So. Much. Crap. There has actually been sooo much that's happened since I last wrote, I don't even know where to begin. So if this particular entry seems more like an unfiltered stream of consciousness... you're right! Congrats on that, and I hope you'll be able to follow. If it starts to get too Finnegan's Wake-y, you were warned.
- My Hulk Moment:
I had my first almost-fight. I'm a pretty non-violent person, as sloth is usually the trait that accompanies me to every experience, and I can still call myself non-violent because I never ended up doing much more than posturing. Still, it was kind of interesting at the time.
I can only say for myself that I had had a bad night. I hadn't slept well before my overnight shift, and then once I got to work the kids were being obnoxious, and then the morning came I got mandated to stay late and I HATE MANDATES. Not the normal mandates, like when somebody has an emergency or something - that's to be expected. But this particular site used mandates at their convenience. Someone f*cked up the schedule? Mandate! An appointment was made at a stupid time leaving us out of ratio for first shift? Mandate! Someone's late every freaking day blahblahblah... MANDATE!
Literally, EVERY DAY. I think I got out of work on time twice. Every other shift, I left anywhere from 20 minutes after my shift to a good hour.
Anyways, so I got mandated which I believe made it 14 hrs of no sleep, and this one particular kid was working my last nerve and HE KNEW IT, and I really needed nicotine. So by the time I got in my car, mentally preparing for the 45 minute drive ahead, I was pretty much spent.
So I'm driving along on the highway, and I turn on my blinker to get in the other lane. I hear a BEEP and realize I have a car in my blind spot. So move back and wave that apologetic little way you do when you're an idiot, and we all move on with our lives, right? Wrong. A couple of uneventful minutes had passed when the same car speeds up next to me. I look over and I see the girl on the passenger side throw something at my car window, duck, and then they drive off. Now at this point I didnt know wtf it was that she threw, but I was DONE. And before my brain could catch up, I felt my foot push down harder on the pedal, I saw my fingers touch the blinker to change lanes, and I FOLLOWED THEM. Now, in the back of my brain, there was a half-asleep, nicotine deprived, mentally exhausted little voice that kept trying to get my attention frantically like, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING GRENDAL!??" But Grendal had no idea what he was doing, he just rudely woken up and was pissed.
I got right up behind them. They changed lanes, I changed lanes. They sped up, I sped up. Then they got off an exit... and I did too.
They parked at a gas station and there we had a confrontation. It was literally the stupidest confrontation I had ever engaged in - like halfway through I had to take an honest look at myself and be like, girl chill.
I found out, by her own admission, that she had thrown a CHICKEN BONE at my car.
I can't even...
Then there was alot of "You wanna fight bitch!?" 'YOU wanna fight?" "I'll fight!" "I'll fight too!" "Then go for it!" "YOU go for it!"
Yeah, neither one of us really wanted to fight. Meanwhile the driver of the car was rooting for her friend at a very comfortable distance.
We all just stand there for a second.
"So whatchu want bitch!?" she asks in dulcet tones.
Hadn't actually gotten that far. Stupid squeaky background voice.
But I mean, I went to all this trouble... now I wanna go home... can't back down now, so....
"YOU OWE ME AN APOLOGY!"
Nice job, cleverpuss. Very scary.
I did not get my apology, surprisingly enough. I DID get spit on however... so all in all... that was stupid.
- So THIS is love:
My relationship with Mark has hit an all-time high. When I moved in, we were dating... but there were reservations. Like, I was still missing Francisco a little, and even though I ALWAYS know Mark is first in my heart no matter what, I didn't really feel IN love with him. I worried a little bit, but then I decided to trust myself, because I knew the love was there, I just couldn't figure out how to get that feeling again.
But for once, I took my own good advice. I stopped overthinking it. I told myself, I know its there, just wait until everything aligns again.
And it started slow. It started with me wanting to make sure that when he came home I had clean dishes ready for him and a relatively clean home. And I am NOT a tidy person. I thrive on chaos (have you noticed?), and also, and probably more importantly, I DO NOT CARE.
But he cared, and since up until this point I had spent most of my time smoking like a chimney when I wasn't lying on the couch praying it would swallow me, there was alot to do. Mark had let me get away with this lazy depression and he kept the place up for months. It started to give me heart pangs to see him so stressed out, so I finally got off my ass and cleaned the place - because I love him.
As a little side note here, some of this motivation can also be attributed to my medication. It was getting bad for awhile, the depression stuff. I'm kind of always mentally settling somewhere around melancholy, so sometimes its difficult to detect in myself when its time to get some help. My typical apathy became a dependence on that stupid couch. I swear I hated leaving it. Its not even a great couch, I think its from Ikea for gods sake, but I had spent many, many hours there as soon as I got out of work, wishing I could disappear in it. Mark grew concerned, but he's not pushy, so he sweetly suggested often that I may require a doctor. I didn't think it was a problem until I read in the staff log at work that one of the kids went to crisis because she wanted to kill herself, and I thought automatically, 'I'm with ya, girl.'
It was time. I went to my doctor, I went through the motions - still am, some days, but I can say there's been some improvement. For one thing, I allowed myself to open up to Mark. And I realized that basically, I had managed to shut off whatever part of my brain that could relinquish affection to him. He's so close to me, he knows me so well, we've been together so long, that my brain kept the most vulnerable parts on the inside.
That's kind of impressive, if you think about it. I mean I know its like, not a wonderful thing to be able to do but, hey. Good on you brain. Thanks for being in my corner, I know you were trying to protect me.
- I’ve got 99 problems and you’re every one:
I quit my job.
That site was bat-shit ridiculous.
Quick re-cap: After leaving my job at the ER, I took a job at the first place that would hire me. This turned out to be a job working with teens in a kind of halfway house situation. The first site was a long-term one, and it was challenging but I loved it. I had so many good times with those kids, they were honestly awesome. We had long talks, we'd go to the park and just hang out and be silly, or go shopping, or sometimes just gossip. I LOVED working with these kids.
But then Nikki got all bitchy... and John got all bitchy, and I moved in with Mark, 2 hours away from my job site. I loved those kids so much I really tried to make it work for awhile, but then I started getting write-ups because I refused to drive an extra 2 hours on my day off to go to an hour long meeting. Think about it: 2 hours there, 1 hour for a meeting that almost DEFINITELY could've been a text, and 2 hours home. That's a 5 hour chunk of my time , and I only get paid for the hour - no travel - at 11 dollars an hour which literally did not pay for the gas I spent getting there. On top of that, if my car acted funny in any way, I couldn't make it there, because I can't be stranded 2 hours away from home in the middle of nowhere at night. So very reluctantly, I transferred to another site, only 45 minutes away (ONLY
That site is short-term, and in a very populated area. The kids staying there also have connections in that city, so they go AWOL all the time, among other things. I didn't have any time to develop a rapport with the kids there. Too little time all around, plus I was 3rd shift so generally not a lot of bonding occurred. I didn't really like it. I mean, I liked the staff and most of the kids were alright, but it just wasn't very fulfilling because I couldn't really HELP anyone. Like at the last site the kids used to call me "the therapist" sometimes, because I was the talker. I'd come in and a kid would give me a look and say, "I need to go to the park with you Del." And I knew that meant we'd be on the grass or the swings, discussing life-altering, all important, teenager-y stuff. But it worked! I was good at my job, I was very good at de-escalation.
But I didn't have that anymore, so I was just a body.
And the bullsh*t I encountered in that place... holy sh!#. Couldn’t take it anymore.
For example, on one of my first nights there, the 2nd shift supervisor was still mucking around, and my Sammy - who will forever have a little space in my heart - was being verbally accosted by this guy accusing him of sleeping with one of the admin. He just starts running his mouth - loudly - saying, "Aw come on, I see the way Kris talk to you, I know there's something going on..." and sh!# like that but for like, EVER. Like this idiot would not shut up. At every turn Sammy's playing the artful dodger, politely denying anything of the sort and trying to get this dude off his ass, and the guy just keeps on going! In front of me, a new staff! Who does that?? And why the f*ck does this weirdo care who Sammy is or isn't sleeping with anyway? And who puts someone on blast like that!? I was sooo uncomfortable.
This was also the guy that responsible for the incident that made me want to quit. I came in one night, hoping for a quiet shift, except all hell was breaking loose on the boys floor. So several staff were upstairs dealing with that. Meanwhile, on the 2nd floor, One of the girls was having a tantrum so I was instructed to be on "5 minute checks," which basically means you stay in close proximity and keep an eye on the kid until she falls asleep. The guy who was left with me was this 2nd shift sup, Trev.
Remember how I spoke about mandates? Yeah, so if the house is all turnt up and the kids are fighting, staff aren’t supposed to leave until it is completely calm.
So going into the dark and quiet relaxation room and checking out while your other staff is off on temper-tantrum duty is really not the thing to do. If *I* had done that, I would've been in big trouble.
So he falls asleep, and one of the kids decides, "Yeah, great time for me to go AWOL." So she sneaks off. Right after she did that, I was getting up to do rounds because the other girl was asleep, so I got up and I find a bed is empty, and Trev is asleep in the g#$da$& relaxation room. I had to wake him up.
And that wasn't even the worst of it. After the incident the staff all seemed to think they had to cover for the guy, which could really only be done by blaming it all on me. Everybody started saying things like, "Oh that kid did you dirty Del." "Can't believe she did that to you Del." And I'm sitting there aghast like, SHE DIDN’T DO THIS TO ME, THAT RIP VAN WINKLE F*CKER DID THIS TO ME BY SLEEPING ON THE JOB! *I* was doing what I was instructed to do.
To make it even better, after all this, on his way out the door the asshole took my keys. Yeah. Just took 'em home. Which made it very awkward once I texted "I quit" to my boss and tried to exit the building. I got my keys back later, but only after Mark's mother had to drive me all the way to a dealer so I could get a new car key. He never even apologized, not for any of it. And he didn't get in trouble either. In fact, they changed a policy just to accommodate the cover-up.
That place is really weird with their supervisors. Like no matter what shady stuff they do or say, they never get in trouble.
But if for some reason that didn't seem shitty enough, I HAVE MORE!
Another supervisor on 2nd shift is Ralph. For some insight about Ralph, I'm going to tell you about the time he so kindly offered me food. He hardly ever worked 3 rd shift so I wasn't used to working with him yet. I didn't even really know him. He called me pet names and I thought it was kinda cute. Then he insisted that I have some of the pasta he cooked. I wasn't the least bit hungry, but he was so insistent I said yes to be polite. And at the time I was thinking, wow, what a nice guy. He's really going out of his way to be nice to me.
Then, after serving me my unwanted food, he turns in his seat with this self satisfied grin and say, "Okay Del. I forgot to tell you there's a catch. Now that I gave you food, you have to go clean the kitchen." Then he turns back to his stupid show like he had gotten away with something, which is stupid because I usually have kitchen chore anyway, and also as he was running shift, so he could've just ASKED. So I was a little peeved at him, and I put down my bowl and merely stated that now I knew he had an ulterior motive the whole time, so at least I know he isn't really as nice as I thought.
He was rude, but that was just the beginning. Throughout the night he was watching some tv show about Sparta that I guess has a lot of sexuality in it. I wasn't paying any attention so I didn't care... UNTIL HE GOT UP AND STARTED RUNNING HIS MOUTH. What he was actually saying is not something I can even post here, so suffice it to say that he lamented - loudly - about not being able to have slave girls for very nasty, rapey purposes like on the show. He just had to draw it out too, and it was so utterly offensive I was just totally caught off guard and didn't even know how to respond. My other co-worker didn't say much either.
I tried to keep it together. His offensive dialogue rolled around in my brain, making me feel sick and even a little violated. I tried to console myself by keeping in mind that I shouldn't let this idiot get to me; after all, this is the same guy who wondered out loud if they spoke English in ancient Rome.
Yeah, sure they did, Christopher Columbus brought it over with him when he discovered Italy in 31 BCE.
I hope he gets eaten by snakes.
Shake it off Del, shake it off.
So these were my first interactions with the guy. Keep in mind this is another SUPERVISOR.
And I hate to tell you this - you might want a cig break right about now - because that's not even the tip of the iceberg.
I come in for my shift one night, months later. It's my last week. I go in hoping for a quiet, calm shift.
I was also really happy to be coming in, because one of my favorite staff Steve, had picked up this shift with me and I really like Steve. Truth be told, I still have quite the crush on him. I miss him actually. He's just this funny, smart guy who just always made me laugh, was always respectful and friendly, and yeah, pretty adorable.
I'm getting sidetracked.
Anyway, not only were a few kids still awake but I walked right into a HUGE issue. In one of the girls' rooms stood a new 2nd shifter, and as soon as I peeked my head around the doorway all three of them looked at each and asked each other if they should tell me.
Tell me what? I ask.
And then I got to hear about how Ralph, while administering meds to the two girls - about age 15 btw - had been fondling them and rubbing up against them in the med room, where there are no cameras, and would say sexually explicit things to them. They said it had been going on for AWHILE. One of the girls knew she was leaving for a foster home soon, so she was finally brave enough to talk about it. The other was very quiet, but sadly agreed with all that was said.
Oh, but wait... THERE'S MORE!!
The newish staff member told me that Ralph had called her to the med closet earlier that night, dropped his pants, and told her to get on her knees.
You know what happened next.
Of course I reported the girls account right away, but as I was not a mandated reporter specifically for the new staff, I simply impressed upon her as much and as often as I could that she should report it and that I would be with her for support.
Then she solved that problem by talking about it in front of three staff, including Sammy, who had to record it because now she had brought it up.
One of the saddest parts of this whole thing was talking with the girls later. One in particular was taking it very hard. Then it occurred to me to ask, “Wait, you know none of this is your fault, right?”
“No I don’t!” And she threw the covers over her head.
I knew if there was one thing that I had to do before I left that place, it was to get to the bottom of this. So that morning, I caught her attention before she got ready for school.
Me: [C]? Hold on a moment… what did you mean last night when you said it was your fault? Why do you think that?
[C]: ::looking down:: Because I let it happen.
Me: Okay, can you answer some questions for me? How old do you think Ralph is?
[C]: ::shrugs:: I don’t now, in his 30’s maybe.
Me: And how old are you?
Me: And he’s a staff right? A supervisor actually. So he tells you what to do, he can get you in trouble, give you consequences… he’s in a position of power right?
Me: But you’re not, are you? No, you’re a kid stuck in a program. You have no family here to protect you… you pretty much have to rely on staff huh?
[C]: So Ralph, what he did… that’s a pretty huge abuse of power isn’t it? He’s an authority figure, and he used that to his advantage. Because that’s what predators do. They come to places like this, seek out vulnerable girls with sexual abuse history, so that they can shame you into thinking it must be your fault, because it keeps happening. But it happens because they target people. He targeted [staff member]! She has the same history. It’s not your fault. He’s a predator, and you’re a child, no matter how smart and mature you are. Are you starting to see why its so important that you know its not your fault?
Me: And you did the right thing. Because you didn’t stay silent. He couldn’t shame you into that. And because you spoke up, you may have just saved a bunch of future girls from becoming victims.
The rest of the morning was peppered with more check-in questions… I wanted it to get through before the program whisked her away to anonymity. I think it worked. I hope it worked. That wasn’t something I had time to rehearse.
Later, during the investigation, our Admin tried to tell us that we shouldn’t have written down the staff allegations because it wasn’t pertinent to the job… I think its worth inserting here that we were told to record every move we made on shift, including going to the bathroom. But sexual assault allegations that involve staff – nah, not important.
Then there was the waiting… I really didn’t trust our Admin to take of these things, I can only say that I am relieved that the girls at least were removed from the situation, but as they both stated that Admin had said they didn’t believe either one of them, it was a little like getting rid of the evidence. Last I heard, they had merely transferred Ralph, in true Catholic scandal spirit.
Don’t worry, it didn’t just end there. I believe I was right that they would do an inadequate job with this, but luckily there are other ways to get things done.
But wait peeps, just in case you haven’t gotten a full understanding of my hate for the place – THERE’S MORE!
Kind of the icing on the icky, dirty, predatory cake.
To add insult to injury: Bedbugs. Children waking up for school to discover big welts all over them from BEDBUGS. As staff, we reported over and over and kept asking what they were gonna do about it. Even *I got several bites along my right arm, which are still healing. At the time of my leaving, they still had done nothing about it. I’ll have to go to Sam for updates.
Now, is it really any wonder that I couldn’t wait to leave? Honestly the only saving grace I had was Sam. I miss Sam. He still has a toe in my life but it isn’t the same.
And then Steve. Steve got a new job awhile ago, so you would think I could stop missing him now. But he was special to me, and on nights like this when everybody’s asleep and its quiet, my mind will wander and I find myself in pleasant little what-if train of thought. Then I remember that in all likelihood I’ll probably never see him again. I’ll just be reduced to facebook stalking forever.
Ugh. That’s just painful AND pathetic. Gotta get these feels off me. COME ON BRAIN! DO YOUR JOB! YOU’VE DONE IT BEFORE!
And Sammy. I don’t think I’ll ever meet another person like Sam again, let alone as a co-worker. The greatest thing about Sam was that he always put me at ease. It was like he could read me. And no matter what embarrassing thing I did I need had to feel insecure about it. Geez, even giving me driving directions. Knowing Sam is like having a big brother who’s always good to you. He never sexualized me, never hit on me, never made me feel stupid even if I did do something stupid. That was nice. I don’t think he could ever know how much that means to me.
- A Good Note:
Let’s end this monstrosity on a good note.
Guess what? My son loves me
Mark and I had been planning a trip to go see my boys in December, so naturally the day of we got all the wrapped gifts in the back, straightened our nice outfits we picked just for the occasion (well, I did anyway), sat down, turned on the engine and… nothing.
Mercury in Retrograde started that day. I believe it was the 5th. And it was after our vehicles. My Nissan died promptly after Mark put about 2,000 dollars into it. His car was unsalvagable, so we spent the next weeks trying to figure all that out. When we finally got everything settled, we made it to my boys just in time for Valentine’s Day.
And it was the time. This was the One, The Visit. My oldest asked about his birthfather.
I still can’t even remember what I told him. He already had it fixed in his mind that he was some kind of douchebag.
Well… he’s not WRONG…
I tried to be as diplomatic as possible. His adoptive Dad said I did great, that I said the perfect thing, but my head was spinning trying to find the right things to say…
I’ve rehearsed that conversation hundreds of hundreds of times to myself, but it didn’t make it any easier.
But my Zach was so happy I was there. He insisted I go to his birthday party in the summer, gave me hugs (he’s not really a hugger), and I just felt so… loved. And as a birthparent, you know, there’s always that risk. That maybe your child will hate you for your bad choices and for not being there the way you wished you could have. But he didn’t. He loves me
He said so