Wow - I have stewed over this one for two days!
And honestly - I couldn't pick just one experience. I really tried to pick one - but every time I did, it just seemed to diminish another person's story. Picking just one incident, or person, or family, or situation seems insulting to the rest of them. How could I put Zari before Angel and Rocker? Or say fighting for Damien was less important than Jessie (whose story I keep planning to tell!)
The entire experience of being a social worker changes my life on a daily basis. I get to see the absolute worst that people can do to each other - and the breathtaking strength and courage that it takes for people to overcome their hurdles in life. Social work is supposed to be all about initiating and enabling change and growth - but I sometimes think I'm the one who is doing the most changing and growing!
There have been some families that effected me more profoundly, usually because I've really gotten to see them through their whole journey. But there is rarely a week that goes by without experiencing something that will ensure I can never go back to being the person I was before that event. They are rarely BIG things - they are a thousand little things that change me and the way I view the world, humanity, and myself.
How could my life not change after experiencing:
a parent who was addicted to herion for 10+ years, reach her 5 year mark being sober?
a child get the news that they are finally going home after years of waiting?
a foster parent meet work hard to understand their new child's feelings?
a parent voluntarily sign away their rights to a child they love?
a child be told they can not return to the parent that they want desperately to be with?
a foster parent make a promise to love a stranger's child as their own?
a child who brings two families together - biological and foster?
a family with 10 children, living in a two bedroom apartment, but Mom cooks delicious meals every night?
a child who screams and cries and hurts themselves because they know no other way to express their pain?
a father writing weekly letters to his son from prison, where he'll be until his child is grown?
a mother with schizophrenia managing to parent her four children?
a foster family become a permanent family?
a child who loses their family over and over and over again?
a child dying when we couldn't prevent it?
a great grandmother raising the children that were orphaned by gun violence.
a child who suffers at the hands of those meant to protect him?
ALL of these experiences, and so many more, have altered my life. This is honestly why I started this blog. Because I didn't want to forget the small moments of tragedy, hope, shock, joy, despair, strength, desperation, and courage that this job allows me to bear witness to every single day.