The World Today. A Mental Health Clinician’s Point of View
Jun 03, 2020
Where does it hurt? Everywhere. This question and answer resonates so deeply with me in a time of crisis and despair in our community. Over the past week we have experienced much pain, hurt, anger, sadness – so many emotions—difficult, heavy emotions. I know I am feeling drained. It leads me to wonder how my fellow human beings are doing, humans who deal with unique challenges and experiences I will never know. We are in the middle of a civic crisis (that has existed a lot longer than the past week) in the middle of a pandemic. People are hurting.
Sometimes there are words that we can say, words that bring comfort, words that bring support, and words that show we stand with our fellow human beings. Sometimes there are no words. This is a time when we desperately need to hear and recognize stories—stories of hurt, pain, suffering, injustice, oppression, stories of life experiences different from our own. I wonder how we can sit and listen with these hard-to-hear stories? Are we able to hear our fellow human beings without judgment or ridicule? Can we listen with compassion?
Each of us is born into this world, born with attributes and characteristics that are simply ours yet will shape and define our life experience from that moment forward. Each of our life experiences are unique, they are worthy, they are valuable, and they are important. These stories are long overdue and need to be told, they need to be heard.
We are in a time that we are experiencing collective traumas. For some of us, this may be our first experience with a sense of loss or trauma, whether through a global pandemic, years of social injustice coming to a head, again, or both. For others this is another reminder of the traumas that have come before us and the trauma that lie ahead of us. As each of us have a unique life experience that shapes us and our view of the world, we experience and respond to these moments in our own way. Sometimes, we meet these responses with fear and judgment when they are unfamiliar, rather than with openness and understanding. Know that as humans, we are doing the best that we can with the resources that we have. Know that others have different resources than yourself, so the responses are different.
Over the past week, there has been a lot of emotion, pain, rawness. I remember feeling the fear of Monday morning, as it would be the first time I saw my co-workers in a few days. Yet those few days significantly affected the world. In our social circles and families, it may be easier to see and know how our fellow human beings are affected. At work, we are expected to turn up the professionalism in which sometimes we forget that we are living, feeling human beings, and experiencing the world we live in, a world that is not the same for everyone.
In this time, I wonder if you too can meet people with compassion. Whether it be at work, where we so often hide our stories to save face in the name of professionalism, or with family, friends, or others in the community. In this time, I wonder if you can join with me, in hearing others’ stories, with understanding and an open heart.
Written by Kari Kelcher, LMFT
FamilyMeans School-Based Therapist