This has been a challenging week for many of us--especially those with kids in schools or with friends/family who work in schools as teachers, administrators, police officers, janitors or other jobs in and around schools. Another school shooting. I'm not going to discuss the gun debate or my feelings on the issue but I am going to say this has been an inspiring week of watching teens stand up and be vocal. And no matter what isle of the debate you stand on, there is no denying it takes a serious amount of guts to stand in front of legislators and speak from the heart. These teens have earned the right to be angry and I think we need to search for ways to make them feel safe again.
This week also brought about the thought of someone I used to think about a lot but haven't really thought about much lately--our former family counselor. Back in 2015, I had a big court hearing over custody. I won't go into details except to say that when you go into court, as a parent you are not allowed to speak for your children. They have to have some sort of advocate--it can be a teacher or another attorney--or your trusted family counselor who has been treating your children for the 3 past years.
That family counselor had told me in the past that she doesn't go to court because she had a bad court experience before. She didn't tell me this of course, until I needed her to go to court with me. She was such an important person in my daughter's care, that when I went to court that time, I did so without her--against the advice of my lawyer--because I didn't want to lose her in our lives and felt the court system would listen and protect my kids.
If you have been to court before, you also know it doesn't play out like it does on television. You don't get to have 'your day' in court and sometimes the judge makes a ruling before he's even seen all the evidence or listened to what you have to say.
But this time around at court, I needed the counselor to help. I asked if she would just write a letter. She refused and got an attorney and went out of town so we couldn't find her. The judge ruled that the children should go back to normal visitation and that was that. I called her office and asked her to please contact the judge and help us, she ignored me and then a few days later a certified letter arrived at my house informing me she could no longer treat me or my children.
I was so angry. After everything that had just happened with the courts and what was going on with my children, to have someone I trust so much turn her back on my children was devastating. I could understand if she didn't want to help me, but to know what was going on with my children and then turn her back on them was maddening.
Yesterday, I finally decided to write a letter back to her. I have pasted it below but I have removed her name and the details of the court hearing for privacy reasons. I guess it just sums up how a tragedy unrelated to you can still hit home and make you realize we all have to look out for each other because you never know when that person that you thought was going to protect your children, chickens out and stands outside watching like a helpless coward...
Normally I start a letter off with, ‘hi, how are you?’ or ‘I hope this letter finds you well,’ but this isn’t that kind of letter. It’s also not a letter to rant or call you names. I honestly haven’t thought of you in a very long time. Every once in a while, I end up in ... and a thought of you pops up but that’s about it. Sometimes Roni will ask me what ever happened to you or what she should do if she runs into you somewhere, but that’s about it.
So, why write to you now? To be honest, this letter has rolled around in my head several times, but I knew I was too angry to write it. I also didn’t know if I would be pulled back into court for another custody hearing and the last thing I needed was for you to angrily come after me. You’re probably thinking, ‘but I’d never do that.’ Yes, but I never thought you’d turn your back on my children either.
Now that we’re caught up, let’s address why on earth I would decide to spend my Saturday morning writing a letter to you? Because I thought about you again these past few days and I realize I’m not too angry to write this letter to you. I thought of you when I saw the report of the armed guard at the school in Florida who got scared and stayed outside the school rather than go inside and help—even though that was his job to protect those children and it’s what he is trained and licensed to do.
Many people have asked, why did he do that? We all know he was scared. No one can blame him for having fear--But to allow that fear to make you sit back and watch children hurt is something that separates people on this planet. It’s the kind of fear that makes someone hide in her office and take the time to buy and mail a certified letter to a former patient that reads, “Mr. Wade. I will not be able to provide any services or treatment for you or your children.”
My best guess is that something happened to you in your past that wounded you in some way. That’s probably why you became a social worker. You probably in some way try to convince yourself that you became a social worker to help people—but I bet if you really get down to it, you wanted to help yourself. Just like how you wanted to help and protect yourself rather than two helpless children that needed you. Maybe you don’t even see it that way? We never really see ourselves for who we really are, do we?
But unlike the officer who hid outside the school, you chose to continue on as a social worker. You continue to operate a business in ... and you most likely continue to treat and help families-- so long as they never need you to be an advocate for them in public. I find that very dangerous. I find it irresponsible and I find it reprehensible that you choose to carry that responsibility.
It’s none of my business why you chose to not show for court or help out and then turn your back on my children. And to be honest, I really don’t care what your reason is. You can continue to tell yourself, ‘I told her from the start that I wouldn’t go to court.’ And maybe that’s what helps you sleep at night. It doesn’t really matter the reason, the only thing that matters is that you sat back and allowed children to be hurt—psychologically hurt. The kind of damage that takes years of therapy to unravel and heal.
When something like this happens, I always try to sit back and meditate on what purpose this hurt served in our lives. Why did this need to happen? Maybe if you had shown up in court, it would have just further prolonged the inevitable and made this whole ordeal stretch out even longer, possibly causing more damage. Who knows? We’ll never know and that’s OK.
And much like my ex-husband, you got us to a point in our lives where we needed to get to. You did help us and I will be forever grateful ... for how you offered to treat her for free when I wasn’t sure if I could continue to make payments.
I’m not going to wish you well—I’m going to ask you to consider to either start advocating for children you treat or retire and leave the real therapy to people who have the guts to walk into court and not hide outside the door while children are being hurt.