Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Therapy Breaks, Angels and Emails

Despite offering a full English breakfast, Christmas film, popcorn and a Christmas Quiz, we never get a huge amount of kids in on the last day of term. In fact, at particular times of the year our attendance often becomes a real issue.

The kids we DO get in are often either those who might be classed as our more 'phobic' kids, who are too anxious to attend a mainstream secondary school, and those kids for whom home life is just so chaotic that they prefer the safety and security offered by the unit.
(Our very disaffected ones tend to be off mugging people at the first possible opportunity).

I'm digressing.

Over the last 18 months, one of my girls has faced particularly horrendous traumas. As her form tutor, I have had regular sessions with her just to offer support, listening and as much care as is possible within obvious boundaries.
As the last day of term wore on, this student grew increasingly impatient.
Unable to watch the film, she wandered from teacher to teacher, talking about anything and everything. I watched as I sat drawing "Christmassy" things with some of the young people.
I remembered how I had been struck by her reluctance to leave us for the summer... and also how badly her behaviour, her health and her attitude had deteriorated after that 6 week break.

Having a place of safety in the midst of utter turmoil is not just important, it's essential.
It's somewhere familiar, when so often, the world is overwhelming and frightening. It's somewhere predictable, where it's not necessary to walk on egg shells in case something or someone explodes. It's somewhere that nurtures rather than competes with or abuses.
And, perhaps most importantly for a small number, it is a place which will stay safe, stay familiar, stay concerned and stay THERE despite all the railing and kicking and yelling.
(The parallels are obvious...)

For some, coping when the place which holds them together suddenly isn't there for a fortnight (or much longer), is a painful and terrifying concept, which can result in a sense of hopelessness and self destruction.
Before she left, on impulse I ran to fetch the tiny doodle I had been doing.
It was of a small, silver angel.

Pressing it into her hand, I told her that the angel was going to stay with her over the Christmas holiday and that it would bring her back safe and sound.

"Does it matter if t
he angel comes back with me or not?"
(Instinctive reaction = Fear. Will I have to look after it?)

No, I told her. Even if it disappeared, it would still be watching over her and looking after her, but it was a secret. Not everyone had an angel. (And to be fair, a number of the kids would have used it as a roach for a spliff as soon as they got past the front door!!!)

You may well be asking where on earth all this is going... and you'd be right, because I haven't thought it out very well and as a result, it's a very convoluted way of saying something probably quite simple.

In a recent comment, JSS picked up that I had made some progress in being comforted by The Woman's concern before the therapy break.
It occurred to me as I typed the last post, that in some strange way, her insistence that she wrote down her email address (which I did point out was on the Internet) was an angel that she put in my palm. It wasn't about using it, it was about knowing that somehow, although my one place of safety was disappearing from my view, it was still there. It IS still there.

For a person caught in a trap, the knowledge that someone is coming back for them, may offer them enough courage to hang onto life for an extra minute.

For the teenage girl forced to live with someone who ruined her childhood, maybe the thought that an angel hears her cries, is enough to make her feel heard until we can.

And for me, maybe merely having the option of communicating, is enough to remind me that she would still hear me.

Let's hope so.


  1. "For a person caught in a trap, the knowledge that someone is coming back for them, may offer them enough courage to hang onto life for an extra minute."

    Thank you for this.

  2. what touched me is remembering how broken I was yet able to touch someone in ways they needed...I wonder if that's all part of our own healing journey. We give what we need. I just remember helping others get free yet I myself was so trapped. Hang tight WS....I'm believing 2011 to be a year of hope....of healing...of freedom. In your corner....

  3. You are such a caring person and I believe that is the key to personal healing. I believe you are making a difference in people's lives and that is what make life worth living.

  4. Thank you for this. It hasn't been clear to me what it really is I'm feeling these days or why. But in reading this I'm getting a glimpse of just what it might be because this touched something deep within me.

  5. You make me smile from all the way across the pond my friend.

  6. Ok. I'm struggling a little with the thanks, but if what I say can in any way make sense of anything for anyone else, then I guess that can only be a good thing.
    One day I'd like to write stuff that is actually positive and could help others. Certainly at the moment, it's generally so messed up that I daren't even hope that anyone would gain anything from reading.

    Wanda - My job is my lifeline. I'm fairly passionate about what I do and despite the fact that I get drained and demoralised at times, I find the holidays very difficult and often have trouble not falling apart.
    So my job is a two way thing I guess.
    I give to it and it gives to me.

  7. This is a powerful post about 'hope', yes, 'hope'. Let it be the word upon which we all draw strength in 2011. Amen
    Love to you