Posted by: Beverly Davidson, LMSW | July 11, 2013

Hope

Yesterday was a complicated mix of emotions kind of day. I said goodbye to a family I had been visiting for 2 years, and the goodbye was a routine kind of occurrence for the mom. She did not seem particularly emotional about our time together ending. I felt sadness, but did she? Were goodbyes and leavings as routine as brushing your teeth for her? When I asked her what she thought about us ending she just said, “Well, everybody leaves, so it’s all good.” Meaning, “I’ll survive, I always have, with or without anyone around.” I felt sad leaving not so much because we were ending, but because she experienced it as just another day in the life of abandonment. My next visit was with a new family. She was ambivalently eager to have me start visiting because another home visitor was ending with her. “Well, everyone else is leaving so I guess you can start coming now.” This feeling of being abandoned and not trusting that people will always be there for you seems to be a theme for my work right now. I have many people struggling with abandonment and trust issues. So many of them have life experiences that have taught them that the world is not safe, that people will not see or hear them, and that they just have to get through and do it alone. It is both scary and heartbreaking knowing that so many people walk the earth with that belief. Carrying that belief around leads to a host of problems, but I wonder, who can blame them, when their experiences tell them nothing else? They always survive, but do they ever thrive?

I thought about this all day yesterday driving along the eastern side of the county. Every person I encountered, whether it was a passerby, a client, or a store clerk at the In & Out Mart, I wondered if they felt alone and abandoned. Honestly, I did not want to know. There was too much sadness already and it was only noon. So I just made sure to make eye contact with the store clerk, tell him hi, and ask him how his day was. I made sure to say hi to a young man in the parking lot of the housing project I was in, so that he felt like someone saw him today. I thought deeply about how to help a young woman who believes everyone leaves, because everyone in her life has, believe in something different. I couldn’t come up with any real answers, other than to just be present for someone in the moment.

Later that night a new life entered the world and into my family. After looking at her picture a few times last night and then again this morning, I was able to see something. Hope. Her eyes are bright, alert, and she is clearly ready to be in this world to accept and embrace all that life will bring. It has been awhile since I’ve seen such welcoming and trusting “new” eyes, and I can’t wait to see those eyes in person. This little person will grow up being seen, heard, and understood. She will carry with her a belief that the world is safe and welcoming. She will carry that belief into adulthood and will create experiences for those around her that the world is a good place. That is hope. It is hope that this new life will add more positive experiences into the universe, so that those who need hope can somehow feel it in the air. It is hope that with the goodness she will receive, she will then touch the lives of others and pass it on. It is hope that even in the midst of sadness, there is always a new day, a new life, a fresh new perspective. Seeing these brand new eyes, and all the wonder and glory and excitement she brings, gives me hope that people can learn to love and trust again.

I carried that hope with me today in my visits, and I was a better social worker because of it. And it’s only noon.

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