The Day I Had Enough

“Fuck you! Fuck your momma and fuck your daddy! Don’t fucking talk to me. I don’t give no fucks anymore!”

I walk off down the hall, leaving the boy screaming obscenities behind me. He is 15 years old, abused and technically abandoned by his family.

I walk into the other room, my breath catching in my throat as panic attack tries to claw its way up. I stand in the doorway and look at the rest of the boys under my and my team’s care. They know what is coming.

“Y’all, I am so fucking sick of coming in here day after day and receiving nothing but constant abuse!” I hate that they can hear the tears in my voice, they know I can barely breath. “I am tired of giving my all to y’all and y’all just take and take. So don’t ask me for anything, don’t call me no ‘mom’ or ‘sister’ or nothing because I’m done! I just want y’all to want to change but if you don’t, why am I busting my ass everyday dealing with this bullshit? So when you don’t see me suddenly and you wonder why I quit, look in the mirror and you’ll see the reason right there!”

I drop the proverbial mic and walk into the shared staff office and grab my car keys. My friend and teammate walks in after me.

“You OK? Don’t let these kids get to you. They’re fucked up themselves.”

“I know. I just need some air and I need to change, God, this sweater is so hot! And I need to take out these contacts. I’m sorry. I’ll be right back.”

I buzz myself out the front door and swallow fresh air, my lungs finally opening up.

I know it’s not my best moment but I don’t care. At the moment, I just want to allow the tears to flow and, yes, I feel like a weak ass bitch but I don’t care about that either.

I spent two years caring for other people’s kids, and not just any kids but developmentally delayed kids, and not just any developmentally delayed kids but kids who all have deviant sexual behaviors, most of them rapists and juvenile delinquents. Not the easiest job out there.

I am tired of putting their needs before mine. I am tired of putting my dreams to the side for the benefit of others. I’m done.

I call my husband and cry my eyes out, fussing and not making much sense but he listens anyway, making soft comforting noises, understanding my pain, validating my actions and words, begging me to come home.

But I can’t. Because as much as my mental health is suffering, I love my team and I can’t abandon them. I need to be there for them just like Shanice was there for me after having her hair pulled out and Alex was there after being punched in the face twice.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the kids at all because you can’t change years of neglect and suffering. It’s about helping each other through this mess we call work. We all started the job with optimism but after 6 months it’s about the paycheck. It’s sad but it’s money.

So I get off the phone, I take some deep breaths, I clean up my make up, and I buzz myself back in.

The children greet me like puppies with tails between their legs.

An hour later, I put a 16 year old autistic kid in a headlock. I contact my manager and call off.