Each time I step into the waiting room, I suit up.
Pull a smile out of the air.
Take a deep breath. Or five.
Shake away the previous stress taken in from the previous client.
Focus my brain.
Wrap my mind around this person, their history, our shared history.
They stand upon seeing me, and I meet their eyes.
I drop my other labels. Wife. Daughter. Friend. Bitter Infertile.
I am only therapist. Social worker. Clinician. Whatever you want to call it.
The armor really isn’t any different from yours. Whatever we do in life we have different suits of armor, to protect our hearts. But sometimes we are caught unexpectedly.
I remember a week after our miscarriage I was sitting with a mother in a home. All suited up. So I thought. We were reviewing the treatment plan for her daughter, and she turned around to me and asked if I had children. I nodded “no” quickly and re-directed her to talking about her family. A few minutes later she gruffly stated, “how do you expect me to take advice on my kid from someone who has NO KIDS?” And the air in my body left me. Almost completely. I finished the session in a hurried and flustered manner. Tears streamed down my face the moment I closed the door to her house. And I sobbed in my car a mile down the road from her house, because I couldn’t even drive home.
I guess the point of my story is, we are strong – we try to protect ourselves the best we can. But we are human and we can be unknowingly hurt. So I urge you, everyone, to be kind. Remember the golden rule – if you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t say it. Just move on. Because you will never know the impact of your words or actions. Because after someone is hurt, they will remember forever, but most likely be too ashamed (or sad? or whatever) to say something to you.
I never said anything to that mother. It wouldn’t have been professional. And it probably wouldn’t have even made her more aware of her actions. And it would have made me feel even weaker to admit my feelings (even though I know logically I wasn’t being weak – logic often has little place in the world of feelings).
So, just be careful. With your words. With your actions. Even with your blog comments. They really matter.
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