Being a social worker has kind of ruined my life. I’m never relaxed. I feel stained by all the things I’ve seen and heard that I never could have imagined existed in the world. The darkness and pain. Someone told me once that pain begets pain. I’m learning this to be true in more ways than one.
It makes me tired. Then it is hard to be with my own family after I have taken care of all those other families. It is hard to be needed and depended upon without respite. Even in my sleep it’s exhausting.
Speaking of which, maybe I should finish up that poem I was writing about Bill Murray. Was that even anything worth writing? Who do I think I am anyway?
It’s hard to be with people. I feel cranky and mirthless a lot. They call it vicarious trauma. You’re supposed to get a hobby or hang out with friends or do yoga. I’ve done all that. None of it really helps. What I really need is a new career. But I’ve been doing this for so long and it’s the only thing I’m really good at. Maybe I could sell an anthology of short stories about being a mom. God, isn’t the world sick of those HuffPost pieces yet?
Jack was so cranky this Thanksgiving. And he’s been so nasty and short with everyone. Is that how an eight year old is supposed to be? I mean he is fine with his friends. He’s doing great in school. He’s thriving in karate (oh god I hate the word thrive. It’s kind of like the word moist, which oddly doesn’t bother me that much.)
So, maybe he’s just a normal boy and he takes out his snarkiness on his parents. And of course siblings always bicker.
But what if he’s really unhappy? What if he ends up breaking the law and doing drugs because it’s the only thing that makes him feel regulated? What if we lose him?
Being a social worker is like watching endless episodes of Law and Order SVU. Except it is not a TV show and it is real life and the trauma centers of my brain are getting all lit up, hyper-aroused like a theme park. It makes me so scared. And tired. And scared I’m ruining my kids with my own anxiety and neurosis.
The scurry of a chipmunk sets off all the alarm bells. I don’t know the code to make them stop blaring.
Jack likes Harry Potter. And Diary of a Wimpy Kid. That’s all normal kid stuff, right? Star Wars? Building crap with Legos?
Man is he good at building with Legos. It’s actually amazing.
I wonder if I’ll ever feel better. Me and Jack. We are so similar. Except he externalizes all the crap I internalize. I remember when he was a couple days old, and I hadn’t slept and was up rocking and nursing him in the middle of the night, I looked into his face and saw my own reflection. It melted me; to see myself in his newborn complexion.
I should go give him a hug. Sometimes I forget to hug him for an entire day at a time. And then it is so surprising how firm and lanky his body is growing. All that karate.
That’s one thing that feels good; when I hug my kids. They don’t even know it. That might be the only time I really feel relaxed, content.
But even then it only lasts a moment and I am back to feeling scared. Worried.
Because I’ve seen things. Things I can’t even talk about.