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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going UP!

My's feeling neglected. For the first time in four and a half years, I can't seem to make adequate time for this blogging thing. It's not that my kids have become any less cute, as you can see by their little mugs. It's not that they don't still say just the cutest things, like the other day when we pulled into the local big name discount store. We decided to take the whole fam as we were out doing other things and needed a few this and thats from the big name discount store. It was Saturday night. Yeah, I know. That's how exciting thing are in my life these days. Stuffmart on Saturday night with the kids. Whatever. So we pulled in the parking lot at around 7 pm, and it didn't take long for me to start grumbling about how crazy it is that the place is soooooo busy even on Saturday nights. Apparently lots of people around these parts have really exciting lives.

Dear Daughter piped up from the middle row of the family mobile, "Maybe they are just attracted here because the sign says, 'Always Low Prices!'" I don't think I had consciously read or retained what the front of the store said on their signage. My little precocious one who began reading at age four certainly did, however. And then used the word "attracted" in her sentence quite effectively.

Life certainly is crazy lately. I thought summer would feel calmer, and I suppose it does to some extent. You will recall that last summer, almost exactly a year ago, the crap started hitting the fan around here. I think the dust has just begun to settle nearly a year later.

A year ago I decided to make a career change. Not in the practice of what I actually do as a private practice licensed psychotherapist, but just where I decided to do it. I had been providing individual, family, and group therapy services at an area group home for teen girls for 3 1/2 years. I did this consistently for those 3 1/2 years along with other varieties of work, which used to be teaching at a local university and then more recently doing office based community counseling. But in the past two or so years of my work at the group home, it had become the largest portion of my career, and at times the only work I was doing. These are girls that typically come with a very long list of issues. Girls who have been in the foster system for nearly all their lives with more foster placements than they can count. Girls who've been removed from their birth parents for a variety of reasons including parents' drug addictions, being beaten, raped, molested, and any other form of abuse you can imagine. Sometimes being prostituted by their own mothers to support their mothers' drug habits. They are 17 years old on average by the time I get a hold of them at the group home. Some of them come with histories of problems with the law from mild things like shoplifting to things like drug posession, running away, assault, etc. They often have severe conduct problems and severe emotional problems. They come by their problems legitimately as the result of a culture of parents who have failed to instill a sense of love, belonging, and value into their childrens' souls. As much as my heart breaks for them, their issues and the intensity of their lashing out exhausts me at times. I become a safe person for them over time, and this often makes me a person with whom they can express their anger. It's not unusual for me to become a mis-placed target for their angry attacks. I know how to compartmentalize this stuff and I can rationalize that it comes with the territory.

Last summer, however, was a turning point. Last summer one of my teenagers there decided to take her life by hanging herself. I think the combination of this experience along with the especially difficult caseload I carried there during that time wore me down to the point of needing a change for the sake of my own mental health. Little did I know that there was to be no rest in sight for me. Oh fact, things were going to get MUCH MUCH worse over the next several months.

Unfortunately, the path I chose was a lot like when Alice fell in the rabbit hole, only much much more hellish. It appeared at first to be such a good move and turned into the worst nightmare of my life. I've never been treated so poorly. You wouldn't expect this from people in the human services field. It was insane, and I certainly felt at times like I was losing my mind! It was exhausting to phase out of my practice at the group home and my other small office based practice and move it to this new group in the first place. I partner with more than a dozen insurance groups and third party payors. The red tape to move and re-establish with new tax ids and national provider identifiers and addresses and the like is insane. Each of those dozen plus groups I partner with have their own set of rules. Two months into my work with this new group I started to see some really bad signs, and I started feeling uneasy. To add to the stress, we learned at this time that my husband was to be laid off (which never happened, despite the loss of certain benefits and bonuses). I only made it five months total before I ran screaming from that group. I lost more money in that particular decision than I care to think about, and forget about peace of mind. It was pure hell the whole way through. I'm TIRED! Really really tired!

Meanwhile, after running from the hell I'd endured for 5 months, I decided I was done contracting with groups. I have yet to find a group who can run a smooth business and have their act together. I realized after seeing this in multiple private practices that it took me more time and effort to babysit things to be done correctly than it would take for me to just do it all myself. So that's what I did. Within 10 days of terminating my work with the clinic from hell, I had my own private practice launched. I launched my practice March 3rd, and I'm just now at the end of all the red tape involved to uproot and move my affiliations with the various third party payers AGAIN! For now, I am managing all aspects of my business, including all billing, bookkeeping, and administrative duties along with the therapy duties. And I recently agreed to return to do ONE therapy group at the teen group home where I previously worked. Would you believe me if I said I missed those girls? So there's been no rest.

We managed to finish a year of homeschooling last spring despite all this insanity, and I've been busy lesson planning for the next year whenever I can steal some moments. I must be organized for next year in order for it to work. Dear Daughter will join a homeschooling group in the area where I can drop her off one afternoon a week and she will get art, drama, music, and PE classes.

In light of my current life circumstances, blogging has just not risen to the top of my list of things to do. My top priorities at the moment include getting that birthday party planned for my little girl who has coveted a party with little girlfriends for months now. Her big day will finally arrive in a few short weeks. She began inviting people to her birthday party since last December. Even random strangers she has just met in the park have gotten invited. *sigh* Next on my list are enjoying my family, getting the homsechool year mapped out, and managing my private practice.

This, my friends, is why I don't frequent this space as often anymore. I often think those days of round the clock feedings were so much easier than this. I can't promise I'll make it back more often, but I do expect the dust to continue to settle in my life as I work at forgetting the former things and moving forward into new things! It's been a rough year in so many ways with little room left for going "down," so I figure there's nowhere to go now but "up"!

We have managed to have some fun this summer, too. Here's the fam in front of the word's largest banjo. Dear Son has been completely potty trained for months now. WOOOHOOO! But he has developed this annoying habit of grabbing himself all the time. So glad it got recorded in a family pic.

And here's Dear Husband helping the kids with arcade bowling, which they both thought sounded like so much fun. Until they got a few rounds into the game and lost interest. Husband and I finished the game off, and I smoked him.


Zip n Tizzy said...

I'm tired just reading this.
Those periods of our life where it feels like nothing more can happen and then it does are so challenging, and yet it seems we grow so much through them, if we can ever come up for air enough to see the growth.
It sounds like you're getting a handle on it, and I admire all you're doing.
Heck. I feel like I don't give enough attention to my blog just while keeping up with regular daily life.
Looks to me like you are doing it great!

LeAnna said...

So good to see you guys. Kristin you look great! You all do. Missing you!

LeAnna said...

I feel the same way about my blog but I'm so glad you got me blogging, thanks again!