It is an oxymoron: social work.
Most of it is just work. I kill trees and process claims and write detailed notes that don’t reveal anything social.
I don’t write about how you smell or if you swore at me or if I genuinely like you. I document the purpose of our encounter, and the plan of action based on your wants and needs and the menu of options I’m authorized to offer.
It is boring. I kill trees. I have scars from paper cuts because file folders are thin and sharp. I have 4 bottles of hand sanitizer in reach because people are germ vehicles and I don’t have a fondness for the creeping crud. I have named my printer -I have not named my cpu because then I would feel guilty hovering cups of water over it and making threats to pour if the server speed doesn’t rev up.
The WORK part of social work is only about as amusing as getting vaccinated. .. for smallpox.
And so, I entertain my own self – ala the water torture and my computer.
I am surrounded by other social workers who have the same dilemma- inherently our work is mentally and emotionally exhausting – but Ms. Lauper informed me that girls just wanna have fun and social work is primarily a girls’ game.
The untold story that makes social work survivable is the workers. We are social people.
Workers have seen it and heard it all.
We are not hot messes ( well, there was that one time with me) but we have cleaned up a few.
We know who is on drugs, being beaten up, doing the beating, about to go off the grid, living double lives, living in stolen cars and selling their bodies to buy baby formula.
Social workers of all kinds regularly pull a poker face and look at the cards delt to our clients and tell them to fold, hit or bluff.
And then we get up from our desks and walk out into the world as citizens again and our black and white perspectives go Technicolor (c).
●There is a 400 pound dominatrix who was a coworker, not a client.
●3 pregnant teens graduated college to become social workers
●one man stopped in at the profession on his way to becoming get a fundamentalist preacher who disapproved of Mother Teresa
● 911 dispatch person who mistook this as less stressful
● secret tattoos peer out from office attire
● the newlywed having an affair with a coworker
● the phone sex operator
● the wife of a Russian criminal
● scout troop leaders
● the television evangelist
● the child abuser
● the medical student (who did homework at her desk)
All of these people have worked beside me and shared my title. We don’t talk about or clients outside of work, because there are so many other topics the involve US.
Case Management is about clients and we have no power in those dynamics. Our own lives are where the Social portion comes in. We are a global support group (except for when I anonymously reported the child abuser :I have standards).
The SOCIAL in the work is what kept me from burning out.