"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beginning of the End

Pearl is smitten with the next door neighbor, Forrest. She and Evelyn have been utterly delighted to have two puppies right on the other side of the fence.

Pearl thinks she is all grown up. The puppies are just babies!

Pearl is getting so big. I am watching her grow right before my eyes.

She has the most gorgeous tail and it is only just now starting to take off. I'm serious, it is breathtaking.

Here is Forrest:

Here is his brother, General:

Aren't they cute?

Evelyn is so excited she can hardly stand it.

Last night, she broke out into a spontaneous Arrooooo! while she ran the fence line when the puppies came out.

Just look at that face:

On to darker things. One of my favorite GAL kids made a second serious suicide attempt, this week. He slit his wrist and arm and is now in the hospital. I am so worried about him. I don't know what to do to help him. His social worker, a man who has been in the business for years, was in tears when he told me about it. I didn't cry. I spoke to the young man and he sounded very appreciative that I cared enough to check on him. I told him I just needed to hear his voice and that I was so grateful that they found him so I could hear his voice. I tried to hide it but I was distressed. I didn't want to put more on his plate. Then I hung up the phone and went outside to take pictures of the girls. I wasn't thinking about him while I was snapping photos.

I have to face the fact that it is time for me to step back from guardian ad litem work for awhile. I know that not because I am rattled over the suicide attempt. I know it is time because I didn't even mention it to my husband. And I functioned just fine. I laughed and played with the girls and made plans for our vacation and played on the internet like nothing had happened. When you reach the point that you can compartmentalize something this awful to that extent, you need to step back.

I've been thinking about retiring for awhile (I've posted about it). I'd decided that, in September, I would give a letter to the court to stop sending me cases. I've changed my mind. Today I drafted a letter to ask that they stop sending cases, immediately. I checked my stationary to see if I would need to reorder and I think I have enough to finish current open cases. Same with business cards. It will take about a year to close my cases if I just let them progress naturally. Doing it that way will result in a minimum of disruption to my families, the court and other members of the bar.

Still, when I think in terms of income I have flashes of panic. How can I give up a good paying job? How stupid is that? But truthfully, most of my income goes to my hobbies, savings, groceries and the dogs.

But quitting a good job is just so terrifying. And I don't have another job lined up. Of course, the nature of this work prohibits me from simply turning in a pink slip and starting a new job next week, anyway. So that is a false dilemma. And even if I no longer accept new cases, I will still have a solid income coming in for several more months. But after that - what in the world will I do?

But I didn't even mention the suicide attempt to my husband. That means something. Something wrong.

Then I think some more. I am actually pretty experienced at this kind of work. And when I am in the middle of a case, a visit or a court hearing, I have a blast. I really enjoy the kids and usually like their families. It feels good to feel like you can help - If nothing else by calming them down and explaining the process. I feel like I really can help the courts with these cases because I have a deep knowledge base.

And finding another line of work is so much...work. And maybe not nearly so rewarding. Or so well paying.

Soon, I will be a pauper. Dependent on my husband. If he ditches me, dependent on my children. Scratch that - probably thrown into the street. I'll lose the dogs in the divorce because the judge will say that I am shiftless and unstable, with no steady income.

I suspect these are kind of things everyone contemplating doing this sort of insanity goes through. Well, perhaps a bit extreme. But just a bit.

One thing that drives me is that if I have reached a point where I can shrug off or bury a serious suicide attempt by one of my favorite GAL kids, I am going to start making mistakes. I am going to start going through the motions. Better to leave near the top of my game, don't you think? Before I make a mistake and hurt a kid. Of course there is always the possibility that I might mess up and hurt a kid but there is no point in making it more likely. And anyway you look at it, I am retiring from this line of work in a couple of years - max - anyway. Is that the real reason or am I rationalizing?

My Judges are going to be upset about this. Makes me cringe to even think about what they are going to say.

At least the job did not drive to me to drink. But I do think I will have a glass of wine.


ranette said...

Oh Penny...what a dilemma you're in. I will say a pray for you that you make the right decision and that you'll have peace about it. Also that another job will open up where you can use gifts, skills and knowledge.

ranette said...

I mean't use 'your' gifts, skills and knowledge.

Stephanie D. said...

The puppies are adorable! No wonder Evelyn and Pearl want to play with them!

I can't believe how much Pearl has changed in less than 3 months. Wow!

I think you're right to leave now. You know when it's not in your heart any more, and the fact that you have that option is great. My heart hasn't been in nursing for a while, but as hubby is permanently disabled and on a fixed income, my income provides the benefits and we still have 24 years of a 30-yr mortgage left. At this age, I don't know what else I could do that would provide as much flexibility, income and benefits, without going back to school. And hubby's health is not getting better. I feel trapped at times.

Maybe you could do some sort of consultant work?

Penny said...

Tough situation, Stephanie. Yup, I could do some consulting. I need to spend some time thinking about it.

Janet said...

Penny, when this job ends something better will come up. Sometimes it's hard to see what the opportunities will be, but they're there. The only guarantee is that It'll be different.

I understand your thoughts about this completely - I felt the same way when I lost my job almost 15 years ago. I didn't think I was employable at all, but with a firm shove from my husband I started my own business. It isn't making me fabulously wealthy, but it is enriching my life far more than I could have forseen.

Hey! I'm not anonymous anymore!


Linda said...

Ya gotta just breathe! It's a really difficult decision to make but I think you've made it. When I quit teaching way back in 94 it was one of the hardest things I ever did. But it was also one of the best. I wasn't able to give my all to the kids any more and it just wasn't a happy time. I do miss the income, the social contacts and the kids etc. but I am a happier person--and you will be as well. I always said I didn't want to be a "deadwood" teacher!!!