Posted by: Marie | January 10, 2014

(923) Who I am – Part 3 of 3

Post #923
[Private journal entry about my CASA application – written on Thursday, August 16, 2012 – continued from previous post]

Here are excerpts from the essay part of my application . . .

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PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS IN PARAGRAPH FORM

Write a short summary about your interest in volunteering and how you hope to benefit from the volunteer experience.

In 2008, as I was in the midst of dragging myself through a very dark time, I began an intensive therapeutic process to address severe depression. Through that process, I became aware that my childhood history of physical abuse within my family of origin, and of sexual abuse by a trusted family friend has had a huge impact on how I experience life as an adult.

As a child, I was not allowed to have a voice with which to express what I wanted and needed. My sense of personhood was squashed and beat down; I took on the belief I was too broken and damaged to be loveable. That belief, along with other destructive beliefs, carried over into my adulthood.

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Photo by Martin Chen

As a result of a tremendous amount of therapeutic work, I have arrived at a much more emotionally stable and joyful place. Within this calmer and more grounded place, I am discovering a deep desire to help children who are currently having experiences similar to my childhood experiences. I desire to create space for them to have and use their own voices in a powerful way, and to be their voice when they are unable to speak for themselves.

I see this as a way to do something very good with my very bad childhood experiences. I believe being of service to others is a key part of continuing to heal. I can’t imagine a more powerful way for me to be of service to others.

————–

Briefly explain what led to your decision to apply for a position in the CASA program? (What attracted you to this particular program?)

In 2010, I was called for jury duty in a child sexual abuse criminal case. I was dismissed after two full days of jury selection; therefore, I was not in the final jury. However, because I had already heard the opening arguments in the case and because I had become emotionally invested in the case, I attended the first day of trial as an observer.

There was another woman observing the case. During one of the breaks, she and I had a conversation in which she told me that, in addition to being a real estate agent, she was also a victim’s advocate for the Sheriff’s Department and on the board of directors for the CASA program. She was observing the trial and then interviewing the involved parties to make sure the CASA program was meeting the needs of those involved.

She told me a bit of her personal story; it was similar to mine. She told me that this is her way of creating something very good out of something very bad. She called my attention to all the people – the police officers, the social workers, the attorneys – who were working so hard to protect, to get justice for, and to provide an avenue for healing for these kids. She said that, while she and I didn’t have that support during our childhoods, she is now helping to provide that support for the kids of today.

I was so inspired by her story that I knew, someday, when I was far enough along in my healing journey, I would become either a CASA or a victim’s advocate. After researching both programs, I decided that the CASA program would be the better fit for me.

————–

Briefly explain your philosophy of parenting, including the rights and responsibilities of both parents and children.

While I don’t have experience being a parent, I do have experience being a child; my philosophy of parenting is born from the experience I do have. I wonder if my philosophy would be more pragmatic if I had experienced being a parent. Either way, here it is:

Firstly, I believe children are full-fledged humans. They have preferences and desires and needs and emotions that authentically arise from “who they are.” I believe it is critical they have the space to express those preferences and desires and need and emotions without fear of being rejected, disrespected or invalidated.

For example, one of my piano students, a very outgoing eight-year-old girl, arrived to her lesson a few minutes after having a much-treasured toy taken away because she didn’t clean her room in a timely manner. She was very angry and then very sad. She was sobbing as she arrived.

While I supported the action taken by her mother, I knew it would be helpful and validating if I took a few moments of our time together to give the daughter the space to express her emotions. I knew I could validate her emotions without villain-izing her mother’s actions.

After a minute or two of crying and telling me about her experience, and of me mirroring back to her what I heard her say, she slipped back into her normal vivacious personality and we proceeded with her lesson. I believe that was the healthiest way for me to deal with the situation. I would like to think parents could/should do the same type of thing on a regular basis.

Secondly, I believe children should have the power to affect how they express themselves in the world, when being allowed to do so is appropriate and not harmful. I believe they should be given credit for what they know and what they are capable of doing. And, I believe they should be given the opportunity to experience the consequences of the age-appropriate choices they have been given, at least when it is not harmful to do so.

Finally, I think it is a parent’s “job” to heap encouraging and uplifting words upon their children’s ears. Obviously, those words need to not be patronizing; however, it is my experience that children routinely show up in ways that provide many, many opportunities for the adults in their lives to express genuine admiration and encouragement.

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