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Friday, May 20, 2005


I never know how much to share of myself. (I guess I'm speaking primarily of work, because if I'm nervous around someone new, I have a tendancy to babble about myself way too much.)

This week in my support group, I did a creative exercise to get my clients to think about their lives, where it's been, what they're proud of, where they want it to go. Since this group has a bunch of new people, I thought it would be a good way to get them comfortable with sharing and opening up about themselves. And I participate, too, so they can get comfortable with me. One of the parts of the activity was drawing a representation of something that others could do for you to make you happy. Most everyone drew dollar bills, for money. I drew a sink full of dishes, and I explained how much I hate doing dishes, so my husband always does them for us. You would have thought I'd won the lottery, by the reaction of the ladies. I felt ridiculous, because what's a dirty dish to wash compared to trying to survive your life of abuse and poverty?

One of my clients said, "See how much I knew about my counselor! I didn't even know you were married!" And I thought, why would I advertise to battered wives that I have an amazing husband and relationship? Or am I some kind of good example, that there are good relationships and good men out there?

In Chicago, when I worked at the shelter, clients never learned my last name, or what career I had outside of that part-time job. I was very tight-lipped, and a little paranoid about it. Of course, 75% of each shift was spent trying to catch some sleep, so I only rarely listened to clients talk about their lives. Now they have to tell me about their life. I really need to know everything about them, so I can figure out the best way to help them individually. And then I feel bad for it--that they have to be so open and vulnerable--so I share more with them.

I remember chatting with three of my ladies at the beginning of the year (three of my favorite clients ever, so the dynamic was probably different), and admitting to them how hard it was to move down here not knowing anyone, and to find a job and make friends. And I was surprised to discover after the words came out of my mouth, I didn't regret them. And they were greeted with nods and affirmations. It felt good to let them know I was human, too.

I still register the phone number until Tim's name, not mine. I'm not completely naive.


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