Sunday, October 22, 2017

Difficult behaviour NOT a difficult person.

We had many incidents. All about working with people on the edge. 
I share some with you to paint a little picture of real life living in this large community. 
The Sledgehammer weighed 10 kilos and 
we were planning to use it on the door of a young person’s room 
in our 150 bed YMCA Hostel. 
John had barricaded his room and it had all gone quiet for some time.
We were worried because of his threatened suicide.

“John we are worried about you – just make a noise – turn on the radio – anything to tell us you are ok.” 
We left it for a short while. John doesn’t communicate. 
He can speak but life has damaged him in such a way that he does not relate.
It has taken six months of saying “Hello John” and raising my thumbs
with a smile to get him to produce a slight waving of his thumb. 
At nineteen he walks slowly around as if in desperate fear. 
Time was up – “John we have to break down the door so do not be afraid of the noise,” said Dave, our youngest professional, who works closely and affirmingly with him. 
The door was then smashed out of its frame – a painful noise permeating all eleven floors of the YMCA. 
It had to be  knocked downwards, being held by a bed at the bottom. 
Eventually I lifted the splintered door out of the horrible gap with a range of fearful expectations in my heart. 
The room was in darkness – smashed up - trashed - every item.

John was standing in the farthest corner – crying – shaking with his sobs. 
“Don’t worry John, you are ok now,” said Dave 
“It’s you we are concerned about”. 
Dave sat on the floor. 
John sat on the end of his bed and the real work began, 
while I went for cups of tea and biscuits – John likes biscuits.

John is one of over 6,000 members and residents and an extreme example of someone in need. 
A number of others display behaviour, 
which is not submissive but aggressive and more painful to deal with. 
However difficult it is, I believe that: -

     There are no difficult people
     Only difficult behaviour

John is unfit in a different way than others of us – 
yet he needs ‘development’ not ‘control’. 
He is being worked with by Dave and others and a regular thumbs up smile from me.

     “Dave sat on the floor and John sat on the bed”

I was moved by this act of Dave my colleague,
and I delight in the picture stamped in my mind. 
Dave sat below John, 
a place lower in the rubble of a smashed room, 
taking the position of vulnerability. 
I weep as I conclude – joy and sadness.

     See from his head, his hands, his feet
     Sorrow and love flow mingled down.