Yoga with Traumatized Teenage Girls part 2

My practicum continues. Plugging away each week, bringing yoga to a couple of girls living in a residential home. They’re crass, rebellious, and ruthlessly trying – but I honestly love them. That’s the other reason I quit my job there two years ago. If you want to know about the first reason, I wrote about it here.

Why would I quit a job where I loved the clients? Well, you’re not really supposed to deeply care about them. It’s inappropriate, because your relationship with them is not supposed a friend. It will also crush your soul eventually. Because life isn’t a book or movie and having high hopes for their future will make your heart shatter when there is no happy ending.

I thought visiting for two hours to bring them something that has helped me, that I love and believe in, would be perfect. Not enough to become attached, just enough to feel like I can provide them with a useful tool. Until I told them someone else wanted to complete their practicum there, and good ol’ Candice* told me she didn’t want someone else. That she wanted me to stay there. That same day I found out they had all experienced more horrendous trauma over the weekend, that they’d now lost three more staff from their unit. That their rickety support system had been smashed up a bit. I was brutally reminded that these girls have onerous lives.

Driving home I watched people in a field, kids played baseball with plenty of onlookers. My hands tightened on the wheel. I thought about the girls with chaos as their constant companion and trauma those people can’t imagine. Shuffled into inconspicuous homes so eyes can glaze right past their pain.

I contemplated my schedule. Started moving times and priorities. I thought about the pros of the supervisor position. I probably wouldn’t have to interview for it. I’m sure I could choose what days I would work. A little extra money couldn’t hurt. I had to take a few deep breaths before I could think with my head. Reminded myself that the entire system is broken, and that I had tried this before and eventually burnt out from the lack of support for staff as well as clients. It took me a few moments. Guilt sat heavy in my stomach.

I’ll be going back Monday. Hoping their weekend didn’t consist of near deaths and violence. Of course, I know most of them won’t have that tangible joy we get with our free time. How could they? They aren’t even free. I’ll cajole them to their mats, try to convince them to do more than three poses, silently beg them to focus on their breath in shavasana. All the while knowing it’s all I can give to them, that I don’t have it in me to be there more.

Showing up and doing the work I can, because lately I’m thinking that’s all yoga is. Just doing the real work.



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