I made it to my final meeting with ‘D’ at Rethink last Tuesday morning. It was hard, very hard and at times a slightly awkward meeting. I had 10 minutes with ‘D’ first to talk about how things were and how I was feeling about everything. After that very awkward interchange of painful thoughts and feelings she asked “do you feel ready to meet ‘H’ yet?” I heard myself say, without even thinking, “I don’t think I’ll ever feel ready to meet her”. So she then introduced her replacement ‘H’ to the meeting. I was shocked to discover how young she is. ‘D’ was around my age which is probably why I was able to get such a rapport with her. ‘H’ is very young, only early 20’s. She came in and sat down and did my pet hate – sat with her arms folded all the way through. That shocked me all the more. Anyone who knows what they’re doing knows to keep their body language open. Folded arms are just about the most off putting thing for me. I really do not get along with folded arms because it sets me on edge and sends out all the wrong messages. It was something I learned very early as a youth worker to keep my body language open. Closed body language is a big no-no. I didn’t think much of that but I tried to put it out of my mind as ‘D’ launched into a recap of the work we’ve done during the past 4 months.
‘D’ did a very good and positive recap of the important things we’re talked about and learned. ‘H’ just sat and listened. She didn’t comment or ask any questions which I didn’t expect. I was expecting her to ask questions. BUT it was helpful and encouraging to be reminded of the good work we did together and the progress I made. At the moment I feel like I’ve been brought to a sudden halt.
After about half an hour ‘D’ said “why don’t you and ‘H’ go out for a mooch around the shops for a few minutes, have a short relaxed kind of get to know you time, what do you think?’ I realised that ‘D’ was closing things down. I just nodded and got up to go. I heard ‘D’ say “I really wish you all the very best for the future.” Then I heard myself jerk out “I wish you well too”. Then that was it, a few minutes later I went out the door with ‘H’.
As we walked down the street and around the shops I noticed ‘H’ still had her arms folded the whole time. It really did my head in. I just do not do folded arms! There may be something deeper about folded arms that it’s hooking into that I don’t consciously know about.
There were many questions I wanted to ask ‘H’ but the only one I found the courage to ask was how long she’d been working at Rethink for. She said “oh about 5 weeks” so she’s very new in role. We had a short mooch around the shops but felt awkward and strained and found it hard to relate to her and I was relieved when she said she had to go back to the office because she had someone booked to see her.
Maybe I’m struggling to relate to her because she’s so much younger than me and I’m finding it really hard to transition from ‘D’. I still can’t accept I won’t see ‘D’ again. I’m finding it very hard to take in or accept. But I know that her closed body language is a real barrier to me too!
Later that afternoon I had a counselling session with ‘T’ which was really useful. I was able to discuss with her how I’ve been feeling really bad for feeling really bad about it all. After all ‘D’ is ill and it must be really serious for her to have to quit work. I feel that I can’t be angry and hurt as someone for being genuinely ill. But I do feel very hurt, angry, betrayed, resentful and bewildered.
My next meeting at Rethink is this coming Tuesday afternoon. It is my 3-monthly review which would have been between ‘D’ and another staff member. So now it will be between ‘H’ and another staff member. It’s not going to be an easy meeting but I hope to come out of it with some clarity of where I go from here in terms of support from Rethink. I also hope to come out of that meeting feeling a bit more positive about it.