The waiting room had been freshly painted over, institutional off-white where once there’d been a warm robin’s egg blue. Not my choice, needless to say; the change felt aggressively bright and depleting, uninviting and not at all therapeutic. Someone else apparently took issue with it on some level, too, as a bit of vandalism appeared in short order where none had ever occurred before, at least not in my time. A defacement of the wall that I noted but blocked out, the way I note and block out the crumbling exterior details of the building and the grout in the bathroom tile that probably hasn’t been clean in decades. My client had studied it, though. “Um, do you see this?” Nodding toward the damage that suddenly resolved from random scrapes into a rough approximation of the word “slut.” Weeks passed, with kids and adults coming and going, sitting in the chair under that word. Was anything done about it? I could have submitted a work order, but at that point I was perversely curious whether anyone involved in admin or maintenance would notice and address it. Weeks more passed. Finally, an act of vandalistic intercession: someone scratched away diligently to transform “slut” into “slurp.” I appreciate that anonymous act of transformation while disliking both words for different reasons and finding the whole scenario to be yet another reminder that I need to be moving on from this place where I’ve dedicated so much energy. I need to be in a place more of my making, and that time is coming. I know it won’t be easy leaving, though. The collegial bonds forged in shared adversity are uniquely strong, of uncommon mettle, continually tested by the agency model. And then there are the children and families, and the honor and inspiration of working with them. The proud pencil marks on my door where I measured the heights of kids whose growing wasn’t always celebrated elsewhere, and other reminders in my office of clients who’ve come and gone. A paper painted fish above my coat hook. A little wooden house balanced atop a picture frame left over from a game of object-hide-and-seek. Sparkly stones on my windowsill. And this message on a post-it from a girl who used to end every visit by challenging me to a race down the hallway, glorying in her own speed: “Strong is the new cool.” A lasting gift that she, so fleet, gave to me.




Text and image copyrights held by me. My posts have gotten shorter as I deal with other things. As ever, I’m grateful for your reading. If you enjoyed this piece, please consider sharing it with anyone you feel might like it, too.

7 thoughts on “LETTERS AND WORDS

  1. Leaving will be hard and it can also be a great move. And I am happy you are doing what’s good for you. The mixed feelings you express are expected – I want you to know I hear you and value your sharing.

    My therapist finally left the hospital where she had long struggled with management… She was the last of her old team to leave. Like you said, the bonds of shared adversity are strong. She felt responsible for all her patients and they kept giving her more and more and guilt-tripping her. Some clients could see how worn out she was getting. I know I worried she was losing weight, she seemed tired and stressed, even though of course she kept therapy focused on me, and poured herself into client work.

    She left for a private practice clinic some months ago and managed to take A LOT of patients with her. One of the reasons she stayed so long was feeling she couldn’t ethically leave so many of her clients in the harmful hospital environment. The new clinic offers a steeply discounted rate for the needy and she could offer that to a number of patients far less privileged than I am. She mentioned bringing things over – cards, little gifts from clients.

    She’s happier now, and it’s obvious, something not lost on me.

    Do what is good for your soul, and things will fall into place. Do what nourishes you. ❤


    • “Do what nourishes you” is sound advice. I prefer it to “Do what makes you happy,” even if true happiness – ease, joy, inspiration, resilience, feelings of love and abundance, et cetera – results from nourishment. So many abstract ideals seem fraught and fragile to me, in this age of self-commerce and comparison – but nourishment has managed to retain its meaning. There is definitely an internal dilemma to leaving a highly challenged community – but I know that whoever takes my particular place, when the time comes, will be fresh from school and therefore full of ideas and energy for the work. I’m glad your therapist made a transition that has led to her flourishing. My health issues in 2019 almost did me in, in more ways than one – but I’ve managed to emerge and am looking to sustain the miracle of that. Happy Saturday – it’s sunny here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wherever you go, you will make an impact. And may the places you go, the company you are in, nourish your soul and spirit.

        Whoever takes your place will make their own impact, and I’m certain you’ll find an environment where you can be recharged and replenished.

        Health challenges are difficult, and hard mentally, and I’m glad you’ve managed to emerge. It was a good Saturday in my part of the world ☺


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