Suddenly the dam broke…

It was our usual busy Saturday tending to the many needs of our youth on this cold, blistery day. “Matt” was at it again, saying inappropriate comments and needing constant support around his behavior.  Finally nearing our breaking point, we called him in the office to brainstorm ideas as to how he could find something to do in the community. For Matt, taking a break from the shelter for a while was what he needed due to his inappropriate comments and actions towards others. 

Initially Matt became very angry, not trusting us, thinking that we wanted to just get rid of him like so many other people in his life. It was looking like we may have had to discharge (youth sometimes need to be discharged if their behaviour is unsafe in order create a place of sanctuary for all youth in the shelter) him because of his escalating anger, when suddenly the dam broke and Matt burst into tears, sharing nights of horror when his step dad came home and beat him and his brother with beer bottles, or anything else he could get his hands on. Matt also shared his shame at being raped by another male in his life and the torment that caused him. It felt as if he looked into my eyes and into my soul when he cried and asked us not to send him outside into the cold.

Gazing upon this young man and hearing what was coming from his heart, I knew we could not send him away after hearing his story and seeing his vulnerability. After allowing him some time to compose himself, he asked if any of the staff had any mental illness like he suffered with. I took this opportunity to bring some much needed humor and replied that we all had our “issues” to be sure. Matt then took it upon himself smiling while attempting to guess what each staffs’ issues were. We all had a good time laughing and reassuring Matt that we are all in this journey together and that we truly do care about him. Seeing his smile as he left the room confirmed to me why we do this work.