tried.

Here goes nothing…again

People say that the third times the charm. In my case, hopefully the fifth time will be. I have tried to start a blog during different points in my life but was never able to continue posting, mostly due to the realization that my life is not that interesting and my thoughts are not that thoughtful. But, I’m 22 now and at a point where I just need somewhere to let the voices in my head dump its nonsense. During the last year of college, I had developed a terrible habitat of needing to fall asleep with Netflix on in the background due to the fact that if the room was silent, the voices in my mind would get too loud. And just so you don’t start thinking I’m a crazy girl (yet), when I say voices, I’m referring to my own, not some demon trying to speak to me. My hope is that writing out these thoughts will allow my mind to be at rest and hopefully sleep better.