The Because Place
How does it feel to not be believed? Think about it for a minute. It’s infuriating and humiliating, and it can raise self-doubt. When another human being or institution denies someone’s reality, there is something wrong.
I had to go into the hospital yet again, and yet again deal with people who did not believe me about having bad veins. Once again, medical staff proceeded to make multiple attempts to start an IV. They left me bruised and looking like I was the victim of domestic abuse. I kept telling them to go in with an echo, find a vein, and all would go smoothly. Finally, they did just that. I should have been believed. As I write this, my right hand is still injured and there is pain when I touch it. It has been over a week.
The multiple attempts at IV placement caused me to feel so many emotions. The question I ask is this: Why don’t medical personnel learn to believe a patient’s reality? I wasn’t spinning a tale. I was telling them outright that there is a right and a wrong way to do this with my sorry veins.
Believing the Person
My clients are important to me, and believing their reality is also important. As a therapist, I honor the realities clients present. Sometimes the reality is skewed in some manner, and my job is to help the person see it clearly. I need to call it out. Sometimes I’m gentle, and at other times I’m blunt. What people fail to think about is that they are paying me to enable them to make life changes, and sometimes the change process requires me to point out some uncomfortable realities and have people sit with them. It isn’t easy sitting in the shadows.
Shadow work is the hardest work of all. It requires of us the ability to sit in uncertainty. We don’t know where we’re headed. Much like crossing Styx, we must journey to the new shore to discover what our soul’s treasure is deep within. This journey is voluntary, and it is one we make multiple times in our lives because shadows are a constant.
My hospital stay has put me in a place of looking at what I know about myself, and the truth of my physical state. Due to PXE, my veins have taken a powder. I might build them back up with walking, and it will take time. My treadmill is waiting for me. How do I deal with not being believed from the beginning? I now have a shot of what my hand looks like. You’ve seen it. I plan on showing it as evidence, and not consenting to an IV unless it is done without trauma and pain. There is a time when a person must say “ENOUGH!!!” I’ve reached that point in time.
What do you do when your reality isn’t validated? The gift of being heard is the greatest gift we can give to each other. To stand as a witness of another’s truth, and to validate another human, is a powerful happening in any life. It is the title of this blog, and I will forever be thankful to Jon’s psychiatrist for the validation he offered me.
I wish validation were the norm. I wish that children who disclosed abuse were always heard, believed, and protected. I wish women who suffer the daily insult of abuse in all of its forms were always heard, believed, and helped to find their way out of such relationships. I want for people who see the moon purple to not have to argue their reality—even if it is impossible. Somewhere in their words there is a truth that much be heard. I think of my five Anns, and how important it is to hold every person in high regard.
I believe that more often than we think, we fail to validate each other. People are left to sift through the experience on their own. It is hard work, and it is made more difficult when the lack of validation causes one to fantasize about ways of getting back at someone. I’ve found in sitting with my hospital experience that finding an evidence-based response is helpful.
Here are some tips for how to get deeper into the self:
- Play detective with yourself by asking questions.
- Become a kid and keep asking why. “Why?” is a curious question. Sometimes the why question takes us “I don’t know.” This leads us to the BECAUSE place. “Because” leads us to realization due to the fact that it can be a place where we think we’ve hit a brick wall, and in facing that wall we push just a wee bit and dislodge one of the bricks. Once that happens, other things fall, and suddenly we have more information than we ever thought we’d have.
- Sometimes sitting with the non-validating aspects of our lives moves us to new places. It isn’t that we didn’t need the validation. It is that the lack thereof requires us to rise in defense of ourselves and take constructive action. Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights actions are a great example of this. An entire race, blacks in the US, shouted in unison, “No more!” While this is a highly simplified explanation for one event during the Civil Rights Movement, deep reading and exploration of its planning will show its genesis to have been well thought out. Sitting with the question, and realizing its solution within ourselves, can cause an upheaval. Movement is good.
- Sitting with it all is about being on the way to someplace else. We discover in our process of thought, and deeper reflection, that going deep inside is rewarding, and getting to the “because” of it all is a process of liberation.
It is true that some statements are easy, and others require time to sort out. Find a therapist if you need to.
The bruising from the multiple IV attempts hasn’t turned to the lighter colors yet, and there is still tenderness around each of them. I have the shot, and in a weird kind of way it is a multi-level touchstone. The thought process that spans out like a web began because of lack of validation, and it has carried me to new points on the horizon because I got a brick to leave the wall.