Location: Oregon, United States

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I am in week two of the transition into the Program Manager position at work. Interesting and profound experience - closing out my clients from the community has proved the most daunting, as they will experience the change more intensely than those that still live on site. I've worked with each of them for 2 - 3 years, gaining trust through street outreach and moving through that stage all the way to 1:1 therapy.

"ZZ" told me he sensed I was 'leaving him' before I told him. (Most endings tend to have parallels to other separations - death, break-ups, moving away.) The next time we met, he had had some time to process the situation. He was sad and fearful of moving forward, saying I had 'almost had' him, meaning he was nearly ready to talk about some of the deep deep things he's been working toward bringing up for nearly two years now. This frankly sucks, as he is so close to getting to some of the real meat he needs to be talking about and I'm concerned he'll never get it out. The next week we met, he said he had thought about 'just dropping' me altogether - now he's breaking up with me! At least he's working on it, and we'll see how it all shakes out.

The second fellow has cried for three sessions straight. He was already depressed when I had to tell him, but wow. He told me I'm the only person he's ever trusted and that he didn't know what he would do. Winning trust is one of THE most rewarding things about my work, so hearing people express this is always moving to me. I'll still be on site, so I assured him I can still meet periodically and he could make the transition gradually in order to feel safe. He appears to be coming to terms with things now, and was able to make it through our last session without tears. Cool.

The Hippie Philosopher Anarchist and I met the other day off site. He recently left the program, just randomly leaving and not coming back, then calling me a week later after he'd missed court and therefore has a warrant. We talked about his move, what his plans are, and my transition. I had the opportunity to tell him what I had learned from him: With him, everything is a metaphor. The metaphor he used to describe the situation where I work was a comparison between a war time economy led by a Chieftan (the current program manager) and a peace time economy led by a Spiritual Healer (that is his perception of me). When the community was in crisis last year, we were discussing the situation and he brought up this metaphor, accusing me of getting sucked into the war time economy. He said something like, "I just want to know what the Healer would do!", challenging me to find a way to bring peace back into the community. I think about that comment often.

"Maynard" is an entity unto himself. Out of all of these guys, he's allowed himself to trust me more deeply than anyone. We met earlier this week to pass the case management baton on to his new worker - he has a LOT of case management stuff to do yet, because we were great at counseling, but not so great at getting stuff done. The meeting went well, the new worker built rapport immediately and got him to agree to an appointment he was trying to avoid. The next day he came in to process the change, saying he was fearful of successfully accomplishing case management tasks because he would lose support, expressing a sense of loss of our relationship, and fear of trusting another. He said with me, he felt 'known' - a profound and amazing word, especially since his mantra all along has been that he feels 'misunderstood'. But now, because of this sense of feeling understood, he thinks that maybe he can learn to trust others - terrifying and wonderful! That's what this is all about! My hope for him is that he will be able to trust others, be deeply understood, and ultimately find peace.

Needless to say, this has been an emotional week, full of solid, good stuff. In the background, I've got various residents approaching me and expressing excitement for when I officially move into the Program Manager's role, with one expressing concern regarding whether or not I'll be able to hold the community together. It will be a change for everyone to move from a war time economy to a peace time economy. What will the Healer do?


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