Yesterday I lost one of the my first chickens. She was my Buff Orpington known affectionately as Nancy Drew. On Wednesday I saw that she was not doing well. In chicken farming, that usually means the end is near. Chickens do not let you know they are sick until it is too late. They hide their illness. I have learned not to feel bad anymore and that by the time I know, there is little I can do. I let myself feel sad rather than avoid the feelings. She was a good chicken who provided me with hours of joy and many, many eggs Although she stopped laying a few years ago I felt she earned the right to stay for the duration of her life. I do not enjoy the painful feelings that come when we lose an animal, but it is inevitable as we usually outlive them. I also know that we humans as a group tend to hide or mask feelings a lot of the time. For example, it is far more ladylike to look anxious than angry.
Therapists make mistakes too
Last week I continued to listen to a podcast of three jungian analysts. It is called “This Jungian Life.” It helped me personally get through the pandemic. I would listen to them pretty much every night. I found myself feeling connected to them. It was very comforting. Last week they spoke of all the anger around the country and that they felt that it was more related to how sad everyone is actually feeling about the current state of affairs. I felt they were exactly right about what is going on. That is that “we would rather feel mad than sad.” Feeling mad is so much easier than allowing ourselves to feel sad. Like when we leave a job or relationship, it’s easier to go when we feel mad vs. sad. When I have a patient who is angry at me or seems mad, I will often ask to see if something I did made them feel upset. I make mistakes all the time.I am human. I readily own that I will NEVER be a perfect therapist. However, therapy is a relationship that is to be learned from. It is not only my patient who learns. I try not to beat myself up when I make mistakes, but I know I can feel badly when they happen. A mistake could mean me not offering empathy at the right moment, or letting my own feelings into the session.
Mean is the new normal
Outside my office I am disheartened to see the personal attacks on people for having differing opinions than one’s own. I have made a conscious choice to leave some forms of social media when it seems too personal. I wish we could all be kinder to one another and allow for differing opinions. Yesterday I was watching a conversation on social media. There were differing opinions. I watched one poster start a personal attack on the other poster for simply having a different view. I understand this comes from fear and sadness, but it seems endemic. That it seems to have become acceptable to lash out at people with differing views. I think the lack of dealing with that which makes us sad has infected social media. It has become a platform of meanness and “having to be right.” What might happen if we dealt with the sadness? I suspect those angry misguided feelings would evaporate.
I will leave you today with a picture of Nancy Drew. She is the yellow one. She will always live on in my heart.