8/26/05 Going on a Retreat
I'm off to Phoenix for the TEAM Hope retreat. TEAM Hope is an organization under the NCMEC umbrella that matches volunteers to family members of the missing. The volunteers have all had or still have a missing loved one in their life. They provide resources and support via scheduled telephone contact. Along with my work for Project Jason, I also carry a small caseload for TEAM Hope.
I use my own experiences to help me be an effective support person and advocate, but I also learn a great deal from the professional training provided by TEAM Hope. This weekend will be jam-packed with training sessions, as well as relax and focus time for me.
It is a difficult thing to bear the burden of having a missing person in your life. When you work with the families, it can sometimes be like reliving your own horrors all over again. I have looked in the eyes of family members who were facing those first extremely frightening hours and I could see myself all those years ago. I remember the first time I ever had a face-to-face referral. That next day, I felt as if I'd been run over by a truck. I realized it was because of the internal replay that happens.
TEAM Hope taught me how to take myself out of the equation when dealing with our families. For whatever reason, this is one of my gifts in that no matter what the situation, I can be a neutral, but yet truly understanding support person. I can tap into my experiences and leave my emotions out of it. To let my emotions enter into the conversation is to cease being effective. It is, after all, their needs that I am charged to care for, not my own.
In that I am very human, I do have moments of great sadness. Sometimes there does not seem to be anything in particular that triggers it. It is just there. I find solace in my family. We have a special bond that may have not existed before.
I was driving my 17 year-old son home from school the other day, and we were talking about Jason for a moment. I'm not sure what led to me saying this, but I told him that if he ever became missing, I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle two such losses. Before I could even finish my sentence, he gently admonished me for saying outloud that he could or would do that with any intention. Of course, I don't think he would, but it is a fear. I'm sure I am not alone in that.
God is my number one refuge and support. He is always there. He asks me to walk the rocky path on my own, but occasionally He does carry me through the many twists and turns we deal with. I know that when He does leave me to walk on my own, there are life's lessons for me to learn along the way.
I will be back on Tuesday. If you haven't yet read all of the stories in the blog, take the time to do so in my absence.
Thank you for spreading the word about our blog and our needs: striving to find a way to create awareness for our families' missing loved ones, despite media's disinterest. We also serve to educate the public about the missing.