Recently I wrote about my entry route into Social Work in the Guardian Social Care Network. However, today I am writing about my wife’s route into social work, which for me is a far more impressive. For me social work was always a reachable role and carer for me to achieve and I had the support and positive role models to help me achieve my dream.
Sadly however this is not the same for everyone in society and where dreams are quickly forgotten because of the fear of heartbreak that they bring with them. I did not get this memo however and want everyone to know that it is possible to achieve your dreams even if the mountain you have to cross is out of your reach at the moment.
Like most families where neglect is nurtured due to the environment and perhaps dated values of what gender roles should achieve, my wife from an early age was always told not to aim or try and achieve anything. Her school had wrote her off as a trouble maker and parents scoffed and made nasty comments. Her own parents were only interested in their own needs and even today can not put her needs before their own.
When we started our relationship I did not know what had hit me, and I was not living in this world. I had never heard so much negative talking or unwillingness to try anything new. The only way I can describe this is if you lose all of your senses and start living again knowing there should be something there but there is not.
When I met my wife she could not drive, did not want to drive. The theory test is to hard she said! having failed it twice already. The support from her parents was much the same ‘don’t waste your money your not bright enough to pass’. It is fair to say that I have not known anger until I started my relationship with my wife.
But there comes a point in your life when you are up at 6am in the morning to take your wife to work and then picking her up before gaining into work yourself that changes need to happen. I brought the DVD for the theory test and spent many a long night with my wife working through it. I did learn something doing this, and that is that I would not pass the theory test either.
The day of the test came and for the whole time I waited for her outside can only be described as the most anxious time of my life. But from the moment she exploded out of the building trying badly to hide her own emotions of joy. I knew that nothing would stop her from achieving her dreams other than herself now.
Despite this, I could not encourage her to take the sponsorship into social work. It was not until she stood up against her employer in a complaint about the work place that her true potential was recognised. Some gentle words and persuasion encouraged her to apply with only 72 hours to the deadline to submit her application.
I have to admit I was always biased about what my wife could achieve, her passion, strength and determination to support vulnerable people and give her time without question is something that I have not seen in many people. I understand now where this comes from, her own background has meant that she does understand the impact of other peoples negative views on life.
So here began a long journey of tears, arguments and hurdles like no other and final recognition that she was further hindered by dyslexia. This is and always will be the hurdle, unable to read more than four pages at a time before the words began to jumble up and blur causing a headache that would cripple her.
But this did not stop her fighting the University for support, and her workplace. Spending less time with her family for reading, study groups. There was another thread throughout all of this the constant nagging in the back of her head, the doubt sown by her parents so many years ago ‘your to thick to do this, just give up!’ What this meant was that before any essay began a delay was created as a barrier was put up and each time would have to be smashed down.
And I have to admit with tears in my eyes at the time, when the final e-mail came in stating she had passed her final piece of work smashing the final hold her parents ever had over her. You have just completed your degree in Social Work. In my opinion something which is not easy to do.
As I write this I am aware that it does not adequately reflect how difficult this actually was for her, dealing with her own parents separation and many further unthinkable events that it brought with it. whilst studying and supporting myself and our children. To do it with earning the admiration of many of the lectures and fellow students being nominated as Student Union representative.
But the message is, no matter how hard it is what ever you face in life your demons can be beaten. I have supported my wife in doing her course, but I could not do it for her. The social work process is not just a journey through a course it is a life journey for yourself. So don’t give up, do not look back and keep going. Find your support and help other people and one day hopefully your dreams will come true to.