Work and Gratitude

I love my job.

I don’t mean to brag, but I just never thought I’d be able to say that.

My co-workers are fucking amazing. They are supportive and hilarious. We all genuinely like each other and hang out outside of work on the regular. I am personally comfortable spending time alone with every single one of them, although I’m closest to just a handful.

Okay, so for those of you just tuning into the fuckery channel that is my life, here’s a little background on what I do for a living:

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. The intern part just means I’m not licensed yet. California requires that I have 3,000 hours of practice under my belt before I can take the test to be licensed. I’m currently earning these hours.

This just means that I need to have supervision twice a week with my supervisor, which I don’t mind. Because my supervisor is fan-fucking-tastic and also a wonderful and dear friend.

I work as a counselor at a special education high school. My role is different from traditional school counselors in that I actually do therapy with the students. I don’t do scheduling or any of that stuff. I’m there solely to provide mental health services. It’s basically my dream job. If I were to ever consider leaving it, it would have to be for a DAMN GOOD reason.

Now, when people think special ed, they automatically think of developmentally delayed kids. We do have some students that are on the autistic spectrum.

But the majority of the campus comprises of kids labeled “emotionally disturbed”, which means they have a mental health disorder that interferes significantly with their daily functioning, especially in a school setting. Many of them also have a learning disability as well.

Basically, these kids act out behaviorally which looks like using drugs and coming to school high, getting into fights, violent tantrums, walking out of class, yelling and cursing, leaving campus, that type of stuff. It can be draining, especially when multiple kids decide they are having a shitty day at the same time. My job is to talk them down enough to get them back to class or away from disrupting the rest of the campus. Sometimes it’s to calm them down so they aren’t a danger to themselves or others. Most of the time it’s just to listen and help them sort through the shit they have to deal with so young in life.

The majority of the students are teenage boys in high school. There is a junior high side as well, which gives me my fix of working with the little ones, which I adore. Their ages range anywhere from 9-20.

I love working with this population. I get them. And I think they can pick up on that. They respect me in ways that they do not respect other staff members because I get to build a different type of relationship with them. Yes, they are intense, demanding, difficult, and sometimes just plain bratty. But I see past all that bullshit. I see that they are also complex, loyal, insightful, funny and unique. Little treasures buried in mud. And like I’ve said before, I don’t mind getting dirty.

The reason loving my job is a huge fucking deal is because I’ve had some rather negative experiences working in the mental health field. So much so, that at one point, I felt like I had made a mistake and chose the wrong profession.

I’ve worked in mental health for 10 years. I worked as a counselor at a Methadone clinic for 3 1/2 years right out of undergrad. If you don’t know what that is, methadone is a controlled substance to help heroin addicts wean off of heroin. Being in this setting was like mental health treatment boot camp. Needless to say I saw a lot, learned a lot, and have lots of unique stories and experiences from working there. But ultimately, it was a toxic environment, easy to get jaded and disconnected. It was not where I belonged.

From there, I moved to a community mental health clinic where I was a case manager in an intensive wraparound type program. I worked with the types of kids that would get expelled from school, attempt suicide, run away, get discharged from the mental hospital, stuff like that. They were considered “severely emotionally disturbed.”

I worked with a therapist (I was in grad school at the time) and we’d go to their homes and schools to provide counseling for them and their families.

I enjoyed the work, especially building connections with people and families that are often difficult to integrate into. I loved the kids, who were very similar to the students I’m working with now.

You see a lot of hard and ugly things when you work so closely with such intense and crisis driven families. Lots of different types of lifestyles and traumas. It’s easy to feel helpless and burned out. Especially when the company you work for is more concerned with billing for money and threatens your job on the regular for not meeting quotas.

I was there for 5 1/2 years and then got fired rather suddenly and coldly for not meeting my billing quota in 2013. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my clients. It was a horrible and sad experience, one I don’t like to think about, even now.

From there, I was unemployed for a year, which took a huge financial toll and was stressful beyond belief. I learned some humility as well as how to hustle during that time.

Finally, when I thought I would never find a place where I belonged, I got blessed with my current job.

Part of healing is being grateful for the things you have in your life.

Therefore, I’m trying to actively practice gratitude.

Today I’m grateful for the journey that brought me to this amazing job that I fucking love.

And that makes me smile.

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About samlobos

I am an avid fan of creating narratives in my head about random experiences and quotes for future books I will probably not write. I harbor a 15 year old girl in my psyche and like to solve world issues when I'm half asleep. View all posts by samlobos

13 responses to “Work and Gratitude

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