Thursday, May 13, 2010
Four months ago, I became the facilitator to a support group I attend with my daughter. We meet every Wednesday evening at the hospital for about an hour. It gets us out of the house and gets us talking about our problems. I got the job because the lady running the group, quit. She found it too time consuming, and it was interfering with her real job. She had only been there six or seven months herself… (the facilitator before her, had a nervous breakdown.) I’m not sure why, but I offered to step in and take the reins. Shortly after I stepped into her shoes, I began to understand her dilemma. It is an overwhelming responsibility, to be in charge. There is so much to do, to take care of business. Emails to answer, ads to place, phone calls to decipher, brochures to gather, handouts to copy, etc. Plus all the time it takes to do these things. Each week is a crapshoot. There is no way to determine who will show up and who won’t. Sometimes we have a full house and other times, less than a handful. Building attendance has been a BIG problem. It’s easy to get discouraged when you show up each week, but nobody else does. Sometimes when people, show up, they want to talk and things just naturally flow, throughout the course of a meeting. Other times, my job to MOVE the meeting along... becomes very necessary. I try to incorporate stories from the national and local news, along with information from the Internet, to spark conversation. Some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t. When things are moving slow as molasses... and the hour seems longer than a day, I want to pull my hair out. I can’t force these people to share, if they don’t want to. But without their input, we have no meeting. So… I’ve found, by offering to end the meeting early, they either agree to say goodnight, sooner than intended... or the conversation usually picks up again. When a session goes well… I can see the appreciation in folk’s eyes. And I’m humbled by the notion… I’m helping, just a little. Unfortunately, things went terribly wrong, last night. A random incident changed everything. Because of confidentiality, I can’t go into details here. But generally speaking, someone had a meltdown and became threatening. It was frightening. I handled it as well as I could, given the circumstances. But since I can’t control who is permitted to attend the meetings... the fear is, something like this, could happen again. To be frank, I don’t get paid for this gig and it isn’t worth risking my life, or the lives of others. I don’t want the emotions it triggered in everyone there, to resurface on another night. And the hospital doesn’t want to be liable. So… with a heavy heart and the hospital’s encouragement, the group will be disbanded. I am devastated for all who participated. I’ll miss the regulars and the free valet parking… but to tell you the truth... I'm happy to be retired once again.