You know, having my hours cut at work was the most devastating thing. It was a confusing time. The events that played out were simple: I was not liked. Stupid things, really, that could have been sorted out, but the clinic is very clique-y. You either fit or you don't.
It's a terrible thing, to know that you don't fit, especially when you are trying so hard to fit because you love the job so very much.
It's an even worse thing at the end of it all, to have someone walk into your office and hand you a paper that says your hours have been cut. In disbelief, you look at it. You realize that at least one person in a position of power has lied about you, and you point that out. You tell her that the only written documentation that you've ever received is that you are doing an excellent job. Her response was to say that your work with the clients was "spot on". She sat quietly, looking at your shocked face, and then said, "Would you like me to close the door when I leave?" And she left.
It was a hard thing to decide what to do next. The humiliation of having your hours cut and to be 'in the sights' of the person running the show is a big deal. The other clinicians are perfunctory and short. They care about their jobs and do not want the person running the show to think they are 'on your side'.
I decided to stay, and to work my best and to see what happened next.
I have worked, and I have worked hard. I have learned that I am excellent with clients. I have learned that in my own heart. My opinion is not dependent on the opinion of anybody else. I am almost 56 years old. For 55 years, the opinions of others have mattered a great deal to me.
I have had moments so breathtakingly perfect that I cannot even tell you. Imagine having a violent non-verbal profoundly disabled person vocalize and scream and come at you. He is not a client. He is someone that I am sneaking time with, because I had a suspicion that I could help. He charged me, and I braced myself because he has attacked before. He stops, making his strange and agitated noises, and stares. I stared at him, trying to anticipate. When his face stilled, I knew. I reached my arms wide, and said, "Do you want a hug?" He came into my arms and leaned heavily against me, and we stood in the middle of the room and I rocked him back and forth gently, my hands running up and down his arms to provide proprioceptive input. The room staff, poised to intervene, stood by as I crooned to him and rocked him. He doesn't have words, but he came to me for comfort, and I was sharp enough, calm enough to recognize it.
I am good.
I am so good that while I work full time filling in for a co-worker on maternity leave, staff at the facilities that I service have begun to come to me for assistance. Yesterday, I stopped typing, and I went straightaway to a client who was having an aggressive episode. I sat at the table in an informal group session and talked and played with them. My focus was on one person, but he did not realize that. I am firm with him, and in the end, he says, "Thank you."
I am very good.
I have offers of hours to fill the hours that I have lost. I have offers that will, potentially, put me in the awkward position of perhaps having to choose where I will work. Will this pan out perfectly? I don't know, but I have a suspicion that it will. No matter what, it is a huge joy to discover that others see something in me that they covet for their own teams.
In the end, we will see. Other doors have opened up...the chance to work privately with a disabled child. The chance to counsel women making the transition from jail to the real world. The opportunity to work with an elderly gentleman. All these things will more than make up for what I have lost.
Know why? Because I am very, very good at what I do.
This week, I found myself speaking with a supervisor. Up to now, this has been difficult. I am always trying to be professional, choking back unprofessional frustration. This time it is different. I said, "When am I to be cut back to part time?" She did not know. "How is this transition to be made? Does she come back one day and I am done? Is there a handing off period as there was when I took over?" She did not know.
We stood there, two professional women in my office. We discussed the patients that I am seeing informally. We discussed the importance of not turning our backs on them. We discussed the fact that people want me to work for them and they are pressing to know my availability.
She said, "You are right, I need to find this out."
She left my office. I stood there watching her go. There was no sting.