all of the things

by epi

i’m tired. not that this is the first time i’ve been tired or anything, but still. i’m tired, and my hands are shaking and i feel hot and sweaty and cold all at the same time. like my muscles have given up. like my heart has given up. i keep thinking about all the things i should be doing. all the things i have to do, but don’t have the time to do because there aren’t enough hours in the day, and i feel lost. if my feelings were symptoms listed in the dsm-v, the syndrome would be called “social worker syndrome.” or maybe what i’m feeling does exist. burn out. But i haven’t been doing this long enough to be burned out. Except I feel like I’ve been doing this all my life.  After 13 years in foster care, I woke up one day, 18 and surprised to have survived it all–fists, and not enough food, and other people sins driving my punishments.  I watched my sisters beaten and had my brothers (who I raised like my own babies long before I had the ability to actually make my own babies) ripped from my arms for neglect and abuse.  But I never hit them; I loved them with all of the love a 9 year old could. So, I felt useless.  But only because I was.  So at 18, I promised myself freedom from it all.  My promise wasn’t enough though, because then I spent 3 years advocating–feeling like my story wasn’t good enough to garnish care enough to make changes to make me a worthy expense.  And I felt so useless.  And then 2 years as a trainer, with all those people in all those rooms, in all those states staring at me with all their eyes (and sometimes words) screaming that i didn’t belong there. That I, a girl who made it through abuse and ugliness on solely a prayer most days, had no right to tell them how to be a social worker because what would a former foster kid know about foster care.  And I felt so useless.  And now, 2 degrees earned from 6 years of school later, I sit in an office more than 2 hours after the end of the day telling myself that it’s fine to miss another gathering of friends I only barely have because my work needs me more.  And I’m staring at my desk and it’s covered with the most urgent of the things I haven’t done, and I’m tired. So tired I could cry.  I spend my days moving from kid to case manager to biological family member and none of it matters if the paperwork isn’t in on time but none of the paperwork matters if the work isn’t done, and i’m tired. And I feel useless, as I chip away at my own life to make more time for work and then watch as work fills in the spaces I’ve made to catch up.  There’s not enough house, and I’m tired.  And I think about all the people who’ve said I “need to give up being a foster kid” and i know that I’m only here because I’ve been there, and I may change one person’s life.  But is that enough? And maybe they’re right, because if I wasn’t a foster kid once, I could walk away. If I wasn’t a foster kid, I’d be on a couch sipping a warm PBR with friends, but now I’m rambling, so I’ll stop. It’s just…  I’m tired.

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