When I Was Twenty

When I was twenty, I lived at the independence training home for disabled young adults in my parents’ city. I had had one particular assigned staff member for the first year that I lived there, but due to my challenging behavior, she refused to be my assigned staff any longer. I was fine with this, because I couldn’t get along with her anyway. Instead, the team coordinator became my assigned staff.

Over the next six months, we developed quite a strong bond. I started to feel like I could be myself with her. That was rather unusual, as I’d never felt like I could be myself with any outside person at all. I started to show her bits of my inner world, started to be vulnerable with her.

Then she went on vacation. When she came back, she informed me she could no longer be my assigned staff. I don’t remember her reasoning, but it was related to both her workload and our relationship.

I think back often to this staff now that my assigned staff at the care facility is leaving. It feels as though she’s rejecting me, just like the other one rejected me. After all, shortly after that staff could no longer be my assigned staff, I had to leave the training home.

I have been flooded with memories from when I was twenty again. I try to remember I’m 36 now, but attachment loss is still as difficult as it ever was.

In truth, I should have learned my lesson back then when I was still young: care staff are not there to stay. Don’t be vulnerable with them.

This post was written for Five Minute Friday, for which the prompt this week is “twenty”.

16 thoughts on “When I Was Twenty

  1. It sounds really painful. On the one hand, you want to let your guard down. On the other, to them, it’s still work. But trust and vulnerability are critical to good care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for wording the dilemma so eloquently. That’s exactly right: on the one hand, I want (need?) to be vulnerable in order to receive good care, but on the other, to my staff, caring for me is still just their job.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a useful reminder that these people are staff, not friends. They’ll have a whole other life beyond what you see.
    My daughter works in healthcare and here they are notoriously low paid, they often flit betweeen jobs to marginally better conditions. Because ultimately none of them are brilliant jobs. Retention is terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Though rationally I understand your point of view, all this makes me want to leave care entirely and only surround myself with people not paid to associate with me (ie. just my husband). That’s not realistic though and it makes me really sad. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t trust my staff as much as I did this one, because I should trust only my husband. However, the reality is my staff (this one specifically and certainly the staff in general) see me far more often than my husband does, so maybe I need to keep my guard up until I see my husband once a week at most.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand your point. What you say is perfectly reasonable.
        In my case, it would make me uncomfortable to think of my wife as the only person. It’s that word “only”. But I have one or two friends outside of my marriage.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry for this painful situation that seems to be repeating again and again. 😦 It does seem you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place (as we say in the U.S.; I assume you have that saying as well?). To receive optimal care, you need to be vulnerable, but to be vulnerable opens you up to hurt down the road when the person leaves. I hope you’ll find the right balance between continuing to allow yourself to be open to the next staff person, yet still allowing space for some self-protection as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so difficult when these kinds of situation just keep repeating like that as if in a cycle, and very painful, given that you don’t really have a straightforward way out of this. You can’t just completely stop being vulnerable with the staff because you depend on them and they’re there to help you fulfill your needs, but that means it’s very easy for them to hurt you even totally unintentionally, because they’re just people with their own feelings too, and for them it’s just work, even if they like what they do and they like you and genuinely want to help and support you. I kind of wish there was something like a hybrid of professional staff who can also be a bit like a friend, although it’s obviously totally unrealistic because how would it even work. I just hope that you wonn’t have to deal with something like this all over again in the future because I think this could have the potential to affect many people regardless of their past experiences, let alone someone like you who has a history of attachment trauma so you totally don’t need all those recurring issues with the staff on top of everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for supporting me. Indeed, it’s impossible for me to stop being vulnerable with my staff, because well I am dependent on them, but this fact of me depending on them also means they can abandon me (even if their leaving isn’t about me, as with this current staff( when they want to and they won’t be affected as much as I will be.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read your post yesterday, Astrid, but did not have a chance to comment. But you were on my heart often last evening. I have been praying about your situation. I know it is a tough one….and am praying that the transition will go smoothly and that your new staff support will be a friend and a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Thankfully, I’ve known my new assigned staff from the beginning of my moving into this home, which must’ve been a challenge for the manager because she’s one of only three left from the original team I got to know when moving in here in September of 2019. Thankfully, my old assigned staff didn’t end up rejecting me really either. I mean, it felt like it because she was leaving suddenly, but she’s allowing me to E-mail her when I feel like it. That way, we can remain in touch and not just through her former colleagues. Thanks so much for the prayers.


  6. From the care staff’s perspective, it’s a bit like working personal protection. Though it sounds and feels counterintuitive, developing a personal relationship with one’s principal actually degrades the quality of service; one can’t see the bigger picture and respond to threats as quickly.

    This is not to say that principals don’t feel vulnerable, and express it; they certainly do, and the PPD chap has to exercise a compassion that is warmer than professional without crossing the line into real empathy.

    It’s not easy, because when you want to keep someone alive, you do want to like that person as a friend, but it’s a disservice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand your point of view. I’m not in a nursing home or physically in fragile health, but I’ve definitely been in dangerous situations due to my mental illness. In that sense, I understand your point applies even more, as it could lead to vicarious trauma if my staff were too empathetic. Like a police officer whose memoir I’m currently reading, wrote, a suicidal person asked her whether she was getting sad because he wanted to die. “ No,” she said, “because I want to help you.”


  7. I’n so sorry that this painful experience from when you were younger has repeated. It does seem like there’s no easy answer. I pray that the right staff person will help you balance the vulnerability and professional relationship you need to really thrive.

    I appreciated your perspective on my post as well – it’s an unfortunate reality that not all young people have family that can be trusted to care for them and guide them. Hopefully there are other mentors who can stand in the gap – helping each other whether we’re related by blood or not!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I feel especially sad about this reality of care staff leaving (and understandably so, because well it’s just their job), because in my own case it was clear from a young age that I’d be left to my own resources once I’d graduated high school and the only reason it didn’t actually happen till 21 was because of the training home I decided to go to.


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