As I stood at the threshold of her door, my eyes took a quick scan of the room. “Where are we going to sit?” I thought to myself and found my answer in following her step by step to an almost hidden spot on an almost hidden couch where we sat– side-by-side.
Ms. A is very detail oriented and organized, arguably to the point of compromising efficiency, which we think is how her house condition came about. Organized chaos.
As I mentioned, Ms. A, at age 73, wants to make the most of the years she has left. I asked her what it is that she would like to accomplish in those years—what does “making the most of the years I have left” mean for her?
Now, before I go on, there’s something you should know about me…
I’m fairly expressive.
Anyone who knows me personally, and I emphasize personally, knows this about me. It’s a double edged sword and everything is always up for (mis)perception, so it can be a tricky situation sometimes. If I feel as though I’m in a safe zone, or in an environment/around people I am comfortable with, my guards are down. I laugh a little louder, I talk a little faster, I’m not as articulate, my facial muscles get a good workout, my ears perk up and down and my arms usually flail around a bit too. It’s a good time. The thing is, these are people I’ve built relationships with and invested in – there’s a foundation of trust there and it’s a judgement-free environment. It comes with time and a little bit of work, and that’s how I understand the difference between being a friend and being friendly. But that’s another post…
When I’m with clients, I have to be extra cautious; one misperception of a furrowed brow could compromise the comfort level the client has with me. It’s a balance between being present/paying attention to what the client is saying and being self-aware of my expressions—facial or otherwise. It gets easier over time. We learn that there is time between the stimulus and our response to it and realize that not every stimulus necessitates a response.
This was something I struggled with A LOT. Like I said, counselling others has been a learning experience; all it takes is for one person to close off because of how you reacted for you to realize that people who don’t know you personally will take things personally and if their opinion of you matters (and as a counsellor, it does), you make an internal note that this has got to change and the work begins.
In several occasions in my life, I’ve been told that when we are working on something or towards something, the closer we are to getting it, the more ‘tests’ we seem to get. A dear friend of mine, a woman of incredible faith, explained this to me in biblical terms as the ‘Refiner’s Fire’. After seeing the living space and not reacting, I smiled, I did it. No reaction. Moment of conviction! Something to remember, moments of convictions are ALWAYS followed by tests.
Ms. A identified that making the most of the years she has left would mean the completion of three goals;
1 – She has experience raising an autistic child and would like to share those experiences (in writing) of what worked, what didn’t work, to health authorities and those interested.
2 – She wants to ‘organize’ her living space.
3 – Ms. A recalls her own birthing experience and would like to reconnect with other people that do and eventually write a paper about it.
Like I said, moments of conviction are ALWAYS followed by tests.
To be continued…