Monday, December 15, 2008
overwhelmed - or something
I'm feeling a little overwhelmed these past few days. The enormity of the problems I see on a daily basis can be kind of consuming. For the most part, I'm quite good at maintaining a healthy distance, putting things in perspective and staying positive. This past week however there have been a few situations which have been hard and the mind numbing cold just doesn't help anything.
This week for the first time I found someone sleeping under a heating vent, by choice, not because they were passed out drunk. For some reason, this really touched me. When I asked them why they made that choice, they simply said they had no place to stay. Another person, in a doorway, refused even our offers of a blanket, let alone a warm place to stay. A man what I believe was an actual heart attack. I have a lot of people with chest pains, most of the time they beg for the ambulance. This man, clutching at his chest, gasping for breath, wanted no help at all (note, we called and he was taken to hospital). An unrousable man later told us he wished we had just let him die. And of course, the girls working the streets just keep getting younger and younger.
I am sick of fighting with the other shelters. The politics of homelessness are stupid and frustrating. I'm sick of watching my mouth and having my actions be dictated by our directive not to do anything to make the clients go to the media. Why, because they are, they're making good on their threats, and we can't afford the negative publicity. I'm sick of not being able to say what's really happening because we're not allowed to say negative things about the other shelters (although I do understand this). I'm sick of not having enough space for freezing people.
Working in the drunk tank is also difficult. Until you've done something like that, it's hard to explain. It's hard to explain the death threats, the law suit threats, and the constant insults. It's also hard to explain how it can break your heart to have to lock someone up and forceably hold them. On the flip side, it's also hard to explain what it's like to have to kick people out of a safe warm place because there are drunker people coming in.
Of course, my heart is not literally breaking, and for the most part I am able to put aside all this stuff and effectively do my job. I'm able to go about my everyday life and not think about this stuff. These past couple days though, it's just seemed a little much. Someone at church said I looked sad, and i just didn't know how to explain. There's just so much, so much I see, and sometimes it just gets to you, especially as my clients start to worry about Christmas. I'll go to work tonight, and I'll do my job with a smile, just like always. But inside, inside I'm a little sad tonight. Sad because a job like mine has to exist, and sad because its just seems like we're not doing enough. Sad because people are hurting, and there's only so much we can do to change that.
maybe I just need a good cry...