Dispatch No. 6

The New Year, Women for 2019 and Beyond

Happy New Year Holbemnites!

Because it’s almost a new year and because my work and clients are always in the process of reinvention, This is the first dispatch to be handwritten then typed for your digital pleasure. Well, because of that and the fact that I am 12 years old and just got my first Fisher Space Pen, which is a delight to write with.

It is the end of winter break and I am one member of a veritable skeleton crew here at the office working the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The quiet has been nice to get somewhat organized and to tackle some tasks I’ve neglected. My desk for instance has become cluttered with several piles of paper, some inches thick. They begged to be placed into folders in an appropriate drawer, and they finally received their wish. Organization is not my strong suit.

In reflecting over several themes of the past week, I’ve been finding it more and more interesting which clients of mine have a curiosity with my job. Only a few ask me questions about what it’s like to be a therapist, and though I don’t point them to these collections of writings, I wonder what it is that makes them so curious.

The question about what other careers are like is one that I ask myself all the time as I go about my day to day. What is it like to be a mechanic, a lawyer, a handyman? I think it’s a valuable trait to be curious about others’ experiences of the world, and I like learning about which clients wonder these things as well. Most of all, I suppose I’m curious about which of my clients have grown comfortable enough with me to ask.

Speaking of which, I’m so proud of my clients. Looking back on the year, there have been some really cool breakthroughs that have really surprised me and left me in awe of the resilience of the human spirit. That’s a huge phrase to throw out there, I know, but if this were a blog about sharing clients’ testimonies and experiences, you’d agree wholeheartedly.

This year I’ve become especially enamored with the power of my women clients to make enormous personal change and sacrifice to improve things for themselves and their families. From women who make changes to lead a more empowered life, to mothers’ sacrificing time and opportunity for their children, to grandmothers stepping in for grandchildren and raising them to provide much needed stability, witnessing these stories played out has made me grow even more impressed with the female power than I was prior to entering this field.

And while I’m sure I cannot articulate this well enough, I really feel like we as a human race would be in a more advanced place if women had more say in our decision-making. I’ve been exposed to women who demonstrate resilience, courage, and extraordinary capability to make difficult decisions in the face of emotionally and logistically complex situations. Routinely, I’ve seen this play out and I believe that women’s ability to juggle the emotional and the pragmatic is exactly what we need to take us to a better place. Perhaps I’m biased due to white male guilt, and/or I’m sufficiently horrified by our current political state, but I feel that women’s dual-skill set of both emotional and intellectual intelligence is a set of skills we don’t have near enough of societally.

That being said, I also weep for the opportunities we deprive young men of through our narrow societal expectations. Too much emphasis of toughness and burying emotions over the development and expression of the so-called “soft-virtues” of empathy and kindness has led to the polarization in our culture which has reduced our social progress in the hands of men to a mere trickle. Much of my work with men and boys returned time and again to reversing years of emotions repressed to meet and serve these expectations.

I realize I speak broadly and of topics which are far more complex than I can possibly view from my office, but I believe that the things I have witnessed as a therapist can be extrapolated to represent our social status on a larger scale. In the particular we find the general. In particular there are several clients of mine who I would send to congress or the white house today, I’ve become so convinced of their capabilities.

In my clinical practice and in my personal life I want to continue to grow and seek opportunity to empower my women of all ages, encouraging and reinforcing the immense capability inside of them. It’s through them that I see real world change occurring, and it’s in them that I find so much hope.