I have to admit that I forgot.
I started this job so long ago, I don’t remember what it is like to not know.
I am starting to hear back from people who have read Unattached. Some have said that they enjoy the mystery and quick pace, or they love the romantic tension between the two leads, and they are excited to continue with characters they enjoyed from Unprotected.
But I have also heard this:
“The abuse cases were awful. Does that stuff really happen?”
“The child abuse parts were hard to read.”
“I could never do your job.”
The comments caught me off-guard; I genuinely forgot that child abuse is hard to read about. And then that realization surprised me even more. When did child abuse become routine for me? Is this what happens to people who do this job for 20 years?
One of the major storylines of Unattached involves a case of a 2 year old who is severely beaten and suffers a brain injury and multiple broken bones. It is not a “typical” case–it is child abuse at its worst. I have only experienced a handful of such cases in my career, and they were anything but routine. There have been times when I fall asleep thinking about a kid on my caseload and wake up with that kiddo’s face still in my mind. Sometimes I meet with a kid and hear such awful things that all I can do is go back to my desk and stare at the wall. Terrible cases make it clear that child abuse still gets to me.
It reminds me of the story about frogs and their tolerance for heat. It has been said that if a frog that is dropped in boiling water, it will recognize the danger and jump out. But if a frog is placed in cool water and then the heat is slowly increased, it will never realize it’s getting hot and will die. .
I want to believe that those of us who last in child protection find a way to take a break from that boiling pot long enough to rest and restore, and hopefully to allow the water to cool down. Unfortunately, even when we get away from the cauldron of work, we can’t get away from the worries of whether we asked right questions or made the safest decisions. The hard part is that if we are going to stay in this job, we have to jump back in.
I wrote Unprotected and Unattached because I wanted to try to explain that heat–the worry about decisions made, the frustration about being misunderstood, the fear a child may get hurt again. I hope to give a glimpse of what is happening to kids and families in every community, every day. Writing these books was also therapeutic for me because I got to choose the ending, and I chose to find the resilience and the hope in the characters, just like I do in my clients.
Unprotected and Unattached can be found at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and some local bookstores. I hope readers will decide to jump in.