28 July 2006

I'm Not a Therapist

Friday 28July06 6:08pm

Seems a few of my friends are going through some dramas as of late. I'm doing a lot of thinking about how involved I choose to become. I'm doing a lot of thinking about my boundaries. I'm asking myself, "Do I really want to check in and check up on this situation?" And if the answer is no, I'm listening to that answer instead of going with obligation and what I think I should do as an empathetic person.

I'm the elephant that refuses to go over to Patsy's dead body to pay her respects.

It's funny how people disappear out of my life. They find other friends that are more exciting doing more exciting things. They find other friends with more disposable money to spend, with better ideas for activities, who drink more or less alcohol. They move out of my life which is fine. It happens, it's a part of life.

Yet when they're in crisis or have some sort of drama they always seem to reappear. It's as if they think, "Hmm! Who can I talk to about this? Oh, I'll call Shelley. She always has some good thoughts on dealing with the hardships of life or crisis or sadness or grieving. She'll help me out."

Shelley asks, no one in particular, "who is my therapist?"
Or better yet, "Who are my people that I turn to? Who are my people that find me more interesting, more exciting. Who are the people that like that I drink a little less, that I have less disposable cash (for the time being), that I'm more interested in paying my debts off rather than acting like I can live the highlife?" Acting being the operative word.

"Where are the people that don't care that I don't own a condo or a house or a car or a cottage; that I live in an apartment; that what is first and foremost in my existence is writing. Where are those people?" I ask.

Maybe they're only in my imagination.

Don't mind me if I'm not quite as attentive to your crises and drama's. That I'm not quite as sensitive to your pains with 24-7 devotion. If you are only calling me to tell me your troubles, this is the maximum I can give you. I'm not a therapist, you see.

Being an empathetic person is akin in value to being a teacher. We don't value our teachers. We don't pay our teachers well enough. Our society still treats teachers like they're a dime a dozen, easily replaceable. Teachers do a lot of their job on their own time but they're not really compensated for. It's not like you can get rich being a great teacher, providing our most valuable resource - our children - with their most valuable tool - an education.

A great teacher isn't given more than the teacher who follows the curriculum by rote. There's no financial reward by making their classrooms more stimulating than the by rote teacher. Yes Yes the reward is the odd student that comes back years later with a Thanks. The reward is turning out thousands of children to be good citizens. But sometimes, just once in a while, you want something concrete. You want something tangible.

You can almost understand why a great teacher goes bad. You can almost understand the empathetic that gives up, arms thrown in the air combined with the statement, "They don't appreciate my value."

I went to see, "I'm not a Dinner Mint, the crap women swallow to stay in a relationship." last weekend. I assumed when I went to see it that they meant male/female relationships but they actually meant all relationships: lovers, friendships, employers... the works. In a relationship, a dinner mint is the little bit that a person gives you after they've enjoyed their meal (their life) elsewhere.

I squirmed a bit as I watched the show because I realized that I have been the dinner mint. I have hoped that some of the people in my life could see my value beyond being an after thought. Not every one is going to see that, I understand. Not every one is going to give me that concrete, tangible something. And as I whittle away at the people I surround myself with, I set boundaries, I ask numerous questions and the group gets smaller.


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