Friday, April 1, 2016

Many Great Changes At the Last Possible Minute

SO: I'm going to Social Work School for my Masters.  It seems like I'm going backwards since I already have a Ph.D. But I could not be more excited. Yesterday I walked six miles in to town to my new future school, and by dint of wandering walked the rest of the way home for a grand total of 11.5.  I've been drivin in and out taking my daughters to events at Aimai's New Future Alma Mater (ANFAM) for years but as I walked the extremely windy streets yesterday I saw everything with new eyes.  Imagine! Soon I'll be one of these scurrying hordes!  I'm very, very, excited.  I feel like I'm coming out of a period of hibernation.  At the same time today I had baby group and I realized that I might have to give it up. It will probably conflict with my internship next year.  I've been doing this group for four years and, increasingly, the work has gotten more intense and more meaningful as the women in the group (especially those on their second child) have really come to rely on the group and on my co-facilitator and myself for advice and comfort.  I am having a hard time figuring out how to write about the issues that come up in group, since they are quite private.  I think I'll have to take all that offline.  But today a parent came in who had disclosed to the group a few weeks ago just how hard a time she'd been having with her child, just how frustrated she was. We--well, I because I was soloing--gave her the best counsel I could. Everyone pitched in and really kicked the issues around with her.   This week she came back alone, since her mother-in-law was looking after her children--just to embrace me, sit next to me, and give back to the group some of her experiences since she had broken so many barriers and taboos and confessed her problems to them. She told us that she had been afraid that she had crossed a line and told us too much.  But that our response to her had enabled her to really talk to her husband and start to advocate for herself to get the help she needed.  And though she'd been afraid even to come back to group after being so exposed she knew she could trust us to welcome her back.  I was really surprised and touched because she walked into the room as group had already started and I waved to her and she came all the way around and just threw her arms around me, passionately, and told me how much it meant to her to be in group with us.


  1. I know the issue of wanting to always be learning. When does it end?

    Your story about your baby group is very touching, but of course feels very oblique. It is hard to not share something you want to share.

  2. Very hard not to put it all out there for discussion. But I suppose that's the problem with all this working for the public good and dealing with people's intimate secrets. There's just not a lot of room for sharing and discussing except for with other professionals behind the wall of privacy. Still, take it from me, it was a very, very, intense group meeting.

  3. Congratulations, and have fun pursuing the new degree!

    As for speaking obliquely, I'd think it'd be unethical to break confidence, plus, I don't think it's necessary. You know the effect that session had, and that you personally had. I can't speak to your exact situation, of course, but often, the most important thing isn't any specific advice -- it's listening, being supportive, and being worthy of the trust given to you. Especially for nonprofessionals, sharing one's own experience (versus giving advice) is a great way to go -- it's less confrontational, if the story doesn't apply, it was just that person's experience, and it invites in vulnerability and trust. Some people get freaked out by the heavy stuff. The hug tells me you've got a good group and that you personally have a gift for this kind of thing. The Master's will likely teach you some great new tricks, and you can return to the group (or another like it) later on.

  4. Aimai, I so relate to your story about returning to college (did it in 1971 at age 31.) Three kids and a husband who told me: "Don't ask me to pay your tuition." So it wasn't easy, but it was so much fun. Plus my degree was my ticket to freedom---enabling me to get a job and get rid of him!

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