Earlier this week I had to make a verydifficult decision. I have been a volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for two years and my match with my little sister was not going well. Little P comes from a very underprivileged and uneducated family. And it got to be more than I thought I could handle.
At first the match was alright. I was nervous when I picked her up at her house because the neighborhood was not very safe. She had six siblings living in the house with her and they all have some kind of disability. They clawed at me and cried to go along every time I picked Little P up. And it broke my heart (and kind of scared me, to be truthful). But then we went to a restaurant or a movie and it was more comfortable. I didn't connect well with her, but I thought it was because we'd just met.
We continued going out for the next two years, and we never really established a good relationship. She told stories about her uncle's brother-in-law's cousin and I listened, trying to make sense of it. When she made racist jokes, lied to me, or was just plain belligerent I tried to explain how I thought differently. I tried to lead by example. To show that there was a different way to do things than she was used to. But mostly I tried to understand and listen.
But I just got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore. I didn't look forward to getting together with her. I cried after I dropped her off every time. I wasn't making a difference. I wasn't helping. She needed more than I knew how to give.
So Monday I called my case worker and told her that I thought Little P needed another Big Sister who was more mature and better equipped to handle her and her family. And I was really relieved when the case worker said that she understood. She wasn't upset or disappointed. She said she knew it was a very difficult match and she was impressed that I did it for so long. I felt a little better after that.
I then had to call Little P and carefully explain the situation. I told her that our case worker was going to find her another Big Sister who could spend more time with her and be there for her more than I could.
She just said "kay" and "yeah" and "kay" again. I asked if she was upset or disappointed, and she said "no" very matter-of-factly. It was like she wasn't human. All my effort and tears and worrying was nothing. (I am still a bit shocked by her response.)
I am also feeling residual guilt and shame. I couldn't handle it. And I thought I could handle anything. I feel like I failed in this situation. But I think I will look back after a time and know I did the right thing. Getting her a different Big Sister who can take her on and give her what she needs will be better for her in the long run, I think. So maybe admitting I couldn't handle it isn't failing, it's being big enough to do the right thing.