We did this activity in a foster care training class. It was a good activity, probably really great at driving home its point through abstraction for everyone else in the room. In my case it ended up being a lesson of, look at what you don’t have and if I feel that is overdramatic or reactionary, then all I have to do is look at this list. Because I got rid of alllll of these.
The task was to fill out these boxes – with whatever they meant to you – and then we went through and ripped them off. Which one do you choose to lose/get rid of? Until we were down to one. And we ripped them off and put them in bowls and left them in the room, so I figure my license will be taken and I’ll be put on suicide watch in the next 24-48 hours or so.
My final one that I ended up keeping was values. I didn’t volunteer any information not because I’m unreasonably afraid of being too pessimistic, or attention seeking by being pessimistic, but because I know it would be worthless and take the class to a needless place. Like, we’re doing this nice little exercise. It’s a good one because I know how to rate these things. You don’t want my answers. Really. You don’t. I kept “values” because I feel as if I have lost all of these things and it is the one that feels the grossest when I lose/lost them. I think.
But this is the internet, so while I wouldn’t take the class there, I’ma take this post there.
First was information. You can fill this out however, whatever it means to you. I just watched Parks and Rec and I think I’m funny. Also this is a fair description. I held on to this one for a while, not because I am so attached to yellow hair, waffles, or Twitter (actually yes, yes I am) but because it felt representative of me, and I don’t want to give up me. Some people put their name, age, address, interests.
Significant person. Here is where I fail at assignments, just like in social work class in 2005. I took this opportunity to mention that I have no friends. Which is kind of untrue, at the same time it is true. Other people mentioned kids, family members, God. Those things never even entered my mind. Because I am a terrible parent. And because upon seeing this list I went to the “support network” place which made me go to the “I don’t have one” place. I ditched my lack of friends pretty fast. Nothing to lose here.
Group. NOPE. I sat and looked at this sheet and thought, repeatedly, about how well I could have filled it out just a few years ago. 2005, I would have rocked it. I would have had all the right answers. But three churches later, with one who was like family for 20+ years, then one who made all the right first impressions and flattered and welcomed me and destroyed me, and one who is well intentioned and who I naively thought could be the restoration of the first but who have unintentionally triggered my church PTSD (thanks, second church!) to a degree that I am ready to give up on the whole thing, I don’t have a group. I’ve had them in the past, but not anymore. I was never the one who changed (to my knowledge), but now I’m the one without. And I don’t give up easily, or at least, I never used to. I don’t with other things. I know there can be good. I know exactly what I am missing. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t hurt like it does.
My other groups fall apart too. I was a proud alumni, I had college and a sense of belonging, that is gone. Bands I have liked break up and/or jump the shark. <strike>Five Iron Frenzy so far has been the only musical group or even the only INTEREST of mine to prove strong enough to withstand my interest without becoming horrible</strike> <b>edit 2016: Reese Roper is voting for Trump out of spie and this statement is now invalid</b>. (I’m looking at you, U2. Don’t even talk to me after that Santa Barbara nonsense).
I loved groups. I may have loved groups the most. I loved being the fun table, in any context. I belonged at the fun table. I found my people.
Means of Support. Almost wrote LOL NO for this one so I don’t know if this is better or worse. When I filled this out, I really didn’t think we were turning them in. And while we didn’t turn them in, someone might read them. I wasn’t trying to be flippant or sarcastic (though it reads that way) as much as this is true. I don’t really have any support system that I can think of. I am the support system. I am my support system, and I am supposed to fix everything for everyone else. Sometimes I read blogs, hoping that someone will say a thing that is encouraging and meaningful to me. It happens more rarely than I would like it to. I have one friend. I have supportive people at work, who are kind and encouraging, but they are miles away in other offices and I also spend every day thinking “this is the day they’ll decide they hate me/are sick of me and I’ll be fired” because that inevitably happens, it isn’t crazy anxiety, when it has been proven true. And the needier I get, and the more out of control my life gets, and the more honest I am, the more I assume I am hastening the time when they realize they are tired of me. Because despite having only evidence to the contrary, this has to be true.
Source of Joy. Red Pontiac guy is real and I saw him this morning. He actually was a source of joy to me because he was so into whatever he was listening to, in a way I haven’t been since I was 18. I have a very clear memory of a gorgeous fall day doing exactly what he did, completely enamored with CAR! MUSIC! SUN! the way one is when one is 19 and music exists on CDs and it is 2001.
I couldn’t really get it back, and I want what red Pontiac guy has. Also I enjoy puppies.
I think this one says Systems of Values. I feel like I have huge answers for this but I can never think of them, so I said honesty and making meaning out of things, and also that I wrote a paper on this, because I did. I just forget what the paper said. I held on to these the longest but they also make everything really difficult because sometimes it would be easier to just not care.
History. This is huge, and how do you even begin? I had all the answers to this worksheet once. I could have filled the boxes with support networks and friends and groups and connections. I could have written for pages about my friends and my family. We used to be normal! We used to have actual family events, we used to visit for fun, but it has been a long, long time since that happened.
The last one is special place, which is being destroyed and branded into the fake culture of a movie that doesn’t exist in real life, even though its purpose was to showcase cultures of ACTUAL COUNTRIES, which calls into question the security of the larger, more expansive special place.
So as we discussed all of these in relation to what kids lose in foster care, I could look back over my list and realize, yes, I have lost all of these. For real and not just figuratively ripping off pieces of paper. They are gone, or changed, or inaccessible. I jokingly said that the ones I saved (information, special place, values, joy) were selfish and bless the poor trainer, I think she thought I meant it. I didn’t and also I did. I said I was all about self-preservation. What I didn’t say was it was because I genuinely feel, and history has taught me, that I can’t trust anybody else. I’m not sure how competent I am to handle absolutely everything, but I know other people can’t or won’t do it. She said it wasn’t selfish, it meant I was independent and strong, which again, was true in 2004 maybe but not any more. Also I am kind of tired of independent and strong. If it meant ripping off my values first, I would be willing to give it a try. If I could stop thinking, stop realizing that no one else can handle anything and just blindly let them, it might be a nice vacation. Except there is nowhere to go on vacation, because it’s all licensed characters now.