I was fired for the first time yesterday at work.
No, I wasn’t fired from my agency. They love me. At least, I think they do. Nope, I was fired by a client. Or a client’s mom, to be exact.
Yesterday, a client’s mom brought her son all the way to the clinic for his scheduled appointment and stayed only 15 minutes…for the sole purpose of humiliating me and shaming me in front of my supervisor. She would have stayed the whole hour to insult me, had my supervisor not stopped her.
I have NEVER. EVER. had that happen to me. EVER. in my life. And my supervisor said she has NEVER had that happen to ANY of her clinicians in all the years she’s been supervising.
Granted, I knew it was coming, my supervisor knew it was coming, anyone who has ever had any dealings with this family knew it was coming. But I didn’t expect the reaction it would stir up in me.
You see, as a therapist, I am a mandated reporter. That means if there is any reasonable suspicion of child abuse at all, I am mandated to report it to the Department of Child and Family Services. I could lose my license or any chance of getting my license if I didn’t. In the previous and first session with this family, my client made a pretty black and white claim about being abused. There was no gray, there was no room for interpretation. It was very clear.
So I made the report. 99/100 therapists in my same position would have made the same call. I did what I was supposed to do.
And so yesterday, as his mother threw out insult after insult about my competence as a therapist and questioned my experience and my clinical skills in front of my supervisor, why was it that I just felt like absolute shit? (I know I could just say that I felt like crap, but I didn’t feel like crap. Excuse my candidness, but I felt like shit.) Why was it that though I was wearing a small, calm smile on the outside that I felt tears burning in the back of my eyes and that I was trembling like crazy on the inside? Why did I want to cry the entire drive home? And more importantly, why did I feel like I did something wrong???
It’s weird, but it almost felt as though this woman became Satan’s mouthpiece, poking and jabbing at my deepest insecurities as a clinician with her insults. Am I competent enough? Are my clinical skills good enough? Do I have enough experience? Maybe I made a mistake…did I do the right thing??
The emotional response is tricky, my friends. When it’s on, it’s on and it’s so good and greatly enriches one’s joy. But when it’s off, it’s tricksy and false (like those nasty hobbitses!) and fools us into believing lies, especially for us strong feelers whose “truths” are very much influenced by how we feel. Maybe you don’t know what I mean if you’re not a strong feeler. And I’m glad you don’t, because quite honestly, it can be really confusing.
In the past, it would have been easy for me to be swept back and forth by the strong currents of these emotions and to feel deep shame for a long time. Shame over something for which I have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed.
I’m thankful that I’m aware of this tendency of mine now, and that I can battle it with truth. The cold hard facts. A little self-cog-b, if you will (cognitive behavioral therapy). And even though I’m still struggling to let these negative feelings go and to let truth reign completely, I will keep repeating these truths until truth wins.
Because this is the truth: I am a mandated reporter. A child disclosed that he was abused. I made a DCFS report to protect this child from possible future abuse. And I did nothing wrong.
No, that’s not quite right, it sounds like I’m on the defensive.
It’s not that I did nothing wrong. I did everything right.
And it’s time to start feeling that way.