PT (SD)

I have a lot of work that I should be doing. I'm in a better, more focused frame of mind today than I have been all week. I should be taking advantage of that and catching up on the things my brain wouldn't let me accomplish the past three days. I have stacks of papers to go through, lists of progress notes to finish, multiple phone calls to make, and treatment plans to write. But I don't care, because that work isn't going anywhere. Instead I'm going to write about a topic that has been on my mind for quite a while now and writing my feelings may be the last bit of closure I need to completely shut it out of my brain forever.

I hate to use the word trauma so loosely, because I know of and work with so many people who have had real, hardcore trauma in their lives. At the same time trauma is a spectrum. Just like depression, anxiety, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Autism, etc etc etc. all look different in each person who has those, trauma has a different meaning to everyone depending on their lived experiences. I also feel like many past events in my life have been traumatic to me and have definitely helped to feed my diagnosis and help it come to light. One of these traumatic events or times in my life was my previous job working at The Center for New Americans. Before you get pissed off and quit reading, let me explain how this was causing me trauma without me even realizing it, until it was too late.

A lot of people know that I applied for that position twice. Once in May and again in December. I had an interview in May that was completely inappropriate but I thought I had a decent chance at getting an offer. I was wrong. Time passed and after our wedding I started applying for more jobs than ever. They had another opening so I gave it another shot. I got an interview a couple of days later. The same man interviewed me and I can say with 100% certainty that he had no idea I was someone he had previously interviewed until I showed up and he saw my face. I got married, had a new last name. Tricky! That interview was a little more professional but I was also told "We really prefer to hire people who were previously refugees". The fact that saying that was not only discriminatory but also illegal, didn't really phase me until I told my husband about it. I had plans to file a complaint against them if I was not offered the job. I didn't have to take things that far because I was offered that job and I started a couple of weeks later.

I didn't feel right from the very first day I worked there. Things were so unorganized and I was basically put in a cubical to read binders of material that made no sense to me. I didn't really say much about it, I figured that maybe they had some upcoming trainings planned for me and I just needed to roll with it for a few days. I was wrong. I never went with my gut feeling on being out of place there and everything spiraled downward from there. When I started I was the only white, female, monolingual case manager. It was me and a mix of other races and ethnicities. Which didn't bother me, until I realized that I was being treated completely different than they were (rules didn't apply to them). About a month later another girl "just like me" started. I was so excited to have someone to talk to in English, someone who could potentially be more than just a co worker. It was slow going because, as it turns out, we are both pretty introverted, but we became friends. The more we talked and got to know each other it became clear that we both went through the same BS when we applied. We latched on to each other. We had some similar life experiences and interests. The people who ran the joint didn't take well to that and worked really hard to get in between our friendship. I started standing up for myself in regards to being treated differently, seeming to have different rules to follow, and not feeling like I was appreciated. I've written about it before, but that never went over well. It slowly wore me down. Eventually I started to see that working there was ruining me and traumatizing me all at the same time. I have some pretty strong beliefs when it comes to the social services field and they didn't align with anyone else's. I was never allowed to share those beliefs either. Things were so wrong and unprofessional there and I just cared so much about the clients and the lack of assistance they were receiving. These were newly arrived refugees. Some of them were alone, some of them were young, some of them were single mothers, and all of them were scared. The Center for New Americans looked past that and did nothing to help to truly transition them to their new life. It bothered me that none of them were offered mental health services, they had to request that. Hopefully you understand the barriers to that without me explaining. There were a lot of other political issues in that office that nobody ever talked about, either. I put everything I had into my job, until I realized what was happening. I gave up. I quit caring. I went through the motions. I knew I wasn't appreciated and that nobody noticed if I was or wasn't' there, so why should I care? I have positive and negative feelings on refugee resettlement, and it made some of my job duties hard for me to do. The clients, to me, were just people who needed help, a boost up, a hand to hold, and an arrow to follow. (Most of) them didn't want everything to be handed to them, they didn't want us to be their parents, they didn't want a shadow at every appointment. Part of me felt like that's what we were expected to do, and I wasn't okay with that.

I know a lot of my then co workers thought I was completely against refugee resettlement and "didn't deserve to work there". But those people never took time to get to know me, have conversations with me, or even acknowledge my being there. I saw things and heard things from those people I served that shocked me. I tried to bring them to light, to attention, and get answers, but that never happened either. They wanted to keep their "good face" and be this savior in the eyes of the community.

The after affects of working there still haunt me today. While I'm not saying that I 100% disagree with LSS and what they are doing, I do say that working there for one year caused me un-needed stress, anxiety, hurt, and trauma. Never in my life have I been treated by my employer the way that I was treated there. I have never sat at my desk and cried. I have never had lunch in my car while I cried on the phone to my husband. I have never left a job my last day without even saying goodbye. I have never worked up the courage to stand up for myself only to be pushed so far down that I struggled to get back up. Until I worked there.

I also lost someone who I considered to be a best friend out of the deal. The friend I made there no longer speaks to me, and has replaced me. Because "they" told her that I was a bad influence. And she listened. They just had to get one last job in at me, and that's the route they took. I miss you, Katie. I hope you are well.

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