Hypocrites are Real: Smoking Doctors & Anxious Therapists
One of the most challenging aspects of being a Therapist is the idea that you have everything together. When I introduce myself and the work that I do to strangers, they will often joke and say that they are really messed up, or that they have addiction or mental illness in their family. I often feel that I am put into a different category, the people who have it “together” and those who do not.
THERAPIST = YOU MUST HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER (?)
I engaged in this practice, like many other therapists, from recognizing the power that we have over our lives and our experiences. Riddled with anxiety as a child and teen, I found peace through dance and now yoga in my adult life. From my own experience, I was empowered to connect others to gifts that heal. Picture a feminist BSW UVIC student yelling from her window, “IT WILL ALL BE OKAY.”
We have this idea that to heal others, it means we aren’t healing as well. It’s the same when we are shocked and appalled to learn that doctors are addicted to smoking or are alcoholics (but…they should KNOW better).
To come to a practice of healing, we must understand the nature of the pain. The hardest words I hear are from people who are suffering, and they believe that their pain is not “enough” to warrant attention or support. Someone will reach out and say, “I am scared, I am alone and I am uncomfortable” with the reply from loved ones being, “at least you don’t have cancer”.
Since when did suffering need an index of pain?
It does not matter the weapon that created the wound, the skin is broken and you will bleed. How are some of us able to crawl out of the darkness with no scars? While others carry battle wounds for years? Is it the nature of the event, no, it is the nature of the impact. It is our relationship to it.
In trauma therapy, the client does not finish their initial session to be thrown out and defined as “non-traumatized”. It is how THEY experience the pain, how has it impacted them? How has it impacted those around them?
One of the greatest gifts that we can allow one another is to recognize we are all walking with an element of suffering, it is human existence. We often resort to belittling one’s experience to make them feel like it is OK, it is not THAT bad, and that they can be “strong”. What we really need to do as a collective society, is to provide empathy. To look at our friends, our loved ones, and strangers and say to them, I understand.
We are all living in fear of suffering, yet experiencing moments of suffering in our everyday lives. Be it a lie you told a family member that turned your stomach upside down, to the homeless person you avoided eye contact with because it made you feel uncomfortable. That discomfort IS you, it is the connection of that feeling of pain and suffering, and the fear that you might experience that again.