THE BLOG
04/11/2014 02:34 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2014

Becoming the Healing Vigilante: Part 2

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"You know what they say, if their lips are moving, they're lying," Barbie snapped at me.

Introducing antagonist number three -- in just my first day. Barbie entered the scene like a powerful gust of resentful wind, with a condescending smile on her face. She was one of the drug counselors, about 60, tall, thin, with a little baby voice. She seemed to thrive off of projecting her crap onto everybody - and I was no exception, bestowing upon me instant contempt.

We met in the morning. Her first words as she peered down through old lady glasses and red lipstick were, "Great, another unlicensed therapist. I'll just keep making minimum wage and go screw myself." Then she made a "spfflt" sound and wished me good luck in the sweetest, most disdainful way, which described her personality perfectly: swinging wildly from sweet to angry. She nicknamed me "normie" (a person who has never been addicted to anything) and freely called me that in front of the inmates, which was a profound example of her horrible boundaries.

"Whatever she said is a bunch of BULL!" she barked with venom. The person Barbie was referring to was Lorna, an inmate I heard the front desk attendant chastise when I first arrived.

I met Lorna after lunch when I was walking towards the big double doors that separated us from the inmates. I had paused for a moment to take in the scene outside in childcare: an adorable little African American boy with braids riding happily on a tricycle with one pedal, while an inmate with a really bad neck tattoo chatted with an employee while pushing another child on a swing. I heard a quiet, exasperated voice calling my name.

Lorna was 20 but looked younger; she wore a hairnet and plastic gloves. She was supposed to be on kitchen duty. I was telling her to go back when she began to cry.

"Miss Aimee, please, just listen. I've been here almost two weeks. I've been waiting for Miss Barbie to let me call my daughter. She is only four and is with my mother who I know is using meth. No one knows that - um - well except Miss Barbie, but please don't say anything. Miss Barbie says if we do then Angel will get sent to a home. But I'm scared she ain't no better with my mom. She should be here with me... and, um, Miss Barbie, she's supposed to let me call the social worker every day to check about it and she doesn't help me -- I only have another two weeks and if she don't come here, I'll get rolled up back to prison and lose my daughter forever! PLEASE HELP ME, I don't wanna do drugs no more, I WANT MY BABY -- "

Lorna cried harder. I felt my chest start to ache. I didn't know what to say. I just wanted to hug her. Suddenly the side door opened and out walked Barbie.

"LORNA! What are you doing? Don't go telling the new counselor all of your sob stories. Get back to the kitchen before I write your butt up!" Lorna wiped her tears, put her head down and ran away. That is when Barbie told me that all they do is lie.

"Just say no, then go, and mind your OWN business." Barbie rolled her eyes and went through the double doors, letting them close on me even though I was right behind her.

I was speechless. The prison was quickly unfolding to be quite the sh*t show, with weird and mean people. This is not worth it, I thought -- Pat-tay's manipulation, the unsolicited hate from the clients and Barbie, the deep sadness I felt for Lorna... Geez, I thought, maybe I can't do this! I caught by breath with that thought and felt tears burning in my eyes. I was not a quitter but I felt heavy with discouragement. Then a hand brushed my back.

Mary, my Supervisor and the Clinical Director, had walked up. She smiled softly. I discovered her grace at the interview. She was inspirational and still is one of the best therapists I've ever met. She was middle-aged, beautiful, and composed. She was in recovery, clean for 10 years after being a drunk for a long time. She brought a sense of calmness to the joint. Plus she was funny and loved candy. She really cared and had wisdom to absorb.

"Is this how it is all the time?" I smiled, slightly embarrassed, as I wiped a tear away.

Mary laughed quietly and nodded, "Uh, worse actually. Sometimes the employees need more help than the clients." Then she went on to teach me the very important and profound lesson, "Look Aimee, there's a lot of pain here. I understand if you don't want to stay. But if you do, get grounded in your intentions of why you are here. And then do everything to stick with them and stay on that path. There might be a tornado, like Barbie, trying to knock you off. Get your feet steady and stay focused regardless of what comes your way."

This exchange was powerful. It reminded me of my childhood, which sometimes was very much like a tornado, and how I continuously set clear goals to create an uplifting life for myself. And even though I got knocked around hard at times, I stuck with those goals. Mary's words motivated my mind to get clarity on my intentions and my purpose, unknowingly setting me on the path as the healing vigilante.

Next post: 7 Ways to Set Your Intentions and Stay on the Your Path

*This entry is semi-autobiographical. I have intentionally changed the names and identifying characteristics of individuals, as well as overall details of experiences and events.