It's good to be able to write about something positive for a change. When I lost my job back in February 2013, and then became Mandy's carer, I soon realised that I still needed some form of employment.
There were three main reasons for this. The first was to have something to do and to get me out of the house, away from my caring role for a few hours. Mandy needs a fair level of care but not constant. It is usually in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. This gives me good scope for getting out for the bulk of the day. The second reason was to keep my working skills alive. Even if what I am doing is mundane, the process of having to go and do a job keeps a certain set of skills fresh. But most importantly, I wanted to contribute something back to society. I get allowances and benefits for being a home carer but I do not want to just take, take, take. I wanted to be a part of the world and help with it machinations.
As this blog has described, I found a job in a charity shop. Sadly, this shop closed in October last year and with my surgery beckoning, I was happy to wait until afterwards. I did however, find a position helping disabled people fight for their rights. I did a couple of months of training before my surgery with the intention of returning afterwards. When I did return, I found it incredibly difficult job to do. The environment was incredibly difficult to work in and the work itself was very tough going. I found that with my new emotional state, it was just too much for me at this time. I decided to resign although it was kept open to me to return.
Whilst this was happening, the idea of volunteering for my gender clinic was cleverly implanted into my by my therapist, Lynda. This was an interesting idea, one that appealed to me but also challenged my thinking at the same.
Why should such an idea challenge myself? Those that have followed me on this blog, and also my friends, will remember that have been some very difficult times at the clinic. There were quite a few buckets of tears shed in those familiar rooms there and more than once I rushed out of the place after my appointment crying. I made three formal complaints over the time and they were all accepted and (hopefully) dealt with. The place has history with me and the thought of returning to work there would once have seemed unthinkable.
But things move on and the clinic have made great efforts to admit their mistakes and improve. I have always said that Lynda was wholly responsible for turning it around for me and without her, I would never have made it to the end. She really did keep me in there and something I have sensed is a passion within her that goes beyond it simply being her job. I also must remember others there that have been helpful. Every time there was an incident, I always seemed to bump into the same therapist on my way out. She could always sense when something was amiss and spend a few minutes talking to me. The clinic manager too, always understanding when I had an issue, and apologetic when it did happen.
Perhaps too by volunteering there, I could put these past issues to rest. There was at least one member of the staff who I found difficult to even be in the same room as. This was unhealthy and by volunteering, I would have to speak to them. I could seriously sort some gremlins out for myself with this opportunity.
Yesterday I did a day of observation with one of the existing volunteers.This was just to see what the role encompassed as well as get an idea of how to conduct myself. Confidentiality is a priority, and my work at Samaritans has taught me the importance of that. Rest assured, nobody's story is going to be written about on here. In fact there is very little I feel I am able to write about yesterday once I had entered the clinic. My idea is that anything that happens beyond the clinic doors is not for disclosure to anyone.
It was good though to go to work, so to speak. To have to get up, get ready and drive to work felt satisfying. Not only that, but because of the parking charges, it made sense to use the park and ride in Exeter. I have not used a bus in nearly four years, although I have as Lucy but before I started actually transitioning. So even now, there is still the occasional first still cropping up!
I had lunch out with another new volunteer and it was good to swap stories of our transitioning. We are both at the same point and we shared many similarities in our approaches and experiences. Our journey through the clinic was vastly different however and this made for interesting conversation too.
The day came to an end and it back on the bus and then home. It was a long day, but it felt good to have done something again. I start properly next week, once a day although my upcoming holiday curtails that for a short time. In a way though, it will be something to look forward to on my return.