I’ve been in the helping profession for a few weeks now as a psychologist (and training for it for 5 years to date), and I’m starting to enjoy my life caring for my children in my assigned household. Granted, this is not the only home that the psychology department is handling. However, I’ve started to get to know each of the other girls and boys who enter the office and greet us with warm smiles. We laugh and eat snacks together, and that’s one of the few things that keeps me going throughout the day.
Naturally, I’d like to put in a twist here and say that these children are not normal. No, not like the X Men kind of normal. These children were abused or neglected by their own parents, hence they were transferred here so that they could be safe. But having that amount of trauma from their caregivers is a burden that these children cannot handle. They come in with a smile on their face and I slowly begin to start distinguishing their behavior. Of when they are truly happy, or when they are trying to keep up appearances of being happy. Like this:
This is, of course, a natural defense against their own negative emotions. But these children are so affected by the amount of pain that goes along with growing up and having people who leave from time to time is not a bed of roses for them. It’s a band aid that covers up their pains and grief.
In contrast to those who say that psychologists are just in it for the money, or perhaps stay for the sake of reputation. Let me say for one moment that this is complete and utter bullshit. Psychologists have to become in tune with other people to look into their deepest emotions, and it isn’t easy for their part.
It’s so unbearably difficult to become professional and yet empathetic to these children when sometimes, all they want is someone who will guide them even through the difficult times, but that’s something that they will not have.
I call bullshit to those who say it’s something they have to deal with. Of course it is, but if you had a child of your own and you saw them suffering? You would definitely do this.
I’m only 21 years old, for God’s sake. And I feel like a mother who wants to protect her children, even if they are not mine. It makes me relieved that they can open up to me enough to show me their true feelings, but it pains me so much when I have to resist every urge to comfort them. Yes, a hug does help. But these children are also so susceptible to getting their hearts broken over their relationships with others like their house parents and even some of the employees here that it personally pains me when I leave the office, because I want to see them and somehow make them smile.
But they’re growing up, and they cannot simply depend on people forever to stop them, just as I am also learning to stand on my own. Imagine telling someone so broken and so scared to stand up. It’s difficult. It’s unbearably painful even to us psychologists, because even we would not have the strength to do so at the moment. But sometimes, it’s up to us to tell them up front that it isn’t going to end.
The only thing I can do for my children is to trust them to open up, and listen to each advice and counsel that we give them, even if we need to tell them every day. Because in the end, they’re going to get out of that, and they’re going to face each problem with renewed determination, which is something that us psychologists look forward to see in them.