When you have a passion to help, you have to learn to shield yourself from some hurt. It's not something I learned at one time, but rather along the way.
I had a rough client session a few days ago. Obviously, I won't go into details here, but it left me worried about my client. We've only met for 2 sessions so I feel like I'm still in the "get to know you" stage. One of her coping mechanisms is to use profanities. Luckily, this native NYer has heard them all! Maybe not all in one brief session, but I roll with it.
As I've spent the last few days reflecting, trying to understand my client, someone told me not to take it personal. Of course I didn't. But it makes me want to dig deeper. I don't have a magic wand to make all problems for everyone go away. Wouldn't that be nice! But I'd like to try to move the needle, so to speak! We all have the power within us to rise. You've made it this far, right?
As I've tried to reacher ways to help my client, I've realized that phrase "don't take it personal" has stuck with me. At some point we go from needing to fit in to being very clear about who I am as a person. It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen.
Leading up to my senior prom, I had been so excited and nervous to go. I was planning to go with a group of friends and my "date" had started to date my BFF, who had just broken up with her previous boyfriend and original prom date. It's not very surprising when I was the one left out of that paring. The timing of all of this didn't really matter. I ended up not going and my beautiful prom dress left hanging in the closet, never to be worn by me. It was donated years ago.
I spent my prom night heartbroken, sad, left out and wounded by the person who called me a friend. Our friendship was broken. And if you think that was the end of the story, there's more. She felt slighted when I didn't go and she had to pay more out of pocket for our limo. She cursed me out at graduation. Some friend. Somehow, I managed to pick myself up, enjoy the graduation festivities and …. would you imagine…. go on without her quite happily!
In those days, it was hard. I had other friends to lean on, thankfully. I went off to college and didn't give that "friend" much thought. Then there was the letter… sometime during my Junior year of college while I was dating my husband. This was the one I read, ripped up and ran off crying. My mother taped it up to read the viciousness that one person needed to put in writing to make herself feel superior. It was hard to not take that one personal when everything in it was an attack. But I survived.
In the years since, this person has tried to friend me on Facebook. I've allowed it until the hot mess herself unfriended me due to her own types of paranoia and issues with people "telling her parents what she was up to". Insert eye roll?
Naturally, months later, that little notification popped up. I accepted, then quickly unfriended after seeing that there was no change. I have not accepted any requests since. I don't need someone to tear me down. I don't need someone to say they've grown up, but bash other people who were kind to me my whole life, including showing up at my mother's funeral to give me a hug of support.
It's a personal sore spot for me. And it doesn't compare to what my client this week is going through. But I once was that little girl, young woman who did take everything personal… and sometimes still do. I'm not a robot here!
But I have evolved. I've dug deep within me. I became crystal clear on what's important in life. I know who I am. I'm perfectly imperfect. I have flaws, but it allows me to relate to people. We all go through stuff.
So when I coach and have sessions that keep me on my toes, I don't do it to make me feel one way or the other. It's all about my clients. I will reach this kiddo. I will find the right way for her. And for the next client like this, I'll spend days working on ways to reach them. This is a work of heart. And that's why I share this very vulnerable story today.