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It was a cold winter night in December. I looked around the neighborhood as I get to the Group Home facility where I work as Caregiver. I felt the chill in my spine that froze up my marrow as I was reaching for the door. It was actually just chilly in San Jose, California, but it felt like my whole system froze. The Group home staff opened the door for me after I hit the doorbell like 15 times as it was midnight and everyone was asleep except the proud moon up in the sky who intermittently gave me light and let the passing clouds intercept his shine. “Time for my shift! And it never was fun!… At least for the moment.”
I took another glance at the moon before I finally threw myself inside the group home like a fish jumping for water to safety. It was really chilly, no doubt, but my senses magnify the chill a hundred times as it was my first month in the US. Unlike in the Philippines where I was from, it’s much temperate and well, I can’t deny that I love the weather there. Or maybe because I was just getting to acclimate myself with the San Jose weather. Sometimes, I thought I might be flirting with pneumonia and colds. Apparently, I am not used to this kind of weather and my first three layers of skin enter into a shock mode. It’s like I let myself torment needlessly…
So, anyway, I went in the makeshift office; we had to rebuild it as one of the clients, a person with developmental disabilities just had an outburst earlier that morning and trashed that corner of the room. I clocked in and when I did, I felt like I was dragging myself to an unknown region of a cursed house. Okay, I had it obvious, I never liked my first month at work. The feeling was like me trying to make friends with my in-laws! I hated the weather and I hated going to work especially when the thought starts to swirl in my head that my clients in the group home might start another episode of tantrum no one understands—not even them. I hate it . I get scared sometimes. (Sigh) I hated my job so much.
That was past tense. All past tense.
Another couple of months came by like a morning breeze. Things start to reshape into a more pleasant fashion. It’s like the energies of the universe collaborated and made peace with me. Winter started to mellow and my senses got much stronger or shall I say resistant as if I was wearing a psychological thermal clothing. Until I started to feel just a portion of how it feels like to be a client. It is sad being a client in a group home. Some amount of spice had been taken away. Their parents don’t care anymore. That Christmas, I missed my family back in the Manila, but at least I get to talk with them over the phone. These guys I work for, the clients were never been visited by any of their family. That is sad and I felt a little better, somehow. And that kind of lifted my spirit a couple of inches from the ground.
Whenever I miss my family, I’d just call them on the phone. Whenever I feel sad, I talk with them and air out some stuff. These guys I work with, they have lost the single strand of connection with their family. No wonder B.L., the client who had an outburst last December would arrive onto such a spike of behavior because of several thousands of emotions and thoughts, both surreal and super surreal crisscrossing and colliding on one another all at the same time. He is non-verbal and couldn’t express himself in the way it would be understood. These things just stripped off my whining about the chilly temperature when it might had been much colder in their shoes.
It’s two years now.
I never thought I’d reach two months when I first entered the Group Home office. And all the complains and whining I had in the past just vanished. The dark coating of my heart was gone…totally. Now, I loved being with these guys in the group home where I considered my best work so far. These guys, people with mental disabilities are my hero, I always thought. If ever nature had her natural selection process, these guys just caught and took these selection for me. B.L. could have been me, or, the rest of the guys could be you or your neighbor, or your loved ones…anyone could be someone with a mental disorder. But they, through natural selection or whatever processes occurred before, saved me. Saved you and the people you love.
After that level of understanding, it made me look at these guys, my clients, never the same way again.