Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Hurricane

A guest post by TikunOlam

While I may not be counted as a “frum” Jew anymore, some of the Jewish values that I was taught growing up in the Modern Orthodox world are forever a part of the core of who I am. I remember being taught that Hashem created the world as an imperfect place and that each individual human was bestowed with talents and gifts to lend to the world in order to make it a more perfect place. I learned that it is each of our jobs to discover our talents and do what we can in order to make the world a better place.

Well, I am pretty sure I found my calling when I started working as a psychologist with emotionally disturbed children and teens. I joke that I could have never imagined that I, as a White girl from a Long Island Orthodox Jewish home would have had any success working with predominantly African American, inner city gang members, but here I am and have been for a number of years. I love my work and though I am still honing my skills and I am sure that I will be for the rest of my life, I believe that I am pretty good at my job.

But sometimes I get seriously overwhelmed and emotionally burned out. I feel like whatever tiny difference I am making is nothing in the scheme of things. I feel powerless and lost. A past supervisor used to tell me that he too knows what that feels like. He said that sometimes he feels, and excuse my language, as though he is “pissing into a hurricane.” That is what I feel like right now. Like I am pissing into a hurricane.

I feel like this when I watch as security has to restrain an out of control adolescent as he loses complete control of his rage and becomes destructive by tearing down exit signs. I feel like this when kids come into my place of work hungry because their guardian is taking their social service checks and buying drugs with them instead of feeding them. I feel like this when I call Social Services to report that I spoke with a child who had a broken jaw and his mother did not take him to see a doctor and the social service worker (and her supervisor) refuse to pursue the investigation because the child did not allege abuse. And I am feeling burned out right now because yet another one of my past patients was killed by gunshot.

Today I helped some teens work out their differences and hopefully prevented some violence from breaking out. I feel good about that. I need to hold on to those moments.

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