Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Which My Heartstrings Are Pulled in Many Different Directions

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my former boss telling me that a woman, let's just call her Ladybug, had stopped by the office looking for me. She thought that Ladybug had been a former housing client of mine.

I looked at Ladybug's name and indeed, she was a former housing client of mine. One who'd been a giant success story when it came to how well her cocktail of psych meds worked for her - sadly many people with schizophrenia improve with medication, but are still never really "normal" again, whereas Ladybug was pretty damned "normal" once she stabilized on her meds. I was curious as to what prompted this reach out after nearly 5 years of me having been gone from the center.

Today I called her, and we talked a bit before she revealed the reason for her wanting to get in touch with me. Being pregnant, I teared up with emotion when she told me that the 4 (or more? she couldn't remember anymore) people who'd been put in my housing coordinator position over the past 5 years have "never even come close to how good you were, Heather. Never. And I think about you a lot."

Guilt seared me as I was instantly back in time 5 years ago and worrying about if my clients would receive a good replacement for me. I'd had my doubts then and now I had confirmation.

Pride fluffed my ego as I felt good about my past performance.

Helplessness hit me as I am no longer a social worker and removed from that world.

I was humbled that in 5 years I have not given many second thoughts to the people for whom I used to work so hard, and yet one had not forgotten me.

Anyway, Ladybug's oldest daughter had had a hard semester at the community college and her student aid was being pulled. She had to take 2 [self-paid] courses with a C or better before she would get her funding back and was now considering dropping out at the prospect of having to take classes without any means to pay for them. Like any good mother, Ladybug does NOT want to see this happen and was wondering about resources that could help her daughter remain in school.

And of course, I was stumped. But, I gave her my standard, "Why don't you call 211 and see if there is anything they can hook you up with," response with the caveat that I wasn't sure if she'd find anything, but it was worth a shot.

We talked some more and at the end, Ladybug asked me shyly, "Is it ok if I keep your number and call if anything else comes up?"

I'm not a social worker anymore, and now I can put myself forward as just a person who loves others as Christ has shown me to do. As a social worker, this would have been a taboo move to make, but there was something freeing about the answer I put forth: "Sure, Ladybug. Maybe we can even get lunch together sometime."

I used to think that God called me to my work within the constructs of the institutions that I was employed by over the years, but with this phone call, I see that He has freed me from those constructs and I can do the same work as He leads me to do it and still be here for my children and husband.

Clarity. At last.

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