I found out on Sunday evening that on Monday I was scheduled to work on the boys wing. I thought I had made it clear that I do not (DO NOT!) work well with teenage boys. Or really, I don't work well boys who are older than 9 or younger than 23. There is something about the teenage boy aura that sets me off and turns me into a bumbling mean person and I do not like to be a bumbling mean person.
Currently at the shelter we have several boys who are in my age range of dislike and I was not looking forward to the shift. But not wanting to whine and be annoying to the supervisor I said nothing and went to work with a lump of hard hard coal in my chest and a premonition of disaster. I was sure that they were going to be rude and disrespectful, that they would not listen to a word I had to say, that they would call me names behind my back, that they would think I was stupid, that they would kick me and then I would cry. I just knew that I would get frustrated and say something I didn't mean and that I would leave feeling a weird mixture of regret and boiling bubbling anger.
I was envisioning rude little monkeys who would further encourage me in my dislike of teenage boys. And maybe they would even throw poop.
I did get little monkeys. I did get frustrated. I did cry. No one threw poop.
Somewhere in the 8 hours I spent with them those monkeys found a hole in wall I so carefully crafted around my heart. This job requires a certain level of detachment, in order to preserve sanity. I can't get too attached to any of the kids, I can't become too involved in their lives. I have to be ok with them leaving and never saying goodbye. I have to be ok with them getting angry with me and saying hurtful things and not apolgizing. I have to be ok with having lasagna thrown on me for no good reason.
In the year and a half I have worked at the shelter I have gotten very good at detaching. But last night, as I said, the monkey boys found a hole in my heartwall, and without me even noticing, they completely destroyed my wall and I was left vulnerable. My naked heart was theirs for the taking, I had no way to defend myself. I wasn't ready for them.
When I drove home I couldn't stop thinking about those monkeys. By the time I pulled into the driveway I was crying. They got my heart, they tore it into shreds and put it back in my body. Now I'm left with a wounded heart and I remember why I put that wall there in the first place. Because I love those kids so much and I can't do anything about it and if I don't protect myself the love I have for them will eat me alive. I'm scared to go back next week.