Friday, December 05, 2008

If you need something, please ask in a timely, honest manner

The following blog entry represents a personal struggle that I have had this week. I am trying to learn from this experience and move forward.

I am always leading workshops and telling other people about defining their boundaries -- but this week was a reminder that I need to maintain my boundaries, too!



I'm trying to formulate:
1. Where are my boundaries when it comes to working with other foster care alumni? Particularly when they are in a state of immediate crisis.

2. What is my role as a leader within my state chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America?

3. How can I better handle situations like the ones I faced this week in the future?

Here are my ideas so far, in terms of communicating my expectations and boundaries to other people...

1. If you need something from me, ask.

Say: "Lisa, I need this: _________"
Tell me what you need, straight-out and give me a chance to say yes or no.

Please don't try to manipulate me.

Don't hint at what you need, and wait for me to figure it out. That disrespects me and it disrespects you. Because you are underestimating both of us.

What the hints mean are that:
- You don't think you are worthy of having your needs met
- You don't think that I care about you

And until you ask straight out and wait for my response, you won't have the chance to find out that neither one of your fears are actually true.

2. When you ask, please tell me the whole truth.

Think of it like a doctor. If you lie to a doctor about your symptoms, that doctor will not be able to diagnose you correctly.

I am not a doctor. I cannot be your counselor. But I can and will move heaven and earth to get you connected with the right resources - something I CAN'T do if you are lying to me.

Please don't lie to me about what is really happening. Don't shade the truth about what is going on. I am guessing you are doing that because you think that I will judge you - and yes, again, you fear that I will reject you.

3. If you need something, please don't wait until it is catastrophe level.

Again, I know WHY you are probably doing this. So many of us grew up in chaos, that we just get used to living in crisis level. Once we age out of foster care, crisis still seems very familiar.

So, during the steps before a crisis, when things are just starting to go wrong, we might not think to ask for help then. No, we think we can handle it.

We can handle problem A and B and C... Which means that by the time we ask for help, we are handing the other person an enormous, HUGE amount of problems that have snowballed.

And the message to the other person (or in this case: to me) is "Fix this now. Fix this fast."


Trying to help would have been a lot easier if I'd been asked earlier.

4. When you ask, think about WHEN you are asking.

I can honestly say that: I am no longer addicted to crisis.

In my life, I have worked very hard to achieve stability and safety, not just for myself, but for my marriage and my family.

Do you really need to call me after midnight? Could you call during the daytime?

When you text me at 3 in the morning, are you really expecting that I am staying up all night?

5. I am your friend, but I am not your Savior

And again, this line has been blurred for me before.

When I first aged out of care, there was this guy, Jon. And he was the first person who really seemed to care about and take care of me. We were friends, we dated, we broke up, etc.

But at the time, I had somehow endowed Jon as being my Savior. The big brother I never had. The dad who didn't care for me. He was somehow supposed to fill that entire hole in my heart and make up for everything that I lacked.

And that is WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY to much to ask from another person.

But even after we parted ways, I still kept that guy on a pedestal for years. No one else could measure up.

Finally, I realized that I never even really knew Jon. The real Jon was just a human, fallible, feet-of-clay guy with his own dreams, desires, faults and failings.

But the Jon I knew somehow existed in my mind to help me.


When I figured that out, I regretted the unfair demands that I had subconsciously placed on him.

None of us exists to SAVE everyone else.
We are not building a community of Rescuers.

Hopefully, we can build a community that supports one another, and encourages our members to each take individual responsibility to grow and heal and become more empowered.

And as for me as a leader, as a result of this painful learning experience week, I am seeking to partner with local mental health professionals, so that I can make timely referrals when faced with situations that are over my head in the future.

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Comments:
This was awesome. I am completing my Bachelor now; to become a counselor at a juvenile detention center; and this has helped me open my eyes.

Hugs,
Kell
 
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