Wow! I haven't posted since August! When I think back about the 5 months, SO much has happened,so much has changed, and God has been so faithful.
5 days after my last post, the eye of Hurricane Harvey hit my hometown of Rockport. The storm instantly became a marker. We have life "pre storm" and life "post storm." I absolutely hated being away from all of my friends and family in Rockport. Anyone in or from Rockport could probably write a book about everything that has changed since the storm. Let me tell you, Rockport and the people in Rockport, are as beautiful as ever. But let me also tell you that Rockport still needs help. It seems we've been forgotten about but I can assure that people in Rockport are still hurting and still need assistance of various kinds.
I also started the Social Work side of my graduate program. I knew being in the School of Social Work would be very different than Truett but I was not prepared for how different it would be. However, this semester showed me that I am exactly where I need to be and Social Work is absolutely the career that I want. I felt very much in my element in my classes and internship and it was refreshing. My program also brought me some wonderful new friends who have been my life lines this semester.
Through my program, I'm also an MSW intern with Waco ISD Homeless Outreach. I am officed in a high school and serve as a case manager for the homeless and unaccompanied students. I have absolutely loved my internship and it's an honor to work with some of the most resilient students I've ever met.
The last major thing that happened this semester was that I decided to leave my job as Children's Advocate at The Family Abuse Center. When I took the job two years ago, I never could have guessed how much I would love it and how much I would learn. My clients have taught me more about humankind and loving other people than I ever thought possible. I'm so honored to have worked with some of the strongest, funniest, and most resilient people.
When I started the Social Work part of my program, I went from doing "only" grad school classes to doing class and my internship which is 16 hours a week. Long story short, I ended up being in class/work/internship about 50 hours a week. I really enjoy school and I really enjoy my job, so this was fine for a while. However, the longer the semester went on, the harder it got. At the same time, being in social work classes really makes you examine yourself and forces you to become pretty self aware. After doing some self examination (and with the loving accountability of my friends) I realized that not only was I exhausted from 50 hour weeks, but I was also experiencing Secondary Trauma. Secondary Trauma is defined as:
"indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event. The vivid recounting of trauma by the survivor and the clinician's subsequent cognitive or emotional representation of that event may result in a set of symptoms and reactions that parallel PTSD."
After putting a name to my symptoms, I realized that I had probably been experiencing them for awhile. However, I tend to put very high expectations on myself and continually tell myself to just push through things and suck it up. I quickly learned that this is not healthy! The more I ignored them, the worse they seemed to get. I was becoming very cynical, withdrawn, avoided clients at work, was less empathetic, felt guilty, was disconnecting at work and with friends, and felt pretty hopeless overall. I've never been a crier and I found myself crying and overwhelmed quite often. I was overwhelmed with personal and professional relationships and I was incredibly overwhelmed with what I was seeing in the country and the world. It was like I could only see the bad in everything. I had lost my joy and it was not fun. I probably wasn't the funnest person to be around and I hate that.* I could feel myself not being happy with who I was becoming and I knew I had to change something.
As much as I tried to work in small self care activities, nothing seemed to work. After a lot of prayer, guidance, and and discussion, I decided to resign from my position at FAC. Now, there were a lot of other significant factors in this decision, but my secondary trauma was incredibly significant. I didn't want to finish my program and be so burned out that I couldn't work in social work anymore. As soon as I let my job know that I was leaving at the end of the year, I felt immediate peace. This was weird considering I didn't even have a job lined up but I knew that God would work everything out. And when he did, I would be able to tell of God's faithful and provision.
Not even a week after putting in my notice, I had a GA position lined up at the School of Social Work. The job is with congregational social work so I will be working in the perfect position to utilize both my Truett education and my social work education. That wasn't quite enough to make ends meet every month but I ended up finding a cleaning job to make some extra money, as well. I will absolutely miss my job, my coworkers, and my clients, but I'm learning that before I can help other people (whether that is clients, friends, etc.) I have to make sure that I'm at a healthy place, as well.
This semester was hard, yall. It was really hard. But I survived! I learned a lot about myself, other people, the Kingdom of God, and what my role is at the intersection of all of those things. The new year has just started and classes, as well as my new job, start on Monday. My resolution for this year is to be more intentional about my social justice advocacy for people different than myself. I want to learn from people different than me and be in true community with them.
*shout out to my friends that are still actually friends with me after this crazy semester. Yall are the real MVP's.