Tuna Salad Inspired Me

If you haven’t read the previous post “Laughing over Tuna Salad”, my time with Heather, this is a part II. I decided to write again as it had been a tough choice what to pick about that interaction. Heather was laughing hysterically and repeatedly because I said she “inspired me.” She has a tough past, and in many ways tough present. As I mentioned her step-mother seems to have stepped out of the Cinderella story to participate in her life. Her father does not fight for her. The family on the very surface says the right things but their actions are all wrong. Any words they share with Heather regarding her abilities have been quashed with subsequent comments about her deficits and challenges. They expressed how much she needed help but then didn’t even call a social worker, teacher, etc. when she seemed to be having a more difficult time. They inconsistently answer her phone calls. They rarely answer professionals phone calls couched in the new reality that she is an “adult” or they “didn’t know.”

When I meet with people of all ages I aim to come into each relationship with the beliefs that I can learn something from each person, they each have value, and they all have something to offer. There are people that can be challenging, case in point Heather’s step-mother. I haven’t even tried to work through that relationship personally in regard to how to overcome my anger with her or what she offers. But this is about Heather. She’s not had enough encouragement and recognition of her abilities and the value she brings to counteract all the negativity. She has been told that she is hated by her family (later this was somehow justified). She has been abandoned to the adult world with justification it is for her best. Heather does not have a good grasp on what her abilities and strengths are. The professionals in her life will help her learn. We can focus on what she knows about cooking, money skills, transportation, education, etc. and build up this foundation. Yet how do we help her understand that she truly does impact those around her, not because of her negative or positive behavior, but because of who she is? How do we affirm her as young woman? Heather has value because she has opinions, dreams and a story to tell. We will pour into her the knowledge we already have that she has value. As I heard from her hysterical laugher when we know her thoughts and opinions impact us she is overwhelmed and can’t seem to believe it. She is overwhelmed that she was listened to by me, and she inspired me, because she does not yet trust or believe she has worth and value. What has been withheld from her I am determined will be given back and I don’t want to miss the opportunities to help her recognize and affirm the value of her life. Words of affirmation… do you give them generously?

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Posted on March 1, 2011, in Social Work, Young Adults and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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