I put a lot into the jobs that I've had. I've seen some difficult stuff, and I like to think that if I just try hard enough, I can save everybody from whatever struggle they're going through.
But, of course, I can't. That's always been difficult for me to accept.
Two Kinds of People
Some people don't want to be saved. That's fine. I can let go in those circumstances. I let them know that they have options, and I offer to help them pursue the options in which they're interested. If I feel that they truly understood what's available to them, I can feel satisfied that I did my job, whether they felt compelled to take any of those options or not. I can let them go.
It's harder when I feel like the person doesn't truly understand their options, or doesn't understand what will happen if they make a choice (or fail to make a choice). Sometimes, as much as I try to make choices and consequences clear to a person, they just can't (or won't try to) understand. Or there have been times when someone has said that they understand, when they really don't.
During those times, I believe that it's on me, as the support person, to find more effective ways of communicating important information, or to find out why the person is hedging on trying to truly understand important information or make a choice about it...or lie about understanding information.
This sort of work can be very difficult. It's incredibly worthwhile. But it's draining.
Learning that I'm Not Perfect
And when I just can't make that connection, and facilitate that understanding for a person...that's when I have the most trouble letting go.
I expect that everyone who works in a social services setting has to learn lessons like these. I could never seem to quite get it.
Perhaps I'll learn it all better in the next social services job. Even if that's not my next *job*...I doubt I'll stay away from social services forever...