Paul is pretty damn lucky. His physical and mental needs are looked after by an elite team of professionals that seem to have the winning formula for providing rehabilitation and support work. We have a bunch of people who work closely together, get along, have a common goal, like a team should (not just to make a few bucks because, let’s face it, it’s a crappy- paid job) and succeed so well in their profession. Even therapists and medical personnel stop and applaud their incredible work. They bloody-well deserve it. Well, that’s Paul’s team. It wasn’t always great though. Every team has at least one person who drags the chain a bit, clearly this job is just a stepping stone for them until something better comes along. There are team members who can get away with doing the bare minimum- not exceptional support workers but no the worst either. You have to keep them around. They’re the types who will pick up extra shifts when you need them to. But I want to tell you about a particular style of support worker who made the biggest impact on my life. The one who taught me some very valuable life lessons. The very same one who sucked the life right out of me, reduced me to tears, hurt my pride and hit me with the proverbial baseball bat known as reality. I’m talking about the all-entitled, self- centred……. narcissist.
For some reason, narcissists are drawn to me. Maybe it is because, as an empath, I have a particular affliction with the said personality disorder. There have been a few narcissists that have come through our home in form of support workers for Paul. But I owe one particular narcissist a mountain of gratitude. Let’s call him Bob. Bob, was impressive. He gave Paul, myself, our children and our extended family a lot of love. Bob was like family and he exceeded our expectations especially because Bob came to us with very little experience in the world of disability. At this time, I was working part- time, enjoying my job and welcoming the time away from home after what had been a difficult year with Paul in hospital. Bob gained our trust and Paul was visibly at ease around him. But there was something amiss about Bob. His self- assured demeanour and cocky self-importance was misconstrued as an overly- confident humanitarian. Bob started to become jealous of other support workers. He complained about their lack of compassion, work ethic, poor judgment and attention to detail. I trusted Bob so his observations must have been justified, right? I couldn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t like him. He put in so much effort into Paul’s rehabilitation so he naturally deserved the special praise and attention that he was lapping up from me, my family and his supervisors. He was like a gift from the heavens and his achievements had no end. But soon enough, Bob’s snide remarks turned to members of my family and I started to see Bob’s flaws. He became jealous of other male team members, pointing out their short-comings yet not seeing his own as an issue. The team was no longer working harmoniously and whispers began behind people’s backs. It dawned on me that lies were being spread as I learned that Bob was harassing team members at home. It was only a matter of time before the lies and disparaging comments were directed at me. I felt so painfully guilty that I didn’t have this issue under control.
One day, a valued team member brought to my attention that Paul’s privacy had been breached. I received photo evidence of Paul’s face being spread on social media by Bob himself. Bob bragged about Paul’s progress and how it was the result of a single support worker’s dedication, support, strength and commitment (mind you, this was quite the surprise to me because I couldn’t understand how one man could make all this happen?) What the hell did we need the rest of the team for when the “Messiah” himself was attending to Paul’s every need? The photo was removed eventually but Bob couldn’t understand the harm, despite the fact he had been told several times that we needed to stay off social media for legal reasons. But hey, what importance does a law suit play when there are followers to entertain? But it didn’t stop there. Bob managed to video record Paul’s progress on his phone and send it to his friends and anyone who was interested in listening, unbeknownst to Paul or myself.
Bob’s self- entitled bravado allowed him to cement himself as one of the family members rather than a member of the team. It was no longer a professional relationship when he started using Paul’s personal items and helping himself to food in the fridge. It was taking a toll on my mental health and I blamed myself for letting it go on as long as it did.
Bob’s cracks were widening and things became so out of control that I had no choice but to quit my job and become the full-time, unpaid, team- leader that I am now. Bob’s reign of terror came to an end when I finally spilled the beans of his behaviour to his superiors (who were equally as blindsided as I was.) They removed Bob from Paul’s program. It took a very long time for me to forgive Bob. I warned other team members of Bob’s actions and slowly, the team re-grouped, banded together, lifted each other up just as a team should. I made it clear to the team that we were ALL leaders. Not one of us is better than the other. We each bring something unique and valuable to the team and it’s why we work so well together. That is why we are so warmly regarded as the “elite squad” of support workers. I love that it feels like Paul is being looked after by his friends. People who genuinely love the work they do. People who can share in our trials and tribulations. They cry tears of joy when something profound happens and tears of despair when we are floored.
So I have a special message for the Bob’s of the world and to the Bob who taught me a valuable life lesson. THANK YOU. Thank you for teaching me and my team how NOT to behave. Thank you for being an example of the type of human that needs our love and prayer in this world. Thank you for opening my eyes because now I know what to look for in a support worker and what to avoid. You have my endless gratitude for not EVER allowing ANYONE to EVER do that to me again. I am stronger because of you. I am wiser because of you. I hope you get the help, love and support you need in this world. Good luck to you. God Bless.