Tuesday, June 15, 2010

update on Rose

I haven't talked much about the situation at the senior center with "Rose" the woman who has been homeless for almost a year. Reason being, I'm frustrated, mostly with myself because there is nothing I can do (short of moving her into our home.) When I first met with Rose and we talked one on one she seemed comfortable and mentally stable. She shared a lot with me and it started to feel like a therapist/patient relationship which was a bit concerning because a lot of the things she would tell me, I had no idea how to handle. I had done some research on shelters and church based organizations for the homeless, all of which she claimed had already "been there, done that" and would never return. I didn't know what else to do, some of the people at the center advised it would be best to pull back a little because they felt that Rose would get too attached and subsequently upset because I was not offering up my home as an option. So that's what I did and have been doing. And it feels pretty shitty.

The woman who I work for has been keeping me informed on any progress made with the social workers and psychologist and it turns out Rose was diagnosed with Asperger's. The thing about this is that she qualifies for government aid and can live in a state run facility but again she won't go. And now she's been asking a few people if they would let her stay in their homes and when they gently refuse she gets really angry and has had some major meltdowns. After class I used to mill around and visit with people or sit and have lunch but lately I've been nervous because if I see Rose I just don't know what to say anymore. I'm avoiding the situation because I'm afraid she's going to ask to come home with me. I can't blame her for asking people to take her in - homeless shelters and institutions are typically not ideal places to live, but those are the options available to her at this time and if she does not want them then that is her decision and there's not much more to do.

So why do I still feel like a horse's ass?


Clippy Mat said...

couldn't that govt. aid work for her in paying for her own apartment in a sheltered living environment instead of the state run facility, or are they one and the same? I think you're doing a great job and something similar to this happened to me so I hear you. The thing is Rose will survive and don't be afrad to tell her that you don't have the answers you just want to help by listening to what she has to say.

K@tie said...

you feel like a horse's ass because you are a good person with a great heart. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I recognize those symptoms in someone around me. You can only do so much to help people and then they have to make the effort if they want things to change. If you do it for them, you're just enabling them.

Smileygirl said...

It feels like my heart is hardening. It's just so weird because from the get go I would tell her that I don't have the answers (like you said Clippy) and all I could do was try, that's why I presented her with some other options like the shelters and good will training, and she was soooo upset when I did that. I think the Asperger's contributes to her not really understanding that socially it's not acceptable to ask to live with a stranger but I don't think she grasps that. Plus she thinks of me now as a friend, or used to at least. But then it's like, OK she's homeless, lives in her car at night, how can one just turn their back on that? Then you realize that there are close to 10,000 homeless people here and actually a few more have showed up at the center since Rose so it's just a horrible cycle and makes you feel so helpless. Thanks for letting me just get some more thoughts out. I struggle with this daily and need to just bite the bullet and try to have another conversation with her but it just beats me to a pulp in sorrow and yet, I get to leave and come back to a nice home and she has nothing so how the heck must she feel?? UGH.

Kathleen said...

Hi Laura. This is hard. My mom was an Autism Specialist and helped many people with Aspergers. I know one of her dear friends works especially with those in crisis situations like Rose. Maybe I could ask her for some resources that other people didn't know about? I know as more people learn about Aspies there are more resources developed. It's worth a try. Until then I would recommend just explaining things logically to Rose if she asks to coem live with you. Often times Aspie people get upset because they feel no one understands them.

Old Lady in Training said...

Hi Laura,

I have followed your blog for awhile (mainly because Chumley is a kick). This post particularly struck me as I work in Seattle w/ Seniors. Have you given her information for the Arc of King County? Or even Senior Information and Assistance. I think Arc would probably be the most helpful.

Old Lady in Training said...

An addendum to my last comment:

Do not feel like you HAVE to help her. You need to be able to seperate and disengage for your own personal well being. Sometimes there's only so much you can do and when that happens you have to accept and acknowledge that that's enough!

Smileygirl said...

Ok I'm looking at the ARC of King county now and I will ask the social worker if this has been suggested to her yet. If it hasn't it may be something to consider but one of the things with Rose is that she does not want to leave West Seattle and there doesn't seem to be many resources outside of the city itself. Yet another struggle when you try to give her options! I really appreciate your insight on this. Thank you.

And Kathleen I think I am going to bite the bullet and just try to explain this again, event hough she may not understand me fully, at least then I can feel less like I'm abandoning her by avoiding the situation entirely. Disengaging is definitely the key here because the more I feel for her emotionally the harder it is to help or even be around the situation. I guess that's why social workers have no choice but to disengage otherwise it would consume their every thought, all day. Takes a very special person with a strong mind and loving heart to do their job. Don't know how they do it.

Clippy Mat said...

there aren't always answers, that's what I wanted to say earlier. I think supportive listening is the best way. Talking to someone else helps her to hear her own predicament and see things more clearly and can help her figure out (for herself) what her options are.
Good luck. you have a good heart.

karen gerstenberger said...

...Because you are one of the most compassionate persons I've ever met, and you have a huge, loving heart...Because you hate to see any creature, human or animal, hurting...Because you can't fix this, and that powerless feeling is the pits.
...Because you are you. But you do need to hold safe boundaries here. She has some options, and living with you is not going to be one of them.

Smileygirl said...

You're right Clippy, sometimes there are no answers and all one can do is just listen and offer friendship. That's about all I can give.

Karen, thank you. Wish I could give you a big hug.