Yesterday was the hardest day of the year for me...I got fired.
I just started a new job last Friday closer to home and based in Miami! I was so happy about
not having to commute an hour to and from work and that I would be working with adolescents struggling with Substance Abuse. It was however a Saturday-Wednesday job, but given the circumstances working with teens (ages 13-18) was worth it to me.
Over the weekend, I sat in the group therapy sessions to observe. There were about 10 teens from all over the states: New York, North Carolina, etc. They were admitted either for legal reason or because they were forced to by their parents. It was interesting to see how these teens truly struggled with substance abuse at such a young age. To hear them rap about percocet and molly and “really be about that life”. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories of abuse and trauma from family, friends, and strangers, but was happy that I was able to build a rapport with them fairly quickly over the weekend.
When Monday came we had a process group and they started talking about their housing concerns. They complained about not having dinner, not having consistent running water, having roaches in the residence, getting verbally abused by the recovery coaches and cussed out in morning, having their clothes “washed” only with water and no soap, and so much more. One teen even said that because they had no running water he had to take a bowel movement in a paper bowl and wrap it in a bag to throw it away in a dumpster. At first, I hesitated to believe everything they were saying was true. I figured maybe they were used to a different lifestyle back at home and having a hard time adjusting. You know how teens are! Ironically that day I was getting a tour of their residence because that’s were my office was going to be stationed at.
The Clinical Director drove me to their residence and I quickly realized that teens weren’t lying. On the corner to turn into their neighborhood was a sex toy shop, a liquor store, and men who were clearly intoxicated roaming around the house and streets. One man stopped in front of our car swaying back and forth unable to stand still with black sunglasses on staring directly at us. We quickly stopped and the Director attempted to wave him away, but he would not move. After several minutes he finally turned around and walked away. We sat in her car for a couple seconds as she slowly backed up her car so I could check if it was safe for us to get out the car. FIRST RED FLAG.
Upon entering their “studio” like apartments I was horrified at what I saw:
- Roaches on the floor
- Stains on the wall
- Stains on the floor
- Eroded doors
- A horrible stench
- No backyard or grass area
- …and last but not least MY OFFICE that was currently being used as a storage/food pantry/junk room.
I knew I wanted to address this, but it was not the right place or time so I waited until we returned to the main office. I had a list of several questions for her in regards to their policy, their ethics as a company and the safety of the lives of the clients. She was very upset and shocked at the AUDACITY I had to ask her these questions especially since I was new and still in training. She was very taken back and immediately became defensive. I also informed her that I was not going to let her exploit me as a Therapist by having me run 5 groups a day back to back. She slammed her paperwork on her desk and turned her back towards me in the chair so I got up and walked out as was time for me to clock out.
Yesterday morning she pulls me into her office and started stuttering over her words
“I don’t know if this will be a good fit for us”
“Maybe you should go back to your old job”
“Not qualified to work this position”
I straight-out asked her “ARE YOU FIRING ME?! YES or NO!” She began to tremble and literally shake as I continued to advocate for the clients rights at this facility. She threatened to not pay me if I didn’t sign the termination paperwork which was the biggest mistake she could have done.
Moral of the Story:
Advocate for what you believe in! Take a stand against injustice when you see it. Don’t let fear paralyze you to the point where you sit back and watch unfair actions take place because you are JUST as guilty. You have rights no matter what circumstance you’re in. Yes, I am actively out of job right now, but I will bounce back for I am resilient! I don’t regret a single thing because I advocated for those teens and I did what I had to do as a mandated reporter and did all the appropriate forms/phone calls to the state and DCFS.
I am a light and I am unapologetic!