Testing, testing, 1 – 2 – 3…

My husband is an electronics engineer. At present he works as a Senior Test Analyst for a fairly prominent radio communications company here in New Zealand. He often says I should be a tester. In fact, when we started dating, he bought me my very own crystal radio kit. It consisted of parts of a crystal radio that I got to put together using a soldering iron. He certainly is romantic isn’t he?

I guess even then, he knew me better than he thought. When I was a kid, I used to love taking apart old radios. I think I was fascinated by how they worked. Obviously not fascinated enough to do the study required to actually fix radios, so I spent more time breaking them than I did fixing them. Nevertheless, dad (a bus driver), would bring home all these old radios and when they started crapping out, I’d bust out a screwdriver (sometimes it was a knife), and I’d start taking them apart. I managed to prolong the life of about 70% of the radios simply by fiddling around with them. Of course the length of prolonging varied. Then I’d try again and eventually, they’d die. My husband tells me that Test Analysts basically break things for a living. I think I’d enjoy that.

But here’s the thing… I’m not a big fan of science.
I think I’ve learned more being married to my husband than I had when I was in high school. That said, as soon as I didn’t have to take science at school, I dropped it. It was far too technical and detailed. I thought I could become a doctor but realised that the only thing I liked about what doctors do, is helping people. So I dived into other subjects, like social studies, art, statistics, classics, etc. I love people. I love watching behaviour and hearing their stories. Social work is all about discovering certain aspects of a persons nature and behaviour. If you ask the right questions, you get the right hints. And sometimes, if you listen carefully enough, you find the right triggers.

A few years ago, when I started work as a youth worker, I took a personality test called Strengthsfinder. Three out of five of the signature themes that came back were “Connectedness”, “Relator”, and “Restorative”. Connectedness sees the “cause and effect”. It’s about joining the dots and tying together past and present. Relator likes to dig deep with people, asking questions that plunge into the heart of something bigger than a current situation. And Restorative is about fixing things… finding the missing piece and restoring them. Might not be the same as before but it’ll be differently beautiful in a sense.

So while my husband loves figuring out different ways to break a 2-way radio, I like figuring out what’s broken a person. I love the assessment phase of a social working relationship. Someone could come to me needing budgeting advice, but maybe it’s bigger than that. They have no job so with the limited income they receive, they need help rationing.
But why do they have no job? Maybe a conviction hinders them from using their skills.
Where did the conviction come from? Perhaps a drug conviction from way back.
Why did they do drugs? Broken family life.
Do they need a job? Yes.
Why do they need a job? Is it just about getting more money to contribute to society? Ex-partner has banned them from seeing their son and they want to prove they can do it.
(nb. this if a fictional situation, but could be a very real one…)

Criminals are so much more than criminals. Bad parents are so much more than bad parents. And perhaps that’s the reason I’ve never blamed my parents for their bad mistakes (and trust me, there were some pretty bad ones). Bad parenting often comes from bad parenting (note: connectedness). Bullying often comes from bullying. Vicious cycles are hard to stop. Anger & blame, alcohol & gambling were significant problems in my family growing up. So, I’m a careful drinker these days, and I have never touched a poker machine, nor have I set foot into a casino. I also haven’t bought a scratchie card since I was 17. The angry rage part is a bit harder to overcome, but it’s a journey I’m on. Sometimes I get angry and it makes no sense. Or it’s about the smallest thing and I just fly off the handle. And when I’m caught in my bad mood, everyone should stay away. My husband is a good and patient man. He handles me with such grace. It’s not all perfect. Sometimes we make choices that stop us from making negative choices that destroy our lives (and the lives of people around us), other things need more work than simply deciding. It took me a long time to give up destructive drinking.

Anyway, like I said in an earlier post… I’m not sure what to do with psychopathic behaviour. Perhaps I need to take some lessons in psychology.

Talk soon,

L

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