Dispatch No. 5

Hunger, Discernment

It’s mid-afternoon on Thursday, and I’m missing the bloated-full feeling I had exactly one week ago around the Thanksgiving feast-table. Of course I forgot my lunch in the fridge this morning, so the hunger pangs I’m experiencing are not helping things any or giving me motivation to get through my last few sessions.

It’s been an interesting week, though they all are in their own way. I had my fourth client of the same name enter a crisis period, joining the aforementioned three comrades in a deteriorated dangerous mental state. I truthfully didn’t even know I had that many clients of the same name, but they’re really grouping together now. I’d love for them to meet one another. I should start a group geared toward supporting them.

Over the past week, I’ve been making a concerted effort to pray more, and to be more spiritually focused before going into my work. I am working to reinstate my habit to make it a point to pray each morning that I would empty myself, get out of my way, so that the Lord can flow through me and speak through my actions and my words and how I make my clients feel. When I’m able to do this, I feel more present and I feel that I do a better job of discernment. Discernment in the sense that I feel I am better able to read the needs of my clients and, as I’ve mentioned before, move them toward a view of themselves that is closer to how God views them.

I’ve been struck by several cases over the past week where my clients relay things that have been said to them by close friends or loved ones that just strike me as unbelievably hurtful. I don’t think we recognize on a regular basis the impact of the things that we humans say to one another when enraged to the point where we disconnect from our frontal lobe, (the region of the brain responsible for forethought.)

I’m incredibly blessed to have been raised in a household almost entirely free of this sort of toxicity. Where it did exist, I was almost always the progenitor. That being said, these behaviors, often perpetrated by adults, against children or young adults is just mind-boggling. Bearing witness to it, whether in person or indirectly, has really shed some light for me on why people can end up spiritually and personally broken. The impact of hearing one’s own parent saying, “I don’t want him. Nobody wants him,” (real words spoken in my office in front of the “him” being referenced) is soul-crushing. Those words aren’t unheard, nor will they ever likely be forgotten.

I suppose the biggest takeaway for me personally, having heard firsthand of some truly awful experiences, is how much of a premium it puts on my everyday interactions with others. There are all sorts of videos and think pieces on this concept that you never know what someone else is going through, or has been through, and they couldn’t be more spot on. The impact of a warm and kind interaction with someone becomes life-giving in the context of such radically hurtful past experiences; I’ve heard so from clients who have been to some dark places.

I know personally that this is something I need to continue to work on. My adolescent self hasn’t fully worked itself out yet, and I could absolutely stand to improve my level of generosity and mindfulness in my interactions. To not just to be passively pleasant or tolerant (or tolerable for that matter), but to find drive to be actively generous with my words and actions.

These pieces always end with my own takeaways from things I learn from clients, and highlight why I find this job so fulfilling and life-giving. I really do believe that I get way more out of this than my clients. I’m constantly reminded through this field, as well as my spiritual and personal pursuits to back up my words with actions. To not do so would be an opportunity missed.