May 27, 2013
Yesterday was a truly healing day in my little world. Without going in to huge background details, the long story short is this:
In 1996, my dear friend and our two families together started a baby loss support program in our community. The first year was a lot of administration work, relationship building and soul searching as we worked together to create a unique organization. We started to run a 6 week program in 1998 and by that fall, we had a support group running as well. We had an individual who asked to join us, as a bereaved mother herself but also as a social worker to work within the support group setting, as a volunteer. We met with her, liked what she had to say but warned her that we did not want to have a team of professionals running the group but to keep it always as a peer support program - parent to parent. She agreed and for 4 years we operated in this manner. At times, she stepped over the boundary but would apologize and come back to the original format with reminders.
During this time, we had a mom join us who went thru the program and was hoping to help out in time as well. And then another. So we ended up in the end with a nice little group of 5 of us working to help grieving baby loss families, all volunteers, all with the same intent and purpose, or so we thought.
One of the volunteers and I became quite close friends. We became trained doulas together and provided birth support to a number of families as a team, providing a great system of childcare for each other and back up care to our birthing families as required. Our husbands had gone to the same college and knew each other from the industry they were both working in. All seemed well.
My dad became quite ill and finally died in 2002. During his last few months, "C" started to offer to take over the leadership role so I could spend more time with my dad and my family. Small bits at first and then more facilitating as the months moved on. I was, at the time, grateful for her support but looking back, wished I had realized what this was leading to. My dad died, we went away to spread his ashes, this team had beautiful flowers delivered to our house, we felt loved.
Then "C" asked me to meet her at the office one day. Not suspecting that anything was up, off I went in the pouring rain to meet her. And that was the beginning of the end.
Within a short time (42 minutes to be exact), she tore a strip off me, expressed her grand scheme and then started to try to pack up my office with boxes she had stowed around the corner. In disbelief, I stood my ground as her grand scheme involved taking the organization I had created away from me. She felt it belonged to her, even though she came on board 2 years after we started. However, it didn't work that day, as the other organizations in the building had heard her ranting and came to my defense. She was escorted out of the building, and told never to return. A few days later, she held a meeting with the parents who accessed our programs, as she had managed to take our database while I was away spreading my dad's ashes. I heard it was a large meeting and yes, we did lose some families but to this day, we aren't sure what it is she shared with them. Actually, to this day, we are still not sure what the actual issue was. The only thing I recall that stood out from her rant with me was that she "had the idea to start what I started back in 1995, a whole year before we began. But I unfairly beat her to it yet she's always felt that the organization should have been hers, so she was taking it back" and "that as a social worker, she was the only qualified individual on my team who had the right to work with families." As this was peer support and we were all volunteers, this statement didn't make sense as she knew coming into the fold what we were all about. Clearly, her ideas of what we were providing and what she wanted to do didn't mesh. But to try to steal an entire organization was not just bold but truly crazy.
This is getting long and my fingers are numb from talking. Part Two to follow!