Here I am working in the ER during an ice storm reading fragmented writing drafts from last August about how awful my experience was here during those first six months. And about the adjustment of procuring new name: confusing. And, most recently, the evolution of this weird life we have in Indy put into perspective by a visit to Belize. So, in my 7th hour of a 16+ hour shift during snowpocolypse 2011, after having watched all the episodes of SATC I brought with me, and after eating my lunch and dinner in the first 45 minutes, I have nothing left to do but talk with myself on the internet for a while and draw some kind of insight.
It’s kind of a let down, working. In the ER. At night. Where I continue to be initiated, which is the worst.
I thought it would be magical. But nobody trusts you till they trust you. And just when you think you’re almost good at something, you find out a baby you believed was at the fire station (because that’s what the girl told you) is actually in a box on the side of an interstate. Or, your own department believes you conspired with the ol’ manager to resist 12-hour shifts. You didn’t. 12-hour shifts mean less work days! Or, like, due to the shift thing, a handful of well-known staff are now circulating the rumor that you’re rude, per the departmental lady with the most seniority who really wanted those blasted 12-hour shifts. Plus, you were hired before the interns, who’d provided a year of unpaid service before you so obliviously accepted the open position they now can’t accept. Everyone comes from the same school, except you. And where did you come from, anyway? Ohhhh, New Orleans? Do you think that makes you special? They hate you.
You think you’re paranoid. You ask, am I paranoid? The nice ones say, nope. This is real.
Fake complaints come in, and the nice co-workers from other units who like you say: B, just ignore it. There’s nothing you can do. The nice people invite you to lunch and movie nights and things, thank goodness. Because without them, in this new city with this new job in this new home with this new husband (who also works in this place), your little social work wings might get all crumpled up and you might always wonder if there is chocolate pudding on your face as you round the ER, because in your normal life there is always something chocolate on your face, and this is your normal life only it’s the naked-dream or chocolate-pudding face part. You don’t feel comfortable being yourself, which has always been your secret weapon: being yourself. I mean, you’re funny and likeable, right? You are. (Right?) You are.
No one here thinks I’m funny. I’m recalling that Hallmark card with the little lamb wearing a red bow tie and a thousand other lambs not wearing a bow tie looking at the one lamb like he’s an idiot. The caption: “Adding to my misery. No one here thinks I’m funny.”
That’s me. A lamb in a bow tie, here.
Oh. And then there’s the issue of my name: Amanda Brooke Wilson Hartman.
First name: Amanda, but answers to “Brooke”. At Doctor’s offices, the library, the licence branch, Grad school, etc. I almost always adhere to the following script:
What’s your name?
Brooke Wilson. I mean, Amanda. Well it might be under Amanda, but I go by Brooke, so maybe check both.
Or, waiting to get my flu shot:
Everyone looks around.
Oh! Me! That’s me. I’m Amanda Wilson.
Over the years I’ve accepted that the name Amanda, although foreign, when combined with Wilson, means me: Brooke. But then I went and got married. Now my name is Brooke Hartman. At Doctor’s offices, the library, the licence branch, work, etc. the script becomes:
What’s your name?
Brooke Wilson. I mean, Hartman. Brooke Hartman. Well, it might be under Wilson. I just got married, so maybe check both.
You see where I’m going with this. I recognize Amanda Wilson. I recognize Brooke Hartman. But God help me when I am at work, on the phone with insurance agents, making a Doctor’s appointment, at the library, at the licence branch, even signing my own paperwork, and someone asks: What’s your name?
I mean, Hartman. Brooke Hartman.
I mean, Amanda.
Amanda Brooke Wilson.
Wait, Amanda Brooke Hartman.
Okay. Can you just look all these up: Amanda Brooke Wilson Hartman?
I smile, they look at me like I’m an identity thief
So. Here’s the kicker. Post-marriage, my work email is Amanda Hartman 1. Whaaaa? Who the H is Amanda Hartman?
There’s something unnerving about not being able to be yourself at a place you don’t even recognize your own name, am I right?
I’ve come to the following conclusion: Amanda Hartman must be that pudding-face ER social worker who is incompetent and hates those stupid 12-hour shifts.
Me? I’m Brooke. I’m a good social worker, and everyone likes me.
In January, I went to Belize. Big surprise. It had been a year since I was last there doing my professional project. I worked with the only social worker in BZE employed by the Ministry of Education, and provided a compilation manual of coping exercises to be facilitated with kids who had witnessed or experienced violence. I trained a lot of staff, worked with a lot of sad kids, and the project was amazing. The resources transferred perfectly, the improvements were documented on paper, I made great friends and colleagues, and I walked away feeling like I could do that type of work for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, God didn’t get my order right, and I ended up working in a hospital, providing bus tickets and violent crime compensation applications to people who are dealing with things like: gunshot wound to penis.
As expected, the adjustment to my job at the hospital was hard, and the learning curve was steep, and while the work here is equally as important, there are moments I find myself staring at the lady in the waiting room who is demanding an apple and a cab ride, dreaming about this oh-so-meaningful life I once had of facilitating coping-skills groups at schools and providing 1:1 counseling with kids who really show progress and growth, whose grief and trauma indicators decline, like, on paper, where co-workers are encouraging, and my actual developed God-given skills are put to use. Do you know how many times I’ve had to say to people here at the hospital: I’m good at things. Maybe not this, but other things. For example, counseling a 10-year-old whose dad has just committed suicide. Her grades went from Ds to Bs. Or a 5-year-oldo who saw his mom murdered. Or a 14-year-old who is real scared of hurricanes. True, though, I don’t know how to get a nebulizer at 2am on Thanksgiving night.
(Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this)
So I go to Belize, and I sit down in my old supervisor’s office, and she asks me about work. I say all the good and exciting stuff first. You know, all that crazy ER stuff. Then there’s a lull. Then I explain how lucky I am to have a job at all. Then I slump a little lower. Then I get all teary-eyed for no reason. Then I admit: nothing I’ve learned or done or created is being used at home. My binders and manuals and therapeutic games are in a tub in my garage. My best skills are untapped. This treasure of a manual I really believe in is going unused when there are a million kids in this city who could benefit. For example: the kid of gunshot-wound-to-penis guy. Or the brother of 12-year-old sudden death girl. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know how to not be. This is where God put us. This is where I have to be.
So she gets up and opens the file cabinet. She pulls out like 158 files and spreads them out on the desk. I start opening them one by one. They’re drawings and colorings and narratives and “about me” pages full of all the tools and resources I left there in Belize filled out and helping 158+ kids. She says, “Your work is being used here, Brooke. Every day.”
(Full-fledged tears, you can imagine.)
It appears that God doesn’t need a person in order to use a person. It also appears that sometimes we don’t know we’ve been used, and many times we don’t get to see the outcome. Except me. For an hour and a half, I got to see those files. I don’t even know those kids. I guess my role in the plan was never to be the hands and feet. Maybe I was just the transporter.
I can feel okay about that. I’ll just make J play all my therapeutic games. And I’ll trust that God knows my heart, and knows our needs, and will provide for all accordingly.
(I mean, but could He hurry?)
24 thoughts on “Lamb in a bow tie, here.”
Fabulous . Love you and miss you, my Brooke-friend. I have never been confused about who you are.
(Only your name for that one minute or two in New Student Orientation).
funny! Miss you too :)
i like this one brooke. actually i love it. great to hear your heart and that’s a really good lesson for all of us. i laughed and i got tears in my eyes. keep at it. He just asks us to be obedient. miss you lots dear! xxoo
You are awesome. I actually got teary eyed reading about the 153 files.
Thanks guys. Micah- snow day #3?! Wow.
Brooke, you make me cry.
hey, for the record, you’re funny. really funny, even.
You have such a great way with your words! Thanks for sharing! Amanda or whatever the heck your name is! :)
dude, you need to get stuck at work more often.
You want those children & any other lives you’ve touched, Brooke, to see Jesus in you, anyway ! Someday, I believe you’ll know just how many lives you’ve
touched ! :) Even back when you were 9 or 10, you wanted to take a little turtle hom…e & care for it ! :) You’re beautiful inside & out ! :) I appreciated you sharing, “Lamb in a bow tie.” :) I love the way you make us smile ; sometimes through tears. :)
Excellent, and I could so relate working in case management. Every day is a challenge and more than once I leave one challenge and face another and on the walk between I talk to the Lord and ask Him “why am I here and what is it I am supposed to do.” It’s hard to make sense of the rapid pace, endless needs, and craziness of a fallen world. Some day Brooke we’ll hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.” Proud of you Brooke. God is using you. You’re special.
Brooke, you really are amazing. I was truly blessed as I read your story. Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us. And I agree with Sprinkey…you are really funny! Love you bunches! Roti
Brooke, You are gifted in so many ways. But what I am enjoying right at this very minute is your writing skills. And yes, you are VERY funny. Thanks for making me laugh out loud on this, day 3, of being snowed in. Loved watching you grow up into the woman that God has planned you to be. Bless you!
Hi Brooke, my name’s Kelli, I’m one of your mom’s students at C.A.T.S. When I told her I wanted to be a mental health missionary, she said that’s kind of what you do and sent me this link for your blog.:) I love your writing, and everything you said was very encouraging to me. I know you’re in Belize right now, so I’ll be praying for you and that God will use you in wonderful ways.:) I hope we can meet some day, I’d really like to hear more stories and about your education and everything.
His, Kelli Klaus
Those durn’d sheep without bow ties. What’s up with them anyways?
For reals. I think of this card all the time in my measuring of how much or little I fit into a place- Nepal & Vegas? All bow ties. So many other daily situations I find myself looking around like, no one here thinks I’m funny… Then I imagine my little sheep self in my little bow tie and I’m all what’s WRONG with these people?!
You are awesome. Sometimes people suck. I really hope I wasn’t one of them…I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m on of “the upstairs girls.” I can’t read all of this tonight…I’m not sure if I read it in 2011. But even though I suck at communication, I value you. I like to believe we learned from each other, and I do believe we are both great social workers. And still, sometimes people just suck. Love you!
Erica, you know you’ve always been all bow tie!
Love! Especially since this is how I feel. Definitely, “can He hurry”
I don’t think you’ve even considered the ministry that you have with this blog. You really touch a lot of people by just writing down the things we all deal with in some way in our own lives. God indeed uses us in ways we don’t always know about. Have a Merry Christmas and let’s get together for that dinner soon!
Heather, I’m looking forward to the dinner :)
I agree with Heather. What you write really touches me and I know touches many others, I can relate. There is great healing in relating. Thanks Brooke.
Thanks guys, I agree there IS great healing in relating, and whenever I write something that resonates with someone else, it feels like we’re both affirmed. (Which really just speaks to our universal needs to be heard and understood, to matter and to belong.)