Posted by: Marie | December 5, 2013

(896) Milestones – Part 1 of 2

Post #896
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, July 25, 2012]

I went to the CASA informational meeting last night . . .

I had a general sense that the victims advocate program for the police department would not be the best fit for me . . . I’m not really available to jump up and respond when the police get called to the scene of a crime or an accident . . . for one thing, very little of that kind of stuff happens in our little town, so I’d mostly have to run to one of the bigger towns whenever something happened . . . not a small time expenditure, for sure.

And, I really need to have a more predictable volunteer schedule . . .

So, I went into this meeting knowing that the CASA program would probably be a better fit for me . . . but, I had no idea how perfect it is for me until I sat through the meeting . . .

One part of the program involves spending time with the child to whom you are assigned . . . you only handle one case at a time and there is usually only one or two children – siblings – per case . . . if a case involves a larger number of siblings, then multiple volunteers are assigned to the case.

A case is created when a child or siblings are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect. They are placed in group care or in a foster home . . . a plan for reunification is created and hopefully followed . . . that can involve therapy for the child and/or for the parents, maybe a drug/alcohol treatment program for the parents, random drug tests, parenting classes, etc.

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Photo by Martin Chen

They ask you to visit the child at least once a week. This entails doing something fun with them . . . playing games, going to a park, going for ice cream, painting a picture together . . . whatever would be fun for the child. This allow you to build a relationship with that child so you can better advocate for her. It allows you to keep tabs on how the child is doing in school, in therapy, in the foster home . . . and if are her needs getting met, if she have concerns about what is happening, does she like where she is at, is additional abuse occurring . . .

A second part of the program involves staying in regular communication with all involved adults . . . the foster parents, the biological parents, school teachers, therapists, ministers, attorneys, social workers, etc. . . and making sure they are all doing what they are supposed to be doing in a timely manner. If that is not happening, then you get to advocate to the magistrate for an enforcement of or a change to the program or to the key players . . . and that is where the “advocating” part of the job comes into play.

Since most of the professionals like teachers and attorneys and therapists work during the day, you would need to be able to communicate with them during regular business hours. And, the court hearings occur on Thursday mornings . . . I can easily arrange my schedule to do all that.

You can meeting with the child whenever it works for both of you. While I couldn’t do it after school Mondays-Thursday, I could do it on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays . . . totally doable!

So, a CASA volunteer really must enjoy hanging out with kids . . . check.

And, she must be able to gather and organize large amounts of data and organize it and keep track of what and when things are happening or are not happening . . . kind of like a project manager . . . check.

And, she must be able to stay in contact with people and motivate them and make a fuss when necessary to make sure things get done for the benefit of the child, all preferably without pissing off or alienating anyone . . . check.

And, she must be able to write clear and well-organized reports with factual and logical arguments supporting any recommended changes to the case plan . . . check.

Oh, my . . . this is so right up my alley . . .

Anyway, I got to the meeting about 15 minutes ahead of the start time . . . I had a 30-minute drive and many of the roads surrounding the court house are closed due to construction . . . I didn’t know how long it would really take me to get there, so I gave myself plenty of time.

I was able to talk with Sabeena a bit before the meeting since there were only a couple of other people there that early. She answered some of my questions then . . . and the rest I got answered during the meeting.

By the time everyone showed up, there were about a dozen people in the meeting. After Sabeena welcomed all of us, she asked each of us to tell how we had learned about the CASA program. When it was my turn to talk, I kept my explanation simple . . . I said that when I had been called for jury duty a couple of years ago, I met a CASA volunteer who told me what she does . . . it sounded like something I would like to do someday . . .

I’ve been making an effort to not lead with my history of trauma and “my story” . . . there was a time when it seemed I could not control my leading with it . . . I felt compelled to share it with pretty much anyone I met, almost as soon as I met them.

I’m feeling that compulsion (a key symptom of the “emergency stage” of the healing journey) less and less . . . and I’ve really been trying to lead with other parts of “who I am” . . .

So, when it was my turn to speak, I said nothing that would indicate that I have a history of childhood abuse and trauma. I wanted to allow “me” to show up first in the meeting . . . if that makes sense . . .

Anyway . . . I am very, very excited about the CASA program . . . I really, really want to do it.

However, I’m not ready right now to do it. There are some things that need to shift first . . . things like my eating habits and my fitness program and my binging . . . mainly self-care things. I need to know that I’m taking care of myself well enough to withstand the triggering that will surely occur when I deal with the stuff that is routinely part of these cases. Right now, I feel like I’m just starting to get stabilized in those areas . . . but I feel like that stability is still very fragile. I think I would be putting my health – physical and mental – at risk if I jumped into the CASA program right now.

And, there are some things I need to get set up in my business . . . processes, standardized lesson plans, etc. . . so that routine tasks can be done more easily and efficiently.

I need to clearly identify and define the milestones I need to have in place before I would feel comfortable signing up for the CASA training.

Since last night, I’ve been putting some thought into those milestones . . . and here is something interesting I’ve realized . . . the CASA milestones are almost exactly the same as the milestones I might put in place if I were thinking seriously about jumping back into the dating scene. I think the one difference is that I don’t feel the need to “get skinny” in order to do the CASA program . . . I do want to have healthy eating and fitness habits in place, but I don’t feel the need to reach a certain point in my weight loss efforts.

The idea of dating is quite triggering to me . . . when I think much about it, I reach for my soothing routines to deal with the extreme anxiety I feel around it. I feel even more anxiety when I think about putting into place healthy habits so that I can become “ready enough” to date . . . and that causes it to be very difficult to stick with any plans I have to implement those healthy habits.

The idea of becoming a CASA is not triggering for me at all. So, I think the idea of implementing healthy habits so I can be in a position to sign up for the training could be a very positive source of motivation for me. And, it would still put me in the very same place as I want to be for dating.

So, I could sort of forget about the dating and focus on the CASA stuff . . . and worry about dating later . . . like after we’ve had more time to deal with the underlying issues in therapy.

This is beginning to sound like a really great plan.

But . . . there is a catch . . .

[To be continued in the next post . . . ]

Quotes 806


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