What helped, and what didn’t
So, I decided to make my Blogs a bit interactive and put out a message asking people what they would like me to talk about in my blogs.
The first person to answer was a lady called Sophie. She said the following:
“I’d be interested to hear about what helped Vs what made you not want to engage with those who could support you? Particularly how the language used by professionals can be important”.
Now, as you can see, Sophie decided to chuck me in at the deep end with the questions lol.
I had to think hard about what Sophie was asking me. What helped Vs what made me not want to engage with those who could support you? So, let’s start with the first part “What helped”. I am gonna be real Sophie, not a lot. Then again, not a lot was offered to me. You have lots of different children and young people going through lots of different things and they all deal with it in their own way.
I was the kind of young person that, if you could get me on side or make a connection with me in some way, then you had a chance to work with me and make a difference. I was the cheeky one. The kid that some people love, and some people hate. I thought I was very funny (I still find myself hilarious to be fair).
Sadly, people got bored of me. I was so damaged and so deeply woven into the streets that people would be like “Oh my god, I am going to save this child”. Then they would try a few interventions and then they would see that I was very stubborn, and I didn’t really care what they were offering me, because as far as I could see the street was offering me more.
Then my behaviour changed. The darkness that was inside me started to show and I was not so loveable anymore. People didn’t like to be around me. Professionals would cringe when they saw me. Other young people did not want to be around me. So all of a sudden interventions stopped and in its place….punishment. Punishment after punishment. Consequences for actions that I truly didn’t understand why I was doing or some that I had little control over.
“If you don’t do this, then this will happen” “If you don’t change then we can’t help you” “YOU need to stop acting like this” and my all-time favourite “Why don’t you just stop”.
Little did the professionals know that all their threats did not bother me. You know why? How can you threaten to take anything away from a child or young person who has lost everything anyway? Go on Karen…. What you actually going to do if I don’t stick my curfew.. my mum will be out of her head by 10pm anyway so …stick your consequences.
I truly believe that many of the professionals that tried to work with me wanted to help me. They wanted to make my life better. But with the constant chopping and changing of workers, the different services that were involved and then the lack of consistency from my mum… they really didn’t stand a chance.
I didn’t want to engage because I knew that no one could help me. Not really. Well that’s what I thought then, because I know that if I had of had me as a worker (adult me) then life would have changed. Adult me would not have given up or got bored. I know this because of the young people I work with now and how I work with them. I use my 1:1 sessions to help a young person look at what is going on and what we can do to amke things better. I have a open dor policy with the students in my school so that they can access me when things are bad…or good.
But let me go back a step to “What helped”. Something must of helped right? Yes. People giving me their time. Adults and professionals who did not role their eyes when I walked in a room. The adults who called me Kendra and not Blondy, most professionals would call me Blondy and then were confused when it was Blondy who they got.
There was this helper lady at a PRU I was in. I am not sure what her actual job was, but she used to sit with me when I had a kick off. Anyway, this lady would often just sit in a room I was in. I would be kicking off, swearing. Telling them to let me go before I did this or that. They would try calling my mum, but no one would answer. I would be in that room for hours sometimes. One day, in the middle of a massive kick off she just got up got out a massive bit of paper and started drawing. I was saying “Put that away before I rip it up you stupid bitch” I was being really nasty. I started kicking the edge of the paper trying to get a reaction. She looked at me and said “You know what I like to draw, Eyes. I like to draw your eyes Kendra because they are sad. I looked down and she had draw two perfect eyes. They were big and had long lashes and they looked as though tears were about to drop. There was no colour, all in black and white. She stood up and said, “Go on, ruin it of you want”. I bent down to look. I couldn’t work out how she had got the eyes to look so real. She bent down and continued to draw and then said, “I can show you how”. I said no, but she just showed me anyway. Talking away, saying about this shade and that shade and how to position the pupils. That lady, little did I know, was showing me a reflection of my sadness in those eyes. Not my anger…. My sadness.
I still draw eyes now. When I am feeling low or absentmindedly talking to a young person who is troubling me. I will look down at my pad and there will be eyes on the page.
That lady, she took time to see me. To see ME. And then gave me permission to destroy what she had created. She didn’t say that if I ripped it up this or that would happen, or if I did that would be it, she would go. She just sort of went ..go on then, but why would you.
I will always remember them kind of people. The people who gave me choices and didn’t tell me what to do or constantly remind me of what I was. What I was in the eyes of many.
And in answer to your last part “How language used by professionals can be important?” Well, just look at all I have just written. It has kind of covered that without me even realising. The words professionals used with me has stuck with me a lifetime. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, a teacher…a actual teacher once said to me that I would end up in prison or dead and she hoped it was the latter! It was me and her in a classroom and I had been verbal abusive to her. She had left the room and when she came back she found that I had stolen cigarettes from her draw and I denied it so bad even though I was the only person in the room (Of course I had done it). She screamed and shouted and said this and that. I shouted back and then she said it “You will end up in prison or dead by 18 and I hope it’s the latter”. She honesty looked so shocked when it left her lips. She instantly said sorry and said that I could keep the fags. I knew what that meant. Keep the fags and not tell anyone what she had said. I just walked out. And I didn’t tell anyone.
I was 12 years of age.
But I also remember the lady who said I was sad instead of telling me I was angry. That helped.
I hope this sort of helps Sophie and thank you for your questions.