Today I had a delightful visit with one of my clients.
She is a woman who may be considered a bit rough around the edges and smokes almost constantly. Although she did assure me she doesn’t smoke in the shower.
As we talked, she was a bit defensive and trying to share with me every possible thing that her caregiver did wrong. Her caregiver was there with me!
I listened and assured her I heard her. I was careful to not agree, because it wasn’t about agreeing or disagreeing. It was about inviting both the caregiver and the client to enter into a relationship of respect, respect even when each of them comes from VERY different worlds.
As we began the conversation, my client had a very defensive tone. Soon she transitioned to share more of her desires and her tone changed. She would like to decide for herself if the water is too hot. She would like the caregiver to speak louder so she could hear every word. She would like to take a shower by herself (but is now wheelchair bound)…she doesn’t like to be cared for, she wishes she could hear well again and she very much misses her independence….
And as she shared more honestly about what she misses and longs for, she became more tender and we were able to talk about her grief…the greatest loss was the man she married and lived with for 62 years. And I was reminded of loneliness and sorrow, of aging and dependence, of life and all the changes life brings…
And as a very sweet time was coming to an end, I said to her. ” I like you and enjoy your very tender heart!” She toughened up a bit and said,”if you only knew me and how ugly I can be. I don’t think you would like me anymore.” I smiled and I said, “you know what, I can be pretty ugly to. I understand because I believe we all have that ugly side. I believe you have an ugly side and I still like you!”
I hope you have people in your life who say, “I do know you and I still love you!”