Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kimberly is Out

Kimberly is one of our most troubling clients. She's smart, I think. She's definitely grandiose and hostile. She can contain herself for a little while, but as soon as she gets a little encouragement, she starts spiraling into crazier and crazier displays of superiority and contempt. Apparently, while I was on vacation recently, she became increasingly emboldened, to the point that she tried to lead a prayer for one of our most vulnerable clients, Liz.

That sounds like it might have been sort of nice, doesn't it? Kimberly began by announcing that Liz would die soon (probably true, and a prospect that has Liz absolutely terrified). Kimberly is quite loud when she's excited, and quite repetitive as well, so I'm imagining the nearly shouted insistence that Liz would die! die soon! certainly die! As always, she gave advice as well. She told Liz to get a life insurance policy so that she could have a funeral. Then she tried to lead the rest of the women in prayer for poor about-to-be-dead Liz. I gather that the other volunteers got her shut down at that point.

Kimberly left soon, and when she came back, she was told that she couldn't return until she had a conversation with Sid. This prompted a loud accusation of racism since Kimberly, like most of our current YANA clients, is Black. The other clients were having none of that. They defended the White volunteers, and told her to "just look around her" if she thought YANA was a place that didn't welcome Blacks. Kimberly threatened to go to Sid's superiors (there are none -- take that any way you like). When told that there was no one over Sid, Kimberly said she would complain to Hezekiah House (our landlords). She later tried an unscheduled meeting with Sid, was rebuffed, and did not return at the scheduled time. The plan at this point is that she is out for good.

There's good reason to ban Kimberly. She persistently pushes or breaks YANA rules. She lies; she manipulates. She attacks the other clients. She shows no sign of wanting or receiving anything positive from the organization. She's an enormous burden on the volunteers. I dislike her to the point that my skin crawls when I see her come in. And yet. . .

Yet, when I think of her, I find something enormously appealing in Kimberly. While I don't know her background, there's a lot of reason to believe that she's had the sort of childhood so many of our women have suffered through: malicious parents, serious sexual trauma, no protection, no stability. That's the sort of background that convinces you that you are less than the people around you. And Kimberly is resisting the only way she knows how. She finds someone weaker, and she stands over that person like a dog that's won a fight, howling to everyone in earshot, "Look at me! I'm better than this person! More than this person! I'm the one who can dominate!"

She's still trying so hard not to be worthless. I have a weird sort of admiration for Kimberly. I just can't help her. I can't change YANA to be the much more structured environment she needs. I can't work up much optimism that she'll find the sort of place she needs.

1 comment:

  1.'re right, Vickie -- how can we ask Kimberly to leave when she has almost nowhere else to go? Thanks so much, thought I'd made a final decision.... ;)

    About Linda: *All* of the credit goes to her for resisting the long-answered siren call of her heroin addiction. She is incredibly strong; how she fends off the cravings in the face of continued, enormous suffering is literally beyond me.

    Can't wait for drop-in to open again this week, will try to actually spend a little more time there. Thanks for the great prose, encouragement and love, as always.